Jen had been married for fourteen years when her life was crumbling into financial ruin. Her husband was no longer employed although Jen wasn’t sure when he actually lost his job because he’d told so many lies. She’d found out he’d been borrowing money to cover gambling debts and meanwhile she was working a low-paying job trying to keep the family afloat. Then came the devastating news that he had cancer. The next couple of months were a whirlwind. Here’s Jen:
There was nothing left. We were probably going to lose our house if we didn’t sell it so I put it on the market and it sold within a month. The people who bought it said,
“We want you out within two weeks.”
When my husband had told me he was getting insurance through his work, I had cut back on my work hours because the way my insurance worked was I had to work a certain amount of hours to keep it. When it turned out he’d never actually had that job, I had to double up my hours to keep my insurance. So I was working forty-five hours a week.
He had three surgeries, three weeks in a row and the most aggressive chemotherapy, like five days on of six hours a day, and then 2 weeks off, and then another five days on. I was dealing with all of this and I was thinking,
“I think my marriage is over. I don’t trust him at all. I don’t believe anything he says to me”
All of this was coming at the same time, and I just felt nothing, I was absolutely numb. I wasn’t happy or sad, I didn’t feel scared, I was just like,
“Whatever. We just have to do what we have to do.”
I just put my head down and moved. I just kept busy and I ran. I would come home from work and he’d be knocked out on the couch on pain pills and neighbors would be coming over, trying to help out with dinner, and I would put on my shoes and say,
“If I don’t run, I’m pretty much gonna kill myself.”
I’d put on my shoes and just run, and that would help me get through everything.
His mom and dad were living in California but they had a vacant house here and they came up here to help take care of him. So when it came time to move out of our home I just said to the kids,
“Dad’s really sick and he’s got no immunity, so we’re going to move him in with nana and granddad so they can keep an eye on him. Because you guys are in school and I have to work, we’re going to stay with grandma and grandpa.”
He could not take care of himself. He was really sick but I couldn’t take care of him. I had to keep working to make sure we kept our insurance so he could have any sort of medical care at all.
I felt guilty that I didn’t feel as bad for him as I should have. At this point, we’d been married for fourteen years, but my life had been battle after battle after battle for fourteen years, every financial difficulty you could think of. We both came from really well-off families, so it was really pride-swallowing and difficult for me. Someone would try to call me and ask,
“Is everything okay, because your phones have been temporarily shut off?”
That was very hard.
I would have been fine if we struggled, as long as the relationship was good, as long as we struggled together.
The Divorce Coach Says
While Jen felt guilty that she didn’t have more compassion for her husband, I admire her humanity and her commitment to ensuring that they had insurance that would cover his cancer treatment. She could have said enough, that she wasn’t going to put the extra hours in at work, she could have spent more time with the children. Who would have blamed her after all his lies?
Missy June, who blogs at Far From Flawless, left an interesting comment on the first post in this series saying that a denial is a short-term coping skill. Jen was certainly in denial about her husband’s lies giving him chance after chance. Possibly she was still in denial about the state of their marriage at this phase. Certainly, when your plate is full with just the day-to-day living activities, it is hard to think about the bigger issues. Being able to move him to his parents’ house and have them come to take care of him, gave Jen what I think she needed most. Time. Time away from him. Time to get a sense of what life would be like without him around. Time to restore her faith in herself and to figure out what she wanted to do.
Photo credit: kharied – //www.flickr.com/photos/kharied/3309159706/