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I am SO angry at him!

LunaLady
Posts: 25
Joined: Mar 2019

Backstory: I have been married to my husband for 17 years now.  We have 2 children together and each have one child from a previous marriage.  The 2 oldest kids are both out of the house and the 2 youngest are 19 and 16 and still living with us.  My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of 2017 and underwent a lobectomy that June.  He then did chemo and seemed to be doing better.  He was in remission.  During one of his follow-up scans, 2 more spots on his right lung (the surgery was on his left) were found.  However, he did not tell me this for several months.  Said he didn't want to worry anyone until he had his next scan to see if there was any growth.  However, during this time, his attitude and mood just kept getting worse and worse, with no apparent reason to the rest of us.  It was only after I dropped a bombshell on him that he even told me.  I told him at that time, that before his diagnosis, I had been considering divorce.  To the extent of reading over the paperwork and filing procedures.  As far as he was concerned, our marriage was fine.  This, despite the fact, that our communication had completely broken down and we had not been intimate in over 2 years at that point.  Right or wrong, the way that conversation went I felt like he only told me about the diagnosis as a way of making sure I did not continue with any further research.

Since that news, it has come to light that the lung cancer has metastasized to his brain (2 tumors in his cerebellum) and 1 larger spot on his T10 vertebrae process.  Turns out the spots on his lungs are not such a concern right now after all!  He has since had radiation on the brain tumors and is now doing chemo for everything else.  They had talked about doing radiation on the vertebrae but since the cancer has obviously spread felt a whole body approach was a better bet.  I honestly think the doctor is purposely not giving a full scope on the prognosis at this time and I haven't pushed.  My husband does not deal well with the idea of mortality. 

The reason I am so angry?  Beyond being completely exhausted, I work a very stressful job full-time on top of the house, husband and younger kids (both with their own medical issues) and my oldest son was just diagnosed with MS, I cannot get over the lung cancer diagnosis.  My husband was a smoker when I met him.  I knew that but accepted it as part of who I was *dating*.  He kept promising to quit after we got married  and even used the fact that he had quit once before, FOR 5-7 YEARS, as an example that he could.  He quit before because it was better for his first wife and daughter.  Over the years we have been together, he promised more times than I can tell you that he would quit and he would try, only to pick up a cigarette and start all over.  He got up to a pack to a pack and a half a day.  Our youngest son was born with respiratory issues and we were told to eliminate smoking from the family.  My husband's response?  I only smoke outside so it's okay.  Our youngest daughter was diagnosed with asthma?  His response was the same.  My comments that his clothes, hair and body smelled like smoke and that spread to the house and vehicle earned me a response that I was just complaining and he was trying.  His company had FREE resources to help smokers quit.  This included counseling, gum, patches, etc.  He refused to reach out and take advantage of the programs because he didn't chew gum.  What that had to do with counseling or patches or the other resources I never got a straight answer on.  Did I mention his father died when he was 7 of a very aggressive form of lung cancer and was, you guessed it, a smoker. 

I realize there are other factors that can cause lung cancer.  But my husband knew from the time he picked up his first cigarette that he already had his family history stacked against him, and yet he did it.  I also can't seem to get past the idea that he quit before for his first wife and daughter but wouldn't do the same for me and our kids together.  The resentment has just built that they were important enough to quit for but we weren't.  And by the time he finally quit again, it was too late. 

He told me that he felt like I didn't support him truly in the first round.  That I took him to his doctor’s appointments and treatments and stayed in the hospital (the first couple of nights but then had to be with the kids as well) but didn't support him emotionally.  Looking back, I can't argue with him.  I didn't and I am not sure I am now.  I am so tired, of so many things, I am finding it hard to.  I am finding it hard to be sympathetic when I just want to yell and scream that he brought this on himself, as well as us.  But to that would only open up a whole host of other problems and this is not the right time to bring those up.  He acts like he is strong and understands what is going on, but he doesn’t seem to realize that, even though we aren’t going through the treatments and don’t have the diagnosis, we are still dealing with it and going through it at another level.

What is worse is both of our younger kids are extremely angry at him as well.  We all feel like he lied to us for a very long time about quitting and caring about our well-being.  And that may, or may not, be true but it is our perception and feeling and so it is real to us.  It has damaged not only mine and his relationship, but that of his and the kids.  And none of us feel we can talk to him about it right now because he's not handling the new circumstances well at all.  He thinks he is but he got mad at me the other day because I wouldn't honk and yell at another driver for making a move (into our lane) that I knew they were going to make.  I simply made room for them to come over and he thought they should be "made aware" of their actions by honking and screaming.  I waited until he calmed down (and started talking to me again) to point out that his reaction was over the top.  He reluctantly agreed but the fact that he even got there told me we can't tell him how we feel.

My saving grace has been my mother coming in to town to help me.  She makes sure I have what I need so I can take care of everyone else.  The kids and I are very lucky to have her here.  Our youngest son has begun counseling (for other reasons as well but I believe some of it ties back to the cancer) and our youngest daughter will be starting.  They both need someone objective to help them with their feelings, especially since they can't tell their father how they feel right now.  I am considering going myself as well.  I suggested to my husband that he go and he doesn't think he needs to.  Again, he is handling it all fine!  For that reason, he won’t do marriage counseling (never would) but I told him I wanted all of us to go to family counseling.  He reluctantly agreed but now is so sick from the chemo that I haven’t even bothered trying to set that up.

Public image is very important to him so I have a couple of friends who know part of the story (there is more to it that doesn't relate to the cancer) but no one knows everything.  Even now, I have tried to protect his precious image.  Because of this image, we have had quite a few people reach out and ask what they can do.  Right now, honestly, other than my family I don't want anyone around and there isn't too much people can do.  Since he is working from home, there is no need for rides.  I work overnights so am able to take him to his doctor’s appointments and if not, my mom has.  I want one of us to be there because when the discussion gets too dark he has a tendency to freak a bit and shut down.  Then I don't get the information I need to take care of him. 

I am sorry for the long rant and message.  I saw several other discussions about caregivers being upset at the patient but I didn’t see any where they were already thinking of leaving BEFORE the diagnosis.  Most of the ones I looked through seemed like they wanted to stay and make it work.  I am so tired, again from before, that I am not sure I can, or should.  But I keep thinking if I don’t who is going to take care of him?  His mother is elderly and recently fell and broke 2 bones in her neck so couldn’t do anything to help.  His only brother (also a cancer survivor as his mother is quick to point out) is self-centered and only on board to help out when it suits his schedule or can be used to highlight his story or accomplishments.  His brother is the baby and his mother’s favorite and it shows.  We cannot do much right while his brother cannot do much wrong.  Even though when she fell, it wasn’t my brother-in-law she called.  It was my husband, myself and our youngest daughter.  My mother was the one who took her to the hospital and stayed with her while tests were being run.  Again, thank goodness for my mother.  Without her, I don’t know what I would do. I guess I got a bit off topic there – I apologize for getting off topic and the long rant.  I hope no one else feels like I do but maybe someone can give some insight.  Thank you.

accordiongirl
Posts: 63
Joined: Sep 2018

LunaLady,

i am so deeply sorry for all you are going through - you sound so burdened and though i have no answers, i don't want you to feel unheard on top of all the other things you have going on.  Please consider attending counseling for yourself.  You can't make your husband go, but YOU deserve to have the same help and consideration that you are so wonderfully making available to your kids.  Taking care of YOU means having someone there who listens to you, someone you can share anything with, regardless of "image" or worries about upsetting someone.  Please do consider it.  It's the best gift you can give to yourself - and to your kids, too, for that matter.

i have no advice or insight in regards to your husband other than the idea that possibly the cancer in the brain has had some affect on his ability to process information, understand circumstances (thinking of the car incident), consider the feelings of others, etc.  Is it possible that you could speak with his oncologist and ask about side effects of the treatment he's received to his brain?  i'm pretty assertive when it comes to asking questions, pursuing answers, etc. and i've found that almost all medical professionals are willing to help people understand what's happening, what's being affected, what might be to come, etc.

Best of luck.  Know you ARE being heard, and please write/vent whenever you need to - it's good to get it out and you ARE heard.  (i wish this board would alert you when you get a response to a post, but i've not found that to be true, so i'll just keep checking in to see how you're doing.)

~accordiongirl

LunaLady
Posts: 25
Joined: Mar 2019

Thank you.  I think not feeling like I have anyone to just vent to has made this harder.  I don't want to say anything to our friends or family because I don't want them to think less of him.  I appreciate knowing someone is listening.  I have been considering counseling for myself.  I believe this might be the only way to deal with this. 

accordiongirl
Posts: 63
Joined: Sep 2018

that you are considering counseling.  i think that's the best gift you could give to yourself - and to your kids.  You deserve to be heard, you deserve to be listened to, you deserve to have peace.

Keep checking in here, too, if you are comfortable doing so.   You can vent all you want - we're here for you.

Hang in there.

~ accordiongirl

a_oaklee
Posts: 462
Joined: Nov 2013

I have so much compassion for you, your husband and your children.  Severe illness can turn a family upside down, and everyone feels like they are drowning.  It stresses the best of marriages.  Some people grow closer and some more distant.   You aren't alone in the way you are feeling.  Anger is a common enough reaction.  I've read that anger is a secondary emotion.  Anger is easy to label, but if it is secondary, then what's the primary emotion.  Therapy is very beneficial to help you figure all of this out.  It helps you get clarity, and hopefully some understanding and helpful tools for mending yourself and your relationships.  Anger can be masking frustration, loneliness, anxiety, depression, and a way to express the frustration of wanting to control, what we can't control.  

Ive been living with my husbands cancer diagnosis since 2012.  It's been really difficult at times.  Like a roller coaster.  One of the hardest things for a caregiver spouse to accept is our own helplessness.  We aren't in charge, and we have to live with decisions that our spouses make regarding their health whether we agree with it or not.  It's not our life.  I express myself, and then let go.  I still work on this.  Our oncology clinic has social workers that we can talk to.  When the primary oncologist referred us to the social workers, my husband just went along with it, because the doctor said we had to.  We talked as a couple about many scary things that we probably never would have without their guidance.  Perhaps your husband would do this type of counseling with you.

It is also okay for you to speak privately with your husbands doctor about his prognosis.  I did that, because my husband didnt want to know.  Of course, your husband has to give permission for them to discuss his health with you.

Some caregivers I know, who are on the verge of giving up, consider the children, and it doesn't matter what age the kids are.  The women are inspired to set a good example, and treat their spouse the way they would want to be treated.  That being said, you must make some changes and care for yourself.  It sounds like you are running on empty.

I have read many many posts from cancer patients who are incredibly physically fit, and have always had good nutrition, and have never smoked or drank.  Anyone can get cancer.  It may help you to not blame him for smoking.  I can only imagine how awful it feels to think he brought this on himself.  At this point, cause doesn't even matter.  You mentioned your husband quit for his other family.  My only comment regarding his inability to quit for your family is that it gets more difficult the longer you smoke.  

Lastly, I do the same thing your husband does with bad news.  I have to keep it to myself for a little while before I share it.  I think I am trying to cope without anyone's influence.  I need time.  It doesn't have anything to do with the people I love, it's just my way of dealing with adversity initially.   I have to get a handle on my own thoughts and feelings before I have the strength to deal with everyone else's emotional state.  I think it is just a character trait.   I do think it would be nice if your husband was able to put this into words to comfort you.

I hope I have helped a little bit.  I truly hope I haven't said anything to make you feel worse.  Be kind to yourself, and write as much here as you want.  It's good to anonymously let it all out.

LunaLady
Posts: 25
Joined: Mar 2019

I have gone over and over in my head my anger.  I know that anyone can get cancer - age, sex, fiancial status, previous health don't matter.  I think the fact that he knew his behavior increased his risk is part of why I can't seem to let it go.  My family has a history of alcoholism.  Because of that, I don't drink very often and never when I'm experiencing high emotion. I made that decision to mitigate the risks.  I am angry he didn't.  We even talked about it on more than one occassion and he agreed he was not helping himself. 

I will seek therapy.  My first husband was a suicide and therapy was one of the most powerful healing tools I used.  I will use it again and maybe be able to work past this. 

Communication has been a major problem in our marriage the last few years.  I know he doesn't deal with bad news, or thoughts of mortality, well.  I understand that because many people don't.  But there have been other, major things, in the past few years he has refused to talk about wtih me.  I honestly feel if not for his diagnosis we wouldn't be together anymore.  But again, there is no one in our lives I can tell this to or talk about it with. 

Running on empty is probably the best description for how I feel I have heard.  It's just that simple.  I am thinking when my son is in therapy I will see if I can see someone at the same time. 

Thank you for listening and I hope things go well for you and your husband.

a_oaklee
Posts: 462
Joined: Nov 2013

Therapy will be good because you can talk about anything, safely.  It's so darn difficult for caregivers too....and we can't complain or speak up because it just seems so hurtful, insensitive, and rude.  I know my husband has it so much worse than I do.  He thinks about his life cut short and also lived with pain....and everything else.  I just couldn't go to him with my additional fears.  In a way, I feel like I lost the person I could talk to.  You have probably heard where caregivers cry in the shower.   It's actually pretty healthy to have some place where you let it out.  

I hope you are feeling better today.

LunaLady
Posts: 25
Joined: Mar 2019

The shower is about the only place I feel safe crying.  Every so often I find tears starting other places but, of course, I can't let them out there.  I don't want my kids to see it because it really upsets them.  I have a very close relationship with my kids and they worry about me.  I need to be strong for them which is ironic because I don't want them thinking tears are weak.  I encourage them to cry and I admit how hypocritical that is!  I feel like I lost the person I was a long time, hence my thoughts of divorce.  Now.....some days I am not sure I will ever get me back.  I don't know if that person exists anymore.  And people, and goals, change as you get older but right now, I can't see an end in sight.  I am going to see if I can make an appointment for myself on the same day as my son's next one.  Limits the amount of time I am out of the house after my husband's chemo.

Thank for checking on me Smile

k8's picture
k8
Posts: 30
Joined: Oct 2018

Being in same situation as you I refuse to argue and yes my husband does not share what he is feeling although he is very frustrated most of the time. He cannot sleep due to neuropathy and other pains from his chemotherapy treatments. Of course the immediate change in his diet. He was 205 lbs last August 1 when this all started and currently 160 lbs. The foods he can longer eat and the beer he should not drink (still drinks beer at times, I do not drink at all) has made a huge difference. The happy go lucky man I have known for better than 20 years is a different person altogether. His frustration is probably the worst. I always try to be understanding and think about what I would do if the situation were reversed, how would I act, would I act like him. I’d like to think I’d be different. It’s not easy for sure especially not knowing if he will survive treatment and second surgery. We both work from home and since this all began our communication skills have dwindled. Not sure how much longer he will be able to work. I’m scared to tell you the truth. We were both going to retire in a couple and now the future is uncertain. You are a strong person and a wonderful mother Luna. Arguing only stresses you out that much more and you have enough to deal with already. When this disease came into our lives I lost my best friend, my husband, my confident, my everything. May you find the strength from within yourself to rise above all those who work so hard to break your spirit..

K8

LunaLady
Posts: 25
Joined: Mar 2019

but will admit it helps when someone actually understands what I am feeling or mean.  I can't say most of this to anyone else.  I don't want to affect the opinion or relationships my husband has with our mutual friends and family.  They don't see this side of him.  Most of them don't know the struggles of our marriage in the last years.  They all think everything is as great now in year 18 (our anniversary was last week) as it was in year 1.  Even his doctors think he is handling it well.  He hides it really well when around anyone else.  And that is what he should be able to do.  But when the frustration begins showing at home and affecting relationships with the kids - that's a problem. 

I appreciate your position of trying to imagine yourself in your husband's shoes and how you would handle it.  I do try to do that and it does help when I am feeling a particular lack of patience.  At least it helps some.  I still feel some impatience (I know, awful thing to say) but it does help.  It reminds me that this is not easy for him and his dependancy on me is making things worse for him as well.  I had a rare argument with our youngest son and for once it was on my husband to play the peacemaker.  As I walked away, before things got worked out, I told him he could make a decsion (our son wanted to go see his girlfriend for a short time) because I was tired of being the only one to make any decisions.  He told our son that he was trying not to be any more of a burden on me than he already was.  As much as I hate to think he feels that way, it was validating that at least he recognized that EVERYTHING was falling on me. 

Communication is so key in a marriage to begin with.  Throw in the Big C and it becomes vital.  It helps them to understand where things stand and it helps to understand what they need.  I am not sure about your husband but mine thinks that keeping info from me is protecting me.  I am a planner.  When something big is coming down the pike, I like to have Plans A-D ready, even if we end up going with Plan Q.  It helps me make sure I have all bases covered.  I don't obsess over the plans and I can be flexible and change on the fly, but I like to have a starting point.

I hope things turn around for you and your husband.  The future is always uncertain but we have to make the best of what we have to work with.  That is what I keep telling myself.  This is the path I now have and I need to figure out how I'm going to walk it. 

If you need to talk, please email.  I would be happy to listen.

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