To My Wife:
One of us wakes up in the middle of the night trembling in fear and asks to be held like a child.
Grabbing hold of one of our large stuffed animals that are ever-present on the bed. Curling up like it is impossible to get warm. Breathing heavy, the verge of tears. Scooting towards the center of the bed, face towards the outside. Waiting for the warmth of a body behind us and an arm over us. Anticipating the affectionate breath that will soon pour over the back of the neck. Hoping that the fear will subside. Wishing that the shaking will cease. Demanding it won’t happen again.
One of us asks to be left alone after a rough day.
Sitting angrily in the chair alone. Refusing to eat dinner or turn on the TV. Everything that is done is met with criticism and volatility. Space is always requested, space is always given, space is never needed. Life appears harder than it needs to be. Sometimes the room is left empty. Sometimes the bed seems inviting. Sometimes the place that is went is the place that is lonely.
One of us needs to cuddle up after things don’t go the right way.
Leaning in for a hug or a kiss. Requesting to join on the couch, with a pillow, with a blanket. The glow of the television, our favorite show, a well-worn movie. A warm hand rubbing the back, or touching the leg can impart such tremendous comfort. Wanting to cry but not having the strength. Trying to act normal, trying to blow it off.
One of us could use more playtime with our daughter.
The desire often doesn’t match the effort. Time is wasted worrying. Worry about performance. Worry about progress. Confusion on how to play, how to be helpful, how to make an impression. The nature of the deed is lost. Her preference is palpable. Lingering questions of ability and strength.
One of us wants the other to know how much they are appreciated.
While neither of us are perfect, one of puts a lot more on the other, unfairly. Demanding through inaction that more be done. Quick to anger, quicker to pout, quickest to gloat. Nothing is equal here, nothing is right. The ability to do more is not lost, but probably not spoken enough.
For anyone who reads this, and thinks it might be hard on me, thinks that I might be going through a rough time, just imagine what it can possibly be like for my wife. I told her early on in our relationship about the possibilities of my disease, but I wasn’t severely symptomatic until right before our wedding shower.
And somehow she is still here. One thing I see all the time with other bipolars is that the people in their lives are forced out by their difficult behavior. I have had that difficult behavior, but she has not left. She has come home to a drunken and suicidal mess dozens of times. She has had to visit her family in the hospital. She has had watch her husband level his anxiety and depression at the world around him, her world, without realizing it was really inside himself.
I cannot say for sure why she is still here. I don’t believe I offer much to her. But I am thankful and appreciative that I can always send a text or ask her to lay with me in bed. She loves to comfort me, and that is exactly what I need.