Some people process by talking. Others process by going inward. I do a little of both of those, but I mostly process after going inward by writing. I’m still processing and will for a long time to come, I think. And so tonight, I am writing. Both to process and to inform. This is not a happy writing and it doesn’t contain good news. In fact, it contains the worst kind of news. But I just don’t have it in me to start contacting people personally, so tonight I write.
It has always been amazing to me that people I’ve never met in person want to read what I have to say here. When Justin and I came together right here on fetlife in late 2008, and later announced his move to Arizona, every few months, I would get private messages asking me when I was going to post an update about us. People often told me that they enjoyed watching us because we were so real, and because we had a spark of some sort. It always felt a little intimidating to me, but Justin’s philosophy was to be out in front where people could see him and hear him. And so I was required as his slave to be very public about our lives together.
I’m sure many who know me now would be shocked to hear how hard it was for me in the beginning to be so public with everything. I was, in many ways, Justin’s opposite. I was private. I was serious. I was a geek. I was not the girl who shared her innermost thoughts with the world. I certainly wasn’t about to share any difficulties with the world. Personal comedy embarrassed me. Being silly didn’t come natural to me. I always was, in so many important ways, the good Southern girl. Don’t walk or stand with a lit cigarette in your hand, don’t laugh too loudly, and never, ever talk about personal stuff in public. Smile, say ‘thank you’ a lot, speak when spoken to, and know your ‘time and place’. ‘Be’ grace. But Justin was funny and silly and he liked very much being front and center. Even when it was messy. Especially when it was messy, because it often embarrassed me. And he was so about that mindfuck. And so I posted updates about our relationship and our lives together on a somewhat regular basis. But I still didn’t realize the full extent of my ‘audience’, so to speak.
Then in December 2012, our world came crashing down. And by then, after almost 4 years of being very public with our lives, the only way I knew how to process was by posting about it right here on fetlife. And so I posted, usually a morning post and an evening post. I think I posted every single day of the first part of Justin’s hospitalization. Then as things would progress and then backslide, my posting became more sporadic. And I got messages out the wazoo from people all over the world who were waiting for my daily posts. Chosen family had a fundraiser for us that still to this day overwhelms me to think about. People came out in droves to be there, to help, to do anything I would let them do. Yes, I said, “let”. Because I’m just not the kind of person who is good at accepting help of any kind. I’m a pull up your bootstraps and get it done yourself kind of girl. I’ve learned some lessons in the last two years about accepting the service of others.
Many of you know that in May, after a year and a half of 24/7 care, Justin released me, took an insulin overdose, and spent a week in the hospital. At the end of that stay, he returned home to NC to live with his parents. What a lot of people don’t know is that prior to releasing me, Justin had asked to move home. It wasn’t because he didn’t want our relationship anymore, or because he didn’t want to be here with me anymore, it was, plainly and simply, because he thought it was best for me if someone else was taking care of him. And as hard as it is to admit it, he was right.
A dear friend told me in the days that followed that she was glad Justin had released me that night because if he hadn’t, she didn’t believe I ever would have made the decision to get him moved back home to NC. I think she was probably right about that. No matter how difficult caring for him had become, I’m not sure I would have been able to ever follow through with that had he not first released me as his slave. There’s a part of me tonight that is regretting, just a bit, that decision. I know it was the right thing to do, then and now, but it still feels wrong tonight.
On Monday evening this week, I received an email about 7:40pm AZ time from Justin that shook me. The subject line was “goodbye”, and the content read simply, “I love you. It’s not your fault and it’s not my folks fault. Be well.” I texted him and he responded. Only for a few minutes, and things that were very cryptic, but they worried me. And so I texted his mom and asked her to check on him. She did and he was fine. But I remained concerned.
I was right to remain concerned.
On Monday night, Justin took another insulin overdose, his third (that I know of) since May. I don’t know when he was found by his parents, but suspect it was Tuesday morning. He has been in ICU on a ventilator ever since. They stopped his sedation a couple days ago, but he hasn’t shown any signs of response. This morning, two independent neurologists reported that there is only brain stem activity – for those who don’t know what that means, it means his basic bodily functions are happening, but there is no other brain activity.
As of right now, they are scheduled to begin the process of removing him from life support at 10AM Eastern, 7AM AZ time. I don’t know what that actually means, and will be making a phone call to the hospital in the morning to find out more details.
I have, in so many ways, been grieving the loss of our relationship for almost 2 years. I learned over the last couple of days that’s nothing compared to what I’m going through now.
I can’t be there. I couldn’t afford the airline ticket or hotel costs even if I could get there. After being his caregiver for so long, not to mention the 5 ½ years as his slave, it is harder than I can express to not be there. And to have to talk to the social worker today, to tell her Justin’s wishes and to give permission for his parents to handle the paperwork involved. I think I may have actually given his parents the ability to make the decisions, because I don’t know that I have the emotional reserve to fight them.
I filed for divorce awhile back. Most people know this so it’s not news. Some people think I left him because it was too hard for me. That I left him at his worst. Interestingly enough, those people don’t know that it was Justin who asked to move home, not me who sent him home. He thought I’d fight him on that again, since I fought it the first time he wanted to do that. But he had released me, and that changed some things in our caregiver/patient relationship. See, my first hope had been that him going home would kick him in the butt and make him say, “What the hell am I doing?” And would spur him to check back in. When that didn’t happen, I knew I had to do something or our lives would remain in limbo. But more importantly, my company wasn’t going to continue to pay for his health insurance indefinitely if things looked fishy. Then I found out about him organizing his ‘Plan B’ in case I decided to end our relationship. All the things lined up such that filing for divorce became required. And maybe, just maybe, it would force Justin to look ahead, to think ahead, and to begin taking responsibility for himself.
But the reality is that Justin’s world was turned completely upside down in December 2012 and he had no idea how to get it right side up again. He lost himself, and when you’ve lost yourself, you don’t know what to do. No, I’m not letting him off the hook. I’m not excusing his behavior. But I am explaining it. Because in the last few weeks I’ve come to realize that we can only make choices based on our experiences. He did what he did because he didn’t know how to do anything else.
He’s not in that body anymore. And I hope that wherever he is right now, that he has found some measure of peace. Because he’s been tortured for a long time now. He told me on more than one occasion that I should have let him die the morning of December 21, 2012. And so now, almost two years later, he will have obtained his wishes. I wish that my Sir, my Daddy, my Master, my Husband, had found the way back to himself. My wish wasn’t granted. And so my new wish tonight is that he finally find peace.
And I realized today, while I was having a long conversation with Justin on my drive back down the mountain from Show Low, that Justin controlled this just like he always controls things. And maybe I’m the only one who will be able to see the irony of it all. Part of the divorce was to be that I was taking back my maiden name. That won’t happen now. Sure, I know I could go and legally change it, but that isn’t the point, now, is it? It was important to him that as his slave I have his name. It was one of the reasons he really wanted us to get married. So that I would be legally his property.
There are those who will read this tonight and understand. I’m trying to figure out what lesson I’m supposed to be taking from all of this. I’m trying to show compassion and empathy to those who have been with him for the last few months, even while trying to handle my own grief. It’s hard. His parents don’t understand about our relationship, they only understand vanilla marriage. For them, I shipped him home and filed for divorce because I was done. And so I can’t be there, and information is limited. And the friend I’m getting information from is grieving, too. Things lined up perfectly. On the outside of something I should be doing. Guilt, hurt, grief, anger, all of it tumbling around inside of me tonight.
Were we the perfect couple? Oh, hell, no. In fact, at times we weren’t even healthy for each other. But we did shine together. We had something pretty special, even when you take into consideration all the messy parts. And tonight, even though he hasn’t been in this house since May, I feel him here. Maybe I’m on the outside, but I feel him here with me. I will love you forever.
UPDATE 2pm 10/24: I spoke with his dad a few hours ago. They removed life support and are giving him morphine. He was moved from ICU to Palliative Care. At the time we spoke, Justin was breathing shallowly. The doctors say it could be days before he finally breathes his last. The waiting is torturous. Not being there adds to that. I am glad it is the weekend and I do not have to work after today for a couple days.
A wonderful friend has offered airline miles so that I may fly to NC for services. Another has offered a place to stay. My company is giving me 5 days bereavement time. If I can make it all come together, I will make the trip.
UPDATE 5pm 10/24: No change in status. Tomorrow morning he will be moved from the hospital to hospice.
UPDATE 2pm 10/25: He has been moved to hospice. I have not heard anything since about 10am. I am in the process of making travel arrangements to arrive tomorrow. I wish I could blink and be there, but life doesn’t work that way. I’m having some additional emotional struggles today because he parents don’t understand my need to be there. They understand vanilla marriage and divorce, not ownership. I’m trying very hard to practice compassion. I hope I receive the same. Thank you so much to those who are making it possible for me to go. Thank you all for the continued prayers and support and love.