As I think I have conveyed, I'd been floundering in a thickening fog for months now. I don't think I can convey just how deadening that fog has been, or what a struggle it has been for Eva to reach me through it.
I don't lift the veil on our home life often on this blog, and I'm not going to lift it much here. But I do think it's important, now that the fog is lifting, to give you just a glimpse of what my wife has endured. I've spoken in generalities about depression and not being myself. I haven't offered details. They're not flattering.
I'm not sure what has been hardest for Eva to deal with. Over the sixteen or so years we have been together, she has always softened my rough edges, confronted my worst behaviours, and generally allowed me to create the next greatest version of the grandest vision ever I had about who I am, in Neale Donald Walsch's memorable phrasing.
Rarely has she ever been anything other than gentle. But then until recently, I've never abandoned the process of self-creation and embarked on a slow, passive path of self-destruction.
I have quite a few unlovely traits, beyond the self-esteem issue, and for nine months I have allowed them free rein.
I'm not sure which one Eva would deem most frustrating of all. Has it been my absolute insistence on seeing nothing but the worst in every situation, whether it had something directly to do with me or not? Has it been my unwillingness to accept the many, many good things in my world, job or no?
I think it was probably my retreat into a shadowy no-space, deep in my head and all but out of sight of the real world. I spent days in that dead zone, resenting every attempt to break my walls down. Most instructions were forgotten as soon as they were issued. I'd like to say this wasn't intentional, but on some level I think it was. It got bad enough there that I was just willing the world to go away, most of the time.
The end result of it: while some rough beast gestated in me over the last nine months (thankfully aborted now), Eva probably would have found it easier to deal with her three year old niece Alexa than her forty-three year old husband.
As the fog lifted, there has been some friction. I've found myself being treated like a three-year-old, something no adult likes to experience, not understanding that I have been acting like a petulant toddler for so long that Eva really didn't have much of a choice. Now that I'm coming back to myself, she can't turn that mode off on a dime.
I can think of no better way to put this than that I am waking up from the worst nightmare I've ever experienced. It's dawning on me that the scrabbly skeletal fingers trying to drag me down are nothing but sheets I can fling aside. Because I have been asleep and dreaming dark dreams for so long, I am shockingly out of shape, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The dream metaphor really is apt: you know how in your worst nightmares, you retain awareness that you're dreaming, but can't seem to wake up? That's been me.
Yesterday was a celebratory kind of day, to be sure. But it was also the sort of day that has dotted our relationship since its very beginning. Its deepest pleasures probably appear minor and trivial to an outsider, and yet they are the treasures that make up the good marriages. The sheer joy in being together, whatever you might be doing. The free-flowing conversation, something that has been utterly lacking around here as I've withdrawn. Perhaps most reassuring, the knowledge that this is normality.
What did we do? We went shopping at my new store, had a lunch date I'm going to get to in a minute, and then spent the afternoon and evening in companionable proximity. That was maybe the best part.
Eva and I can and have spent hours in the same room, each of us intent on their own thing, but both of us knowing that at any moment we could have each other's undivided attention. Indeed, that has been the enduring picture of our marriage. But that camaraderie had been slipping somewhat as I was no longer in the living room but out beyond Neptune somewhere and accelerating. I want to emphasize that it was me slipping away and Eva trying desperately to bring me back. To feel the closeness again yesterday was like a curtain being thrown open of a morning after a dark night, admitting sunlight and a soft cleansing breeze. Hell, the Leafs even won a game last night, miracle of miracles.
That lunch date. Montana's on the Boardwalk. We had a gift certificate that made the meal free, and a waitress named Kristina who made the meal memorable.
Eva has been going through some stresses entirely of her own lately, some but not all of them related to her bariatric surgery from November of 2013. Since very shortly after the operation, we were both amazed that she had seemed to escape most of the worst effects that gastric bypass has on the typical digestive system.
Not so fast, it turns out. My wife, anything but typical, has decided to go about this ass-backwards. Her digestive tract is downright mutinous lately, after so many months of relative contentment. The doctor isn't worried, so I'm trying not to be, but it's disconcerting to see what appears to be regression.
Of course she hasn't been able to eat much at any given time, but it's down to a few bites at best, and she can never tell what foods or drinks are going to cause problems. Iced coffee is one of the few drinks that is generally safe.
Most restaurants don't serve iced coffee, so Eva has had to ask for coffee and a glass of ice, then make it herself: something of a messy proposition. Kristina yesterday asked Eva if she'd prefer the ice coffee made for her, or if she'd rather make it herself...then offered to put the coffee in a large teapot to keep it from spilling. Just a little thing. but it's something Eva has long wanted to ask for and never has for fear of putting somebody out. "Now, see, what I'd like is my coffee in a big teapot, and a big glass of ice..." it sounds kind of ridiculous.
Then Eva apologetically asked for a take-out container as the food arrived, because a standard restaurant meal is AT LEAST three meals for her now (on a good day). I've seen many a server put off by that request, for some reason, but Kristina didn't bat an eye: in fact she brought two large containers.
From then on out she struck that perfect balance: attentive without being cloying, friendly without being obnoxious. She earned the highest percentage tip we've given since Disney World in 2010.
The food was wonderful. Due to the insane price of beef lately, I haven't had a good burger it what seems like forever. I splurged today and didn't regret it one bit. I'm still a bit put off when a lunch costs fifty bucks, but looking at it objectively we got good value. And Kristina was sure to give us a bunch of coupons for future visits. My mouth is watering just thinking of it.
"Eva-level service", my darling wife said on the way out. "You don't see that much anymore, and it deserves to be recognized." Kristina will likely never see this (though she most assuredly will see the glowing praise I put into a restaurant survey online). And Montana's has earned my business.
My only problem is flipping back to days. I went to bed at a perfectly normal 10:30 last night--about three hours earlier than I have been managing of late...only to wake up at 2:40, absolutely wired.
Today is my last day of unemployment. I'm excited. Stoked, actually. And so very very happy to be coming out the other side with the greatest love of my life.