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.
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.