On New Year’s Eve, I started out writing a very different kind of post than what I am writing now. It was typical, smarmy resolution stuff, and honestly, do you really want to read more of that? No, I didn’t think so.
Instead, halfway through writing the smarm, my husband came in and we started talking. He asked what I was writing about. I told him, and said I wasn’t really happy with it, because it didn’t really say anything new, and my life is so different than it was a year ago, both good and bad. Somehow the conversation turned to our marriage, and relationships in general.
I’m not sure if it’s an advantage or not, but this is my third marriage, Ron’s first. I have a lot more relationship experience, so I know what makes a good one and what makes a bad one. I told him that this year, I felt happy that I had made friends who meet my emotional needs in all the ways that he doesn’t, but that I didn’t mean that in a bad way. He said he felt I was rationalizing our relationship.
I am the queen of rationalization, and I’m the first to admit it. However, I stopped for a moment or two and really examined my feelings. First off, the fact that I’m even able to really examine my feelings is pretty damned impressive. I spent most of my life telling myself that I felt the exact opposite of what I truly felt, so to have the ability to be vulnerable to my own self-examination is remarkable. I probed at it gently, then more seriously, and concluded that no, I was not rationalizing at all.
In all honesty, I am happily married. Ron is unsure of what he thinks and feels. Our life together has been crazy from the beginning. We started out in the usual romantic fashion of, “I’ve never loved anyone the way I’ve loved you,” and “We’re so perfect together.” Now THAT was rationalization. What was really going on in my head was, “Holy crap, I jumped into my second marriage way too quickly, how stupid was that?” Ron’s thoughts were more along the lines of, “Gee, this seems like a great idea!” He didn’t get far enough past that to realize that he was leaping head first into a shallow pool full of giant rocks of Carolyn Crazy. Here was a man who spent almost all of his time alone yet he moved across the country into insta-family; he never expected to have kids, or really even a relationship, and suddenly he had a fiancé, a little girl, and a teenage boy.
Shortly after we moved in together, my fibromyalgia and interstitial cystitis symptoms really flared, and I went from being the main breadwinner to not being able to walk, talk, or do any other normal marriage things. But as Ron said, he has always done his duties, or at least, what he perceives as his duty. I’m secure enough now though to admit that most of our relationship was based on obligation at that time. I know there were so many days that Ron dreaded coming home to see me in the same clothes, in the same spot, because I was too exhausted or in too much pain to move.
Fibromyalgia takes a huge toll on relationships, especially for whoever ends up being the caregiver. It is exhausting and depressing to have to continually care for someone who doesn’t have the energy to care for themselves. I couldn’t cook, clean, or even really leave the house, and the worst part was no one could tell us what was wrong with me.
I always say that the Universe communicates with me through the internet. Yeah, that definitely sounds crazy, but honestly, if it weren’t for some random web browsing one afternoon that led me to an article on interstitial cystitis, there is no telling how long it would have been before I was diagnosed. That IC diagnosis eventually led me to my fibromyalgia diagnosis. All thanks to the internet, and the ICA website, which provides a phenomenal amount of information, including clinical trials.
I couldn’t find a doctor who would listen to me, including my doctor of 17 years. I went back to the internet and found that Pfizer had a clinical trial for Lyrica going on in San Antonio with one of the top fibromyalgia researchers in the world. When I went for the trial screening, I had my first tender point exam, and nearly went through the roof. The pain was unimaginable, but I was incredibly happy. Finally, someone was telling me what was wrong; not only did he diagnose me, but he had solutions.
Between hydroxyzine, Lyrica, and a slew of other drugs, I’ve slowly gotten to the point where I have good days and bad days, and on the good days, I can function like a normal person. The problem is that I pay for those good days with the bad ones. A walk along the river with a friend landed me in bed the entire next day, and I could not move without pain.
Besides the caregiving, fibromyalgia can make intimacy nearly impossible. Add in the IC and it really was impossible. Throw all my uterine problems into the mix and suddenly, my intimate relationship with my husband was essentially non-existent.
So last night, as my husband and I talked, he voiced all the normal resentment that goes along with being a caregiver, but also the resentment of being a husband whose wife is minimally functional. Fortunately, a lot of things have changed lately, so we have reason to hope that this year, life is going to be a whole lot better.
For one thing, I was granted Social Security Disability. What a tremendous financial relief! Finally, after seven years, I have income of my own. Ron doesn’t have to feel quite so trapped. Neither do I. Financial contribution to a marriage isn’t a deal breaker, but it does help to make a person feel like they are bringing something to the table. That extra money means I’ve been able to hire help around here, which at the moment consists of my professional organizer, but once everything is in place, it will mean a regular housekeeper.
Another phenomenal difference is, of course, the removal of my uterus. I feel more free without all the anemia and constant abdominal pain. I still have abdominal pain from my IC, but that pain comes and goes, whereas the other pain was incessant.
On top of all that, my meds are better. Because I am highly allergic to most anti-depressants, I was trapped in endless depression, which only made my fibromyalgia worse. Thanks to my sleep doctor diagnosing me with Irregular Sleep/Wake Rhythm Disorder, my regular doctor was able to prescribe Nuvigil for me. Whoa. What a life-altering drug! Although technically it is derived from amphetamines, it doesn’t have the side effects that the old school amphetamines have. More importantly, it works on dopamine, a neurotransmitter in which I am apparently deficient. It also has a little effect on seratonin and norepinephrine, but that’s so minor, it doesn’t make me violently ill like an anti-depressant does. Suddenly, I have a med that helps me stay awake, focus, and brings me out of the depths of my depression.
Last year brought other obvious changes; we’re now childless (most of the time) and our mortgage payment was cut in half because we moved to a different neighborhood after Aubrey graduated. That’s one less person that Ron has to take care of (driving around, picking up, dropping off), and a huge financial weight off our shoulders. We will finally be able to get out of all the debt that was accumulated while we lived in a house that we couldn’t really afford once I was no longer able to work, not to mention the debt accumulated by all of Aubrey’s and my medical expenses. Aubrey also has fibromyalgia, however, hers is much better managed than my own. While she is fully functional, it takes a lot of meds, vitamins and supplements, as well as a gluten free diet to keep her at that level. That’s all expensive stuff, and it adds up fast.
Back to last night’s conversation. As I said, Ron is unsure of his feelings, which is completely understandable, but I was able to help him realize that our life together is on a reset. This is not the same life we had 10 years ago, when we first started living together. I’m still a pool full of giant rocks of crazy, but there are areas that are marked for safe swimming. We have a lot of freedom without children in the house. Our financial situation has changed dramatically. We’re slowly getting out of debt, and we can finally get someone who can help to cut Ron some slack. And although I still have fibromyalgia, IC, IBS, sacroiliac joint pain, and I’m exhausted most days, I feel substantially better than I did even three years ago.
After hours of talking, we agreed that this year is going to be different. We are both going to ask for the things that we need. He is going to try harder to see things from my point of view, and I will try harder to see his. We are going to spend more time together, and he is going to hold me more often. I am going to do my best to feel my best; I will swim at least three days a week, eat more vegetables, take my meds on time. We are going to get a housekeeper/home helper, and try to stay organized. We are going to work hard on paying down our debt. And while this might sound a little wild and crazy, I’m going to decorate the house the way that *I* want, and Ron isn’t going to complain about it. He always says that he doesn’t care, but then questions every furniture choice and paint color. This year, I am going to remind him constantly that he doesn’t care (it’s part of the asking for the things I need bit). This year will be less about Ron and less about Carolyn, and more about Ron and Carolyn.
While those are not quite the resolutions that I had in mind last night when I sat down to write this, I think they are better. Oh, I still have a few normal resolutions; to spend more time with friends, continue to develop and maintain meaningful relationships, get all A’s in my online classes, crochet more, and write write write!…you know, the somewhat attainable ones.
With that, I wish you a Happy New Year, happy relationships, great joys, just enough sadness to help you to appreciate the joy when you have it, and lots of love. A year ago, I had two followers. Now I have 36. I love all 36 of you, friends both real and virtual. It means the world to me that for whatever crazy reason, you want to read what I have to say. I’ll do my best to not disappoint!
“We drank a toast to innocence, we drank a toast to time, reliving in our eloquence another auld lang syne…”