Surviving Amor Fou, #1: Panic Attacks

a·mour fou/ˌämo͝or ˈfo͞o/noun

  1. uncontrollable or obsessive passion.

I was first introduced to this concept when watching The Sopranos with Kevin. Tony Soprano fell in love with one of Dr. Melfi’s other patients and had quite a tumultuous time of it.

I kind of had a feeling at the time I watched those episodes that my marriage was like that on a different level (we never threw food at each other). No matter how angry I was with Kevin, I couldn’t live without him. He felt the same way. Almost six years into widowhood, I know for certain it was Amour Fou.

When we were alike, we were perfectly in sync. Butter and garlic. When we were dissimilar, we were oil and vinegar. We didn’t want to be around each other or we didn’t want to leave each other’s sight. With some variations on the scale sprinkled in for good measure. 18 years of that was quite a ride.

As I’ve stated many times, sense memory sucks. The other day, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in a long time. It was one of the songs Kevin used to taunt me with if he was angry at me (or angry in general and I was the only other human around). I went right back to being in front of his room, knocking and begging to be let in while the song blasted. All those dark days mixed into one and back came that empty feeling I used to get when he would get mad at me. It’s like I’d lost a part of me and the person who had the missing part wouldn’t give it back.

I turned off the song because I was panicking and it was emotionally painful. I’ve felt grief a lot when listening to music. I wipe away the tears and go on with my day. But this feeling stuck to me and suddenly the prospect of finishing my work day seemed impossible. So, I asked for the rest of the day off because I wasn’t feeling well, and I was granted it.

I talked a bit to those I discuss these things with, and pretty much stared at the TV for the rest of the day, trying to lose myself in familiar worlds. I did my best to cope. Only lamented the lack of access to benzos a tiny bit. (They have their purposes, but highly addictive, therefore difficult to obtain. Thankfully I had something that works just as well.)

That damned panic attack poked at many feelings and memories that I do my best to forget. In my mind’s eye, I had a montage of the worst of it. I couldn’t get it to stop. I hate every single one of those fights. I know a lot of them were the result of recurring bouts of failing to find fulfillment in the life I was told I wanted–combo housewife and office manager.

I can’t change any of it, therefore I don’t like to think about it. Who the hell wants to dwell on all that? Certainly not I. Yet it happens because it’s only been about three years since I began to understand the dynamics of that relationship. 20/20 hindsight, indeed. But I don’t know what knowing then what I know now would have helped all that much. Maybe avoided some arguments? But with Amour Fou, wouldn’t we have just found something else to argue about?

So, when you find yourself in a relationship that is one of those “Can’t live with you, can’t live without you” type things, be careful. As much as you think you can’t leave, you can. Then again, I’ll bet you know that but can’t bring yourself to leave. Believe me, I get it. It’s the nature of the beast, really. Just try to be honest with yourself in the “amour phase” and know that the shit’s gonna hit the fan again.

Also know that love doesn’t mean having to endure that kind of dynamic. It’s totally possible to love someone without having shouting matches on a regular basis.

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