I was married to my wife for 30 years. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. It’s a hereditary fatal brain disorder with no cure or treatments. It slowly took her away mentally and physically. She was 47 at the time.
For five years I was her sole caregiver, washing her, dressing her, feeding her, etc. In 2017, I could go on no longer and had to place her in a long-term care facility. I was burnt out. Shortly after, I filed for divorce because the cost of her care was bankrupting me. If she was single her care was covered. I had no choice.
Since then I have met another lady with whom I am now in a serious relationship. I am 55 years old. My ex is not capable of understanding cognitively, so she does not know. My family says they support me. My ex’s family doesn’t. I felt I needed to move on in life, but I still visit my ex daily and ensure her needs are met. My son is an adult professional who seems to be struggling with my situation. The woman in my life is great and supports me fully in this, and also ensures I keep in contact with my ex. Did I do right by moving on?
People generally talk a lot about how to care for a person who’s ill, but they tend to give short shrift to the caregiver, who needs a lot of care as well. Meanwhile, caregivers typically struggle to reach out and talk about their needs, because often instead of offering support, people judge them for having normal human feelings and desires. So they suffer alone, simmering in guilt and resentment and confusion. Nobody—including me—can tell you if you’ve made the “right” choice. The only person who can do that is you, and what I’m hearing in your letter is that you’ve already answered that question after having given it a great deal of loving reflection.