I could tell my husband was becoming increasingly frustrated with me (or the illness—but it’s often difficult to separate the two) as I lay in bed crying and yelling that showering was simply too stressful at the moment. It was physically evident that he was biting his tongue, trying to avoid saying a hurtful thing, because it wasn’t really me that he was growing so aggravated with. Rather, it was my damn manic depression and the way this illness is capable of breaking me down so badly.
He couldn’t bite his tongue anymore, and the following words spilled out, “I’m mad because I never know who I’m going to wake up to in the morning.”
I sat up a bit more erect in bed, jolted by his honest, heart-breaking phrase as though it were a bitter hand back-slapping me across the face. It was painful and ached, and I couldn’t reply. “I don’t know who I’m going to wake up to” stung my sweltering cheeks, as tears began to fall like acid upon this freshly inflicted wound. Then his words rang in my ears like a pulsating rhythm trapped in my head by two tightly tamped ear-buds. The throbbing of this burning truth dulled eventually and I was left with only those words in a sea of silence and still melancholy: “I don’t know who I’m going to wake up to.” I felt feverish and agitated as I was unprepared to see – really see – how this monster of mine was likewise clawing and ripping at the man I loved the most.
It was me, physically, that he went to sleep with every night. It was me, in physical form, which he woke up with. But who was I going to be? Fuck; even I didn’t know. Every night, I prayed and fervently believed that I would awake as the me I most closely identify with. That woman is bold and brave. That woman is creative, humorous, intelligent, loving, and passionate. She is the truest form of me – the me freed from the shackles of my mental illness. That woman loves her children, happily reads them books, gets down on the floor and plays Little People and Lego Duplo with them.
The woman that woke up this morning was crying because the babies were crying, “Why are they crying? Make them stop! I’m not ready for this yet! I’m not ready for this!” With motherhood, you don’t get to choose when to participate and when to just spectate. I need to be capable of being a mother full-time. Instead, I started hyperventilating and my husband had to get me a clonazepam. I said I needed just a few more hours of sleep, but he told me to get up and get in the shower. This is when I yelled back at him that he was pressuring me too much.
All he wanted was for me to clean up and hold my daughter until she calmed down. All he wanted, he said, was for me to try. I was trying, though. Yes, I was screaming and crying, but all the same I was trying, as impossible as it was to identify my effort. This shit is hard, my friends, when you feel like a fuck-up the second you wake up and wonder if anything you do is worth it. You feel underappreciated and unloved, and you push others away. You don’t see just how damn difficult it is for them, too, to love someone who is amazing one morning and a fucking mess the next.
My husband woke up with a woman far different from the one he went to bed with. This wasn’t sexy or scandalous; it was tragic and trying. I need to remember how closely linked we have become. When I feel pain, he feels pain too. When I worry, he worries too. When I am crying, he cries too – even if he hides his tears and cries in solitude. I don’t want him to cry. I’m trying for my husband, and I love him so much. I wish I could answer his question and knew which days would be triumphs and which would hold trials. I can’t. I don’t know who I am going to be in the morning either. But, I do know that I am loved and that together we will make it through it all. Whether that woman in the bed loves herself and feels confident, or she hates herself and feels worthless, the one certainty is that she adores her husband and is grateful for him each and every day.