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Chapter One – The Ultimatum
Neil looked down at Jane, and let out a sigh. She was curled up on the couch, asleep. She might’ve looked cute there, if circumstances were different. Instead, he only felt disappointment, growing frustration, and even some disgust. She still looked attractive to him, even after she’d put on a bit of weight the last few months. She certainly wasn’t obese, but she had a few extra pounds that weren’t there when they’d first started dating. It was hard to see that physical attraction sometimes lately, with everything else in the way.
Neil had just gotten home from work. Jane had been home all day, as usual. After being unable to make it to her job on time, and often not at all, she’d been fired several months ago. Several months… thought Neil, the ridiculousness of the situation occurring to him yet again. She claimed to be unable to look for another job, and with how she’d been acting he knew she’d never keep a job anyway.
They shared a house together, which had been Neil’s since before they’d gotten together. The first couple of years they were together were so perfect. He adored her, and knew the feeling was mutual. Eventually they’d decided to move in together, and Neil often thought of taking things to the next level and getting married. Then, about six months earlier, Jane entered a particularly debilitating bout of depression. She’d fought with depression off and on since he’d known her, but this time was much worse. It was then that her job performance got much worse, and her motivation to do much of anything ebbed away. She’d never been exactly ambitious, but she’d done well enough.
It was hard not to feel resentful at times. Each morning he’d get up and go to work, like most people. And she’d just continue to sleep. He’d work all day, and come home to nothing having been done. He was the only one bringing in any money, and also the only one doing anything around the house. He loved her, certainly, and wanted so much to support and help her. But it was hard to help a person that refuses to help themselves. She wouldn’t even see a doctor or therapist. In the meantime she resided largely on the couch. She’d promise to do the dishes or laundry, or some other mundane chore. And he’d come home to everything exactly as it was, or perhaps a bit worse with another layer of dishes on top of the dirty pile.
Neil wasn’t sure what to do. He loved her, and he wanted her to feel better… for her, but also for himself and their relationship. What they’d had for months now could only be called a relationship in the broadest of terms. She hardly spoke to him and they rarely did anything together. He couldn’t remember when they’d last been intimate. He felt a pang of regret at that thought. It was difficult being faithful to a woman who showed no interest in him anymore. But he stuck by her. He just didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. He was constantly exhausted, from working, doing all the chores, cooking, and trying to help Jane.
He’d practically begged her to go to therapy, to talk to her doctor about her meds, to try exercising or just SOMETHING to try to get better. But she always refused to do anything. Or often more accurately, reluctantly agreed but said she’d do it later. And later never came.
She’d always been an independent, willful, sassy woman. Something that Neil found attractive about her. But now that willfulness had turned to a destructive stubbornness. She was either unable or unwilling to do anything or make any changes that Neil suggested.
Was he being too nice? Too accommodating? Maybe he was enabling her to be like this. He knew she had a real problem, but he couldn’t help but feel like her laziness had taken over and went beyond her mental health issues. How was she going to get any better if she didn’t try?
He felt he was nearing the end of his rope. His friends had told him to leave her long ago, but he couldn’t bring himself to. He loved her. And what kind of person would he be to abandon her in the midst of when she needed him most? He knew he couldn’t do this forever, though. There was no balance to their relationship, no reciprocation of anything. No real substance to their relationship either. As supportive and kind as he’d been, he wasn’t sure he was doing her any real favors. Maybe by taking care of her he was just allowing her to remain this way. As difficult as it was, he decided to go through with the talk he’d intended to have with her.
Reaching down, he shook her gently. “Jane,” he said simply.
Jane slowly woke up, and looked up at him. “Oh, you’re home. What time is it? I’d just laid down for a few minutes. Did you have to wake me?” She looked annoyed.
“Oh wow, I guess I was tired,” Jane commented with a yawn, “Still, you didn’t have to wake me.”
Neil felt annoyance well up in him that she was upset he’d woken her, when he’d been working all day. He decided not to give in to those feelings bursa escort right now. “Honey, can we talk?” Neil asked, dreading the conversation to come.
“I guess I don’t have much choice, do I?” Jane snapped, looking up at him from her spot on the couch. She slowly sat up, and Neil sat down next to her.
“I know we’ve talked about this quite a few times over the last few months, but I think we need to talk about your health,” Neil paused a moment, “And about us,” he finished.
“About… us.” Jane repeated slowly, “Meaning you’re finally leaving me,” she concluded with a sigh. “Fine. I don’t blame you. I know I’ve been a terrible girlfriend, and you deserve so much better than this.”
“Jane, that’s not it at all. It doesn’t have to be like that. I love you, and I want to be with you. But I want to be with YOU… I want my girlfriend back. I kills me to see you like this, day in and day out. I can’t help but feel like I’m somehow preventing you from getting better, because I enable you to stay like this.” Neil told her, earnestly, tears forming in his eyes.
Jane was getting choked up as well, “You’ve done, and continue to do, so much for me. Any other guy would’ve left me a long time ago, but you’ve stuck by me through all of this. None of this is your fault… you’re an amazing boyfriend and you always have my best interest at heart. I know I’ve let you down… I know I’m not the girlfriend that you want or that I was. I’m sorry I don’t treat you like you deserve. I’m such a bitch to you.”
“I’ve tried to do what I can to support you. But I think for both our sakes I need to be a little more… firm. I don’t like ultimatums, but I don’t see a lot of other choices. Tomorrow you’re going to call your doctor and make an appointment to discuss your meds. And you’re going to go to see my therapist… we can go together as a couple and then later on you can go individually. I can’t watch you continue this downward spiral anymore. If you don’t want to do those things, then we’re going to have to talk about… about taking a break from our relationship.” Neil’s voice cracked a bit at that last part, the idea of not being together obviously being very difficult for him to verbalize.
Jane’s gut reaction to most situations was to be defensive. She reflexively snapped, “So I do what you want or you break up with me, huh? If that’s what you want, then just fucking say it. You don’t want me anymore, I get it. So just fuck off already.”
Neil didn’t say anything, just looked down at the floor, shoulders slumped in a sort of admission of defeat, a tear falling down his cheek. This was just what he’d hoped to avoid, just what he’d feared. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, he mused. If she refused to see that he wanted to help her, refused to help herself… there wasn’t much else he could do.
Jane looked over at Neil, seeing the combination of pain, frustration, and sincerity on his face. She felt her anger subside, replaced by regret and guilt. Thinking more clearly now, she recognized that this situation had been really hard for him and that it wasn’t in any way fair to him. He was just trying to help. “I’m sorry,” she said, after a long, thoughtful pause, “That wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t true. I… I don’t know why I said all that. I guess the fear of you leaving me has been in the back of my mind for a while now.” Neil also knew that her medication caused her to be more volatile sometimes.
She paused again, considering. Seeing the tears in his eyes, she said again, “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I know you care about me. I understand what you’re saying.” She took his hand, and looked at him. “I want to make this work. I’ll make that call tomorrow, I promise. And… I’ll even go see your therapist with you.”
Chapter Two – Option Three
A few days later, they went to see Neil’s therapist, Sandra, together. Despite Jane’s new willingness to go, she seemed entirely uncooperative during the session. She’d just shut down or snap back aggressively when asked difficult questions. All the hope that Neil felt at her agreeing to go ebbed away from him when he saw how little progress they were making. If anything, things seemed worse.
Over the next few weeks they had a couple of therapy sessions together, and Jane had several solo sessions. Nothing seemed to change. Her mood and behavior hadn’t improved at all. She made no attempt to help with anything around the house, as had become normal lately. Neil was beyond frustrated that the therapy he was so hopeful about was so ineffective.
One afternoon, Neil had a solo appointment with Sandra. As usual, the main topic of discussion was Jane. “I don’t know what to do,” Neil confessed, “I feel like I’ve done everything I can for her. But I don’t want to kick her to the curb, either.” Neil knew that if they broke up, she had nowhere else to go. She had no family in the area, and not having had a job for months, she had no money to get a place of her own. bursa escort bayan He might literally make her homeless.
“Neil,” began Sandra, a well-respected therapist in her middle years, “I know this has been incredibly hard on you. I’m glad I’ve finally gotten to meet her, even if it hasn’t exactly gone as you’d hoped. I’ll be honest. Though she’s been coming to most of our scheduled sessions, it’s obvious she’s not there in spirit. She just sits sullenly the whole time, refuses to say more than a few words that aren’t abrasive. To be frank, I’m making zero progress with her.”
Neil felt the last bit of hope he’d had, slipping away. He looked down at his lap, tears forming in his eyes.
“She’s obviously in a very difficult place.” She confirmed, looking over at him with concern evident on her face. “But,” she continued, “So are you.”
Neil looked up, blinking back the tears, not sure where this was going.
“You always put her first, and think only of her feelings and welfare. You have to think about yourself, too. You can’t take care of her while giving up on yourself. If you don’t do what’s right for you, are you really helping her? I’m not saying you need to go home and break up with her, but I think you need to start putting yourself first and be ready to make more… difficult decisions.”
“What are you saying?” asked Neil, still unsure of what this was all about. “I’m just not ready to let go of her.”
“I’m not saying you should,” Sandra replied softly. “But I think what Jane needs is help that you can’t provide. And what you need is some space from her and this whole situation. So as I see it, there are three options here. Option one, you continue everything as-is. She continues to be miserable, and you continue to be miserable. I think we would both agree that’s not a viable long-term option. Option two, you leave her. You’ll be pretty distraught about it for a while, and she’ll be homeless and continue to be indefinitely unless she gets her act together. Then there’s option three. It’s not an easy one. And she may not agree to it.”
“What option is that?” asked Neil, eager for any way out of this situation that didn’t mean leaving Jane.
“There’s an experimental therapy program, for troubled women like Jane. They take in women with self-destructive habits, crippling depression; those with no sense of purpose, self-esteem, or hope. The women stay at this facility for an extended period of time (a minimum of a month, sometimes longer), and undergo various kinds of therapy in order to rebuild their egos and instill better habits and behavior. But,” paused Sandra, “it’s not easy. It’s a bit like a military boot camp, and they are very strict. When self-hatred, depression, and destructive behaviors are as engrained in a person as they are in Jane, the only way to true healing is to peel those layers away. The therapy can only work by tearing the person down and then building them back up with a healthier mindset and habits. Which isn’t a pleasant process. Their methods are a bit… controversial, and seem harsh, but they have a 100% success rate for those who graduate from the program.”
Neil considered this for a moment. The last thing he’d want is to put her through an even more difficult situation. “I… I don’t know if I could suggest that to her. It sounds pretty awful.”
“In some ways it is, at first. But as they are in the program, it gets easier. And by the end of it, they’re so grateful that they did it. I’ve had several patients and several loved ones of patients go through the program, some in even worse places than Jane, and they always come out of it in a far better place. All of them are currently leading meaningful, happy lives.”
Mulling it over some more, Neil sat silently for a moment. “I guess that sounds promising. Still, it was so difficult to get her to even come here to see you with me. I can’t imagine her agreeing to something so… invasive.”
“I’m sure it wouldn’t be easy. If you’d like I can bring it up to her, here in a session with you. Together, maybe we can help her see how limited her options are and how this is likely the best one for her. A combination of the person who cares most about her and a professional opinion may be enough to sway her.”
“That would probably help,” conceded Neil.
“Also, the other part of this that makes it both easier and harder, is that she would need to sign over legal rights to make medical decisions for her. This program is intense, and it would never work if she can just decide to leave it on a whim. So she’d have to agree to undergo the therapy, and to give you the sole ability to remove her from it. I say this makes it easier and harder, because that power is a difficult thing to give to someone else. It requires complete trust in the other person. But once that has been given, it makes it easier because from then on since it’s up to you,” Sandra explained.
Neil was surprised at this. escort bursa “That… seems extreme. I know she trusts me, but she’s also very independent. I’m not sure if she’d agree to that. And I’m not sure if I’d want her to. How exactly does the therapy work? What happens there?”
“Unfortunately, part of the way the therapy works is by the participant not knowing how it works or what is going to happen. The element of unknown is part of the therapy. As such, their methods are not publicly released. Though once you’ve been signed over medical authority, more details would be told to you before you make the final decision to enroll her. Those details would, of course, not be able to be shared with her. You’d also likely be a part of her therapy, if you’d be willing to. They would have you visit at specific times to assist and help build a foundation for when she goes back home.”
Neil sat a moment, absorbing all of this. “OK. I don’t really like the sound of this option, but it’s hard not to admit it being better than losing her altogether and her being homeless and destitute. I’ll give it some thought.”
Chapter Three – The Decision
Neil didn’t discuss anything about the new “option” with Jane, but it was on his mind almost constantly over the next couple of weeks. Jane showed no signs of improvement, and he could tell that things weren’t going to get any better on their own.
One evening, after dinner, (which Neil prepped, cooked, and cleaned up himself as usual), he finally decided he’d try the third option. If she refused to go along with it, he’d probably have to leave her. He just couldn’t continue this any longer.
During his next session with Sandra, he told her he’d decided to try to convince her. They discussed it further and decided that at their next couples’ session, Sandra would bring it up. Jane seemed on better behavior when Neil was there, and this way Neil could voice his approval of the option.
A few days later they had a session with Sandra together. Neil felt pretty nervous leading up to it, knowing it was going to be difficult to convince Jane to go along with this plan. He also worried that she might become defensive and feel like they were “ganging up” on her.
After a few minutes of pleasantries, Sandra decided to get down to it. “Jane, Neil and I have something we’d like to talk to you about. Before we began, I want you to know that Neil loves you and after a great deal of consideration has only decided to approach you with this because he wants to stay with you and see you improve and enjoy life again.”
Jane looked back and forth between Sandra and Neil, her apprehension growing. “What… what are you talking about?”
Neil looked at her, “Sweetie, there’s a program we’d like to talk to you about. A way for you to get the help you need.” He looked down and said in a smaller voice, “The help… that I can’t give you.”
Sandra took over and explained the program, largely as she’d explained it to Neil, choosing to avoid or gloss over some of the less pleasant attributes that she’d mentioned to him. Surprisingly to Neil, Jane sat the entire time, appearing to listen, and didn’t interrupt. She mentioned that in her medical opinion this was the best option for her, and that without it their relationship was likely to end.
Jane felt more apprehensive as she imagined living in some facility for a month or more, at the mercy of whatever weird therapy method they wanted to throw at her. It sounded very uncomfortable. Though so did not being with Neil anymore, and the resulting life changes of not having a home. She knew she was in a bad place, and had been for some time. What if I really do need something this drastic to climb out of this? she asked herself.
“Do you have a brochure about it so I can find out more details?” asked Jane.
“I’m sorry, but the details of the program are confidential. Knowing them would jeopardize the program’s effectiveness,” Sandra replied.
“So… you expect me to blindly agree to go live in some facility for at least month, without knowing anything about what I’m really agreeing to?” Jane asked, a bit exasperated.
“Yes,” Sandra answered, “And no. Yes, you would not know the details of what you’d be signing up for. I can tell you as I told Neil, that at first it won’t be fun. I’ve heard it described as similar to a boot camp. To be perfectly honest, you’ll probably hate it at first. But everyone I’ve talked to that’s gone through the program ended up enjoying it and being grateful for it at the end. And no,” Sandra continued, in reference to Jane’s question, “you wouldn’t be agreeing blindly because Neil will know more of the details, though not all. Do you trust him?”
Jane answered without any hesitation, “Absolutely.”
Neil felt a wave of relief at her saying this. He feared she’d hate him for bringing this up to her.
“Do you trust him enough to put the ultimate decision about this in his hands?”
Jane thought for a moment. It was one thing to trust her boyfriend, but another to essentially give him control over her life. But she realized, she’d already given him that control in relying on him so heavily the last few months. “Yes.” She answered, finally.
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