My Bodyguard

I’m feeling positive this morning, despite a restless night’s sleep. The two Ativan I took at bedtime usually leave me with a hung over feeling, but not today. Could be the sunshine and the yard full of noisy birds that’s got me uncharacteristically smiley and bright. Like I’m actually looking forward to something.
It’s going to be several days of projects around the house, as I try to wrap it up before returning to full-time work next week. My procrastination with all things household is remarkable—I’m amazed by the way we can live in chaos and dirt and barely notice it when we’re busy working. Saturday morning coffee brings the rude awakening that yes, we are total slobs. C is a tough old bird that works a career day job and a part-time gig for extra household money. When circumstances in my life are challenging, she’s always managed to be my shining star, my cherry lifesaver, my knight in Old Navy.

She’s not a young woman any longer, but is determined that no matter what, we’re going to keep our house and cars and maybe have enough left over at the end of the month to order a pizza. Her attitude is that she does it because she’s the only one who can at this point. While I’ve always worked in some capacity, the past few years have been rough. In addition to my lifelong mental health issues, I was diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis about five years ago. This has reduced me to doing pretty much the bare physical minimum for most of that time. My joints swell and ache to the point where I can do nothing more than ice them and try to sleep through the worst of the pain, or alternate with short bursts of activity and rest. This has been an adventure to say the least. It has shown me just exactly the kind of person I chose to partner with though, and I am grateful for her drive and commitment to our shared cause.

C has told me that she struggles with wanting a housewife (me) and understanding that I need to have someplace to put my passion and energy outside of the house, engaged in meaningful work. We’re almost there. Prior to getting sick with arthritis, I was actively employed in the landscaping industry, in a highly physical job that kept me running like mad ten months out of the year. I loved coming home filthy, stinky, and sunburned at the end of each day, dog tired down to my bones. But things change, and I had to let go of that career when my body gave out on me. Enter social work. I’m now attempting to get myself established in community mental health, working with those who’ve been newly diagnosed or struggling to live independently. It’s satisfying work, difficult and rewarding. C has been understanding about everything that’s changed—my new physical limitations, the cut in salary I’ve taken, the fight to find a job with health care. She’s stood by me this entire time and allowed me to figure it out. Even through my recent firing, she said “good—FUCK THEM. I’m sick of seeing you cry over that damn job anyhow”, and she took me out for a hot meatloaf sandwich. Now that’s the kind of partner you want to keep for life, one that understands the siren song of the brown gravy.

I like the idea of being in love forever. Seems like statistically, the odds are not in our favor, but next year will mark our 25th together, which has to count for something. This year’s trip to Club Psych was not my first, and my disorders have not been easy to live with, that’s for certain. Still, C has managed to forge ahead as the responsible adult in this relationship. She’s made some of the major decisions for us not to control, but to gently steer this great ship along its course. I’m actually quite grateful for this because I feel that there were too many times when those big decisions eluded me, I couldn’t tolerate the pressure of making them for myself, and I needed her to pull the trigger. She always offers me choices and involves me in the process, and just as often I find myself saying “I trust you. Let’s do what you think is best”. I’ve never once regretted this.

When considered alongside the fact that she is the only person on the planet who knows how to cook my eggs, allows me to drive her truck, and always remembers to line dry my bras, I’m convinced she’s the One.