Monday, June 5th, 2017.

It’s a gloomy kind of day – rain and fog are in the forecast for our mountainous area.

I’m getting ready to head into another boring shift at Virginia Produce shucking corn for 8 hours. However, I never make it to that shift. Bret finally breaks down the barriers he’s been trying to hold for the past 3 weeks since he lost his job at Classic Creations. Calling his mom, he begs her to take him to the hospital and be admitted to our psychiatric fourth floor.

“I need help,” he says.

At 3:30pm that evening, I’m following my mother-in-law to Twin County Regional Hospital, where we sit for 5 hours. We endure evaluations, assessments are completed, and tests are done to see if Bret is “mentally unstable enough to admit.”

We really need to talk about how this country handles mental illness, y’all. But that’s for another time.

Because he is not “at the time” got a plan to harm himself or anybody, he isn’t able to admit to our hospital for help. Our local community services board, Mount Rogers, has sent a crisis counselor to talk to Bret about other options. There is an opening in Marion, Virginia at a place called Cornerstone. It’s the same as a psychiatric hospital, but in a smaller, less restrictive setting. It only holds 6 people at a time and will help him get back on medication, counseling, everything he needs to get back to his old self.

And that begins the first step.

Two years later, and a lot of progress has been made. Bret has gotten back onto the Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department. We’ve had a few minor setbacks with this one, but the captain and the team behind him are willing to help Bret get familiar with his passion at Bret’s pace. We’ve both gone through our bouts of unemployment, and Mount Rogers has saved the day with their IDC services. Now he’s happily employed as a material handler.

And of course, the biggest challenge of them all. Marriage.

We don’t have a perfect relationship. There are days where we want to throttle each other. We want to quit or run away from the problem. We scream and cry at each other. We give each other the silent treatment. There are some days we wish we didn’t know each other at all.

But it’s not those days we allow to sum up our relationship. They’re few and far in between usually.

We allow positive things to define our relationship. We play soccer at our local wellness center during the spring and summer. We take our dogs walking on trails around the region, or even up to the high school football field when we’re short on gas to travel. We go out to eat and just spend time with each other. We play board games. We spend time with his son when the opportunity is given. We binge-watch Netflix and Hulu or watch random videos on YouTube. We sit in the dirt and play with cars and trucks like we’re back in kindergarten.

And after a bad fight and we’ve both calmed down, we listen to each other. We talk to each other like calm adults. We forgive each other, and we move on.

But we never entirely give up on the other.

And that’s what keeps our relationship together.

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