Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Straight man from heaven

Loving a straight man, we've all done it. I did for many years before I came out and then I just focused on loving gay men. :)

For the past three years, I've been going to a massage therapist for injury treatment work due to a car wreck back then. The massage is the kind that sometimes leaves bruises and hurts more than you can imagine; but it helps more than I ever thought it would to keep this ole body working and working out.

Over time, we've established an intimate bond.

Physically, from the massage, but not from sex.

Emotionally from sharing our stories of his recent divorce & custody issues, my caregiving H, his spiritual path, and our world views. Oh, and we talk and joke about love & sex from a man's perspective. And we laugh and laugh while he works on me. Sometimes cry too.

He has been a gift to me. He introduced me to A Course in Miracles, and only because of that can I even think about forgiveness and love, let alone feel peace sometimes, rather than be mired in anger, fear, pain, and resentment.

It is amazing that the voice spoke through a straight man who causes me so much pain and also helps me so much!

When what I don't say hurts me

Like many guys my age, I've got my share of aches 'n' pains: lower back (especially) from years of sitting and a car wreck and other injuries, neck, & sometimes legs from standing. As a result, I'm pretty good about getting the care that I need: chiropractor, massage, exercise, stretching, etc. All the things that you should do, I guess.

I was whining to my massage therapist about how much my back has been bugging me recently, how I haven't been doing much (resting they call it!), and how I don't understand why it isn't getting better. I asked him if he thought that my back will get better..."Well, you've got this issue going on at home and all that you're holding in is going to cause pain in your body."

So, on top of the dismay at watching someone you love decline, my body is creaking and groaning from the stress.

I know that speaking my truth helps me feel better and holding that truth in makes it worse.

Problem is that I don't want to tell H my truth as I'm worried that it will hurt his feelings. So, it leaks out here and there. And I always feel better afterwards.

Is telling the truth the right thing when the other person probably can't understand it and, even it they could, is there anything that they could do to fix it?

It it worth it to tell the truth for only my sake, then?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Caregiving takes a village or maybe just a daddy

A few days ago, there was an article in the paper about a woman, 60, who had picked up her mother, who has Alzheimer's and is 92, from a care facility and then went to a local cemetery. Once there, apparently, the woman shot her mother, killing her, and then turned the gun on herself, killing herself.

The editorial writer opined about how the job of caregiver is too large for just one person, yet that is often what happens: one person, a spouse or a child, often ends up with primary care responsibilities, many of which they are not prepared for. But they do it because they love the person and sometimes the cost is too high.

At some point, the writer made the gut-wrenching decision of putting her father into a facility for those with dementia. She came to the realization that, in spite of heroic efforts on her part , she just couldn't handle the stress and difficulty of caring for her father as he slipped away.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to provide care for someone in decline, she argues, and speculates that maybe these womens' village wasn't large enough and the caregiving stress was just too great.

My village isn't large enough either. 99% of the time, I am the one who takes care of H. Just little ole me. His family will come to aid when there is a health crisis, but otherwise, they are "just glad that you take such good care of H." (Translation: we're happy we don't have to and don't know what we'd do if you weren't there.)

I used to joke that H didn't need a caregiver, he needs a staff. There's medication set up & dispensing, driving, Dr. appointments, food (and he's getting pickier and pickier in what he eats), help with chores, help with personal grooming, help with shopping, etc.…you get the idea. It is more than a one-person job, yet I continue to believe that I can soldier on.

Recently, H and I were having a tense discussion about sex (again). The last time we tried to have sex, I cried (how hot is that?) and couldn't get it up (grief is front and center for me lately)…neither could he. I've given up trying to be sexual with him.

So, we're sitting out on the deck, having this conversation and suddenly, he blurts out, "I'm going to get me a daddy that will give me sex and a Bentley convertible."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Relief & grief

When H is sleeping for much of the day, I get a break. And I get sad and lonely too.

When he's sleeping, I can pretty much do what I want. (Although he has an uncanny sense of timing and seems to often wake up just when I decide to watch one of those all-male movies.) And I don't get asked questions, don't get handed projects, and am not subject to the guilting that he unintentionally does so automatically these days.

And when he's sleeping, I can pretend, if only for a bit, that I am not a caregiver for my dying partner.

And when he's sleeping, I don't have to listen to the same few topics: his health worries, his anger at his parents for what they did/didn't do when he was a child, paranoid delusion that people are watching us for some unknown reason (because we must have done something), and, or course, what needs to get done around the house.

But lately when he's sleeping, I'm struggling to think of anything except how much I miss him. And I cry for a bit and it passes.

Then he gets up and I still miss him.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When he bitches me out

Projects around our house don't get done anymore. We had a major remodel about 3 years ago, but then H went into the hospital, had 6 or less months to live, and I lost all interest in doing anything around here. Except for the garden and the plants in the sunroom…my garden is my sanctuary.

H has been after me, quite vigorously, about "getting stuff around here done." After 3 or 4 conversations about the project (where I try to put it in the context of all that is going on, aka not a priority for moi), he starts it. Painting is what he loves. So he's started 2 painting projects recently. There is still blue tape on 3 walls and two windows and a wall is 2/3 rds a brand new, dark color, which I LOVE.

I am so not into working on our house…right now...when he is dying or at least very, very sick. I would love to do a project with him, but he can't stay out of bed for more than a few hours right now. How I miss our time together, getting stuff done around here.

I don't tell him all the reasons why I'm not into working on the house: time, energy, a problematic back, or, the real reason: how much I miss him that he is not there to do these things with. To accomplish a project, have some fun, and then have wild monkey sex. Oh, throw in some scotch and a bacon cheeseburger with fries and … well, our times together, working on our life together. Good times that I miss.

It is hard when he bitches me out for projects not getting done, like the painting. He's right: it desperately needs to get done. But it isn't about the house anymore. His distress is all about that HE can't do the projects anymore. It isn't about me. I can't possibly understand his anger at what is happening.

And I want to tell him why I don't have the heart or the motivation to have the work done. He can't even supervise a crew anymore…him, a master of conducting. And I won't point that out to him when he is worked up and angry at the world…if ever.

So, when he bitches me out, all I can do is agree that it needs to be done and tell him that I love him.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An exercise in reduction

Many days, H struggles to follow a TV show or a daily conversation. He will ask about the same thing over and over again with escalating anxiety about the topic. He offers only the same 4 or 5 topics for conversation and he stares into space for 10 minutes at a time. Most days, he sleeps most of the time.

Fewer and fewer days now, he can be articulate, funny, and charming...just a glipse.

I miss him, "like the deserts miss the rain." I so want for him to be there more than he is, but he is declining and there is less and less of him left.

While some deaths are sudden, I'm watching the process of H's life leaving him and him leaving us. I've written prior about our life together shrinking and he is falling behind more and more as I move forward just living my (rather dull) life.

For his sake and mine a big part of me will stay behind with him just to be with him, just to love him. He will be better for it.

And when I don't need anything from him anymore, I can just be with him. I will be able to forgive him for whatever it was whenever it happened or didn't and just love him unconditionally.

As he slips away and our life together recedes, all that is left is the love between us. And the way to the depth of that love is through forgiveness.