Sunday, October 16

Narcolepsy and and the Jealous Sister

My sister is getting married and I’m jealous.

She’s my only sister, and much younger than I am, and I’ve always adored her. I was old enough to watch her be born, helped bathe and weigh her at the hospital (they’d never let a kid do that nowadays), and I’d do anything for her. I’m excited about and totally emotional over her engagement.

I’m also very jealous.

I didn’t realize it right away. It started as this nagging feeling that was always in the back of my mind when we talked about my sister’s wedding. It started out small but grew quickly until it was actually bothering me all the time. I decided to sift through my feelings to see what my deal was.

My wedding was intimate, simple, and involved just the two of us. Our families weren’t there, and our day was completely nontraditional. 

It was also the most fun day of my life. 

To this day, thinking back to my wedding day makes me smile. I don’t I’ve ever laughed as much as I did on that day. It was so wonderful, we were so happy, and the setting we were in completely reflected the giddy, fun love we shared. It was perfect. 

My sister’s wedding will be big, elaborate, and elegant. All of our family and friends will be there, and the lovely, traditional ceremony will suit her perfectly. I’m helping with the planning and I just know it will be awesome.

I’m not jealous about that.

My honeymoon was simple – we took a (really) long weekend and spent half of it at a B&B in the city, and then holed up in our newlywed apartment for the rest of it. It was romantic and special.

My sister’s honeymoon is a destination vacation at a beach. They’ll have time away, play in the ocean, and come home to their new lives refreshed and rejuvenated. 

I’m not jealous over that either.

It finally hit me one day during a wedding planning session. I tried to include my husband in a few things, but was repeatedly turned down. Finally I realized that they didn’t want him to help with the wedding. Not because they don’t love him or because they dislike him. It was because of his narcolepsy. They figured he’d probably fall asleep. That’s what was bothering me. I was jealous of my sister’s future husband. He’s kind and totally devoted to my sister, and I actually like him... and he’s healthy.

I'm jealous because my sister’s husband won’t have narcolepsy.

I’m usually not jealous of other women’s husbands. Every now and then I’ll hear about a couple going on a road trip (I love them), or spending an entire day at the movies (how fun!), or just cuddling on the couch, and I’ll think wistfully of how nice that would be. My husband can’t do those things without falling asleep. But jealousy? Not really. Not until now.

Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t wish narcolepsy on anyone! I’m so happy that my sister is marrying someone who will be as healthy as she is. But I’m jealous of the fact that her husband will be “normal” - not always tired or sleepy. When they have Sunday dinner at my parents’ house, she won’t join everyone at the table while her husband catches a nap somewhere. She won’t be asked, “Where’s your hubby? Sleeping?” repeatedly throughout the day. The unspoken phrase, “if he isn't too tired" won’t be tacked onto the end of every request made of her husband.

It's another reality check for me - another indication that having a chronically ill spouse makes me different from other people. Who would imagine that one could be jealous of someone having a healthy partner? It's almost funny. Almost.

The good news is that admitting it to myself allows me to move on and finish helping my sis with her plans. Admitting it reminds me not to compare my relationship to anyone else's. Faults and all, it's uniquely mine and I'm grateful for what I have.

Most of the time.


  1. Hello,

    Thank you for your candid honesty in this post. As a person with narcolepsy, it's great to see things from the a supporter's perspective.

    I do believe that everyone faces difficult challenges in their lifetime, so I try not to get jealous of the perceived "better" circumstances of others. I believe their challenges will come in time, and usually they are not envious challenges whatsoever. My experience with narcolepsy has made me more compassionate to others' difficulties.

    Thanks again for sharing. This is a great blog and you've got me thinking about lots of interesting things!

    All my best, Julie

    1. Thanks Julie!
      It's really helpful to squelch jealousy before it really gets going, I agree. I love your positive, helpful blog - keep up the good work!

  2. Dang... That's rough. I guess I don't have it so bad as my medication helps a lot but I hate being a burden. Your husband's lucky to have you. Now that I've been forced into disability, it looks like I'll spend the rest of my life alone. Because a man not making a living is something very few women will ever accept.

    1. Thanks so much for your input!
      I have to disagree with you, though... I think that the right woman can see beyond your illness and accept you despite any circumstance. Hang in there!

  3. Great to see a supportive spouse! My husband left me after I had a head injury while serving in the military that resulted in my narcolepsy and seizure disorder saying he didn't want a disabled wife regardless if I'm compensated for the injury and still bring in income. He didn't even stick around for treatments.