Even at the ages of 77 and 80 my husband and I try to have a date night. I love music, we love wine, and he loves me – so we do what I want. I find live music at a winery on a Friday evening, we party all night, and are home by 7pm. Perfect!
But what about isolation, social distancing, and self-quarantine? We definitely fall into the high-risk category for the possible worldwide pandemic of Coronavirus (Covid-19). So last Friday night we sat in front of the fireplace, listened to music from Spotify and opened a bottle of local wine. Who knew there were secrets to tell at this late date?
In order not to catastrophize or perseverate on family issues, we decided to play a game that we bring out now and then to start conversation. Table Topics. Some are always throw-away-and-chortle questions, like for us “How do you see yourself in 10 years?”. But some cause serious reflection. One of the questions that I drew was “Name three adjectives your family would use to describe you.”
My husband had no difficulty with his response – he chose three positive and copped to three negatives. But just trying to think of an adjective brought tears to my eyes. He tried to help me. He thought my family would view me as strong. I disagreed. I have always had great self-esteem. I don’t doubt my abilities, but I know that self-worth isn’t my strong point. Mine has got weaker with the disabilities from my stroke. I explained shakily to my husband:
“We all know that I consider myself lucky. I can talk, walk. and think. To me these are blessings, nothing that I have earned. Many people have more severe strokes. Also, I know what I am lacking in the situation. I have difficulty doing what is difficult. I have great resistance to structuring my time and I detest ritualized behavior. Plus I hate doing exercises.
Not a good combination for someone in physical recovery. In the activities that I pursue with other stroke and brain injury people, I can see the progress that individuals have made. I know that I fall short. In my first year Had I really applied myself, I might be in the same category as those I admire. “I feel as if I have let my family down,” I said. Especially you, my husband.”
Being a pragmatic man, he looked at me with disbelief, hugged me and assured me that no one sees me that way. “You could have worked 24 hours a day changed nothing!”
It took awhile to talk me down from that ledge. (The wine probably didn’t help with my volatile emotions). Together we came up with a list of adjectives I could live with. Strong. Smart. Always there. “You’re right,.” I conceded, “ I should give myself a break…”
Our date night was salvaged and good feelings prevailed.
p.s. I hope I can.