One of my coworkers today had another chapter to add to the captivating drama of battling her ex-husband for custody of their children. She has shared much of this story with me over the past several years. It truly is a very frustrating experience for her, to say the least. Today, her ex took it the next level by bringing it to our school and trying to get our principal involved. She related this to me after school, around the copy machine, as we were both winding down the day. Her concern was about our principal seeing this drama first hand and how she would feel knowing that this is happening. It was then that I reminded my friend of the conference she and I went to with our principal at a convention center a couple hours away. After a day of seminars, the three of us had gone out to dinner and then sat around the deck of the hotel pool with drinks from the bar. We spent about two hours out there and we talked about so many different things. We shared personal things about ourselves–from my battle with mental illness to not being able to have children. It was not a one-sided conversation either. I reminded my friend that our principal shared some personal things about her family as well.
My friend took solace in knowing that we are two people that our principal has put her trust into. She knows who we are…who we really are, and yet she treats us just as professionally as she did before finding out these things about us.
I left soon after and while I drove home, I thought back to that poolside conversation and what my principal had shared with us about her sister. From what I can recall, her sister has a severe case of schizophrenia. She told us that on her very worst days, her sister’s husband has to take complete care of her, to the point of having to tend to her hygiene needs during the days of her monthly cycle.
Remembering this account from my principal made me think back to my own husband. He and I have only been married for four years. But we have been together for 17. We met just as I was beginning the descent into bipolar hell. And hell it truly was. I think the end of the battle for my mental stability finally came with my last ECT treatment in 2002. I’ve been much better for quite a long time now. Looking back on that time, my husband and I sometimes recount how bad it was. He’ll say that he often wondered what he had gotten into back then. And as hard as it was for me to experience the anguish I went through, I know that it was just as hard for him.
Driving home today, I felt tears welling up thinking about how much my husband did for me throughout my struggle. He may have had doubts then about sticking by someone he hadn’t known for very long and I don’t know what compelled him to actually stay, but to say that I am thankful that he did is an understatement. He never left my side. My every high and more importantly, every low, saw him right there helping me get back to the stability of the middle.
Now that my history of mental health is longer than my history of unchecked mental illness, I have to remind myself not to get frustrated when he asks me questions about my medicine whenever I’m upset. Or when he doesn’t relent in trying to understand and help when I cry. He knows me and he knows what I’ve been through…what we’ve been through. He loves me enough to know that he doesn’t want me reverting back to how I was before. It is because of him that I am so happy to just simply be home. Because I know that home is where he is. Where he is next to me on the couch or next to me in bed. Simply being around him makes me happy.
I don’t know that I have ever really thanked him for those years of never letting go of my hand when I held onto it the tightest. He is my husband, he is my hero, and as a hero, his heroic deeds are unsung no more.