When living in Portsmouth in Hampshire, England, I happened to take a walk near my home by the sea; I travelled through an amusement park that was near the beach. There were a number of rides for the general public to enjoy and about 40 feet overhead was this very odd looking roller coaster ride. It's steel rails had clearly seen better days, the iron pillars that held the ride up had been exposed to the sea breezes and were rusty and slightly corroded and in need of some paint. The rails that twisted and turned in the air and held the heavily painted cars were narrow; the steel was shining, glistening in the sun. It was all very romantic, there were lots of attractions and people appeared to be at a premium, those that were there were busy moving from one ride to another, the music was playing and could just be heard.
What caught my attention were people suddenly standing still looking up towards the roller coaster ride. I could see a car stuck on the rails, the passengers were calling out to those below as they wanted to get off, the ride was no longer fun it was scary and unsafe. The small cars began banging into each other as the one in front was unable to move freely around the rails. Some passengers attempted to climb out and get off but being suspended high in the air this wasn’t necessarily a good decision to make in this crisis. The owner of the ride quickly turned the power off and proceeded to get a large ladder and get folk off the ride. Some months later the ride was removed from the amusement park never to be seen again.
Although I am an addiction therapist, counsellor and care giver I often want to get off my spouse’s ride when it isn’t particularly enjoyable, appears unsafe and damaging to my wellbeing. I am after all a social being, I am made for interaction with others within my world, it is only right therefore to expect stimulating and interesting conversation from those in my world and have my needs taken seriously. With my counsellors head on I will ask myself a number of important questions “Do you think you are designed to be managed by your spouse’s emotional states?” “Do you think you may be living a second hand life?”, “Do you think you are receiving emotional hand me downs!” “Do you think you are on an emotional roller coaster ride?”
Being able to able to answer these questions honestly requires me to accept that all this is at times true and my choice. There are times when I am aware that I am taking this emotional roller coaster journey but I don’t necessarily want to jump out of the car, it could prove very painful, rather I want others to understand my needs whilst taking this ride and that they are often different but just as important.
While the person with scleroderma may have the disease to refer to the carer does not. Taking a decision to stay on the ride, although painful and unknown, is done so purely alone on what controls my emotional centre – my heart. Like you it’s a matter of the heart. I am told I have at least 10,000 feelings a day, many of them unknown some more so than others, they control my behaviour, they trigger in me a desire to share and give, and hold back and seek solace, to survive the everyday emotional challenges and have fun when the sun shines. My heart and head working together helps me to choose the ride I take.
It will have its many twist and turns and at times I might be calling for the ladder! However I can be sure of this the journey will reach its conclusion, I shall talk about the ride and share this experience with others. Recently I met with five guys who are also ‘taking their ride’ and one of them commented “I wish I knew how to understand what mood my partner will be in next, I don’t whether its hormones, medical or me!” We had a good laugh at this because we all understood this experience. I kind of think go for all three and you are sure to be okay!