Mea Culpa–Sometimes This Caregiving Spouse Gets Angry (And That’s OK)

ANGRY WOMAN.jpg

Ok, so the truth is that I have been walking around all week furious at Ralph. Is that allowed, to be angry with someone with cognitive impairment? I have a voice in my head that I’ll call White Rabbit but that I also imagine (perhaps unfairly, but if I’m going for honesty here…) represents Alzheimer’s activists who would tell me, “No you don’t have that right. You can’t expect him to be a practical helpmate. You have to support him, not the other way around. You are a selfish bitch.” (I don’t really imagine the activist saying that last bit, but White Rabbit definitely.)

Well, my answer, this morning anyway, is so what? And I think it is important to accept my real feelings. As I try to define my role in Ralph’s life going forward, it doesn’t help to sweep the uncomfortable, unpretty emotional bits under the carpet. And the fact is that some of the ways he infuriates me now are no different from the ways he infuriated me before he was diagnosed.

So why am I angry this week? The details as I try to put them in typing sound almost silly: We have a rental townhouse in Florida that was recently flooded out after the neighboring townhouse’s pipes burst. I have had to take all the responsibility for dealing with insurance and repairs. I have been doing a lot of driving 5½ hours each way for 24 hour visits. This weekend is the final push—taking all the supplies and furnishing unavailable there and setting up the place. Usually I go alone but I need Ralph’s physical help this time. And he is driving me crazy.

I understand that when he repeats questions or statements, he really cannot help it. I may get impatient but I do understand. I understand why he keeps asking why we’re taking all these things to Florida, why he can’t remember to do the basic tasks he’s been assigned, why he keeps saying we can fit everything in the back seat when we obviously can’t since it’s already full. The annoyance of our repetitive dialogue gets on my nerves but is not why I am angry (well, a teensy bit).

I am angry because his obliviousness, which I usually convince myself to accept as a symptom of Alzheimer’s, is nothing new. During most of our marriage I could not depend on him when I was overwhelmed with responsibility.

And that’s what rankles.

Because I may be Ralph’s caretaker, but I’m also his wife. I imagine the wife role will recede more than it has already—and it keeps receding as our communication becomes more limited and we share less and less except the mildest chitchat—but for now the wife in me still has stored resentments that burble up when I’m triggered into remembering all the other times I couldn’t count on him, when he was self-important and impatient with my requests for help, when he was belittling, when he was generally a jerk—and all the times he was a delight too of course, but that’s another conversation.-

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Mea Culpa–Sometimes This Caregiving Spouse Gets Angry (And That’s OK)

  1. The anger you’re feeling and have expressed isn’t limited to just caregivers coping with someone who has Alzheimer’s. Any behavioral changes, especially in cognitive functions in a loved one, brought on for reasons beyond the affected individual’s control, such as you describe, often trigger similar caregiver reactions. You have
    articulated so well the mix of the husband/wife before and after realities. I can confirm
    this both personally and professionally.

    Like

  2. The anger you’re feeling and have expressed isn’t limited to just caregivers coping with someone who has Alzheimer’s. Any behavioral changes, especially in cognitive functions in a loved one, brought on for reasons beyond the affected individual’s control, such as you describe, often trigger similar caregiver reactions. You have
    articulated so well the mix of the husband/wife before and after realities. I can confirm this both personally and professionally.

    Like

  3. Your anger is absolutely valid and you should not feel guilty about it. You are dealing with added stress in an already stressful situation and just because Ralph’s health status has changed, the husband and wife dynamics, both past and present, are still there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I so relate to this. I tell myself that it is normal to still feel annoyed, even angry at times. I struggle with the guilt as I try to sort out what I believe to be related to his cognitive impairment, and what is not.

    It does help to write about it. I have found that since I started documenting my thoughts about his cognitive decline, it somehow feels better. Kind of like therapy, only cheaper!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right. Writing does help. Of course, then I worry I am being self-indulgent! There is a tendency to constantly examine him and then examine myself in sorting out our life day by–inevitable but dangerous unless mitigated by other interests, people, etc…Hang in there!

      Like

  5. No one has the right to tell you that you have no right to be angry. Your emotions are yours alone. I think the toughest part is that the anger has nowhere to go because the person who is making you angry can’t understand. I hope you get things sorted out with the house and feel less annoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s