Changing personalities

We spend a lot of time when living this dementia affected life talking about how our loved ones have changed, how they're no longer our soulmate or best friend and how we don't recognise this new person they've become but recently I've been considering the situation from a whole new angle.  When you've lived with someone for years and years you each take on a role within the relationship.  That role obviously develops but generally, if you're lucky, you carve out a personality for yourself which matches and compliments that of the other person and that's exactly what Ash and I did.  Most people thought I made the decisions and he did as he was told but that really was only because, mostly, he didn't mind and he always wanted me to be happy so he was more than ready to agree to whatever harebrained scheme I came up with as long as it fulfilled those two criteria.  Every so often I would suggest something he didn't like the sound of (the suggestion of a city break always did it unless it was London) and he'd just say 'no Jane I don't think so' and that would be it.  This so rarely happened that there was no point in trying for a discussion to change his mind as it was obviously made up so the idea was put to one side until I could find someone else to go with me.   Over the years then we grew up together, worked at our marriage, became parents and carved out a life we loved but then everything began to change.  Gradually Ash became less laid back about life and more anxious; he made fewer decisions; he took a less active part in plans for the future and one day I looked and he'd disappeared, leaving in his place a stranger, someone I really didn't know and couldn't read.  That was difficult enough but what was also hard was working out where my place was in this new relationship.  I've joked a lot recently about the reinvention of me during lockdown but it hasn't been so much of a joke as a necessity and, with great timing, lockdown came just as I realised that fact.  If Ash isn't there as my sidekick, to give me confidence and to support me in everything I want to do then who am I and what's to become of me?  I always used to think I was an independent woman but have realised over the last two and a half years that my independence was only possible because he was at my side.  The loss of him changed all that and I realised that I could either flounder without him or forge a whole new being.  Luckily I've discovered within me a steel that I didn't know existed and a new me became the way forward but I'd really like to know what the old Ash would think of this new person who shares his life.  I think he'd like her but I'm not sure what else he'd feel.

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Frank said…
What would he think of you now? I thought about that and then I thought that there is a whole future you but really only a present for him. You may be asking this question for a long time because you will evolve with time. You will naturally wonder what life would have been if he were with you, the new you.
Carol Westover said…
Thanks for this. I knew something was going on, but couldn't put my finger on it. My husband IS definitely different -- I still love him dearly, but his moods aren't the same. He's becoming a whole new person, and that person is harder to live with than his predecessor.
Jane said…
there may only be a present me for Ash but he doesn't notice me anyway so what he thinks of me now is really immaterial I think as long as I can make him happy but you're right there is a whole future me and I look forward to getting to know her.

As for the new him Carol I'm not sure I do love him dearly if I'm being honest. the difficulty is that I don't know him. On a good day I like him and luckily we now have more good days than bad so that helps but really not sure about the love aspect. All I know is that I'm with him through it all whatever happens.
Anonymous said…
I think you have just got the mail on the head Jane with that last comment. But also I feel really guilty that I don't love in in that way anymore. I think that I do love him but I am not in love with him. The relationship has changed so much sometimes I am like a sister and sometimes I feel like a mother!
Also out relationship changed me , we were 30 when we got married. We had been together for about 18 months. So I was very independent and quite practical, in fact I was the only one who could drive. It was not until I was expecting my first baby 2 years later that he learnt to drive.Over time I have changed and had become very dependant on him. But since his illness I am having to be strong again.
I had always thought that he would care for me in our old age, mainly because both my Mother and his Mother both had some type of old age Dementia . I don't know what the future holds all I know is at the moment I am there for him. X
Jane said…
I really think there is no need to feel guilty about the love aspect. I now live with a stranger so don't see how I can be expected to love him. what I do know is that I'm committed to him and I work very hard to make his life the best it can be which is something I'm proud of but the love that we had was between two very different people and is now firmly in the past.