He opened the door to the office and in his hand was a plate of food. My food. I thanked him and put it down beside me – right of my laptop. It looked so good and smelled even better. I kept typing away, answering emails, rat-a-tat-tat on the keyboard and without missing a beat I typed with only my left hand and grabbed a fork full of tilapia with my right. My gaze never leaving the computer screen.
I continued this way for about 30 minutes while Scott sat in the living room, eating his supper alone – staring at the TV screen. Each of us, eating by ourselves, staring at different screens. He, unwinding after working a 12 hour day and coming home to cook supper….me, working a 12 hour day with no end in sight…still emails to write, collaborations that needed collaborating, blog posts that needed writing, pins that needed pinning, photos that needed posting.
My thought process started with, “I have so much to do and not enough time.” It continued with, “I need someone to help me.” Then, “I don’t even have time to eat at the table.” And, finally, “Wow! Scott is so sweet – supporting me and bringing my supper to me.”
A SLAP IN THE FACE
And then, as though I got slapped across the face, I realized I wasn’t taking time for selfcare – I wasn’t even creating the time to eat a proper meal with my husband. BUT WAIT…there’s more! As much as I know he had good intentions and even noble intentions, he wasn’t actually helping me. He was enabling me.
I realized that this pattern was oh-so-familiar.
When I’m in a depressive episode – not just a few days of the blues, but a true major depressive episode, I’m in bed not only for several waking hours a day, but for days, and even weeks…yes WEEKS on end. I wake up, take my meds, watch TV, and sleep. I don’t eat breakfast and I don’t eat lunch. I just don’t eat. Scott comes home from work in the afternoon and makes supper. He usually comes back to the bedroom to ask me if I’m eating because, well…he knows I need to, but he also knows that I often don’t. Some days though, I say, “Yes.” On those days, he carries a plate to the bedroom and grabs my water bottle. He leaves, fills it up…and returns with it.
I have butter on the things I like buttered. I have salt and pepper on the things I like salted and peppered. And, my water bottle is full of fresh, cold water. He knows me well.
I stay in bed for more hours. I stay in bed for more days. I stay in bed for more weeks.
I neglect the activities of daily life (ADLs).
I start to stink.
So, is he my knight in shining armor or is he helping to perpetuate my behavior?
He does what he does because we’ve been in this place so many times before. He’s taking care of me the best way he knows how, but he could do better. I need to explain this to him though when I’m not in a season of depression. Or in this season. This season that isn’t depression. This season that looks a little different than most of my seasons. I need to explain to him that the best thing he can do for me is to let me know that supper is ready and, “Come and get it!” Regardless of the season – unless my leg is broken or I'm recovering from surgery.
But that’s not what happens.
Scott is my enabler.
Scott is codependent.
And, with the rat-a-tat-tat of the computer keys, I realize he’s enabling me again. He’s keeping me from the selfcare that I know how to do and need to do, but too often neglect to see that I require –I don’t practice what I preach.
Until moments like these.
This is when I realize it – when we’re smack dab in the middle of whatever the current storm looks like and, in this case, that storm isn’t depression. It isn’t PTSD. If I take the time to meditate, breathe, and sit with it. Like, really sit in the muck of it…I may realize that this storm is anxiety. A season of high anxiety. I’m anxious that I won’t meet deadlines. I won’t meet goals. I won’t meet expectations.
These are all self-imposed.
Yet, the anxiety is real.
“SHORT-TERM PAIN VS. LONG-TERM MISERY”
And, just like the seasons of depression, I’m neglecting self care and my husband is enabling me – allowing me to continue the behavior. He makes it easy for me to stay in these seasons, to continue my self-destructive behavior, even though he doesn’t know it and even though he has the noblest of intentions.
I need to talk to him about it. Help him understand. However, first I need to take an inventory of everything that I’m thinking. Everything that I’m feeling. Everything that I’m doing. I can’t help him understand if I don’t understand myself. I have taken the first step though, and that’s noticing what’s happening. Often the person who is dependent – that’s me, doesn’t recognize or doesn’t ‘want to’ recognize that her behavior is destructive. In my case it’s destructive not only to my own well-being, but to my relationship. After All, how long will he continue to serve me, to rescue me, before he starts to feel resentful?
Scott is trying to ‘fix’ me. He’s trying to ‘rescue’ me. This is what he knew from the moment our relationship started. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s how we met.
I’m not going to lie. I like the idea that I have a husband who is willing to stand between danger and me. A husband who is going to help me up when I fall down.
But this. This is different.
We both need to be willing to deal with the “short-term pain or be willing to endure the long-term misery.”