11 Things I Wish My Significant Other Knew About Life While Ill
After over a decade of fighting the good fight with chronic illnesses and experiencing the triumphs and trials of life while ill, I have come to realize how much I depend on my significant other. My fiance is crucial to my support system, mental health, physical health and my happiness. I know how much I lean on him when I am feeling “well” and when I am completely bedridden. It is in these bedridden times that I cannot help but list the things I feel or notice about my fiance and how he meets the challenges of life with a chronically ill future spouse. I tick them off in my head like a checklist…
He reminded me to take my medications — why can I not remember myself?
He brought me extra water and replaced my ice pack in one swoop — my glass was empty, my pack was warm and I just couldn’t get up…
He cancelled his dinner tonight to rub my shoulders and care for me — he cancelled last month, too…
…and so on until the list overhwelms me with distinct feelings of gratitude, guilt, embarrassment, etc… Because I know I am not always able to communicate these things or that they are communicated in a moment filled with intense emotion, I felt that writing them down would be a far more eloquent way to present my feelings to him and a reminder for him when everything is piling up and things seem bleak. Here are 11 things I wish my significant other knew.
1. The guilt I feel when you have to pick up the slack.
I know we are a team, or that we should be, but, sometimes I feel like I get stuck on the bench and leave you to play the game alone. I feel like I am never there for you the way you are for me. When I have a bad day, you pick me up. You complete the things I can’t. I am sorry you always have to do things for me.
2. I am forever grateful and indebted to you.
You make sure I am fed, remember to take my meds, stay hydrated and take me to the ER or doctors’ appointments. I know it is a lot to ask, but, it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. If only my body let me do those same things in return, I would. Every day, if you needed it.
3. How sorry I am that you miss things because of me.
I wish you could go to every party, event, game, movie, guys’/girls’ night, or the like without hesitation. Without having to think of how I feel and if I can make it through the activity. I wish you could go to things without me and know I will be OK alone. I am sorry when I have to call you home early or you can’t go to things because I am in a bad way.
4. I wish my health didn’t take such a toll on you.
Being ill is hard on me. I cannot imagine how hard it is on you to watch me suffer and fight, knowing that you are nearly helpless to change anything or fix me. I see you stressed about my appointments. I see the tears you try to hide from slipping down your cheeks when I get bad news at the doctors’. I see the bags under your eyes after a long week of not only caring for me, but, yourself, our family, our home and work.
5. I think of how different your life could be without me.
I know that sounds bleak, but, it’s true. I would be lying if I said I never thought of the vibrant and fun life you could be leading if you didn’t have to care for me. The activities you could do. The people you would see more often. The memories you could make outside of these four walls and our couch. I am not saying I want to leave you, but, I know things could be easier without a chronically ill significant other.
6. I hate how I take my pain out on you.
After days of nonstop and unrelenting pain, little sleep, and barely any help from medications or treatments, I know my attitude takes a huge hit. I know that I have no fuse and am quickly frustrated, angered, upset, and I will cry at the drop of a hat. I don’t mean to take it out on you, you are just the one I always seek solace with and the one who spends the most time with me.
7. When I blow up, it isn’t your fault.
As I stated before, when I lose it, nine times out of 10, it isn’t your fault. The pain builds up and I cannot control my emotions. So I lose them on whoever is there. Sometimes it’s the dog. My mom. Or just the world if I am alone. I know it is usually you, though. And it is usually something so small you did, but, it sets me off. I’m sorry.
8. I miss being intimate with you.
When our relationship was young and “new,” it was so much easier for me to “be in the mood” and throw caution to the wind when it came to being intimate or some quality Netflix and Chill. Now, I think of the recoup time needed, or I am just too tired and hurting to be in the mood for anything beyond Netflix. I am sorry that you pay the consequence for this. I often have to choose between having the energy for this type of activity or cleaning the house, doing some laundry, etc… and it is a decision I hate having to make, but, the house doesn’t clean itself. It makes me feel like I can’t properly prioritize “us” and I hate that.
9. How tired I am.
There are so many times when I should be home resting and I choose to do something with you or our friends and family. I try so hard to be a good sport and tough it out through things so you can have some semblance of normalcy while living a life with me always taking priority.
10. I lie to you, or try to, every day and I hate it.
You know me and know how honest I am. But, I lie to you almost every day. And I know you know. You see it in the winces when I go to pick something up, followed by “I’m OK” when you offer help. In the deep breaths I take as I struggle through unloading the groceries and the “I’ve got it,” that follows. It’s a reflex that I have obtained over time. Over failed relationships and having to be independent. I don’t do it on purpose, but, I do lie. Not just to you, but, to almost anyone in my life. I am always “OK” or “fine.”
11. I could not get through this chronically ill life without you.
There isn’t much to elaborate on here. The summation of this entire list is that I couldn’t do this without your care, help, and support.
Getty image by Maria Kuznetsova