There are some nights when my physical illness prevents me from sleeping. This makes for very long nights, listening to the seconds slowly tick by. These endless nights are followed by days of exhaustion and mental fogginess. The inability to sleep, further impacts my health because it’s at night that healing and (mental / emotional) processing takes place.
There are other nights like tonight when I’m awakened by some intruding thought or idea which invokes intense anxiety and fear. The slow ticking of the clock on these nights is worse than any of the nightmares I’ve ever had. These are waking nightmares from which there is no relief.
Earlier this evening, my wife was talking with me about a meeting she had and mentioned that she would be retiring in about 10 years. When she said this, I winced. I winced because we can’t really afford the life we live right now. All the savings that we had was wiped out more than 10 years ago and it’s only recently that we’ve been able to get back to the level of living paycheck to paycheck. How she thinks she can retire in 10 years is beyond my comprehension. If my son had not gotten ill. More so, if I had not become ill and not lost my job in the tech field, retirement would have been possible. I would have had to work beyond retirement myself, but that would have been fine with me so long as my wife and son were taken care of.
In the past week or so, I’ve written a number of things which may seem to paint a picture of happiness and contentment with my family. All of the things I wrote about were true. But there have been and are still difficulties. I’m not now trying to say things are awful, but this entry may help to balance out what may have seemed a more skewed picture of life here. We live in the real world, not that of the Brady Bunch.
There are certain things my wife has always had difficulty with. One of them has been control over finances and this is due to issues of her childhood which would not be appropriate for me to get into detail here. Suffice to say, many (if not most) women reading this know what it’s like to be dominated and controlled. One of the ways that dominance and control is lauded over women is through money and finances. For myself, I grew up with so much conflict, violence and power struggles, that I have difficulty setting healthy boundaries and asserting, even pushing, for certain things. Finances have been one of those areas. The trouble is, I’m a saver and a budgeter. I look ahead and skimp now so that things will be easier later. My wife has had a different perspective about these things. Combined with medical expenses and my inability to work, there is nothing to retire on.
When we first met, my feeling was that if there were certain things she needed control over, I was alright with that. In any relationship, compromise and accommodation are acts of deference, respect..and most of all, love. So long as the important things were mutually agreed upon and I was able to get myself established, I really didn’t care about other things. If allowing my partner more control over things like the finances and the bills, I didn’t have a problem with that.
The problem is that another tendency is that her loyalties were focused on her friends, her parents and their family. This sometimes (I would say often) superseded the loyalty and attention I believe should have been given you her own spouse and child. While I don’t mind accommodating and extending myself to my partners friends and family, I believe ultimate loyalty and dedication belongs, first, to one’s partner and children. I don’t expose my wife or son to the demands or abuse of my parents or their family – and for good reason. Yet, as I became more ill and incapacitated, my wife’s lack of focus and commitment to helping me became a source of my feeling profoundly betrayed and abandoned. Since then, there have been some adjustments, but her focus has shifted from the extremes of friends and family to her career and networking peers.
I’m not trying to intimate that I’m the only injured party. We both carry scars which were inflicted by the other and we’re still in the middle of trying to figure out how to change the worst of what we’ve inflicted on each other and offer healing and support in place of those things. The difficulty has been our struggle to address and resolve both my son’s illness as well as my own. The strain of just trying to survive has been intense and led us both (in the past) to revert to survival instincts. These survival instincts changed the positive ways we complimented and helped each other, into all the worst of what we triggered in each other.
One of the results of all this is that I have no marketable skills and an almost complete lack of experience in anything but trying to attend college classes and work at minimum wage jobs. Some attention and support on my spouses part would have helped to at least alleviate the worst of this situation. But her attention has been elsewhere and no one, including my wife, believed I was legitimately ill until I finally found a doctor who knew what was going on and was able to spell it out very clearly.
This has been a source of rage for me and is something I continue to struggle with in relating and living with my spouse.
I’ve written that I love and adore my wife. I wasn’t trying to deceive in that assertion. I do. Marriage is a challenge. Parenthood is a challenge. Life is not an exclusive “right” or “wrong,” a “black” or “white” choice. It’s a very deep, foggy grey which can be confusing and disorienting as we make our way along. I suspect that this is at least one reason for divorce. I condemn no one who’s broken up with a partner or gotten divorced. Marriage is a difficult path quite frankly and, sometimes, love just isn’t enough. But for a number of reasons, my wife and I are still together and we’re both working very hard to heal ourselves as well as each other. The important point is that we’ve both gotten to the point where we’re willing and able to reach out to each other and work towards meeting in the middle of our wants, needs and…well, quite frankly, neurosis. For us, that’s made all the difference.
My wife’s unrealistic expectations about retirement is something I need to urgently discuss with her tomorrow. This situation needs to change. I’m not as ill as I was 10 years ago and if she wants to retire, then I need to be the one to find a way to earn enough income to make this possible. I don’t mind working. When younger, I worked harder and longer hours than anyone I’ve met in my life. I don’t even mind working while still physically unwell (as long as I’m actually capable of doing it). I do love and adore my wife, but she’s a person who focuses on solving problems within the moment. I’m a “big picture” guy and can see the consequences of what today will have on the future. This isn’t a bad thing. Our differences compliment each other. Together, we cover all the bases of what needs to be done in the moment, yet seeing and addressing what the needs of the future are.
I’ve spent my life terrified of living in poverty or ending up on the street. I worked so hard and was so terrified of ending up destitute that I suspect I ended up triggering the thyroid / adrenal / immune system illness which has immobilized me for all these years. I don’t know how my wife thinks we’re going to live after 10 years, but she’s going to have to start planning more long term (and “big picture”). I know that she still has a need for control over certain things…but she’s going to have to address at least her need for financial control – or learn to give me some semblance of support – in order for that 10 year deadline to be tenable.
I can’t sleep tonight. I’m terrified of what the future holds. Not only am I physically ill, but I continue to be tormented by CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms…in part because my partner has triggered symptoms for many years, rather than helped me heal and grow beyond them.
I know for a fact that I’ve done my own share of harm. It’s just difficult to live in the “grey” of life.
Well have to see how all this works out.
Be Well, My Friends