How Do You Tell an Unfinished Story?

Source: Bing

Source: Bing

Once again I must apologize for my sporadic posting here! I’ve made several attempts at writing a post, but I’ve come up empty every time. I shared recently how I believe that owning my story is an important part of moving my life and my unfinished marriage forward, even though I am not certain exactly what that will look like. But that has proven to be harder than I realized. The truth is, I’ve been stuck. I’m in a weird position of knowing that I should write, and even having the desire to write…but I’m not sure how to write about this perpetual cliffhanger of a story. I have a two-fold problem: one, this story has no ending, yet. It's still "under construction", and I’ve yet to get to “the other side”. Second, I am only able to share so much at this time.

My husband’s story has had a profound impact on my life and on the life of our child, and also on my personal faith. However, his condition has driven him to a place far from us, in more ways than one. Therefore, he is not here to give his input, or for that matter, his permission, to share details of his condition or factors that have contributed to our current situation. That puts me in the precarious position of having to leave out a great deal…which makes storytelling a challenge.

Here is what I can share:

1.     I have no idea where my husband is. I know I could find him if I wanted to, but I have chosen not to look. First of all, he is the one who left. He chose to walk away. I am not even fully certain of his reasons for leaving…but reason is not the strong point for someone in the throes of a mental health crisis. Since he is not a threat to himself or others, I have had no choice but to let him go. He’s pretty smart, and I figure that when he is ready to reach out to me, he’ll find a way to do it. I am here when he is ready to come home. Sort of like the father of the Prodigal son…he didn’t organize a search party and send them out to get his son and rescue him from the pig sty. No…the father simply waited, ready to embrace his son when he came home. So…I wait.

2.     I am 100% convinced that the root of my husband’s issues, as well as the key to his recovery and relief from his symptoms, lies in his past. Specifically, in the traumatic memories from his childhood that he recovered when our daughter was two. I haven’t gone into detail about this but it is a huge component to our story that I am not comfortable sharing on a public blog. (Although I have shared it privately with some individuals). As far as what my husband remembered, what was done to him, and who did it to him, that is his story to tell. I can say this much: what he revealed is Very, Very Bad, and if true, it explains a great deal. Also, while I speak in terms of him being “mentally ill”, the truth is, I believe “mental illness” is a catch-all phrase that describes symptoms of something far deeper, a brokenness on the level of spirit, soul, and body. Some people use drugs or other vices and addictions to self-medicate. My husband’s coping mechanism happens to be losing touch with reality. Perhaps it is a form of dissociation. Unfortunately, this is another area where I am not able to do much to help him, until he is ready to get that help for himself. So until then…I wait.

So where does this leave me? What do I do? How do I cope? What do I tell my child? How am I living?

It really is a weird situation to be in. Here I am, married, but…I’m not legally separated. I’m not a widow. I don’t get any child support. He’s not away on a trip, or deployed. He hasn’t left me for another woman. He’s “sick”, but not in a medical way. We can’t just call him up to chat. We can’t write him or email him, or Skype. There is zero communication right now. And yet, we still consider him a part of us. He is “my husband”, not “my ex”. Sometimes I refer to him as “Jasmyne’s father”, and while that is truthful, it implies that the marriage is over or something. Sometimes I’m even honest and I’ll say “my husband has mental health issues and is not with us at the moment.” And while that is true, that is not quite the full story either.

It’s a weird sort of limbo/no-man’s land. And it’s an ongoing situation…we didn’t just get here yesterday, or last year, or even two years ago or 5 years ago. And yet I’m still here. I’ve chosen to stay when I could have walked away. It’s funny…but when I do open up to people and share more details, they look at me as if I’m some kind of saint who is deeply devoted to her husband, who she must “really love.”

Ha!

In pondering on these things, I’ve come to discover that perhaps the real story for now is not about my husband, or what happened to him, or him being “mentally ill”, at least not now while he is not here to tell his own story.  But it’s more about how to cope when life is not black and white, when there aren’t any easy answers, when life circumstances are “unfinished”, and the only thing you can do is…wait.

Let’s face it: no one knows the end of their story. We never know what life will throw our way. For me, it so happens to be a very unusual marriage. But it could’ve just as easily been something else: a sick child, infidelity, terminal or chronic physical illness, accidents, and on it goes…I believe we’re all responsible for mining the diamonds in whatever “coal pit” life throws our way. I guess I feel like, if it wasn’t this, it would’ve been something else. One of the ways in which I’ve learned to cope is to accept that which has been given into my hand, and dig for all I’m worth to try to find the treasure that lies beneath.

Some of the treasures I’ve been given as I’ve waited for this saga to play out:

A wonderful child to raise.

A Master’s Degree.

Music.

Friends.

Family.

Faith.

Adventures.

In the midst of the challenges, of which there have been many (and still are, and will always be), I’ve been given the gift of Life. More accurately, I’ve been given the opportunity to choose Life. I’ve had my days when I’ve wanted to quit, give up, be done with it all. But it always comes back to “choose Life.”

How about you? How do you choose Life when everything around you feels like it’s dead or dying?