It’s been a wild few weeks/months/year. I have been out of work a long time with my back issues. I’ve been avoiding talking about the health issues, the depression, the move, the scare. The loss upon loss upon loss. But eventually I wanted to write about it when I could (finally) put some positive spin on it.

This is a long post, broken into 3 parts, but it’s a reflection of what has transpired recently and how it’s changed my life.

As I talked a little bit on here in March, it was a tough winter. My moods were fluctuating, swinging, weird. If not for my children and grandchildren, I’m not sure how stable I would have been. Gina called once night worried about the tone of my voice and alerted her brothers. There were flowers, phone calls, visits. I’ve never asked my kids to be there for me but they were.

Not that I wanted to intrude on my kids. I didn’t…but my daughter (probably being a daughter) could tell something was going on and let them know. It all felt a little dramatic to me.

It’s been a long time since drama was a part of my life. In the few years following my separation in early 1987 I was a basket case trying to unravel the crap of my past and build a life.

If you looked up crazy in the dictionary, my picture was there. The cure was worse than the disease. Taking everything that had happened to me and looking at it for the first time sent me spinning. Some days into orbit. Other days around the bend. Aiyiyi.

I think about those days…from 87 until about 93 and am somewhat appalled at a lot of things I did. As I’ve said on my other blog, there were times I could have been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disordered. That is how extreme my behavior was. But it wasn’t BPD, it was working through a lot of abandonment and abuse. I had no business being in relationships or dating or anything for that matter. I wasn’t even sure I should have had friendships. I was a mess a lot of the time.

I bring this up because by the time I met Michael I was pretty well straightened out. I didn’t talk a lot about my past. He knew stuff was there and I gave him the short version. I could have talked to him about anything, but I didn’t see any reason to replay the freak show. His past was not always attractive. We both knew about the others others (mostly), but by the time I met him I was pretty drama free, had worked through most of my stuff and didn’t really feel like talking about it.

I was attracted to him because the night we met he said, “I just want to be happy.” And that’s all I wanted. The difference between then and before was that, by the time I met him, I actually knew how to be happy. Alone or with others. No drama, no hi-jinks, no nuttiness. I didn’t do it and I didn’t put up with it. I’d had enough. Not only from others but from myself. I wanted a nice, calm simple life. I had never verbalized it as he did that night, but when he said it, I knew. That is what I wanted.

In the time I was with him I was happy. He was happy. I could count the arguments we had on one hand. We had a long distance marriage for a couple of years while we were trying to sell our stupid house in Texas and I was in New York. We talked every day. We visited. We trusted each other. It may have broken other couples. Not us. I was living in Manhattan, working long hours, so it didn’t get to be an issue until it was an issue. One day I just felt like it was enough. We had been apart long enough. When I absolutely needed him to come to NY, I called him in tears and said, “I miss you, come home. Sell the house for a dollar. I don’t care. Just get here.” And he practically moved mountains to do just that. That phone call was the most dramatic moment in our relationship. We had a lot of adversity from others, we went through a lot, but we were partners. We never turned against the other. We loved each other dearly. Michael told me he fell in love with me the night we met. He also said that he thought he had been in love before but after he felt what he felt for me, he realized he never had been.

Before I met Michael I suffered from night terrors from about the age of 5 when I was in foster care and didn’t know what was going on. It continued through my life and impinged on every relationship. Both an ex boyfriend and an ex husband once punched me for waking up in the middle of the night. Although no one else had such an extreme reaction, almost every man I’d ever been with had no patience for my inability to go to sleep or my waking up in the middle of the night scared out of my wits for no good reason. Nights have always been difficult for me. Other men, better men, good men, told me that they cared about me but they couldn’t handle being awakened in the middle of the night. That they were just “no good” at that time of night. And I got that.

So when it happened when I was with Michael, I just sat up straight in bed which woke him up. I expected some kind of impatient, irritated response. To me, people are irritated when you wake them in the middle of the night. He said, “Are you okay?” and rubbed my back. I immediately fell back to sleep.

I thought it was a “new relationship” kind of thing. A few months later it happened again and he was right there. After we got married, it happened on our honeymoon in Italy. He was right there. It happened about six months later. Again, right there. It started to happen less and less. Any time I seemed restless at night, Michael was up like a shot asking me if I was okay. Once I knew he was there no matter what, I stopped having them. Not only with him but when I wasn’t with him. Before Michael I always slept with a nightlight on if I was alone. After him, I could sleep alone in total darkness. It was a brand new concept to me.

30 something years of night terrors stopped. Because I knew he would be there. No matter what. And any time after that, if I was sick and couldn’t sleep or stressed about school or anything, he was there. I could go to him any time day or night and he would be there. I could be having a real issue or just feel a little restless. It didn’t matter. He would be there. Not complaining. Not judging. Not irritated.

In our relationship, I had no drama. No depression. No insecurity. No “guess what I’m feeling.” None of that from me. Things that I had battled with for a long time. I did my work in therapy and had resolved so many of my issues before I met him but his calm and steady presence helped soothe the rest of the stuff. Even when I was in another city, I knew I could call him and he would answer. Anytime. Never ever irritated. Always, “Hi hon, are you okay?” Never once did I not get that response. Even when he was sick he worried if I was okay. The man was dying and he wanted to know if I was okay.

When he was dying, I cared for him in a way I never thought I was capable of. And I watched over him like a hawk. He had been my angel and now I would be his. Nothing and no one would harm him or upset him. I saw to that. He told the hospice nurse, “We have each other’s back.” We always did.

This is the man who was there for me no matter what. The man who never once showed irritation at me if I seemed discombobulated (he did show irritation about going to the store a lot but that was one of our Abbott and Costello routines).

I loved him with all my heart. I never had been loved like he loved me. Not by my parents, my family…people who were supposed to love you and be there for you…mine never were. My birth mother couldn’t even be bothered to give me up for adoption…she just let me linger. It was either procrastination or she just forgot about me. Who knows?

But no one loved me as he did and his caring for me gave me the ability to care for him. To be there every minute of every day from the day he was diagnosed until the day he died in my arms. There was truly not enough I could do for someone who had done so much for me just by being there for me and loving me as no one else had.

– to be continued –