Sunday, August 14, 2011

Love and Pain

Some days, I have no idea why he stays, others I'm not sure why I do. Chronic pain can make us intolerable, hateful, ugly people. It can make us retreat into ourselves or explode, give up and give in, cry and scream, check out or check ourselves in. It's hard to be around myself sometimes, let alone someone else with his own set of pains and the accompanying baggage.

But I need the company. I need a teammate, a friend, and someone to talk to. The upside of both of us being in pain is that we always understand what the other is going through. Maybe not exactly, since I don't need a back brace and he doesn't wear earplugs every time he leaves the house, but we're fighting the same war, just on different fronts.

Some days we barely connect. We're both struggling so hard to lead our separate lives that we neglect our joint existence. Other days, we rely on each other totally. His sciatic will flare so he can't walk without a cane, or I'll migraine so hard I can't feed myself for two days and when you can't take care of yourself without assistance, it makes you think: we're all we have. We check in on each other, call out to each other when we need help and work together to make our home as safe and comfortable as we can.

It's a difficult thing to think about on those bad days, how would we survive without each other? We're both reliant on others for help in daily life, and we both have family that we absolutely wouldn't want to task with those responsibilities. Could I live alone? I'd have to handle meat, for the dog. I'd have to deal with my own spiders. I'd have to take out the garbage. Eh, that last one's not so bad. Could I handle my migraines alone? No, I don't see that happening. Transportation, communication, medicare, ssi, going to the grocery store, getting my medications... these are some things I just can't do on my own. And there are more. If I'm alone, who helps me?

Relying on my boyfriend as a caregiver isn't easy. This type of intimacy is strange. It's embarrassing and humiliating and frustrating to let someone else be in control. It takes our relationship places I didn't think we'd go until we were old and gray and it sometimes feels like all this pain could destroy us. But surprisingly, it mostly makes us so much stronger.

This post is very contradictory, isn't it?

It's both wonderful and horrible to be able to empathize with your partner's pain.

I hate my dependence but love, so much, that I can depend on him.

Life is so complicated. No, life is really very simple.

It's all true.


Migrainista said...

I'm so glad you two have each other :) Life is full of these kinds of contradictions but I think you are absolutely right, when living with chronic pain it is intensified and you find yourself dealing with them at an earlier age.

I didn't know that your boyfriend had these struggles as well. It must be interesting to share that.

Jessica said...

While Jesse is not a chronic pain sufferer...I can mostly relate. I hate that I depend on him to take care of me. The household chores and dealing with my boys falls on him a great deal. Not to mention, as you said, i am at times intolerable, cranky, anxious, sad, frustrated, etc...etc. He has done things for me no man should have to do for his girlfriend. But I am lucky to have him. I frequently give him an out and he says he will not leave me now or ever. This whole thing is quite contradictory...sometimes I feel like I'd never make it without him, sometimes I feel I'd be better off to my misery alone.

Sue said...

I completely get this.

When hubby's MS and diabetes kicks him hard, I can go into "care-taker" zone and help him through it.

When my head is ready to explode, he understands and replaces ice packs as needed and provides the assurance that I am actually in agonizing pain. He believes me even when the ER docs don't.

Sometimes I picture us as that old team-work game from summer camp, where two people are back to back and have to work together so that both end up standing.

I'm glad you two have one another.