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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 87 - The Worst Version of Myself

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There is nothing like a severe trial to bring out the best in a person...and sometimes, the very worst.

We want to be accepting of that which we can't change, while working to do what we can, both as caregivers, and when we're terminally ill.

And often, we find ourselves far short of the mark, saying hurtful things and displaying a petulant sullenness that does no one any good. And it frequently causes harm, and drives a couple further apart when mutual support is urgently needed.

I did that a couple of days ago, and I am appalled at that. I'm better than that. Aren't I?

Well, no. I'm not, because I did it. I said the hurtful things. There are explanations, and it would be easy to try to twist them into excuses, a play on sympathy...oh, I was driven beyond endurance by the pain, and by vomiting so violently...

That sort of thing. It's called manipulation.

So I won't do it, and I'll admit to what I did, not to feel 'nobly responsible', or some such thing, but because it's true.

All that aside, the really important question is why we can suddenly become such awful examples of humanity.

I think it really comes down to contrast, and resentment, and jealousy.

Our lives, caregiver and patient, have been profoundly changed. We remember our old lives; the images are just out of reach behind the unbreakable window that stands between today and yesterday.

We can see them, we can feel them. We have the muscle memories of the former tools of our trades, but we're blocked from using them now.

It's just out of reach.

If we couldn't remember so clearly, if the movies of our memories weren't so vivid, it wouldn't be a problem. But we can, and we resent the restraints placed upon us.

The contrast between a Technicolour yesterday and the monochrome of today is heartbreaking.

And we see other who enjoy that which we once could...and are insanely jealous.

So we take it out on the person closest to us...either our caregiving spouse, or on the person for whom we're caring. It's the last place our anger should go, and it's inevitably the first destination.

There's no easy fix. It's going to happen, and there are three things you can do.

First, when you take out your anger on your spouse, ask for forgiveness (and accept theirs, when the situation's reversed).

Second, forgive yourself. You're going to slip; you're supposed to be like Jesus, but you're not Jesus.

Third, once you forgive...forget. Never bring it up again. Unless it's something really egregious, don't make your mate walk a long road to regain trust.

Let it go, because life is nowliterally too short.

Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. "Don't make your mate walk a long road to regain trust." I love that, Andrew. That road is just too long ... never-ending. Yeah, we all mess up. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

  2. I know I've said it before but I love the authenticity and humbleness you bring to us each week, Andrew. It is so refreshing and I hope healing for your marriage. And I'd say that "healing" is in short supply in your household (physically speaking anyway). My prayers are lifted up for you daily. I do hope that you and Barbara have a blessed Thanksgiving and savor the good moments while letting go of the bad.

  3. Andrew - If you are only doing this now, you are a far, far better man than I! I catch myself doing much the same when "my life is going wrong" - and nothing in my life is nearly as bad as dying!
    That said, good on you for not letting your situation become an excuse.

  4. What truths you share, Andrew! I find myself in the same "boat"...I can be down-right "UGLY" to my husband - the "care-receiver" - and try to justify it that he can be down-right "UGLY" to me - the "care-giver"...so! It's OK to be that way, right? An eye for an eye or whatever?? But, NO! You are right...it doesn't give us the right to be ugly in return! That is not who I am either; and I have been TRYING very hard to change how I act and react to his outbursts.

    Continue your journey as best you can Andrew; and follow your own three things to try to smooth things over when (or if) you "do" act in an unpleasing way...prayers still my friend!

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