Thursday, July 30, 2009

Living History

Tonight I took my children to see my soon to be ex-husband in the hospital. He's been there for a few days, but I didn't tell the kids at first. He has never managed his medical conditions. He doesn't take prescribed meds on time, doesn't watch his diet, doesn't exercise, etc. So, every now and again his body reaches crisis point. This is by far the worst instance. He let his blood sugar get so out of control, that he should have fallen into a coma. Thankfully, he didn't. Still he spent 24 hours in Intensive Care, and is still hospitalized because his body was so out of sorts.

I've been doing what I do. Taking care of him. Trying to fix things with my sheer will. It doesn't work, but I don't have to feel all the feelings that come with an experience like this. This morning when I went to see him, I broke down as I left the hospital. I don't know how to fix him. I don't know how to make him see that he has to stop this madness before he ends up in the ground, and leaves behind our two babies.

As a child, my father was continually ill. His lifestyle (although I didn't know this then) caused a lot of health crises for him. Smoking, drinking, eating crap, not exercising, binge dieting...none of it is good for one's physical body. So, from time to time, he would wind up in the hospital. Hooked up to tubes and ventilators and clinging to this life. It used to scare the hell out of me. All the beeping machines and uncertainty. I just got very quiet. I didn't cry. I didn't scream. I just got quiet. I didn't know what to do, and so I tried to blend into the woodwork. To make myself unnoticeable. The culmination of my father's health issues although certainly not the end happened when I was 13 and my dad underwent 5 heart bypasses. He was in surgery for over 12 hours, and then in pretty bad shape for days afterwards. He became depressed after the surgery, talking about ending his life. It was a tough time. I was entering high school, had endured some pretty scary stuff personally and then I had this parent who I felt needed taking care of. And so I tried to take care of him. I tried not to make trouble, to please him above all else. Even now, I struggle with my instinct to try and fix him.

Now, I'm watching my daughter, almost six years old. She was scared tonight. She's confused and doesn't know what to think. Her daddy is sick. She can't fix him, and she's uneasy. I feel like I'm watching myself. It makes me cry. I never wanted this for her. Perhaps we are all destined to repeat only what we have known. I found a man that I have to take care of. And I can leave that man, but my children...they have to keep dealing with his inability to care for himself.

I will admit, I am not perfect in this area. I let myself swell to 350 pounds. In the past two years though, I have been learning (self-teaching perhaps) that I have to care for myself. I've learned to eat better, exercise and take time for me. I'm not where I need to be, but I'm a hell of a lot better off than I was. What did it for me...what made me change... was my son. His health issues took a lot of energy, and i was afraid if I didn't lose the weight, I wouldn't be able to keep up with him. I would wind up with children who had to care for their mother. So I've instituted changes. I don't know how to convince my husband to do the same. I think it is a self-actualization kind of thing. It doesn't happen for you until you're ready for it.

Still I am sad. Sad that my baby has to worry about her daddy at 5 years old. Sad that I have so completely married my father, that I didn't learn the lessons I needed to learn sooner. All I can do is reassure my baby. Tell her that daddy will be ok, and hold her in my arms so she feels secure. Or as secure as I can help her feel.

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