4 weeks ago, at this moment, I was trying to remain calm. I had driven all over Utah County and asked places Denny frequented if they had seen him(Denny is hard to miss unless he’s in a crowd of tall people, then you can’t even see his head). I called his best friend, his mom, and his brother. I called his boss and a secretary from his work to tell them he may be late and to let me know the second he gets there.
Earlier that week he’d shown some signs of stress. But, if you know Denny, he gets stressed out all of the time. He would have a less than average month at work and threaten to quit (though he never actually followed through and we had this conversation 40,000 times). His best friend and I always teased him about being a bit of a Drama Queen. 95% of the time he was even keeled. But then he had that 5% that was over the top. Stressed out Denny was a familiar one.
The stress from work came because all Denny ever wanted was to protect and provide for his family. So badly. His dad never did this growing up and was not a great human. Denny was determined to be the opposite of that. So if he felt he wasn’t meeting his own expectations, he became stressed. One thing he finally learned to do over the years we were married is to let go of this work stress when he walked through the door. It’s something we worked on a lot, but he still would get stressed out from time to time.
This time was different though. He started telling me A LOT of things. A lot of things that were overwhelming for me to hear. On Wednesday, he just started sharing with me some of his deepest insecurities, his worries, his failures, his addictions, traumatic things from his childhood, him being afraid of turning into his father, etc. He sobbed into me. Not like cubs-winning-the-world-series sob, like a someone-who-felt-broken type sob. He had kept a lot of this inside. And although he was so honest with me about everything else, there was a part of him that he refused to express which caused dishonesty and shame.
Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, he continued to tell me more things. Some things that we really needed to work through together. I was honestly hurt and sad and felt betrayed. I wished he could have opened up to me about this a long time ago. However, I told him we can do this. He called me continuously on Thursday from work, telling me more things he felt he had done wrong or been dishonest about. Probably a dozen times or more. He came home and we talked more. He thought I was going to leave him. That was not even an option in my mind. He finally was giving me his complete heart. He was ready to do this.
I was proud of him for finally opening up. I had no idea that all of this was going on in his head and heart. Absolutely no clue. Someone who has struggled with these things for their whole life becomes a professional at hiding them. It’s incredible what we can repress and deny and hold down inside of us. I let him know that it hurt me, and it was going to be hard, but this is our chance to make things right, to get him into therapy to deal with some of these demons. He was all in. And so was I. We came up with a plan. All the things we would do to heal together. We had a strong relationship and truly loved one another. I believed we could do this and told him so. He was feeling hopeless and weak, but I told him it was far from hopeless and he was so strong. These things were fixable. And if anyone could do it, he could.
Denny had a lot of things going against him in his life. He had a lot of heartache and more trials than I can even begin to explain. And more than any person I’ve ever known. He was so strong and overcame so much. He really just wanted to be a good man. And he was. He was so good. To the absolute core. This is why I loved him so easily and so wholly. He just wanted to be good and pure and a loving husband and father. And he was all of those things. But he didn’t see it that way. He let these things get in the way of that view. He let fixable things become permanent fixtures in his mind. Depression and Anxiety are the conduits that allow that to happen.
All day Friday we searched for him. He had left his phone home which he never does so I knew he left with the intention of hiding out. Worst case, thought he’d have a couple of bad days and come back. He struggled with alcoholism for many years. Starting in high school he became a very heavy drinker. Let’s make it clear, he was the life of every party whether he was drunk or not. But he did get sober in 2011. He didn’t have any from that point on. So I never knew him as an alcoholic. But his loved ones will attest that when he was drinking, and he would have a stressful situation, it wasn’t uncommon for him to disappear for a few days and re-emerge once he sobered up. I never would have thought this specific stress could push him to do that but when he went missing Friday morning, I thought worst case he was in Wendover and would be home in a few days. [Side note: He was open about his alcoholism if you asked him. He worked hard to overcome that and was proud of what he did. I was so proud of him too.]
Those closest to him said he had done this before when he wasn’t so stable and when he was struggling. They said, “He’ll be back.” And I didn’t doubt that. But I was still going to do everything in my power to find him and the second he walked in that door I was going to punch him and then hold him.
This is all difficult to write. But I feel that it is so important. I will share a little at a time to give myself a break. I have seen how much these posts seem to be helping people and I hope with each one, it helps more and more people. It also helps me to share so until people are sick of it, I’ll keep being an open book.
Part III Here