Todd woke up this morning and could not put weight on his left foot. He has worked a lot of extra hours this past week and was on his feet more than usual. He emerged from the bedroom with a boot on his foot. He proceeded to tell me that Emily had an accident in her bed. Well, he is in a boot and not able to help, so off I went to handle it. I would love to say that I proceeded with gratitude and joy, but I did not. As much as I loathe the word trigger, it is the only word that seems to describe what happened. When Todd walked out of the bedroom in that damned walking boot, I was overcome with anger. I tried unsuccessfully to suppress it, but it would not be silenced.
In 2018, Todd and I took a trip to Nashville to celebrate my 50th birthday and our 26th anniversary. I was so excited about this trip. I rented an affordable and lovely Airbnb just outside of Nashville. I planned all the details and was looking forward to it for months. We had tickets to go to the Opry and museums. I couldn’t wait to see some bands at the bars on lower Broadway. I made arrangements for Emily’s care. One of Emily’s favorite humans agreed to stay at our house for 8 days with Emily. Angelique agreed to care for Emily and the dogs. Every detail was planned and I was excited. They say planning a vacation is a great way to boost your mood and increase your joy. It definitely did that for me.
A few months prior to the trip, Todd seemed to be struggling. His moods were unpredictable and he was experiencing some anxiety. He was under a lot of pressure at work and did not seem to be managing it well. I started getting nervous about the trip. I asked if he would rather I go with someone else. Todd insisted he was fine and wanted to go. I believed him and we continued with our plans. On the way to the airport, I could tell he was agitated. He doesn’t love driving with his dad and he was vocal about this as his dad drove us to the airport. I knew then we had a bumpy trip ahead of us. Todd’s mood swings were up and down. At one point on the trip, he asked me to take him directly to the airport. He wanted to go back home. This was on our anniversary and we had plans to go to Graceland. I convinced him to stay. I was probably in denial about how “off” he was.
Our anniversary was on the 6th and we were scheduled to fly home on the 12th. We created a lot of amazing memories on that trip. Luke Bryan performed a free concert on lower Broadway. Todd made sure I was in the front row. We took a tour of Sun Records which was incredible. We feasted on some amazing cuisine. One of the highlights was seeing Lee Greenwood perform Proud to Be an American live at the Grand Ole Opry. While the highs on the trip were wonderful, the lows were difficult. They extinguished some of the joy of the experience. Living with someone who struggles with anxiety and depression can often be a roller coaster ride and I am not a fan of thrill rides. I have kept most of the details of that trip to myself, but almost everyone knows how it ended.
A few hours before our flight, we decided to walk around Centennial Park. I wanted to see the replica of The Parthenon. We walked to the top of The Parthenon. As I struggled to walk down the tall concrete steps, Todd decided to bypass the stairs. He jumped from the top. It was not a choice made by someone in a stable place. Before he landed on the grass below, I knew he was injured. The trip went from bad to worse at that moment. He was in terrible pain and unable to walk. The next couple of hours consisted of finding crutches and deciding to go to the hospital there or wait until we got home. We made the decision to take our scheduled flight and deal with the foot when we arrived home. I had to drive, carry all the luggage, and handle every aspect of getting us home. He was now angry and in pain. I have no idea what else was swirling in his brain, but it was not pleasant to be around him. We arrived home after dark and asked the caregiver to stay longer while we went to the emergency room. Todd had broken his heel and was in a cast and boot for weeks.
That was the beginning of a very difficult season in our marriage. One that I do not like to revisit. We have come a long way over the past few years. However, when Todd walked out in the boot this morning, it triggered something in me that I did not realize was still there. A buried surge of anger emerged that I have been unable to shake it today. Todd’s story is not mine to tell and I make every effort to honor that. Most of the time I do, but on days like today, I just needed to share this. When someone you love goes through physical or mental illness, it doesn’t just impact their life. It also affects the people that love them.
I know my emotions are valid and I have learned to accept my emotions —the positive and the negative. Today I was angry and resentful. No matter how hard I tried to write about something else, this is the story that spilled out of me. I love my husband and I am not angry with him. I am angry that an invisible illness has a way of creeping into our lives and not always with great timing. It has been an uninvited guest in our marriage off and on for years. I am angry that I do not feel I can share freely without guilt coming along for the ride. Guilt is side dish that enjoys traveling with my anger. Emotions are temporary and anger will leave and take guilt with it. Another emotion will take its place until anger returns to visit, when I least expect it.