Love As Mental Illness

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When I was twenty-five, I fell in love for the first time. Madly in love (with an emphasis on the “mad” in madly!). I thought of nothing else but this man. I exhausted all of my friends telling them every detail about him. Every word he uttered and every note he sent me were analyzed again and again.

The object of my affection was a very tall, very Southern, very attractive young doctor. I was in the hospital following surgery for a hyperactive thyroid. I met Dr. B as he was the intern assigned to my case. (Yeah, thank goodness I wasn’t there for a hemorrhoid operation.) I daydreamed constantly about the future I would have with him. I planned what I would wear when we married! I thought about the kind of wedding ring I would ask for. I was recently divorced and the mother of two young children. Were the children going to call him Daddy? Now, keep in mind, the relationship I had with Dr. B was really mostly (entirely?) in my head.

By the time I was released from the hospital, Dr. B had asked me to call him when I was feeling up to “getting together.” Oh my God! He likes me! Oh hell, are we going to have a big wedding or something small and intimate? Maybe an outdoor ceremony! That would be nice, right? I could put ribbons and flowers in my daughter’s hair! (Never mind that she was a tomboy and hated ribbons and flowers.)

Since I was going to call him, I spent many hours figuring out strategies about when this should happen. I didn’t want to call him too soon (as I still had stitches in my throat), and I didn’t want to wait too last to call him (“Who is this again?”). I waited about a week and a half before I made the call. I had the stitches removed in the morning so I decided that I’d call him in the afternoon. I wrote out what I thought I should say and then I rejected it as too planned. Just let it happen, right. With a trembling hand, I picked up the phone and dialed. When the hospital operator answered, I hung up. Okay, take a deep breath! Just ask them to page Dr. B. It was going to be our first telephone conversation so it had to be right, damn it!

I finally made the call. Dr. B and I became a regular item (again in my mind). Actually, he had little time for romance (or at least romance with me), but he did manage to see me about two or three times a month for the next three years. Okay, it was at least once a month. (Who remembers?) I still talked about him like he was my serious boyfriend, right up until the time he told me he was getting married. (Not to me, obviously.) This revelation ended my mental vacation on fantasy island! It was fun while it lasted.


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