I know this is hard for you.
I know watching your wife struggle with some mysterious thing that you cannot see is confusing and frustrating and not something you could have ever planned for when you asked a vibrant, strong woman to marry you. I can only imagine what it must be like to watch me crumble and break, and not know how to put me back together or even comfort me in the rubble.
I know this is hard for you.
And I know that you love me.
I know that there is nothing I have ever asked of you that you have denied me. I know that you have sacrificed much in pursuit of my happiness. I know that you have pushed and worked and stretched and grown in countless ways so that you could continue to meet mine and this family’s changing needs.
You have done and continue to do so much for me, for us, and I need you to know that I see that. I’m grateful for that.
And I need you to do more.
It kills me to say these words out loud, which is why I don’t. I’m writing them here, instead, because I’m too much of a coward to say them to you.
It’s never been easy for me to ask for help from anyone. It’s always been especially hard for me to ask you. Not because I don’t trust you, but because I’m afraid that I’m asking too much. I know, now, that I’m asking too much. I’m asking for more of you than I can expect of myself, and everything in me screams that it’s unfair to you.
I’m afraid that I’m wrong for asking, but I have to ask just the same.
I need you to do more than what is fair right now.
I can’t tell you how much it helps that you have taken full responsibility for picking up the kids everyday. You’ve finally figured out how to balance work and home to the point that you can be counted on every single day to be there for them, and for me, at the end of each day – and I know that hasn’t been easy. More often than not these days, it is you who handles dinner. You don’t even ask anymore what you should make or what I was planning, I suppose because you know I’ve given up on planning weeks ago. I carried that burden alone for years, so I know exactly how much effort that takes after you’ve worked all day.
I see it. I do. And I thank you.
But… the kids need more, and right now, I can’t be the one who gives it to them. They need to sit down at the table and eat like a family, and get up when their done and take care of dishes. They need someone to check their homework and fill out their permission slips and remember their snacks for their school parties. They need to pick up their rooms at the end of the day and brush their teeth and put on pajamas and go to bed at the same time every night.
They need someone to notice that their dirty clothes are lying in the middle of the floor, and be nagged at to put them in their hampers.
They need someone who notices that they put their clean clothes away in the wrong drawers and leave their toys out.
They need someone to tell them to turn the TV off and play outside.
They need someone to keep their lives sane and to keep the structure that they depend on strong and steady.
They need me, and I’m not there for them.
I need you to keep being there for them in all of the ways that you already are – and to find it in you to be there for them in the ways that I should be.
I need to know that the world isn’t falling down outside my bedroom door. I need to know that someone out there is holding up my end of things while I try to figure out what will make me whole again. I need to know that the laundry and the dishes and the planning and the picking up and the millions of little things I would normally make sure get done are still getting done.
I need you to care about the little things as much as I would.
I need you to talk to me when I’m floundering and keep telling me everything will be fine. I know you’ve told me a million times that you’re not mad and you understand, and I need you to keep telling me – maybe a million more times.
I know it’s not fair. I know that you’re doing your part. I’m asking you to do mine as well. I need you to believe in me enough to know that this is not permanent, even when it feels like it’s been going on forever. I need you to trust that someday I will be able to make things right and pull my own weight in this family again.
And until that day comes, I need you to hold up the world for me and make sure it keeps spinning.
I know, Jared. I know. I know it’s selfish and wrong and unfair of me to ask all of this of you. But I don’t have anyone else to ask. If I could be me, I would. Please believe me when I say that I hate this. This isn’t a vacation for me. This isn’t a much needed break or an excuse to shirk my responsibilities. I have no idea what this is but I know that it’s beyond my immediate control.
And there’s nothing you can do about that. You can’t fix whatever is broken in me. You can’t take care of me enough to repair whatever is damaged.
But you can, I hope, hold my place until I get back.
I love you.