My Craft Wife

It’s a pretty helpless feeling watching someone suffer physically and being unable to do anything to make them feel better. You can speak all the encouraging words you know but it doesn’t do a thing for the actual pain. I’ve been witness to the premature wreckage of my mother and more recently, one of my best friends and co-author of this blog.

Mom has a bad back, neck, and joints among a slew of other issues probably exacerbated by the medication she takes for said back, neck, and joints. I can’t pinpoint when she really started to go downhill but I remember her back and neck surgeries starting somewhere when I was in elementary school. Every year afterward seemed to get just a bit worse than the previous. Then she wound up in an emotionally abusive relationship and spent a great deal of time in bed. Depression knocked her down and when she finally removed the abuser—after 8 years—she’d been sedentary for so long I think it had ruined her. What the boyfriend hadn’t robbed from her quality of life, her Degenerative Joint and Disc disease and immobility had helped itself to. He’s been gone for five years and she is only a tiny fraction of the person she used to be.

And it hurts. Her pain is physical and I can’t begin to understand. What I do comprehend is how heartbreaking this has been for all of us. The pain has robbed her of so much. She can’t keep up after her house like she should, she can’t do yard work, she can’t even carry in heavy groceries. She battles depression every single day and every day she’s able to get out of bed, I’m grateful.

With my history or chronic depression, I know how I would react were I in her shoes. I encourage her and try to help when the chaos allows, but the truth is, I’m weak. I couldn’t handle what she deals with every second of her life.

Now I see *d* fighting the same monster and I break inside. I want to be able to help, to make her more comfortable. I know there is nothing I can do for the physical aspect. All I can do is be there to listen and to try to make her laugh. I know she appreciates my efforts but it doesn’t make me any less angry. She’s not even 35 and so much is being taken from her. We’re the same age. I gripe about a sore back from cleaning houses and she just wishes she could clean her own house. It’s not fair. She’s young and a momma to four kids she doesn’t get to enjoy like she should. Still she stays strong because she has to. Because it’s who she is. Because she is braver than I will ever be.

When she vents to me about the pain, the debilitation, I don’t always know what to say. There are only so many ways to say that you’re sorry. And no matter how literally sorry I am, the word isn’t enough. Not for me.

She is my Craft Wife and I am hers, silly nicknames for two women who love Hobby Lobby and the craft of writing. We also love each other, as great friends who share the darkest parts of their hearts with each other, often do. If I could do anything for her, I would take away the pain. But since I can’t, I will let her know that it’s ok if she’s not always strong. It’s ok to feel the anger and sadness and mourn for the things she’s missing out on. It’s alright to feel robbed. She’s handled every curve ball life’s thrown at her with a grace that I can’t begin to emulate and she deserves to fall apart from time to time. She has people who love her who will scrape her back together to face another day. And as long as I’m around, someone who will whisk her away for greasy bar food, conversation, and trips to the Hobby Lobby.

We're a couple of sketchy characters...haha
We’re a couple of sketchy characters…haha

~L~

The Road of Suffering and Honesty

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There have been plenty of times when I have wished I could be someone else. This usually happens when the “envy monster” whispers in my ear, “Look who has it better than you,” or “They have it all!”  and I get the feeling in the pit of my stomach that groans about how life has been unfair to me. It’s hard when I hear when these same people have purchased a new car or won the lottery and the only “lottery” I feel we have won is that of incurable and obscure diseases. While other parents think about vacations, taking kids to practice, and play dates, we may never afford future vacations, I am often debilitated due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis, and I have to consider my son’s medical and behavioral issues if the rare opportunity for a play date arises. I think about illnesses every day. It is consuming and it eats away at my me. Bit by bit, the worry, guilt, and fatigue has at times compiled into depression. It would seem happiness is far fetched on the uphill battle we often face, but it isn’t. I can affirm that I have experienced envy, guilt, anxiety, depression, and sadness at the hands of multiple diseases. They have robbed me of sleep, peace of mind, and the luxury of quick decisions. Everything in our life has to be carefully thought out and planned. Life is lived one day at a time and we are sometimes barely getting through the day. So why am I so happy?

For one, I live by faith and believe my life has a greater purpose. I believe I have learned to be a better person through all of my suffering. Suffering is inevitable and to many, suffering is pointless but I dare you to consider the contrary. I have had a better look at the lives of others who have suffered around me by experiencing the same. I was ignorant and there was so much I didn’t understand until I also had to experience my life at it’s lowest. It was from the bottom where I could appreciate the strength of people who were experiencing great difficulty. It was also there where I became more aware of my weaknesses and failures and desired to be a better person. I learned how to find strength and happiness in the face of adversity.

It sounds simple but I no longer hold myself to an unrealistic standard. I allow myself to feel envy, sadness, and heartache and it doesn’t make me a bad person.  Too often, I feel like I have to live up to some ridiculous, unspoken standard that says I have to be happy, or at least pretend to be happy all the time. I don’t. Life has been unfair, other people do seem have it better, and there are numerous health issues in my family. The pain is real so shouldn’t the acknowledgement of my own feelings also be real? Once I decided this, I also stopped sugar-coating my response to the question, “How are you?” I give an honest answer and if someone didn’t really want to know, they will not likely ask again. When did it become necessary to omit difficulty out of normal conversation? Difficulty is a part of life. Why should I feel guilty about talking honestly about my life?

I have also put unnecessary guilt to rest. I have spent too much time feeling guilty about things I could not prevent or did not cause. Guilt by its own definition should only be felt when one purposefully does something in contrary to what he or she knows is right. Trying my best is not something I should feel guilty about. Life should not be based on hypothetical scenarios that can’t changed. What’s the point? I also stopped feeling guilty about what I could not do. If life demands that I leave the laundry pile up and the house remain dirty, so be it. My house and my laundry will wait for another day.

On that note, I stopped telling myself that I had to maintain the perfect image. I made myself crazy cleaning house, painting walls, and making everything around me look perfect when I was falling apart on the inside. Yes, sometimes having other areas of my life in order helps me feel better but it should never take priority over my own or the children’s needs.

Lastly, I remind myself that everyone is struggling with something, even those people I envy and people like me who try to maintain that perfect appearance on the outside. Honesty can be very freeing. I appreciate those who are also honest when I ask, “How are you doing?” It helps to know I’m not walking the difficult road alone.

*d*