Is it back?
I don’t know yet, but am watching, waiting, to see whether the proverbial bad penny is back in my life for another round.
And I’m scared.
Each time he says “I feel down.” “I’m not in a good humour.” “I just want to curl up in a ball.” “I’d rather not be here.” I get that sickening, nagging dread in the pit of my stomach – that awful feeling of a hangover that hasn’t quite gone, and it makes me want to reach for a drink to start numbing the looming threat of ‘Maybe’s which are building on the horizon.
Maybe The Saboteur has returned.
Maybe it hasn’t.
Maybe this is the start of the next bout.
Maybe it will be better than last time.
Maybe it will be worse.
Maybe our marriage won’t survive.
Maybe Husby will try to kill himself again.
We’ve had six months of respite. Six, precious months of peace when things have been on a reasonably even keel and we haven’t been battling for diagnoses, fighting the Saboteur on a daily basis, grieving for our lost children, mourning our infertility (now as confirmed as it’s ever going to be), or struggling to survive in spite of severe financial hardship.
The even keel has only been ‘ish’, but it’s been bloody marvellous compared to the hell we endured for the first three and a half years of marriage. The Saboteur ruled every day, causing Husby to not want to live to the end of many of them; making him question, constantly, whether it was all worth it; turning his thoughts into dark, twisted logic where I was better off without him, and he’d be doing us all a favour if he took himself out of the equation.
The Saboteur started fights. He made us both vicious; stirring up trouble then standing back to watch us wound one another, with a smirk on his face. He dragged Husby deep into an ocean of nihilism and despair, and in trying to save the man I loved, I nearly got sucked under, too.
Because once he’s in, there’s no rescuing allowed. And the victims of the Saboteur can only save themselves if they somehow become convinced it’s worth their while to do so. It doesn’t matter what love or logic is applied, the Saboteur twists the words into incomprehensible jargon and doesn’t let them understand.
“I love you” becomes meaningless.
“I want you to live” becomes an unbearable trap.
“I don’t want anyone else” elicits a hollow laugh of incredulity.
But perhaps the hollow laugh is allowable, because admittedly, in those times, I don’t want him. Not with the Saboteur so intrinsically tangled into every cell of his body and every fibre of his mind – his whole being clouded and buffeted by the storms of self-hatred, disillusionment, disappointment and futility.
“What if it happens again? I’m worried about that”, he tells me.
I’m worried too, love. In fact, I’m bloody terrified, because we barely made it through the last round, and I’m not sure I’ve been in the corner for long enough to recover and make it through the next.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recover.
When you’ve gotten to such a dark place that if your husband kills himself, you only don’t want him to make a mess;
When you feel so rejected that you don’t care if, whilst out jogging, you get caught and accosted because at least that would mean someone found you an attractive prospect;
When you find yourself wishing you’d never met. Never said yes. Never stayed. And you know that your soul is inexorably linked, in love, to a man with whom ‘til death will you stay, and you don’t know whether you hope it will be sooner or later, and that thought plays over and over and over and over;
When those ‘maybe’ clouds loom so close and so menacingly that the world takes on a dark tinge, even in sunlight, because if the Saboteur takes him again, you don’t know what you’ll do;
When those patterns of thinking are engrained like dirt into the fingernails you hang onto your sanity with, and each day becomes an epic, uphill struggle, just to make it to bedtime;
When you find yourself escaping more than engaging;
When you live in fear, each time you leave, that it could be the last time you see him;
When you live in anger, each time you return, that he’s still there – still depressed – not fighting it, but letting it break him into pieces;
When he sits, quite calmly across from you and tells you that your love isn’t enough to make him want to stay alive;
When you aren’t enough to combat it;
No. You don’t recover.
You just desperately, fervently hope that you don’t get pitched back into the ring.
You cry. You beg. You plead. You pray. You hope.
You gather your friends around you and you try to focus on the good things. Try to help him focus on the good things. You hope.
You try to help him remember the strategies he learned in counselling. You suggest he goes back to the doctor. You go the extra mile and try to take the pressure off. You hope.
And in the meantime, you suck in your tummy, stick out your chest and do your best to ignore that gnawing, agonising, sick feeling. Because you think that probably, maybe, for now, you might make it through and have another period of respite when you can pretend to yourself that it’s not going to cycle back to the beginning, and you’re not going to have to endure it again.
You live life in Silver Linings; because as long as they keep coming, you have hope.
Have you lived through this? What did you do to hold things together? *Did* you hold it together? What do you do when love no longer seems enough?