Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cried Again

I don't blog everything. You may be surprised to hear that, but it's true. There is a lot of interesting things that have come up during the course of this journey that I have not blogged about. I started out blogging quite honestly about the impact this has had on our marriage. It was taken as a criticism of my husband, Tim, and I grew self conscious about posting on that side of cancer. I didn't mean for it to be a criticism. I am pretty practical. Tim is not an emotional type, and if I am looking to get those 'warm, fuzzies', generally speaking, I do not look to Tim. We've had counselling on this issue, twice. It doesn't change anything. He cannot bring himself to be more demonstrative. His family is like this. He will always be pragmatic and a worker. Does he love me? Certainly. Can he show it? Not so much. I am pretty practical myself and tend to just accept the situation as it is. He is a good man. I know this about him, and it is enough. I had a marriage with all the bells and whistles, at least from the outside looking in. It was a lie. I prefer the truth of a situation that will not swing around to bite me in my ass down the road.

The fact is though, cancer has had a profound effect on my marriage. Tim and I have always been good in bed. Sorry for being graphic, but it is a fact. The surgery that changed my shape also changed how I viewed myself, and I began to struggle. By the time that my hair fell out, I was struggling a lot. By the time that I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes, I was pretty much unable to look at myself without cringing a little. By that time, Tim was dealing with his unemployed status. Withdrawn to begin with, he withdrew even more.

What has suffered here is our sex life. Something that should have comforted us both has been lost. When my husband comforts me by awkwardly saying, 'Don't worry. Your hair will grow back. You'll be pretty again,' or something like that, it made me even more self conscious. His focus on the houses and getting the apartments going meant that he was working hard, driven by his own demons. Obsessed, he can talk about nothing else. Nothing else. He has even at times, lashed out in frustration that I have ceased to pull my own weight. I've always been a worker myself, and this makes me even more ashamed. Even though he understood, intellectually, that chemo leaves a person dragged out and exhausted, he began to get frustrated at working alone. Communication has slowly begun to shut down. It is frightening to me. (I don't know if he has noticed.) I've tried to explain, but he sees himself as doing what needs to be done to insure the survival of our family. I'm kind of focused on doing what needs to be done to insure the survival of me, and the survival of us.

I've been struggling with these things, and I've been feeling pretty guilty and very ashamed. I try to be upbeat and positive. We've discussed the situation, but really, it is what it is. This is just a difficult time, and all marriages have them. I take marriage very seriously, and am in this for the long haul. So is Tim. This is also not something that you can sit down and discuss with your friends. I don't want anyone to think badly of Tim and his remote nature. I would never want to shame him. Like I've said before, he is a really good person. I've been kind of on my own on this one, trying hard to convince myself that 'this too will pass,' and that Tim and I will be right again, but I've been discouraged. Our marriage is not as comfortable as it used to be.

Wandering around blogland today, I found a website. I didn't know such websites existed. It not an easy topic to discuss, but the fact that people do is a real blessing. My self consciousness may be a little extreme, but every woman that has walked this path seems to have dealt with this issue to some degree. One link led to another, and to another, and soon I was reading stories about other marriages that had foundered, but regained their footing and moved forward. Predictably, I was so relieved that I cried.

13 comments:

Pam said...

Often it is comforting just to know and read about others who are or have walked the path you are walking. Just knowing this often helps.

I can sympathize with what you have been going through, but I can't 'empathize'. I've not walked in your shoes. My sister can sympathize with me over the path I'm walking with my daughter and my grandsons, but she can't empathize.

I'm part of a support group of mothers/grandmothers who are raising or helping to raise children with pediatric bipolar disorder and other similar spectrum disorders. It helps me know that the challenges we face with the boys are faced by others. Often others situations are far worse.

At some point, even the strongest among us, faces one or more challenges that render us fragile, perhaps, even just for a period of time. It's frightening and it throws us into often uncharted emotional waters.

Life savers come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. We reach for the them as much as we can as we struggle to stay afloat.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, my friend!

steviewren said...

It's good that you found the website. Validation of feelings in whatever form it comes in is always a relief. I'm sending you a big hug...for whatever that's worth. I care.

jeanie said...

I think it speaks volumes for you and Tim that you realise this IS a hard time for both of you and that you both know you want it to continue and be strong after you have been through this rough patch.

So often the troubles bubble when it is denied there is any problem.

I am so glad that you have found somewhere that gave you an "aha" moment and were able to realise that you are okay, you are going to be okay and there are ways forward.

Hugs.

Bush Babe said...

ONce again... honest and heartfelt stuff. Something that will help guide others (maybe me one day) who are facing the same dilemmas and feeling the same way as you (and there will be many), just as you have found somewhere to guide you...

Hugs to you both.
BB

Redlefty said...

Thanks for sharing. Some readers, when hearing that cancer, chemo and unemployment might possibly affect a couple's sex life, might think "duh".

But the personal experience of actually living through it is another thing altogether.

Thinking 'bout you guys.

Bob said...

Four years ago I didn't work for a couple of months. I had a severance package that more than covered it. I knew I had a pretty good shot at another job (where I am now) but there was some delay in getting things finalized. I went through a grieving process and also had this weird feeling of guilt that I wasn't really pulling my weight. It affected all the corners of my life that you have mentioned and certainly took its toll on my marriage. What got us though were all the things that have gotten you and Tim through these past months of rough spots -- faith, courage, humor and the underlying knowledge that neither of us was going anywhere. We were in it for the long haul.

Thanks for your candor.

Debby said...

Bob, I think men take a job loss much harder than a woman would. Tim has never been lazy, and he simply poured all his energy into the apartments, but without a job, I almost think he felt like he had to work twice as hard to make up for it. When there were no callbacks, he worked even harder. Pretty soon, he was so focused on the apartments, he could think of nothing else. Strangely, since he's got another job, suddenly, it seems like he has eased up on himself a bit. He is more relaxed, much more like my husband.

Marriage is a funny thing. It goes in cycles. Good times are easy enough. When things get rough, you really have to take a deep breath, and endure, knowing that the hard times always end, and remembering that you are married to a fine person.

Debby said...

Oh, and Redlefty? Duh, man!

Lavinia said...

This is so touching. I think you two are 'gonna make it after all'....you've both been through the wringer, but you'll come out the other side, all it takes is time.......

Roland said...

Nothing helpful to add, just thinking of you.

Scotty said...

I can't think of anything useful to say except that I'm moved by your admissions.

Laura Jane said...

Hang in there.

Keep practising on your own if you have to! You'll get your twosome mojo back on track before you know it.

Hugs

PaintedPromise said...

catching up, sorry i wasn't here to say something right away... Deb your honesty in sharing the reality of your life means a lot to me. this post brought tears to my eyes as we are struggling with a job loss here too. and quite thankfully, NOT a cancer issue on top of it! my husband struggles mightily with feelings of not being able to pay his share even though we aren't to that point yet thanks to accrued vacation and sick time... and to him, "fired" and "layed off" aren't much different. and no matter what i say, he still feels that way. it doesn't help that it's only been 3 years since he was "corporate downsized" the first time...

and hey, not to bug you, but you said you would post a picture... please don't forget! i for one am waiting with baited breath to see what courage really looks like - for you, my friend, are the epitome of courage in my eyes... and i'll bet money (even though i don't have any extra right now lol) that you are beautiful!!!