… When he could not, would not, or did not complete a task, frustration exacerbated his proverbial short fuse. Tony’s outbursts became more predictable – the slightest variation from his set routine or anything unexpected raised his level of anxiety to extreme. He thundered with exemplary sound and fury until spent, followed often by tears of remorse after I had collected the dog in my arms and left Tony ranting in the room alone.
My own disposition could be fiery as well, but I learned to let the upsets roll over me without reacting. None of the outbursts was personal or continuous, Tony simply let fly and cleared his own air.
Other mood swings were new and challenging to us both. If the mantle of his despair occasionally felt too heavy, Tony would speak of wanting to die, to kill himself, so he could end it all without taking me down too. Combinations of depression and frustration completely overwhelmed him, sometimes for several days.
During these periods, I learned to remind Tony of our happy times together, how his family loved him, and that we would muddle through together. I would touch his shoulder as I passed by, sometimes a hug if he wept, more often I sat next to him and held his hand.
The dog would peer into Tony’s face and sit very still, waiting for the familiar cue to jump up and flop down next to Tony. Sometimes either a single slurping lick or the dog throwing himself on his back for a tummy-rub broke the spell! Tony’s gloom usually dissipated until another day.
Mornings were a reflective time of day for me, awakening after Tony had arisen. Occasionally there would be exemplary crashes of kitchenware, outbursts of aggravation or banging of cupboard doors; a signal that the day had not begun well. I slipped downstairs quietly, said “good morning”, and retreated to the bedroom with my mug of coffee. Quiet time for me time did not begin until after Tony’s bedtime.
My regrets were few, my resentment fleeting…