Since the birth of her child she had felt alone. Her husband returned to work as if nothing had happened and largely absented himself from the home when he was not on the clock. When the diagnosis was handed down, her friends fell away and alone was no longer a feeling, but a reality.
Aloneness became a continuous theme. Alone for feedings. Alone for firsts. Alone juggling the budget. Alone managing the house. Alone administering therapies. Alone, alone, alone. While she was capable, while she did not need anyone to help her in these things, support beyond “I trust you. Do whatever you think is best.” would have been welcome.
Her abilities to juggle and manage and problem solve became her husband’s freedom from worry. Freedom from everything. Problem ‘A’ + Wife = No problem. While she appreciated the vote of confidence in the beginning, eventually it became a burden. Because he never worried about anything, she worried about all of her concerns plus his.
As her child grew, the concerns connected to the child gained gravitas. The minor worries of vomiting every time a textured food was introduced, grew into epic level worries that the child would never have the wherewithal to hold a job. The epic worries gave birth to a host of other worries. Still, she was alone. Alone with “Whatever you think is best. I trust your judgement.”
Then she wasn’t. She met a man who changed her life. Such a simple phrase – “changed her life”. Three words with untold dimension and depth. This man, over a relatively short period of time, became irreplaceable. He became the center of her universe. He offered friendship, assistance, advice, genuine concern, support and … she loved him. Love in its purest form. Love with an intensity she would not have believed possible.
This man was a pragmatist. Matter of fact statements about finding someone else if she were “hit by a bus tomorrow” occurred with some frequency. She often raised the bus scenario to see if the answer would change, wanting to believe she meant as much to him and he did to her. The answer never did change, each time reenforcing her belief that she was not good enough, nothing special, disposable. This inserted itself into the litany of her worries. One false move and I’m out the door. She saw this as fait accompli. Not an if, but a when. Eventually, he would be done.
The pressure of this particular worry threatened to crush her on a daily basis. She would wake in the morning and think of him, wondering if today would be the day. Is today the day her world would come crashing down? Is today the day it ends? Once, when the universe called into being enormous levels of stress in her life simultaneously, she woke thinking that something had to give. She could not maintain sanity under such pressure. Of the three arenas in her life, only one could she let go.
This arena also happened to be the one that often brought her the only happiness she experienced on a given day. Being who she was, she decided, again, as she so often had since becoming a mother, that her happiness was not only unimportant, but undesirable. She had seen, time and again, that when she put her needs first, terrible things happened, ingraining the belief that she was not allowed to be happy. For whatever reason, perhaps for something she had done in a past life, karma had decided that in this life, she did not deserve to be happy for any extended length of time.
When she woke under the stress and worry of life’s obstacles, multiple issues weighed her down, making getting out of bed nearly impossible. That same morning, when she had not been speaking to him for very long, several negative thoughts were expressed. OK she thought I’m being selfish sharing my worry and stress with this man. I’m creating problems in his life. I’m draining him. I’m toxic. If we cannot both be happy, then he should be. He deserves joy. It will be harder now that I know what it is to have this but I can return to who I used to be. He deserves everything I cannot give him. He’s told me he can find another. I will leave him to it. She tried to be firm, matter of fact, about it. With raw pain infusing her voice, she stated the reasons she should not be in his life. She hinted around the edges of saying goodbye for quite some time. She couldn’t form the words. Ultimately selfish, she could not say goodbye.
Several days later, he said a thing. He often said things, offhandedly, seemingly unaware of the impact. Again, with his pragmatic way, he spoke in facts, as if they were all equal in weight and value. He told her, more fully, differently than he ever had, exactly, simply, how he felt about her. He said this as plainly and unaffected as if he were stating the color of her eyes. This statement was spoken in conjunction with other thoughts and ideas. Those that came after, she did not hear.
With the gift of his words, color flooded into her world, suddenly, in the impossibly vibrant way witnessed by Dorothy. My god, she thought, holding her breath, I had no idea. Yes, I knew he loved me. I didn’t know he loved me, loved me. I am not replaceable. I am not a place holder. I am not disposable. I am significant, important, meaningful, to this man who is my world. I’m not alone in the depth of my emotion. Maybe, just maybe, I am good enough, worthy, deserving. Maybe, she thought, feeling as though she were tempting the fates of the universe, maybe, I am allowed to be happy.