Hold On Hope

Habits are hard to break, aren’t they? I’ve bitten my nails for my whole life and I’ve finally stopped doing that…mostly. But now I tear at my nails instead. It’s marginally better? I drink coffee each morning before I do much of anything else. It’s not really the best habit because I use sugar and creamer. I’ve cut my sugar in half, but I can’t seem to get any further than that. Honestly, it’s a habit I don’t want to break.

What do you do when your habits seriously hurt your health? Smoking, drinking excessively, eating fatty or sugary foods–not to mention addiction to illegal drugs or pain medication–are all activities many of us participate in, but when your health is deteriorating due to these habits, how do you stop?

What if you are the partner, friend or child of the person with these harmful habits? How do you help the person? When is the time you step back…or turn your back?

In August of last year, I wrote this: “But…shouldn’t there be a time when we finally say, ‘I will no longer take care of you. I will remain your partner until death, but I can no longer help you if you refuse to help yourself.'”

I’ve discovered that there is indeed a time when I will say these sentences and that time is now.

After a recent hospital stay for my husband due to a medication failure, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure and a disastrous and degrading (to me) doctor’s appointment, I am stepping back. It is now up to my husband to take control of his life. He knows all of this now. We’ve had a “come to Jesus” meeting as my old boss, Bill, used to say. I won’t attend any more of his appointments unless he is physically unable to drive. When he asked if I would go to an appointment if he asked me specifically to go, I told him I’d have to answer that later. Right now, the answer is “no.” I have a list of his medications, but it’ll be up to him to let me know if anything changes. When he asked me yesterday if he should pick up canned hash to have for breakfast the next day, I told him I wasn’t answering those questions anymore. He could make that decision, that choice. And he did.

Does all of this seem too personal to put out into the universe? It is. It’s also really difficult. I know I have at least one friend who understands everything I’m feeling right now, and maybe there are more people out there who get it, too. You’re not alone.

Marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. Parenting is hard. Co-parenting is even harder. Watching someone hurt themselves when you know it affects more than just themselves, is rage-inducing.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself falling back into that bad habit of emotional eating. I’ve always done that when I’m angry, and these past 2 weeks certainly proved that. Fortunately, I’ve been able to attempt running once more, and that has helped my moods tremendously. I wish it could help everyone, but at least I’m able to find patience as the result of my exercise and can listen to my son and husband when they need me. At this point I’m not sure I can do much else.

I know for a fact that some people will read this and think I’m heartless or selfish and should do more to support my partner. “You’ve been married for 25 years! You don’t just sit back while their health is in jeopardy!” But what if your own health, albeit mental health, is in jeopardy? What about your child’s? The old man can do this. He is completely capable of making good choices. I don’t care if you think I’m heartless or selfish. I know I’m not. I love my husband. I will until I die. I am still here. But right now, he is the only one who can help himself. Will I give him a pat on the back when he does well? Absolutely! But will I criticize him when he doesn’t? Nope. I’ll do my damnedest to just nod my head and say “ok.”

These changes will be damn difficult for everyone in our household. I will hope for the best, but expect the worst, which is my usual M.O. ūüėČ Now enjoy this song about trying to find some hope in a messy situation. Hugs to you all.

Friendship is Magic?

Since I was a child, I have had a lot of friends. I’ve always been the “good listener,” the friend who will support you in any and all of your decisions, the one who understands you and is insightful and who is compassionate and giving and blah, blah, blah.

Well, I’m done with all of that. I can no longer be everyone’s friend.¬†I am just too tired and too annoyed¬†to¬†keep up this fa√ßade.

I have friends of many religions and faiths, including Christians, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pagans, Atheists, Agnostics and those that just call themselves spiritual.¬†I have friends that are Democrats, Republicans, Green Party, Independent, and those that no longer care. I have friends that are black, white, brown and multi-colored. I have friends that are gay, straight, bisexual, and asexual.¬†I intend to continue to be friends with¬†all of you…but I no longer guarantee it.

A few days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in our country. It is something I had hoped for but honestly didn’t think I would see. I am proud that my son gets to grow up in a country that recognizes people like his uncles (my brother and his partner) have the same legal right to marry as his parents did. It never made sense to him (or me or many others) as to why they couldn’t marry to begin with. And the fact that what we¬†believed should have been true, now is, our lives feel a little better. Like our equilibrium has been restored.

But obviously not everyone feels the same way. Some of my friends on Faceimages5CUW7MLLbook had other things to say, and after looking at the people they were, I realized that I didn’t need to be “friends” with them. It wasn’t the fact that they had different beliefs, although that is why I first thought to examine our so-called friendship. It was because we weren’t ever really friends. They were all high school classmates of mine, but they were people that I didn’t really know anymore. And did I ever know them then?

 

During my senior year of high school, my friend Matt and¬†I were named “Best All Around.” Matt was (and is) a good guy. He’s funny, attractive,¬†athletic, intelligent and sweet.¬†I think I was all of those things, except take out the attractive and athletic and insert “big girl.” But I¬†was everyone’s friend…or at least I was friendly with everyone. I didn’t hate anyone nor had bad feelings about my classmates. I could stop at just about any table in the lunchroom and there’d be at least one person I could and would talk to. I don’t think it was because I was especially kind or friendly, I think it’s because I wanted everyone to like me. To be disliked or perhaps unwanted, was my biggest fear.

But you know what? Being disliked is no longer my biggest fear. Becoming a “big girl”¬†again might be up there on my list of scary things, but one thing I do know is that I can’t be everyone’s friend. I can’t like everybody. Not everyone deserves to be liked by me.¬†And the energy it takes to be true friends with someone with very different opinions than your own? It’s a HUGE amount of energy, people. I know this because I married someone like that.

When my husband and I first started dating, we were both completely open to others’ opinions. We were young and wanted to listen and learn from each other and it didn’t matter that we were polar opposites. We have different political and religious viewpoints…and favorite foods and hobbies and how we place the toilet paper on the roll. He’s conservative, I’m liberal. I’m an Agnostic, he’s not. He likes Miracle Whip, I like mayonnaise. He likes beef, I like chicken. I like to run, he’d rather crawl. We differ so much that sometimes….sometimes it really is too hard.¬†We argue over issues outside of our control (abortion, Rush Limbaugh, President Obama) and occasionally we get so upset that we can no longer hear what the other person is saying. (Kind of like Congress?)¬†Eventually tempers recede or we’ll say something so preposterous that we both start laughing and we’re ok again. But all of that is exhausting. Now don’t get me wrong. I love my husband and am happy I married him. He’s a good guy with a big heart. I just wish he wouldn’t cancel out my vote every election day. ūüôā

So…all of that energy it takes to maintain the relationship with my spouse? I have none to spare when it comes to my friends. None. If it’s not easy, then it won’t happen. Even when some of my best friendships start feeling a little difficult because of one issue or another? I tend to back off¬†and wait for the other person to come to me. I can no longer be that person who initiates the gathering or is the mediator for your discussions. I can’t always be that person who listens to you and offers¬†advice. I’m done. I will no longer apologize for what I believe in or what I think. I have been above and beyond tolerant with so many people for so long.

Now it’s your turn.

 

 

 

 

In sickness and in health….

This afternoon, in a¬†quiet voice with tears building behind my eyes, I¬†said to my husband, “I hate you just a little bit right now.”

He replied with a sigh, “I know. I hate me right now, too.”

Today, due to years of unhealthy habits, my husband was required to start using insulin.

He’s been diabetic for quite a while now and has taken medication on and off.¬†¬†He’s overweight and unhealthy and has done nothing about it.¬† He eats a lot of fast food and drinks soda and never exercises.¬† His favorite pastimes are playing video games,¬†watching movies and reading.

And you know what?¬† I am royally pissed off right now.¬†¬†Both my son¬†and I just watched¬†my husband,¬†as he injected himself in the belly with his first shot of insulin.¬† My son couldn’t watch and turned away while plugging his¬†ears, asking me to tell him when it was over.¬† But I stood there and watched.¬† I wanted to see this.¬† I wanted to show him that yes, I will watch him do this to himself, like I watched him consume tons of junk food and sugar and carbonated beverages over the 19 years we’ve been together.

Did I ever try to help him, you may ask?

I

tried

everything.

I sympathized and offered to make him better lunches.  I empathized and asked what can I do to help.  I asked him to walk with me. To run with me.  To lift weights with me.   I carved out extra money from the household budget to buy healthier foods.  I begged, I ignored, I yelled, I cried.

What the fuck else was I to do?!?

I kept thinking that once we had a child, my husband might start to eat a little better or try to get a little exercise.  I thought that having the responsibility of caring for a little person, and being a good example for another human being, would be enough to *want* to change.

But it wasn’t.

Yet the thought of possibly going on insulin made him change, although it was already too late.

Last week, he¬†began nutrition counseling for diabetes, and since then¬†has attempted to cut soda from his life and start eating well.¬† He’s keeping a food diary and for the first time in many, many years, I can see that he’s really trying to do this right.¬† The other night, he called on his way home saying he was bringing dinner.¬† I thought it might be Chinese food or some kind of takeout, because that what it would have been a month ago.¬† Yet he came home with a roasted chicken and grapes and all the fixings for a salad.¬†¬† I was stunned….and a little bit giddy.¬†¬† Is this his tipping point?¬† Is the threat of insulin shots what he needed all along?¬† And now that he’s officially on insulin, will he continue to eat right (or attempt to) and maybe¬†exercise?

I have hope.¬† I have a lot of anger, too, but I’m trying to let that go. (I’m especially angry that I need to¬†learn how to inject him with the “special” syringe if his blood sugar becomes so low that he goes into a coma.¬† I’m¬†not happy that I have to even know about this, but I’ll learn it because I don’t want my husband to die.)¬† I know he’s a bit depressed right now, and he’s angry at himself, too.¬† He can’t believe that he let himself get to this point…and honestly, I can’t either.¬†¬† I had hoped he would have learned from his father (who is also on insulin).¬† So to try and break this horrendous pattern, my husband wanted Bri to watch him take¬†the insulin shot, hoping it would scare him so much that¬†Bri would eat better and become more active so he wouldn’t ever have to take¬†insulin himself.

Want to hear my theory?  You need to set a good example, be a good model of behavior, then perhaps your children will follow your lead.  But do as I say and not as I do?  Bullshit.

So…where does this leave us?

Exhausted and sad but hopeful.¬†¬†With a weight loss of at least 50 pounds, maybe he can get off of insulin.¬† It can happen.¬† But I can’t make my husband eat right and exercise.¬† My son can’t make his father healthy.¬† There’s only one person who can make this happen.

Just one.

You can do this, Wally.¬† I have faith in you. ‚̧