Wednesday May 5, 2010
I made a mistake when I wrote about the fourth stage of dealing with trauma. People who've experienced traumatic events such as a bout of illness or an accident go through four distinct periods or stages. The fourth phase is often referred to as realization or coping. I called it redefining.
Those who know me have heard this before; one of the things that I love most about my wife Adrienne is her ability to make a plan and see it through. When she was a young woman she decided to have her family first and then, when the kids were older, go back to school and get a Ph.D. When the kids were nearly done with high school, she started her master's program. She earned her degree while continuing to work full time for the state of Vermont. It nearly killed her.
She decided that she would not be able to work if she was going to get her doctorate. Another one Adrienne's talents is her ability to find money. She found a good associate ship at Miami University, in Oxford Ohio. Coincidentally this is my alma mater (Go 'Skins!).
She didn't want to go alone. She wanted me there. Typically, she had a plan; sell our home in Vermont, move to Ohio, buy a house that we would sell when she got her degree and we moved to the college or university where she would start teaching. I am not a long distance relationship type person, and didn't totally love my job at that time; it made perfect sense to me.
We moved to Ohio in 2006 when she started at Miami University. Four years later she has finished her classes and is writing her dissertation. Instead of trying to sell our house, she is working on getting the house ready for my return. Instead of working full time on her dissertation, she now has to work on the huge amount of paperwork that goes with having somebody become disabled in midlife. Instead of looking for a teaching position at another university, she's trying to figure out how we will survive financially for the next three months. I am not earning any money right now and her income is about to become a greatly reduced. In August, she may be able to take a one year visiting professor position at Miami, provided she is a professor at that time.
But no matter what's on her plate, she tells me that her greatest priority is going to see me and spending time with me in the hospital. We have been married for 14 years and this is the longest we have been apart. Like all married couples we're seeing good times and we've seen Roth rocky times. No matter what, we've always been able to hold hands, look of each other and laughed about our situation. Our partnership has been a true blessing.
My illness and recovery is one of the greatest challenges we've had to face. But for once we can't face it as partners. I need to lean on her and trust her to do the things that I can't do. I need to make the most from my rehabilitation and it occupies me from the time I wake up until I go to sleep at night. It's difficult to see how hard she has to work because of me. I know that it must be taking a toll on her mentally and physically but she tries to keep it from me.
It hurts to see someone you love in so much pain. The fact that I am the source of much of that suffering makes it even worse. The truth is there's little I can do to help her or to relieve her difficulties. Right now, all I can do is work on getting better, learning how to live with my weakened arms and legs. I'm totally consumed by relearning the things that I used to do without even thinking; bathing, getting dressed and moving from my bed to a chair, opening my own milk cartons. I have to rely on her and trust her that she will find the tools that she needs to do the jobs in front of her. It is hard. It is not fair.
Fortunately Adrienne has her own Higher Power who can do what I can't.
I found this passage underlined in my copy of Courage to Change, "By admitting I am powerless, I make room for the possibility that a power greater than myself can do all those things that are beyond my reach. In other words I begin to learn about what is, and is not, my responsibility. As this becomes clear, I am better able to do my part, for myself and for others, and better able to ask God to do the rest."
When we pray for people who are going through hard times, we also pray for their families, asking God to surround them with angels and give them the strength to carry through the difficult times.