14. You're Never Alone with a Schizophrenic ...or just when I thought chemo would be the roughest part...
I used to love this Ian Hunter album, although looking back I now realize the title made no sense.
If you are with a schizophrenic, you are obviously not alone.So perhaps “You’re Never Alone when You’re Schizophrenic” would have been a better way to go.
“Genius observation!” I can hear you saying. “But what does that have to do with living with your post-chemo, semi cancer-free wife?”
Well lemme tell ya…
With apologies to those struggling with mental health issues, my life partner is currently rocking that schizophrenic/Sybil vibe.
You know, the woman with 16 different personalities?
There’s sleepy/tired wife, super gassy “I’ll fart where I want to” wife, “Almost jump out of the car and attack someone who can’t park” wife…
Now, there’s still “happy, funny, so glad I married her” wife - a blast from the recent past - but then there’s “I might kill you in your sleep” wife, who shows up just when you think things are getting back to normal.
And most of her new personaes, to greater and lesser degrees, are linked in the common belief that I’m a useless idiot. (Fine, to be fair, sometimes a useful idiot, as removing some pots that are on the top shelf requires my long-armed reaching ability.)
I don’t know how to drive or where I’m going, I can’t do a proper “sit up” at the gym, I snore, I’m fat, I can’t dress myself… and the list goes on and on and on...
Even the most minor screw-up are greeted by a roll of the eyes, a shake of the head or the “Dear Jesus you’re a moron” chuckle. I fucking hate that chuckle.
(I joke that it’s like living with a woman who’s constantly on her period, but it’s a joke I try not to tell around her.)
Now I know it’s her post-chemo brain taking over. I know she’s hurting in ways I can’t ever understand.
I know this.
And it’s not forever. But shit… there are days…
I had hoped the hardest part was over when the they stop pumping the poison into her veins to amp up her white blood cells and kill whatever cancer bits might still be hiding out.
Turns out, it’s the post recovery that’s really tough to get through. There’s no steroid bump for her any more, so it’s just the body getting better on its own.
I know she hurts. And hurting people aren’t fun to be around. (Hang with me when I’ve got the flu sometime, I’ll prove it to ya.) And I know when you’re the only person in the vicinity, sometimes you take the shots and bear the brunt of the anger that should rightly be aimed elsewhere.
That’s the marriage contract, people. Should be part of everyone’s vows.
And so you solider on. And you hope like hell that today will be different.
And then you screw something up. Something minor, almost trivial, and even though there’s a simple solution that’ll take five seconds to fix, there’s the long silence.
Me: What’s wrong? Are you mad at me?
Her: I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.
And every insult and slight you’ve smiled through over the past few months is suddenly right there at the surface.
You are the husband volcano. But you stamp it down. It’s the chemo, you tell yourself, don’t say anything marriage ending. You may be ready to go off, but now is not the time.
So we basically don’t talk for a day. Day and a half, actually.
And when we finally get around to it, she explains that when I screw up the little things, it makes her think that I can’t handle the big stuff.
That’s crazy, I tell her. I’m operating at 99% peak cancer husband efficiency. I am on shit. I’m her chauffeur, her foot rubber, her doctor question asker… I have got this.
I know, she says. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s how I feel.
And then we make sweet, sweet love… Kidding, still in the chemo sex desert, but that’s for another post.
But it does reassure me. If we keep talking, we’re gonna ride this out.
And I think about how they say great quarterback have short memories… throw an interception, you can’t be afraid to take that next shot down field.
So I’m trying to let the bad stuff go.
And it’s working.
And because I married a really good person, this week, it actually started to feel like my wife likes me again.
Hopefully we’re gonna string a few of those together.