A LONG READ
A big burly man rolled out from under a vehicle on a creeper. He let the biggest fart I have ever heard in my life, his face expressionless as he looked at me, he rolled back under the rig to finish whatever mechanics task he was working on. I thought that was the funniest thing ever. I laughed to myself and tried not to let anyone, including this new employee that I had never met, know that I was about to burst with belly laughs from it being so funny. I was hooked. Just like that, my heart belonged to this unknown man on a creeper, who farted.
My mom had just passed in February of that year, in 2007. It had been a hard couple of months after she had gotten sick. She went to the hospital on Christmas Eve 2006 and had declared that she was on her way to heaven. She was ready to go home and it took nearly 2 months for her to get there. My Sisters and I supported her decision knowing her medical condition was one she would not survive.
I had been alone with my 2 big dogs and a double wide on my family’s property. After a broken marriage of an unfaithful, mentally and physically abusive husband and 2 tries at shacking up with men who were both unfaithful and would NEVER be a real part of my forever life, I decided that being single was better than the continuing the heartache I had suffered along with the horrid depression that came with it.
My life became my own. I didn’t make a whole lot of money in my job, but it kept the bills barely paid and dog food in the bowl. I learned how to control my depression. I was feeling good and really wasn’t looking to meet anyone. I was more interested in my fishing hole, my dogs and my job.
May 2008: Enter big 6’8” burly man. After the epic fart he had let I was in La-la land pretty much the rest of the day. I didn’t know what to think, he had just hit me like a ton of bricks. I got to know him and like him even better. The smell of Old Spice that wafted around him. He was so handsome, his full mustache, his quietly funny demeanor and the little bits of thick chest hair that stuck out of his t-shirt teasing me, wanting me to see more of it. Yep, plain and simple I was “Twitterpaited”, I had the “Vapors” and I had been bitten by the big man bug.
One afternoon as we were walking out to head for home, he showed me a mini photo album of an old ’55 Ford Pickup he had lovingly restored, He asked if I had any hobbies and I told him how much I liked to fish amongst my other interests. For a second I thought I saw a twinkle in his eye. We visited a while longer and both head for our respective homes.
His fishing pole was in the back of his truck and I asked about it. He had been fishing on his way home in the evenings. I asked if he would like me to show him a better fishing hole and he said “Yes”. It was so nice to have someone to fish with. I had certain ways I rigged my pole and was afraid he would take over and tell me what to do or worse yet, do it FOR me. He didn’t, he rigged his pole and used his bait and I did the same. I had made chicken strips and we sat fishing, visiting and munching on chicken strips.
After a couple more weeks, I asked him for dinner. I wanted to demonstrate my prowess in the kitchen by cooking him a rotisserie turkey breast. He was on time and my turkey breast wasn’t. OH, GOD NO! Things did not go exactly as I had imagined them but the conversation and company were wonderful. He stayed a couple hours and then it was time for him to go home.
I told him I wanted to see more of him, that I would like us to date and he TURNED ME DOWN! What?? How could this happen!? As he was getting into his truck, I burst into tears. This made him feel horrible. “Well now I feel like an Asshole!” All I could think was how in the hell I had let this happen. Not only did I feel horrible for making this wonderful man feel bad, but I had read him all wrong. I just could not believe it.
The next few days at work turned out to be fine. He and I were still visiting and joking around. We went to our fishing hole and would fish. After a couple times our fishing chairs were closer together. Then one day out of the blue, he reached over and held my hand. It had taken me by surprise as I had set it in my mind that having a friend was better than not having him at all. That wonderful moment ended quickly when a fish hit one of our rods. It was a fun afternoon and will be burned in my memory forever.
So began a love affair that was more than I could have expected. He told me I was a book he “Just couldn’t put down” that he knew “what” would make me happy (pointing at his ring finger and grinning). We were both caught up in a continual wave of happiness and contentment. Less than a year later, we were married in our fishing hole. It was a small, very simple ceremony with only a few family and friends. Standing on the bank where we fished so much, where we held hands for the first time and now, where we had shared our marriage vows of a happy life and love together.
I wrote him love notes and hid them in his lunch box. I drew hearts on bananas for him to find later in his day. He would surprise me with little things like fishing lures, or flowers. We laughed and we loved and we fished.
Then the first challenge started. The job my husband had, at my work, was falling apart for him and I. He was becoming slightly harassed and unhappy around the people we worked with. It was horrible for him. I was increasingly defensive about this happening to him. With great thought, we decided the best thing for him to do was to resign. He went to work for a local farm, but the pay wasn’t great, there was no insurance but on a happy note he enjoyed his work with the animals and machinery.
After months of making ends meet, trying to find him a new job with better benefits and wages; he went to work at a manufacturer who offered the things he had been looking for. The greatest downfall was the length of time and amount of traffic he had to deal with. Long hours on top of thousands of people trying to get home to families meant an exhausted and sometimes grumpy hubby. Some of his co-workers started showing true colors of jerks and lazy “Job Milkers” You know the type, the ones that take all day to finish a task that would take a normal person an hour.
I remember thinking “we have to get him out of there”. He was not about to quit a job without another one. I know now his thinking was of the most honorable kind and that was “I have my wife to think of”. I don’t think I really took this as seriously as I should. He went through countless hours of unhappiness for me. He had “Us” to take care of. He and I, our world, and he was willing to go through 12 hours of hell every day to make sure he our world and life were protected.
Then the day that changed our lives forever. July 25th, 2011, 9:30 am. I was rear ended by a lady who was driving distracted. She forced me into oncoming traffic where I was hit head on. The impact sent my dog up into the air and glass from the back window flew forward. The dash board was broken from my knees hitting it as was the seat. I couldn’t breathe, my chest and knees felt as though they were on fire. I grabbed for my phone and called for my husband. No answer. I left a hysterical message and tried again.
I had forgotten my husband was already at the hospital. He was there in the surgical waiting room, waiting to hear how his mom did after her knee surgery. Nurses from the ER entered the room and asked him if I was his wife. “Yes, but she had a doctor’s appointment this morning.” They told him “We have her in the Trauma ER, she’s been in an accident.”
Days of working, caring for his mother and wife must have been exhausting. But he did it with no complaint and nothing but the thought of “I have to take care of them”. 9 months I was laid up. My broken bones all healed up, my surgeries were done. I had gained about 70lbs and my nemesis depression was creeping back in on me.
We started to fish again and try to get things back to normal. He was taking classes nights to get his Maintenance Electricians License and still working 12 hour days. I think about it now and realize how much he was putting into his life and into us. How in the world did he do it? I remember asking him how he was doing with various things that were happening and he would always reply “You just gotta do it”.
We started to stay home more, we both started not seeing friends as much. We were together constantly and surviving; that was it, plain and simple, just surviving. He was losing so much weight, I would bake like a crazy woman to try to get him to eat anything I could get down him.
Last summer he became increasingly grumpy and irritable. He wasn’t feeling good. That fall he had his gallbladder removed. Other than a broken ankle in High School, he had been a pretty healthy man. Other medical conditions came to light while dealing with his gallbladder and after being bounced from Doctor to Doctor with each one saying telling him he had “this or that” issue that were not quite bad enough to be surgically repaired; he started to fall deeper into what I believe is depression.
I asked time and time again, if he was ok and would always get the answer “I’m fine, just tired”. I would ask him how he felt and he would tell me he was in pain. Worry and anxiousness started to be an everyday part of my world. I found myself with little to no energy, crying at the drop of a hat. Slowly starting to lose faith in a man whom I had always trusted. I could NOT understand why we couldn’t get him help. One of the surgeons we had talked to told him to come back in a few months if he had no relief and he would repair a hernia (that turned out to be a birth defect) that could be the cause of his constant pain.
Then one day, he talked about a new friend, a lady at work, explaining that he was like a big brother to her. My already fragile and unstable mind went into a tail spin. “He is making eyes at someone else”. My rational brain knew this was absolute crap, he would NEVER do that to me. My husband is so old fashioned in his beliefs that any type of cheating would not be tolerated. We would have conversations about acquaintances who had behaved that way and neither of us believed in it.
His fuse was short, to say the least. He was snipping at me more and more. If I asked if he was mad, he would answer me with an irritated “No.” Oh Please sweet Jesus. Take care of my beloved husband, hold him in your loving arms and heal him. Bring him back to me, let him call me “Pretty Girl” and give me that goofy face that made me laugh. I pray these things in Christ precious name, Amen. Every night I would pray this prayer.
I wanted to grab him and shout “Snap out of it!”, “Wake up!”, “You’re in trouble!” But I didn’t. I DIDN’T, I couldn’t. I HAD to keep him as stress free and comfortable as I could. I had to protect my husband from feeling worse than he was already. I reassured him so many times that I would be there for him no matter what, that he wasn’t alone, that we would fight this together. I greeted him every evening as cheerfully as I could. I asked how his day was, told him to drive safe and always “I love you”.
We would have moments of brief reprise when we would work on a project together or sit quietly watching TV or even on our phones. We had not fished for months. We had talked of camping, but had not gone.
We were both becoming sicker. Him with his physical illness and I with my depression. My inner strength was nearly gone. My eating and depression were spiraling out control quickly. It was becoming harder to control my brain, to keep it centered, to keep my mind clear. It all came to head one Saturday morning. I had innocently ordered a hose reel from a local hardware store. When I told him about going over to pick it up. He became angry and he snapped at me about buying it, that he didn’t know about it first, that to just go ahead and “get the fucking thing”.
Months of hurt feelings, worry, stress and building depression exploded in my brain. I couldn’t function, my mind wouldn’t work; and the tears were uncontrollable. I could feel my mind breaking. I was terrified. He suddenly became very worried and I know he realized I was in real trouble. Not knowing how to help me, I know his heart was racing and he was scared. After a few hours of my mind being out of control, I started thinking “oh God, I have to make the house safe. I can’t trust myself” I asked my poor broken husband to take the shot guns out of our home. Was I going to hurt myself? I do NOT think so, but in my mind, I had to be safe, to make sure my husband knew there was nothing there that could hurt me. This is it, this is the straw that broke my “Camel’s Back”. I had broken down mentally, I had failed my husband, I had failed myself.
This was also his breaking point to. The next weekend, he broke down. Through a tear streaked face and broken heart and spirit, he could go no further. It was the hardest thing he’d ever done he said. He needed time. He needed space and he needed to find the happy man he used to be. He was going that weekend to stay with his mom, in our camper. She was recovering from a tough knee replacement and needed him to help her. This was the right time for him to break away. To find himself, to figure out how to live, how to love and how to come back from the ashes of a broken spirit.
Space…how do you give someone space that you have worried, protected, loved and adored for so long? I have to, WE have to. I wish with all I have I had known how desperately lost he was feeling. I wish I had looked into him harder, deeper into his soul. I wish we BOTH would have communicated better.
Now the time of giving space and soul searching begins. I can’t bring myself to stop texting him “Good Night”. He seems to want to talk more. I make certain I am cheerful and happy when I see him to help him from worrying about how I am. I have to quit cutting him off when he speaks. We both are so desperately broken. I miss him so very much.
Take the time to nurture your spouse. Take the chance to tell them they are in trouble, as they probably don’t realize it, just like my husband didn’t. Even I didn’t realize how much trouble I was in. Take care of yourself. Never take for granted the other person will always be there; the start of the slippery slope is not communicating. It’s not enough to say, “I love You”, you have to show it every day. Sometimes you can’t always work your problems out on your own. In a marriage, you are a team. Teams have to work together.
I hope, as I’m sure my husband does, that we can sort all of this out. That “absents makes the heart grow stronger”. Dear Jesus, give us both the strength to live through our days while away from each other, guide us on the path you want us on. Carry us and most of all hold us in your loving arms so that we may weather this storm. Help me dear God, to clear this Pot Hole in my road of marriage.