I also want to say that my marriage was one of the things going well. Much of the above I began to recognize in 2009 and by the time I was diagnosed we had really drawn close as I had started (Yet not realized) that process of healing. Lest I sound like a real jerk ;-) We were working hard towards more equality and it was already happening somewhat. Of course this was all still from my "drivers seat" perspective. There was still some underlying issues but nothing beyond repair/working through.
Michele has supported me, even when I was wrong. Most of our marriage she made me the focus and was really such a great support. Her very silence was both annoying but also necessary (In retrospect) as part of "me" was the need to "express" my feelings and thoughts and prior to the diagnosis most women would have left me.
The children, specifically he 11 year old, has taken notice this last year of our efforts to help Michele "find her voice." She really had already taken over much of the "show" and it worked well for us as it removed me from situations that made me angry. I still didn't fully treat her as my equal. I also didn't realize how smart she really is.
Thursday's therapy was really tough. We agreed to do Family 1x a month (more if needed) We also agreed my son doesn't need therapy as much as perhaps some case management support. Case managers are the unsung heroes of Mental Health. People diagnosed (in KS anyway) with what is determined a SPMI (Severely, persistently mentally ill- now I have been away from MH awhile so the acronym may have changed- If Not lets start a movement!) are covered under Medicaid and it allows case managers to work with adults. The "work" is primarily to teach survival skills for those that need it. For my son it would like like this. His Case manager would work with him on his future plans, goals but then ACTUALLY HELP HIM DO IT! It's a great service, they can teach you how to grocery shop, go out to large public events, etc.... I mean it is a great service.
As Jess left I felt immediately abandoned. Why is she cutting our services? Is it me? (Well yeah dummy it WAS your idea to go monthly on Family lol) If I get better...will she leave me to fend by myself? I replayed our appointment and and I had said I could just use a week away in the mountains (Wife included) Just to re-focus. I love nature, I used to fish almost every day. Jess kept challenging that statement, raising the question of what would it look like coming back? Wouldn't all your issues still be here? Yet she seemed supportive of the idea at it's base, perhaps it was the intent she was looking at.
Then it hit me! She wanted to admit In Patient, I was sure. (Do you see where this is headed?) I fought the urge to get angry, sad, or emotional. My 11 year old had a choir performance at the local High School that evening and I forced myself to go even though the 6th graders were only a small part. I walked into the gym and immediately felt like the entire place was looking at me. I ducked out and took the stairs to the upstairs part. We sat behind the basket in a rare empty space.
Now, I used to be able to speak in front of large crowds, loved it. Probably should have been a teacher. However I began to experience a panic attack or something. I felt trapped and my daughters 2 songs were #3 and 4 on the card. I couldn't breathe and I felt really dizzy so after her songs Michele ran me and the 5 year old home. I had never even remotely felt this way.
Later as Michele returned (This is gonna tie the her being wise part in and hey it only was a 3 paragraph segue!) I was determined to convince her of all my fears and anxieties. Prove my point (I, and countless others no doubt, wish I had never been a debater lol).First I asked her how she thought Therapy went. She said "good" how did you feel it went. I sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out how to respond and also trying to remember to respect her comments. It was hard, I wanted to scream out "Well you would, wouldn't you." How would YOU feel IF....yada yada yada....was happening to you!"
(It's ok to chuckle some of this is really funny)
I finally responded with "Do you think she kept coming back to the getting away for a week because she wanted to admit me?" (Is there any hope for poor Michael :-) ) This time Michele paused and began rubbing my arm. I was looking away (I realize I do that if I am afraid of someones answer) and she said "No, I think Jess was trying to get you to see that you don't need to physically 'get away' to get better."
Hmmmm....the brain says....I would never get to that conclusion but yet the logic was strong and I know that running away to a new place doesn't solve the problem. I don't even know yet if Michele was right. I do know she was more right than I am!
It was this conversation, innocent as it was, that I woke to Friday morning. It was in my mind as I did my blog. My children have been so sweet and loving to me during this time. My 11 year old came in after the concert and teased me a little for leaving but wanted to make sure I was ok. I began to realize several things, most of which I blogged yesterday. It really is time to toss the shackles of self pity, anger and resentment. It really doesn't suit me well. I'm far too funny ;-)
I want to share a letter I wrote Jess and Michele after yesterdays' blog. It will not be in its entirety and some may be paraphrased. Hopefully, if I have done my job as a writer, this letter will simply reinforce that
I can not even begin to tell you how much I love you. I see you so different now than when we met. You are so strong. You are a survivor
I remember early in our therapy with Beth she told us you were far stronger than you knew. I know you didn't believe that. I know I didn't nurture that as well.
I am so sorry for the times I treated you like a child. I am so sorry for the hurt, the pain and tears and many things I have said. I am also so proud of you.
This may surprise you...but your sorta my hero. Especially of late. I look at the pain you have endured, even from me at times, and I see that even though life may not be easy, it is worth sharing with you. You have persevered so many times that you should stand up, tall and proud and know you made it. You did this Michele, though many helped no one else did the work :-) You have shown me that life really is worth living. Our children are wonderful.
I was really down after our session yesterday. I had to fight really hard to not feel like you were abandoning me, which I know is silly. I think part of me is afraid if I get better I will lose the one therapist I have ever really connected to. I asked Michele several times how she thought it went and she said "Good." I wanted to fight that statement, I was looking for ways to do so. And Jess- I figured it out. You were asking me if a week away would help because "maybe" you want me inpatient. So I asked Michele if she thought that was where you were going.
She didn't answer at first. Then she put her arms around me and said- I think Jess was trying to help you see that healing and recovery can happen here at home as easy as it can away from home.
Ok- So how stupid did I feel. LOL. Sorry its what I struggle with though.
The point is that I have spent much of my marriage bullying, overpowering and not giving my wife enough credit for how smart she is. Then I complain that we are not equals, that she is incapable of change.
Again, how stupid do I feel (I'm saying that partly to be funny)
That simple moment last night flooded me with feelings of love, equality, intimacy and everything I have wanted from my marriage.
I've decided I am going to get better. I'm going to learn to love myself. Today's blog was short. But I believe it
Then Jordan. She was so sweet to me yesterday and last night. I thought my heart would burst from all the love my wife and daughter were showing me. And for the first time I saw that their love could not be "earned" nor did I need to feel like I didn't deserve it. They love me for me. If those that mean the most to me love me than I can learn to love me too.
I keep talking about helping others...could never do anything like that without the love and support of my wife.
I used to think "Behind every great man is a great woman" but perhaps that should be changed to
"Next to every great man is a wise woman"