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To the Man Who Loves Me Through My Mental Illness: I See You

I can hardly ever admit when I’m wrong. I have a hard time saying I’m sorry, even though I feel it inside. I’m a proud person and sometimes it gets in the way of my perspective. I can be difficult.

I’m sure you know all that. You have lived with me for years now, loved me for years now. I’m not saying any of this to be self-depreciating, but to be appreciative of you. I see you.

I see some days when I am struggling with illness and all that comes with it, self-doubt, rage and loathing. When I am too angry, not with you but with myself, to admit my faults. I see you struggle quietly when I’m too hurt to let you lean on me. I see you when I can no longer contain my pain. I see you when it all explodes. I see you, my love.

There have been nights, endless nights, when I was blind with rage, hurt and broken, trying to shatter my world around me, trying to tear down our life because the age-old hurt inside me had become just too much to bear. Because the emotions inside me are too hard to contain.

I’ve watched you hold onto me while I rage. The more I rage, the tighter you hold me. The more I rage, the more you protect me.

You knew my illness before I admitted it and you loved me even more. When I looked in the mirror, all I could see was a disgusting person, ugly, a freak, ashamed. You stood beside me and reminded me of my own beauty. You entrusted me with courage, with the capability that was already inside me, waiting to emerge.

Your smile was and still is endless. Sometimes I close my eyes and think about your smile and I feel warm. I feel calm.

When I felt silenced, you told me to write the words I needed to speak. When I felt helpless, you told me to paint the chaos in my mind. When I felt hopeless, you told me to learn. So, I returned to school. When I’m not OK, you ask me, “Do you need me?” Yes, I need you. Then, now and always.

I see the struggle that has been me. I know you have taken that struggle onto your own shoulders, with pride and with confidence. I have been able to walk a little taller, every day, since then. You became the door through which I walked, the open window to let in the sunlight. Finally, into my dark life. You were my big break.

I see you, my love. I always see you, even if you don’t know that I do.