Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Marriage, Part II

I have said before that 2009 was the worst year of my life.  2008 was just as awful, but because 2009 was a continuation of the shittiness, I always call 2009 the worst year ever.

Something in my marriage changed, if I am entirely honest about things, the summer my mother died (2008).    Two weeks before my mom died, my aunt and my sister both told me that she was dying.  I had been keeping in touch with my dad, and he said  we were playing a waiting game to see if the last round of radiation had shrunk the cancer.  (Radiation can take up to two weeks to have an effect.)  My dad seemed calm and rational and hopeful; what I didn't know is that he was in deep denial.  He could not face that his wife was dying, so instead he dug his heels in and kept his hope alive by telling himself, and me, that we just had to hang in there.  What he didn't tell me is that she was in so much pain that she cried constantly when she was awake and mostly the doctors were snowing her. (This is also known as keeping her comfortable by doping her into unconsciousness.  Don't judge.  If you have never seen someone crying and writhing in pain, you don't know what it's like.)  I was so scared.  I did not want my mom to die before I could say goodbye. I had my own children and my niece and nephew staying with me for that whole week, as my brother and sister in law had gone on a trip.  I had to wait until they got back before I could fly home and see my mother.  Hot Stuff was so supportive; he offered to come with me, to drive me, to do whatever I wanted to do.  I asked him to stay with the kids and not take any work until I got back.

Going back home and being with my mom and watching my dad suffer was hard.  It was so incredibly hard to see my mother dying, fighting, refusing to let go, burning through the morphine and the hydromorphone and the other super-narcotics in different combinations and being in agony, and my father dying with her. The crying, the crying out for her own mother, the lucid moments of talking to her and telling her again how much I loved her, the long periods of restful and restless sleep and telling her to let go, just go. The apneic periods when I wondered if she was gone and feeling happy and relieved and sad; seeing her start to breathe again, and feeling happy and relieved and sad. The seizures which scared me at first then became routine.  Oh Mom, another seizure, I'll ring for the nurse. My beautiful, strong, amazing mother turning to dust right in front of me.  Fighting so hard to stay alive when the cancer was everywhere.  Losing the battle, but fighting it every inch. Every day, twice or three times a day, for two weeks, I would walk up to the hospital to sit with my mom for four hours to give my dad and my aunt some relief. At the end of the day, I would call Hot Stuff at home and he would ask me how I was doing, was I okay, was I taking care of myself (I was 7 months pregnant with Little Dude).  I would say, okay, yes, yes.  He would tell me about our two at home and assure me that the world had not come to a screeching halt without me.  Until the beginning of the third week.  I don't know what caused it, whether he had a bad day or what, but he started pressuring me to come home.  I was shocked when he said that I should come home right away because, "it's been two weeks already, you need to be home with your kids." He got angry when I replied that no, I needed to be with my dying mother, for as long as it took her to die.

As much as it may seem so, I am not trying to vilify Hot Stuff. This was just so hurtful that it was like the first chink in the marriage armor.  Each phone call after that first one was tense because he kept at it; telling me I needed to come home right away.  Me telling him he could suck it if he thought I was coming home one minute before I was ready.  My mom died halfway through the third week, and I came back home.  Once I got back, Hot Stuff was back to supportive and caring and tender. (My cynical side wants to throw a dig in here, "Yeah, because he got what he wanted.")  Two weeks later I drove back to BC with my brother and sister in law and all 4 of our kids, for my mom's memorial ash-spreading.  Hot Stuff offered to take time off of work and drive me and the kids, but I told him no.  I felt I needed to stand on my own.  (I wonder if this made him feel excluded. Not that he would have said anything.  He hates my hometown. Thinks it sucks.) Part of me now wishes I had said yes, and part of me still thinks I made the right decision.

The thing of it is, these little nicks and chinks in the marriage armor don't always buff out.  I have definitely forgiven Hot Stuff for getting angry and being very selfish when I needed him to be completely selfless.  I haven't forgotten, though.  I never will.  I feel like I reached out for a helping hand and got my hand slapped, instead.  It made me wary.  It made me feel unsure about Hot Stuff's willingness to give me emotional support.  That doesn't sit right with me.  Shouldn't I feel completely solid that Hot Stuff will catch me when I fall, no matter what?

Am I asking for too much? Are most men like this? Am I asking him to give me something that men don't have to give?


  1. I don't know what to say, so I will say: I'm so sorry you're going through this. Keep on keepin' on girl.

  2. I'm not sure what to say. My marriage started falling apart so long ago, even before it was an actual marriage, that I don't even know how it all began. I'm not sure we really ever had true marriage armor.

    However, now, trying not to let the same mistakes be repeated, I can tell you that the key piece is communication. Which, blah blah blah, yes, it's what everyone always says, but it's said because it's TRUE. And so I have to ask you: have you two talked about this? Really TALKED about this? Not fought, not argued, not accused, but TALKED through what happened and how it made each of you feel and what has been happening since then?

    I don't know. I like to think it's not "all" men. And it sounds to me that there's something there worth saving...so. I'll be looking for the next segment on this...

  3. Am I asking for too much? Are most men like this? Am I asking him to give me something that men don't have to give?

    No. No. And No.

    You are not asking for too much. Not all men are like this. You are not asking for something that a man cannot give. No. No. And No.

    And, my dear, I think this is something that needs to be resolved between you before you can go about mending what's broken right now. You have 10 years behind you two. Do something drastic to make the next 10 the best and not the worst. Not even the same old-same old. I know you don't want that. For your kids, sure, but even more importantly, for yourself.

    Man, I'm all eaten up by these two posts. And thinking thinking about you!

    Hugs, my dear.

  4. Not all men are like this. I'm sorry, dude. I'm just sorry.


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