Three weeks ago J had a full hip replacement on his right side. I know it was a hard choice for him. It’s a huge life changing surgery but when his X rays show he has the hips of an 80 year old man at 37, there is a problem. I am proud of him for doing it. I wish the timing was a little different. I hadn’t been moved in for a full month yet and he went in for the surgery. It was moved up due to a cancellation.
I stayed at the hospital with him all day. I was there for over 16 hours. I have never watched a loved one get wheeled away on a hospital bed for surgery like that. I cried a little. I was sweaty and nervous but once I got settled in at the waiting area I was fine. I checked the screen with his number every couple minutes. Of all the people that went in that morning, his was the longest. I saw all the other people waiting with me at the hospital get called to recovery and I was waiting. Finally I got the call that his surgeon wanted to speak with me.
I sat alone in this creepy room. It looked like a little dining room from the 70’s except there was a computer with a web cam. I was in there for about 10 minutes. Nothing. So I got up to go get my lap top I left in the waiting room. I came back. Another 15 minutes. The doctor came in to tell me everything is fine. He’s in recovery and he’s able to see me soon. Then he said “But…”
I was like oh no now what.
He told me we need to talk about the smoking. He was upset that he asked J to stop. And he didn’t and he explained to me that the act of smoking can impair his ability to heal and avoid any infections. He was very hard on me about it and I think he thought I smoked too. I brought up a few concerns and when we were done I went back to my corner in the waiting room, gathered my things and went to his room.
I walked in to see him being tended to by the nurses in his bed. It my J, all groggy and hooked up to machines. I hated it. I couldn’t just go squeeze him and kiss him. I stole one little kiss in. Little did I know that Sunday before was the last time for a while I would have my boyfriend, in a way I was used to. Since then so much has changed. So so much.
His surgeon came to check on him and we discussed the weed. J said “Go home tonight and get rid of it. All of it. I’m done” To say I was shocked was an understatement.
I stayed at the hospital until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I went home alone to sleep missing him so much. I was so sad. As soon as I woke up and drove back to the hospital to sit with him again all day until he was discharged. We waited and waited for the PT doctor, the OT, and the nurses. Finally at 3:00 PM I went and got the car and drove him home.
The next few days were hard. He was very needy, for obvious reasons. But I wasn’t used to being around him in such a way that I wanted to hide. He was mad I brought his water before his ice pack. I was balancing putting the boy to bed, and helping J and I was beat. Physically and emotionally. But I volunteered. His parents offered to hire someone but I was very adamant that I could handle it. And maybe I could have if I was mentally prepared for how he would be treating me. Not the sweet understanding man I knew. But some angry impatient creature that was nearly impossible to please. I started to hide in rooms waiting for him to call for me. I would cry. I would feel selfish for crying and I would cry some more for it.
A few days since he’d been home from surgery, my boy was on his nerves. He was being the toddler I know him to be. Questions, loud, running around, and clearly confused about his buddy (J) not able to play with him. I saw J’s frustrations building and I was not comfortable with the way he was speaking to my boy. I tried hiding us from J, watching TV in the other room. Shielding him from the angry man as much as I can. I kept thinking “This is his free pass. He’s coming off an addiction to weed, surgery and he’s on opiates, this is not the man I love”.
The next day my mom picked up the boy for a sleep over at their house. I spent the day hiding in the basement, in the back. I had to help him shower, and even that was a hot button. I couldn’t do anything right and the tone of his voice was clearly not pleased. I felt that sinking feeling in my chest, hopeless, sad, scared. It reminded me of the days holed up in the attic during the divorce, wondering who my ex would be that day. The man who loved me or the man who would pick at my flaws and hurt me. I couldn’t help but feel like crying. Hiding. It was too much for me. That night, in bed he apologized to me for his treatment. I talked it out with him. He said he needed patience and that it will get better soon. So I hung in there.
Not even a week later we had the biggest fight we’ve had yet. And we don’t fight too much. We usually talk things through. It started with me going to bed and him saying he is staying up. I was sad. I was sick of sleeping alone every night while he sits up watching TV. I said “I hope you don’t adopt some unhealthy sleep patterns during this. You should try to get a normal night’s sleep”
This triggered the most irrational reaction from him. He went off on me about people telling him what to do and controlling him and treating him like he doesn’t know his own body. I tried to explain my thinking but he decided NOW he wants to go to bed and be left alone, shutting me out. Things escalated when I tried to fix it, he only got more upset, saying mean things. So at 11:00 PM I packed a bag, called my mom, woke my kid and left. Because, fuck that shit. I didn’t sign up to be treated that way. Shut down. Accused of his paranoid and wrong assumptions. I was brave in front of my son. I told him we were on a secret hunt to get dinosaurs. And when I get to my parents, I cried myself to sleep.
The next day he was quick to apologize but he was not sorry. He was still rationalizing his behavior and just not letting me have my opinions. I was ready that day to get a truck and move out. Because I did this! I did the whole “Your feelings don’t matter” “Your opinion is not important” I let someone walk all over me for years thinking it’s OK. And it’s not.
I told his Dad and Step mom he may need their help. because I am out. They went and talked to him about his behavior and after a day of talking, I got the apology I deserved. And he asked me to come home. So I did. Things were great. He was kinder, I was still walking on egg shells and nervous but I was gaining trust that this was temporary.
Exactly one week later we were back at it. Same fight different topic. Sleep. But he decided to take some supplement called “Wild Lettuce”. Everything I read made me nervous. All I did was ask how long he plans to take it. And that escalated. He did the same shit. Shut me down. Decided he wants to sleep. So I cried. I slept on the tiny couch alone and cried so hard I blew blood vessels in my face. Life felt dark. Like I had the life I wanted two weeks before and now I want out. In my marriage, my ex would have calmed me down. Even if he was mad at me in the worst days, he still tried to comfort me. I waited all night for something but I was alone. No comfort. No calm. I got 2 hours of sleep and went to work. Where I cried. Like an idiot. Life has been fucking hard on me.
That day, on two hours of sleep I had the worst tooth pain. I called my dentist and I had no promises to even be seen the next day. I know I needed a root canal, I just thought I had time. I began throwing up from the pain. I couldn’t see I was so dizzy. I drove to urgent care after work and waited to be seen. I was crying still. J walked in the urgent care with his cane and his step mom. He knew I needed someone and he knew how upset I was. He sat with me until I went in and when I came out with no help he was quick to comfort me. Oh I was so hurt by him. So mad. So sad and now I was in so much pain. But to see him show up like that and care for me. That erased some of the pain.
Some. I won’t lie. The things he’s said and the way he’s spoken to me will stick for a while. I had this uninhibited attitude with our relationship. I was guardless with him, I was 100% raw and comfortable. But that was before I saw how he can treat me. 2 and a half years and I never saw this side. So I won’t just walk away. I know he’s got a lot on his plate in terms of recovery from addiction as well as surgery. But I am a person with needs and I have done nothing malicious or hurtful to deserve any treatment that I was given. His apologies are not the genuine one’s I had hoped for. I get told “I am sorry you feel that way” “I am sorry you took what I said the wrong way” etc. Not thinking that I still felt that way because of how he treated me. Instead of throwing it back on me, I wish he would acknowledge that I don’t like being spoken to like that and try to change it. As I am trying to avoid telling him what to do in terms of recovery. But that has fallen on deaf ears. So here I am. Building that wall. Putting my guard back up. Slowly inching from the life I used to have, or think I had. Because I am scared now. I am mad at myself for thinking I was safe. I am so mad that I moved in. I don’t want to say I regret it, because that is wasteful. But I question my judgement now. I question my ability to make the big choices for my boy and I.
And then I try to remember. This is temporary. He can go back to normal. Right? Or is this what he is like off pot?
It’s been a week since that night and I am 3 … yes 3… root canals in. And I still don’t feel comfortable enough to say this is going to work. His surgery was 3 weeks ago, as well as his last hit of weed. I keep chanting to myself “it gets better” “this is temporary” and I keep trying to focus on all the good stuff that happens around me. J has good days, great day in fact. And No, he doesn’t speak to me the way he has. So it is getting better. And I have to remember he is not my Ex. This is not my marriage. I have some hope. This is fixable. Don’t run Heather. Don’t you dare. Not yet.
I did tell him. Loving you sometimes hurts more than a root canal.