lost in the forgotten memories of TBI

Lost In The Forgotten Memories of TBI

May 19, 2016 0 Comments

Lost In The Forgotten Memories of TBI

The loneliness of living with a spouse with a TBI. The world can be a lonely place. It’s worse when the one you love seldom remembers the positive or negative of what happens on the day to day basis. They don’t always remember that there’s an event coming up, or that there is a bill due soon, or what a lovely dinner you both had last week. It’s a lovely conundrum that those living with a spouse with TBI.

Many of our conversations look like this:

“Yes love, we talked about this yesterday. You said you didn’t want to go.”

“No, I didn’t, I want to go.”

“OK, I need to find a sitter for the boys then.”

“Why didn’t you find a sitter yesterday?”

“Because you said you didn’t want to go.”

“I don’t think I said that.”

“You did, honey.”

“Are you sure?”

If this sounds familiar you understand the frustration that you encounter, at times. Living with someone that has a TBI can take its toll. It’s like living with a child at times. Forgetting something you say within a few moments.

“Do you remember when mommy said not to throw the ball in the house?”

“No mommy, I don’t think you really said that.”

“Yes, mommy did say it! No more or the ball gets taken away.”

At times this works in my favor. When I say something that I regret during an argument; I know he probably won’t remember those hurtful words or tone in the morning. But most or the time, it’s insanely lonely. So very insanely lonely. But at the same time when I go back to my spouse to ask for forgiveness and say I’m sorry for the way I acted or what I said, he has no recollection of it. There’s no closure on my part. There’s no restitution.

Years ago a close friend told me that marriage can be one of the loneliest places in your life. It’s true though. Not all the time, but every marriage has that season where you’ve never been so lonely while sharing a bed with someone. It’s a weird enigma. Someone is literally within 5 feet of you, sharing a bed with you, who knows all your secrets yet you feel like the Grand Canyon might as well be in the middle of your bed.

The same goes for wonderful moments also though, and this is what really breaks my heart about the memory loss aspect of TBI. We can have a wonderfully touching conversation. We can have those moments where we connect, like REALLY connect on an emotional level. At times, the next morning, my husband barely remembers that we had a chat. Those meaningful moments, conversations, situations are lost in the myriad of memories. I wake up more in love with my husband after those moments and it’s like he’s gotten the last 24 hours.

So how do we act/treat/react to our spouses with a TBI? How can we possibly be angry with them? I don’t think we can honestly. I don’t think it’s right or ethical, or “being a good spouse” if we get angry at the person for something they can’t control right? It absolutely isn’t right. We cannot be angry with them over something that they can’t control. It’s like being mad at someone for being a female, or a male, or being catholic, or having blond hair. It’s what the politically correct world calls “a protected characteristic.” Something about a human being that they can’t change such as their age, sex or race. You can try being mad at them for their inability to remember or function the way they used too, but it’s useless. All you’re doing is driving a wedge between you and them, unnecessarily.

What is ok, however, is being angry at the situation. It’s frustrating to be alone mentally and emotionally at times because my spouse just doesn’t remember. I can’t get angry with him for that, but I can be angry at the situation. I can be angry at my loneliness for a time, but I can’t let it control me or wallow in my self-pity. I choose to be married to this man. God lead me to this man, therefore, God has equipped me to be with this man. Just like God has equipped my husband to deal with my sarcastic streak, or my bluntness, or my quick-temperedness. I truly believe that the Lord brings those together who He wants together and gives each spouse the ability to love the person regardless of their personality flairs. Yes, there will always be things that irritate us about our spouses. For example, the toilet paper roll, how to fold the bathroom towels, or how to squeeze the toothpaste tube. Just remember, they know they’re forgetting things or not functioning like they used too. They miss that side of them too. They’re re-learning how to function in the marriage too.

I wish I had the 5 magical steps to make it easier. I don’t have all the answers and I’m still learning how to handle myself and the TBI. It’s like the elephant in the room (or marriage) at times. I’m also learning that my selfish has no end it seems.

I will tell you a few things that have helped me tremendously though:

  1. My Faith: I suck at reading my Bible daily like I know I should. But when I do, I am always comforted. The Lord knows my strengths and weaknesses and through Him, I can do all things (Phil 4:13). I find comfort in knowing that the Lord is always with me and I can run to the Father when things get tough or I am tempted to be mean or hateful to my spouse. I can pray for patience and selflessness.
  2. My husband: Odd I know, but he knows he doesn’t remember things well. He tries though and I have to be sensitive to that. He keeps meticulous notes and he writes everything down. He tries and him trying helps me to keep things in perspective. The TBI (aka the elephant in our marriage) doesn’t just affect me, it also affects my husband! DUH! It’s hard to be angry at someone who is trying their best to overcome this situation that he was thrown in.
  3. My best friend: when we went through marriage counseling (as poor as it was) the main thing I took from it was to have a “person”. Like on Grey’s Anatomy: Christina was Meredith’s person. They talked to each other about literally everything. I have a person too; someone who has known me for ions and who knows my personality better than I do. She is my person. She is who I can vent to, get advice from, prayer from when I’m having a tough day. I couldn’t live without her. It’s easier to vent to her at times than it is to blow up at my husband. She helps me relieve the pressure so I can speak calmly and respectfully to my husband. But, we also have an agreement that we aren’t to treat each other’s husband like poop just because of the other person vents about them. Also, everything is 100% confidential. This type of friendship takes YEARS to cultivate, but it’s so worth it.
  4. My Common Sense: I think this is what’s lacking in a lot of “millennials” these days. A lot of all people these days really. I love being married. I love being married to my husband. I want my marriage to be awesome. I want it to work and I want it to be fabulous. If I want this marriage to be awesome, I need to be flexible. As does my husband. We give and take, that’s a marriage relationship. That’s all relationships actually! When we got married, my husband’s best man gave him some pretty wise advice. He told my hubby to remember the 3 C’s: Compromise, Communication, Commitment. I have evolved this so the 5 C’s; Compromise, Communication, Commitment, Compassion, and Christ. I have to be compassionate about my husband’s lack of memory; he didn’t choose this; it frustrates him too. I have to communicate things that he has forgotten or choose to not communicate things that I know neither of us wants to remember. And in all this, I have to be compassionate. I love my husband. I want him to know that I love him even without my having to say it.



Mil-Spec Mom

Nila is an Army Wife, mother of two boys, and a firearms instructor. She is currently pursuing a double masters in Homeland Security & Emergency Disaster Management, while trying to balance the daily life of being a SAHM/WAHM. She loves ice cream and learning about self-defense as a mother. For more info please click the "About Mil-Spec Mom" tab at the top.