Tomorrow's installment of the Wardrobe Project is not going to hit the blogosphere on time. I dislocated or broke a rib and have had to take Advil, a medicine with a previously undocumented side effect: generating unclear and verbose blog posts. Meanwhile, I have readied this portion of the project--a look at my attitudes toward the body and the adorning of it.
If you had asked me even as little as a year ago if I really cared about style and dressing well, I would have given you a mixed answer. For years I cared enough to sometimes flip through a magazine, to try to put an outfit together once in awhile, but I didn't care enough to put any kind of real effort into it. Forget about accessorizing (I'm still working on that). A few years before that? Meh, if it was cheap, it fit, didn't make me look fat, and wasn't too terribly ugly, I'd wear it.
All of that has changed. I do care. I see the importance and am willing to put forth the effort. To understand the change in my outlook, I need to take you on a little journey. I will also need to tell you that my husband and I have discussed sharing this aspect of our lives with you to help those of you in your own hopeless moments find some hope.
Three years ago this November, I was lying on a hospital bed with a raging MRSA infection that had mysteriously made it into my bloodstream, bowels, and urinary tract. I was in indescribable pain which the morphine dulled just enough to allow me enough breathing room to think. My systems were shutting down. I was quarantined. Visitors to my room had to be gloved, slippered and gowned to prevent the spread of infection. My children were not allowed to visit.
After two weeks of increasing illness, on a Thursday morning before the end of her shift, one of the nurses came in and asked, with tears in her eyes, if I shouldn't send my husband to collect the end of life paperwork he was going to need. Looking into her eyes I knew she felt enough of a connection with me after the last few nights together as she watched and encouraged me while I fought to stay ahead of the pain. I didn't have to ask her to bring the pictures of my children. She went to the counter and brought them over before she left me to cry over them by myself.
My baby was not even four months old.
When my husband returned, we talked over things for a bit, then he left on his errand to get the paperwork. While he was gone two things happened. He turned around halfway there, knowing he wouldn't need the papers, and my unrelenting pain changed from eating me to just hurting me. It still hurt horribly, but I was no longer teetering on the edge of screaming. Something had given way in me. I was going to live.
When my husband came back again this time we both said simultaneously, "You won't need those papers," and "You won't be needing those papers." Then he smiled and said, "You are going to make it." He held my hand as I fell asleep.The blood tests taken that afternoon revealed that the infection had simply disappeared. The infectious disease doctor visited with us late the next day to tell us he was no longer needed on the case after 24 hours of being MRSA free. He shook his head and said, "I've never seen anything like this." I was still sick enough that it took me another three days before I'd recovered my health enough to be released from the hospital.
Real Life Isn't What You'd Expect
If this were like a Lifetime Movie, you'd expect an experience like this to bring a couple closer. What it did for us was emphasize how we'd not learned to pull together. When I came home, both my husband and I were exhausted by the whole ordeal, so we both checked out, each expecting the other partner to take up the slack.
It wasn't good. My husband's work schedule was such that he spent a lot of time alone at home--time he filled at the computer. My slow recovery meant that I was not meeting his expectations with the children or the house upkeep. I sank into a depression yet somehow found the energy to argue with him constantly over my disappointments and his shortcomings, while valiantly overlooking my own.
Here's the connection with fashion. My husband wanted, among other things, for me to dress nicely and be pretty for him. I, on the other hand, had an unhealthy disdain for things of the body and expected "better" of my husband. To sum it up, we both had unrealistic and selfish expectations of our marriage. We both wanted our own needs met without consideration of the other's. We were both heading for a marital trainwreck. The brush with mortality merely opened up the throttle.
Next week: The Trainwreck