A Heart of Compassion

A new semester is starting and for the past several days I have waffled back and forth on if I should stay enrolled.  My husband’s health took another turn for the worse.  Should I skip this semester and therefore not have to lose any school time in the event of him passing away? Is he going to need more care and I won’t have enough time to actually study?

This morning as he sat half-naked in his basement chair, he was drooling, slurring his words, and unable to comprehend some basic information.  He had fallen again and really couldn’t walk well.  I offered to help him get some clean clothes on.  He didn’t want my help.  I offered to get him a blanket which he did accept.  I brought him some tissue so he could wipe his face.  I asked if he was hurt or bleeding.  His response:

I want you to go away.  I don’t ever want to see you again.  You are a curse to me.”

I did have an appointment soon, so I left him sitting there in his filth.  I was briefly offended that he had been so nasty when I had been so nice.  It was uncalled for.  I did not deserve that.  God immediately reminded me that what I just went through was nothing compared to what Jesus went through.  I needed to still have a heart of compassion towards him. Jesus was a servant to all, and I should serve my husband.

“And so as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, patience, and humility…”

After my appointment I came home and laundered all of his clothes that he had piled in a disgusting filthy heap. I made an extra trip to the store to buy him alcohol.  I washed the dirty dishes that he had accumulated.  I offered to make him a sandwich.  His response:

Go away.  You are so condescending.  You treat me like shit.”

That’s just fine.  Still nothing compared to what Jesus went through for me.  I did roll my eyes as I left him sitting all alone.  He is so blind.

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Surrender-it’s a good thing

It is finals week and life is intense.  I still don’t know what to expect from my husband.  One minute he is telling me how proud he is of me in going back to school and making good grades.  An hour later he wants to get into a verbal fight with me.  When I don’t respond, his go-to reply is, “Are you so stupid that you can’t have an opinion?”

Last night I asked him what was all over the floor, pee or water.  He said it was pee, but he cleaned it up.  “Then that is a puddle of water?” I asked.  The next few sentences out of his mouth claimed that yes it was water because he cleaned up an accident, and no, it was pee because he had an accident.  I tried to ask him which it was and his response was, “Really?  You’re that stupid?”

He will complain that nobody talks to him and that we all must hate him.  Shortly after that little rant he proceeds to insult me, our children, and my parents.  He doesn’t always remember stuff that we do tell him about.  Most of the time though, we have shut him out of our daily lives because it is too painful to keep him fully involved.

It has been a long time since my husband’s flip-flopping has increased my blood pressure or gotten my emotions out of whack.  I haven’t always been able to express why this is when my closest friends ask me how I am doing.  All I know is that there is something about the peace of God passing all understanding, if I am willing to surrender.

I have one dog who will let me totally cover her up with a blanket.  She does not freak out, probably because she knows I would never hurt her.  My other dog hates to not be able to see, even for a short time.  Which dog will I choose to be like?  I don’t know if today is the day my husband dies or if it will be next year.  I do know that God has a perfect plan for me and a path to travel.  I cannot see it, but I am ok with that.  My God has covered me with his blanket of peace, and He loves me.

“You still my soul with quiet joy…through the fire and the flood, I know that I am loved.  I can hear You singing over me…”

Remember the Right Stuff

Oh, how quickly I forget!

This morning I started my day by creating a document which I could eventually tape on my bedroom door as a reminder:

truth

The rest of the day stressed me out.

I had to make two different trips to stores.  It wasn’t the fun kind like grocery shopping.  It was school related stuff.  (I am now a full-time online student.)  It was snowy and slushy so my car is really coated with salt now.

The dogs acted like needy, whiny, crabby toddlers.

My biology experiment had some major setbacks.

I discovered that I wasn’t very prepared for the first major test in another class.

I am a bit overwhelmed in another class because the technology is brand-new to me.

Husband was running a circular saw while being very drunk.  He always was a high functioning alcoholic, but operating power tools while intoxicated really is a dumb thing to do.  And, as usual, there was the periodic need for me to shut the door to the outside.

Throughout the day I battled in my mind.  Should I quit school because it takes me so long to complete everything?  Am I too old to do this?  Should I wait and go to school when my life is less crazy?  Realistically, what kind of grade point average should I expect of myself?  Why can’t I convince myself that healthy food tastes as good as corn chips and oreos?  Am I taking care of my husband in a way that is pleasing to God?

So, here I am at 3am, unable to sleep, and nursing a pretty good headache.  I took some medication and am now getting relief from the pain.  Jumbled up snatches of songs are running through my brain.  I am putting everything into God’s hands.  I am His servant and I need to just go to bed.  Everything will be fine.  He loves me.

 

 

 

 

False Alarm

A week ago, after several more falls and injuries, my husband took a turn for the worse.  He wasn’t drinking nearly as much as usual, but the effects were so much more pronounced.  He was slurring his speech, drooling, unaware of his location or position, and hallucinating.  He spent 24 hours not being able to stand, walk, or crawl.  After that segment of time there was a day or two where he could barely sit up and take a step.  He had other physical symptoms indicating that his body was shutting down.

I made the hard decision to immediately quit my job.   It was time.  My husband looked like he needed a full-time caregiver, and that person is me.   It would not be right to have my kids be the ones to change his clothes and bathe him.

I shed lots of tears that day.  I discovered deep down that I was not ready for my husband to die.  Yes, on the surface he irritates me and I wish this whole phase of my life could be over.  But, I will miss him for who he used to be.  I will also miss the wonderful people that I have worked with over these past 9 years.

Wouldn’t you know, the day after I quit my job, my husband was back to his somewhat normal self.  He was walking, talking, and acting just the same as he was two weeks ago.  A couple of the symptoms of body shut-down went away.  He even was able to walk up a short flight of steps.  I am continually amazed at how this man’s body defies science.

He is eating better now because I am making him small meals now and then.  Partly done out of compassion.  Partly done because I am tired of him making a mess in the kitchen.  Eating soup with a fork can leave lots of debris behind.

This near brush with death hasn’t made him change his mind about his lifestyle.  If anything, he wants to do all he can to speed up the process of dying.  What a waste of all that God has given him!

Every day I still need to choose how I live.  I sing with Jesus Culture:

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice ’cause You set me free….I am Yours.

Challenges

This morning I woke up with the phrase “whatever happens I will not be afraid…” running through my brain.  As I lay in bed, trying to pray, trying not to worry why the furnace keeps running, that portion of the song by Tenth Avenue North kept a continual loop of music in my mind.

I finally did get up to check on my husband.  He has been falling several times a week because he gets so thoroughly drunk.  I am getting quite proficient at pulling him out of doorways and dragging him across the floor.  This morning he had fallen again, but at least the door to the outside was mostly closed.  (It is 0 degrees outside.)  He had fallen in an interior doorway and I still had to drag him across the floor so he could eventually get up.  As I was sweeping up the broken glass, he decides to tell me that he is fine, his pants are clean, and there is no blood on the floor.

I know that since he is currently very drunk and naturally combative he is unable to see the mess he is in.  But, I still found myself getting mad at him.  I told him I was angry at him for throwing his life away.  I reminded him of how gifted, talented, and blessed he used to be.  It ended with me telling him that I am still willing to help him get cleaned up when he sobers up.  Then I gently slammed the door.

Which brings me to this moment.  I am starting a second college degree and am taking online classes.  Technology has never been my friend and causes me lots of frustration.  I have had to learn so much before the classes even begin.  Today will be filled with continuing to learn how to navigate in my new world and completing as many assignments that I can before they are due.  I need to work ahead so that if my husband does die, I can take a little bit of time off from my studies.

It seems like a very morbid outlook, but it is my reality.  It is a miracle of God that my husband is still living today.  He defies all medical and conventional wisdom.  The day could come that he would die from a stroke, heart attack, total liver failure, lung cancer, brain injury, or simply bleeding to death.  (He almost did that in November.)

So, as I begin my new college career, I need to remind myself that I am in God’s hands.  With his help I can do all things.  “I have this hope in the depth of my soul in the flood or the fire you’re with me and you won’t let go…”

Yes, I’m Angry

The other night as I was helping my husband get up off the floor, I just wanted to pick him up and throw him onto the couch.  I wasn’t very kind with my words as I prevented him from slamming down onto the floor again.  I just got madder when I checked the basement door.  There was evidence that he had fallen in two places in the basement before I had heard him fall in the living room.

Was I angry because I was so tired?  After all, it was 3am and I had only a couple hours of sleep before hearing the crash.

I get angry with my husband when I think of how he wasted his life.  He used to be so talented at many things: music, woodworking, photography, poetry.  He excelled in the business world and received superior reviews from his boss every year.

I get so mad at my husband when I think of all the hurt he has caused me and our children.  I am thankful that when the kids were younger, he did all his drinking in the basement after they had gone to bed.  Unfortunately, when our youngest was 16, my husband changed for the worst.  No more hiding it from the kids.  Alcoholism in all it’s ugliness was on display for everyone to see.

I get mad because I sometimes think that if only I had done x, y, and z, my husband wouldn’t be this way today.  Too bad time travel isn’t a reality.

When I did get back to bed the other night, God reminded me of some verses in Isaiah 61, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”   My anger might be justified or it might be sinful.  Therapy will help me to figure that out.  Right now I can have joy in what God has done for me.

Hospital Again!

I am so thankful for my pastor and the way he preaches through a book of the Bible a verse at a time.  Lately he has been preaching on the armor of God in the book of Ephesians.  The breastplate of Christ’s righteousness that covers me protects my heart.  The shoes of the gospel of peace remind me that I am not condemned by God anymore and I can spread that peace to others.  Those insights and more are what got me through this week.

Monday I was in the ER with my mother-in-law and then she was admitted to the hospital.

Tuesday I was with my husband at another hospital to check on his head trauma from November.  He was totally drunk and could hardly walk.

Wednesday I was with my father-in-law in the ER at the same hospital my mother-in-law is in.  He at least got to go home after several hours.

Thursday I was with my husband in the ER at a different hospital.  He had fallen face first on the concrete floor.  Ended up with only a broken nose.  Since he was very drunk, it took us 3 hours to convince him to go to the hospital.  The one benefit of that time is that I was able to bathe him and get him into clean clothes.  He really didn’t have a choice in the matter.  He was covered with blood from head to toe.  After four hours in the ER he was released to go home.

It was physically tiring to work, take care of my father-in-law, make extra driving trips each day to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital, argue with husband on why he is not going to drive anymore, and try to keep up with the daily household chores.  Focusing on what God has done for me gave me strength each day to serve my family, to be thankful for all that I have, and to keep my heart and emotions steady.

I thought alot about the song “Rescuer” by Rend Collective:   “He is pasture for the weary, rest for those who strive….so come and be chain-less, come and be fearless, come to the foot of Calvary, there is redemption for every affliction…”.

I am looking forward to a calm and uneventful Christmas.