The Gang’s All Here
By Chris Tatevosian
My marriage of ten years began dissolving when the “Monster” invited his friends to live in my house. If you have MS, I’m sure you’ve met the gang. There was the kingpin, Stress, his best friend Anger and his twin, Misdirected. Of course, Feelings of Worthlessness was there and his brother Feelings of Inadequacy who brought his best friend Low Self-esteem and his sidekick Depression, who hung out with everybody’s buddies, Worry and Anxiety. As usual, Communication was a no show, but sure enough his sister Miss-communication popped in and overstayed her welcome. They never left, but my wife did.
Sounds like the cast of a real nightmare. At that point of my life it literally was a real nightmare, and I couldn’t see myself ever waking up. MS can become a real nightmare destroying relationships between spouses, family members even friends. I wrote the book “Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me,“ a self-help memoir, my real life story of marriage interrupted by multiple sclerosis. It could have been any chronic illness or disability and it could have been anyone’s relationship. Still, this book is intended to help others going through a similar situation deal with the stress and hardship put on one’s relationship as a result of life being interrupted by chronic illness or disability.
I should’ve known something was up when my then wife and I went days without any real communication. I guess I did know. Call it being a dumb guy, but I was expecting a literal warning, an out right ultimatum. Something like, “Chris you need to change or Chris, you/we need counseling or I won’t stay in this marriage. Eventually the combination of this physically debilitating disease and my quick to anger poor me attitude was more than enough to make the difficult decision for my wife to leave come to fruition. This interruption to our once loving relationship had become too much for my wife to bear. Remember, it wasn’t just my then wife watching her partner struggling with his physical losses. No, it was also, and in my case likely more so my unintended compassionless and bitterly radical emotional changes and instability unbearable. Unintended or not my unacceptable behavior and complete personality change combined with my overwhelming stress, misdirected anger, feelings of worthlessness, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, worry, miscommunication and depression, the “whole gang,“ just became too much to bear. I lost sight of what was important in life, that's why I wrote my book dealing with all the emotional turmoil that is thrown into a relationship that is interrupted by chronic illness.
I got remarried last April. My new bride, Jane, is fantastic. And even though my disease is worse off than during my first marriage I could not ask for more. So what’s changed? We truly have a wonderful relationship. Why is my marriage working so well now, even though my MS has continued to progress over the past eight years. I can attribute this to two factors. First, Jane is truly a special person, and second. I have written this book, which has afforded me the opportunity to slow down and examine my life. The obvious fact is, we have the choice to go through life dealing with whatever trials and tribulations we must, and we must deal, with either a smile or a frown. Yes, we have an affliction, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through the rest of our lives pissed off at everything and everyone, living in complete misery.
My wife Jane and I, we, laugh and laugh together and at one another all the time. Sure, I have slipped ups, get frustrated and angry. It happened just the other night. I became so frustrated with Jane during the middle of the morning. It must have been about 3 AM. No it was 3:17 AM, I have one of those giant digital alarm clocks for the legally blind. When I cae in the shin, among other places all night long BAD! Of course I have to deal with nocturnia, which means every time I wake up I have to empty my bladder. I take prescription Flomax so normally I can sleep through the night without having to get up to visit the bathroom. Needless to say, it was a long night and I was ready to scream at my wife, which I would have done in my previous marriage. So what’s the difference, what’s changed? The difference is that I have written, re-written, read and re-read. my book so many times that when I do begin to slip-up it’s so obvious that I can’t help but catch myself. And let’s not forget, Jane has read the book too, so when I slip up she’s quick to point out “Chris, I think you need to revisit page 76 “and we have a good chuckle. Remember life is too short, you choose whether to laugh or cry. I never thought I would get married again. After all, who would marry damaged goods? At one point prior to my marriage I said to my wife to be, why would you marry someone with MS, that is like buying a vase with a hole in the bottom. Her response was, maybe I want it to hold dried flowers. So these dried flowers are happily married and loving every minute of it.