“When you first got sick, did you worry I would leave you?”
Pete asked me this recently, when he was in bed with a virus and I was looking after him.
“No. I worried I was a massive burden who was ruining your life. My life was destroyed and I was taking you down with me.”
When my M.E was at its most Severe, I could only talk for 5 mins twice an hour. However, sometimes even that would wipe me out and I’d have to sit several hours out in silence before I could try talking again. I was bedridden, with zero quality of life and what felt like zero purpose; Pete had become my carer as well as my partner. I relied on him for almost everything apart from spoon-feeding me and wiping my arse.
On occasion, I would cry. Sometimes I would cry so hard, I was close to howling. I’m fairly sure the neighbourhood dogs were gearing themselves up to join in, but I’d dial it down just in time. This was my pity party, not theirs. I’d wonder why Pete was still with me, and berate myself for ruining his life. It was a tough pill to swallow, knowing this really wasn’t what he signed up for.
Yet … this wasn’t what I signed up for either! I went into this relationship with the same hopes and dreams as Pete. We planned to dance, travel, have adventures, become running buddies, and so much more. We were a team, and as a team … we lost.
In sport, teams lose all the time … but you don’t see their members walking out on each other. They stick together and support one another to be the best they can be. Relationships shouldn’t be any different.
Self-kindness is SO important with Severe ME/POTS – but sometimes it’s easier said than done. It’s tough being so unwell and vulnerable. Losing your career, hobbies, social life, hopes, dreams, and even your future, takes a shit-tonne of grieving. And this is where it helps to have good team mates.
Be it family, friends, and/or partner – the ones worth keeping are the ones who sit with you in the darkness, and stay until the morning light (no matter how knackered they are). The ones who carry the load when you can’t, and still make you smile.
Contrary to my feelings at the time, I now realise I didn’t drag Pete down with me.
… He climbed down that massive black hole voluntarily, and sat with me until I could claw my way back up.
Because we’re a team.