Do You Still Love Me?


Author JOANNR7 on Agoraphobia:

“My anxiety doesn’t abate until I am home and safe. I ask, ‘Do you still love me?’
His answer is always ‘Yes.'”

When I read this post, I was heartbroken. I could see her. I could see the woman behind the words. I could hear her screaming for help. I wanted to help. But I’m not safe. She wouldn’t think so, anyway.
I pray for her instead. In the middle of her post, I close my eyes and start talking to my God, and I don’t care if she believes in Him or not. I do. My faith will have to be enough for both of us in this case. He will hear me. He will answer for her; for my friend.
I open my eyes and continue reading. Then, her words hit me like a brick wall. It’s just the last two lines, really. I can remember saying them. I can remember asking Andrew several times a day, “Do you still love me?”

Asking Stupid Questions

It’s always prompted by some inadequacy I feel. Something inside of me tells me that I’m not good enough for him. Some trigger, real or imagined, makes me wonder if he’s still happy with me. Am I still enough for him? Am I still beautiful? Am I still amazing? Does he still want to be with me?
Silly questions, of course. If he didn’t want to be here I’m sure he could find somewhere else to be…or someone else to love. Am I perfect? No. Am I perfect for him? Sometimes I don’t know. I want to say yes, but then the PTSD and anxiety kicks in, and I’m scared that I’m just deluding myself into believing that I make him happy.
And, of course, I’m aware that we’re each individually responsible for our own happiness. It’s just a bonus that I can make him happy. I try, and sometimes I fail, but at the end of the day I really just hope that he still loves me. Crazy and all.

Sometimes Mutual Crazy Just Works

We’ve both accepted the fact that we’re crazy. We’re both crazy, and crazy about each other. Most of the time that knowledge is enough. Other times, it just isn’t enough.
Andrew and I both suffer from PTSD. His illness is the result of combat in Operation Enduring Freedom. My illness is the result of a sexual assault. Two very different kinds of PTSD have collided in our relationship…and sometimes it just isn’t good.
I ask, “Do you still love me?”
His answer is sometimes, “Yes.”
Sometimes, his answer is anger. Sometimes, his answer is anxiety. Sometimes, his answer is, “Why do you keep asking me that?!”
Sometimes, that hurts.

The Plan

Living with mental illness is terrible. Living with and loving someone with mental illness is awful. Doing both? Torture. For both of us.
In the middle of my PTSD meltdowns, I have to force myself to consider whether my PTSD meltdown is creating one in him. I have to think about whether his reaction is because I’ve messed up, or if it’s because his own mental illness is getting in the way of him being there for me. I have to be concerned that my mental illness might be getting in the way of me being there for him.
We make it work. We try very hard, anyway. Neither of us are being treated for mental illness. Unfortunate circumstances in BOTH of our lives have created difficulties in getting routine health care, much less the intensive therapy both of us will eventually need.
For now, we’ll just tough it out. Together. That’s the only way we want it. Even if I ask him too many times if he still loves me.

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Categories: Dealing with Depression, Dealing with the Blues, Guest Author, Guest Authors

3 replies

  1. Beautiful sentiments from someone who “gets” it. Thank you very much!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How true, how true. I recall there was a time when I nearly crashed due to the fact that I was too scared open up because I dfidn’t want to hurt Miki ( my Wife), and she was too sacred to try and make me do so because she thought I might go right over the edge. I was on the point of compulsary admission and sectioning, but it got us talking, and here we are, still talking 15 years on.

    Is it easy, and are we a perfect couple? No of course not, as we care but human, but the main thing is we carried on talking. Not always on the same wavelength mind, and sometimes frustrated with ourselves and with each other when the gulf of understanding grows too large, but a chat, a hug, and time spent together has seen us through to this day

    One strange thing to think about though. We talk about harming our enemies rather than our loved ones, but what of the pauin and harm that we, as sufferers , make our partners feel. Our enemies don’t care about us, or wish us harm, but our partners, or whatever, love us and care for us.

    All to often, when struck by our illness, we push them away, or expect them to empathise with a world and existence that is beyond their ability to truly understand. Some love eh, and some affection and love we show for our partners, but thank God they keep on standing by us, as at times that is the only thing that pulls us through

    Like

  3. Thanks for the comments. It’s funny how life works really. I wrote this piece a while back but I’m glad I posted it today. And you’re right that at times Andrew standing by me has been the only thing getting me through, but there’s the part where it’s just something he won’t understand. He cannot possibly understand because I can’t fully understand yet. I’m still learning about my own PTSD, what triggers the meltdowns, how to heal, etc.

    Like

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