Being a parent vs. a spouse


I agree that learning “the art of detachment” is probably the biggest learning curve for all of us. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about our ill spouses/partners, parents, or children, detachment keeps us afloat, and able to separate the person from the disease.


Detachment is definitely the key! But it’s not always easy to detach when they are in psychotic episode…all of the worry that comes with it! At some point you have to think of yourself and what you want, it can’t be about him all of the time.
Brief story: when my husband and I lost our business 7 years ago, we ended up moving into my Inlaws house! I made the mistake of moving in with 2 extremely dysfunctional, unhealthy people: one was an alcoholic and the other, my mother in law, had serious, I mean serious issues that to this day I still can’t explain or understand. My father in law was just beginning to be ill and my mother in law refused to take care of him! So I worked everyday and came home and took care of him every night. My father in law and husband had a hard time getting along as every conversation became a pissing contest between 2 men and it was my father Inlaw’s doing as my husband doesn’t have this macho trait about him. My father in law was very critical of my husband and never really had anything nice to say to him. As time went on and my father in law became sicker, my mother in law was diagnosed with dementia. Before dementia, my mother in law did twisted things to my husband, like set up scenarios to have arguments with him and then cry to my father in law who in turn would flip out on my husband and literally rip him apart with his words while my mother in law would just sit there like a mute…this was a daily occurrence. I could go deeper but I will spare you the details. So now, I am working full time, coming home and taking care of my father in law, my mother in law and my son who was 7 or 8 at the time. And then my husband had his first psychotic episode. So now, I am working full time,coming home and taking care of my father in law, who has started to become fatally ill, my mother in law, whose dementia was getting worse, my husband who is schizophrenic and my poor son who took the back seat to all of it! This went on for a long time and as time went by all 3 of them became progressively worse. I started to feel like I was in an insane asylum! I have no idea how I survived it, but I pushed forward and moved through it and did what I needed to do for all of them.
My point of this story is this: what the hell was I thinking? What made me think I had to shoulder all of this? Taking care of people is one thing but enduring mental abuse is another. I stayed in that house and took care of people who really kept me there for their own selfish reasons…my father in law would tell me all of the time that if I left he would end up in a nursing home and this guilt wouldn’t let me leave. I put the sanity of my husband and the well-being of my son on the back burner and stayed in an extremely unhealthy environment to serve someone else’s needs…like what was I thinking? So my point is, is if you have been enduring this behavior all of this time, at some point you have to realize what kind of a “healthy” environment do you want for yourself? You have been unhappy for a long time and feel you have missed out on having a family. I asked a social worker once if schizophrenics ever have insight into their illness and she said some do and there are some who never do and stay on the revolving door of mental institutions. For my husband, this is the first time since the onset of his illness that he has done this well on meds. He was on the revolving door for 4.5 years and I am waiting to see if maybe he can string together a few months of sanity or maybe, hopefully, 6 months.
Your guy will be back at your door again and by then I hope you have better insight into what you want or stick to your guns if you don’t want what he has to offer.