A story of love -- and incredible patience waiting for someone21 april 2014, 12:56
Tommy is one of the most self-assured guys I know.
The American business executive is not arrogant or egotistical, just self-assured. A guy who knows with certainty that when he chooses a path, it’s the right one.
He’s had to be self-assured to continue loving Zhanar after she left him a year ago.
Tommy, who is in his late 30s, figured out early in his relationship with Zhanar that she has a mental condition, and needs the help of medical professionals.
Zhanar is only 26, so at one point I thought some of her erratic behavior might be just youthful emotion.
But when Tommy told me more about her up-and-down behavior, I realized he was right. Zhanar has what people these days call “issues.”
One of her issues is abandoning others. Zhanar had quarrels with both Tommy and her 20-year-old sister Bibigul about a year ago – and cut off relations with both of them.
Zhanar had had a tough childhood, losing her father when she was 8. Psychiatrists will tell you that those who are abandoned often become abandoners themselves.
Zhanar’s abandonment of Tommy might have been expected. They had known each other only a year.
But her abandonment of Bibigul was a shocker because they had been close all their lives.
In fact, they became even closer than most sisters because their mother was a busy professional who had little time for her daughters.
With Dad gone and Mom often tied up, Zhanar and Bibigul became each other’s lifeblood and mutual support.
Depression is another manifestation of Zhanar’s mental condition. It often appears for no reason, lasting from a few hours to several days.
But a disconcerting event in Zhanar’s life can trigger a longer depression. Tommy told me Zhanar’s break with Bibigul a year was so devastating that she’s been in depression most of the time since.
“I’ve tried to intervene to get the girls to reconcile,” Tommy said, “but I don’t know how to contact Bibigul – I don’t have her address or phone number. I’ve asked Zhanar to give me the number, but she refuses.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Zhanar can be very stubborn, especially when she thinks she’s right. She won’t tell me why she and Bibigul quarreled. But even if Bibigul was wrong, the split with her sister has damaged Zhanar’s psyche, keeping her in depression far longer than she’s ever been in it.
“I’ve begged her to reconcile with Bibigul – for her own well-being,” Tommy continued. “She won’t even discuss it – she just stays in depression.”
Tommy is so certain that the quarrel between the girls is the reason for Zhanar’s long-running depression that he volunteered to mediate the dispute. He told Zhanar he wanted to fly to Shymkent, where Bibigul is a university student, to talk about the situation.
“I want to tell her how much the rift has damaged Zhanar,” Tommy said, “and ask Bibigul to call her to suggest a reconciliation.”
In order to mediate, however, Tommy needs a way to contact Bibigul – and for whatever reason, Zhanar continues to refuse to give him Bibigul’s address or phone number. She won’t tell him why she refuses, either.
“I’m surprised about this,” I said. “You told me Zhanar is perceptive. She’s got to be aware that the event that triggered her depression was the split with Bibigul. As much as the girls loved and supported each other while they were growing up, Zhanar must be missing her sister terribly. It seems like she’d want you to mediate the quarrel. I wonder why she’s preventing you from doing so.”
“I have no idea,” Tommy said. “She won’t give me the smallest clue. I’m mystified.”
Tommy has another motive besides Zhanar’s happiness for wanting to mediate the dispute.
When the girls’ quarrel plunged Zhanar into depression, Zhanar stopped seeing Tommy, too.
Depression is like a toxin that kills feelings, that prevents the person suffering from it from being able to love others, psychiatrists say – whether the loved one is a paramour or a family member.
“So she hasn’t seen you for a year – and you’ve waited for her all that time?” I asked Tommy, astonished.
“I have,” he said.
“Why?” I asked. “Most guys would have given up long ago.”
“Because I know she loves me,” he said. “She told me she loved me three days before she went into depression. It’s the depression that’s to blame, not her underlying feelings.”
“Then the key to rejuvenating your love story with Zhanar and getting her to reconcile with Bibigul is to get her out of depression,” I said. “Have you tried to do that?”
“It’s been an ongoing campaign,” he said. “When I first told her more than a year ago that I was certain she had a mental condition, and needed therapy, she refused to discuss it.
“A few months ago she finally admitted she had a problem. I was thrilled – because the first step in getting treatment is owning up to the problem.”
A few weeks ago, Tommy said, Zhanar took the next step: saying she wanted to find a therapist.
When he first told her he believed she had a mental condition, he offered to find her an American psychiatrist who would work with her by Skype.
She has yet to accept that offer. He hopes she does, he said, because psychiatry is more advanced in the West than the rest of the world.
“And in the meantime, you’re willing to continue waiting for her?” I asked.
“I am,” he said. “I love her – and I can’t give up on her when she needs me so much.”
“You’re an amazing man,” I said. “She’s lucky to have you.”
“Tell her that,” he grinned. “Maybe it will be enough to put her over the top on therapy – to actually get her to go.”
I could see he hadn’t lost his self-assurance that he was doing the right thing for Zhanar.
Other men would have shrunk from the challenge long ago. Not Tommy.
He is one of those rare men I would follow into battle anytime.