Hubby has no filter. He says what he thinks. This lack of propriety is actually normal for many with cognitive decline. It matters not how insulting or hurtful or inappropriate it is to the situation. I have certainly written about this before, but it has reached new heights.
Last week, Hubby placed his hand on our caregiver Violet’s knee and lightly stroked it. She stood up and walked across the room to the other sofa. He told me what she did. I explained to him that it was inappropriate for him to stroke her like that.
“Maybe she would like it!” He answered.
She would definitely enjoy it if her husband was doing the stroking…not from you! I retorted!
“Why not? She knows that I love her!” He asked.
She is an employee. You are not allowed to act in a personal way with her!
The problem is of course that because Violet is sweet and caring, he misinterprets her kindness as a romantic gesture. Being a caregiver is full of unexpected challenges. I notice that she now sits on a different sofa when keeping him company. Smart girl.
Hubby is suspicious that I am being unfaithful, which is absolutely hysterical considering his foolish behavior. Typically, when I do my runs to the grocery store to “stock up”, my return is met with a scowl. Super Sleuth has figured everything out. He says:
“Do I look like a fool?!!”
Often a lecture follows about how angry he would be if he were to find out that I am “playing around.” He is convinced that my lover is somehow inserted into my life in-between the vegetable aisle and the meat department.
The time has come for me to nourish my own needs intellectually. I need to go out with friends and have interesting conversations about the issues which activate my brain cells. It is time to take care of me. I now accept invitations without Hubby. He is slightly wounded that he is not invited, but it doesn’t last for very long. Mostly, he is worried about the umbilical cord between us and whether it might stretch so thin that it might snap and I might not return at the end of the evening.
Last night was classic. Invited to a wonderful evening with friends, Professors, Ambassadors and other very accomplished individuals, I went on my own. It was necessary to tell Hubby that it was only the husband and wife and I who were having dinner together. His immediate question was:
“Will there be men there? Who will bring you home?”
As I dressed in more elegant attire than usual, his instincts were that it was to be a special evening, and he was not at all happy. I told him that I would be home late. He insisted that I call him when I leave the house of my hosts, and begin my return journey. By 9 PM my cellphone was ringing and I had to excuse myself from the dinner table. Violet explained that Hubby was standing at our locked gate staring into the darkness, wanting her to open it so he could go out and “look for Barbara.” She lied (which is totally acceptable when dealing with Hubby these days,) and said she did not have any keys. Hence, she could not open the gate. He was furious at being kept prisoner. He had her dial my cellphone number and got onto her phone to yell at me:
“Do you think I am stupid?” He yelled into the apparatus.
“How many years have we been married??!!!”
The accusation was clearly delivered. I withheld my response so that the other dinner guests would not be aware of the dynamics in play. Thankfully, he hung up on me. Or was it the other way around? I could not get off the phone quickly enough!
What does one do to quell the unfounded suspicions of a jealous Hubby? I asked the hosts if we could take photographs together on my phone so that I could prove that I was with them, rather than with a lover. It worked like a charm. Once I returned home and showed the photos to him, and reminded him about our special friends, he calmed down. Regrettably, hubby had held a vigil in the space between our front door and the wrought iron gate for a full hour and a half, awaiting his wayward wife.
The number of times that he has falsely deduced that I am meeting inappropriately with a male basically equals the number of times I have left his presence. After 15 months of seclusion during the Covid pandemic, he is having a very difficult time moving forward. He certainly does not understand my needs for external social contact. He is totally consumed by his own comfort, anger, pain and desires. This inability of a loved one to be able to care about others as they once did, makes the experience of caregiving even more challenging. The dynamics of the current relationship have nothing in common with the years of sharing and love felt over a lifetime. There is still love… but of a totally different nature.
These experiences do not bode well for my need for international travel. Our son and his bride of one year are meeting me in the south of France very soon for a reunion with family flying in from London. I can only imagine what fears Hubby will experience in my absence. Plans must be made, but if planes are flying, I will indeed be in Nice very soon!
If Hubby’s health remains stable, I will be on that plane. No secret meetings… no affair…no triste or romance. When it comes to family, some commitments are actually non-negotiable. The once-friendly skies are beckoning to me and I am praying they will be kinder to me than the last time I traveled with an unexpected twelve-hour layover between connections. Hope springs eternal and the need to clear the cobwebs from my own brain is suddenly presenting a very exciting possibility! Up, up and away!!