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To My Husband When I Am Sick and Unraveling

Dear husband,

Lately with the stress of life, I feel like the world around me is spinning faster than I can handle. There is so much uncertainty within our adventure that I feel terrified of the unknown. Whether it’s the dishes that are not done, or when my nursing station at work is covered in paperwork, I feel myself becoming anxious and unable to handle what seems like an easy situation. Picture a ballerina, wrapped in ribbon, twirling faster and faster while someone holds on to the end of that beautiful ribbon; she’s unraveling, becoming undone. This is exactly how I feel.

When I am sick, and we lay facing each other, I have to turn away because breathing in your exhale makes me think of toxins entering my body. I feel like I can see the toxins entering my blood stream, working their way up to my brain. I feel like I am disgusting and that people think I am gross because I have these toxins inside me. I know it’s irrational, but I can’t make it stop. I picture the blood cells engorged with toxins over and over and over again; you fall asleep, you’re so handsome and I love staring at you, but this video keeps repeating in my head, and I have to turn away.

When I am sick and the dishes aren’t done or there’s dirt on the floor, I feel like I am slowly returning back to my childhood home, where there was stuff everywhere and I couldn’t play. I feel unsafe and insecure. I feel this vulnerable tension in my life; I feel like if it isn’t clean, I’m a bad wife, and you’ll be disappointed. I can hear my father’s abuse resonating in my head like a broken CD repeating itself. I feel like if the house is dirty, I am dirty. I panic and think I am unworthy. I feel like if the house is dirty, the rest of my life will be chaotic, even if it’s just a tiny pile of dishes from last night’s dinner.

When I am sick, I like the number five. I like increments of five. I feel anxious when the clock says 4:48 instead of 4:45 or 4:50. Until the clock reaches an increment of five, I am unsafe and something bad can happen. I worry about you and I worry about our families. When I am sick, I feel relief with number five.

When I am sick, I tap my thumb and my fingers together in a rhythmic pattern. If I mess up the pattern, maybe skip a finger or tap the same finger twice, I feel anxious. I feel like the walls are slowly closing in on me and I cannot breathe. My heart races a little faster and it feels like all the oxygen is leeching out of the room.

When I am sick, I replay videos in my mind constantly, telling myself what I could’ve done better, how I could’ve been better. I remember so many details, more than I should. I know in my mind what others think of me as I replay them, and I think of every possible consequence to my actions. My mind is always going at Mach 10, which is why — when I am sick — I get mad at you for being too slow. It’s not your fault, and I am taking it out on you. I’m constantly and forever at full speed ahead and I cannot stop. The video repeats over and over and over and over again.

When I am sick, I have all these ways of trying to make myself feel better, and sometimes I overreact, or raise my voice, but in all reality I’m losing control and I am scared. My energy is depleted and I need to sleep. I need extra help and I can’t always say it. I can’t admit that I need the support, that I need someone to take over because I have nothing left to give.

When I am sick I feel so alone, and so unworthy. I feel as though the world would be better without me. I am not suicidal; I will not hurt myself. It’s a fleeting thought in my mind. I know I am sick, and I am very much aware of what is happening to me, but I cannot turn it off. Please don’t ask me to. Please sit with me and reassure me. Ask me what is going on. I know it’s irrational, I know it’s not true. But it’s me and I’m doing the best I can do.

But, my dear husband, when I am sick and you hold me tight, I feel your support. I feel you urging me to carry on and to continue to fight my silent battle. When I am sick and you do something such as tidy the house before I come home from work, I thank my lucky stars I married you and let you in, even when I was scared to. I feel like bursting into tears whenever you are around, because you’re so incredible and I’m so grateful. For me in my life, you move mountains, and you shield me from storms just be being you, without trying, so gracefully. You spin me the other way, rewrapping my unraveled self in that beautiful ribbon.

When I am sick, know above else that I love you more than anything, and I know you love me too.

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Thinkstock photo via jacoblund