A Promise and a Contract


I ended up telling him about the contents of A Sweater Worn Too Thin.  (If you still need the password, please leave me a note and I’ll email it to you.  Beware, it has some serious triggers in it.)

It was at the very last moment of our night.  I said to him, “Wait, before you put on Netflix, can I tell you something?”

Him:  “What?”

“Before I tell you, you have to promise not to be angry with me.”

Him:  “Well, it depends on what you did.”

“I can’t tell you without you making this promise.  Please, promise not to be angry.”

Him:  “Like I said, it depends on what you did.  Did you sleep with someone else?”

“God no!!!  I . . . “

Him:  “Hurt yourself?”

“Yeah,” I sighed with my head down.

Him:  “I thought so.  What did you cut yourself with?”

“A razor.  Don’t worry about it, I disposed of it, and I don’t ever want to do this again.  How did you know?”

Him:  “There was blood in the bathroom, and you didn’t sleep the night before.  And the next day, you weren’t all there.”

“I don’t ever, ever want to do this again.  It’s pretty bad.”

Him:  “Is it infected?  Let me see.”

I was stunned.  He had never really wanted to see an injury before.  Not even out of concern, curiosity, nothing.  Occasionally, he flat out refused to purchase bandages and things of the like, because he had wanted me to suffer the shame of it.  I stood up slowly and said to him, “Don’t laugh.”

Him:  “Why?”

I pulled down the band of my pants and underwear to reveal a rigged up maxi pad.  He snickered a little, and I did too.  It’s so like us to be able to find the humor in a very dark situation.  I pulled it back, and he inspected it.

“I’ve been taking care of it, washing it out several times a day with antibacterial soap, putting neosporin on it, and covering it back up again.”

Him:  “No, I don’t think it’s infected,” he remarked, “We’ll have my mom (a nurse) take a look when we go up there tomorrow.”

My eyes grew wide, “We can’t show her that!  There has to be at least 20 lacerations there!”

Him:  “I know, I can see them.  We’re going to have to.  She has all of the first aid supplies we need to patch you up properly,” he insisted.

And for a moment, I felt safe again.  I did this to myself, and he was using terms like “we”.  We’re in this together.  But, then, ruined by a pang of shame.  Then, the fear hit me.

“I’m really ashamed.  And I’m really scared.  Are you going to stop talking to me?”

Him:  “No, I’m not going to stop talking to you.”

“I know that you have to be hurt and angry and frustrated.  I didn’t do this because of you.  I did this because I was so overwhelmed about everything that was going on, and all of those stupid voices in my head that I’ve been telling you about.  Please, don’t be angry with me.  I need you.”

Him:  “I know.  I’m not angry.  I’m not anything, but just overwhelmed too.  I’m being pulled in so many different directions that I don’t even know what to feel.  Everything is changing all at once.”

“Change isn’t bad.  I think it’s an opportunity to get a fresh start.”

Him:  “Yeah.  Can we turn on a show and go to bed?”

“I’d like that.  Can I ask you for something, really quick?”

Him:  “What?”

“Can we keep having these brief talks?  Brief, I mean, no more than fifteen minutes, a half an hour if it’s something really serious.  I mean, I want to be able to put it in as terms in my self-injury contract.”

Him:  “Yes.  We’ll work on it.  Let’s go to bed.”

We did.  I must have been moving too much, and I was in a very light sleep.  He asked, “What’s wrong?”

I answered, “I’m cold.”

“Come here.”

We both moved into the middle of the bed, and he draped his blanket over me.  In that moment, I was the little spoon, and he was my big spoon.  It had been the first time we slept together like that since before my pregnancy.  And there was no better feeling in the world.  Our first steps back toward each other.

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24 thoughts on “A Promise and a Contract

      • Maybe a weekend play date, just the two of you? A day trip somewhere nearby that you haven’t explored yet, maybe somewhere outdoors where you could do a picnic lunch, or a place that you’d normally go with kids but could enjoy without them (zoo, science museum, aviary, whatever).

        • I’ve stopped wanting to plan trips, because it always ends in some kind of disappointment. There’s always an excuse not to go, and it’s started to feel like it’s being disregarded and blown off.

          We’re going up to the country house tonight. Maybe I can convince him to take a moment with me on the patio.

    • I’m glad I’m to this point with the cutting. This is my breaking point, a similar breaking point I came to when I first started mental health treatment in my teens. It was the point where I was finally terrified of where it was going, and I was really willing to completely resign myself over to the process of getting well. I’m not trying to hang on to any old habits anymore. They’re all so tied together, so if I want to make positive changes in some areas, it’s going to have to be in many other areas as well.

      I’m hoping this is going somewhere with him. Like I’ve said before, I’ve stood in this exact place where I’m at right now, hopeful for it to go in a positive direction. In a week or two, we’ll be right back where we were before. I know I need to make it clear that those habits are unhealthy and counterproductive to the both of us.

      But, before I bring those things to light, I noticed one thing about last night. I have to do three things at once. I have to become vulnerable by showing a complete transparency, I have to state the problem in two sentences or less, and I have to offer viable solutions. The rest is just details, really. Well, to him.

      • Communication and listening when he is talking. His concerns are legit, too. He sure seems responsive and genuinely wanting to help.

        • When he talks, he talks in riddles and puts all kinds of subtext in there. I don’t get it, and knowing that it’s there and going over my head drives me mad. If I take a direct approach, like a head on kind of thing, it is seen as an attack and is dodged, blocked, or followed up by his own attack.

          Communication with him is difficult and tricky. I’m a direct person, and he can’t stand confrontation. It’s like trying to find the right amount of force. Too much force, and it’s an attack. Too little, and it’s some kind of minor concern floating aimlessly in a sea of bigger concerns.

          I do have a follow-up post about communications in the works.

    • I hope we can keep with it. I really do. I’ve stood in this spot a couple of times before, and usually in a few weeks, it falls through again.

      I asked him to come to my appointment on Friday. He said he would if I wanted him to. I said I did. I said I also did because I would like to have an insurance policy. I don’t want to avoid telling my doctor about any of this.

    • I have said to him in the last weeks that I realize that I have to be more direct and clearer about my needs and avoid making it into demands or requests. Firmly, but kindly insist that this is what I need. Kind of like being at work. I don’t generally ask kids to do things for me. I tell them to do things for me, but I don’t order them to do it.

      And if he doesn’t know how to fulfill that need, I have to have more patience. Turning it into a crisis situation will only provide a band-aid solution. I have to provide clear direction without being condescending. Careful balances.

      Now, taking these and putting them into practice. It’s going to take some practice for sure.

  1. Your conversation brought tears to my eyes. You love each other. It shows. He told you by his actions. Keep talking.

    For me, and I best with you too, it’s when my mind is telling me that I’m all alone and he won’t understand and he’ll think I’m nuts so don’t tell that I DON’T talk…and it makes it all the worse. Then the awful thoughts really become overwhelming. BUT when I DO get brave and DO SAY what’s in my head, I get the confirmation once again that we are in this together and he wants the best for me. I’m getting better at telling that inner critic who wants me all to itself to shut up, that I need to share with dear hubby. I’m listening to myself. The critic shuts up. It works.

    • He said something this morning like, “I’m not worried about those other appointments, I’m focusing on the one with Dr. B.” Later in the conversation, I asked him if he wanted to come to the appointment. He said, “If you want me to.” I do want him to come to some of my appointments, especially when I haven’t been well. I want him to be able to tell the doctor what he sees on his side of the fence, and I want to be in an environment where I am supposed to come out with everything.

      Now yeah, I’ve been in the other chair, the one next to a patient before. And as a spouse, there are some things that are harder to hear. The good thing is that they are heard, and usually the appointment lasts long enough to where the initial shock has worn off by the time we’re out of the office. So, I have no doubt that he’s going to find certain things shocking.

      At this point, for this appointment, he’s not only lending support, but also my insurance policy. Yes, I could probably get away with not telling my doctor about the things that have happened. But, I want to put myself in a position where I am forced into it, and it would look better if I were the one who was telling about it. Hopefully, C.S. can convince the doctor that I am in a supportive enough environment to stay outpatient. Maybe the doctor will have something to say to him in regards to my recovery and how to be there as a spouse, even when it’s killing him.

  2. This is amazing – that you are finding ways to express, and that he’s finding ways to listen and support.. and that that makes it a little easier for you to express. A huge step for the both of you and I couldn’t be happier to hear it! It’s so much more productive when both parties are fighting what should be fought against – the mental illness – and not actually against the person experiencing the mental illness.

    Stay strong lovely.. xox

  3. Hi lulu,
    This is such a huge step forward for you both, I’ve genuinely got tears of happiness in my eyes for you.

    I haven’t read “a sweater worn too thin” yet – I’ve only just asked for the password – but I hope this is the start of a new chapter of your life, one full of light not darkness,and one that you will both face together as a team.

    Good luck Lu, it’s never going to be easy, but you can do it! 🙂
    love n hugs and all best wishes
    xxx

    • We are reconnecting over the move. We spent so many hours laughing. I can’t remember the last time my knees went so weak in a store that I just collapsed in a puddle of hilarity.

      Sometimes, it’s just some positive that can erase the negative.

  4. Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my
    4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She
    never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

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