I was welcomed into the world by two parents who wanted me. If it’d been up to her, Mom would have had a baby almost immediately after marriage. She was nineteen then. Dad was twenty-four. Instead, they decided to wait five years. Doing so would give them a chance to enjoy being a couple with no children. It would also give my mother a chance to see if her own anxiety and depression would subside enough with time. She wasn’t ready to be a mother yet and eventually came around to that fact, I imagine with some sadness.
When it came time to have me, both of my parents were very excited. I was the son my father always wanted. Thanks for the boy, said the card my father left, tucked into the flowers next to her hospital bed. Or, at least that was true at first. This was before I turned out to be my mother’s child. In physical resemblance alone I looked exactly like her. As a personality, we had much in common. Like her, I was highly-strung, jumpy, over-sensitive, but also creative and artistic.
Mom knew something was wrong shortly after I came home from the hospital. I cried too frequently. I was easily over-stimulated, fearful, and anxious if separated from her. My parents were concerned but unsure what to do. As time passed, this before anything else transpired, I isolated myself deliberately from other children. My own company was less painful. Less chance to be taken aback by the spontaneity of random interactions. I had one real friend whose anxieties and neuroses were similar to my own. Had I not met him, I wonder what sort of person I’d be now.
Visiting specialists is not unusual for me. I've been seeing doctors now for as long as I can remember. My parents probably see me as the sick child. When I call home to report my latest medication regimen, their voices take on a familiar, sympathetic tone. I don't want to be treated differently, but that's just how it happened.
Earlier this week, I was told I could add high blood pressure to a long list of chronic illnesses. I think you could say that I’m my Grandmother’s child as well. My father’s mother fought these sorts of physical complications the whole of her life. Her struggles were so extensive and long-lasting that her sisters said, in all seriousness, that it might have been better had Florence never even been born. In my worst times, I have allowed myself to ruminate about why I entered the world as I am. Still, I have been too stubborn to believe I was better off not even being alive. My parents never once believed it; I didn’t either.
There have been instances in my life where I have felt ashamed of being me. I’ve believed I was a burden to everyone. This was especially true for those with whom I’ve formed long-term relationships. In reality, I recognize that there is more to me than my limitations. I may have wallowed in self-pity for a while, but I was too smart to stay there.
Significant others have walked this journey with me, as they must. Those who play an active role must necessarily play a major role as well. Most of the time, my illness is a study of the banal.
It’s the six separate medications taken at different times throughout the day. It’s a general understanding of how each works. It’s the plans made for the worst case scenario. Should I be unable to make the decision myself, someone has to have me admitted to a hospital. If a medication reaction takes place, someone has to determine how to separate moderate problems from the catastrophic.
A close friend of my little sister died of cancer during high school. Her boyfriend remained devoted to the end. It didn’t just make for a tear-jerking story, it also showed that even imminent death could not scare him away. The days where I dwelt in that shadowy world are years behind me now. I wish I’d been strong enough in who I was to find someone worthwhile. True love, real love, never sees an impediment. The bonds linking two people together must weather those storms and others.