Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Of Underwear and Hugs

I don't know if I had to buy a pair of underwear for the first 50 years of my life. I’m not really sure what that says about me. For the first 18 years of my life my Mother bought me tightie-whities. For the next three years I just wore those until they were ragged. Then I married Marty and she replaced those ragged drawers with something more up-to-date, at least for the 70's. Marty kept me in underwear for the next 30 years except for the one time my daughter-in-law had to step in when we were caught out of town, then colored drawers were introduced, it was a new beginning.

Since Marty got sick I have had to buy my own drawers and do a lot of things for myself and by myself.  In some ways the experience has spurred emotional and psychological growth, in others not so much, it’s just been painful having to do so many things on my own. The singular thing  I keep finding; I get really lonesome. I miss my partner, I miss that person in my life who I would count on to make sure I had new underwear. I know, I'm a grown man, I can buy my drawers, I have purchased several pair, that's not the point.

Marty used to rag on me all the time about owning my feelings, understanding them, talking about them. Ugh, feelings and talking about feelings, makes me shake. I still struggle just to identify how I feel, much less own them and understand them. Marty on the other hand always knew how she felt and was who I looked to for help in clarifying my own thoughts and feelings,
And then there's the whole notion of fixing the bad stuff, fixing those bad, sad, grouch feelings.  I can’t count the times I heard Marty say, "I feel.....”  If this was bad feeling, I would immediately try and figure out how I made her feel that way and how I could fix it. I was told countless times, "don't try and fix it, just understand it".

I got that now, that's what I'm trying to do, owning my feelings, recognizing my issues and not expecting anyone or anything to do anything. This can't be fixed right now, I know that, I’m not asking anyone to do anything different, but I get lonesome. I miss my partner, I miss that person sitting next to me, I miss that person sleeping next to me, I miss having someone to bitch at and bitch to and bitch at me, I miss the dynamics of a full contact blown-up, blown-out relationship. I’m a touchy feely guy, I miss human touch, and I miss hugs.

I suspect I am like other spouses who evolve into full time caregivers for their chronically and catastrophically ill spouse. You are still married, still devoted, still in love, but some of the basic parts of being nurtured are missing, emotional and physical contact. I love my wife passionately and have always said caring for her is the most decent thing I have ever done. But, I miss the close intimate contact that comes with a partner, someone who has shared the trials, tribulations and joys of life.

I saw my father-in-law go through much of the same thing with my chronically ill mother-in-law. I watched him, and while he was often surrounded by friends and family who loved him, he missed his wife, he missed that person in his life who made him part of a whole unit. It’s one of the more difficult aspects of providing care for spouses; you just simply miss that part of full living.

I’m not asking for anyone to swoop down into our home and touch me. Matt, Sarah, Erin, Lyle you all do exactly what you are doing. You can’t fix this, no one can, it just is.

Just know a couple of things; my underwear is in good shape, our care givers throw them away when they get holes in them (while doing laundry) and if I perhaps hold you a little too long or a little too tight when we hug, just let it be and understand.


Anonymous said...

OMG! Larry, here I thought I was going to read one of your witty stories that would make me chuckle and almost found myself in tears OVER YOUR UNDERWEAR no less..... Now, there's got to be some humor in that!!!

Sorry, I didn't know about Martha. I'm sorry the two of you are having to go through this. Just know that I've always respected you but now maybe even more. My prayers are with you guys.
Joel Sims

Donna Domingo said...

You are doing a wonderful job of expressing your feelings and putting the whole of your life into words. I know all of us who are reading your blog are so affected and moved by your ability to let us into your life. It means so much to me that you are sharing your thoughts, feelings, concerns, frustrations and, most of all, love. You are allowing us to come along on your journey as we all learn from each other on a deeper level. Isn't that what life is about? You are a strong, compassionate, loving husband and father. I know it is very hard for you and that you miss the life you and Marty shared. Just know I care and look forward to seeing you guys. You're in my prayers.

Tempie said...

I have always been a doer/fixer/take care of it person and one of the most difficult lessons life keeps teaching me is that some things don't fall into this category. My heart and love go out to Marty and you. I appreciate and admire both of you.