crumped heart and wedding ring lying on a floor discarded

For fifteen years I cared for him.

His accident was days after our engagement. My mother pulled me aside and said I could still walk away if I wanted. I knew it would be a hard road of nursing him back to health. No one knew if he’d recover or what recovery would mean. It meant putting my career on hold. Putting my family second. Putting my fiancee first in all things.

And I did. I stayed with him. For weeks in the hospital. For months of being home bound as he regained his strength.

I married a man who was still, we hoped, getting better. He has gotten stronger. Or perhaps simply better at adapting to his circumstances.

For fifteen years we lived like this. With me bearing the burden of responsibility for both of us in so many ways. With me still letting him be the man of the house. With me always putting my husband first.

I finally decided I couldn’t live like this anymore. With my identity all wrapped around his. Subsumed by his.

My nephews are in that phase where they’re obsessed with favorites. What’s my favorite food? Color? Hobby? Animal? I realized I didn’t know any of the answers for myself any more. But I knew them all for my husband.

I didn’t do anything dramatic. I decided to join the local gym and take a class once a week with some other ladies from church. To make sure we attended church together every week. To take a little time each week doing something for me, even if something else feels more important. That’s three or four hours a week for myself, after fifteen years of ignoring myself in favor of someone else.

He didn’t like it. He met someone new at church. I should have known something was wrong when he stopped trying to make excuses to not go. I was so excited when he stopped protesting, when he started getting ready on his own. I was thrilled to see people every week, feel connected to something. He felt connected to something else.

The thing is, part of me is thrilled. To be free, finally.

Sometimes the bitterness wells up in my throat. I gave so much to him and it was never enough. Does he even realize what I did for him? But I know it doesn’t matter. I know what I did. I know how much of myself I’m willing to give. And I know he would never do that for me.

It’s as if a weight has been lifted off of me. It has been, really. The weight of a man who I’ve supported all of these years.

Moving forward, I can finally support myself.

D.L.

Written by Guest Author
The Caregiver Space accepts contributions from experts for The Caregiver's Toolbox and provides a platform for all caregivers in Caregiver Stories. Please read our author guidelines for more information and use our contact form to submit guest articles.

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19 Comments

  1. Only sometimes, that chronic pain, that was used as an excuse not to ever do anything, suddenly disappears when you walk away from them for good. It’s happened in my experience.

    Reply
  2. I found the story uplifting. She expressed no bitterness. She began making time for herself and finally, his betrayal gave her the freedom she had not given herself.

    Reply
  3. This is real life guys. I messy and beautiful. I am a hospice chaplain and I’ve met people like this for years now. People truly live lives of quiet desperation and we don’t want to die with a song inside of us

    Reply
  4. I too have cared for my husband for 12.5 years after a horrific accident, we’ve been married 38 yrs, for a friend to tell me recently (.COULDN’T ) hold it from me any longer, that he had a 5 month affair 4 and a half years before his accident, I NEVER KNEW, TOO BUSY RAISING OUR CHILDREN WORKING TWO JOBS,AND CARING FOR THE HOUSES

    Reply
  5. When each new day brings us another learned experience, this is the page to help us vent, cope & settle our nerves! I never have 2 days the same!

    Reply
  6. That’s depressing:( This sure needs to have more uplifting posts. I’m unfollowing.

    Reply
    • Its good to see all aspects or sides of caregiving so people know caregiving isn’t all sunshine,fun and rainbows. It helps people understand better what us caregivers have to deal with. Caregiving is a difficult job that not everyone can or wants to handle. Also, while You might find this story depressing, others who may be going though something similar might not feel so alone in what they are going through. Which can actually help them to feel not so depressed alone. No one here needs your negativity so thank you for unfollowing and removing yourself.

      Reply
    • Very true we need to hear each other.This is the only place you don’t have to be so perfect,the only place where people understand you don’t have to be so “sunny”.Ive learned a lot had so much support.Depressing is part but there’s also rewards.Most we help each other -this is freedom
      To us who don’t have much. I don’t know what I would be without you guys.We are not depressing we are brave and strong.

      Reply
    • Life is messy, this space/page, is for everyone and none of us are the same. Hope you find a page that brings you what you need!

      Reply
    • It’s depressing?

      It’s truth from this persons perspective

      If I didn’t have this site I would never have know the emotions I was going through while taking care of my mother was normal

      When I post I tell the truth also

      Some people know me on this site, with other sites and say they appreciate the truthfulness

      Knowledge is power

      Blessings to All Caregivers

      Reply
    • Caregiving is depressing. It’s good to let some of the stress off.

      Reply
    • I find this post very uplifting. The author found herself in a journey that started with her taking one step towards caring for herself. The rest unfolded for her and she has freedom! It sounds as if a codependency relationship had evolved and that is never healthy!

      Reply
    • Patty Jameson I am a 24/7 caregiver of my adult son who became brain injured & completely dependent 4 years ago. I’m 70 years old & have been through it all. It’s funny that you were glad I was unfollowing because of my “negativity”, but it was the negativity of the article that is causing me to unfollow.

      Reply
    • Rose Pascale I think there is both postive and negative and this forum is where people can let themselves be free to say what is on their heart and in their mind. I am sorry people said ugly things. You should not unfollow because the FB page is full of good information. I try to remember I can scroll on by things that I don’t like or might have a negative impact on my day.

      Reply
    • thank you for your kind words

      Reply
    • Jeananne Elkins thank you for your kind words

      Reply
  7. I would be mad as hell and relieved at the same time..✌

    Reply

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