Monday, January 23, 2012

Blind fish

I have been talking about anger a lot in these journal entries. It is the largest single topic, I think, of all the vagaries of this dark journey. Now I wonder if maybe I am not stuck on one of those 'stages of grief' plateaus. I know anger is easier for me than grief. I would much rather fight and try, than give in to the deep well of sadness that lurks below our mental feet, like a vast underground pool housing those fish that are born without eyes, as there is no light in their world. There is little light in our world at the moment. It takes monumental effort to ferret out some small joyful thing, to celebrate any kind of positive action. Every single thing I try and do with him brings the fear and anxiety response. Every single positive behavior is matched by his relentless, debilitating darkness. The problem is that I can't let this negative energy wash over and beyond me. It goes right through me and on the way, sucks a little more of the light from my soul, leaving me less than I was and more and more depressed. It also makes me mad that it's happening and that I can't seem to get a handle on it. Maybe part of the problem is that it's changing fast, too fast to learn new coping skills certainly, in order to keep up. In any case, the rage continues unabated. I would like to know when I can look forward to at least the 'bargaining' stage, if not acceptance. I really need to treat him as I would a child. I mean, I need to drop all expectations of behavior so that I am not continually slapped in the face with the reality of it all, and not newly enraged over our circumstance.

He spent the day yesterday trying to cut, bend, or fold a cardboard box destined for the recycle bin. I spent the day trying to be supportive and non judgmental...supplying only a gentle reminder or finding a tool, or making indirect suggestions. I was benign, neutral, mildly friendly, and trying desperately not to take over or literally take it from his hands. I wanted him to have something to do that would appear to be of help (I didn't care if the box made it to the bin). His response to my NOT taking it over was to assume I was mad at him! As the day progressed, his responses got more and more agitated, until he yelled at me that he felt as if he were going to vomit and why was I so mad at him to be making him do this.

I am totally confused by this disease. How do we plan or develop coping skills for dealing with a gradual loss of someone's mind? I am not as well equipped as the blind fish. I am used to light in my world and am having great trouble finding my way.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I love him.

I have abandonment issues. I suppose it started with the death of my father when I was an infant. (I still yearn for a model for the grey green eyes that stare back at me in the mirror.) The subsequent shifting of relationships and places of residence didn't help with this obsession. We had a big family and the various family members I invested in seemed to gradually fail and die. Of course everyone dies in time, but for some reason I have indulged in the "magical thinking" that these events were somehow related in a causal manner to me!
The loss this year of my therapist fits right into this strange phenomena. She taught me so much. She helped me be kinder to myself and to accept the things I didn't like about myself. She helped me see that everything about each of us, all the shame and the the things we don't like about ourselves, make up the whole. In other words, we wouldn't be who we are without ALL of what we've been. Very important stuff. But it didn't help her from being associated with someone who would, of course, see her demise. (magical thinking at work!)
I act like a fishwife around him. I have finally reached some equilibrium about having to do everything, to be responsible for EVERYTHING, but now I have to deal with doing everything over again. He 'helps' by taking everything out of the suitcases after I have finally packed and planned our needs, for both of us. Have to do it all over again. He 'helps' by bringing the garbage can back into the garage---full---before the garbage man has come. Have to do it over again.
So it's back to the fishwifery behavior for me, and the subsequent tears and apologies. My therapist would say, after these confessions, "You love him."
That I do. And he is gradually abandoning me, through no fault or desire of his own. This is hard.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Weight lifting

Heavy. Constant pressure on top the shoulders, sometimes on top the head. Relentless. Never ceasing. Like a waterfall...seemingly innocuous, yet deadly in its constancy.
It isn't easy being old. It takes steady efforts to be optimistic as joints freeze up and ache, as peers leave this world around you, as the long, colorful patchwork of your life looks endless...but stretches behind you, not in front. It is daunting to realize the count of your earthly days is way smaller in the future than in the past. Yet we persevere. If we are lucky, we parlay that wisdom into increased kindness, understanding, empathy to those around us. We realize that most of our personal crises just aren't important.
Mornings are our most difficult. I try cheerfulness, but it is most often greeted with a kind of morbid paranoia these days. Example: (me) "Well, good morning! You got all dressed by yourself! That's wonderful!" (him) "Yeah, well, I know you. I'll be dead soon." Try as I might, I feel the weight, the burden, the grey of our days settle around my shoulders like a familiar, unwelcome guest.

My shrink is dead. Long live my shrink.

I met my first ever therapist about four years ago. I was wary and not at all sure this kind of action would be any help for me but thought it might be a nice diversion..a sort of internal, masturbatory journey, a self centered kind of celebration of me. I warmed to the process at first. I got to talk endlessly about myself, my stories, my own personal history, and someone listened! She wasn't waiting to tell me her stories as we do in our friendships. She just listened and asked occasional questions. She also interspersed germane suggestions and insights and kept my threads as I wove the tapestry of who I am for her. I was surprised when our time was up and mildly offended that she could stop this process on a dime, and, albeit gently, decidedly show me the door. I was hooked. As I left her office that first visit, she said gently, "You know what I would really like to hear next time? I would like to hear what you didn't talk about. Your husband."
There it was. Needless to say, the next session was dominated by my wailing. I voiced my greatest fears to her that afternoon, that I was in fact losing him. Over the next few years I grew to depend on those sessions. Not only was it a safe place to face my fears, to get reassurance that my inadequacies were human, but also to get actual help in the form of referrals and planning. We were a team.
I left in November to stay with my daughter for a few months. A couple weeks into our visit, I got the news that my therapist had died. The word 'stunned' is all I can come up with, but it is completely inadequate. This kind of loss is debilitating. I thought so many things, many of them crazy. My therapist was holding all my secrets and she died. All I know is that I told her stuff I have told no other living soul. It made me feel better, much better. But she died. From the weight of it. At our last session together, she told me that kind of thinking is called "magical thinking". I find it some serious self centered behavior. A wonderful woman, a really bright light in the world is gone...suddenly, shockingly, and somehow, it's all about me.