I read an article today written by a husband whose wife has depression and anxiety. It is a beautifully written letter that gave me a little tear in the corner of my eye while I was reading it (which was unfortunate timing since I was sat in the waiting room of the dreaded Dr Doom, useless Baku psychiatrist to expats). It gave me pause for thought too.
I recognised so much of myself in the words the husband used. I wondered if maybe that’s the way R sees me and my illness? I’m pretty sure that when he does look at me he can see the part of myself I work very hard to hide from the outside world. He sees the cracks in the smile, the tears behind the too loud personality, the scarred girl behind the gobby out spoken woman. People who know us will tell you hubby deserves a medal, that he has the patience of a saint. All those funny sayings that we trot out when we are talking about other people’s marriages. I guess they are true enough for lots of marriages but I wonder if they realise how on the money it is of mine?
He has spent the last 18 years dealing with my personal brand of crazy. Mental illness is rarely fair to anyone, not to the sufferer sure but not to our loved ones either. My husband has sat on the other side of a door listening to me howl from a pain deep inside me, knowing that I was in all likely hood in the process of dismantling a razor or gouging myself with scissors. He has had to stand while I hurled both words and cups at him. I have put that man through so much. Vicious speeches about how shit my life is and silent days when the pain is more than I can cope with, getting out of bed, eating and dressing are jobs insurmountable to me. He has held me in his arms while I sobbed and held me back when I lost the plot. I’ve lain with just our fingers touching when I couldn’t bare to have him near me but couldn’t let him leave me either. He has had to lay in our bed bewildered by my sudden transformation from a loving wife to a crying little girl.
He has taken everything I’ve ever thrown at him and let it go. He has never used it against me, never brought up my sometimes frankly appalling behaviour in anger or used it to win an argument (I can almost guarantee I would do or have done those things to him though).
I wonder how many more of them there out there? Those men that love a woman like me? Who like mine stand as an anchor to sanity, a thread to hope and a spark in the dark. Those vigilant defenders of their mentally ill wives. It’s so easy to take for granted what he does for me because he expects nothing from me in return. Ok that’s not strictly true but he never expects more than I’m capable of giving. If I’m smiling when he comes home from work that’s all he needs from me. If I never cleaned, cooked or had sex with him again I’m pretty sure he would still be there, loving me.
He is the unsung hero in our marriage, the glue that keeps us going forward together. Does he know? I’m not sure. Do I tell him enough how much I love him? Not just for this life we have, not just for the kids or because he makes me laugh. Does he know I love him because he has kept me alive and safe for almost two decades? Does he know he is my best friend? Have I ever told him? I don’t know. Does he comprehend that without him I wouldn’t be here?
I hope he knows.
I think I need to go give my vigilant defender a kiss