Tinnitus From a Spouse’s
In sickness and in health is a promise I made
to my husband twelve years ago. However, I can honestly say that
I made that vow in ignorance. Because, until the person you love
is suffering, one can never truly understand what that means. When
my husband Paul developed a chronic case of Tinnitus (ringing in
the ears), it was the beginning of a whole new journey that would
put our vows to the ultimate test.
I could not see, hear, or feel what Paul was suffering from. He
did not have any visible symptoms like a missing limb, bleeding,
broken bones, labored breathing, or any other physical proof whatsoever
that he was in a state of chronic suffering. I knew that there was
a foreign sound raping his mind but, I did not and could not have
a true understanding it. I felt helpless as his life experience
spiraled steadily downward in fear, pain, and emotional distress.
My hands were tied and I felt disempowered to do anything about
Up until tinnitus, we had been happily married and partners in
life and business. My immediate reaction to this new challenge was
to step up to the plate and be the rescuer. When Paul would dive
into an emotional void of darkness, I’d find some buttons
to push to remind his that all was not lost and there was still
hope. I became the emotional cheerleader in the struggle. That’s
all I knew how to do but, that never seemed to be enough. It caused
me have feelings of self-doubt, powerlessness, fear, anger, and
utter disdain for Tinnitus.
Did I want to give up? You bet! Many times I thought and truly
believed that the Tinnitus was bigger than him, and me. I saw Tinnitus
as the conqueror and that it had turned my husband into some different
kind of stranger that I couldn’t possibly love.
The man who I knew and had loved had disappeared into a constant
state of depression and victimization. I would live out many painful
days watching him, observing him while all the while silently pondering
the decision to either stay and fight or get up and leave. But,
somehow something kept me there. Through his pain and rage and through
his suffering, he would show me undeniable love. And, when I did
entertain the thoughts of leaving I would witness brief moments
of this love which would somehow shine through his suffering.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that the man I had lost
to Tinnitus had to surrender to his illness and he had to die. I
hated losing him and my heart was aching with fear, anxiety and
loss. But at the same moment, I was witnessing something truly miraculous.
A new man was being born.
As he changed, I changed. As he grew into awareness, so did I.
I was entering into a completely new state of being that I had never
known before. Certainly, the man I married was gone, but the man
that grew out of suffering was a man that I would grow to love in
a more authentic way than I ever thought possible.
I learned what “in sickness and in health” truly meant.
I learned the true meaning of partnership; one based on personal
and spiritual growth. Tinnitus forced us onto this new journey.
And, even though it was often very uncomfortable and seemingly impossible,
it was slowly bringing us a very beautiful place in our lives.
Tinnitus helped us graduate from romantic love to authentic love.
And, it served to introduce us to the concept that we were in this
partnership to help one another through our own personal development.
Paul became a man that I truly admire, respect and am very proud
But, I too grew in many ways, and am very proud and honored to
be me in this partnership. In sickness and in health may have meant
very little to me at first and, if I had to do it all over again,
I’d be keeping a closer eye on the prize; true happiness.
If you can fight your way to the other side of the suffering caused
by tinnitus, if you can do the hard work and if you can trust the
process, you will truly find your heart’s desire. I did.
Nancy Houle is the wife of Paul Tobey a professional motivational
speaker who has performed many seminars for ringing
ears sufferers and is author of Tinnitus Free Living a Tinnitus
Handbook Self Help Guide which helps people reduce their tinnitus