It was my wife’s birthday last week. I am so very grateful for her. If it wasn’t for her endless patience and love toward me I wouldn’t be alive today. Three years ago I took her aside into our bedroom while she was preparing our Sunday dinner. “Amy,” I said as I closed the door behind me. There was nervousness and fear in my voice, “I think I was, Ummmm” I paused, if I said the next few words would she love me? Would she still want to be with me? Would she believe me when I didn’t even believe me? I wanted to turn around and not say anything. Perhaps its just something made up, a way to manipulate or create chaos out of calm. If I could just turn around and not speak the next two words. Perhaps the scalding thunderbolt of the first recovered memory would fade into the distance of illusion and nightmarish fantasy.
I was frozen in place, as if my feet were nailed to the floor. She looked at me with those beautiful soft azure and golden eyes, anticipating, yet already knowing, what I was going to say next. I regretted calling her away from the kitchen. It felt as if a puppeteer’s hand had violently thrust itself through my spine and I became a mannequin to inevitability. My mouth opened and sound emerged without my permission.
“I think I was sexually abused,” I finally finished my sentence.
She took a long moment to process what I had just said, those kind eyes never wavering. I backed up a half step expecting her to slap my face and call me a liar. Her next words to a divorce lawyer. Or any number of disbelieving scenarios ran through my whirling mind. Yet, what she had to say next was just as devastating.
“I suspected all along, Do you know who did this to you?”
She believed me. Her words were like healing salve on my burning skin. With that one simple sentence she told me that I was going to be ok, that I would survive this; it was going to get better. Over the next three years she has been my anchor among the tempest of recovering memories, raging emotions, and deep unending grieving. She has given wisdom when I needed it. She has given me encouragement, love, and support when others have called me a liar, a monster, or a perpetrator upon my own children. At the same time she has pushed me when all I wanted to do was wallow in self pity and cry.
The last three years she has listened to me tell the same story over and over again, each time she has always had the right thing to say to comfort my mournful soul. She has said things like:
I am so sorry this happened, what can I do to help?
I believe you.
This sucks, I wish I could do something to make you feel better.
He had no right to do that. You are justified to feel angry about it.
Why are you accepting his shame? Put that shame back onto him.
Where are you right now? Come back to me.
Did you write today?
It is worth it, You can do it.
You aren’t breathing, Slow down and refocus your breath.
Go get a beer and come back when you are calm.
Come here, you need a hug.
I like new husband better.
Be angry at him, not me.
These are a few words out of the many I have heard over the past few years as I have begun to become the man she sees when she looks at me. As a result of her inspiration and patience I am becoming a whole person, capable of emotions other than anger or deep sadness. She has inspired me to be better, to seek help when I was unable to find a solution on my own.