What is it like being a single parent? I would have never been able to answer this question before the accident. Now not only am I a single parent to our daughter but also to my husband. I am aware that when we are out in public I probably sound like an over controlling crazy woman. Unfortunately, this is my responsibility. There is no therapist that goes with us on outings to retrain his social behavior. There is only me. I have to correct him there on the spot much like a child’s; his brain is re-learning these social behaviors.
No biggie, right? Wrong! It is huge! There are times I just want to scream because I cannot believe I am sitting there on a “date” with my 38-year-old husband and I have to plead with him to not pound the table because the wait staff is taking too long or constantly nag him to turn the sound off on his games because it might be disturbing other people also trying to have a relaxing dinner. These are some of the simpler examples. Yes, as a single parent of a teen and an adolescent adult life can be very trying.
A lot of it comes down to understanding and patience. I need to continually remind myself that although I am looking into the face of my beloved husband of nearly eleven years, I am doing everything possible to retrain his brain which is stuck in the adolescent years at best. His responses also match that of a child being corrected.
It’s nothing for my husband to have a literal stomping temper tantrum. Many times later in the day he will not even recall this. How do you deal with this? For me, it has been trial and error. I have yet to find something that works every time. I have come to the point where I will apologize, for example, to the wait staff and explain that he is recovering from a TBI.
There is one national chain restaurant that we love! Not only is the food good, but the waiter we normally get is amazing with my husband. He will endure the repeated conversation and be patient with his frustrations as he nitpicks through dinner. I do not know that this person realizes the value in their patience. Not only does it make my husband feel more like a person, but I know I can relax and not have to be on guard for the next words that may come out of his mouth. I can just relax and enjoy my time.
I miss that. I miss enjoying time. I have written about the search for new normal very briefly. I am still trying to find the new normal of me not just the new John. In many ways who I was is no longer a possibility. I feel that I am in a nearly constant state of analyzing and planning the next step in our “new” adventure. This is out of necessity. My husband does not have the ability to look ahead at safety risks or consequences. He lives in a state of snap decisions and turn on the dime mood swings. This last week I took time to sit outside just basking in the sunshine and often I did not even want to move. I could literally just sit there looking up through the tree for what seemed like hours; even though, it was more like minutes. That is until reality would snap back and I would be back to that single parent refereeing between the ‘kids’.
The competition between my husband and daughter is enormous. With his inability
to process certain things and her mental health issues where she tends to attempt being the parentified child, we have established a guideline that if he feels that there is something that he feels needs correcting he must come to me and then I deal with the situation. This is where I see the enormous difference. What would have been a shrug of kids will be kids has turned into almost a constant state of tattling. It is really a balancing act of sorts. There is a need to balance the line of respect as he is still her father but also to guard her heart and mind when he is going over the limits. This has been a very trying week in this arena, but trying to look forward and overcoming as many of these challenges as we can.