The Other I

July 17, 2007

The fascination of an unachievable man

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 3:26 pm

I described how I met the man to whom I am now married in my June 15th post.  We have been living together for more than half my life now, and he has become the most important and significant man I have ever loved.  As we have survived, exalted, triumphed, and despaired over the inevitable ups and downs for thirty five years, I have wondered about the glue that has held us together through it all.

Peter is immensely kind, exceptionally intelligent, highly educated, capable of expending baffingly amounts of energy and determination – and subject to swings of depression that can fill me – and undoubtedly him – with despair.   I continue to find him fascinating.  Not with, perhaps, quite the same driven excitement that I felt when I first met him, but I still love to talk to him, to be surprised by his alternative take on life.  He is without doubt the best – if not the easiest – thing that has ever happened to me.

For many years, I thought that, because of my father, I had confused depression with intelligence the way some women confuse abuse with strength in men.  But it’s more devilishly complicated than that.  As some women are attracted to married men because they are unattainable, I’m attracted to intelligent depression.

I am attracted to intelligent depressives because they are so hard to please, and because happines eludes them.  I am attracted only to men who think I am something quite out of the ordinary, and however kind and sensitive depressive men are, I always sense an unmet yearning.  My impulse is to say “I am that special person you are looking for;  I understand your longings, your exceptional gifts;  I can love you enough.” 

So I didn’t stumble accidentally after all into marrying someone who was an intelligent depressive.  I chose it, even though I may not have understood myself in the choosing.  I doubt that I have changed.  I’m still fascinated by that enchanting deception.

Anyone who has lived with a someone struggling with depression knows how hard it is.  Sometimes it feels simply impossible to overcome the bleak despair engulfing someone’s whole view of life.  It is not rational, even though it might be triggered by real tragedy.  It is not voluntary, though there are sometimes controllable factors like drink and nutrition and exercise and medication that effect it.  It demands strength from anyone living with a depressive.  Or at least it has made demands on me that have pushed me to greater maturity and I hope greater gentleness.

I never once talked to her about it, but the person – besides Peter – who is probably most responsible for my not walking out of my marriage during its darkest days was my father’s second wife.  I think my own mother blamed herself for my father’s unhappiness.  Mary never did.  I watched how she lived with my father.  Though at times I thought she was a witch incarnate in relation to my brothers and sisters after Mom died, she was also the best role model as a wife I ever had. 


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