These bad days scare the hell out of me. I caught him once...was about to a second time...
Yes, I am afraid to lose my husband to suicide.
These «bad days» are the ones where his thoughts become serious and most of all, he is in a mental state that would allow him to take the decision..and proceed.
These days, I walk on eggshells. I must find the right balance between «being there», «giving him his time», «listening without amplifying his anger», «be reassuring» and «watching him from a distance without him feeling it to much». I must absolutely not fight with him, as he would dig dangerous trenches around him, making him unreachable to me.. or to anyone else.
Rambo is tougher than the rest of the Universe..and he will use anything to justify his choice. I wear my poker face as much as I humanly can.
I feel like I'm holding the one single remaining thread keeping him alive..and if I'd let go, he would too, as Klodietheloadie would ride one last time in his beloved CC-130 Hercules to reach heaven, in his blue uniform I never saw him wear once in our 13 years of marriage.
All in a matter of one single second, the switch could be turned on.
My mission is to make sure that he doesn't get to that switch.
Eggshells. Trenches. I must not become his enemy.
No offense to anybody but having (or is it feeling?) this responsibility is excruciating. Even in my own «empowering» process, this is something that still affects me very much inside. Again, I am not saying this as « a victim» (I really do have a fixation on that, don't I!) but as someone who's really working hard to become a better person, a better wife, a better caregiver.
And I dare to say it: to protect me from the collateral damages it's creating in me too. It's like a river that makes its way into the rocks..time is a silent killer. Time is a silent killer for me too, to me too.
People don't get my own challenges when I am facing Rambo.
I will talk about some of them in its context as briefly as I can (I'm sorry.. I think it will be a long text...):
So yesterday, I had meetings in Ottawa: 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3h30pm and 4h30pm. It's a 3 hours drive to go. Let me share some of the time line:
I went to bed late and I'm having a hard time getting up. I am alone in the bed and that's no surprise: for the past couple of months, his sleep has been terrible and when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he eventually goes back to bed in the guests bedroom because he doesn't want to wake me up. So I always wake up alone.
He's already in the computer room. He hasn't prepared the coffee. I know the moment I see him that it's going to be « a bad day». I'm as good as a service dog in that area: I feel him instantly.
«Are you okay?», I ask.
«I don't know why you say this, I am fine. Don't look for something wrong when there is nothing wrong», he replies.
Yep. This is a «bad day».
We're leaving late. It's freezing outside and he's left with a sensibility to cold, as he had to work in extreme climate conditions.
He's trying to hide his anger as much as he can, I know it.
We stop to a drive-through for coffees. He's not hungry. He barely eats when he has «bad days». When it's time to pay, he realizes that he forgot to put his debit card back in his wallet when he gave it to my son the previous night when he went to the corner store. We don't have time to go back..and since it's a good day, I don't have mine either ...
So it's my son's fault.
Thank God, he has the 100$ in his pocket that I received for participating in a project in Ottawa a couple of days before.
Road conditions are not good and it seems like all the stupid and careless drivers are out, all together. A couple of accidents are making the traffic heavy in Montreal. He doesn't like traffic and the notion of «being stuck» on good days..so he's cursing and is impatient towards other drivers.
I try to have «normal conversations» to distract him..but I know I'll be late to a meeting important to me and when I'm anxious, I don't talk much, as I mentally prepare myself. «Faking» that everything is all right is awkward with my own husband: I certainly can't fool him.. but since he's Rambo, I don't know how much he really feels it.
In every word he says, I hear controlled anger. He talks about his case with VAC..his own suffering.. express his own anger. Not towards me..but his words are only anger..full of «I have enough».
Rambo has determine that VAC is his enemy.
I don't know what to tell him anymore: the system is letting him down so cruelly. I share his anger..but I can't show it to him: I don't want to nourish his own. So I listen and I say: «you are right. I understand».
He doesn't need more anyways. He continues to build his own anger himself..now getting into the «they have something against me, personally».
In my world, this is phase 2: at first, the fault is on somebody else.. then, it's a personal attack and he switches into what I call his «victim mode»: in his mind, VAC is targeting him personally. And he talks about it and I hear his speech switching to something else.
For the first time, I put my step down:
«Stop it right there. There are hundreds of guys like you in this country and you know it. Some have been battling the system for 2 decades. You know them. So don't get into the personal attack thing. It's a way of doing things. It's a mentality. It's not YOU. So it's YOU among OTHERS. So let's not get into this.».
I have to stop it as much as I can because it's an escalation in his case..never a good sign because when he gets into this mode, my chances of me becoming is enemy are multiplied by 1000.
Thank God, he agrees with me and turns silent. But still, his situation makes absolutely no sense.
I am angry too, inside. I don't show it to him but I must do something. Something more.
I remember someone who offered to help. Someone I trust capable of dealing with Rambo (without knowing his facing Rambo) without triggering him by his personality.
I contact him and fix a date between them while I am at my first meeting. I gives me a sense of relief too because I know that it will be positive for my husband to «feel» real help. And also because I know that our friend is a good man, as he really helped me at one point in this adventure.
Yes, something will happen. Something must happen.
I am a few minutes late, kiss him goodbye. He wishes me luck like he always do but I know that he's saying it because it's Rambo being polite. I know he's anxious about meeting our friend, I know it's hard for him to talk about his battle with VAC, I know it<s such a sensible subject to talk about for him.
Knowing all this, I appreciated from the bottom of my heart my husband's words into Rambo's mouth.
I get out of the car..and the Caregiver switches into...«Flash in the pan» (?) (ha!ha!ha! I really like that one!..it's best way to describe me, as I am not an advocate..or whatever.). I am conscious that I must not let the 4 previous hours affect the content of my meeting... a possible delicate one, most of all.
As I climb the stairs in Confederation Building, I have one last thought for my husband and I remind myself that I can let go, as he's in good hand.
My meeting is done. It went well
They are still together. As I get in the car, papers are getting signed and I know that finally, someone will help us. Someone we both trust and respect how he handles things. It's taking a huge weight on my shoulder. I am truly grateful.
Our friend leaves. My husband sounds enthusiast: his conversation with him helped him focus about something else too. He sounds positive. He has plans for the future. Rambo is still in front of me but I know that he doesn't come back as easily as he is triggered. I feel like he will now be able to decompress on his own from the emotional wave he has been experiencing for the past I don't know how many hours.
I am amazed to see the difference in our dynamic. I'm thinking that we are becoming excellent at this, knowing how bad things turned out before. This is exactly the kind of environment that always made us declare WW3 within the walls of our fortress.
The war that could finish him.
Peace into my heart, I must find. Rambo is disarmed by love.
Breathe. Think. Listen. Be calm.
Be aware. Be alert.
Rambo is tough. Resistant. Mean. Capable.
Yes, we are truly moving forward in our abilities to deal with a «bad day» and this is excellent news to me.
I leave for my second meeting. And since I have two other meetings, we agree that there is no need for him to drive around in Ottawa for no reasons. He tells me that he has to put some gas in Gatineau for him to use the 0,15$/liter discount he has and he plans to locate a bank and finally, park where he likes to park to have a nap. It makes sense to me: he will decompress calmly on his own and will be fine.
As for me, I tell him that after my meeting, I will simply wait and have a coffee on my own. I don't want to tell him but my own decompression time is welcome too.
As I climb for the second time of the day the stairs of Confederation Building, I know that he'll be all right. So I switch my Caregiver mode into «Flash in a pan» (Ha! Ha! Ha!).
End of the meeting. My host asks me where my husband is.
«Flash in the pan» and the caregiver are now struggling. Questions are suddenly invading me: Is he all right?
«In a car, sleeping and waiting for me. He always comes with me.», I answer. This is the truth. He's «Flash in the pan»'s personal chauffeur.
He looks surprised.
This is my life, you know. Shit, The Caregiver is taking over.
Next time, bring him, he says.
My answer comes as fast as a bullet. «Flash in a pan» is now pushing away the Caregiver.
Why not?, he asks. You answered very quickly.
Because this is my thing. Because I need it in my life. Because I need air. The Caregiver just won over «Flash in a pan».
I wonder. I wonder if he's okay. I wonder if I should call him or not. Is it me who's amplifying? I should trust. And I should appreciate the fact that I have the opportunity to be by myself. It's freezing outside so I decide to make an effort to see the situation positively. I am a Caregiver who needs a brake too, from time to time.
A coffee is welcome.
As i walk in the streets slowly, I come across a homeless man.
I give him the dollar I received when I bought my coffee. I like talking to those who are forgotten.
«Do you get enough in a day to eat something decent?».
Yeah, he says. But I want to buy myself a ticket to Montreal.
And in my head, a CC-130 Hercules appears.
I have to call my husband. Something is wrong, I can feel it.
He answers the phone.
He is at the casino.
His voice is not right.
Could you come and pick me up? I'm freezing.
I get into the car.
He talked to his case manager. Explains to me the fit he threw. What he said. He repeats the conversation yelling the same way he probably did to her.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
Then he tells me what he would do to the person who has his file on his desk.
I don't know what to say. I'm scared inside. He is not angry at me. But I am to a point where I wonder just how much he would loose it if he was facing that person. I don't even dare to try to bring some humanity in his perception of this person: it's a lost cause. Rambo doesn't care. Rambo wouldn't care.
I keep silent. I just say : «I understand your anger. You are right, it makes no sense. Your anger is justified.»
What else can I say? Eggshells. Eggshells. Eggshells. It's a good call: «THANK YOU for saying that I am NOT crazy!!!».
You're welcome, honey. You are very welcome. No, you're not crazy. You are wounded with PTSD and this situation is killing you, I know.
Have to go back to the casino. I put 50$ in the machine and guess what: I was making BIG WINS..I have a 55$ that I must cash in., he adds sarcastically.
We are now parked in the casino. He realizes that the bank will be close and we can't have any money to go back.
But the car is full of gas.
«Fuck it, he says. I'm so fucking angry. Just call me at 3h05 so I can drive you for your next meetings.
I let him go alone.
I'm angry. I'm lonely. «Flash in a pan» keeps trying to remind the Caregiver to calm down, that the next meeting is in less than 45 minutes. I want to cry.
I open Facebook. The Caregiver is struggling:
I wish VAC could understand my husband's challenges.
And give him what he is entitle to receive....but it's too much to ask, I guess.
Tired. We are both tired. Not for the same reasons....
Delay. Deni. Die
Murderers. This is what you are.
Here and now.
Should I cancel my meetings?
Yes, says the Caregivers. Your place is with him.
No, says «Flash in a pan». This is exactly what you are fighting for.
He arrives in the car. He lost everything.
He cries. He cries a lot.
I don't say a word but I'm angry.
He convinces me not to cancel my meetings.
And I don't feel like canceling them anymore.
The security guard is all mixed up. I keep joking with him about it but inside, I would destroy the glass window that's protecting him.
As I am finally in the elevator of Justice Building, «Flash in the pan» has not convinced the Caregiver to wait.
«Flash in a pan» is knock-out by the Caregiver. I keep talking about my husband, his case, his suffering.. The Caregiver is emotional, not articulated. Convincing by her pain but not with her words.
Wake-up, «Flash in a pan». Please wake-up.
You have a job to do.
I am close to be late at my next meeting and I must use my GPS to orientate me.
Of course, I get lost.
I don't call him as I am sure I'll be out by 5pm. He'll have to wait 30 more minutes.
«How much is the human factor considered?», I ask M. Dewar.
Both the Caregiver and «Flash in the pan» are asking.
Excellent question, he says.
«Flash in a pan» is happy about the meeting.. but the Caregiver is anxious.
Smile for the rest of the world to see how happy you are.
He picks me up.
«Each time I see the car turning the corner of the street, you remind me of a prince charming picking up his princess». We both laugh breifly about it.
So, what have you been up to?. His eyes are so puffy.
I parked the car and cried.
I'm hungry. I had nothing eat so far. And I'm thirsty too. Of course, he is: he didn't have anything all day.
Thank you McDonalds for being able to have something to eat and have a large drink for less than 6.50$.
He's in bed. He took sleeping pills. Since we arrived, I burnt a pizza, cooked a second one for him... tried to write a post.
Drained. Exausted. Empty.
So here I am today.
He's feeling somehow better. But I asked him to read this post before I publish it. He wanted me to take out the part about the casino.
I understand why he wanted me to keep it a secret. He said «this is a thing between you and I».
Noooooooo..... this is YOUR thing. Not mine. These impacts? They are real to me. My anger was real to me. The fact that you choose to play the only money we had to go back, it's YOU. Not me.
It was hard for him to hear. I understand.
But I also explained that I knew many who had such behaviors, responses..That it could help someone just to read it. We never know who's reading. And it was my story.
Obviously, he accepted it.
Not because I insisted: it was his choice, even in his cloudiness. He still has the heart to expose himself through my voice . I would never betray his trust.
I love him. I admire his courage.
And it has nothing to do with the Caregiver or «Flash in a pan».
It's the wife who's saying so.