We Can Only Try Fixing Ourselves…

I try to be a compassionate person. I am acutely aware of how others are feeling and are often the “sounding board” for those close to me, including my partner. He is having a rough week, and from this distance, I can be of little help. Long-distance relationships are difficult, but after living with someone for 8 years, being away from them on a daily basis is becoming more and more difficult for us. I was with my husband for 9. Being stripped of his company was excruciating, final, the end. This is not as horrendous – I know my partner is there, I can speak with him, we can Skype, and when we do see one another, it is usually good. But without him in my life daily, I feel at an impasse – I am single. I am partnered. I have no desire to be with anyone else (this relationship can be taxing enough at times), yet the adjustment is tearing us both to pieces.

However, I cannot fix him or his life. I can listen. I can commiserate. But I cannot change one damn thing for him, and lord knows I have been trying since the day he drove back north after he moved me down here. Almost immediately, he began flooding me with jobs to apply for and when winter hit the north, he was as miserable as I was. He hated the weather. I hated myself, but how common that is among us with bipolar? He is fortunate. He does not have this illness. He cannot understanding the taxing weight it can put on one’s shoulders, nor how paralyzed it can make one feel. I do not blame him for this – he is a lucky one (though I think due to life experiences, etc., that no one is “normal” in the way society at large defines it). He has his own battles to fight, but they are not in his own head. Most of the time, they are of his own making.

Neither of us imagined we would be where we are at this stage in our lives. He never imagined being a father. I never imagined I would be in love with a man that is tangled in the web of trying to nurture the seedling that is his son into a man, to give him a life different from what he experiences when he is with his mother. To give him joy. And he does that. Very well. I have often told him how fortunate his son is to have a father such as him. But it is now summer vacation – more attention must be paid to his child, meaning less for me. I am adjusting to this, though I hate it. We have barely spoken this week, as he is not only playing the dutiful father role, but his mother is in town to visit, and I swear with every year that passes, his blood pressure goes through the roof whenever they are together. Perhaps they are too alike.

I also understand it is a hard adjustment for him – to see her grow older, slightly wackier. She raised him alone, as his father abandoned them and watching her slow demise is something that is frustrating and emotionally difficult for him to digest. He does not know how to let go of the irritation she stirs up in him. I too, am dealing with parents who are aging, dying. My mother has Alzheimer’s. My father is falling into dementia, though he refuses to believe it. They are frailer every time I see them. This is not an enjoyable moment in time for either of us – watching our parents die, seeing what age does to the body. It reminds us of our own mortality. What the future holds – not only when we have to let them go, but what will eventually happen to us, if we live that long.

Most of the conversations we have had this week revolve around the same theme: “I can’t live this way anymore”. And for once, these words are not coming from me. For years he has had to hear me say the same things, but I know that there are reasons for this…my brain is making me crazy. I am trying to change it, and I think I am fighting very hard for it. I want to stay in this good place. Which makes it so much harder when he calls and is screaming, fuming, at the end of his rope for something that has happened 2,000 miles away, and I have NO control over. He probably doesn’t either, which is what drives him insane. All I can do is listen, tell him to breathe, take one of my Benzos, go for a bike ride. ANYTHING to get his head out of the space he is in, because I know from experience if he doesn’t stop his spinning (god, it feels good to say that to him instead of it always coming out of his mouth at me) that household will turn into World War III and that is the last thing any of them need.

What he needs is success. He left a very lucrative job to care for his son. He has been busting his ass to try and make it on his own, but I know he feels the noose tightening and is starting to worry about that. I am tired of being the breadwinner, and not being able to live the life I always imagined – on some lovely island, with a fresh breeze from the water wafting through the windows, street markets to buy my food and time to write, barefoot. That is what I want. That is what I want him to make happen for me. But I would never tell him this. I do not want to undermine his self-confidence which has taken a beating this week. I do not want to hurt him. I am his biggest cheerleader, but I need something good to happen for him, so we can move on with our lives and I can give up the 9-5 life and do what I am best at. This.

So, I can only work on me. I cannot do anything for him until he is ready to make changes, positive ones. Where does this leave us? I do not know. I do know that I have had to tell him to quit calling me at work as the files pile up on my desk and he asks me to look up inane information about the weather where he is. I do not want my professional appearance thrown off-kilter due to a call where his head is about to explode. I want to stay where I am. Where I spent the pre-dawn hours meditating on the wealth of the universe and listening to my breathing. I want calm. Right now he is a hurricane. And today, or at least until he is alone again after his mother and son leave, I do not want the noise. I do not want the negativity. I want peace. I want to work on my potential. I want to be my number one again, without waiting for him to put me back on top of the list.

© Sorrow & Kindness


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