Monday, September 30, 2013

On Brain Aneurysms, Control, and Self-Publishing: Part 2

My husband and I are fighting in the kitchen.  The kids are in the next room, playing Monster High. We're trying to keep it quiet. 

"What I need is your support," my husband says, his voice shaking.

"I do support you.  I am.  But I am so damn sick of it!"  I never was good at keeping my voice down.  "You have make an effort, too!"

Our therapist, the one who specializes in couples dealing with "the fallout from neurological trauma" says that I've reached my "compassion capacity". 

I say I've reached the end of my rope.

Earlier this year, I thought I'd figured it out.  I thought I'd understood that life is unpredictable and so, what one needs to do is to Take Control.  That's when I went forward with the agented self-publishing.  That's when I decided get Untethered out there and damn the traditional publishing world.  That's also when I concluded that if I could take control, so could my husband.  So he'd had a ruptured brain aneurysm.  Time to get over it.  Move on. Take control.

But he didn't receive thirty-five publisher rejections.  He received major surgery and some significant personality changes.

I keep forgetting that.  Well, no.  Not forgetting.  Denying.  Defying.  Refuting.  Resisting.  I keep waiting for him to wake up one day and say, "Well, that was a tough ride.  But I fought it.  And now I'm back."

Instead he looks at me with bloodshot eyes.  "I've changed," he says.

"I know," I respond. "But --"

"No.  I've changed."

And that's when it hits me:  The occupational therapist telling me that it's unlikely he'll ever go back to working full-time; the psychiatrist telling me that there are certain concepts he now has a hard time grasping, and that instead of getting frustrated to think of him like a ten-year-old who needs help with homework -- explain, repeat, remind.  And my husband himself telling me, "I'm scared."

He's changed.  And he's never coming back.

I pull a chair out from the table, the legs screeching on the tile floor.  My lips taste salty; I didn't even realize I was crying. We sit there, silent, for a long time, listening to the girls create some scenario that involves Frankie Stein and Draculaura going to the hair stylist's.  We sit there, the time for me to realize that all of this is about so much more than control.

It's about acceptance and understanding and fear.  It's about watching things dissolve right before your eyes and slip through your fingers like grains of sand.  It's about starting over.

No.  That's not it.

What it's about, I tell myself, is starting anew.

It's time to take a clean, white piece of paper and start a new story.  Same characters -- my husband, my children and me -- but a brand new story.  Not a sequel to the old story.  But a companion.  We need to stop looking at the past to figure out what's going on here.  Instead, we just need to move forward.

I look at my husband again.  "Did you hear me?" he asks.  "I said that I've changed."

"Yes." I put my hand on his.  "I know."


Read On Brain Aneurysms, Control, and Self-Publishing Part 1 

11 comments:

  1. F**k, you guys have guts. What a nightmare and challenge to accept that it's a whole new world. You are an amazing partner and I'm glad that you have some help along this new journey. xxxx

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    1. Thanks, C, although the amazing partner thing might be going a bit far. :) I'm okay, though. Not bad. But in so many ways I consider myself lucky. Yeah, it's tough, but we're both still here to talk about it.

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    1. Shanah,
      I'm thinking it's about time to overdose on RDJ pics, eh? :)

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  3. My heart goes out to you and your family. This blog post made me cry a a little - I suppose because I've had my own family changes this week and I understand a little of what it means - life will never be the same again. Scary. yes. But hopefully this new story will be even better than the last xxx

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    1. Thanks so much, Wendy. And I'm thinking about you!

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  4. Prayers/good thoughts/positive vibes (take your pick, mix n match) for you and your husband and daughters to find your new footing and make going forward from here as good as you can. (kittens help.) hugs to all of you.

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  5. Takes guts to write about this on your blog, Katie! I hope that the companion novel will be very long, with characters who keep growing, and who continue to care very deeply for each other! *hugs*

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  6. I've been in your boat -- sort of. My awesome, intelligent, breadwinning IT-genius of a guy had surgical removal of a brain tumor before he turned 30. Welcome to the roller coaster ride of life. We've been through ups (Yay! He's going to live!) and downs (What do you mean "he can't talk / drive / keep track of time?") and ups (Yay! We're going to be parents!) and downs (Tumor's back! Again! And again! Hellooo, radiation...) and ups (It's a new day & we're still together). Whew!

    We've been married 25 wonderful years -- 18 of them with brain issues (seizures! surgery! Social Security! no insurance / income / inkling of what would happen next). Every day holds the potential for catastrophe; yet every day I'm grateful that we've got more time together.

    I don't pretend to know your specific situation, but I do know amazingly good things can come from horrible beginnings. Though your husband may have changed, at the core, he is still the person you fell in love with in the first place. While it's true that life has dealt you a horrific blow, this is the "worse" (but probably not the "worst") of "for better or worse." I've been there. It does get better. It will get better. You will get through this. Both of you. Keeping you and your family in our thoughts and in our prayers. And wishing you all the best.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Ami. What you've written is inspiring and amazing. 18 years of brain issues. Yikes. I can't even think that far! But your story is heart-warming. I really appreciate you sharing this with me and I think you are right -- we can get through this. There are so many things that my husband and I can be thankful for, and how "easily" he recovered is one of them. I'm also thankful for all the support from family friends...and strangers. Thank you.

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