I recall many, many times that I sat on my bed in The Big House, looking out my window, out over the Roanoke valley and thinking, “next year will be better”. A lot of “next years” passed and it wasn’t better. Part of the complication of being married to a depressed over achiever is my world became very small, sometimes it was just the space inside my brain. C was critical, mostly of himself, but it frequently leaked out onto those closest to him, mainly me.
See, I think Chris was attracted to me because I was, well, more relaxed about things. I did not get bogged down in the details. But as time passed this same trait made him insane, perhaps literally. He didn’t like the way I didn’t alphabetize the spices, or the way I folded towels, the way I paid bills, or the way I spent my free time and he didn’t like my friends. I absorbed all that dislike and eventually stopped trying, we didn’t get out much and since his work schedule was all consuming I was home often alone, and feeling pretty shitty about the home I “kept”.
And my world got so small that I felt like it swallowed me up.
But I auditioned for a professional play and got a small part. Chris was angry with me everyday for taking that part. He let me know it everyday. I think his disdain for seeking my passions was two-fold. First he needed control over everything, his head was out of control, so in order to get through the days he needed to control everything outside his head. If I was out of the house, doing crazy theatre stuff, I wasn’t at home, I wasn’t even doing the shitty job of taking care of things and I wasn’t at home. He needed me to be at home. Second, he needed to seek his own passions, but he couldn’t, or wouldn’t. By the time I auditioned for that play, things were really falling apart for Chris. Things were really falling apart for us, that’s why I knew I had to do something. Chris’s drinking was really intense then. Self-medication I’d bet.
And he was right…one day I was leaving rehearsal and I walked through the lobby of the theatre where the professional improv troupe was waiting to rehearse. I’d recently attended an improv workshop with them and they remembered me. The director (now one of my dearest friends) asked if I would come to rehearsal sometime. I said yes without thinking. And that yes started to expand my world.
That was about seven years ago and I’m continuing to get back on my feet. I am now the director of that improvisation troupe. Not only has performing improv saved me, but the relationships that I’ve built by doing improv have saved me. I’m grateful for improv and the friendships I’ve made.
I wish I could’ve gotten Chris to come out, to seek his passion. But I’m glad I at least got out. And I’m growing every day.


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