Sunday, March 09, 2008
Time is a funny thing. It's been almost 8 months since R's surgery. It seems like yesterday and it seems like years ago. Our daily lives haven't exactly changed much. I think we appreciate the monotony of day to day life more; no, I know we do. Here's the thing...and this is going to be really hard for me to write because I know he'll read it. I sometimes think he has forgotten.

Not completely forgotten, because hello - impossible. Just sort of forgotten. I've mentioned before that he wants to run a marathon, right? (Wayfarer, I'm going to put the two of you in touch). Well, I simply don't want him to. I feel like a little kid who wants to stomp up and down and whine and wave my hands in the air shouting I DON'T WANT YOU TO! R has an appointment with his cardiologist tomorrow for a follow up. I'm not going. It's the first appointment since before his surgery that I'm not joining him. There are a couple of reasons why. I have to work, but could get out of it. I think I'm trying to step away from a situation in which I could quite possibly have my little tantrum about not wanting him to do the stupid marathon. I'll look like a fool, I'll embarrass R and myself and it just would not be good. I told him before that if the cardiologist approved it, I would stop bitching about it. I'm not sure I can stand by that, but that's what I said.

I'm all for R being active. Play tennis, run for fun. Run in a few lower-mileage races, like 10K or something. But please, for Pete's sake, don't run a marathon. Please. I'm begging you. Yes, millions of people run them every year and live. People who are worse off than you. But people die, too. And don't give me that sorry ass story about how you could die walking out of the house. I get it. But it's not the same. It's not. It's not the same when you watch them wheel your husband down the hall on a stretcher and you're not sure if it's the last time you'll ever see him. It's not the same when you see him covered in iodine, lying on a gurney, with a machine breathing for him. It's not the same when you see, every day; the long vertical line on his chest where just a few months before, a man had his hands inside there coaxing his heart to start beating again. It's not the same and no one will ever convince me that it is.

I can't help but feel like if he chooses to run this god damned marathon, he's choosing that over me. And that's selfish and horrible, but it's true. I absolutely hate myself for not being able to support him on this. But I just can't.

Tell me I'm being irrational. But, please, also, tell me you understand. Because I sort of feel like I'm just a selfish brat.



Blogger Lanie Painie said...

If his dr. approves a marathon, he should write you a scrip for Paxil at the same time because it may be your only hope.

I understand where R is coming from, but I feel for you. Best wishes heading your way!

Blogger Wayfarer said...

What I’m going to put into words here is my point of view. It might also be your husband’s, but I don’t know him yet (though I look forward to the day). I went through the removal of a necrotic gallbladder a couple of years ago that left me weak for some 8 months afterward. It also left me with a simultaneous sense of liberation at being free of something that would have killed me in a matter of hours had the surgery not intervened, and a need to recreate some belief myself as a capable person. Nowhere do I feel more capable as a man than when I’m doing something physically demanding, and so I set out to to take on something truly challenging that would motivate me to get up, get fit and do battle with my dragons, dragons I’ve fought for a lot longer than my gallbladder problem existed.

For a very long time I’ve wrestled with the need to be active and prove to myself just what I’m capable of, but without neglecting my responsibilities as a husband (and, more recently, a father). It’s not something my wife truly understands, but it is a very important need. I rode 400 miles in a little over 5 days last summer, in part to remind myself that I was capable of setting a goal that involved hard physical training and actually meeting it. I did it, and it did something incredible for me emotionally. It was a first step in a long journey toward better diet, better fitness, better attitude... In short, it was a good thing. My wife worried about it. She’d never seen me do anything like that before and, although I’m sure she believes in me wholeheartedly, I made her more than a little nervous setting out on this adventure. There’s a lot that could have gone wrong--a lot more than just the physical, and there was a lot at stake, in a sense, if something drastic HAD gone wrong.

Here’s the thing, though. Nothing did go wrong. I had two flats and took a wrong turn. That was all that was supposed to go wrong, and I was prepared for it. I am not unmindful of my wife’s feelings, and I will know if something is truly unsafe (or I will make sure I know before I do it). I trust my judgment about such things because I have gained a great deal of the wisdom that comes from practice. Part of being married to me is trusting that I will do what’s right. Accidents can happen, but this is true whether I’m on a bike or sitting here in my living room and, if I have to go because of an accident, I’d rather not do so because I was afraid to live my life.

I decided to do a triathlon this year because I believe it’s something challenging, but achievable for me. If it’s not, or if it proves to be unsafe or unhealthy, I’ll abandon it until I can do it properly. My wife (I hope) understands that part of being a man for me means being unafraid to face challenges. It also means being unafraid to admit I can’t conquer them right now. I will do my job, and more than that, as a father and a husband. I ask in partial return that I’m allowed to remind myself that I’m a man, as well. To do that empowers me to do all the rest, and do it to a high level of quality.

I will certainly not tell you that you are wrong to feel as you do about your husband’s choice of challenges. Your worries are valid ones. I hope that he’s responsible enough to approach his challenge with an eye toward them, as well as his own abilities. I hope he will choose the safest way to do battle with the dragon I suspect is sitting in front of him. Be honest with him about your feelings, and trust him, if you can, to be honest with you. If you don’t trust him to be so, then you should tell him, and talk about it. That’s important. Otherwise, consider giving him the freedom to show you he’s the capable, physically and mentally strong man he wants to be. Let him face the dragon. It’s what we heroes live for.

Blogger The Grammar Snob said...

LP, thanks for the Paxil and good wishes!

Wayfarer, there aren't words. Truly. Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I suspect there are dragons in front of him. I'll do my best to let him face them. Thank you a thousand times.

Blogger Kizz said...

Maybe you are being selfish but so is he and heaven knows that after all this you've both earned the right. It blows that the choices of selfish things are in such huge contrast to each other. I think that if he does it you need to have something of your own, some activity, that will be all yours so that you aren't sitting at home wearing out your own heart worrying while he does the extremely time consuming training.

In other news, it's been 8 months already? NO WAY!

Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I've really got nothing helpful to add, except that I'm here if you need me. I understand your side more than his, but I understand his side a little, too. Kizz is right - none of the choices is perfect.

Anonymous Laurie B said...

This is difficult, the old cliche..if you love them enough let them go...and all that.

I respect wayfarer and all that he brings to the table but I find myself in the "Honey, I really wish you wouldn't" group. Maybe couples speed walking? Individual speed walking IS an Olympic event, right?

So, as a couple, speed walking, swimming, (either perhaps an interim choice)? Or lap pool swimming or rail trail bike riding or geocashing? Something you can do together with the kids? Not just him being the hero he believes he is called to be? Never mind the hero thing that some people percieve as their mission.

How about the hero we want to have with us for a long time? Never mind the hell of him dying doing this.

Sorry, fuel to the fire. As far as I know you never asked him to be a hero, you just want him as an honorable soldier.

If he were my honey, I'd find something that meets his need that we could do together. Excercise is good for everybody. So is a love life. Good luck.

Blogger Wayfarer said...

I don't disagree with Laurie; it's important for couples to do things together. It's a big part of what continually nurtures relationships. If you don't already share time with your husband in some sort of common endeavor, I can say from experience it's a wonderful way to stay close. My wife doesn't do endurance sports with me, but we do lots of other stuff and I look forward to that time (we set an evening aside each week for it, at minimum).

His training, however, need not take away from that. It might mean that he'll have to look at time management differently, but there's nothing to say that the two are mutually exclusive.

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