Chapter 13 -------- Troubling Turmoil
Even with all my issues, I was still far from the biggest concern that Danielle was facing. The third operation had done a real number on her overall health, and we saw serious setbacks. The medical industry was bringing complications from the medications, which destroyed much of the progress we had made. With dwindling support from even the people in her life, it appeared everyone, and everything was failing Danielle. The mountain of stressors never seemed to stop pilling up.
Following the tube removal operation, Danielle’s greatest fear manifested. The tube had spent almost three weeks dislodged inside of her vagina. Now, after the surgery, she was faced with an ever-present worry of the possibility of a bacterial infection. Managing that fear was one of my biggest challenges. I was constantly cleaning and making sure that Danielle’s space was above and beyond her cleanliness standards. I was constantly washing my hands and using hand sanitizer.
I will admit that some of the rest of the house became messy, mostly due to my lack of time. We had looked into a cleaning service, but it was going to cost over five hundred dollars just for the initial cleaning, which did not fit in the budget. I had the energy to maintain the areas we trafficked, while the rest of the house would just have to wait. I was always sweeping up the floor in our room and the bathroom, to keep the environment spotless. As much energy as I had, I would always use downtime to finish some chores.
I would rarely have more than an hour or so to myself if at all. The time I did have to myself was usually spent reading a comic book. I never was into comics, but this ordeal had inspired me to escape into the colorful fantasy world. I needed a break and getting lost in several comics was a great release for me. However, Danielle did not view it the same way. My increased reading was becoming a problem with Danielle. She didn’t want me to take one minute away from her. I couldn’t deny her wishes, and this led to me feeling guilty whenever she brought it up.
Danielle had become highly resentful and perpetually angry towards me. She knew that she still needed me, but at the same time, my past behavior was a constant reminder to her that I could become unstable at any time. Danielle was constantly testing me, attempting to push my buttons to the point of blowing up. I knew that if I blew up or lost it again, my next stop was on the street. She had shown her capacity to push people out of her life who did not live up to her standards. Me being an unknown variable, left her feeling way out of control.
Danielle was a control freak in every part of her life. She had always maintained a level of control that even her friends confirmed with me. Danielle could keep hundreds of things straight at a time to manage her house, her business, and her life in ways that few others even show the capacity. Cancer was still the cause of the most issues that Danielle couldn’t control, and she compensated by controlling all other aspects of her life.
I realized long before this that Danielle was in a way using me to that end. The control that she lost she gained in me. I was there to do her bidding and make sure all her needs were met. While she never took advantage of this kindness, it now became a tool to punish and control me. Danielle knew she didn’t have the strength to get mad at me, and the few times she did, it was devastating to her health.
According to Danielle, I had performed unforgivable behavior, and I agreed with her. I was willing to perform my penance. The result was me punishing myself, while also giving Danielle a target to direct her anger. We were starting a pattern that became very difficult to break. For the longest time, I had avoided the anger and frustration that Danielle felt towards the rest of her world. The service I did for her, and the love I provided had protected me from becoming the target of her anger.
Thankfully I wasn’t working nearly as much as the holiday season. We were back to a much slower winter season. However, I was still getting more and more stressed with each shift I worked. The problems I had with how the restaurant operated was wearing on me. A decade of restaurant experience at some of the most successful restaurant companies in the west taught me a thing or two about what it takes to run a successful restaurant. All of this combined to make me very angry and resentful every day I went into work.
As much as I tried to leave my work troubles at work, I couldn’t deny that they still followed me home. I tried to medicate myself continually into a calm state of mind. I would have to excuse myself for regular breaks to keep myself in balance. My being out of balance had gotten me into this mess in the first place. Not doing what was necessary to keep me sane had taught me a thing or two about self-care — realizing that I needed mental breaks just as much as physical breaks was a new revelation. The issue I ran into was that my solutions were not always Danielle approved.
If I was reading and Danielle didn’t want me to, she would make it very known. She would demand that I be present with her every moment. Even if it wasn’t me that was bothering her. I was always going to be the one which she took it out on. I tried to prove to her that I could be the person that she needed. Small failures and personal setbacks were still hampering my progress, which led Danielle to trust me less and less. This loss of trust was something I wasn’t even aware of at the time.
Danielle didn’t have anyone else to help her except me, and her family still hadn’t shown up for more than a couple days. We also didn’t receive any financial assistance from either of our families. I’m assuming because of our benefactor they didn’t feel the need to help financially either. I was personally bothered by this, mostly because I had worked my butt off almost every day to meet our family’s needs. Instead, Danielle would tell me her family would complain that I wasn’t doing enough.
I knew her family hated me, and because of losing my temper towards them on several occasions, they had a reason. My behavior had cemented a perception in their minds. Although now the perception was starting to manifest as a reality. Had I known so many people were feeding this perception of me, I would have seriously done something about it. I’ve noticed the more someone expects me to act a certain way, the more difficult it is for me to act the opposite. It might also explain some additional difficulties I had with controlling myself. Danielle needed me under control.
The extra stresses meant Danielle needed me more than ever. The tensions were building, and more anxiety led to more problems throughout the night. Several showers a night became normal with three or four bathroom breaks too. I became accustomed to waking up every couple of hours. If only I could have returned to a comfortable bed, it might have been different, but I was starting to feel the sleep problems that come with sleeping improperly for months.
I had become increasingly frustrated with her friend, who was paying for treatment. I had several reasons to believe that the friend was using her. Danielle wouldn’t believe a word of it and made me feel really bad about it. She had reason to believe that I was concerned about the money. The truth is that it did not matter to me as much as her wellbeing. Danielle did not see my insights with the same intention that I hoped. A comment I made created this perception in Danielle.
I will convey a little background before I share this controversial comment. The friend who was supposed to be helping us, would always come over and get tarot readings from Danielle. Including listening to problems and offering advice like a therapist. In my opinion, Danielle did not have the energy to be of service in that manner. Again, I was the one who would deal with the repercussions. Sadly for Danielle, that meant being up all night in pain, in the shower, and worrying about if she is going to poop before breakfast. Danielle felt obligated to help her friend out because she was helping us.
So needless to say even though the friend was helping us out financially, I also felt she was not helping with the biggest problem, which was Danielle’s overall health. Danielle didn’t have the strength to be helping others anymore, and she needed to focus on her recovery. I didn’t see why she should spend energy on situations that drained her. I saw this, but Danielle refused to see things from my point of view. I only made several inferences until one day, I finally snapped.
I did not understand why Danielle was going so far out of her way to help this friend. Danielle said it was because she helped cover the expenses of treatment. I was appreciative but didn’t think we needed to help her out as a result. If what Danielle said was true than even the money, we received was just a tiny fraction of this person’s total net worth. I want you to understand my logic because we had received many gifts from the community as well. Many people gave fifty to one-hundred-dollar gift cards to help us out. So according to my logic, I made a rather fair comparison.
I stated, “If one of your students possibly had ten thousand dollars and gave us a hundred dollars, it would be the same percentage as someone worth several million giving us twenty thousand dollars. However, I don’t see you giving your students any tarot readings or calling them about their problems.” It angered me that my wife could be manipulated by money. Danielle’s inconsequential response did not stop me from blurting out in further frustration, “If this person wants to keep getting tarot readings, she better start paying you for your health. She should pay you $100,000 for the services you are providing.”
Danielle only heard that I expected her friend to pay us One Hundred Thousand Dollars.
She assumed I was looking to get rich quick. I intended for Danielle to put a value on her health. Danielle didn’t see the problem that I had observed. Danielle distanced herself from this person out of fear that I would say something inappropriate. I would never have caused a problem considering the importance Danielle put on their relationship. Danielle was truly an amazing friend to people, and I had a hard time telling her that there should be limits.
I was frustrated further by promises that were made but not kept. The friend had commented on our bed and offered to help buy a new one. However, now three weeks later, when nothing was moving forward, I wasn’t any bit happier about this person. Danielle told me that she had a lot on her plate and that she didn’t want to be pushy and keep asking for things. It didn’t matter to me because I desperately needed a bed, and I felt she had forgotten a promise to both of us. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone allowed us to sleep in a single bed, in the first place. No one else even offered to help or thought it pertinent to fix — the one thing I needed.
My parents finally did offer their help in making a new bed purchase as a Christmas Present. Initially, they offered to drive my sister’s bed, but then it became a moving issue, so they offered to pay for a new one. Woefully the cheapest bed we could find that was organic and didn’t have memory foam was sixteen hundred dollars. The bed was about one thousand dollars more than my dad was initially looking at, so Danielle and I decided that since the friend had offered to pay for the mattress that we would use some of the money she already gifted us.
We gave my dad one thousand dollars so he could purchase the organic mattress from Sears, and have it delivered. We even started the process before Christmas, but little did I know that we would have some additional shipping problems. The mattress ended up being returned before it was ever delivered. We then found out that it was unable to be shipped to our house and would need to be picked up. After months of hell, I was ready for a decent night’s sleep. It was one ounce of relief in our gloomy lives.
Another bit of relief came to me from an unlikely source, a mainstream nurse. Danielle’s frustration with me was at an all-time high, and she couldn’t believe my past behavior. Even with all the tricks and techniques, I was using to stay calm; I was still finding it more and more difficult to control my emotions. One of the nurses told us that it was rather common for married couples to fight or blow up during times of illness. She had seen come husbands lose it in the waiting rooms, and some wives go completely crazy on their husbands. It wasn’t uncommon, and she made us feel like it was far more common than people are led to believe.
I say that this comment about poor behavior helped because, for the first time in a long time, Danielle had some compassion for my plight. I will always remember this moment because it was also a time in our relationship where I had a reprieve. Danielle no longer held the view that I was just a horrible person. She could now see that I was also a victim of the circumstances we were facing.
The fact that I had held it together for so long made me feel better about myself. I know that it didn’t excuse my past behavior, but for the first time in my life, I started to see I wasn’t alone. This burden I was carrying was a burden many before me also failed to carry. Now I had to think if people are less prepared than me than I can’t imagine the hell they might face. I gained new levels of compassion for just how bad I could have let myself get.
Danielle and I would often talk about what it takes to be there for someone going through the healing or dying process. Danielle had a lot of experience from the AIDS epidemic in the ’80s. She said the stigma and the shame associated with the disease forced many to be abandoned by friends and family. Most people ill-prepared for the ugly nature of the disease and how horrific death can be. However, Danielle could be there for anyone and truly be there. Showing up and being present was her gift to the world. She found it in herself to be there most of all for those that had been completely abandoned by this world.
Every day I tried to live up to her expectations and to be someone she deserves. She would tell me of the behavior that people would show, the anger, the blame, the shame, and the guilt. Friends and Family would abuse the sick people in such selfish and thoughtless ways. Only now did I fully understand the full spectrum of what causes some of these atrocities to happen. It was becoming obvious to me that as a society, we are truly failing many of the sick and dying. I too was guilty of this, and I knew I had to find a solution. I had to do it because Danielle deserved it, she had earned it, and there wasn’t anyone else stepping up to the plate to give her what she needed.
I know I wasn’t ready for anything that I went through with Danielle. No amount of life experience can truly prepare anyone for the experience we went through. Realizing that others are going through this every day, brought more purpose to my life. I know that few people realize how difficult controlling our emotions can be without proper practice. Volunteering more with the sick and dying would have prepared me better. Spending more time helping my aging grandparents would have helped. I still to this day feel bad about not helping the family more with my Grandparents. A mistake I will never make again.
The abundance of mistakes through this process by myself would not be in vain. I would not allow my emotions to control me. I would show a more proactive approach to maintaining balance. Danielle was not going to make it easy with her expectations for me to fail. I had cracked the dam, and she was testing the integrity. Danielle was testing me at every turn to see if I would lose control. She was having a hard enough time keeping it together without me adding to the troubles.
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