The more you try not to feel things because you don’t want to feel them, the more they have a tendency to crop up anyway.
My anxiety has been really bad again lately and I finally figured out why: I’ve been suppressing all my fears and bad feelings about my husband’s cancer.
The ironic thing is that life is otherwise going fairly well in general. Yes, I have too much work and my MS symptoms are flaring up like they normally do in the summer. I haven’t been physically feeling the greatest. But we have more money than we possibly ever have and money isn’t a worry anymore like it was for so long. My husband’s job is great. He’s doing fairly well with the chemo, all things considered.
Yet I still can’t stop the bad thoughts from creeping in. I will most likely outlive him, which means I’m going to have to go through the experience of seeing him die. Considering what a wreck I was after my beloved cat Cammy died, I’m sure I will be much worse for much longer when my husband dies.
Knowing that it’s not a matter of if but when sometimes takes my breath away.
I try not to think about that too much because I don’t want to ruin the time we have left together. For all I know (and hope), it will still be many years away. It’s not like his death is imminent. He doesn’t seem like he’s as sick as he is.
At the same time, trying to pretend it’s not in my future is not healthy, either. And sometimes it’s hard to know how to cut that difference. I really need to allow myself time to get into therapy.
I’ve noticed that I haven’t been taking as good of care of myself lately. Part of that is because I have too much work and that leaves me less time to do the right things. Part of it is the vicious cycle of MS, in that the worse I feel, the harder it makes it to do things like exercise and prepare healthy food.
But a big part of it, I realized, is that subconsciously I don’t want to live without him. Maybe on some level I’ve thought that I don’t need to take care of myself because I don’t want to be around if he’s not here. I have been able to imagine how lonely it will be without him and that sounds absolutely miserable.
I can’t imagine finding love with anybody else and I am terrified of dating again. But maybe that in itself is a flawed way of thinking. Maybe I can love him with everything I’ve got now without also assuming I’d never find love again. I might need to give myself permission that I wouldn’t be betraying him if I someday found love again.
Yet I realized that I need to fight more than ever. I need to fight as hard as I can–even if right now my illness is limiting me from doing so. My kids need me. Even if they’re all out on their own once my husband dies, they’re still going to need me. It will be hard enough on them to lose one parent; I don’t want to cause them to lose both parents. I’ve noticed that since my husband’s diagnosis, they’ve all expressed a desire to stick around where we live, rather than moving away like they planned before.
My aunt died of melanoma in her 50s. Her husband, my uncle, died a few years later. I don’t think he knew how to go on without her. I always saw that as kind of a tragedy before. Now I see it as more of a cautionary tale, the road I don’t want to go down myself. My three cousins, my aunt’s kids, are now raising their own kids without one set of grandparents. It’s sad all around.
But avoiding the same kind of scenario myself means that I have to take better care of myself. I have to find a community that will keep me from being lonely all the time, and that means I have to push myself outside my comfort zone.
I have to find out what will keep me going when I’ll feel like I can’t.