Today is Alex's birthday. He is careening toward 40 (to borrow a phrase from nita) with grace and aplomb...as far as you know, anyway. My dear Alex turned 39 today. Those of you who know him, already love him. Sometimes in spite of yourselves--you just can't help it. Those of you who don't know him...well, you would love him, or if you're going to BlogHer this year, you soon will. He's that kind of a guy. Charm your socks off, he will, but you won't notice it until he's gone, and you're smiling, thinking, "He was really funny and nice...where are my socks?"
We've known each other just over 6 years, been married for 5, and have been parents together for 3 and a half years, to Isabella Faith. It was the first marriage for both of us, and we were in our mid-30's, when we (and our poor, grandchild-desiring families) had pretty much settled into our comfy single lifestyles. When I say it's been a rollercoaster, you have NO idea of how serious I am. He and I have fought some daunting foes together, and there have been times when neither of us knew what the next day would bring for "us" as a unit.
That love-at-first-sight thing? We believe. For us, not in a huge, passionate, swell of violins and romantic sunset beach-walking, dragon-slaying drama, as much as an immediate sense of, "I am more comfortable and happy with this person, not just than I have been with any other, but than I am with just myself." For me, that's what it is with Alex. He is an intrinsic part of me, and I feel most "myself" when he is with me. I want to share every cool, funny, interesting, frustrating, thrilling, or maddening thing I experience with him. And I do, whether he likes it or not.
We have fought, and continue to fight, the formidable demons of endometriosis (mine) and bipolar disorder (his). While both are something we will have to deal with the rest of our lives, I am proud to say that we have, at least, beaten them into submission and chained them both into corners of the deepest dungeons. The closest we've ever come to divorce including an actual separation, was during the fight with the Beast that is bipolar disorder. Mania takes no prisoners, except for the person it's inhabiting, and believe me when I tell you that, in the grip of bipolar mania, the person you know is gone. All you have left to deal with is the Beast. I have never cried or felt as desperate and despondent in my life as I did in that time. Agony is all it was, and I don't want to dwell. But I do mention it for the same reason I talk a lot about endometriosis--so that those of you who may be fighting this Beast, either as the afflicted person or their significant other, can KNOW that there is hope, that there is a light at the end of even the longest, darkest tunnel, and you CAN reach it. That is something that both these diseases have in common.
In our case, another thing that they have in common is that I'm not sure either of us would have made it out alive without the other, and that is not just hyperbole. In my situation, Alex is the one who really pushed for me to get to New Orleans and get the miracle treatment I needed. My parents made it possible, thank God, but without Alex urging me to take my own pain seriously and to continue to seek out better treatment in the face of the medical advice I was getting (telling me this was "the best they could do"), I would have most likely died the year that we met. The endometrial tumor that no one knew about would have perforated my bowel and killed me "by Christmas," in the top specialists' estimation, after it was all over. And without him there, the entire two weeks in the hospital after the surgery and its complications...he was just so intrinsic to my recovery, I don't know what would have happened had he not been there. Him and his Ray Charles CDs, fresh flowers, real spearmint essential oil, and warm, warm hands holding mine.
God, I love him.
And as for his situation in fighting bipolar disorder, it may be his determination to be there for Isabella and me that provided the impetus to his recovery; the inspiration for first taking hold of the tail of the Beast, and I have certainly supported him in this battle in every way I could, including the epically difficult task of providing "tough love" and ceasing to enable the Beast to control us all (truly, the most miserable I can remember being in my life were during the weeks and months that this monster kept me apart from the person I loved most in the world)...and yet, there is no one to credit for Alex's vanquishing of this particular monster but Alex himself. He has shown remarkable bravery, insight, and love in undertaking this long uphill climb, opposed by a slippery foe that denies its own existence and medications with hellacious side-effects. Heck of a choice, eh?
We are coming up on 2 years of blessed, remarkable, wonderful, peaceful life without The Beast, and I have my husband to thank for that, among other things. He is an amazing man, and a remarkable gift from God to me.
And just in case this has gotten too heavy or sentimental for you, this amazing man just informed me that, on his way back from an errand, he "saw two ducks doing it in the road."
You may visit Alex's site for his birthday gift to YOU, Dear Reader.