Why Leave?

I am watching my father care for my mother as her AD enters the late stages… Sometimes she didn’t recognize him, but lately she knows him again without question. He’s the only one she consistently recognizes. She lights up when he enters the room…My father does not deal well with any of it. He has some not desirable traits and cannot be alone. He’s stated that he will have to find someone right away, and we know he would prefer to have her in a home while he gets on with his life. And yet she still looks to him for comfort. She always facilitated his life (and everyone else’s). This is the time that your spouse needs you the most… My sisters and I are disgusted with him, and my brother pays for nursing care to keep her at home. He knows better than to fight us though, as we are his support systems She would never want to be in a home! She is now barely able to speak and he doesn’t encourage the nurses to get her up. I know he loves her in his own selfish way, but he also cheated on her many times and caused great pain and resentment.

I read this over on Chump Lady and the image filled me with sadness. The idea that this lovely woman had spent her entire life making her husband’s life more comfortable, catering to him, loving him… and when she needs him the most, when she is at her absolute most vulnerable, he is not there for her. Not really. He is resentful of the work he has to do. He wants to put her in a home and get on with his own life. He will not be putting into her care what he got out of her.

It is a frequent topic of conversation how so many cheaters, be they male or female, tend to leave when you need them the most. Stories abound of people who are deserted after a cancer diagnosis, while they’re caring for sick and aging parents (sometimes the partner’s parents), during pregnancy, shortly after childbirth, after a chronic medical diagnosis. Hell, for some it’s simply a matter of being left once you get older. God forbid you lose a limb or become disabled in some way.

Don’t we all deserve so much more? It breaks my heart to think of someone slavishly caring for another person. No task is too daunting. No request is too outrageous. Instead, they give and give and give. They continuously put their own needs and wants on the back burner to care for this person in their life. Until the day comes that they can no longer serve them. Either they are exhausted or they are worn out or just plain sick or declining in health themselves. When they look around for that person they’ve loved and devoted their lives to they see skid marks instead of their beloved. He or she has taken off because they have no intention of returning the favor. These people don’t give; they take. When you no longer serve your purpose as a handy kibble dispenser/spouse appliance, they are only too eager to replace you with a new model, one that will fawn all over them. One that will give and give and never ask for anything in return. You’re on your own.

I’ve said before that the mobster is a much better partner than CF ever was to me. From buttering my roll to running out and buying me shampoo to making me chocolate dipped strawberries or decorating the house or bedroom for me, he is always thoughtful. He thinks about what might please me.

I’ve also said I’m free to speak my mind with him. I can tell him when I’m having a bad day. He talks me down when I’m freaking out. He calms me.

With CF it always felt like a competition. If I told him how I wasn’t getting any sleep because Rock Star woke up in the middle of the night he would go on to tell me he had been woken up in the middle of the night because the alarm at work had gone off. Because being woken up in the middle of the night once is exactly like getting up at 3:30 in the morning every morning for six months. If I complained that it was difficult trying to take care of a baby, work full time, keep the house clean, do laundry, and care for 2 dogs and 6 cats, I was reminded that it wasn’t easy for him being away from us either. If I was stressing over something he treated it like a joke. When he stressed over something he was generally catatonic on the damn bed with me taking charge and solving the damn problem. When he pricked his finger on a cactus it was reason to shut down, return to the hotel room with three kids, and then demand that I sit by his side all afternoon. When I almost stepped on a snake in my damn garage I was told not to worry because it wasn’t poisonous.

Every time he was sick it was a major production. He wanted me to stay home with him because he wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t feel like I could just call off of work because my grown ass husband was sick. I went to work only to get a phone call a few hours later letting me know he had collapsed at least once (it might have been twice). It turned out he really was sick. He had a staph infection in his bloodstream which he probably got from the hospital when they did a spinal tap a week prior. He loved to lord that over me. “Remember that time I told you I was sick and you didn’t believe me?”

Yet, I had 2 miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy and he wasn’t around for much of any of it. He did go to the doctor’s office with me when I had a sonogram done the first time I started to miscarry. He was at the hospital with me that evening when they performed the D&C on me. He also went with me when I had to go get the second shot for my ectopic pregnancy (and that was only because we were already getting ready to go to a friend’s house for a party that evening; we stopped over there on our way).

I remember going to the bathroom, wiping, and then checking the toilet paper and seeing bright red blood. I remember calling him at work in a panic, telling him what was going on. I remember heading home alone after the ultrasound because we had taken separate cars to the appointment. I remember getting the phone call from the doctor. He was so nervous; he had never met me in person and had only talked to me for the first time that morning when I called in hysterics, and now here he was, tasked with giving me the awful news that I was indeed miscarrying and that there was no hope. CF wasn’t there when I got that call. I sat at home all by myself and miscarried our baby. I remember lying on the floor, sobbing, as my stupid dog barked at me. I don’t remember if he stayed at home with me the next day after my D&C, but my guess is no, he did not.

I was by myself when I miscarried the second time. I had only known I was pregnant for about 3 days. I stayed at home and bled, while he went to work and carried on like normal.

Every test I had performed on myself to see why I was miscarrying I went to alone, with the exception of the blood test. He had to go because they wanted to test him as well. So the HSG where they shot dye into my fallopian tubes to check for a blockage, the one that resulted in burning pain that caused me to arch my back up off the table to try to get away from that pain? Yeah, I went to that one alone. And the endometrial biopsy where they snipped? scooped? a piece of my uterine lining to test it? I went to that one alone as well.

I went to appointment after appointment by myself when they were trying to find the ectopic pregnancy (or to simply confirm whether or not it was a viable pregnancy). He was never there to hold my hand as I submitted to blood test after blood test. He wasn’t there for any of the trans vaginal ultrasounds.  This continued for several weeks.

When I finally got the news that it was indeed an ectopic pregnancy I was told I needed to make a decision right then before they would let me leave the office. My choices were surgery which may or may not result in losing my fallopian tube, or the methotrexate shot. While my husband was sympathetic to my plight, and would support any decision I made, he couldn’t leave because he was in a very important meeting with Kimberly Clark. This led to my mom’s famous line, “Tell Kimberly Clark to get her own damn boyfriend!” Maybe if I had opted for the surgery instead of the shot in the ass he might have been able to make it to the hospital by the time I woke up.

All those follow up appointments I had to attend where they would draw blood and track my hcg levels to make sure they were going down? The ones where I asked the nurse if she could please use the baby needle on me because I had been stuck so many times in the last month? Yeah, I went to all of those alone as well.

Aside from the 20 week ultrasound for both kids, I’m not sure he attended a single ob/gyn appointment with me. It’s been at least 16 years so maybe he did attend each time we were supposed to hear the heartbeat finally, but I no longer remember. Him not accompanying me was much more the norm.

When I went to the genetic counselor when I was pregnant the second time I went by myself. The new doctor insisted because of the balanced translocation; it turns out I did have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with a birth defect. Hey, if I’m going to get bad news I may as well be by myself when I get it, right? Fortunately, there was no bad news, although I did find out I was having a boy that day. Too bad CF missed that moment.

Yet every time he was sick I was there by his side. I drove him to the ER. I advocated for him. I stayed with him. I asked for heated blankets and made sure he had something to drink. I spent hours at the hospital with him, sometimes at the expense of my children. And believe me, there were very few times when he got sick that it did not result in a trip to the ER. Every time that man threw up he was convinced he was dehydrated and needed to go to the ER for fluids.

Even on the rare occasion when his illness did not necessitate a visit to the ER I was checking on him, grabbing him a Sprite, fixing him a bowl of soup. I called the doctor. I made his appointments. Hell, I attended most of his appointments with him!

When I was pregnant with Picasso I had terrible morning sickness that lasted well into the second trimester. I eventually was put on medication for it. The day before Thanksgiving (or maybe that Tuesday before Thanksgiving) I was violently ill. I couldn’t keep anything down and I was puking so hard I would pee my pants. It was lovely. Add to that the fact I had a very active toddler. Miss Rock Star was almost 18 months old at that time. She very helpfully would shut the toilet lid on my head as I heaved and peed myself.

CF couldn’t leave work and help me out. He was a very important person and he was needed there at the plant. I spent the day mostly in bed, puking and trying to tend to my rambunctious toddler, hoping against all odds that she would pass out and take a nap with me so that I might rest in-between puking sessions.

Fast forward four or five years. Rock Star and I had tickets to see High School Musical On Ice. This time it was him that was sick. Picasso was a much calmer child. You could put him in bed with you, letting him watch TV while you slept. CF insisted he simply could not be left alone with him. Despite the fact that he literally would have sat in the bed beside him and watched TV the entire time. So I’m calling all around, in our new state, trying to find someone to babysit so that my daughter and I can go to this iceskating musical that we’ve had tickets to for more than 6 months. I thought I was going to have to disappoint her and tell her we couldn’t go when a friend called back and said his son was willing to leave his friend’s house and come babysit for a few hours.

I should have known then but I always told myself and others that I was a strong, independent woman and I didn’t need to have my hand held every time something didn’t go exactly as planned. It’s downright weak to need help from your partner! Other women might need their partner sitting by their feet when they miscarried, but not me. Oh no. I could handle it all on my own.

Now, twenty plus years later I’m realizing how nice it is to have someone around. I don’t need the mobster to hold my hand but I know he will. I’m not going to lie; it feels nice to have someone willing to do that.

I think what makes me the saddest about the comment that started this whole post is the fact that that poor woman spent her entire life giving and putting effort into her relationship with her husband; she spent years nurturing him and putting him first. She forgave his cheating. She strived to keep the marriage together. She probably told herself it would be worth it one day. Or, like one of my long suffering great grandmother’s liked to say, she would get her reward in heaven. Yet here she is, suffering from Alzheimer’s. Her husband is very little help. He’s focused on how hard this is on him and more concerned with finding her replacement than he is with caring for his ailing wife. She is of no use to him and is, in fact, a burden now. She requires considerable care while offering nothing to him.

Let that be a lesson. Don’t waste your time and efforts investing in those who won’t invest in you. If they aren’t doing it now you can’t count on them to do it when you really need it. Chances are very good they won’t. They’ll simply discard you and move along.