This is another post that’s extremely difficult for me to write. Like I’ve said before, describing the people I truly love is hard because the description always feels inadequate. It’s like writing about them is torturous (in the best way possible.)
I’ve mentioned Sean here a few times. He’s my husband of almost two years. I don’t know where to begin explaining him, explaining us, because it’s like dropping a Mentos in Pepsi. Hundreds of happy moments explode and flood my memory, and to tell you what he is like would be like trying to describe the taste of water. Here’s what I can tell you: His eyes are kind, his shoulders are strong and his mind is sharp. His smile is the kind that reaches beyond the face and grabs you. I used to think it was amusing to imagine that his lips were arms in disguise.
I met him in March of 2010 when he approached me at work and asked if he could take me for dinner. I was 18 and I’d never been on a date in my life, at least not with a complete stranger. No dude had ever formally asked me to do anything, and it was both flattering and completely terrifying. I took him up on his offer and gave him my phone number. After so many failed attempts at meeting up on my part, I’m surprised he kept calling, but he did. His persistence wasn’t overwhelming or unattractive. It was just the opposite, actually. I asked him later why he didn’t just assume I was a bitch, and his only response was “I really wanted to go on that date.”
We went on that date. I verbally vomited all over him at lunch with topics that are not suitable for the table. I was so nervous that I talked about the horse scene in Jackass film over fucking pasta! He didn’t call for a week and I was sure I had blown it, vowing never to go on a date again in my life. Turns out he had no idea how dating worked either, and said that he thought 7 days was the rule so as not to seem overbearing. It was complicated and it was simple. Neither of us were looking for much, but came out with more than we could ever have imagined. I had spent so much time on people who weren’t capable of giving the kind of love that I needed, and I spent much more being someone else to fit the image of what I thought they expected from me. It was all such a facade. This was the first time somebody had known the real, raw, inappropriate creature I really was. It’s like I unzipped my selfish and immature personality and (tried) to learn and live with honesty. He liked me without makeup. He held my hand proudly when I walked around town wearing sweatpants and rubber boots. He just didn’t give a shit about any of that, and I liked it that way.
I’m fully convinced that our love was (and is) the kind that people write books about, write songs about, paint on canvas. Let me just be real with you here: Marriage is really, really hard. People who have been wed longer than I might snicker at me saying that, but it’s true. You live with this person, press yourself against them at night and eat off of their plates. They kiss you goodbye and elbow you unintentionally trying to master the art of two people brushing their teeth in a tiny bathroom because it’s all you can afford. You’re no longer responsible for only yourself, but now have to smile and weep at their accomplishments and massive fuck-ups. That’s another thing; marriage is a series of really big fuck-ups that often pave the way for the life that we desire. You’ll both have them, and there’s no way around it. But let me be clear: laying in the nook of their shoulders and playing rock paper scissors and having two arms around you like shelter is worth the cost.
When I got sick, things went to shit. I was an irrational mess, a time-bomb. He was afraid for me and frustrated at the state of our relationship. There was a period of time when I felt us crumbling and I was sure that I would be the 22-year-old divorcee with voices in her head and a chip on her shoulder. It got to the point where just looking at each other made us want to bitch about something. I kept thinking that he was, that we were a sand castle I’d made when I was 9. Something I’d built and loved and had to say goodbye to before its time. How could it be that my brain couldn’t grasp how much I loved this person? Didn’t it know that it was only making its situation worse? Didn’t it understand that I needed this, didn’t it feel the urgency to get better for this? No.
Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, and even if one has all of the necessary tools to move through it, it doesn’t mean that one will find the strength to do so for a very long time. The mind is much like the body in the sense that it protects us from the blows of life by leaving us in shock, unable to feel and recognize the situation. The would numbs itself and becomes a dull ache. This is the cycle. These are our lives. It would be so easy to pass the buck and imagine myself as a helpless victim and pull the card every time he has an irrational moment. It would be so easy to say “Stop shouting! You know I can’t handle it!” Well, I guess I realize that maybe he can’t handle it either. I realize that it inconveniences his life as much as mine, and in a way I imagine that he suffers more knowing that there is no quick fix for the problem. I realize that I would rather be in hell with him than anybody else.
Sean, I don’t know how to end this post. I feel like I’m rambling now, the way I did on our first date when I described people spitting in each other’s mouths. Here’s what I want you to know, if you remember nothing else. You make me better. You launch me forward and allow me to discover my potential. You take care of me, from counting my pills to cutting my sandwiches, to dressing me when I don’t feel like getting out of the covers because it’s cold. (Sorry.) You took a broken and confused girl and made her into a woman who wants to sing you songs by Paul Simon at 3 AM. You can call me Al. (Couldn’t pass it up.)
I love you in the most generous and the most selfish way. You have given me solace, love and inner peace. In you I have found a melody worth listening to and a story worth writing. In you I’ve found life. I don’t know why we’re here or where we’re going. I don’t know if it’s fate or extremely pleasant coincidence. All I know is that I thank whoever, whatever, even the nothing that placed you in my path.