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Envy. I mean, Gratitude

Posted Apr 25 2010 9:08pm

I came about this close to writing about envy tonight. Because I’m feeling envy. A lot of my friends are doing really cool shit and really inspiring shit in their lives. We are in our late 20s where we are no longer recent graduates of college who must muck through the lower drudges of our careers, we are Doing It, and are starting to Kick Ass and it’s pretty awesome to watch my friends do that. I am not Doing It or Kicking Ass. I don’t really care about my career anymore. I am Surviving, And Barely At Best Now That You Mention It. It’s tough to feel like I’m in a movie that is interminably on pause, while the rest of my friends are crescendoing to some climactic glorious moments. So I was going to go into this more, and feel bad for myself, and yearn for the great things I could be doing.

But as I sat down and literally google imaged “Envy” to find the right picture I would include with this post, I remembered that I have a choice. My feelings are real and I need to respect them but I can also choose to send them on their way and to basically leave me alone and instead welcome in, even if I have to force them in, feelings that are much more life-affirming. Some of my greatest heroes have taught me that through example or incredible articulation of it. I also will give a blog I like credit for reminding me of the choice of my feelings and attitude , so thanks for that Sallyo.

So instead of write about Envy, I’m going to write about Gratitude. Because I have a lot to be grateful for.

Now granted, I say this in the context of fully acknowledging that what my wife and I have gone through–a painful, month-long delusional episode that came completely out of nowhere and rocked us to our core–is pretty shitty. If there is a scale from 1-10 of life experiences, with 1 being the perfect life, basically you’re Chuck Norris and don’t have any worries because you can dominate everything, and 10 is you’re a prisoner in Auschwitz, I think we are someone in like the 6-7 range in terms of this experience. Not our overall lives, but these last 8 months, they are definitely at least worthy of a 6. My therapist thinks I could get away with more like a 7.5. But within this nightmare, I still have much to be grateful for.

The most overwhelming thing I am grateful for in all of this is my wife, for many, many reasons. But I’ve already written two long posts this weekend, and this one could end up really long too. So I’ll try and keep my gratitude narrow. Which is a terrible thing to keep narrow, but I will try.

1) There’s a scene in the movie “Adaptation” in which a male character gets in a car wreck with his wife in the car, and she ends up in a coma. After she wakes up from the coma, the wife leaves the husband. The character of Susan Orlean, played by Meryl Streep, says something like “I think if I was in a coma, I’d leave my husband too. Because no one can judge you after that for wanting a fresh start.” When my wife first got sick, I was terrified at this prospect. As compared to children and their parents, a spouse is a choice. Now I believe in marriage as a permanent thing, and truly value the lifelong nature of it all, but I still got worried. When my sister was in the pits of her anorexia, if she had the choice, she probably would have divorced my mom, period. I was really worried that my wife might start harboring anger at me, blame me, want to be done with me.

This fear turned out to be completely unfounded. I can say honestly that I have never felt so loved and appreciated by my wife since she has been sick. We will walk down the street, and she will slowly slip her hand into mine, and give me a small kiss on the cheek….all the time. If you take away the fact that she is suicidal and feeling like shit, it’s like a goddamn Hallmark card moment. She never gets mad at me. She understands that this is hard for me too. She supports my efforts to take care of myself. She even does her best to work through the sexual indifference that her medication has thrust upon her. (I promise, I will write a sex post eventually. When the mood is right.) She is consumed in her own hell, but she is also so full of love. I always tell her “You love me more profoundly and powerfully than I have ever been loved. If you just give yourself one small sliver of what you give me, you will feel a million times better.” And I mean it. So I have a lot to be grateful for in my wife. She is honest with me. She will always tell me how she is feeling when I ask her. She lets me know that she loves me. And she is trying so fucking hard to make it, because she knows that if she killed herself, it would ruin my life. She has beared the weight of this cross for me. What’s not to be grateful. I am so grateful for my wife that I am sure that gratitude will shine through in other posts as I continue to write, and just won’t be so nicely compartmentalized like I’m trying to do it here.

2) Money. I just blogged about the cost of care. Thankfully, money is not a huge concern for us. The day we got married, we joined bank accounts and went into aggressive savings mode, putting huge portions of our income into conservative CD’s at the bank. We wanted to buy a house. Over time we accumulated a huge chunk of cash, did not invest it in the stock market and so didn’t lose any of it… all without really feeling like we were limiting ourselves in our lifestyle. But when the day came to actually bid on a house that we really like, we got cold feet, didn’t like the idea of all of our money tied up in a building, and just sat on the money. THANK GOD. She hasn’t worked in almost a year, and I’m quitting my job soon to take a year off. And through this, we don’t really have to worry about money. I can’t imagine how much more stressful this would be if money was a concern, so I am grateful for that.

3) Family support. Our family is not nearby. The closest family member is a 4 hour flight away. The furthest, her parents, are 16 hours away. Mine are 12 hours away. Geographically, we are doing this alone. In truth, we are far from alone. Both of our families have done a pretty amazing job at walking the delicate line of supporting without suffocating. They are not perfect, but for the most sake they call at just the right time, and email when I need it. There must be some unseeable energy that has united the family and has gotten them to support us with incredibly synchronicity.

4) Our dog. We have a bulldog. He is the best fucking dog, ever. I am regularly in awe at the emotional sophistication of a dog that sleeps with his tongue stuck out and farts in a manner that is almost life-threatening. He’s more sensitive to our feelings and needs than the closest of friends. There have been moments where my wife is quietly crying on the couch, I’m not noticing it, but the dog will walk over, jump up onto the couch, and snuggle into her arms, resting his goofy face on her chest to calm her. It’s astounding. The dog is our Shaman, our beacon of peace and comfort.

5) Our location. I’m not gonna say much except that we live in a pretty beautiful part of the world, and it seems that this spring has offered us many sunny  days to spend outside, alive and breathing the gift of life into our lungs.

I could keep going. But I’m already at 1300 words again. And in truth, I’m just getting started.

Let us be grateful.

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