You think you’re flying under the radar and noone notices, but I do… atleast now I do.
It’s not been an easy road for you, has it? Your efforts go unnoticed by your wife. She is too wrapped up inside her own mind to see that you actually are trying to not only hold her together, but hold yourself together. The people around you are focusing so intently on her emotional well-being and mental state that your presence seems to stand back in the shadows.
I see you though. I see you standing there, on guard–protecting her.
I know there are days you want to give up. I know there are times you want to lash out and scream at the top of your lungs that you can’t self-sacrifice any longer. Something has to give, right? You can’t single-handedly keep your family afloat while you work tireless hours and come home to a wife laying in bed with dishes and laundry piling up. This isn’t what you signed up for, is it? You want to run away–that would be so much easier. You want to give up, but you don’t. The warrior in you stays to battle.
I see you fighting. I do.
In sickness or in health is what you vowed. Even though your wife can’t wrap her mind around that vow, you do. When you want to leave, you remember your promise to support her through anything–even though this anything is not the sickness you imagined. You vowed before God and family that you would stay by her side through any challenge, and so you hold on. You cling to the hope that one day she will again be the woman who stood at that altar with you. Sometimes you get fleeting glimpses into her eyes and you see that girl is still in there. She is trapped and chained, but she’s there. And so you stay. Confused and weak and defeated, you stay. Unable to break the chains that bind her; but you stay because you have faith she will one day free herself.
I see you. I see you staying even though you wish like hell you were far away from the mess she’s created.
She pushes you away. No matter how hard you try to show your love, she shoves your attempts back in your face. She’s unreachable. You begin to doubt your worth as her partner. No matter what you do, you aren’t good enough–you can’t love her how she needs to be loved. She makes it a point to ensure you understand that fact. You want to give up, and at times that seems the most reasonable alternative. But you don’t. You keep trying to show love the best you can.
I see you. And even though no one else sees the demons you are slaying, I see your sword drawn and ready for combat. You may be holding that sword in a wobbly hand at times, but you are making progress.
You can’t see this, but I do.
Slow and steady wins the battle.
You’re lonely. For a husband who fights so hard to provide, protect, show love and support… it seems reasonable that you should have a loving home that embraces your efforts. Except you don’t. You come home to bitterness and resentment. You come home to feelings of heaviness and tension, because her mood is unpredictable. There’s a chance you might have an enjoyable night together (and you pray hard for that every day), but there’s an even bigger chance she’s too pissed off to even sleep in the same bed with you. And so you make your way to the couch… again.
I see you. I see you continuing to come home anyway.
Keep coming home. Keep protecting her. Keep carrying the weight and picking up the slack. Keep believing in your vows even when she doesn’t. Keep showing your love no matter how hard she tries to convince you it’s not enough. Keep fighting. Keep slaying her demons. She cannot help her reactions. She cannot help the way she makes you feel. She wants to. Lord, does she want to; and if she could, she would fight right by your side. Every time she screams at you her heart tries to remind her of your goodness– but the demons in her mind always win. She’s too weak. That’s why you must continue to carry your sword and fight for her. Fight for your marriage. Against all odds, you must remain the strong one. The true warrior.
The world will tell you that you don’t deserve this treatment, and to walk away–go find happiness. I mostly agree; but if you love her, keep showing up. She needs you more than she will ever know. Keep being her warrior that stands in the shadows and fights when she doesn’t even realize she’s losing.
Because one day, after the rehabilitation and therapy and medication begin working together, there will be healing. And one fine day, you’re gonna look into those eyes and see the girl who whole-heartedly meant every vow she made at that altar with you. One day, the mother of your children is going to reappear out of nowhere and begin taking over the extra roles you’ve been playing. Life will pick up right where it left off.
I know, your efforts will probably go unnoticed. But I see you.
Please know that I realize what you’ve done, what you’ve fought through. It’s amazing you came out alive.
The world will rejoice for her healing, and again you will stand in the shadows, but you won’t call out for recognition. True warriors rarely do. Instead, you will be rewarded by being excited to come home. You will be rewarded by seeing the true woman you married stand before you.
You will stare in awe when you see her laughing and playing with your children. When she notices your stares she will question them. And you will respond, “I just love seeing you so happy.”
One day she’s going to realize you kept the vows you said together. Against all odds, you fought for her. Even when she couldn’t fight for herself, you protected her. When she couldn’t keep a vow to save her life–you showed up to keep those vows sacred for her. You may feel too defeated to realize the warrior within yourself–but you are absolutely her knight in shining armor. If you keep fighting, one day she will tell you that herself. And she will be unable to ever show her true gratitude.
And then you will wait. Because although you won the battle, the war of her mind isn’t over. You will take in every good time over the next couple years. But you’re no longer a rookie to the game of mental illness. You know those demons will return. The medication will quit being effective. The therapy will have paused.
But you will still be there. Sword drawn. Ready to fight. Ready to battle all over again when she falls to her knees and forgets who she is.
You will be there.
I see you.
I see you and how you just keep showing up.
(For Daniel. My Knight. My warrior. My safe place to land. I love you… I see you.)