I am sitting in my car outside the residential home which is home to, amongst others, my great Aunt Thelma.
The reason I am here is that she is dying. I am one of those terrible people who never visits their relatives when they go into care. Its NOT that I don’t care, because I really do, but I can hear that little voice right now telling me ‘if you really cared you would be here all the time making this bearable for her’.
The problem for me is that I find it so awkward and difficult. I know what you are going to say and it is true… I am behaving in a most selfish way. This shouldn’t be about how I feel or how well I can cope with the visits. It should be about trying to do all I can to make Thelma happy in the time she has left, which according to the doctor isn’t too long.
Apparently the cancer she had 20 years ago has returned and has now seeded throughout her body. She has become weak and frail, and has started to refuse food. The saddest thing is, I believe she can still think and feel the same as before she deteriorated. She knows she is in a home and she knows we put her there. She knows her beloved house has been sold to fund it. She knows I don’t visit very often. She knows she doesn’t want to live any more.
The sad thing for me is that I lost Thelma a long time ago. This woman is just a shell of who she was, not the person who had a huge part of my childhood growing up. At least I have those memories and I am trying not to let them be overshadowed by these new ones.
I am finding things very hard at the moment and it is taking all the resources I have to survive it. I feel as though I am spinning 20 plates and all it will take is one to topple to bring the rest crashing down.
Two weeks ago, my dad told me his prostate cancer had spread to his bones and the hormone therapy he had been having was no longer working, and he now needed to have a course of chemotherapy.
I have never before thought about my dad dying. I rely on my dad for everything, despite having James in my life now. I simply cannot imagine my life without him, obviously I know that everyone dies at some point, but this now makes it all very real.
I know I should talk to him properly to find out the actual facts about what is going on but I cannot bring myself to. Once again I find myself being so utterly selfish. This whole thing is not about me. I should be doing all I can to support him but instead find myself wanting to avoid any contact with him.
I dont know if this is a defence mechanism I have developed through my mental illness, or whether it means I am simply a weak and selfish person. I know I can no longer blame my borderline and have to take responsibilty for my thoughts, feelings and actions.
I know I feel utterly broken inside about the fact that he is going to die. I find myself torturing myself over things I have done in the past which inadvertently hurt him, such as suicide attempts or self harm. I find myself thinking he will never meet my children or might not be at my wedding. I think about what his last moments will be like.
All of this might sound melodramatic but I cant pull these thoughts from my head. The worst is yet to come, I know. He has just started chemo. I am worried about how I will feel and react when he loses his hair. I wish I knew how to stop being so selfish and step up to the strong person he needs me to be to support him.
I cry myself to sleep when James is asleep next to me, and in fact two weeks later still choke up and get teary when I think about or see anything that reminds me of the situation.
James has been good for the last two weeks but today he has really hurt me and so that is another reason why I find myself sitting here.
I have mentioned this in previous posts but I do have an issue with the lack of sex in our relationship. We have been together 8 months and when we first met, we were having sex every time we saw each other. Now, we have sex once per week, twice if I am lucky.
I understand that he gets very tired (long hours through shift work) and he is stressed, and I also understand that I am probably needing to have sex for the wrong reasons. I find myself writing down when we have sex and counting how many times per week we do it. If it goes too long, I find myself worrying that I am too fat, too ugly, too hairy, and that he doesn’t want me any more.
Last night I tried to bring this up in conversation but he got defensive. He told me that I always come on to him at awkward times and that when I throw myself at him it is like a car crash (that hurt). I told him I feel as though he is always making excuses for reasons not to have sex (too tired, headache, work in morning, not had a shower). I told him I thought it was women who were supposed to make excuses and not men. I told him I didn’t want him to have sex with me because he felt pressured into it… I wanted him to WANT it himself, and the fact that he didn’t was the thing that I found most hurtful.
He went out and bought me some dinner, and bought me a bunch of flowers. He does thoughtful things like that so I find myself wondering why I am hung up on the sex thing. Perhaps it is because sex to me means something completely different. Perhaps to him ot means, I’m horny. Sex to me means, I still love you, I still find you attractive, I still want to be with you. I guess I can understand why I have an issue that he says he doesn’t want to.
This morning I told him that him saying I was like a car crash was really hurtful. We were lying in bed together and in the back of my mind was the fact that we hadn’t had sex since last monday, and I am due on tomorrow. I felt like I needed to have sex because of his, but I CAN see how this is wrong. Sex should be spontaneous and wanted, not just done so that it hasn’t been left too long. I don’t really know how my thinking like this came about but I wish I knew what was normal.
He told me he felt like 4 months ago I had stopped supporting him. I told him I didn’t agree. I make him lunches at 11pm before bed, I listen to him, I spend hours helping him with coursework and revision for the course he is doing, I ask him about his day, I drive him to work at 6.30am when the weather is too bad for his bike. I thought I had done nothing BUT support him for the last 4 months… if I havent been supporting him what HAVE I been doing??
We were supposed to be having lunch today but I told him I was going out to see Thelma. I need some space to be away from him. I don’t know what to think or how to feel about him. He tells me that for the last 2 weeks I haven’t opened up to him and have shut him out. What if that is what I have needed to do to keep going? When I finally did open up to him he told me I can’t cry all the time and there is no point mourning him before my dad is dead. Agreed. Both valid points. But it isn’t as easy as that.
I can feel old symptoms just creeping up slowly. A little dissociation here and there. An irrational thought. I have never been under this much pressure in my life. I find myself wishing I was back in hospital with no worries and no responsibilities just to catch a break.
I also have the concern of work. I work within my mums business but she wants me to take over. She is working less now my dad is ill which puts a lot more pressure on me, pressure I am not sure I am ready or able, or well enough, to cope with. Time will tell I suppose.