My anniversary is coming up. Not my wedding anniversary, which is September 18. Not the anniversary of losing my virginity, which was October 31. And it is not even the anniversary of my first kiss. That was when I was 5 and although I don’t know the actual date it was near the end of the school year so I am going to say it was in May.
No kids this one beats them all.
On December 9th it will be 18 years since my wife of 17 years agreed to be my girlfriend. I know many of you are fighting back nausea after reading those words but please bear with me. There is a point to all of this and I will be getting there … but in my own way.
There have three massive bumps in my relationship. The first and third ones I have talked about extensively in my book “A Cautious Descent: The Collected Essays” and lead to a massive change in my life. It was a change which was maybe the most massive of my entire adult life. The middle bump has been somewhat neglected.
The middle bump occurred following the collapse of my career with Palladium Books. This has also been talked to death and will not be rehashed here. It was at one of the lowest points of my life. The only worse points were in summer of 2005 when I tried to end my life because of our complete financial collapse. This was followed in intensity by the meltdown in 2011 which lead to the abandoning of our house. As I have said these were discussed in my earlier book. In retrospect those two bumps were really the beginning and the end of the same wave which finally broke leaving debris and carnage in its wake.
In the end we are a thousand times better off for riding that wave.
But what about the second one?
This “Bump” occurred around the same time as the 12th anniversary of Karen and me becoming a couple, December 2008. I was in the throes of a massive depression, part of it was the blowout from Palladium and the remainder was the remnant of the disaster is 2005. At this time I was unmedicated, and would remain so until spring of 2012.
Karen put up with my shit for a month. From about Thanksgiving 2008 until Christmas Day 2008 she allowed me to wallow, she was supportive, she gave me my space. In retrospect that was a lost cause.
In our car, parked in front of my grandmother’s house, while I our kids were inside eating, Karen and I had the biggest fight of our entire relationship. There was yelling, there was tears, and there was blame. But in the end there was a massive amount of hope. We agreed to fix things and we promised to keep the lines of communication open. The next month we decided to have another baby.
I tried, please believe I did. But I was an unmedicated bipolar and in the end I retreated back into my shell and the problems returned. While I am not taking 100% of the blame I am easily responsible for the lion’s share of the problems. In the end my marriage nearly ended, we lost the house, we lost the pets, and I ended up on medication.
While none of the final near collapse was fun it could have been a lot worse. If not for the “Middle Bump” in 2008 to release pressure I think my marriage would have ended before summer of 2009. There would be no Katie and my kids would have a busted family. Thankfully, mostly because of the steel in y wife’s spine, none of that happened.
I was just beginning to use my online blog to journal about my life at that time. Below I have decided to share with you, unedited, the journal entry I posted after Karen and I decided to save our marriage but before we decided to have Katie.
Please forgive the writing style. I was still learning my chops.
Mexican Coca-Cola … or … How I fell in love with Karen all over again
Last week my wife and my mother in law took a trip down to Cincinnati and went shopping at Jungle Jim's, a giant specialty supermarket. When she came home she had a case of Mexican Coca-Cola, soda the way the gods intended it to be … in glass bottles and made with Cane Sugar and not High Fructose Corn Syrup. She did this, not because she liked the soda overly much, but because she loves me.
Karen and I had a rough 2008, I take most of the blame for this. The stresses over the book and the job that never happened lead to me shutting down toward those that I love most in this world in a misguided and foolhardy attempt to shield them from my darkness. We stopped talking and spending any real time together, I felt that I had lost my partner in life.
Things changed on Christmas, we had a long discussion about all aspects of our life together. It could have been the end of my marriage, even thinking those words is enough to make me want to vomit, but it wasn’t. Over the last few weeks Karen and I have been, for lack of a better phrase, dating each other again. I feel like we are sixteen, it has been fun and I have realized something breathtaking …
… I love Karen Marie Hilden more now than on the day I married her.
My life has been a good one, mainly because of the woman standing beside me.
That was the center of the hardest 7 years of my adult life. The period encompassing the years between my nervous breakdown until I finally got my shit together. Through all of those years there was Karen, standing by me and holding me up when I couldn’t do it myself.
18 years after I convinced her to be “My Girl” Karen is still my good right arm, my best friend, and my lover. All the amazing thing that have happened to me in the last year and a half are because Karen was there to encourage me when I needed it and kick me in the ass when I REALLY needed it.
She has been with me half my life at this point. I can’t imagine life without her. I love her more now than I did that day 18 years ago and I can’t imagine my life without her at my side.
I love you Karen.
- Josh (11-1-2013)