She has done things that have hurt me during this time: sleeping with her old flame (I can’t and won’t hold that against her since our status is on hiatus, but I can’t help that it hurts); using guilt trips against me; and starting fights with me. She feels lonely and confused and I don’t blame her; so do I. I’m going through treatment alone despite the fact I live with my family. I try very hard to accommodate her feelings and empathize with her. I put together information packets for her on what I’m going through so she can try to understand a little better. Even though it’s mentally exhausting to organize information (especially when my brain randomly forgets the meaning of certain words), I still try, because I care about her and her feelings.
I’ve been hallucinating from insomnia, experiencing vomiting fits and radiation burn pain. My decision-making skills, thought processes, logic, and rationality get lost in exhaustion. I feel like I’m cognitively-impaired and she doesn’t seem to understand the difficulties it presents nor appreciate how hard I do try. She tells me that she wants a solid commitment from me and needs affection and support and for me to be more loving. I try very hard, to give her the emotional support as my role throughout life has been the peacekeeper and appeaser, but what if I can’t be that right now? I feel misunderstood and so drained, from everywhere — my family, her, the illness, watching time go by while I can’t put my degrees into practice. What can I do to feel better? — Losing Patience
First of all, I’m sorry about your diagnosis and the challenges you’re facing. It’s totally understandable that while you undergo treatment, you’d want to put a rocky, long-distance relationship on the back-burner. What doesn’t make much sense, though, is why you are treating the relationship and this woman — who you say is an “ex” — as if it’s very much “on.” You’re in constant contact, you’re going out of your way to provide her as much information and a sense of understanding about what you’re going through, and you “try very hard to give her emotional support.” That’s not what a relationship that is on hold should look like. You are way, way too involved with this woman to have the emotional distance necessary to focus on yourself, your treatment, and getting better.
I get it: you’re lonely and confused and scared. But you’re clinging to the wrong person for companionship, support, and understanding. Your ex has shown you over and over that she can’t or won’t be those things for you. Maybe she will someday. Maybe not. But she isn’t right now, and right now is what you need to focus on. So instead of turning to this emotionally draining person for support — a person with whom you have a two-year history of rockiness, turn to people who can appreciate what you’re going through. Ask your doctors, nurses, or hospital/clinic staff to point you to a support group. Connect with others who are going through what you’re going through or who have been down the same path before. Instead of “trying so hard” to explain what you’re experiencing, reach out and lean on people who already understand. If you don’t have family or other friends who can give you the emotional support you need while you undergo treatment for your brain tumor, create a circle of fellow patients.
When you’re better, you can re-evaluate whether you’d like to give your relationship another shot. And I hope good health and healthy distance will give you a clear perspective. Your ex is a girl who, when you were undergoing treatment for a brain tumor, demanded affection, support, and more love from you while she slept around, picked fights with you, and basically treated you like shit — all while you were experiencing unimaginable physical and emotional trauma. That’s not what love looks like.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.