Monday, May 1, 2017

I'm so grateful to my husband

I know that seems like something every wife says, but days like today remind me just how true it is.
They also make me realize how many days like today I have.
And then I wonder why on God's green Earth Steve hasn't run away screaming yet.

I'm going to apologize in advance at this point.  If you're looking for giggles today, there probably won't be any in this post.

We hear all the survivor stories from people who suffer from chronic pain and who go through every moment of every day wondering how long it's going to be before the next spasm of agony hits.
~Will it happen out in public and make us cause a scene because well-meaning strangers don't understand what is going on and swarm us with every intention of wanting to help in any way possible?
~Will it be something that we can shrug off and smile through while trying our best to lie through our teeth and convince everyone that we're really fine and we just have a tendency to overreact, then look properly embarrassed when the inevitable chuckles and occasional dirty looks are cast our way as the crowd disperses?
~Will it be one of those horrible times where the pain is so intense that we just have to try to breathe through it and hope it goes away BEFORE someone panics and calls an ambulance because we can't explain that this just happens? (This is always an enjoyable experience, btw.)
~Will it happen in front of complete strangers who will forget about it ten minutes later or in front of acquaintances we see regularly who will forever look at us differently and, despite never meaning to, from that point on treat us like we are just a little bit less capable in their eyes than we were two minutes before they saw an "incident"?
~Will it be one of the horrible times when we're alone and it's so bad we can't move and we feel like all of our pain sensors are on overdrive, and we just have to hang on until someone who understands arrives?
~Will it be the last straw that makes the people we count on finally throw their hands up in the air and declare they just can't do this anymore?

At all times this diatribe is running over and over in the back of our minds.  Most of us don't even hear it anymore, but we still make every move, every daily plan, every choice based on what it has said to us for as long as we can remember.
We guard our actions to try to minimize the chance that we'll embarrass ourselves or those with us somehow.
We guard our feelings against those who don't understand and see only someone who is weak, or lazy, or a hypochondriac, or just good at making excuses.
Sometimes we get frustrated and try to overcompensate by doing basic, every day things that most people consider the bare bones of daily responsibilities... and when it hurts, we grit our teeth, shove through, and hide the pain in the hope that our support system doesn't find out and take on more work yet again.
And when we aren't at our best... all too often we get depressed, angry, sullen, and throw pity parties.

Yeah.  It's rough.  And you know what?  We'll live with it, ignore it as often as we can, and go through life smiling anyway because we don't have any other option.

But what about that support system I mentioned?  How often does anyone hear about how miserable things must get for them sometimes?  After all, they have all the same daily responsibilities as every other person out there.  Our daily responsibilities just become something they add into their lives without complaint because someone's gotta do it, right?

They have the option to walk away whenever it gets too hard and go live a normal life.
Yet they don't.

How many of us could do that?
"I'm gonna help out for a little while until it's someone else's turn to help because it's the right thing to do."  While that's extremely noble and pretty much everyone has stepped up to do this in some shape or form on a regular basis, that's not what I'm talking about here.
I'm talking about "I'm going to be here to help everyday, with everything, knowing that I'm probably giving up the chance to ever put myself first ever again, for what may very likely be the rest of my natural life."
Let's be honest here.  For most of us, this isn't even something we consider with our own children.  After eighteen years, our sentences are up and we expect to get our lives back!  (I said we expect to.  I never said that's what actually happens.) And I know I'm not the only parent who counts down the months to when I'm no longer legally obligated to not change the locks.

That's not the case for the people who step into the role of support to those of us who have come to rely on them.  What must their minds be playing through every day?
~Will I be able to get through a full work day without having to explain to my boss that I have to go to another doctor appointment?
~Will I be able to cheer her up again when the doctors can't promise solutions or even temporary relief?
~Will I be able to get a full night's sleep or will I be needed to help with her pain again?
~Will I be able to effectively do my job despite coping with more stress and less sleep than I should be, or will my boss think I'm slipping in my performance?
~Will I be able to talk her out of doing things that could hurt her when she feels like she has to prove she won't be held back by her body's limitations again?
~Will I be able to shield her from the embarrassment she always feels if there's an incident out in public again?
~Will I be able to sit through a television show or movie without having to get up to help her do something as simple as opening a window, or lifting a gallon of milk?
~Will I be able to reassure her that our friends don't think she's less of a person because she's going through this?
~Will I be able to reassure her that I don't think she's less of a person because she's going through this?
~Will I be able to hide my own aches and pains while trying to ease her aches and pains each day?
~Will I be able to smile through it when her pain and stress levels hit capacity and she unleashes all of her frustrations at the nearest target?
~Will I be able to reassure her that I truly don't blame her for the situation?

~What if I'm not there when she needs me?

How many people could truly go through this every single day and not be looking for the nearest escape hatch?  I don't think I could.

But Steve does.
And I have never heard him complain.
And I know how unbelievably lucky I am to have him in my life.

Which is why I will continue to do my absolute best every single day to not be a headache to Steve and my young children.
Because I know what they have to give up when it comes to extracuricular interests in order to be there just in case...
Because I know what they miss out on with friends in order to be there just in case...
Because I know what they have already told themselves they'll never get to do in order to be there just in case...
Because I want them to know how much I appreciate what they go through just by having to live with me everyday...

And because if they ever do get sick of all this and decide to run away
I don't stand a snowball's chance in Hell of chasing them down and dragging them kicking and screaming back in here.