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I suspect most of us have heard of Marilou Henner, an actress on an old show called Taxi and currently on The Apprentice. Marilou is probably one of the most positive people in the entire universe. Bless her for that. I wish she lived next door to me so that I could have a daily dose of that positivity flow over me. Unfortunately I am left with unfriendly neighbor Jane to my right and 65-year old, diabetic narcissist, John, to my left. Neither would know or much care that help is needed in this house.
So I find myself on this site tonight, new to the world of being a care taker for my spouse. I didn’t expect to receive the positivity of a Marilou or the distance of a Jane or John either. I found exactly what I expected -- people feeling overwhelmed with the reality of what it takes to care take someone whom they love. Most of us seem to exist in a state somewhere between Marilou and my neighbors; looking for positivity and hope to hold on to but spiraling toward a life that feels shut down.
I know because I exist there too and it doesn’t take long to get there. After reading some of the entries out here, I realize that there are varying levels of care taking among us. My spouse is still able to carry on an adult conversation and help with life decisions. But he has many physical ailments that may or may not improve. His physical needs require oversight 24x7. I took early retirement to take care of him. We cannot afford nursing home care so there wasn't a lot of options.
I am not handling this like Marilou nor John or Jane. I am somewhere in between, super hopeful and positive sometimes and near uncaring and unkind at others. I thought I was a better human being. For my sake and for my husband's, I hope I can handle this with far more grace than I have been able to muster up so far. I have no reason to believe that this situation won't last for some time to come, if not for the long-haul.
It is easy to lose ourselves in this because we are treated like invisible souls. Most of what we hear is sorrow for the person going through the illness. Seldom does anyone say Poor You! I know that sounds selfish but honestly, my life as I knew it, my life as I dreamed it, my retirement as I hoped it–vanished...and I didn't even see it coming. And yes, I feel evil even sharing that.
I wanted to say that I think it’s reasonable and appropriate to feel sad about the person we love who is ill but equally as reasonable and appropriate to feel sad about the life each of us is sacrificing to take care of our loved ones.
I took early retirement to take care of my husband and I have never worked so hard in my life.
We need to be each other’s Marilou.