The Three Magic Words

Happy

“I love you,” are not the three words men most yearn to hear. This may have been the case early in our courtship when we were drunk with love and romance, and the mere mention of these words would make our hearts flutter and groins stir. No, as the relationship matures and the question of love is no longer debatable, those three words are supplanted by a new trio. These words always turn our heads away from the television, the I-Pad, or otherwise remove our focus from whatever world we currently inhabit.

These words have the same effect as a cold shower, but in a positive, refreshing way. Instead of pretending to pay attention but only hearing wah wah, wah wah wah when our wives or girlfriends are talking, and our attention is divided between whatever it is they are saying and the sports page, we snap out of our stupor in a nanosecond and focus like a laser beam on the conversation we were mostly ignoring. What are these magic words? You….are….right!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not minimizing the significance of “I love you.” I never want the day to end without saying those words to K or Shodan. Even though we sometimes say them with the same gusto as “honey I’m taking out the trash,” they are nonetheless meaningful, and shame on the poor fool that takes them for granted.

But to hear, “you are right”… is almost orgasmic because it’s so rare. Not winning the Powerball rare, but more akin to witnessing the perfect sunset, observing an underground lake, or discovering crop circles, where an intrinsic feeling of wonderment and awe overwhelms the senses. It puts a spring in our step, gives us reason to have faith, and otherwise makes us feel that perhaps we not as obtuse are we are led to believe.

Most women I know would derisively scoff at this premise, flatly stating that the reason we don’t hear this very often is not because they are loathe to admitting this. No, the reason we don’t hear these words very often is simply because we are right about as often as you’ll see polka-dots on a zebra.

I don’t remember that last time I had to choose between being right and being happy, primarily because I don’t keep score. If I’m rational, I will choose happiness, be satisfied in knowing that I’m right, and not belabor the point. I’d much rather concede the issue and keep the peace because I know that if I let my stubbornness get the best of me, and it’s usually over really stupid inconsequential shit, I may win the battle but lose the war. You see, the thrill of victory is fleeting and once the narcotic wears off, the hangover sets in. I’ll realize I’m deep in the doghouse, and for what?

K will still think I’m not only wrong, but an insensitive flaming asshole to boot, and is now doubly pissed that I disputed her omnipotence. I’ll cower like a scolded pup, wonder how the hell I did this to myself (again), apologize after an appropriate cooling off period, and swear upon everything I hold sacred that I won’t put myself in that position again.

Later on when the dust has settled and I’m alone I’ll replay the events, be my own judge and jury and render an unbiased verdict on the matter. More than half of the time I’ll concede I was wrong, but the ratio is a lot closer to 50% than 0%.

In the end it doesn’t matter, and all I can do is wait for the next time those three magic words are offered without prompting or hesitation, and bathe in the warm glow of redemption.

 

Relationships

Relationships

Author’s note: Wouldn’t you know it? My wife’s post had more views than any of the others that preceded it. I’ll be hearing about that one for a while.  Be on the lookout for an occasional post from K in the future. In all likelihood, it will occur after the pain-in-the- ass husband has gotten her to the point where she needs to vent.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: living with a chronic condition sucks. It changes your life by not only placing physical limitations on what you can do, but also provides mental and emotional challenges that did not previously exist. A future that may once have had limitless potential is confronted with storm clouds as far as the eye can see.

All of which make relationships so important. Whether it’s your spouse, life partner, good friend(s) or all of the above, loving relationships make you feel whole and help distract you from your struggles.

Relationships are the ballast that keep our listing ships afloat. They are the mortar that keep our psyche intact. The people in these relationships accept us for who we are, not what we once were or may be. They pick us up when we are down, and kick us in the ass when we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. The sum of these are so vital for us to maintain our self esteem and keep plodding forward.

One of the many things living with something a chronic condition teaches you is how solid the relationships in your life truly are.

I’d like to believe that “in good times and bad, through better or worse, in sickness and in health” mean something, but I’m not naive. Health issues can break up the best of established marriages, and cripple new ones. They are especially corrosive when kids are involved. My MS journey validated what I always knew but perhaps never fully appreciated: K is an exceptional, wonderful human being and I’m lucky to have her.

In terms of relationships with friends, the only benefit of getting something like MS in middle-age is your friends are long-established, and you don’t need to hang with them as much because you have a history and have already carved out lives for yourselves. When you do connect, the atmosphere is laid back, low key, and comparatively mellow. The danger of being isolated and alone due to physical limitations is low.

Finding and/or maintaining friends and lovers in your twenties is much harder when a chronic condition invades your world. Appetites are insatiable at that age. You’re  ravenously exploring what life has to offer. Hanging with the crowd becomes impossible when you’re health weighs you down. While it might not be their intention, it’s hard for friends not to leave you in the dust in that situation. After all, life is a 100 yard sprint at that stage of your life. That’s hard to accomplish with an anchor chained to your leg, and you, tragically, are that anchor.

friends

As far as dating is concerned, not hanging with a crowd makes it difficult to meet and mingle, plus there is the issue of how much to disclose and when to disclose it. Honesty is such an important foundation in any relationship, but if you are forthcoming about a condition like MS from the start, you run the risk of not even getting out of the batter’s box. But if you aren’t forthcoming at all or lie about it, you’ll eventually be exposed as a liar and a fraud, which is worse. Most people aren’t willing to look past your flaws if you can’t be trusted. Talk about a dilemma!

Then there is the issue of feeling lousy or living with pain. It hard to feel or muster the fire and passion that’s taken for granted at that age when that twin-headed monster lurks.  My only advice is to be persistent, stay true to yourself, hope the best, and when you unearth that hard-to-find diamond who looks beyond all that, hold on as tightly as you can without smothering them.

Some may subscribe to the premise that my life took a cruel turn. I can’t deny  there is some truth that assumption, but I don’t dwell on it because my condition didn’t surface until I was close to fifty years of age. That isn’t ancient by any measure, and my retirement years will no doubt be different from what I hoped. Hell, my fifties have been a lot different from what I expected. But, I was able to live it up in my youth, and the years that followed the diagnosis haven’t changed my ability to enjoy life. I can live with that. The last decade has certainly had some challenges and difficulties, but the pace of my life was already beginning to wind down when MS came calling, making the bitter pill easier to swallow. I’m pretty chill when it comes to my reality.

If I were in my late teens or twenties? I’d be a basket case. The perspective my life experience has provided is extremely difficult if not impossible to grasp if you’ve been saddled with this at such a tender age.

My heart bleeds for anyone who has.