I am coming to understand that I don’t like to face a mess. Literally, of course, as clutter and the chaos of objects give me more than pause. But more than physical mess, I realize I run from the emotional ones. Both my mess and the mess of those closest to me. Over about six years of living with a spouse with mental illness, I continually ran away, turned around from, and ignored the messiness filling up our life together.
I am sitting between the sagging cushions of the orange couch. I am holding my husband, and he is crying. He is crying because he is scared, and he is scared because he believes with all of his heart that bad people are after him – lurking outside our windows, listening in on his world. He had been off his medication for a while. He hid it well as he always did, and now I have to figure out a way to make it until morning when his parents can come and help me help him. But I can’t help him. I know I can’t help him because he will not choose to help himself.
I know this now, and I think I knew it even then, but I didn’t want to face that mess. I didn’t want to admit to being in a relationship that was full of subtle omissions and manipulations. I didn’t want to admit I was sharing my life with someone who was sick.
And so, I did not tell anyone about my night on the orange couch with my sick husband. I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t cry. I just moved forward, ignoring the mess.
Today I give words to that moment in time. Today I begin to clean up.
“We are not afraid to look under the bed, or to wash the sheets; we know that life is messy. We know that somebody has to clean it up, and that only if it is cleaned up can we hope to start over, and get better.”