January 28, 2014

Heavy Burdens Take Their Toll

I don't mean to harp on this subject, but suddenly doing a little traveling by myself has brought some not-so-happy things to the surface for my husband..

On the Thursday I was gone for my friend's birthday, Mark spent the whole day alone. He didn't have work, the kids were at school, plus the schools got locked-down due to some police activity and they were both late getting home.

Most of us LOVE having that much time alone. Some never get that kind of time.

I assumed Mark would love it. I thought he might sit around in his boxer briefs and a holey t-shirt playing Xbox and rocking out.

Instead, spending the day by himself only served to give him ample time to dwell on the negative aspects of his life.

"Negative" is not a word I usually use in any sentence that has to do with my husband.

Mark used to be the most positive individual I knew. He taught me about looking on the bright side, focusing on the good and being grateful for what one has rather than what one doesn't have.

He has been my rock and my inspiration in living life as fully as you can under whatever circumstances you have.

But he has been living with Type 1 (insulin dependent) Diabetes for 30 years. Would be 36 if not for the kidney and pancreas transplant he had for six years.

He has had to endure blindness, neuropathy (nerve damage), kidney disease (for which he has been on dialysis for the last 12 years), heart disease (3 heart attacks, double bypass and arrhythmia) and a toe amputation.

Mark is understandably weary of it all.

Living with chronic illness is a notorious cause of depression. Yes, let's do heap depressive feelings on top of physical ailments, shall we? Because what's ONE MORE thing?

There are medications for depression and he is on one. He started taking it again after his last heart attack in November. It helps, but as my therapist says, Mark keeps "bumping up against" some rather upsetting feelings.

While I was gone and he was alone, his mind went to the dark places. Where thoughts of his mortality and just how much his health problems suck live.

After I returned home Saturday night, Mark said some things to me. He said that while he's happy for me to get the opportunity to do a little traveling, he is also jealous because he doesn't think he'll ever get to. He went on to say: "Nothing is going to get any better for me. It's only going to get worse."

I thought about that for a moment. While I did insist that he doesn't know if/when he might be able to take a trip, I couldn't argue with the rest. There is no cure for Diabetes, the only way to get off dialysis is to receive a kidney transplant and because he had another heart attack, that prospect is looking even more unlikely than it already had been.

That harsh reality had me sitting on the floor, bawling my eyes out. It breaks my heart into a thousand tiny pieces.

Especially because just as I have been feeling so much better about myself and my life, am working on being Brave and doing things I wouldn't ordinarily do, my soul mate is feeling the opposite.

Where can he find hope?

I have all kinds of answers to that question. I can extol his virtues and remind him of all the GOOD there is left in his life. I can remind him of how much the kids and I love him, that the fact he was able to build a family is in itself such a huge accomplishment and blessing. I can tell him how much other people love him and appreciate what he brings to their lives. I could simply tell him to knock off all the negativity, that it's not allowed....

But you can't make someone feel something they don't. Feelings are what they are. They're not rational and they don't always make sense.

Maybe Mark just needs to work through these "bumps". It's certainly understandable that he is struggling. He has been carrying these burdens for so long. So long. And they're heavy. How much can one person hold before they break? Honestly, he's still doing better than some might, even if a little more negativity is creeping in.

On the other hand, what if he doesn't work through them. What if I can't let go of the guilt that, even with my bad eyes, I am still more able to go off and have fun?

I have no control over so much of this. I think all I can do is continue to love Mark like I always have, and to try and lift the heaviness wherever I can. Maybe I can try to find peace somewhere in there. Hopefully he can too.

Linked with Pour Your Heart Out.

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