My husband had dropped me off early in the morning for my surgery. My knee had been bothering me for a couple of years. Who would have guessed that when I ran that half marathon my meniscus would break in half. The good news was that it had flipped outside of the knee cap and they were going to be able to sew it back together.
I was anxious, I wanted him by my side, to hold my hand and be my advocate if anything went wrong, but he didn’t want to come. It hurt me to know that. I felt like if only I was different maybe he would be different towards me. My brain was jumbled…isn’t that what you do when someone you love is going in for surgery? Even thinking that led me to the next thought, “Well, Duh… don’t you get it. If he loved you he would come and be by you”….my brain coming to the conclusion that he just didn’t love me. I wish I could just be better so that I could earn his love and approval.
My mom had offered to come, but letting her would have required me to admit to someone outside that he didn’t care. I wanted it to be a secret, I didn’t want anyone else to know how unworthy I was, so I had declined and pretended like I didn’t need anyone.
Making Excuses For Him
I was in denial, I kept telling myself that he would have been there by my side had it not been for 2-year-old and a 5-month-old at home. We didn’t live by family, so he couldn’t leave them. They needed his care more than I did. I came out of the anesthesia afraid and alone. They rolled me into a quiet hospital room, no one waiting to see if I had made it out okay. My legs were still asleep from the spinal tap and I couldn’t feel the bottom half of my body. I felt helpless as I sat alone…..No matter how much I pretended not to need anyone the truth was that I wasn’t going anywhere without help.
I waited by myself for hours and hours. They wouldn’t let me go home until my legs were alive and until I had been able to use the bathroom. I secretly waited and hoped that he would bring our boys and come to see me. Maybe with some flowers and a get well card….oh that would be so nice. One hour turned to two hours. It seemed that with each tick of the clock I felt a little more alone and unimportant. My leg was wrapped in a thick brace. I was connected to a machine that sent cold water up and around my entire right leg. The nurse checked on me periodically, but I sat in silence as the day marched forward. Later in the afternoon, I was able to go to the bathroom and my legs began to tingle.
I called my husband and told him I was done and that he needed to pick me up from the hospital. It felt as if my call was a burden to him. He said he would get the kids ready, but I could tell he was in no hurry to come and get me. I waited for quite some time before he arrived. He picked me up, he was cold, emotionless. He went through the motions as if I was a stranger to him.
My recovery was a hard one. I couldn’t bend my right leg at all, so tasks that were easy before were very difficult. Using the bathroom was one of those tasks. The evening of my arrival I had to go pee. I was somehow able to lower myself onto the toilet, but I was unable to get back up. I yelled for my husband, he walked into the bathroom with an irritated look on his face. “What?” He asked. “Can you help me get up off the toilet?” I asked.
He looked at me with disgust……. his face indicated that he had no plans to help me. I started to panic…….he would help me wouldn’t he, I asked myself? What was I going to do if he refused? I started to cry. A feeling of defeat washed over me. This was another heart breaking realization that maybe he didn’t care for me at all? Was I really that much of a burden to him. The tears turned into anger and I said, “I wish I didn’t need your help, but I do. I really can’t get up by myself. Please help me.” He finally came a lifted me off of the toilet. He was not kind or gentle, I was very much just a task. I realized that if I really needed him he may or may not be there for me. I needed to get tougher if I was going to do this life on my own.
The following weeks were difficult. I had a 5-month old baby and a 2-year-old, I was on crutches with very limited use of my right leg. Trying to get around and meet their needs while my husband was gone at work was hard. He was self-employed and I don’t recall him even taking a day off to help me. Each day was a struggle.
For the next 7 years, I would have to do most things alone. There were many occurrences where my ex-husband didn’t show care or concern for my welfare and I was forced to take care of myself.
When I was going through counseling I learned that I wasn’t meant to do it all alone. That it was okay for me to ask for help when I needed help. That I had the power to surround myself with lovely people who had a desire to lift my burdens. I learned that I have needs that can be met by others.
Do you have needs? Are your needs being met? Can you surround yourself with safe people who want to help you? You don’t have to go it alone.