Truly, it is November and I think the balmy weather is on the run though I hear it’s going to revisit us this weekend. For now, it’s cold and the leaves are blowing around because they have given up trying to hold on to the trees. My energy is kind of like those leaves right about now. I’m tired. I would like to let go of the tree and just blow around in the wind too. I could use an infusion of energy because the holidays are definitely bearing down on us and I need to get ready. Mike seems not to have any perspective in time relative to holidays, when they occur, how far away they are, or what we even do on them. For example, when asked what we eat on Thanksgiving (while orienting him to holidays) he responded “Pizza.” Hmmm. I wonder if Domino’s delivers on Thanksgiving? It would be in line with my level of energy…
Yesterday the car would not start. It seemed clear to me (as I sat in my 2 year old car listening to it say click, click, click to me!) that the battery was dead. Of course, the men in my life suggested that must be because I left things turned on and drained it. Wrong. Every light in my car is automatic and shuts itself off. AAA came out and jumped it, no hassle, no problem. If the battery is messed up it’s no worry as the car is still warrantied.
However, while waiting for AAA to come, I noticed Mike was very fidgety and showing signs of anxiety. I asked if something was wrong and he stumbled around for words and finally told me yes, he was upset with what was going on. What was going on? HUH? Something was going on? A little more questioning and it got through my brain he was talking about the dead battery. I was annoyed that it was dead and grumbling about it and he wanted to solve my problem and make it right for me. I asked if that was it. Yes, he said, I don’t know what to do about it. It dawned on me that given his lack of memory and problem solving skills this must seem like an almost insurmountable problem and he must feel bewildered. As I was preparing to tell him not to worry, I had super-duper problem solving skills I decided to take the time to explain the steps of the solution. He did seem relieved though no less anxious but he let it go.
AAA’s mechanic/tow truck driver advised that I drive around for a half hour or 45 minutes to charge the battery. I told Mike we’d go past Debbie’s and I’d show him her new house and we’d go to BK for a burger. He continued to fret. When I asked him if he was anxious he allowed as how he was and when asked why, he told me he is nervous about meeting all these people. I think that as I rattled down the list of problem solving steps and mentioned people who would play a part, he thought he needed to meet them. I explained we weren’t meeting anybody but wondered aloud why he would be nervous about that? Mike told me he didn’t like people to see who he is now. Well. Seems pretty clear to me Mike is suffering from a huge loss of self-esteem as a result of recognizing his deficits and having so little control.
I realized that as a man, a husband, that feeling of helplessness and not knowing what to do must be really hard for Mike. It must be even harder to hear that his wife has it all under control without benefit of his help as he sits clueless to what could or should be done. Since Mike was always a very big, strong, athletic and virile guy it must also be devastating to have lost so much of his physical stature and strength and in combination with his neurologic deficiencies, his spirit must be really flagging.
I remembered that earlier in the week he had told me I had everything to do with his sense of self. I was bewildered when he told me that, but now it occurs to me that his wife as his mom, nurse, therapist, head of house, decision maker, keeper of all things financial, legal etc must make him feel kind of bad. Mike always wanted to be needed and he always felt I didn’t need him…that I was entirely capable of doing everything myself…and he definitely wanted to be needed by me. He was always perfectly capable of being totally in charge of every detail of our existence but I was too busy being superwoman and get as much done as quickly as possible to relinquish any of that problem solving and decision making. No wonder he would dig in his heels sometimes and engage in power struggles with me.
How difficult it must have been for Mike…and how much he must have loved me (and love me still) to have stuck by for so long even when he felt he wasn’t in the loop at all. I am grateful for those superior superwoman skills now as they have served me very well this year…but it must have been very difficult on Mike and though he was reconciled to it and we did ok as a couple with it, he has no memory of having been reconciled to it. So it’s got to be awful for him as he tries to navigate his way back to knowing himself.
So now my challenge is to figure out how to include Mike in the problem solving steps. In the decision making in our lives. I don’t know if he has the capacity to do so and it’s difficult to tell if it will frustrate him or help him to reacquire his problem solving skills. But I need to try. I think that as much as anything if I can help his self esteem it will be a huge step in the right direction.
I’m reminded of Meredith’s monologue on last night’s episode of Gray’s Anatomy. She says that when really bad things happen we pray to God to take them back and we pray for him to give us instead the simple, normal, bad things that happen in our lives . Essentially, to give us a do over. I guess while you don’t get to go back in time and get a do over, as long as you have breath you do get a do over if you have learned, gained insight and don’t repeat those same mistakes as you move forward in life. I can only think that my Hindu friends would tell me I must have some enormous karmic debt to overcome.