I saw a glimpse of my old husband today.
Sure, Bret is still the sweet, loving, and determined country boy he was when we first met, but with all of the issues he has had with his anxiety over the past couple of years, it has put somewhat of a damper on his spirit. There’s a sense of uncertainty in his eyes most of the time, always apprehensive about pushing himself out of the comfort zone he has worked endlessly to build.
This morning, I had stopped by his work to give him his medication that was left in the car, and he met me in the parking lot with an unusual bounce in his step. Bret has never been a morning person – in fact, his mother has told me numerous stories where she had to coax him out of bed for school via a glass of water on the head – and gave me that mischievous grin that he was most likely up to no good.
“I’m feeling good today,” he said with pride in his voice. He explained how he got up for work with no hassle, which is very rare for him to do. He didn’t feel anxious, and his head was clear. I smiled, told him that was a good thing before giving him his meds, giving a quick kiss on the cheek and watching him return back to the building with a sense of confidence I had not seen in a long time.
It put into perspective how different our minds really were. While I have a mild case of anxiety that leads to me sometimes lashing out or panicking in the smallest situations, Bret’s anxiety was more severe on top of the other mental illnesses he faced. His anxiety sometimes controlled him completely. The worst came down to his ability to drive or even travel further from Hillsville to Galax, which is at best, a 15-minute trip one way. It’s kept him from being fully active with our volunteer fire department. His two biggest passions were slowly escaping from him, and he was lost on how to get them back.
It’s taken almost 2 years, and we’re nowhere entirely back to where we used to be, but each and every day I see a glimpse of that confident, outgoing man I fell in love with. Each day, he gets more comfortable driving around, and on occasion, he’ll ask to drive. He has slowly been going back to fire meetings, and our department chief has been very understanding and been helping make sure Bret is 100% before letting him go on calls again.
Just like the rest of us, Bret is a work in progress. And it’s okay if it’s taking him just a bit longer to get the hang of it. And for him to say that he is having a good day and that he is physically and mentally in the right place is enough progress for me.
Better to be slow and steady than to rush into it and find yourself at square one.