Thursday, April 1, 2010

Displaced Anger

la colle air [Anger]
Originally uploaded by
SchizoOmatic 35 T*

This afternoon I had a bit of a tantrum here in the lobby of the hotel. There was some merit to my complaint, but the emphasis that fueled my frustration was more than the series of mishaps would suggest.

This is something that the kids have often complained about me as well, pre and post grief. It's kind of odd to categorize my life as pre and post grief, as when you have lived for two years with a dying spouse, your grieving begins far before that final day. Perhaps that is why I feel so lost.

I look back to my brief time with Michael, and I see mostly love, passion and happiness. Yes, there were difficult times. When he came home from surgery I was immediately thrown in the role of caregiver. It completely changed how we related to each other. It was quite a struggle to regain our footing. This didn't happen of our own efforts, as we sought the help of a therapist. Actually, I should say that I sought the help of a therapist, and told Michael we were going. Isn't that how it usually goes? It's always funny when people don't understand gay relationships, and will ignorantly ask, "who's the man in the relationship?" Well, we are both the man.

In a gay male relationship there is a bit of freedom to explore how you want to relate to each other. There is time taken to figure out what skills, talents and preferences each partner brings into the relationship. Now, I don't mean to stereotype heterosexual relationships, but looking at those of my parents, and those of my brothers, they did kind of fall within the lines of what one would expect.

Even though my brothers had no issues with me being gay, and really understand who I am, they did like to tease, and joke around with Michael and I. "Okay, who's the man, who's the woman." Funny! What my brother don't get, is that it is a very tired joke. In our relationship, Michael and I had certain strengths, and certain weaknesses. Some of the roles that I took on were already in place because I was a single parent for so many years. Others though, took time to gel, and I was able to give up some of the day to day responsibilities over to Michael. When he got sick, most of them fell back on me.

At the time that we started our couples therapy, I was so frustrated with all that fell on me, and angry that Michael didn't see it how I did. I began resenting the hell out of him, and he began to feel like he could never measure up to my expectations. At times we could find ourselves quite angry, arguing about the smallest of things. Later of course, after much tears at times, I would realize that I had a lot of displaced anger.

When your spouse has terminal cancer, and you haven't yet had the time to grow in the relationship, it can definitely be a make or break situation. Keep in mind that Michael and I had only been a couple for 1 1/2 years when he was diagnosed. We had only been living together for 9 months when he needed his emergency surgery. His hospitalization was on the eve of our leaving for an all inclusive gay cruise. We were expecting to be partying non stop for 7 nights and days in Mexico. Instead, we were registering him into the hospital, and I was having to call all of his family and friends about the emergent situation. We didn't know if he was going to live or die.

Talk about having the rug pulled out from under you.

In the end, Michael and I did some good work in our couples therapy. We were able to hear each other, and understand why we were each feeling such strong feelings. Eventually we came to an agreement with our therapist that it was time to stop dissecting the relationship, and go home and just enjoy the time we had left. One of the major results from our therapy was the decision to get married. I'm sure many thought, "what's the point?"

For Michael and I, the point was that we needed to live our life together as if each day mattered. We needed to look a little ahead, and have some goals. We never allowed ourselves to look beyond a few months, as that would have been unrealistic.

I would like to say that just understanding that I had a lot of displaced anger, gave me the ability to not go there. Well, that would be a lie. I am human, and Michael was human. We were not perfect, nor did we have the perfect relationship. What Michael and I had was a very strong love. We had a passion for each other.

It was an honor to love him. It was an honor to be loved by him. He took very good care of me. I took very good care of him. The day I met him I knew that I would love this man. The day he ended up in the hospital I knew that I would stand by this man. The day we exchanged vows I knew that I would love him no matter what life threw our way. And the day he died, I knew that I would never be the same.

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