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21 August 2005 @ 03:00 am
Beyond Chaos  
Beyond Chaos : One Man's Journey Alongside His Chronically Ill Wife by Gregg Piburn, is just blowing my mind. I feel like someone followed us around and recorded the thoughts and feelings we've had since my heart disease diagnosis in 2001. Every area of our life that we've struggled with was mirrored in this book, with effective tools to communicate the intense emotions and fears that come up for both parties. I wish I had found this book sooner, and I wish I could find a book this effective in helping the ill person in the relationship cope--although I'm getting a lot of good out of it too. Most of all I am feeling that our responses have certainly been the normal human ones.

One thing struck me--he says that statistics on marriages where one partner has a chronic illness is that 3 out of 4 end in divorce.

This is not because one person is selfish and runs out on the other, forsaking their vows. No, it's entirely possible--and I know a marriage that ended like this--that the ill person will leave the healthy person as well. As the relationship loses its intimacy--inevitable if both parties are afraid to talk about their real fears and pain--both partners pull away. I remember being in a phase where I thought my life would be easier not dealing with or worrying about daveseeker's reaction to my illness constantly. Plus there was a part of me that yearned for a hermet-like, spiritually-oriented life at that time.

If I had to boil all of this down into some kind of formula for those of you who experience serious illness as a challenge to your marriage in the future, it's keep talking about your feelings no matter how much you want to avoid them, gloss them over, hide them, discount them, or otherwise pretend that everything is "fine." Everything is NOT fine, and you'll feel much better once you talk openly about that. In fact, you'll find that you feel closer to each other and less isolated by your experience. It doesn't mean being on a downer all the time, or processing 24 hours a day. Just stay real and check in regularly. Once we were able to open up in therapy we regained our former closeness--and then some.

Beyond Chaos was also written with a great sense of humor and humility, and it ended up being a page turner. It is not a self help book of the type that says everything will be perfect if you follow a 5 step program of some sort. It's power lies in bearing witness to the thoughts and feelings that waylay us when we confront illness, doctors, a medical system that is bursting at the seams, a society that doesn't know what to do with sick people or disability, friends that don't want to deal with it if they can't fix it, and others who marginalize us or blame us for our illness, and what all these pressures can do to the intimacy level in a marriage.

I give this book an infinite number of stars.
 
 
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