20 years ago, two teenagers met at their first jobs. We were young and naïve, carefree. He was the quiet, shy boy, with a mysterious air about him. He rarely ever spoke but somehow worked himself into our small little click at Bradlees, a group of us coworkers who thought we were awesomely cool by hanging out in the parking lot after the store closed. I never had any thought of dating him, thinking he was not “my type”. At that point I was into shoplifters, smart judge of character I was then. But, life has a way of twisting things into your favor, even if you don’t realize it. I like to blame my father on this one as he suggested I date “the studious looking stock boy“, but also intertwined into this was the fact that I was in a dating drought, and the boy I wanted to date at the time, my best male buddy, did not reciprocate those feelings and in addition suggested I go out with James.
James was more than shy. He lurked in the shadows, my shadows and rather thinking that was creepy, I was more curious about him than ever. The mystery that surrounded him made him more appealing, more desirable to my then 16 year old self. After receiving and email from him where he wanted to “save himself the embassesment of asking me outfight” he asked me out and I said yes. Our first date we went to see Romeo & Juliet with Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio and then had dinner at Friendly’s.
We grew close and even survived a year of a long distance relationship when he started college and I was still in my senior year of high school. I was accepted at the University of Maryland and joined him there the following year much to my parents dismay. Being a parent now, I completely understand… I can’t fathom allowing my daughter to follow her boyfriend to college. We were engaged in the spring of 2000 after dating for almost 4 years. Told we needed to finish college and find jobs if we wanted assistance in paying for the wedding, we were married another 4 years later on a beautiful day in early September.
At the point of our wedding, James, who I now refer to as Jimmy, had witnessed 2 of my depressive episodes, being caught in the web of one of them. I was outright cruel to him. Slammed doors in his face, hit him, said horrible things, but he stayed. He stayed because he knew it wasn’t the real me. I knew I picked a winner then, but I had no idea how great he would turn out to be.
In 2006, we became pregnant, something we both wanted very much. We had always discussed children before and we planned on two to three via pregnancy and/or adoption. My pregnancy was blissful. I was glowing all the time. I loved being pregnant, it made me feel so feminine which this tomboy was so not used to. Our daughter was born that October. We were so happy, until I wasn’t a few weeks later. My health, both mental and physical, rapidly deteriorated. I was hospitalized exactly 1 month following my daughter’s birth for Severe Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. My husband, had to take care of our daughter and continue to work full time over an hour away for 12 days by himself. He woke very early, fed Sophia, changed her, dressed for work, dropped her off at my parents and went to work. After work, he traveled an hour and a half, picked Sophia up from my parents and brought her to the hospital to visit with me. This is all after I consistently told him he could do better. I told him to leave me and take Sophia and find someone who could be a normal wife and mother. I yelled at him to leave.
But he stayed.
He stayed in 2008, when I went through my next major depressive episode. And again he stayed in 2014 even after my Mental Illness caused us to lose our foster son back to DCF. The latter episode the most painful I have experienced. This man cared for our daughter, our foster son and myself for over a month. I was a third child. Through everything that has happened, he has never blamed me. He blames himself for not being able to keep up with his full time job and taking care of all of us.
I’ve asked him, many times, why he stays, why he stays with someone who has caused so much heartache? His answer has never changed:
“Because I love you and you make things interesting!”
I am truly blessed.