A New Normal

Do you ever feel like you have switched placed with your spouse?  Somehow, someway, you have completely switched rolls, and in some ways, personality.

My husband and I simply put, have switched roles.  My husband at one time was the take charge, take the lead type of guy.  He would make sure business got taken care of, no matter how uncomfortable it was.  Thoughtful and decisive, he made decisions.  If there were bills that needed to be paid, he paid them, even if it meant not having money left over.  He was ambitious, and dreamed of the future.  He was positive, and upbeat, always having a laugh or a smile for someone.  An impeccable memory, he was able to remember the smallest detail.  Anyone could tell you that my husband could also talk forever.  He loved to talk.  It was his “thing.”  Above all he loved to talk to new people, and travel, experiencing a new place, new people, and new adventures.  I was complete opposite of that.  My memory was horrible, although I love to talk, I wasnt one who met friends easily, being more reserved and quiet.  Suffering from anxiety, there were times I stayed at home, not wanting to go out.  Avoidance was a big thing for me, avoiding anything that was difficult, and having little ambition, or dreams.

Now, today, he and I are completely opposite of the way we once were.  He hangs back, lets me take the lead and take charge.  He waits for me to make a decision, or is hesitant in making his own.  Conversations we have are forgotten days later.  Medical appointments, dental appointments, are now up to me to make, and go with him so they are remembered/kept.  I’ve had to help become his memory.  We avoid crowds, and stay home a lot.  When old friends are seen, my husband is now more quiet, more reserved, almost seemingly deep in his own thoughts.  The laughter comes occasionally, but not like it once did.  Some days, he spends his time in our bedroom, away from the world.  Those are the bad days.  Sometimes they come several days in a row, sometimes they dont.  Plans are rarely made, for fear of them being broken.  Invites are politely declined, to the point they are now rarely asked.  Very few understand.

This isnt to say there arent good days.  I see a smile, hear a laugh, and we actually venture out into the world.  He works 5 days a week, which helps with consistency, and purpose.  He takes care of the kids, giving him routine, and there again purpose.  There are days, that I see he needs sleep or help.  I help get our daughter to out the door to school and take our son to school to help him out, even though I will be late to work.  Days where I have had to take off, in helping him, just by being there.  Some days the kids and I have to go out without him, and some days he joins us.  At times, we have several good days in a row.

With all these changes, I’m learning to find a new normal.  Settling into new ways.  Over the past few years, things have been chaotic and all over the place to say the least.  The past year however, since my husband has gotten on a new medication, has been better, and we are settling in a “new normal.”  Our new normal isn’t what I ever envisioned,  but then again, life never is.  I know some days I have to pick up the slack, and on most things take the lead in getting them done.  It isn’t to say he does nothing.  He tries every day.  He tries for us, and some days I can see it is a struggle for him.  It isn’t something I can describe.  Those days if we are able, I leave him alone, and let him sleep.  The kids, they keep him grounded, give him a purpose, and help him through “the darkness.” I’ve learned (although, don’t always abide by) how I communicate with him,, and when to communicate something, and when to wait.  This is the beginning to  our new “normal” life that we are still figuring out.

 

Code Words

code words

Code words.  This is something my husband and I found that works for us.

We came up with a word that was totally random that we could use when he would begin to get into his angry rantings.  This was used to diffuse the situation,  and for him to know he needed to chill out.  He would walk away and cool off.  The word we use is acorn.  We haven’t had to use it in a while.  As the rages slowly went away, we would use it in other ways, if one of us were to go off into a drawn out rant about one thing or another and needed to cool out.  Lately we haven’t found the need to use this code word, as we are both learning to communicate again.  Please note that is an everyday process, and we still don’t have all the answers.

Another word we use is “noted.”  We use it when I am saying something he doesn’t necessarily want to hear, which is usually about getting back into therapy or something to do with his health.  So I know he hears me and understands, but doesn’t want to talk about it, he says noted.  This way I back off, but I’ve at least said what I needed to.  In doing this particular code word, I’ve also had to gage his moods, and know when I can approach certain subjects and when I can’t.

It has all been a learning curve, figuring out what works for us, and what doesnt.  I’m still learning, and at times, adjusting.  I don’t claim to know everything.  In fact I know very little.  I only know what we have gone through, what we have tried, what works and doesn’t work for us.  Everyday it takes hard work.  Sometimes when life is moving so fast you can’t catch your breath, it is easy to forget.  I’m human and I make mistakes.  But the key to that is learning from those mistakes, and changing it so I don’t do it again.

My parents always told me, in life, nothing comes easy.  I never understood that until going through all that we have.  Life isn’t a fairy tale, and it isn’t happily ever after.  Life is about learning and hard work.  Relationships take both.  Love isn’t always enough.  Learning to work together, instead of against one another has helped us.  But it is one day at a time, one step at a time, taken together.  I know there will be misteps, but it is taking from those misteps to try and make sure they don’t happen again.