I have recently been asked the following questions by an anonymous reader in the comments section:
“Why are you still married to [Mr Man]? What is it that keeps you going? Is it love, sympathy, duty… what? I am in a similar situation and I find myself harbouring thoughts of just letting go... please do share your views.”It would be easy for me to just simply reply with: “It’s love, of course”, but I feel that the questions are deep and deserve serious and honest consideration.
I have touched on this subject previously in the post entitled “One Flesh”. I titled the post in this way because that is exactly how I feel – that as a married couple we have become one flesh. As such, whatever hurts Mr Man hurts me, and for me to consider leaving him would be like considering tearing off my limbs.
I never stopped loving the man I married, even though I didn’t know where he was anymore. As I mentioned in that previous post, I had to grieve the loss of my husband even though I was still with him, because the man I was left with didn’t resemble him at all. I had to cling to the belief that he was still in there somewhere and that somehow I would be with him again one day.
It is this belief that has kept me going, and slowly the man I love has resurfaced. I look at him now and think about what I would have missed out on if I had ended it all back then. I say “ended it all” rather than “leave him” because as I said, I never even considered leaving him as an option, but I considered ending the suffering for both of us. Although difficult to admit to, this again is something I hinted at in that previous post when I wrote: “I confess, I wanted to end the pain – for him, for me – but I have never wanted to leave him”. The only thing that held me back was that it might only have worked for one of us and that the surviving one would be left with even more heartache.
Later I reached the point where I felt that if he died maybe it would be easier for me to grieve for him and move on, rather than watch him continually suffer for the rest of his life. I would sit beside him on the edge of the bed while he slept and think about smothering him with a pillow and ending it for him, but I was worried that he would wake and not understand why I was doing it, and the thought of him believing for one second that I didn’t love him was unbearable. I am in no way recommending this as an option, but I want you to know that I understand the extent of your suffering which has lead to you “harbouring thoughts of just letting go”.
"Dark Thoughts" by Philippa King
There was a time when I couldn’t imagine ever being without Mr Man. I expect most newly married couples feel that way. I felt that without him my life would come to an end and have no meaning, and that I would never be able to move on and start a new life. I thought I would rather die than live without him. But the more suicidal Mr Man became the more my grieving took a new direction. Rather than just grieving the loss of his personality I was actually grieving the loss of his life, as I became truly convinced that he was going to die. I felt like I was married to a man with a terminal illness – I knew he was going to die I just wasn’t sure when, or that’s how I felt anyway. I found myself planning my future without him, which made me doubt my love for him and I felt incredibly guilty. This is why I thought your questions deserved honest consideration, because at one time I even wondered myself if it was love, sympathy, or duty that kept me by his side.
Obviously I have felt deep sympathy for Mr Man, watching him suffer in unimaginable ways. I have always believed, and still do, that mental illness is the worst kind of illness anyone could ever suffer from; after all, physically ill people can still be happy, but if you can’t be happy, what else is there? I can’t deny that duty must have also played a part somehow, but the main reason for staying with him was, and still is, love.
When he became less suicidal I found the adjustment quite difficult, as strange as that sounds. Although I loved him and obviously wanted to be with him, I found it difficult to believe that I wasn’t going to lose him, and to start planning a future with him rather than without him.
I am convinced that I am never going to meet anyone else like him in my life, and I don’t regret marrying him for a second. What we have been through together has in no way been easy, but we have gone through it together, and we now have a bond which is unbreakable.
Related posts: Coup de grace