To my spouse,
We’ve had a lot happening in our lives recently, but I want you to know I’m sorry. I’m sorry I haven’t been as good to you as I want to be. The truth is, I’ve been struggling with my demons, and that means there is less of me available for you. It doesn’t mean I love you any less. If anything, I love you more for how much you’ve stepped up to take care of me and our family and pick up my slack. But I know it isn’t easy for you, and I know you struggle to understand why I have such a hard time with simple things.
Maybe I can explain what I’ve been going through with an analogy:
Imagine that most people spend their lives on a sunny ridge, and life is good. You and I live there, too. There are cloudy days on the ridge, and rainy days, and cold and windy days, but most days the sun shines, and the bad weather always passes.
But if you venture down the ridge, you find yourself in a valley shrouded in fog. At the valley floor, the sunlight is choked out, and there is constant darkness. Most people wisely avoid this valley. But some people, people like me, are pushed towards it by a strong wind that only we can feel. To everyone else it is a still day, but to me and others like me, there is a persistent gust that is trying to take me down into the valley.
The wind isn’t always there. I experience still days, too. But on windy days, it is all I can do to stay in the sun. Sometimes, when the wind blows for days, weeks, or months on end, it succeeds in pushing me down near the bottom of the valley. I can barely see the sun, let alone you or anyone else. On those days I’m quite alone, and just existing is hard.
More than others, I have to work hard to stay in the good place. It can take enormous effort just to stay within earshot of you. It’s not that I don’t care about what you’re saying, or that I don’t want to do what you’re asking. I’m not wandering off or ignoring you. It’s just that I can barely hear you over the wind, and I’m expending a lot of effort trying not to be blown away.
I don’t know why the wind blows me and not you. I wish more than anything that I wasn’t a victim of its power. But even though you can’t see it or feel it, it is as real to me as you are, and it is a burden I have to live with.
It doesn’t mean I have an excuse to succumb to the wind, to accept darkness as fate and not keep fighting. I still have a responsibility to you as my partner. I accept that I have to work harder than most people to fulfill the responsibilities of my existence. I commit to that harder work. In exchange, I ask for your patience and kindness. I ask you to remember my struggles when it seems like I’m lazy or distracted. I ask you to remember that I’m leaning against a strong headwind, and that I want more than anything to stay in the light.
Most importantly, I ask you to remember that you are my anchor on the ridge, that I’m holding to you tightly, and that I need you to hold me back.