A few days ago, I received a comment to my last post from a woman who signed herself Mary. Folks, I couldn’t shake this comment from my mind and found myself at a loss as to how to respond. But I knew that I must respond -- because Mary is tortured. The sad part is that she has allowed herself to be consumed by her guilt at being stricken with MS. I want to share Mary’s comment here along with my response. It’s my hope that others who feel guilty about their MS read this and that somehow it helps you look at your life from a different perspective.
First, Mary’s comment:
I don't know where to go from here
Friday, September 12, 2008 at 01:30 PM
“I have had R/R MS since 1979, I now have a baclofen pump but I am still very stiff, anyway my husband being a wonderful man, seems to not look after me the way, the ones I read about here. I feel like a true burden, he never listens to hear if I may need help nor does he ask if I need help. I have lost myself and I feel like just another thing around the house as HE has to do the chores I use to do. He did not ask for this, so explain to me WHY I should expect him to do the house work. I lost the person I use to be, I hate what has become of me, I hate asking him to do things I USE to do. My friends have their own lives and so does our daughter, I will not be burden to anyone any longer. I guess I will do what I can for myself and not be that burden. I will stay to myself. I get excited about something like we found a place I can exercise my legs plus he gets to exercise as well, now I dont get to go as I cannot get there, and he is busy. what do I do now? I cannot ruin his live or anyones elses lives any longer.”
And my response to Mary:
You know something? I read your comment a few days ago and have been at a loss regarding a proper response. But I decided tonight over dinner that I was going to take a crack at it. So here goes...
I’m going to ask you a question. I don’t want to know your answer; consider this food for thought.
Mary, does your husband love you? I don’t know either of you, so I can’t really answer the question other than to say that if, from your comment, I had to guess at an answer, then I’d guess he does love you -- very much. He IS, after all, doing the chores and housework when you can’t. At least, that’s how I read it. The problem here is that you feel a tremendous amount of guilt. It’s as if somehow his being ‘forced’ to do housework makes you feel less than an equal partner and, dare I say it at the risk of being flamed, less a wife. I’m also going to guess this is somewhat normal because, believe it or not, my wife, Mandy, feels exactly the same way.
The difference is that you’ve had MS for almost thirty years now. Mandy’s had it for less than ten. Your husband has lived with your MS for all that time -- and he’s STILL doing the housework. Hmm -- forget what I said earlier, Mary. I don’t have to guess anymore. Your husband DOES indeed love you.
Mary, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I hate Mandy’s MS with all my heart. But I love Mandy more. I know that it’s not her fault and I’d do anything to rid her of the disease. But that doesn’t stop me from resenting MS and what it’s taken from us in terms of the limitations that it has put on how we live our lives. Mandy understands this and feels the same way. The thing to take from this is that we fight MS together. We have a shared hatred of the disease. We both own it, just as it owns us. Mandy, to her credit, has allowed that SHARED hatred of MS to foster. Like soldiers, we fight a common enemy. She could have just as easily embraced her MS and refuse to let me get close. That would have most likely spelled disaster for our marriage.
You didn’t ask for MS, Mary. It’s not a punishment for something you did. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. Life’s a crap shoot -- plain and simple. It’s as if we live in the middle of a whirlwind. There are all these really great things swirling around, but they’re mixed in with all these bad things too. While we try to grab at the good things [Bam! -- you win the lottery,] sometimes we just get in the way of the bad [Bam! -- you get MS.] Luck of the draw and all that. Does that make any sense to you?
But here’s the thing, Mary. It’s not what happens to you that matters. It’s what you make of it after it happens.
So, dear Mary, if I had to cut to the chase, I’d tell you to drop the guilt, tell your husband that you love him, and then go show him how much. If you can’t shake the guilt, and after so many years that might be a hard thing to do, then I’d suggest counseling. It might not take much and it might do wonders for the both of you. But Mary, before you resort to that, might I suggest simply talking to you husband. Tell him what you’ve told me, perhaps let him read my post here, and then give him the time it takes to compose a response. And then listen to what he says.
Oh, and Mary -- you know that place you found where you can exercise your legs? That place where your husband is just too busy to go, so now you don’t go either? Take a cab... and don’t complain about it to anyone. I pretty sure you won’t have to do it more than once or twice.
Published On: September 17, 2008