(*I realize I’ve been silent in this space for a long time. When you read this post, the reason for my silence will become apparent. Truth be told, I had no intention of writing today…until my morning meditation – that I decided I’d better do at 1:00 in the afternoon! I practiced a guided meditation with Sarah Blondin of Insight Timer. As I let the hot water of the shower I so desperately needed fall over my body, I closed my eyes as Sarah said the words, “you’re ok, you’re ok,you’re ok.” I saw my Inga put her hands on my cheeks. She looked me in the eyes and said in a sweet and gentle voice, “I’ve got you, I’ve got you. You’re ok, you’re ok, you’re ok. You’re not alone. You’re not alone.” YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I was doing the breakfast dishes after having dropped the children off at school. A song came on that made me feel especially light and happy. The song brought me back to a special and joyous time. Before the Psychosis. Before moving away. I smiled for the reminiscing. Suddenly, the music stopped. I turned around to see Andrew. He looked at me, his eyes pensive, his body tense. He said to me, “I can’t listen to that.” I was confused. He loved that song! I asked him, “why?” He explained that it reminded him of the most miserably difficult time of his life: My MS relapse, psychosis and all of the events that followed. This struck me and is something I’ve often contemplated over the past year.
When a family goes through struggle or trauma, they go through it together. Partners and married couples rely on each other to manage the struggle. They lean in to each other. They make decisions together. It can often draw a couple closer together. Conversely, it can tear a couple apart. Andrew and I had an experience somewhere in between becoming both closer and more distant. We were going through the same crisis together but were living in two different worlds. As a result of my psychosis, we couldn’t have been further apart from one another while experiencing the tumult our journeys had presented. I was spinning away in my own world. He was watching it happen. In my manic state, I had never been happier. I felt, in some cases, enlightened. During this period I genuinely believed that he and I had never been happier in our 9 years together. As I write this, I still remember those feelings vividly. I kept telling our closest friends and relatives that despite everything we were going through, we had never been happier. Meanwhile, Andrew had a front row seat of what was happening with me and it was terrifying for him. Yet, in my state at the time, I believed he felt the same way as I did. Blissfully happy and in love. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was living in fear. He can’t recall a more traumatic time in his life. As I came out of the psychosis and began the healing process, it was Andrew’s time to begin spinning away. I fear I didn’t realize how dark a space he was living in until much too late.
Trauma can awaken within us our innermost demons. Between the light we radiate there are also shadows. When faced with our greatest challenges, the shadows often rear their ugly heads. Sometimes the light within us is strong. We are vital enough to let the light cast out our shadows. When beaten down by the tumult we sometimes face on our journeys, we can lose our vitality. We become weary. It becomes difficult to see the light and we give in to our shadows. Somehow, we feel safer in that space…in the darkness…for the light is too much to hope for anymore. The loss has been too great. Sometimes still, it’s necessary for us to face our shadows in order to begin a deeper healing process. The loss Andrew experienced through our trauma; the fear of what he might lose, brought to the surface all of his darkest shadows. All of my darkest shadows. All of our darkest shadows. On my trauma journey, I was able to see so much light because of the darkness. I was like a snake needing to shed it’s skin. This is an incredibly arduous and painful process for the snake, but necessary if it is to survive. Better than ever before, the snake emerges with new skin. The struggle, the pain, the loss makes all things new again. This was how I was able to face my circumstances. My focus was my deep emotional and physical healing journey, second only to my daughters and theirs. I was focused on that path. My journey was clear to me. I was walking the path before me in new skin. Andrew’s path was not mine. I was in the light. He was still struggling with his shadows. He couldn’t seem to make it out and our paths split in two. Beside each other, yet separate from one another, we had begun our fragmented journey. It’s as if our trauma was a bomb, set off on our road to break everything; scattering the broken pieces of our lives onto the ground. We picked them up. Fragmented and beaten down; our road split in two. Andrew spun away on one path and I on the other. Shadows and light, light and shadows, back and forth, to and fro. Spinning away….
Andrew sunk in to a deep depression. This caused him to suffer a relapse of alcoholism, testing us all to our cores. These sicknesses are thieves. Thieves of truth, thieves of joy, thieves of life; Insidious and slow setting in. They not only steal from those suffering from the affliction. They take as much as they are able from those who love the afflicted as well. These thieves care nothing for anyone around them. This is when hard decisions need to be made – because we must not let the thieves take anymore than they already have.
We will love each other through this. We are family. We will always be family. Sometimes family looks a bit different than expected. At this point, I’m not sure what mine will look like in the end. I do know, no matter what, Andrew will be a part of it.
*I’m writing this deeply personal account because it is my greatest hope, that by talking about it, the stigmatization of both sicknesses will end. We should be talking about it. Please feel free to reach out here. We can discuss these things here. Alcoholism is a disease that so many are suffering from. Depression is a disease that so many are suffering from. There should be no shame. There will never be shame in my house; only love.
The song I was listening to while doing the dishes that morning was “Spinning Away” by John Cale & Brian Eno. Take a listen. Lyrics below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-INeMspNSQ0
Up on a hill, as the day dissolves
With my pencil turning moments into line
High above in the violet sky
A silent silver plane – it draws a golden chainOne by one, all the stars appear
As the great winds of the planet spiral in
Spinning away, like the night sky at Arles
In the million insect storm, the constellations formOn a hill, under a raven sky
I have no idea exactly what I’ve drawn
Some kind of change, some kind of spinning away
With every single line moving further out in timeAnd now as the pale moon rides (in the stars)
Her form in my pale blue lines (in the stars)
And there, as the world rolls round (in the stars)
I draw, but the lines move round (in the stars)
There, as the great wheels blaze (in the stars)
I draw, but my drawing fades (in the stars)
And now, as the old sun dies (in the stars)
I draw, and the four winds sigh (in the stars)
Thank you for your gorgeous and raw writing. Beautiful truth to be together and on different paths in different experiences. I love how you unwrapped your stories that often are kept as secrets without shame and judgment but with love and hope.
Thank you so much Christi. It is my intention to be a person who gives light, hope and love. I’m so happy to you see that in my writing. Writing I new to me but it feels good to be doing it- so I will continue. I appreciate you! ✨❤️🙏
You are a precious friend of my heart! I’m
Grateful for your story and Andrew’s too. I know some of those personal hardship also. My own trauma and emotional journey has been difficult as well. Although my precious husband is my lifeline often there is personal conflict too. We navigate through our journey. And through my husband’s difficult medical crisis, I’ve been impacted as I patiently and lovingly supported him as well as lingering issues for him. It takes a toll for sure and we have had to find some space for personal (alone / separate for each other) introspection at times to build strength in the deep love we have. It is a work in process for those of us experiencing emotional and or other medical related concerns that are significantly life changing. Enough of me – I know you understand. Please also be assured that all you both are going through — you ate not left alone or forgotten. As a person of faith—I know God/Jesus loves us in all steps of our life—and I have understood through this journey that God/Jesus used these trial to refine us to be the people He created us to be and to love ourselves throughout our journey. That may sound simplistic—God knows more than we about ourselves. You are a beautiful person inside snd out!!! I treasure you and your gifts. You are both loved and with the hard work we must do He Will be With Us! God does not wish any of us to suffer. When God created Adam & Eve — he gave them the power of choice — they chose Sin and after that we are all sinners. His gives us Hope He must allow us choices and sometimes there is healing … Satan (was kicked out of heaven after his rebellion in heaven). Satan wants to accuse God and plays a part in deception to us humans. God loves us and saves us from much…He will not allow you all to suffer more than you can deal with—that journey is difficult as you well know… there is promise from our loving God who is always with you. My prayers continue to be with you snd your family! You are so inspiring! I know how difficult it is to manage what we are afflicted with but I’m discovering my love for my Savior and work daily to seek health and happiness is not simple but I don’t have to go it alone. You are treasured more than I can express.
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I love the way you share your story – with such beauty and poise, yet also so raw and real. Sending so much love to you, my friend.
Oh Tricia. What a strong woman you are to share this intense experience in such an articulate and moving way. I wish only the very best for you, Andrew, and your girls. Sending love and respect.
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Thank you for the good words, Linda. You know I think the world of you. Love and respect to you always-T ❤️
It’s heartbreaking to read these words on this “blog”. I am Tricia’s father. What you may or may not know is she abandoned her family of origin apx. 2 years ago….. without a word. no reason or explanation. A father, mother,3sisters,2 brothers and 16 nieces and nephews. Forgive me if I find your platitudes of grateful living more than a bit disingenuous. Your mother… who spent countless hours by your bedside in the hospital as a young girl, has reached out to you more than a few times…. no response. You blocked all of your family(siblings/parents) from social media but strangely enough contact life long school friends of ours as well as certain family members that you apparently think may offer a sympathetic ear to you. Don’t even mention the relationships you are selfishly depriving your daughters, our grand daughters from having. We have offered reconciliation thru your husband(?) Andrew because you refused any contact with us over the past few years. He said he was willing to act as a conduit but….. painful silence. So forgive me if I find all of these words …. just words. Void of reality without any concern for those who you grew up with, shared a home with, were a family with, had relationships with…..just to, without explanation of any sort, cut off. Abandon , while speaking poorly of them to complete strangers. If I sound angry it’s because I am. Angry at the emotional rollercoaster you have put your family thru. Angry at having to explain to still young grandchildren what is wrong with Auntie Tricia. Angry about the total lack of reality you have in the recollection of your life. I can only surmise that in your new found “reality” you have erased truth. If reading this hurts…..it’s only a consequence of the decisions you have made in your life. We love you. Have always loved you. Our hearts break that you are so emotionally lost that you have chosen to sacrifice your family of origin and even your own children at the expense of “your truth”. Your readers have a right to know that sometimes “your truth” is not real truth at all. I hope you read this prior to deleting….