Acting “as if”

The emotional roller coaster of the last few days has been a wild ride. The fiance’ disappeared on a workday, or rather, never came home the night before. And didn’t call or show up before work. Later that evening, I got a call from his mother. He had called her from some guy’s apartment. When you’re that drunk everyone is your best friend, and he had ended up crashing with someone named “W from New Orleans” since he had a bottle of something at home and the bar had closed. They woke up just in time for the fiance’ to make it to work, but he had no ride, so he called his mom to get to work in time. Why didn’t he call me to let me know he was alive? Apparently he didn’t want to “get into it” all with me before work.

As you might imagine, I had managed to work up a nice bitter froth by the time he got off work. How dare he make me worry? How dare he convince me through inaction that the worst had happened and let me believe it because it was easier for him? How dare he stay out all night drinking when he’s supposed to be getting it all together and when we just plain can’t afford it? When I had cooked dinner for us the night before? When I HAD NEEDS?

And then I ran out of steam. Just like that. Because I realized I was really angry about all the things that hadn’t happened- all of the worst case scenarios in my head. Because I realized I wasn’t giving any credit for what he did do- he went to work. He found a safe place to stay. He arranged a ride. He stayed faithful. And he felt sorry, and knew he should have called, even if he didn’t. And while to a lot of people that probably doesn’t sound all that impressive, it’s a long way from where we were in the fall, before he bucked up and decided to fight the crazy and get well.

And so, when he came home all hangdog and anxious and miserable with his own guilt, I sat on the couch and heard him out. I waited for his apologies instead of demanding them. And then I explained how I felt. Calmly, for once. Without screaming or crying or blaming. And he listened, without getting defensive. And admitted that he did think medication may be the way to go.  That there’s more going on than just a mild mood swing here. And that he was out of control.

And we agreed to talk some more. Later, when we’ve both gotten our heads wrapped around this thing. And in the meantime, he’s gone to work. And done his school work. And laid off the booze.

The thing about voluntarily living with a crazy person is, it makes you feel crazy. It makes you ride along because there’s no other choice when the person you love can’t stop acting crazy without help. And when I feel crazy, it’s hard to know what I want. I know that I want to be strong enough for this. I want to be brave enough and believe that because we both want this to work out so badly, it will. I want, against the odds, to believe that we’ll find a magic bullet for what ails him and it will cure what ails us.

But, I also want to make sure that I’m looking out for myself. That I’m spending as much time on my own strength and sanity as I am spending on his. That I’m not erasing myself and my real needs to be the martyr, to be the heroine.

So, I’ve put the future on hold for now. I’ve stopped imagining our way through the next fifty years and am trying to see my way to the end of the week. The month. This year. I’m carefully picking my way through this minefield, and hoping I’m taking all the right steps along the way.

And I’ve made weekly plans with BC, my hero and best friend. Last night we saw Cornel West speak at the University of Pittsburgh and grabbed dinner alone. He described the speech perfectly- “That was what church should feel like.” My assignment, to call him for our next plans this week. To stop being so ashamed of my troubles that I avoid the people that love me most, so they won’t worry. So they won’t know there are cracks in my armor.

For now, I am acting “as if”. “As if” it will all be ok. Because- one way or another- it will.

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3 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Soul Searching

3 responses to “Acting “as if”

  1. bipolarlawyercook

    Good for you! So important– and you can’t take care of him and be there for him in need if you are exhausted. Plus, you did exactly the right thing in talking to him calmly– he heard you rather than overreacting to a normal reaction, and you made some headway on some of you priorities. Excellent, Eleanor, Excellent. (Insert image of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons rubbing hands here).

    Eleanor: thanks for the reassurance. I really needed that. (And the laugh!)

  2. morethananelectrician

    Your patience and strength are to be commended.

    It is very easy to become aggresive in that situation. You handled it better than I ever would have.

    Strength and compassion!

    Eleanor: Your comments always make me feel better! Thank you.

  3. Heavy stuff. But it sounds like you are approaching it with respect for yourself and your needs. I wish you all the luck and strength.

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