Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Tempted to Skip This Part, But I'm Not Going To

I'm tempted to just skip from Christmas to New Year's and just leave in the smiley, happy parts with pictures.

But, I'm not going to. Because if I'm learning anything right now, it's that it's okay, and good, to not be perfect.

So, I'm going to share with you something I wrote in my journal about a yucky day that unfolded in the middle of that week between Christmas and New Year's.

Here it is: (My journal on 1/1/11)

I spent the couple of days before Christmas sick. And the entire week afterward home from work, sick. I cried and cried because I wanted so badly to be taken care of. I cried because no matter how tired I am, no matter how sick I am, or how drugged up I am, I have to take care of Michael first. Sometimes I feel like my life revolves around his needs.

One day I went to CVS to the Minute Clinic. I was diagnosed with severe Bronchitis and I was given two prescriptions and I was told to take it easy for a week, and not drive while I was on the cough syrup with Coedine. I immediately called my husband when I was done meeting with the doctor. There was no answer. He was supposed to be expecting my call! If he can’t drive me to the doctor when I’m sick, he should at least sit by the phone and wait for my call, right? I tried again, no answer. I called my mom, who had already accurately diagnosed me and prescribed the same medicine my doctor prescribed, from 200 miles away, and after talking to me on the phone only twice in a week or so. How do they do that?

I texted Michael. Emailed him. Wrote on his Facebook wall. Nothing. The time since I left the apartment approached two hours. Still nothing. As I was driving into our apartment complex, crying feeling sorry for myself that my husband doesn’t even care enough about me to answer his phone, I thought to myself, ever-so-slightly, that “he better be on the floor or something.”

(I already know I'm a horrible person, no need to comment here)

Sure enough... I walk into our apartment, and to my left, underneath the Christmas tree, lies my husband. In an awkward position, on his knee and his head, butt up in the air. Wheelchair still upright. “I’m okay,” he says. I took off my coat, set the bag of medicine down on the counter and went over to him. Thought #1: I’m a horrible person. Thought #2: How can he do this to me??? I’m the sick one!!! Do not mess with my title! I am earning this pity party! I’m exhausted, and now I have to muster up the strength to pick you up off the ground!!! He told me to sit with him, on the floor. So I did. We sat facing each other, knees to knees. And I cried. I went on and on about how I just don’t matter, ever, and he doesn’t understand that because he always gets to matter. He probably said some other sweet, wonderful things trying to encourage me, but I wasn’t having it. I was angry. And exhausted. And sick, remember?

I scooted his butt back up against the couch. Stood on the couch and lifted him, from behind, up onto the couch. Then I was about to transfer him from the couch and I said something else, probably self-absorbed and not-nice, and that’s when it happened. We went into full blown fight mode. Oh, it was ON then! I picked his butt up, put him in the chair, and didn’t say another word. I started unloading the dishwasher and he started going down the front hall to the office. He said he was sorry for saying something mean. I knew he was. I was also so angry at that point, I know what it’s like to be so angry you say something you don’t mean.

We cried, together. Me sitting there on his lap. I told him that it’s so hard living with him, waking up next to him and laying down next to him everyday. That the “perspective” I have to face everyday of him being paralyzed and how it just trumps everything and makes it impossible for me to feel like I ever matter, or ever actually have any problems that are significant, because up against THAT, nothing even registers on the Richter scale, ya know? That, at the end of the day, I’m wiping his butt. Literally and figuratively. But, he pointed out, you’re not my butt-wiper. So true! Profound. Like he walks the dog, but I don’t view him as the dog walker. I don’t. Such a good point.

After that day there was another day of me crying like a whiny baby because I just wanted him so badly to just say “good morning” to me or ask if I needed anything. Or ask if I wanted a cup of tea when he was heating one up. There was another day when I was cleaning and organizing and cleaning and organizing while repeating to myself, sometimes silently and sometimes not-so-silently, “shut up, do your job, expect nothing because you deserve nothing.” Feeling all used, and taken advantage of....

Then, I started my period. :)

It’s not completely that simple, really. There’s still so much to process.
But today was a good day. And last night was a good night. And that’s already SUCH an improvement over last New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

I can assure you that 2010 was one of the hardest years of my life. I’m tempted to say it was the “worst” year, but I don’t know, now that all is said and done, that I can actually say that. A lot of seeds were planted in me in 2010. I endured deep pain, mostly emotionally, some physically. I never made it through a week without crying in 2010. That sounds so sad, doesn’t it? It was. It was a really, really sad year. I shed a lot of tears, lost weight, gained it back, lost hair, had anxiety attacks and high blood pressure and found a varicose vein in one of my legs.

First goal for 2011. Be happier and just chill out. Life is short. Sometimes it's sad. Sometimes it's just PMS.


Dana Brown Ritter said...

Babe, feel free to fill this in from your perspective!

Reece said...

I love reading your blogs. So honest and transparent.

Tonja said...

I love you, Dana, for all you do for my nephew, but also for yourself. You are a great addition to our family. Over the last 23 1/2 years, I have felt some of what you are feeling also. I think for me it was because I was just spoiled. But I have to say that I know beyond a shadow of doubt that God blessed me greatly when He brought Robby and I together. We have certainly had our rough spots, especially being diagnosed with lupus in my kidneys less than 2 months after being married. But Robby's shoulders have always been big enough to carry my burdens also. I know that Michael's can carry yours too. Always be honest with him and let him know what you are feeling. Don't ever keep it bottled up inside. Never feel bad or guilty for what you are feeling. You are a great person and loved very much by a lot of people. Glad you are feeling better, too. Love ya!

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl said...

Hugs, Dana! Don't forget to cast your burdens on the One who is big enough to carry them for you.

And for the record, I am totally impressed at all you manage to do.

Anonymous said...

I was reading this story and my heart is just breaking and wondering what you will say next and then you say you got your period and it all just made sense. I do relate to your story in some ways. Living in a foreign country and being single you do a lot of things in life alone. Being sick is not a fun thing to do alone but God gives me the strength to endure and move on thankfully. I love your goal for 2011. it's a brilliant idea. Ann

Mike Ritter said...

When I fell out of the chair I thought, "Great! Here you go again! Poor Dana is at the clinic getting her lungs checked and you fall out of your chair!" I tried scooting myself more upright, but it just didn't work. I even had a deep theological discourse on whether God matters, then found myself praying to him.

I knew Dana would need reassurance when she got back and saw me that I was fine. I knew I'd need to go step by step through getting me up again. I knew it would be tough.

We've been here before. Dana gets so overwhelmed making sure everything is right -- no, that nothing goes wrong -- that it really hits her hard when something goes awry.

This time, Dana was unrelentingly sad and convinced she didn't and never would matter. We couldn't both be pitiful at the same time. My pitiful trumped her pitiful.

One thing I'm reminded of time and time again is that we are together. In everything -- together. What affects one of us affects the other. Because she is the primary caregiver, Dana feels added responsibility to anticipate and meet my needs. For this reason I'm always dreading any hiccups.

We're still working through making this healthy. It is a unique strain. While we rely on each other in ways other couples don't, we also face complex challenges and emotions.

Kristen's comment reminded me of the moment on the floor -- in the thick of helplessness -- that Dana is here often. We both try to fix things. But like I just prayed to him helpless on the floor, we have to continue crying out even when we're overwhelmed by all of the mess.

Ugh, another stupid theology lesson!

Kristen Maddux said...

And THIS is why I mentioned you guys in my top favorite/inspirational blogs of the year. (I know...huge honor. Can you take it?? hee hee! ;)
But it takes real courage to talk about the stuff that's not all happy, shiney...and you guys do it with such honesty and balance.
And it encourages others along the way. You guys are a great team. I know that with God, your life together is going to be SO GOOD!

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you Dana! Thank you guys for being such a fun-loving couple who face challenges everyday and deal with them with love and grace. I know what it is like to "trump" Will's dilemmas, but trust me, I would much rather not have that position. However, God in His ultimate plan, knew what Michael and Jamie and Dana and Will's roles would be and it is a perfect plan. We don't understand it always, but it is perfect. Love you guys! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting see into your heart, for sharing the hard, not-so-pretty parts o life. Your authenticity is amazing, and I'm excited to see all that God is going to do in and through you & your husband! :)


S. J. Wells said...

You know, Dana, it seems like the minute I think I have a handle on this whole being a wife and mother thing, God says, "Well, here's something to challenge you, Shannon." :) Your willingness to be honest about everything on the internet, inspires me to want to blog about a few things. Life is hard, sometimes, but God is always good. Keeping you both in my prayers.