Every other Saturday night my husband and I have a social engagement involving fellow nerds and gaming, that takes place in an old brick church.
Last night instead of socializing I took my laptop and sat by one of the open windows, listening to music. A cool breeze blew in through the window, and the view was of untidy bits of flower garden, tall trees, and a couple of feeding rabbits, all underneath a bright crescent moon.
I was trying to keep my spirits up, because they’d been fluctuating again. After my walk that morning I’d felt some energy and optimism again, but that had drained away as the day progressed. I was feeling trapped, and wondering just how long I could feel that way before I found myself gnawing off a limb.
There are still expectations I have to meet, responsibilities I can’t step away from just because I feel a need to run somewhere far away until my heart stops feeling like it’s being squeezed inside my chest.
My husband keeps saying that while he knows it’s not the most likely outcome, that he wants the relationship to work, that he’s hoping for some kind of compromise that allows us to continue.
At first I couldn’t put into words for myself why this annoyed me. Then I realized it’s because that’s not actually a compromise. He would get what he wants, and I would have to settle for less than what I want. Which was the consistent, long-running pattern of our old relationship, and not something I want to continue.
I appreciate that things have changed since I decided candor might be our most stabilizing option. He’s certainly much kinder now. He seems sincerely sorry for what I’ve been through, including the ways in which he made things worse, even though that hadn’t been his intent.
Unfortunately his insecurities are still running rampant. Everything I do or say may be questioned as to my motives or whether or not it might impact our planned year, just because he wants to put his catastrophizing mind at ease.
For example, am I just walking for my mental health, or am I trying to get in shape for after I’ve left him?
Questions like the above aren’t asked with malice or hostility. They spawn from fear and insecurity and the possibility of impending loss. He understands his brain is being paranoid, but he asks anyway, wanting to set his mind at ease.
The questions still erode me, though. This is the price I pay for stability, to know he won’t spiral out until he’s too stressed to work. I want our kids to have a decent life and a stable father.
But I’m spending more than I can afford, emotionally speaking. Who knew expectations, a thing that can’t be weighed or measured, could be so heavy.
As I wrote on my laptop, trying to listen to music that usually helped keep my spirits up, I found myself gripped both with intense loneliness and a desire to be alone, and felt hope fading away, to be replaced by that feeling of being trapped. I didn’t feel strong enough to succeed at gaining independence in the space of a year, and if I couldn’t escape and feel free soon, how could I find it in me to keep going?
Just like that I’d crashed to the bottom again. My chest was hurting. There were train tracks nearby. Stepping out in front of an oncoming train would be an effective way of ending things. You can’t feel miserable and trapped and hopeless after you’re dead.
My laptop needed to charge, so I plugged it in and then stepped away to the church sanctuary, which was dark, empty, quiet and pretty. There was no presence, no solace, no comfort to be found in the fact that it was a place of religious worship.
There were banners above the pulpit. One proclaimed love never fails.
Yes, it fucking does, I thought.
Love failed me my whole life. My parents love me, and what they taught me out of love, as a child, brought me a life so miserable that it had me considering that it might be better just to end it. My husband loves me but the life he crafted for us crushed me. My children love me, and that love can’t fix or stop the stress I feel being responsible for their health and happiness.
What I did, the life I chose, I chose out of love – for my family and for my God. And that love failed to bring me peace, joy or contentment.
Love routinely fails me.
I began to pace the sanctuary, gripping each pew as I passed it, listening to trains rattle past outside. My rational brain was still fairly strongly engaged, and it went through the list of reasons why acting to end my torment was not a choice I really wanted to make.
I was badly scared by how intense this mental fight was becoming. This is not how the symptoms of mental illness have played out for me in times past. Perhaps something about how my brain has been working on rewiring and repairing itself changed something, left me with a new vulnerability.
I made up my mind that when I got home, I’d message A and H and let them know what was happening and ask them to check on me, in the morning and then periodically over the next two weeks. Just knowing I could expect regular points of contact in the future should help offset the intensity of fighting with my own psyche. It was humiliating to contemplate admitting to that level of weakness, but ultimately, I’d rather be safe than sorry.
I don’t want my husband knowing right now. At the end of the night I just told him I’d dealt with some anxiety. He might try to step in to ‘fix’ things and push me to check in to a hospital, and coming from him, with our history, that might backfire. Besides, this would be a really bad time for that.
We need to get through our move successfully. The changes involved on the other end should help stabilize him, and will almost certainly help stabilize me. Hopefully. When we have a second vehicle and the kids are back in school I will have some tangible freedom again. I will be able to try and fortify myself so that I can get through a job search and interviews and hopefully find employment.
A was still awake and available and affirmed she’d be willing to check in on me as asked. She wanted to know if anything specific had happened that she should be aware of, and I said no, that my brain had just been badly fucking with me and that I’d talk more after I’d gone to bed and got some sleep.
I couldn’t sleep. The night was pure misery. My chest was still hurting, and my extremities had become extremely chilled and were even going a little numb at times. I had to get up to use the bathroom several times, and during one trip, I noticed my eyes were very dry and scratchy. At some point I started to doze, very lightly, not enough to provide any real rest but at least enough to make me less aware of the passage of time.
This morning I checked a chart my therapist had given me, detailing the physical affects of various states of mind, and found that according to what I’d been experiencing, I spent the night in flight or fight mode. No wonder I couldn’t sleep.
My brain had, at least, stopped fucking with me for the time being.
I checked in with A and explained what had been happening. H had left a message early that morning when he’d seen my note on the way home from a friends’ house, but had gone offline again. He’d affirmed in his message he’d also check in on me periodically.
A said if she thought I was in a really bad place during the next couple of weeks, and my husband wasn’t available to contact, she’d walk me through calling the hospital, checking myself in, and stay online with me while I waited to be picked up. She asked if there was a neighbor that would be able to look out for the kids in the event this became necessary. She knows our oldest is old enough to watch his siblings, but felt that they’d do better with an adult around with this kind of event unfolding.
I felt better knowing there would be some kind of plan in place should I experience another, worse crash.
I just want to reach a place in my life where I have some actual GOOD choices, and not just ‘the best bad choice.’
Hitting publish on this one is gonna be difficult. The subject matter certainly makes me feel more vulnerable than anything I’ve posted previously.