I’ve long known the hardest part of life is watching the one you love hurt.
I can take any amount of pain easier than watching my fiance in pain, emotional or physical. It’s hard because I want to ease his pain, to take it away, and make everything better.
What I often forget, is that it’s just as hard for him when I’m in pain.
Unfortunately, the nature of a chronic illness means that this is a near daily battle for him. Each doctor visit, each trip to the ER, each new symptom, he has to struggle with seeing me in pain, stressed, hurting, depressed. And there is very little he can do to help me.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
In his mind, there’s little he can do to help. Because to him, helping means taking my pain away. However, there are many things he does that are helpful to me. Cooking dinner, catching up on chores, the extra trips to the store for whatever item I can keep down today, rubbing my back so I can fall asleep, it all helps more than he knows.
I’ve realized over the last few years that I need to tell him when he’s being helpful. Not only to show appreciation, but so that he knows for the next time what works for me.
It took me ages to be able to ask for help. I felt like such a burden to him already, to ask for anything more killed me. It was also a ding to my pride. I wanted to be able to do for myself, I’m a grown up after all.
Just as I’ve gotten better about asking for his help, I’m getting better at communicating with him what things are helpful to me. It’s been a rocky road, and I still forget sometimes that he can’t read my mind. But we’re learning together how to navigate around all the curveballs chronic illness throws our way.
Now if we could just learn to catch those pitches and throw them back…