The Great Depression
Winters where I live are long and cold and boring and I have a long history of spending much of the winter in a sulky grey funk. My husband has responded by making our house as fun as Disneyland – although less crowded and HOPEFULLY mouse-free – with tons of video games and movies and new books and theme dinner nights and board games and booze and stupid tv shows and it still doesn’t help all that much.
My poor husband. When I am sad, he wants more then anything to help me back up. And I find this beyond annoying, this constant low-key pestering when I’m wanting nothing more than to crawl into bed and stay there until the flowers come back up in May, wanting to be left alone while it’s grey and -30. Oh, how I resented it, and more than once I snapped at him to stop trying so hard to fix me, to just leave me be. And this is how you can tell that I am an awesome wife and that being married to me is MAGICAL.
Anyhow, my GOD I resented feeling like he needed me to hurry up and get better so that he would stop being inconvenienced by my inconvenient depression. I would lay in bed at night – not sleeping, thanks to The Depression – and think dark murky thoughts revolving around him being a pushy jerk, him trying to dictate to me how I should feel. Oh, sure - he’d make supper without complaining about it, but I knew that secretly he was feeling resentful and as if he thought I wasn’t trying hard enough, that I was wallowing in my moods for my own enjoyment.
So a few months ago, out of nowhere, my husband came up to me and told me that he was depressed, that he had been very, very sad for a while. And my heart broke into a billion pieces right there.
That my poor, kind-hearted, unassuming, hard-working, gentle husband had been walking around silently miserable all by himself - okay, even now I can’t write that down without putting my hand over my mouth and staring out the window for a while. And I responded with unusual fervor, making sure that things were clutter and stress-free around here, making sure that he’d come home to his favorite meals, that he was surrounded by love and affection and given more time to do things he liked and I was sobbingly relieved when he told me that he was feeling better, that it had passed.
“I was so worried about you!” I bawled at him, and he said, very tenderly, that he knew exactly what I’d felt because he’d gone through the same thing so many times with me. And with those words, I suddenly saw all of it – the suppers quietly made by him, the packages of new books sent the way a different man might send flowers, the horrible GAMES OF SCRABBLE – completely differently, saw them as his way of surrounding me with love and comfort.
I also know that he is lying to me.
I know that he feels like he’s not achieving what he’d hoped for with his talents, that he’s worried about money, that he’s over-burdened with responsibility and that he is hiding this from me because he is above all things tender and kind to me.
I have been wallowing. I have not been trying hard enough.
You can’t unknow self-knowledge, can’t unsee what you have seen. And so my New Year’s resolution is to protect him more, to meet his tired smile as he arrives home in the evening with one of my own, to see his love for what it is and to be grateful. I will instigate more stupid Scrabble games and thank him as he passes me the smooth wooden letters, knowing for once in my life what secret words they are actually spelling.
Beck puts words together this beautifully on a regular basis over at her website, Frog & Toad Are Still Friends. It is among the first blogs I ever read, and was an inspiration for me as I began writing a blogsite. Her delightful nature and incredible depth drew me in and have never let go.