I say a lot of words in our marriage. I operate under the assumption that if I have a thought, there is only one place for it to go: out.
The amount of words I say to my husband in a week couldn’t possibly be calculated.
Things like, “my knee is itching weird.”
Pressing questions like,
“How long is a flight to Japan?”
It’s like the atmosphere is the place where all my words belong. Most of the time, the idea of keeping a thought in my head doesn’t cross my mind.
My husband, however, (you know where this is going) is quite the opposite.
There are times he has a headache for hours before I know about it. He just sits with it without any complaints or words regarding the headache.
He thinks carefully and thoughtfully before he speaks.
It’s like he says before he talks, “Is this statement valuable and useful to all parties here?” while I announce, “I’m thinking about Saltine crackers right now” before wondering if anyone needs or wants to know it. You get the point.
While he isn’t a big talker, my husband still has the incredible ability to use his words in powerful ways. He has said things that changed me and impacted how I think.
His words have given life to awful situations.
Months ago, I was having a dark day.
The strange, infuriating reality of anxiety and depression is that one day you can feel totally like yourself, and the next you wonder if you ever will again.
Anxiety comes running – Ruining plans, telling lies, spreading fear like a wildfire.
I remember a few months ago, on the dark day, I was overcome with guilt that I couldn’t act or feel like myself.
I remember saying to him, “You didn’t sign up for this.”
I thought, “He signed up for the fun. The energy. The outgoing. The full of life.”
I told myself he didn’t agree to the reassuring or the reasoning.
He didn’t sign up for the unloading or the obsessing.
I told myself he didn’t sign up for the side of me that can’t see past the present moment, no matter how hard I tried.
So I told him again, “You didn’t sign up for this.”
And I will never, ever forget what my husband responded that day. He gently replied:
“I signed up for you.”
It was simple and profound. I would have taken a hundred words to say the meaning of those 5. I knew what he meant: the good, the bad, the anxiety, the depression. The wit, the laughter, the tears, the darkness. The movie nights, the frustrations, the ice cream, the burnt dinners. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens.
It’s “I signed up for you and anything that comes with it.”
I think one of the many beautiful things about my husband is regardless of how I feel or what I am temporarily going through in that moment, he doesn’t see me as Anxious, Sad, Energetic, Silly, Depressed, Excited, Dreamer.
While I sometimes allow emotions to be all-consuming and identifying, he sees the complete picture of me and doesn’t forget it.
He sees me as the whole person temporarily stuck under intense and complicated emotions. He doesn’t make me feel like dealing with my difficult sides is the short end of the stick.
To him, they just come with the package that he so lovingly and excitingly signed up for two years ago.
Is there a better feeling in the world than to be known in that way and loved regardless?
To have someone not only see you in your most vulnerable places but climb on down to join you there?
I used to wonder if anyone could ever “handle” me, but now he has made me see that whoever I am and whatever I am going through is exactly what he signed up for.
And that, my friends, is a gift I never thought I would know.
Happy Anniversary. I would sign up for you for a million lifetimes.