Wednesday, November 17, 2010
My precious husband has dreadfully fragile eyes. After many surgeries, he can see out of one eye and he can find the Big E on the eye chart with the other. This allows him to drive a car and move around the house freely but it has curtailed many things we always counted on him doing - things like, carpentry work or even finding tools he's set down. In the past 6 months, though, his good eye has been acting up - as in becoming infected and not responding to antibiotics. the sure fire treatment is More Surgery but it comes with risk and this time, he has no 'good eye' to back him up.
This has been going on for 3 years and he has been A Prince throughout it all. I can count on one half of one hand the times he's been short tempered or depressed or made others around him feel uncomfortable. And I've taken my cue from him, always seeing the positive side of things, insisting on viewing the endless hours in doctors' offices in cities 50 miles away as opportunities for us to spend time together, to talk about things, to have adventures. We've dined in different restaurants, visited with friends and just refused to be pulled down by all this.
But this latest flare up - which is both painful and ... er ... juicy ... has not only broken through the wall of combined good attitudes but has come just as we were heading off on a long delayed vacation with friends. We're still not positive that it will force us to change plans, but we're not stupid either. If we have to put on our big boy and girl panties, well, we just will.
I have been trying to find the path through this that will do the most good and the least harm and a memory from the past flew up into my consciousness to help. First you must understand that though we play well together, we have never worked well together. He is a different type from me, a real INTJ to my ENFP if you're familiar with the Meyers Briggs personality tests. He is also a writer and one year he wanted to make a recording of some of his poetry that involved two voices: male and female and asked me to do the female voice. Now, I am not just a librarian, I'm a former musician, a performer, and - I smugly believe - someone with not just a good voice but with good command of my voice. And believe me, I tried to get him to hire a professional actress to do this for him but he either could not or would not, for while I thought I could do a good job, I also knew that we fall into wrangling when we try to work together and here he would be criticizing things about which I had strong opinions and feelings.
And sure enough, we fell to wrangling and things grew worse and more tense and fractious until I suddenly thought - these are HIS poems. He wanted to create something and asked me to help. And I had said I would and I still thought I could do both a good job and a job that pleased him. So. instead of trying to be the artist, I decided to be the violin. It was a surrender of sorts - a release of my ego to help someone I loved create something he longed for. And once I'd made that decision we had the best time, I could enjoy and value his artistic aesthetics without giving up my own. It ended up being one of the best times we ever had and we like to remember it sometimes just for the pleasure of feeling those good feelings all over again.
So when, in the dead of night, he woke with pain and other junk, and a year's worth of saving and planning look to be flying out the window and he was so brave about it but so sad .. that old memory flooded back and I thought - bet there's a path out of this. It had to do with empathy and with surrender to something bigger than us, with allowing and putting ego aside, with believing there's a way forward that isn't just okay - but will probably give us more good memories to pull up just for the pleasure of remembering.
I don't know how things will pan out this week. We may be in a hospital. We may be in the car on the way to visit friends. I just don't know. But I do know there is a way and if I just put my ego aside, it'll show itself soon.