Thursday, August 2, 2018

Living "Alone" for Ten Days Was Interesting


 My husband has published another book. He is a co-author. I don't want to say the topic for identity purposes but he had to go on some book shows. He wanted the trips to be shorter but it was three cities over 10 days. His co-author put him up on a couch at his office. The publisher paid for the bus and train tickets. Hopefully this book will sell enough to help us get a used car.

This travel was beyond me going especially in the summer heat. He was going to a hotter climate too, where 90s was the norm not just the low and high 80s. I joked that we needed to win the Lotto, so we could rent a tricked out van with powerful air conditioning with a bed in back so I could make it on his trips. That did not happen. It sucks not being able to travel.

 This week, a friend did drive us to another big city that was closer so I was able to go to one of his book shows and meet his co-author. The temperature was in the high 70s. That was nice. We ate out and I looked at the sights, and took pictures. However during these other book shows, I had to live at home alone for 10 days. While he and his best friend had gone to some concerts out of town and come home very late, I had not spent a night alone in 17 years. Was I afraid? You bet.

I am pretty dependent on my husband. It's not just the endless care-taker crud but just the fact he was gone, that upset me.  Oh I missed him terrible. This is where you see the sensitive Aspie stuff come out. I burst out in tears the night he left which I know sounds sad and pathetic and far from age appropriate. What's wrong with me? Yeah this ACON crap can make it so you feel alone in this world too.

 I was worried about the worse things happening to him. What if he got sick or hospitalized, how would I get out somewhere that was 6-800 miles away? I haven't traveled more then 90 miles in the last 5 years and the furthest I've gone was 150 miles since 2011. My husband was sensitive to my needs and set things up so we could talk a few times a day. That helped a lot. This way I knew which towns he was in, and which bus and he stayed in one hotel room one night, and made me feel safer about the whole situation. Overall it was hard. I told him if any other adventures came up, I would be ready to sit in front of the door.

I hired an aide to survive his time away. She was a friend I knew locally who I met last year at a "Resist" protest, and she was a great disabled aide. My apartment left squalor land and became almost normal. She put me in my Flexitouch machine daily. One important part of her job too, was to make sure, I had not fallen and gotten trapped on the floor. My husband has had to get others to peel me off the floor twice this year. I had her do some salad prep, vacuuming, taking the trash out, picking up some groceries , buying me a fan at Walgreens and various other tasks. Before he left, we all met together and I described physical and other needs. I had her 2-3 hours a day with me. She was also someone to talk to. Her help was invaluable. I spared her any open display of my pining away.

While he was gone I did take the bus twice to go buy some food and pay one bill that had to be paid on a certain day at a local grocery store. We paid as many bills as we could before he left, but this bill-- the money wasn't going to be transferred into the bank account until he was gone. So I went. The Dial A Ride comes very fast at 8:00 in the morning. I went early to avoid extreme heat. Sometimes I do that when on housebound days. I may go early to my UU fellowship this Sunday to be "able to make it". Once I held an ice pack on my face to make it to an art class I didn't want to miss. However most of the week I was housebound from heat outside the early morning sojourns.

It was strange being without my husband. We are one of those couples who are very attached. I felt ripped in half while he was gone. That's the dark side of love I guess, when you are separated from someone you care about and how painful it can be. That's a void you can't fill with just anyone else.

People don't realize how close two people can get sometimes, and how it can affect people. It was so quiet, the normal conversations were just shut off. I felt traumatized and kind of shut down. I hadn't spent more then 16 hours where I was on my own since 2001. Then he went on a business trip for a week, back then I didn't have any aides but was younger and could function more on my own.

The silence that surrounded me was weird. I hate being alone. Does that sound bad? I don't mind solitude, he's been asleep and I've showered, cooked soup, ate lunch, saved his, and wrote on here. I'm not someone who can talk for hours and hours, I need peace and quiet but I hate living alone. I know a lot of online and other friends who live alone. Often I think "How do they do it?" 

 Physically most are more independent then me but I think of the emotional stuff too. I lived alone for a few years or in those boarding houses where there were some roommates but it wasn't the same as "knowing" and being "close" to the people you were with. I sometimes think the impact of "not having a family" can complicate some of these issues.  There's people who live alone who don't have a mate and who live alone out there: so called "elder orphans". That's kind of a scary miserable title isn't it? Sadly ACONs are more in danger of being "elder orphans".  I wish they made co-housing for poorer people, that's for sure.

 I often have had worries about me outliving him and what would become of me, and vice versa. "Independent Living" for the disabled can be kind of a scary issue. Will the social workers put me in a group home or nursing home? Can I fend for myself? I guess this trip answered this question. I can with an aide but it was kind of scary. He told me he was afraid to leave me alone so long. I could tell he even wondered about canceling. It was great friends were willing to help. My book club friend came to visit me too knowing I was alone too.

I feel into my strange living alone habits, not cooking much, though I ate enough to keep sugars balanced and bumbling around the apartment reading books and resting in bed. I got sick when he was gone. Maybe it was the stress, and got a bad cold, but fortunately it cleared up.  He called me regular on the phone so we were still talking and that made the time easier. Fortunately his trip went okay and it came to an end and I was relieved when he came home.  I remained busy and usually have something do even when alone or even inside.

I sometimes get afraid of being alone, and know what it is rooted in. I had a time in my 20s during the first no contact, where every friend moved away, and I was living alone in my own apartment. I would go to work and could go days without seeing or talking to another soul. There was one weekend when I had no work hours, I didn't own a TV that worked, and I owed the library too many fines, and I was broke, and I had absolutely no one to talk to or anywhere to go. I still remember that moment and the feeling of desperation. There was a fear that kind of lapped at the edges there. Some of those memories came fleeting back during this week. I kind of went into a Zen Buddhist "detachment" to survive thinking well, you can only control so much and reminding myself this was temporary.

One problem was keeping the OCD from rearing it's ugly head too. I allowed myself to check and make sure the front door was locked only twice at night. This is some of the cognitive therapy stuff I've used for years to keep OCD from getting the best of me.

I told him no more long trips, this one took a lot out of me. I'd probably be like that girl in the Catana Comic latched on his leg going Nooooooooooo!


  1. I'm the same way. Really attached to my husband and can get very panicky when he leaves and feel certain I'll never see him again. All the old irrational fears come looming back. For me, I think it's all about having terrible parents who made it very clear that I was a terrible person who was hideous to be around and that if I didn't make them very happy I'd be abandoned to die in a gutter. And I'm not inferring this, this is what they said. Only in a much meaner way! But congratulations on making it through without him. I think bursting into tears when someone is leaving is entirely age appropriate. At least for me, it's what happens and I'm sure I'm older than you. Also congrats to hubby on the book! I hope all his promotion can be done long distance from now on. Also good job on the dress you made, I'm impressed with your sewing skills.

    1. Thanks Anon for saying you deal with the same thing and feel panicky when your husband is gone. Yeah I had worries I'd never see him again, and had the fears. Yeah my parents told me like yours I was unworthy of anyone and people would just leave. They set up my life with the constant moving and living far away from family to make sure there was as few people around as possible or I only saw the back end of them. LOL mine as you did abandon me to die in the gutter basically. Glad you made it through. Yeah I was glad when the ten days was up. Thanks for saying the tears were age appropriate, that makes me feel better. Yeah he is going to do promotion long distance. His co-author is doing some really far away shows. Thanks regarding the dress, it will be a good dress to wear in the fall.