Jump to content


What I used to be

Posted by lizzieboo , 27 October 2012 · 738 views

Once upon a time, I was a wife. I was cherished for who I am...for my eyes, my intelligence, wit, generosity, humor, my nice legs, sunny smile, and infectious laugh.

Then my husband had a stroke. Although it took three months--of physical therapy, repeat surgeries, emergency room trips--it seems like overnight that I went from being a wife to being a nurse. From being a valued, treasured equal with a full life to a life that is nothing but a 24/7, endless round of changing bedding, washing soiled clothing, cleaning stains out of the carpet, cooking meals, handing out meds, arranging doctor appointments...and constant vigilance. Where once I worked the hours I wanted to work because my husband was the breadwinner, I not only became a round-the-clock nurse, I also became the sole wage earner. Suddenly I had to juggle on-call caregiving with working as many hours as I could steal from the routine in order to earn a few dollars to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.

He didn't ask to have a stroke that would render him completely dependent on me. I get that. But what no one else seems to get is that I didn't ask to be turned from a wife and respected partner into a mother/nurse/maid, either. Yeah, I'm lucky that I didn't lose him. I get that, too.

Only I did lose him. I lost the man I married. On June 2, 2009, the strong, reliable, capable, unflappable man I fell in love with went away. In his place there appeared a helpless, needy, totally self-absorbed infant in a man's body. And in losing him...in losing that fulfilling relationship...I also lost me. And I didn't ask for that any more than he asked for his stroke.

No one gets it. He still has me...but who do I have? I am completely, unutterably alone. I can't burden him with the loss I feel because it would only make him feel worse. I can't tell him that I'm lonely, that I miss the man he used to be and that, just once more before I die, I wish I could again have a normal, healthy relationship with a man who doesn't need me to keep him alive. So I have to swallow it, day after endless day. I go out once in a blue moon, and friends--happy couples, both glowing with good health and still able to share mutual enjoyment--don't understand the depth of my loneliness. They talk a friend into flirting with me and don't understand how it only rubs salt in the raw, open wound of my loneliness to ride home with them, sitting alone in the back seat while they coo and exchange endearments up front. They don't understand how I just want to jump out of the moving car and end this hideous, ceaseless solitude that has been thrust upon me.

Just once I wish a man would look at me like a woman instead of like a nurse/handmaiden/slave. Just once. And I wish that I didn't feel so guilty for feeling this way.

But I am so very tired.

So very, very alone.

Ever Learning
Oct 27 2012 08:32 PM
My heart goes out to you, you are a strong woman and have endured more than others could. you will be in my thoughts and prayers. everlearning
  • Report
I know we're miles apart, but you're not alone here. I can't imagine how hard it must be. I care for Marty and he cares for me, but not to the same scale you have to cope with. Can you get any help? I don't know how things work over there....
I don't know what to say really, so here's a hug.

Posted Image
  • Report
Thank you, my dears. I'm going to get a home health aide to come in as often as possible after we move. Some recent events triggered this bout of intense loneliness and sadness. It's kind of ironic: I thought Gary's inability to walk and need for assistance were the "worse" part of "for better or worse." I was wrong. The worst part is living day after day with the shell of a person I once loved, and having that love slowly change (or even fade) due to the never-ending cycle of caring for a man who used to love me, but now only needs me. He doesn't even respect me anymore; nothing I do is ever enough.

I may be old, but I'm not dead...yet. I just want to feel alive. I want to feel like there is something to wake up for aside from waiting on a man who sees me as a servant rather than a woman. I want someone to look at me with the sparkle of affection in his eyes.

I should probably shut up now.
  • Report
You don't have to shut up. Have you talked to him about how you feel? He may appreciate you more than you realise but too proud, humiliated and weary to admit it? Maybe?
  • Report
Oh this isn't good lizzieboo.  There's only so much one human can do.  You sound amazing and I could only hope for the strength you've shown so far if I am ever put in a similar situation.  I honestly don't think I could do it.  Sorry, not much help...

Not sure where you are in the world but here they have 'respite care' which is worth looking into even if only to get 'in the system,' so to speak, incase there's a time when your husband needs more care than you can give.  Do you have a local Community Centre?  Maybe just reaching out and saying you need help will make you feel a tiny bit better?  Oh I just read that you will get a health aide in.  Hopefully things will improve from this point on and you get some sparkle back in your life.

Wishing you well.
  • Report
I've talked to Gary about how I feel but he doesn't seem to understand that other people have feelings. I'm starting to wonder whether his mental status is deteriorating because he is increasingly self-absorbed, demanding, and critical of me. I wonder whether it's dementia arising from the stroke.

On top of all this we're having other problems, and of course I have to handle those entirely on my own, too. And in at least one area, I made a monumental blunder. I ask myself whether my exhaustion is affecting my ability to reason.

  • Report
I think you might be onto something there lizzieboo.  Maybe his way of coping with the situation (and his brains way) is to behave how his is.  Also the brain is so complex that, yes, probably some wiring might be a bit faulty now and he is truly not the man you married.  So having said that, I don't think you need to feel guilty about not feeling the same about him as on your wedding day.

Certainly your exhaustion will be affecting you as well the stress and physical demands.  Do you have other family near by that could help you?  I'm hoping things get better bit by bit for you.
  • Report
I hope you know that you're not being selfish at all.  You do deserve your own life and to be happy.  I think what you say about his mental status declining is true.  No one deserves what you've been through.
I'm glad you've called hospice.  Let them be nurses, you need to get back to being you.  I don't know if I could have done what you have.  You deserve a purple heart.
  • Report
oh lizzieboo.  i am so touched by your post.  my mother-in-law cared for my husband's father full time.  he was a quadruple paraplegic and ww 11 veteran.  i have so much respect and compassion for what you are going through.  ou must feel totally alone, without your life partner able to experience life with you.  we as women are expected to bear the burdens of life with no complaints
  • Report

Recent Entries

Recent Comments

0 user(s) viewing

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Latest Visitors

  • Photo
    Heaven Is A Halfpipe
    28 May 2013 - 21:00
  • Photo
    Sunny Day
    06 Nov 2012 - 23:11
  • Photo
    Old Man Waffles
    05 Nov 2012 - 15:10
  • Photo
    04 Nov 2012 - 14:11
  • Photo
    01 Nov 2012 - 18:09