Before graduating high school, one of the first military recruiters I visited was for the US Navy. Based on my ASVAB scores and other indicators, it was pitched that I might be a good candidate for SEAL school, which greatly appealed to just-turned-seventeen-year-old me. Such a career tract was not to be realized, though the potential remains locked in my memory. That and the motto from SEAL training: “The only easy day was yesterday.”
Despite not realizing a military service career in the Navy nor in their counterpart the US Marine Corps (which did earn my enlistment but not my service, as the powers that be wanted to change my MOS to “marching band”—marching band?—so I caught an exit ticket based on my defiant attitude; I still regret it), that saying about the only easy day being yesterday has come to full fruition in my life. Nothing today seems easy, with responsibilities increasing with the passage of time and my seeming loneliness to complete task after task has me feeling like Sisyphus and Job alike both look at me and think, “Damn. Poor guy.”
It’s not that I mind being responsible and helping those who need it. It’s part of my nature and, to a large degree, gives me satisfaction knowing I’ve done something to offer more of myself. However, when there is never a break from what is expected or needed from me—and that the list of expectations continues to grow, bit-by-bit—I feel myself pushed up against a breaking point. Or another breaking point; I’ve been broken several times over the past couple of years, and each time, the repairs become more complicated. Krazy Glue, duct tape, or what-have-you can only do so much.
When N— & I were dating, I honestly disclosed the fallout and failings of my first marriage, some 20-something years ago, and relayed what I felt to be the secret to a successful relationship, marriage or otherwise: Reciprocity; give & take. But MS has inhibited N—’s ability—maybe even willingness—to give, and I get it: MS is a mentally & physically exhausting disease. But I, too, am mentally and physically exhausted from having given so much to the relationship, to the marriage, to everyone who needs so much from me, be it her, the kids, my folks, my job. I have so little left to give, including caring for what happens. To borrow from a Nine Inch Nails song: I believe I can see the future / Because I repeat the same routine / … / Every day is exactly the same.
The only easy day may have been yesterday, which leaves me less than optimistic about tomorrow and the future in general. I have become numb to so much that I accept what must because I cannot leave N— to suffer this on her own; that would not be morally or ethically correct for me to do, wedding vows or not. Like Sisyphus, then, I’ll just continue to push my boulder only to have it roll down again and start all over. Yesterday, today, and forever.