I’m a mess lately. Around the start of this past holiday season, I began regressing to a point where I am again a cynical, grumpy, and in general, angry person. It has nothing to do with Sarah, Shelby, work, or even the holidays, really. It truly does have everything to do with the fact that Megan is no longer here.
It’s not her death, specifically though, that caused this descent into a person I once was. It’s the remembrance of where she and I were at this time of year, not long before her death. It's the knowing that there were things that we were “working on” that were quite obviously put on hold when her organ rejection appeared. It’s the sense of any progress we had made being “all for naught” upon her death.
Without diving into specifics, in the fall, a year before she took her last breath, we were having some issues. Primarily, over the years, I had become more stoic, temperamental, and unsociable. I loved her to no end, and did everything I could to keep her healthy, happy, and secure. My problem was that I then would take that devotion, lock it up inside of me, and lash out at anyone else that tried to break through into my personal, private life.
That has a way of presenting itself in jealousy, dependency, and a lack of confidence. I was introverted, and I wanted Megan to be so as well. I’m comfortable being by OURselves, and how dare anyone else try to join us.
I was angry at other people...all the time...for no apparent reason. I wasn’t self-aware of this though. It felt as if people were trying to take MY Megan away from me. In a vicious, negative feedback cycle, I began to sense that Megan WANTED to be taken away. She was healthy, for the first time in decades. Shelby was old enough that not every waking moment was spent taking care of her. Megan did not have to worry so much about when her next hospital stay would be needed, and most of all, I didn’t feel NEEDED by her anymore. In fact, I was beginning to feel more like a stressor than a rock for her.
She began to talk of getting a job. She was spending more and more time out of the house, when I was at work, with friends and family. I would come home, and she would be “tired” almost every night by 10:00 PM, yet if a friend called or wanted to go out, she would be up until two in the morning, leaving me alone with only my own pessimistic thoughts. Those “evenings on the couch, watching TV” that everyone says they miss? Yeah, well, most of mine were spent on the couch watching TV, while she was on facebook, spending time with others through a screen.
It finally came to a head, in the fall of 2013. I had begun to suspect that she was fed up with me being frankly, an asshole, and would rather be elsewhere. The job she talked of starting, that I was encouraging her to go for? Well, I began to see that as a “backup plan”. The friends and/ or family she was spending time with? I figured she was using them as a way to get away from me, and plan her “escape”. Facebook seemed to be a way for her to ignore me and “move on” with her life. She never talked to me about it, other than telling me to calm down when I was angry for her taking off for a week to Arizona with her aunt to some resort.
My pessimistic mind finally snapped. I plainly, and with as much courage as I could muster, asked her “what’s going on, do you want a divorce”?
Don’t ask me how I was able to just cut to the chase, after years of me being an asshole, and with tears in my eyes ask her that. The point is, that I did. We hadn’t talked about US for a long time. We were there now. We talked for hours that night, and for days afterwards, when Shelby wasn’t around. It became plainly clear that I had caused an undue amount of stress with my temper and my temperament in general. I wasn’t fun to be around, and while she answered “no” to my question, it was quite obvious that it was conditional...more of a “no, but…”
So I finally became self-aware. I worked, really hard, to change those conditions. I would try to catch myself every time I started to raise my voice or feel jealous. I still felt angry or slighted, mind you, but I bit my lip and put on an encouraging smile. We began “dating” again, having Shelby spend a night at grandparents while we had a night on the town. We did more fun things together, as a family, and I supressed my natural tendency to be introverted and stay home. Gradually, it became easier, to the point that I didn’t have to work so hard to be a better, more loving father and husband. Over the span of 3 or 4 months, things improved between us immensely. All of the thoughts and anxiety were still there for me, and I still knew that it wasn’t what it COULD be, but I was making progress towards that end.
Then her rejection started. Our progress was stopped. I didn’t slip back into being grumpy all of the time or anything, but it’s kind of hard to have a date night when your date is lying in a hospital bed. I snapped back into the caretaker role with such steely focus that any of the stress and problems we had experienced were blanked out of my mind. For 6 months, I would go to work, go to the hospital, go home, make dinner, go to bed, rinse, and repeat, save for about 15 total days in that span where we simply stayed home for an evening.
Then she died.
My routine, and my caretaker role, were no longer needed, again. All of the things we were working on, together, were left unresolved. A week after her funeral, and thoughts started creeping back in about feeling unneeded and unwanted. When I finally mustered the guts to go through her emails and facebook, primarily to ensure there weren’t any bills I was unaware of or commitments to friends she had made, I found out that a lot of my pessimism the previous fall was actually warranted.
Yet, it couldn’t be resolved any longer. I couldn’t confront her about it or change my ways to make her feel more secure in our relationship. It was over. I couldn’t talk to her friends or family about anything, because one, it was private, and two, they weren’t Megan.
It’s taken me this long to even share it with anybody outside of Sarah, that Megan and I were having some pretty big issues as a couple before she died. We were “fixing” those issues, but at this point, they can never be “fixed”. It SUCKS. I guess I don’t know any better way to say it.
I bring this all up today, vaguely sharing it with the world, because yesterday, the “old me” resurfaced. It’s f****ng scary. I snapped at Sarah for no apparent reason in a way I haven’t done in well over three years. Jealousy, anxiety, and pessimism reared its head to the point that I became an asshole of epic proportions, and flat out went into a tirade.
I didn’t call her names or insult her (I never have done that, and never will, with anyone I love), but I scared her. She saw the version of me that Megan had to deal with for a long time. In that brief moment, she could have easily had Megan’s response, which was to shut down and spend more time with others, but, she didn’t.
She called me out on it. She let me know, at that very instant, that what I was doing (effectively, being both an asshole, and a Marine with the way I was yelling) was not cool. She made me realize that one, she wasn’t Megan, and two, she wasn’t going to let me “off the hook” because it was a “one time thing”. Just like years ago, we talked for hours about my behavior, only, this time, we discussed it when it happened, not after years of it happening.
She reacted in a way I wish Megan would have done. I suppose that will always be unresolved, Megan and I. At least now though, I’ve experienced the “bad” part of me and what I CAN be, and I know it can be worked on. I know that I can bare all of my emotions, good or detrimental, and that I don’t have to be the only one left to help fix them.
I know that frankly, I can trust Sarah more than Megan to not let me devolve back into that horrible place before it gets too bad, and I also know that really, I just have to accept the fact that while Megan and I loved each other, the issues that were BEING resolved will never be FULLY resolved.
Again...it sucks. It sucks to know that you were at fault, and not a good person, and that you have to work on yourself for the good of the team. It sucks even more to know that the team "disbanded" before you were able to reach that goal.