The past couple years I've felt like the Human Stress Litmus Test. The stress amps up, my body lets me know that however much I think I've got a handle on the situation, nope. Whether it was a kidney stone, or unexplained hemorrhaging, I've had a few instances that landed me in the ER in fun and traumatic ways.
Traditionally, this was a massive issue between me and WH. His whole structure of safety and reality had me as his personal situation facilitator. If I wasn't "fully functional" as in sick or upset, or trying to help my youngest daughter with anorexia, he would act out in big bad ways. If you take a montage of images of me bleeding on the tile floor and him standing there in a scowling daze, with another jumble of images of me crying and explaining how I feel with the same frustrated disconnect on his face, you have a good representation of most of the past year's worst images.
And so the health issues, diagnosed as response to "chronic stress" amped up since just before DD#2.
I had surgery in March, the week before DD#2, then again this past Friday.
I was worried. Really worried. Massive trigger. The last time I had surgery, WH was fully immersed in his last set of EAs. His response was so awful during the surgery that it prompted me discovering the second DD.
Frankly, I expected him to regress, to act out again, this time around.
But WH has been amazing. We reached a turning point in July and it's like he has rocket boosters on. He's been present, empathetic, self aware, and self motivated. When he could tell I was getting anxious about the surgery and all the triggers that surround it, he dropped everything to address it. It's been... a revelation.
It's not a coincidence that this last week, watching him interact with me, take care of me, the kids have started kissing him goodnight again, when they came to give me a kiss. They'd stopped that after DD#2. He text me last week, as he stepped in the university bathroom to cry privately in reaction to our daughter reaching and holding his hand earlier that morning, to tell me how much it meant to him. How desperately sorry he was that he had put us in a situation where a gesture like that was such a milestone.
"How is it so different?" I asked him a few nights ago, as we talked about it all. He talked for a long time about his feelings, about our family, about what he wanted for us all, then said simply, "I'm not that man anymore. I can't be that man anymore. I want to be here. I want you. I want our babies. I want us."
Trust takes time. I'm not naive. I have been accused of being both an optimist and a realist. I've always just figured pragmatism was best. Today, I think I'm going to claim the optimism just a little bit.
Just a nice story, for a change. Just a story about how I find myself falling in love with my WH again, after I thought - pragmatically - that was over and gone. The optimism, however cautious, feels good.