Ya Basta!  By  W. Bruce Watson
I, as the spouse of a person with cancer (PWC), feel I need my own acronym SOOPWC (Significant Other of a Person With Cancer), to be emblematic of the isolation and separation visited upon the spouses of PWC by this damned disease (DD).

I have never felt more alone and cannot remember a time when I experienced more loneliness than now. I see her, I talk to her, I care for her, and help her in every way I can. I am understanding and try to be more understanding, but the truth of the matter is, she has no interest in me any longer. She has closed in upon herself and can not now be with me, nor wants to. I'm there, but it seems like I'm not. I'm constantly aware of myself going through' the motions of a relationship that has become a tragic gloss of what it was.

Intellectually, I can understand the symptoms and how dreadful she must feel, and how isolated the suffering must make her feel. Intellectually, I'm fine with the consequences for me of this DD. Emotionally, it's another matter entirely: it feels like she doesn't love me anymore, that I don't matter, that I'm just a meal ticket, an extension of her being, her grunt, her do-body and her lackey. I work a full time job with 90 minutes of commuting. I do all the house cleaning, some of the cooking, most of the household shopping, care for the dogs and birds, all of the heavy yard work, etc., etc.

I'm helping as much as I can. I get up in the morning and I go all day, and collapse around midnight, alone, in my own bed (a wretched futon) in "my own room" (the so-called spare room, which belongs to everyone and no one, along with all the broken chairs and extra furniture, stacks of magazines, boxes of records and supplies, clothes to be given away, laundry in transit and stuff).

Emotionally, I have a very, very hard time dealing with the absence of affection in my relationship with my wife. I'm sure she can sense this and this makes matters worse, because she feels bad about it-and this last was hard to type, having to force myself to give myself the benefit of a doubt, to force myself to think that she still cares enough about me to feel badly about what has happened to us, but the truth of the matter is, I doubt that she does, that in the absence of this DD, she would have left me long ago, but now can not, because she is so physically dependent upon me and fears it's unlikely, given the realities of this DD, that she will win the kind of love she's wanted all along and find again the kind of support she must have from someone else.

My doubt feeds upon and is intensified by all the affection she shows for the dogs and the birds and her many friends. To watch her at parties and gatherings laughingly passing out hugs and kisses to all her friends, has become an agony for me, an agony and a humiliation. And perhaps she senses this too, and this too makes matters worse, because she sees it as a kind of weakness on my part, or if not a weakness of mine, an unspoken criticism of her, or a disappointment in her, or a dissatisfaction with her.

I no longer have any expectations for romance or intimacy. I'm not talking about a sexual relationship. It's unreasonable to expect a person who always feels like they have or are coming down with the flu, to have any kind of erotic needs or feelings, and I have accepted that, finally and after a great, private struggle. What I'm talking about is affection-not the sine qua non affection that's the harbinger of intimacy, that precedes foreplay and ultimately sets the stage for and leads to sexual intimacy.

I'm talking about the simple affection of a touch or a glance or a close word, of laughing over a remembered shared experience. I'm talking about the mutually felt sense of belonging to someone like the left shoe must feel for its mirror counterpart. I realize I must, at this point, be pretty much wallowing in pretension and self pity, and need now, here in this letter, in my life, to stop it, to cut through it, to focus on a more legitimate grief-the loss of love, for that is what it is.

You can't imagine how profoundly I miss her, the touch of her hand, those long, unselfconscious, soul-merging gazes, the ones that made everyone else in the room pause and stare and unthinkingly know that we were together, and that we belonged together and to each other. At the risk of sounding over dramatic, this DD has taken the sting out of death, my own; my soul, while perhaps not yearning for its own end, can see it clearly now and is not afraid. I'm ready, finally. Enough.
The truth is, after much furrowing of brow, I can't think of anything to say by way of preface to my blog. Along the way I wondered what it's purpose might be and maybe I should say a few words about that and would, except that I don't know what its purpose is, or could be, or should be. I only know that my clock is winding down and I'm so desperate to have my mind known that I could just spit! Maybe my blog could be about that. But how depressing and pretentious that could be! But hold on a second, maybe not—my therapist commented the other day how in late adulthood (AKA elder years), one is forced to deal with the sense of loss, all the time, it's always there, and it's painful, it takes great faith to live on even though one knows it's going to end and that whatever they accomplish, if anything, is not going to matter all that much. How does one find meaning or a sense of fulfillment in life knowing that it’s coming to an end? Psychologists have not written much about this if anything. It's sort of an unexamined part of adult life. It takes a lot of self-discipline to function in spite of this sense of loss—it's so easy to give up on the constant struggle, on life. A lot of people do—drinking, TV, drugs, electrosex, So, if you'll bear with me, let us examine this unexamined part of adult life.
Copyright © 2011 W. Bruce Watson, Inc. All rights reserved.  
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