Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Backing Off

It’s been a long time coming!

Finally, after years of being over protective, attempting to be proactive, at times becoming combative, I have learned the art of backing off, or as some males would put it, getting off his back. Backing off, or getting off one’s back, is a term used to describe a woman who is leaving her man alone. She is not nagging him or pestering him about any one thing. Many women had a hard time mastering this skill, especially women like myself, whose husbands have Parkinson’s Disease. But, ladies and gentlemen, I am please to announce that I have officially backed off!

It was long over due. For years I held the opinion that Keith had no clue as to what was best for his health. I believed that just didn’t care about whether or not the PD progressed. I cared. I believed. I care and believed a little too hard, according to some. I tried to fix PD, as if that’s even possible. I tried to fix Keith’s attitude about it - even less possible. I resented, festered, burned, yelled, begged, and cried. I did all the normal things a nagging wife would do when met with opposition. And although we have always maintained a good, healthy and happy marriage, I would be lying if I said that it did not affect our relationship. For about a year we just weren’t as happy as we used to be. I decided to take action. I backed off.

It can be hard to get off someone’s back when sometimes you don’t intend to be there at all. Often times you end up there quite by accident. You realize suddenly, usually by the way the PWP is looking at you, that somehow you have crossed the line, said something you shouldn’t have said. You are now accidentally on his back. You have nagged him, or maybe even simply reminded him of something that should have gone unsaid. Like the time Keith and I were discussing adding on to the house. I casually mentioned that a much large, wheelchair accessible bathroom would be a good idea. The look on his face clearly said Gee, thanks for reminding that I have a degenerative disease, as if I could ever forget, and for taking all the fun out of building an addition to the house! Oops! Then there was the year-long fight about moving out of the house or not moving out. I never intended to upset him each and every time I brought it up. I never intended to make him feel like an invalid or that he had nothing to look forward to. I never intended to make him feel like he had no say in his own health or in our future together. Somehow, just by being me and wanting to help and fix everything, that’s what happened. I rode his back for a solid year thinking I new better. But not anymore.

Being married to a PWP is a long and very educational journey. I never stop learning. Because the disease is ever changing and always evolving, so is our need to change and evolve with it. Sometimes that means changing what we have always believed to be, methods we have utilized in the past, perceptions of what should be. If Keith is my teacher and PD my classroom, then I have many more years of study ahead of me. As always, I am learning as I go. Though I struggled with this particular class more than any other, I am happy to know that I have finally passed with flying colors.


KEITH said...

Well, at last is right. I can promise you that I know what is possible and not possible or at best very difficult with my body. I know you struggled with it, but I hope our hike to and from the cascades showed you I am in better shape than you thought. Still, if I forget my meds , it gets rough don't it ?
Lova ya !

One Life said...

This post hit me very close to home, guys. I know I'm guilty of the same thing. I've also seen the enthusiasm and the conversation wither up and die when I've put my foot in my mouth again. It happened a lot when we were looking for houses. I never meant to be the reminder of the PD... I only meant to try to make things easier.

I'm finding that sometimes the way to make things easier is just to go on 'as if'. Flexibility is our friend. (Easier said than done - I'm a planner to the nth degree) But the stakes are just too high. Alienate my husband and lose what we have built, or get the satisfaction of sticking to my plan?

And really what I'm finding, and I think what you're finding too, is that there can be no plan. That...maybe....it's okay not to have a plan. That we can make it no matter what happens, as long as we don't destroy what we have between us. I'm not giving the disease the satisfaction of being bigger than B and I.

A long, long learning curve, but we are slowly progressing.

Mary said...

Keith -
yes, the hike was a huge part of finally realizing that you are not nearly as bad off as I sometimes believe. I so often see you tired and worn down after a long day that I overlook how active you actually are during the day, and escpecially on your days off. Thank you for being patient with me! Love you bunches!!!

Mary said...

Michelle, you are so right. It is a long, long learning curve for sure! You and I are so much alike in that we want to fix everything and prepare for everything. We are planners and it drives us nuts to not have it all covered.

I have come to it the hard way - not having a real plan is the only plan. You can set aside money, pencil in what you should/might do in any given situation, but planning too much for the future ruins what you have today. And TODAY is so very important, isn't it? I'm learning to just go with the flow, as difficult as that is for me to do. It has made a difference in the quality of time we have together, so there is my proof that I am doing something right! Holding on to what we have right now is so much more important to me than making sure I have everything ready for the future.

Thank you for being such a great friend!!!! :)