March 3, 2010
“I wonder how long it would take?” she thought as she stared down at the frigid, swiftly moving water below. Probably not long at this time of year. It was a cold March morning and she’d reached her breaking point. The human spirit can only take so much stress and disappointment before it finally gives out. She looked down at her phone. Still nothing.
The dialog in her head started up again, as it did so many mornings. “How did I get here? When did I become this broken shell of my former self? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I didn’t sacrifice everything to end up miserable and alone. What’s so hard for her to understand? Why can’t she see what she’s doing to me, to us? I just can’t do it anymore.”
Katelyn had spent the last several years of her life trying to make things work. In the beginning, she knew it would be difficult, but she was convinced that this new start would lead to living life on her terms and true to herself. Too bad nothing was really working out the way she hoped. Her partner’s illness made the simplest things a trial. Heidi had stopped taking her medication because she didn’t like the side effects. She’d rather live with the ups and downs of her bipolar. Katelyn had tried to convince her that the side effects of the medication would level out once she got used to it, but Heidi wouldn’t listen.
“You’re not the one taking the medication!” Heidi yelled. “What do you know about what it does? I can’t think when I take it. How am I supposed to finish grad school if I can’t understand what I’m reading or stay awake long enough to do the reading?”
“If you start the medication during a break, you’d give your body and brain time to get used to it. It might not be as bad once you’ve been on them for a few months,” Katelyn said.
They had had this same argument countless times over the years. Ironically, Heidi was usually the one who brought up the subject, talking about how she wanted to get treatment. Katelyn had read enough about the disease to know that she couldn’t convince Heidi it was the right thing to do. Heidi had to make the decision herself, otherwise the treatment wouldn’t stick. But after five years, Katelyn had given up on Heidi ever getting help. They both knew she needed it. They both knew it was probably the one thing that would go a long way towards repairing their broken relationship. But too much had happened and neither of them wanted to make the first move. That’s the problem with a relationship that’s been full of stress and disappointment: both people end up apathetic and waiting for the other person to fix it.
Katelyn had spent too much time trying to fix things already. Just when she thought she, they, would catch a break, some more shit came down on them. Layoffs, paycuts, illness, bankruptcy. It was a neverending stream of shit that kept getting in the way of them being happy.
“I was such a different person before all this.” Katelyn thought as she continued to stare out over the river. “I used to be confident. I used to have fun. I was never the life of the party, but at least I enjoyed myself. Where is all that now? I gave up the career I wanted. I gave up my house. I gave up my dog. I gave up financial security and life with a good man that I knew would take care of me. But let’s face it. I shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. I gave it all up to start over, to live a life where I could be true to myself, and look where I’ve ended up. Broke, depressed, and in a career that I quit years ago because it was sucking the life out of me. Great move on my part. Sure, I live openly but at what cost? I can understand now why people keep up the lies they live. Sometimes, it just might be better. But I’m here now and there’s really no way out. If I could just catch some break. A new job that paid enough for me to support all of us. A lottery win. I just need something good to happen.”
She’d been waiting years for that “something good” and nothing had materialized yet. And now, broken, exhausted, hopeless, she didn’t think it would ever come. And more than anything, she just wanted an escape from all of it.