I used to tell people who asked how I felt about you, that with the love I felt for you in my fingertips alone I could write a novel.
I guess a chapter will have to do.
When you made the decision to seek treatment for your depression I was overcome with pride for you. That YOU…this amazing, interesting, humorous, kindhearted man who was the life of the party, that had everyone in stitches with his banter, quick wit and sarcasm was brave enough to admit that the troubles he faced internally were greater than he could handle on his own. I was in awe of your strength and inspired at your willingness to share your journey with me. Before you decided to go into inpatient therapy we joked about how well our demons played with each other. We had a mutual respect and understanding of one another and at all times I felt nurtured by you. It was the most positive relationship I ever engaged in and gave me the courage to actively participate in a way that I never had before.
I also worried and expressed my own insecurities and fears to you and you kindly reassured me that you weren’t going anywhere and that we were the kind of people that had been through so much independently that there was nothing we couldn’t talk through and I agreed. I told you my belief was that the only way to handle problems was through adversity, not avoidance and you agreed. I felt a sense of relief and with optimism was convinced to face this challenge head on, failure not even on my radar of thoughts.
Prior to you entering therapy we talked every day for hours via text, email, phone and in person. I spent hours and days each week with you. We slept in the same bed, or cuddled up on the couch. I was your strength when you had a bad day and you told me that I provided you a reprieve from the thoughts that would sometimes cloud your beautiful mind. On days when I was feeling rather sad or disappointed you were my solace providing a warm, soft place to rest my head protected by your strong arms. And most days we just enjoyed each other’s company and had fun being silly and cooking together (well, you cooked.) watching movies or football, playing games and just relished in being. I never saw that ending.
So when you left, I’m not going to lie, it was much more difficult to be away from you than I thought. I didn’t have immediate access to your light jokes and charm. I couldn’t feel myself being swallowed by your hugs and comforted by the touch of your lips on my forehead. I couldn’t lose myself in our physical connection and I couldn’t pick up the phone to hear the rich deep tones of your voice that I had grown to love.
I had to wait.
Hours felt like lifetimes. I never knew when your calls would come and I instructed everyone around me that when they did, I was going to drop everything to be available to you. When your calls finally did arrive my heart would race and my smile would stretch wide across my face so much so that everyone in a ten mile radius knew exactly who was on the other end of the line and they told me I glowed. And then I would hear your troubled voice…my heart would sink, knowing that I was not able to hold you, provide you comfort, kiss you and make you forget.
I knew you were exercising those demons and playtime was over. The real work was to begin. I also knew that this was the calm before the storm, because love, as you know, I too have been to therapy. I have battles that wage beneath my calm surface.
I was hopeful that your demons would still find mine acceptable and that you wouldn’t suddenly find new friends or decide you didn’t need this one (me). In fact I was terrified that you would discover you no longer needed me.
And as the days moved on I heard less and less of the person I met in your calls. Your quick wit and humor replaced by curt responses. Your previous ability to indulge my ramblings replaced with impatience and the ten minute time constraint on our conversations never allowed for any real revelations, only pleasantries that seemed… not so pleasant. And I encouraged you even though my own heart was breaking. And I supported you even though I knew you could not reciprocate. And I willed myself to be the picture of perfect, unwavering support because I felt that my heart was infinite in it’s reserves. And I faced my own strife alone. My health becoming an increasingly present issue that I could not avoid any longer.
So the flood gates opened and my inability to communicate the severity of my own situation became a source of frustration. My day to day symptoms worsening, paralyzing me to my core. And I did not want to burden you because I could feel the weight of your struggles when you called. And when you didn’t call I would worry that you had had too difficult a day to handle and my heart would break some more.
I never knew what the appropriate disclosure was. I didn’t want to bog you down with things that you had no way to control but I grew resentful that the relationship that had once been so nurturing and and balanced had become one sided. I resented that you made the decision to leave me behind to face the world everyday on my own even though I knew you were exactly where you needed to be. I resented that I was still getting up every day and putting on makeup and going to work and struggling just to make it through each day without a crack in my armor and you…YOU were sleeping and playing pictionary and maybe participating in groups and maybe having a breakthrough and sleeping some more, only to wake feeling angry at the world, a world you chose.
And in one ten minute conversation it all unraveled. One emotional response to an emotional topic and it was done. Our tensions high, our intent misunderstood, our words unnecessarily dissected. I say “our” because I am not assigning blame and I am not a victim. It was the inevitable storm, only I was prepared to weather it. I brought my boots, my raincoat, my umbrella and some snacks. I’m a Florida girl, when it rains…we pour. We have hurricane parties. We hunker down, settle in and tell survivor stories from the previous squalls we’ve made it through and we always rebuild better, stronger and from a foundation that although cracked and weathered is learned and reinforced.
So even though I knew the storm would break us down and test our resolve, I saw us dancing and celebrating, triumphant.
I wasn’t prepared for the aftermath. I had no plan B.
I wasn’t prepared.
And when it fell apart and you chose the path of avoidance and withdraw, I chose the path of acceptance. Because I learned that I can not weather your storm. I can only navigate my own.
I know you’re angry. I know you’re grieving. I know you’ve lost. I know you are lost and I know that right now I am the logical choice to level your frustrations at. I am also willing to bear your burden because I know that this is temporary and that you will be strong enough to pull through this darkness. I can only hope that the time we had together brought you some measure of pleasure.
Perhaps our lives intersecting in the way they did was so that I could provide you that temporary reprieve and give you just enough distraction that you were able to make the choice to seek treatment before you made a decision that would have ended us before we ever met. I pray I brought you some happiness. I know that your presence in my life has forever shaped the way my heart works. I learned I can survive without perfect order. I learned that I don’t mind the fact that I haven’t been able to find the remote to the TV since you and your beautiful girls were here. I learned that I need cupcake tins to bake with and that chocolate covered strawberries are not just for special occasions but for any occasion. I learned I can lie in bed and be fed cake and not worry one bit about the crumbs. I learned I can abandon recklessly my heart and fill it up with smiles and games and stickers on my new boots. I learned to trust your touch, I learned that I could tell where you were in a room by how strong I picked up on your addictive scent. I learned not to be afraid of anything I feel, because it’s all real and it’s all valid and I am valid…and I learned to just accept love without definition.
If the time should come when you find yourself on the other side of the storm looking to rebuild with someone…I will be waiting with blueprints my love. Until then… this is your chapter, the book is my love.