Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tandem Diving

Post Soundtrack:  Dive by Salvatore

Dealing with an illness is indescribably difficult.  Something about facing sickness causes an odd, reserved space within a person that is deeply private and not easily shared.  Although the stereotype of a chronically ill person is that they are needy, helpless, and even lazy, that stereotype is about as far from the truth as it can get.  It seems that when facing sickness that is completely out of one's control, the result is to buckle down, shut up, and try to pull through as best one can without complaint or help.  I wish I knew why that was, but I've seen so many attempt it, myself included.

There is this wordless inner drive to do my best on my own.  I don't want to admit when I am hurting.  I don't want to reveal that I feel bad, and don't want to try and explain what that means.  There are no words sometimes for that "blech" feeling, it just is.  There are times I don't want to ask for help, though I should, because asking for help means I can't do it, when I should be able to do it by myself... if I were healthy.  Perhaps that's the key there... the aching longing to be healthy again.  It is a never-ending desire to be normal again, to be able to act and feel and move and think like I did before my illness struck.  That haunting desire entices me to pretend that I'm healthy again, to ignore the warnings my body is giving me, to act out the parody that it will inevitably become.  It's a vicious cycle, since not listening to my body equals flares and setbacks that are dead weight to a grieving and depressed soul.

This song is how my heart feels when I turn to my husband for help.  "I don't wanna drown tonight," is so apropos.  I drown in my symptoms.  I drown in my emotions.  I drown in my struggles.  I drown in my perceived failures.  I try to face it by myself a lot of the time, but there comes a point when I just can't anymore.  Each verse starts with that feeling of teetering on the edge of being incapable of dealing with it on my own anymore.  "I've been doing it myself, but now I need some help."  This sort of admission is terribly difficult.  Admitting that I need help means I'm not enough, that I can't, that I'm defeated.  That idea aches through me unspeakably.  No one has shamed me, nor accused me, nor been disappointed in my failure to live as if I'm healthy, but I do it plenty to myself.

But I am thankful that I am not alone.  I don't have to face any of this on my own.  "Ain't nobody know me better than you know me," the song says, and that is so true of my husband.  "But I know we can swim."  He is always there for me, whether it is to carry something for me, to help me get up, or to hold me when it's just too much, offering his emotional strength as a bulwark.  But I would never require he do all this for me, so the question asked in the song, "Tell me, would you dive with me?" represents my call for his help, my plea that he stay with me, even though I know he will already.  It is both an appeal and an acknowledgment of him as my partner in my illness.

Without my husband, I would be lost at sea.  Holding myself away from him for his sake would only hurt the both of us.  He wants to be there for me, and I need him so desperately.  So we have come to a point where we dance fluidly with and around my Lupus, together.  We swim side by side as the storms on the sea of life buffet us.  None of it can separate us, and careening along in tandem with my beloved, I will not drown.

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