In Life

“You’re different now.”

“No I’m not. I’m better.”

“Better is different, though. You’re proving my point.”

“Better is a good thing.”

“Betterness is subjective.”

“You don’t think I’ve gotten better?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“You’ve never liked when things change.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“It is true. You’ve always hated change. You have to learn at some point that not all change is bad.”

“It’s not. I know that it’s not.”

“Well, then trust me when I say that this is good for me. I’m better.”

“Why do you think you’re better?”

“I mean, the doctors say that I am.”

“The doctors have their own ideas about what constitutes better and worse, though.”

“Everyone does. Are you saying you don’t think I should trust my doctors?”

“I’m saying I think you should trust yourself.”

“I trust myself to know when to trust other people or not. I trust my judgement enough to trust my doctors.”

“What about me?”

“What?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Usually.”

“Usually?”

“Well, yeah. Not unilaterally.”

“That.. hurts, actually.”

“That’s not what you expected to hear.”

“No.”

“Then why did you ask it, and open yourself up to that possibility?”

“I thought you would say yes.”

“I’ve changed. I didn’t want to lie to you just to make you feel good about my answer.”

“Did you used to do that?”

“Of course I did. Everyone does.”

“I don’t do that.”

“Yes you do.”

“Why do you think that? I’ve never been anything but honest with you. I’m trying to be honest now.”

“Because everyone tells little lies to make the people they care about feel better. It’s human nature. And anyway, if you think this conversation is about you being honest with me, we’re seeing it two different ways.”

“You think I’m lying?”

“I think you’re being truthful, sure. But it’s not because you want to be, or because you think the truth will help me somehow. It’s about you being comfortable.”

“…How did you turn this into a conversation about me?”

“We’re both part of this conversation, and this relationship. Why can’t we talk about both of us?”

“We can, it’s just…”

“It’s just that you had a certain agenda when you began this conversation, and I’m derailing it.”

“See, this is what I’m talking about. You never used to be like this.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Like you’re being now. You’re sort of… mean.”

“I’m not trying to be mean. Not at all.”

“Then why are you, like, attacking me?”

“I’m not attacking you. You’re twisting this all around. You’re the one who confronted me and started this whole thing of doubting whether I’m better now or not. I’m just, you know, responding.”

“You used to be nicer.”

“Nice isn’t always good. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that? No, I’m sure you’ve heard it before.”

“Usually when people say that, it’s like, in the context of someone who’s being nice. Just because someone is nice doesn’t mean they’re a good person.”

“That’s true, but I mean something different by it. I mean that someone — me — being nice isn’t necessarily good for that person. Sometimes if you’re too nice, it’s bad for you.”

“You think, what, that I’ve taken advantage of you being too nice to me? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Not really. I mean, maybe a little bit, but I don’t think you’ve meant it. I just think you’ve gotten used to me being down on myself, so I roll over when you want something from me, because I used to be afraid you wouldn’t love me.”

“You never needed to be afraid of that.”

“I know. I know that now. I always knew that, really, but that’s not what my mind told me. It told me to be afraid of losing you, because I wasn’t good enough. I was afraid of a lot of things, so I just let stuff happen. Now, I’m better. I want to stand up instead of just lying down because I don’t feel strong enough.”

“I guess that’s better.”

“It is.”

“Did you really think of me as, what, rolling over you?”

“Not so much. Not really in those terms. It was never a problem with you. It was my problem, and neither of us dealt with it as well as we could. The doctors just helped.”

“With drugs.”

“And advice. Conversation.”

“Yeah, but the drugs are a big part of it.”

“Is that what this is about? This whole conversation?”

“No.”

“It sure seems like it is.”

“I just…”

“Look, I know you’ve never liked drugs. That’s whatever. But you know there’s a difference between recreational drugs and medicine.”

“Yeah.”

“You couldn’t sound less convinced.”

“I mean… yeah, I know. Logically. That doesn’t mean my emotional side recognizes it.”

“You need to work on that.”

“…”

“You do. I was never going to get better all the way without my prescriptions. Either you accept it and move on, or… I don’t know. You don’t, and it eats you up the rest of our lives. Or we don’t spend our lives together. I guess.”

“Are you… saying you would break up with me?”

“…I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Because I don’t like drugs?”

“No, because you have this idea about drugs and how they’re just always ‘bad,’ and you can’t change it even though they’ve made a positive impact on my life.”

“We haven’t decided that it’s positive yet.”

“We haven’t, but I have.”

“It’s only been a month.”

“True, and you know I’m normally slow to decide on things, so it should be significant to you that I’ve already recognized the change. The positive change. I’m better than I was.”

“We used to decide things together.”

“This is different. Come on, you have to know that.”

“How?”

“It’s… This is about me. About my mental health. It’s about me in a much more personal way than other stuff in our lives. It’s not like we’re picking out what to have for dinner, or deciding on what pet to buy, or even, like, what house we buy. This is my life. This is my mind.”

“Is it really your mind if you’re using a drug to change the chemistry?”
“Oh. So that’s what this is about.”

“Come one. I love you. The real you.”

“Really? You’re coming at me with that? I’m still me. Changing a few brain chemicals doesn’t make me a different person.”

“Isn’t that all our brains are? A bunch of chemical and electrical interactions? I feel like I could argue that yes, in fact, changing those things with outside influence does change who you are.”

“Look. I’m happier now. Not right now, obviously, because this conversation is… frustrating. But in general. I feel better than I have in, what, years? I feel more real. More alive. That should matter to you.”

“It does.”

“Not enough.”

“That’s not fair.”

“You’re not being fair! You want me to give up something that’s good for me because you have these stupid moral and philosophical hangups. I love you, but please, get over yourself.”

“Wow.”

“Don’t say that like that. I’m not the bad guy here.”

“You’re being such an ass about this. You’re saying I’m the bad guy?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. I just… Please. Please, just let me have this thing that makes my life better.”

“It’s not like I want your life to be worse.”

“It would be worse without this. It was worse, before. I know you saw that. You’re the one who encouraged me to get help.”

“I guess I just pictured that help going differently.”

“They tried. I asked them to try everything we could do without drugs, because you were opposed to them.”

“You did?”

“Yes. It didn’t work. It’s a chemical imbalance. No amount of talk therapy was going to fix it. Not completely.”

“I guess I didn’t realize you did that.”

“I knew the whole thing bothered you, so I tried to protect you from it. I guess. See? It’s like what I said. Everyone fudges the truth a bit to protect people they want to feel better.”

“…”

“I need this. I’m going to keep with the treatment, whether you approve of it or not. I’d really like if you can come to accept it. We’ll both be happier that way. My life is better with you in it. I’d like to keep it that way.”

“Do you think you’ll be able to go off of the meds someday?”

“The doctors said that I might. They couldn’t make any promises, so I can’t, either. So maybe. Who knows?”

“Okay. Well, I’ll think about it.”

“You’ll think about it?”

“That’s the best I can do for now. I know it’s not great. I know I’m not being a great partner. This is me giving what I can, though, okay? I’ll… I’ll try to be better.”

“Okay. For now, that’s okay. I can accept it.”

“For now?”

“Yeah. But everything in life is ‘for now,’ you know? We’ll see where we get with trying. All we can ever really do is try.”

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