Avoidance is a valid tool in our mental heath arsenal. We avoid triggers, avoid memories, avoid places that caused pain. In the heat of battle some time ago Dave blurted out that I had to trust him enough to let him be an equal partner in our marriage. I had to trust him enough to tell him when I was sick, to tell him when I was angry. I had to trust that he could see a trigger, roll it around in his presence and still choose health, choose life, choose us.
Right before Dave lost it, before the episode that gave his illness a name and began our process of rediscovery, he was given a nice promotion at an office job. We had to choose, did he continue his upward trajectory with a growing company, or does he step down and take his role as stay at home dad when Twinkle is born so he can focus his nights on his theatre, his days on our family? With his health disintegrating, Twinkle’s health already questionable and our innate desire to give her a stay at home parent experience Dave chose to give up the promotion and stay home. Shortly afterward he had the worse mental health crisis of his life.
Dave has focused on being the primary parent with our children for the last 6.5 years. For the last two years our children have been in school close to full-time, giving him an opportunity to grow his theatre while still performing this essential parenting role. With our youngest preparing to go to school full-time next fall Dave started looking in earnest for full-time employment in December, knowing it takes most people in Michigan around 6-12 months to land a job, perhaps longer when returning to work for the first time in nearly seven years.
I was equal parts terrified and excited by this idea. We have lived on love and little else for many years, but we have to finish paying off the medical debts that still haunt us, plus a small portion of poor decision-making debts. Yesterday we found out that the first job that called him for an interview, the first one he was excited about, offered him a position.
We avoid triggers, or memories, out of fear. The last time Dave worked a 40 hour work week was also the last time he landed in an intensive mental health situation. Although I have known for a long time that this day would come, that he would rejoin the workforce and begin full-time employment again, I am terrified. We have rebuilt a life of trust and love that is beautiful and fulfilling. Our marriage and our family work so well, function so perfectly, I am scared to add in another layer. But like Dave said so many moons ago I need to trust him enough to know that what was once a trigger for a misdiagnosed, wrongly medicated man does not pose the same threats to the stable and loving husband I share my life with today. Our life does not tip in the wind do easily now. I need to trust that, trust him, and move into this next stage with the trust of a woman in a loving and positive marriage.
Replacing fear with faith is another goal of mine, I hope I manage it with grace.