It’s been really hard to find time to write lately. Work has been crazy for me and Jon, Lora’s second semester summer school schedule is in full-swing, and tempers frayed badly for all of us. Also, a lot of happened, and I’ve really been struggling with the tone that I should take as I relay this. Some of what happened was harrowing, and incredibly difficult for me, but so far, the resolution has been great, so I feel relieved and hopeful.
For starters, Lora had to change her health insurance in the spring, due to the new health care laws. Because of this, she was without insurance for a few months. As Lora was regularly seeing a psychiatrist and had prescriptions for both anti-depressants, as well as anti-anxiety medicine, this was a really big problem. Though her doctor did his best to write her out a very generous last prescription in the hopes that it would carry her through until she found out if she could return to him or if she needed to start the grueling process of finding a new doctor, she ran out of medication a little under a month ago.
Lora off of medication is a much more stressed, touchy, angry, insecure person than Lora on medication. Things that normally wouldn’t bother her become huge problems. Insecurities that she can normally talk through herself, or talk through briefly with Jonathan become huge, terrifying insurmountable mountains of pain. I’ve had several major runs of depression in my past, and I spent two chunks of time in the mental hospital for depression and psychosis, so I deeply empathize with how hard things became for her.
And with that empathy, I made the mistake of empathizing too much, and using that as a reason to not communicate with Lora.
As time went on, and Lora’s lack of meds affected her mood more and more, Lora and Jonathan’s fighting when from a few times a week to multiple times a day. Even though I wasn’t directly involved (Lora and I have yet to have had a fight), being aware of the fighting, seeing the stress it put on Jonathan, and having days on end when it was clear that Lora was stewing about a lot of things and would eventually explode made me feel uncomfortable and like a hostage in our home. When Jonathan and I would spend a few hours together on the couch in the living room, we never knew when (it was always “when” and not “if”) our quiet time would be interrupted by a stony-faced Lora coming into the doorway and telling Jon that she needed to talk to him.
Those “talks” could last anywhere from ten minutes to more than an hour, and ranged from terse speech to yelling and crying.
I spent all of this arguing on the sidelines. I spoke to Jon a few times about how much the fighting bothered me and made me feel uncomfortable. But I didn’t speak to Lora for several reasons. One was that it felt deeply awkward injecting myself into something that seemed entirely between them and about how their relationship functions. The other is that I’ve been where Lora has been. And although I don’t react to depression the way that she does (I’m more likely to become entirely withdrawn and non-responsive, and just hide away somewhere to cry and hurt alone), knowing how miserable she was made me loathe to tell her how miserable she was making me, for fear of adding to her burden. That was a mistake.
Instead of talking to Lora or Jon, I started entirely withdrawing from both of them. I would answer a question if asked (and with the shortest possible answer), but if left alone, I would stay quiet and disassociated. I focused on reading and building puzzles and anything that took my mind away from reality, because I couldn’t handle reality and I was afraid that trying to handle that reality would make things worse. This became extremely upsetting for Jon, who had no idea what to do with this blank, empty version of me. When he would ask me what was wrong, I would tell him that I was just tired and wanted some time to myself. While that a lie, I felt so afraid of dealing with the actual truth of my feelings, that it was a lie that I was telling myself and him. If I just had some quiet time alone, I’d be fine.
It all came to a head one weekend, a few weeks ago. After a particularly volatile week, and a stressful Lora-and-Jon-fighting-filled Saturday, I spent most of Sunday night awake and journaling, as I tried to get my miserable thoughts in order. And I realized that I’d hit a limit. I felt miserable every time I came home, and Jon and Lora were home, because I knew that there would be fighting every night. I had no idea how much fighting there would be, or how long it would last. I realized that I couldn’t depend on Jonathan for regular emotional support, because any time we were spending together was always up for interruption by Lora, and that interruption was nearly always a fight. I realized that it was starting to feel like Jon’s time was split three ways, not two: one part was time with me, one was time with Lora, and the third was spent on Lora and Jon’s fights.
I realized that, if our lives were going to be filled with so much fighting while we lived together, then I couldn’t live with them. I had no idea of what we’d do, and I was terrified of the idea of them moving out, and figuring out another part-time living situation for Jon, but I just couldn’t continue on like this.
And I acknowledged that this wasn’t just about Jon and Lora. I’ve had a number of set-backs in recent months, problems with my job, and some flare-ups of old health problems, and the aggregate has become too much to handle. Something needed to give.
The next day, Jonathan decided to go with Lora to work (share her commute with her), because they had a rocky night together (I was in the other bedroom), and wanted a bit more time to be together and not fighting. When Jon came home, I showed him everything I wrote the night before. I cried while I showed him. And after a while, he cried while he was reading it. And he said he was sorry, because he had no idea that I was feeling so badly, and that he was a little upset that I was feeling all those things and didn’t tell him sooner. I said that I didn’t realize exactly how badly I felt until I started writing. I was so stressed that I’d blocked out all my feelings for weeks. But once I finally had it out and realized how bad it was, I knew that he needed to know.
We had a talk about how Lora and I needed to talk. Both with Jon, and the two of us together. He felt strongly that, no only would Lora not take what I needed to say to her as an attack, it might also help her to get out of her own head more, because she’d be more aware that her actions are impacting more than just Jon.
So Jon talked to Lora, and we decided the three of us would talk the next day, as Jon was leaving for work before Lora would get home from work on Sunday.
As it turned out, Lora was too worried and nervous to wait until Monday, and asked if she & I could talk after she got home. So we did. And it was a really wonderful talk. I talked through my fears of making things harder for her, and she fiercely told me that, even if it *did* make things harder for her, she should still know, because she needed to take responsibility for what she was doing, and try her best to make it better. I told her that it meant a lot to me that she said that, but that I didn’t want her to think that that meant that she had to act perfectly or that she couldn’t get upset any more. It was a really good talk. She mentioned that one thing that would really help her; if Jonathan and I could specify between when we’re “just hanging out” (open to interruption) vs when we’re specifically looking for alone/couple-time. Not that we have to get her hours of advance notice, but just a “hey, we’d like to spend the next 3 hours undisturbed, to really focus on each other”, but after that, feel free to join us as you will. Part of this is because Jon & I tend to spend more of our together time in the living room or kitchen, whereas she and Jon spend most of their together time in one of the bedrooms. When they’re in the bedroom, I generally don’t disturb them unless something important comes up, but with Jon & I in the common room, it’s impossible to tell what is “just hanging out” and what is “specific couple alone-time”.
So we’re going to try that.
Lastly, a bit of wonderful news. Lora did get her doctor situation figured out, and went back to her doctor a bit over a week ago. She was re-prescribed the same medications that she’d taken before, and got them filled and started taking them again the same day as her doctor visit. Since there, there has been a really marvelous steady decrease in fighting. I still feel tentative about things, but the mood of the apartment has been far less stressful the past week or so, and I think it could be the sign of good things brewing. Fingers crossed