Monday, September 18, 2006
The Eagle has Landed!
My husband is home from the hospital. He's steeped in oxycodone and at least ten pounds lighter and finds it difficult to move without wincing, but he's home at last. Never one to look at the rough side of life, he has surprised me over the last couple of days with his downturned mouth and the trenches that have settled in between his eyebrows. I cannot imagine the pain he must be in and how exhausting it must be to never be without it.
I have been reminded again and again of an important lesson I have been slowly absorbing over the past year and it is this: I cannot "fix" things for another person. It is not my place, nor are there usually simple solutions for the problems and pain others face. The most valuable thing I can offer is to sit with someone and help them hold their grief and sorrow. I can think of so many other things I would rather endure than watching my husband suffer physical and emotional agony, but I have to remember that simply being with him is helpful.
A little over a year ago I was in a great deal of psychological pain and found myself in a very dark pit from which I was unsure I would ever emerge. No matter how many times I heard from people I trust and love that things would be fine and I would get through this, I could not accept that. To be in that place of such despair felt hopeless and I only wanted to lie down and hide. I can see that enduring physical pain without even intermittent relief and having to rely on others for the most basic functions one normally takes for granted can produce the same helplessness and I sympathize. I know that his body will heal and I have witnessed him make leaps in his abilities every few days. I can conceptualize how his body is depleting its resources by fighting pain and growing scar tissue and performing the acts of daily living under such stress, but to communicate that to him is not as helpful as simply sitting with him and offering my love and support. Just because he will look back on this in a few months' time and be grateful to be without pain or physical limitation does not mean that today's pain is less.
Acknowledging the power of his current state to affect his psyche is one part of the partnership I have agreed to uphold - sharing his discomfort and supporting his right to express it.