Monday, October 10, 2011

Question of the Week:
Dealing with Disappointment?

When I'm feeling down by inspira
Life is full of disappointments: the date who didn't call, the job we didn't get, the perfect apartment that just got rented to someone else.  Sooner or later, we all learn to cope with these setbacks and heartbreaks in life.  We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and keep moving forward like everyone else does.


But what do you do when your biggest disappointment in life is your chronic illness?

Clearly this is something you can't just brush off and hope to move on to something more pleasant.  Plus being chronically ill doesn't just disappoint you; it often results in the people around you feeling disappointed too.  Chronic illnesses can consistently prevent us from fulfilling our expectations and wishes, not to mention the expectations and wishes of those around us!

I got a reminder of this Friday night.  Robert and I got into a fight about doing the dishes, only it had nothing to do with the dishes.  It was yet another catalyst for Robert getting in touch with his feelings about his disappointments with me.

You see, if I was healthy and not working, it would be reasonable for me to take charge of the household and be a domestic goddess.  I'd be cooking, cleaning and running errands while he was at work.  It would be a fair and equitable split of the housework responsibilities.

Instead I am home all day and not able to get much done.

I know he is often tired when he gets home from work and the last thing he wants to do is chores around the house.  I'm doing the best I can to get as much done as possible, but that pales in comparison to what I used to be able to do.  The ideal solution here is to hire help, but with me not being able to work and my disability income just a small fraction of what I used to make, it isn't a affordable solution right now.

So we had a fight about the dishes piled up in the sink--which was really about my inability to meet his expectations being that I am home all day with plenty of time on my hands.  It's too bad too.  I'd really like to use my hands and the rest of my achy body to get things done, but that is besides the point.

He needs to figure out how to come to an acceptance of my circumstances, which for him has been a long and slow process.  Long and slow because he doesn't walk in my shoes.  Long and slow because he sees a wife that doesn't really look sick on the outside. It's a big change for him, there is no denying it. As much as I hate fighting, I see how it serves a purpose and moves his process along.


In some respects, being the sick one seems to make it easier to accept the changes.  Although I still often feel this way:
"Inside every sick person is a well person wondering what the hell happened."
~Anonymous

In the end, the dishes got done.  After a few hours, things cooled off and we moved on.  The weekend ended on a pleasant note with us having some fun putting up our outdoor Halloween decorations.

I don't know if I really have the answer to dealing with the disappointments resulting from a life with chronic illness.  I personally have taken the "grin and bear it" approach.  When it comes to the other people in my life, I find myself reminding them, "This is the way things are.  I'm sorry and I am doing the best I can given the situation."

So what do you think?  How do you deal with disappointment, both your own and that of the people around you? Do you think disappointment is just a part of living with chronic illness or is it a pit-stop on the way to acceptance?

Leave me a comment here or over at the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page so we can discuss this topic further.


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3 comments

ann said...

When I (the wife and mom) was the one with a chronic illness (fibro, degenerative disc disease are the 'official' diagnosis) I rarely saw the disappointment in my spouse. Then my youngest son was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease at 10 years old. The first couple of years he bore up pretty well, but lately I 'feel' him struggling with 'what the hell happened to our life?' It is a heavy and sad feeling to be a part of the reason for the one I love to be struggling with that. I try and help him (and thereby myself) by being as patient as I can, giving him as much time and opportunity to find a way to recharge his own batteries and come to terms with things. And, maybe most importantly, gently reminding him that 'it is what it is, let's deal with it together.' So far we're doing ok. Thanks for sharing.. I'm going to go poke around your blog now. :)

Anonymous said...

This was so timely for me since I just sulked off after loading the dishwasher, angry and hurt that hubby was insensitive yet again.

I didn't accomplish much today.However, yesterday I did a lot.I move slowly, very slowly, following a day of activity. This is just how it is. It's how it has been ever since The Fibro Fiend came to live with me. Hubby commented that he didn't notice that I did a lot yesterday. Went on to further state he didn't know when I would have accomplished so much since he was home all day yesterday.

Interesting...interesting that he had a closet full of freshly pressed shirts and pants to choose from this morning. Hmmm...guess the housekeeper/personal assistant was here yesterday.

Well now, I feel better having vented out into cyberspace. And thanks for the post.

Sherry

Helena said...

Great post Selena! Thanks for sharing a personal experience. I agree that sometimes it can feel like one step forward and two steps back when it comes to helping our husbands understand our limitations. It takes a lot of work but eventually we arrive at a mutual understanding even if it's far from perfect.