When we, and I say we because the disease affected both of us, were diagnosed with heart disease Dan was a very proud man. He took great care of his body and he was a tremendous athlete.
The first thing Dan said to me upon hearing the news was, " You can't tell anyone about this. I mean no one."
I was astounded. How could we not tell his family and friends? And why?
He was adamant that he was not not going to be that "sick" guy. Heart disease was not going to be our focal point and he was not going to worry everyone.
I told him that if he wanted to handle this by himself that was his choice but that I was not going to deal with the stress on my own. I told my friends and family and forbade them all to mention that they knew to Dan.
So, the secrets and isolation began. I sat through countless procedures by myself waiting in hospitals and watching the clock tick. I spent many nights at midnight sobbing hysterically on the couch because I was terrified for our future.
It would have been such a relief to tell Dan's friends and family our news so they could help with my burden that I was carrying.
I felt isolated from Dan's tribe but, even worse, eventually from Dan himself. He would ask me if so and so knew about his health issues. I had to decide to lie to prevent a major blowout or tell the truth. Lying became easier because he got so angered if I told him anyone knew.
Very few friends or family knew of my fears, why Dan always looked so tired or why he didn't bike ride or work out like he used to. I wanted to announce at our monthly dinner parties, " HE HAS HEART DISEASE AND I AM SO AFRAID". Instead, I put
on a smile and told everyone that things were great.
The lonliness of the disease was one of the worst parts about it. I have gotten good at learning to deal with shit on my own. I find that I don't want to share much anymore. Now I isolate myself purposefully. It is a learned behavior that is kind of sad. People need people. We aren't meant to be alone. But, I have learned to prefer it.
It's not who I want to be so I need to work on this. I can't expect people to share with me if I don't share with them. That's not a true friendship or authentic.
I am a Life Coach, I teach this, but I now need to practice it.