It doesn’t help to know either that I am depressed or the cause. That heaviness in my chest is constant, my muscles are tight and breathing is constrained; of course, I can fool my body for a while. I can go for a brisk walk or go to the gym, even talk to someone about an interesting topic, but that heaviness is always there and damps my every move and action. I find it difficult to read and learn and find it easy to lie down and sleep any time.
Of course it is loneliness, I miss being able to talk and have fun. I miss being able to share a joke or an incident, not because she isn’t there, but because she cannot understand what I say. I have some friends that I see every week or so and try to keep my home life out of the conversation. I don’t want to taint the few clear, bright spaces I have.
Strangely, except for those few friends, I try to keep myself outside of the world. I sort of glide through the day, going food shopping, having coffee and sitting watching the people going by, somehow isolated from them by an unbreakable, invisible wall.
Two days ago, someone that I’ve know for a good long time maneuvered me into going out for lunch with him. When he suggested that we meet, I suggested that very day because I knew if I had to look forward to it, I would cancel. He is a nice, very intelligent, retired college professor and, surprisingly, quit religious. At the lunch he asked if we could say grace, I replied that I was an atheist but if he wanted he could say it to himself.
I was on edge, fearful, not that he would try to proselytize me, but that he would say something and I wouldn’t be able to keep from saying something unpleasant in return. In that moment I pictured myself as this thin skin over a roiling ball of anger. Being an intelligent man, he seemed to understand and we got past that. We talked for a long time about nothing consequential, town politics, his daughter who lives abroad, nothing important. When it was finally over I dropped him at his door and, when he suggested another lunch, I said I’d call.
Sleeping and being alone with my wife, quiet, seems like such desirable future. Let the days go by, let whatever happens happen, not think about the life I am missing. Sleeping and eating and forgetting the times and the days of the week.
My wife just came in and asked what day it was and didn’t recognize my answer. She likes to walk around Wegman’s and buy food; every day since last Wednesday, 8 days, I have suggested going and she says she can’t get ready but will go tomorrow. I buy groceries and plan meals and, if we ever go, it will be just an outing for her.
I am learning to keep my feelings somewhere tamped down and be as sweet and pleasant and gentle as I can with her on the outside. When I am alone, I can only just give in to what I feel; I just cannot fight my way out any more.
Nights are long and I spend part of them in my chair in my office, with the radio turned down so low I have to strain to hear it and thus get distracted from those terrible nighttime thoughts.