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My past week seems about as coherent as a reel of student art film noir.
Last Friday the physician attached to the intensive stabilization therapy Charles attends asked him if he was on crack. He'd only asked for help with his intermittent insomnia.
Slights and injuries, real or imagined fix Charles' attention so tightly that he isn't able to let go. This is his greatest weakness He was so angered by her question that he wasn't able to sleep at all Friday night.
A few weeks back I wrote of Ms. Squalid Gossip. She was once one of Charles' few close friends. Her attempt to vilify him left me in tears for the first time since my friend Victor died and half feeling like Iíd be appearing on The Jerry Springer Show. Unsurprisingly their friendship ended.
Weirdly enough she periodically calls and asks to speak to Charles. The first time I was so startled that I asked her why she thought Charles would ever be willing to talk to her. If she ever had a relationship with canít be called anything other than reality the divorce was bitter and final. Iíve learned to not hang up. Sheíll call right back. I just set the phone down on the skillet and let her screech ďRichard! RichardĒ into it.
Ms. Gossip called again Sunday. Just knowing that she had took Charles to that hurt and enraged mental space again. Again he couldnít sleep. Thereís nothing I can say or do to help him sleep. (My own guess is that his body over produces catecholamine but I wouldnít pretend to be competent to have a right to guess. But when he is deeply in the bipolar high his exhaustibility is akin to the effects of methamphetamines.)
Tuesday night he slept but not well. He doesnít think he slept at all but I wake up irregularly during the night and he seemed to be. Admittedly he can be so quiet and still Iíve been fooled before.
Tuesday was a terrifying day for him. He heard someone say something nasty and when he turned around there was no one there. I donít know about you, but Iíve experienced plenty of auditory hallucinations. Maybe once every month or three. Usually ignorable but sometimes I walk around the house, check the doors to make sure no one is here. Perhaps because heís suffered from so many real illnesses Charles will assume the most horrible possibilities. So he was scared that heíd had a schizophrenic episode. I left work as soon as he told me so we could get home and he could rest and hopefully calm down.
When we talk about this sort of things I have to mark my words gingerly. I darenít seem dismissive. And one of the funny things about becoming someoneís lover is they often take what you say for granted. Charles will often be more convinced by a strangerís advice than mine. At least his esteem and respect for Gordon is strong. Iíve long encouraged him to form an friendship with Gordon independent of me since Gordonís instinctive and habitual clarity may do Charles more good than the therapeutic pros.
Last night with no discernable cause he wasnít able to sleep. We went out for a couple of errands this afternoon. But soon had to come home. Iíve never seen him look more tired, almost beaten.
Charles has a funny quirk when heís exhausted. Heíll do anything but go to bed. Heíll have to have a can of Cheerwine. Or a cigarette. Maybe three cigarettes. Heíll be passing out as he tries to smoke them. Once I had to pick him up and carry him to bed. Heís become more amenable to suasion lately. So when I simply stated ďTime for you to go to bedĒ he went.
I can sleep when Charles canít. But I canít sleep well. I know he isnít next to me. Iíll see the light on. Hear the keyboard. The light and sound donít bother me. It is knowing that heís trapped in his private hellishness. So I sleep lightly. And get up even earlier than my own accursed sleeping problems often rouse me.
So I get to work and donít feel much like working. Luckily, a machine given one with arms and locomotion could do much of it: pull books, print shipping labels, catalog books. I can go by rote.
Not complaining. When I signed up with life with Charles I knew thereíd be lots of demanding days. As Iíve said before I suspect some of my fulfillment is a mother inherited satisfaction in protecting and helping.
I do get silently crabby and cross. But I look at my belovedís narrow shoulders and the sappy magic revives again.