I feel like I am talking a lot about myself and my issues these days. What is this? Spring Cleaning for the Soul? Maybe. I don't know if my health-related posts are helping anyone out there, but according to Google Analytics my blog visitors hold steady and even rise when I talk about this stuff, so it's giving me hope that maybe someone is listening or learning or relating.
Anyway, today I wanted to discuss the part my chronic health issues have played in my new marriage, because it certainly hasn't been a cake walk. It's not all bad, but definitely different than my "previous" life. (I like to call life before my health issues my "previous" life. Dramatic much?) Chronic illness is a marathon, not a sprint. It wears you down. It f*cks with your mind. When you feel like you've made it over a big hurdle, another one presents itself, an old problem comes back, or the treatment doesn't work.
I also liken it to treading water. You are working really hard but not really getting anywhere. You are subsisting, but, at times, barely holding on. On a good day, things are pretty normal and calm. On an even better day, you remember you had dreams, aspirations, and goals. You remember how things were when your life wasn't defined by illness; when you felt good every day, and things were always moving forward, almost effortlessly. Sometimes you cry. Other times you are angry. But mostly you are just waiting for the day that you feel right again.
Even before my surgery last October, I dealt with a lot of pain and out-of-commission days. Five days before our wedding I was in the E.R. with the worst menstrual cramps I had ever experienced. Most likely, it was due to the stress of the wedding, but given all of my period problems, who knows?
Needless to say, I am not the same carefree, wind in my hair college girl that L met back in 2003. I have had to grow up, and deal with grown up responsibilities, namely my health. This is not unique, I know everyone has to grow up at some point. I was simultaneously dealing with some family issues, and the end of my parents' almost 30 year marriage. But my real jumping off point was when my health got scary.
So here I was a young woman of 27 years old (feeling like I was 55), and there was my fiance, a young man of 29 years old forced to be 55 years old. I mostly stopped drinking alcohol, was tired all of the time, and in pain at other times. We used to leave town at the drop of a dime. Screw the finances, traveling was always a top priority for us until I started feeling lousy. I had (and still have) anxiety about being away from home for too long, because I constantly worry how I will feel. Eventually it takes it's toll.
Heavy menstrual bleeding, cramping, and pain. SEXY.
Depression, fatigue, anxiety. EVEN SEXIER.
Think my husband was getting lucky on those nights? Think again.
And it isn't just the intimacy part. Sadly, intimacy is the last thing you think about when you don't feel well (which really sucks for my husband). But, we have also lost emotional connection with each other on several occasions.
He lost his patience. I lost my identity.
We have fought, sometimes hard, mostly due to frustration. We have had to carve out a whole new relationship for ourselves. It is one where we don't know what the future holds. We have to think positively. We have to keep moving ahead, because it we don't, we are doomed.
I remember when I was having a particularly bad month, right after we got married last year. I kept telling my mom, "Newlyweds aren't supposed to be like this. Newlyweds are supposed to wake up with smiles on their faces. They are supposed to seize the day together, and have not a care in the world." My mom felt so bad that she didn't really know what to say. But she kept telling me that it's different for everyone. I had to let go of my expectations of what being a newlywed was all about. I had to somehow come to terms with what life had handed me, and learn what that meant for me and for my new marriage.
Sure, we may have more obstacles than the average newlywed couple, but we are finding ways to make it work. At times, it is so far from perfect that all I can do is laugh.
I have a new husband, aspirations for my career, and a new life to make for myself. I'm still trying to figure out how it all works. I am still trying to find that balance. But, in many ways, aren't we all?