Thursday, November 13, 2014
Richard is on the west coast; and I am on the east coast. And of course, my pain picks the week we are apart to exercise its right to flare up whenever it wants.
Richard is an essential part of my coping strategy. I can just be in pain with him without having to pretend I'm doing fine. He asks me, "How are you?" I answer, "Not good." I don't say that to my work colleagues or my outermost friends (my innermost friends I tell). To them I say, "Not so bad," or "Pretty OK." I don't want to have to explain anything to them or accept their sympathy. It's easier not to tell the truth.
I also count on Richard to remind me that this is just a flare up and not a cataclysm. That I now have tools at my disposal for coping with pain that I did not have ten years ago. He needs to remind me of this because when I have a flare up, time collapses, and my pain PTSD awakens. And ten years ago becomes ten minutes ago, and my fear in the present is overburdened with memories of the darkest times when pain had no limits.
And I count on him to make me laugh and to annoy me and to be so sweet that I get overwhelmed. He is my bedrock, and it's hard to have pain visit when my bedrock is 3000 miles away.
But then I remember that bedrock doesn't get lost when there's geographic separation. Bedrock is ubiquitous. Bedrock persists and can support me, no matter where or when.
And Richard sends me texts throughout the day - telling me about the ham and cheese croissant he ate, and about the small red dog who looked like our old dog; and that he is sending me his strength and love to lean on.
How do you and your partner manage to cope with illness when one of you is away? How do you be together when you're apart?