The signs of anxiety didn’t appear all at once. At first, we stopped going to restaurants on Saturday night with white tablecloths. That was a trigger.
Always the person pushing the ball uphill. Providing for his family, helping the homeless, he took the positions at church no one else wanted. He got things done, put the fires out. And now, in his forties, the business was established, under less pressure, more time to relax, more time to think. And that’s when the panic attacks started. Becoming more frequent, he knew he needed help, so our medical doctor referred him to a holistic psychiatrist.
My panic attacks are like a wall that I keep slamming against. I can’t climb over the wall or go around it. I want to get back to normal. I need your help finding the door to this wall so I can get to the other side.
On sleepless nights I’d hear him pacing downstairs. I remember hearing the story of a high school Columbine shooting victim spending the nights on the roof of his house for over a year. I wished I could take some of my husband’s hell away, worried that he may not get better.
Throughout his treatment his doctor kept asking how I was doing. I didn’t get that. What do I have to do with this? I’m fine. I was so proud of my husband’s hard work and loved him unconditionally as much as humanly possible. Listened, supported, and soothed.
I’ll walk through this with you. I’m not leaving.
It was a year and a half of not knowing if things would get better. He didn’t realize he even had blocked feelings from childhood. It was his willingness to go into his pain and hard work transforming into a more whole person that kept me at his side. For months, I listened to his progress in therapy. How his doctor helped him release trapped emotion from childhood trauma. At the age of 45 he still had behavioral aspects of an 18 year old. Therapy helped him transform from a teenager into a grown man. His panic attacks became less frequent. His reactions became less knee jerk and more mature. It was subtle but very powerful.
I was so proud of his willingness to get better, learn how to manage his PTSD through understanding his triggers, change perspective and heal into emotional wellness.
Looking back, I understand how fragile we were, how fragile marriage can be. Why his doctor kept asking how we were doing as a couple. I don’t know if our marriage would have survived if he hadn’t found the door to his panic attacks allowing him to learn how to become more whole emotionally. He also transformed in the way he loved me.
Before therapy he lacked the ability to show me loving affection in the way I needed. I knew there was something missing but I couldn’t place my finger on it. I had a hole inside me that I wanted filled by his praise, support, his willingness to love me no matter what. I knew he loved me past death and into eternity. I just wished he showed it a little more.
You stayed with me in my darkness. Your support and care were my light. I get what unconditional love is because you showed me.
His words filled the hole inside me. He recognized what I did for him. It’s that love that helped us both heal.