5 years ago to the day and the minute, the temperature was -14 and I was the epitome of all the strength that I did not and still do not think I have. I was 37 years old and afraid. I was afraid of everything. I remember it was a late winter night when 8 o’clock feels like the middle of the night. My car was parked in the middle of downtown Indianapolis and I remember navigating the downtown hospital and getting lost. Eventually, I found my way because of the wet sloshy snow being tracked in. When we came that morning my guy was driving and all was fine. When I left that evening my husband was so different. He didn’t even know I was there. He was oblivious to my presence or even his own.
I got into the ridiculously cold car praying the whole time it would actually start with the unusually cold temps and all the sudden I hear this weird high pitched noise and it was my front window in my car splitting down the middle. I looked down at my phone getting ready to call my guy. My phone was almost dead and my guy was several floors up in the ICU. I just drove and imagined worst case scenarios and I honestly do not even remember it getting fixed or what happened.
Can you guess what happened next? It doesn’t take much predictability. I cried. I sobbed and ugly cried and I asked God a lot of whys. This moment so private and raw that I have never shared it ever. I couldn’t believe all that my day had become. How did I get here and to this point and how am I so needy that I cannot even do these basic things people do every single day all by themselves.
In fact, I was holding it together so terribly in the hospital that the ICU nurse recommended I go “home” (you cannot really go home when it is two hours away) and said that my state of mind and his were not good. She could see I was struggling seeing my healthy vibrant and loving husband in that manner and convinced me that getting rest at “home” was for the best. I felt so much shame. But I knew it was the best because I was breaking. He was broken and neither of us could help each other right there in that moment.
I went to my dad’s house and barely made it in and felt like my 16 year old teenage self quietly coming in and climbing into bed. I set my alarm to call the nurse on her cell at 11 to see how he was and I did that. I woke up at 2:30 and was back at the hospital by 3:30 to much the same I left the day before.
But that isn’t why I am telling this story. Instead, I told this story to my guy last night. We are on the anniversary and I have withheld many of the details and my own personal struggle for him because that is what the caretakers of chronic pain/disease sufferers do. We pretend we are okay for everyone else because every one else needs that. And it is hard y’all. It was literally the hardest thing I have ever done and the the hardest thing I continue to do. He doesn’t remember any of it from any point of view. But I do. I remember it all.
But if you want to know what it really feels like sometimes. It feels like you are holding your breath, balled up hands and waiting. You get so good at acting okay that somedays you do actually feel okay, but somedays it is too much.
And the damn regrets. I wrote numerous posts during that time that I took down. I deleted them because the pain was too real. Or even better. I didn’t want to deal with them EVER. And guess what I went looking for? The posts and they are gone. Why did I do that? And the constant pretending I was tough, had it all together and didn’t need anyone or anything. Who is that girl cause she ain’t me. 😀
I know many of my readers are like, “Damn, it was five years get over it” because that is what our society does. We move on, one foot in front of the other, the sun comes out tomorrow. It always gets better and I believe all of those things to the core of my soul.
But you want reality? Life doesn’t always work like that. In fact, I may even go out on the limb and say rarely does it. I have had so many friends that have suffered some pretty tremendous life let downs or losses and it doesn’t go away. I have lost family members that I still to this day ache to say hello to. Pain is living….it just is.
We have to stop with that! And just because I am writing from a place of pain right in this very moment doesn’t mean I am not healed. I am as healed as I can be for a wife who saw her husband in ICU at the age of 37 and him 40. That is NOT normal. I am healed as someone who could be who went through the 3 months before the surgery and every year since. I am as healed as one can be as I watch my partner living his absolute best life with TN since. But we are okay.
I am tired of the world telling me how I get to feel. I am tired of the world in general telling us how we need to feel. I am actually so very happy because that surgery gave me my husband back in his best possible way. He is beside me and he is helping me raise our girls. That is love winning, but that doesn’t mean pain and mental toughness isn’t along for the car ride sometimes.
So that crack in my window that night…it was the smallest detail in the last five years of my life. But it was also when I became a survivor or at least I acknowledged I had no other choice but to survive. Every single step I have taken since then has made me a better, stronger, smarter, woman, mother, friend, wife and why would I ever, ever regret that and hide it just to make others feel better?
That my dear readers is love winning. I got the guy. I got my girls. I got myself. And all of that is on our terms. – MR