We are both fragile. My wife’s dementia makes her insecure and needy, easily upset by an angry word or errant action. My blindness has left me unable to do much of what I used to do, often leaving me frustrated with my limitations.
Our fragilities don’t mix well.
As my wife is no longer able to adapt rationally to most of what happens around her, including my behavior, it’s up to me to be the adult in the room, to control my responses, to avoid hitting her hot buttons.
Painful experience has taught me what those buttons are. I’ve learned to respond immediately to her requests for attention, no matter how engrossed I might be in some project. It takes very little to cause a mental and emotional meltdown which results in a lengthy period of comforting to restore harmony.
I still screw up, but I’ve learned how to avoid this anguish.
I’ve learned to be cheerful even when I’m not feeling it. I’ve learned to stuff anger and negative feelings that would set her off. And, I’ve learned such discipline is a good thing.
Stopping to make lunch instead of vanishing into an hours long obsessive compulsive writing frenzy is a good thing. Taking a break in the middle of the afternoon to walk with her and get an ice cream cone is a good thing. Pausing to enjoy my wife’s excited descriptions of hummingbirds flitting by the feeder is a good thing.
Being mindful of our fragility and letting my wife teach me how to live fully is a good thing.