Welcome to Hell: A Caregiver's Nightmare

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The Villian

“One therapist – my mom’s idea, as you probably guessed – told me that forgetting was ‘just a way of coping.’ One time – you’re going to love this…or maybe you won’t – one time, I lied and said that I had to help my dad when I didn’t. I just wanted to get out of going to some dumb event. My cousin’s birthday I think. Who knows? I can’t remember. But that cousin, stupidly, even offered to move the party. Um, the whole point was to miss the party and avoid the small talk and the sad pitying eyes and the hushed queries of ‘how are you getting by?’ which, ironically, was actually my preferred question, if I had to pick my poison. Because I’m not living; I am getting by. And ‘not well, thank you, now get out of my way so I can toss back a large glass of that cheap wine before I have to answer this question twelve more times’ just never seemed to be an acceptable response.”

“Of course I couldn’t say that I ruined the most incredible man I have ever known. He was bright and inquisitive and handsome and kind and productive and a friend and a husband and a father and a leader and I destroyed him and I do not know how to bear it, how to cope. And you know what’s crazy? Even in his suffering, he is more gracious than I am! I have shriveled and turned in on myself and become this bitter, angry bitch, and he is friendly and just as personable as he used to be.”

Now, I cannot help but smile remembering my cousin’s shortsightedness. I continue, “The whole absurd situation just made me laugh because she missed the point, just like everyone else. She offered to move the party without realizing that I would have the same problem next weekend that I had this weekend. He would always need care. He would always need to be taken care of.”

Hell is recovery.

“It’s so unfair.” I wonder if I should stop there; that seems to be an accurate summation. But I feel like I’m on a roll now. “At the end of every session, the therapist would tell me, ‘Just love him.’ There weren’t many sessions. I just couldn’t stomach it after a while, and besides, it wasn’t working anyway. I started to repeat myself. I would try to tell her a story, some antidote about something a physical therapist said to me or something that had happened when I played cognition games with him, and she would shake her head sadly and tell me, gently, that she had heard that one from me before. But she never really understood that, even if she had heard it, I was still processing, still writing, still in it. And she cut me off right on the cusp…because…she didn’t understand…he has always been easy to love. But I haven’t. It was me. Loving me is the hard part.”

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