For a long time, I envied my husband his passion for his work. Where I had a job, he had a mission.
As an aerospace engineer, John has always believed that if we fail to push the boundaries and expand our frontier into space, humankind won’t ultimately survive. A little Star Trek, I know, but I’ve always liked science fiction, and the guy’s a rocket scientist, for Pete’s sake. It’s hard not to be impressed by that.
From the moment I met him, I knew he was ambitious. And I admired that it wasn’t money, fame, or a sense of adventure that drove him, but a desire to advance the cause of his fellow man.
So when he put his career ahead of our relationship in the months leading up to his hospitalization, I didn’t complain. We rarely saw each other during the week—I had a teaching job that required me to be at work by 7:00 am and in bed by about 9:30 pm, whereas he was getting up around 9:00 am and coming home after midnight—but I knew that he was trying to build a future for us, and I only wished I could find a job I loved as much as he loved his.
He was working hard, but he was happy, and I loved him for that.
My attitude changed dramatically, however, after his company called the cops to stop by our apartment and check on him because they couldn’t get a hold of me (I was at work) and John was, as his VP of HR described it, “incoherent and distraught.”
That day, as I dragged John to the doctor, the psychologist, and finally the mental hospital, I began to wonder if a passion for space fully explained the zeal with which he approached his job.
Could his unwavering ambition be part of the psychotic illness that had assailed him? And would it wind up costing him his career?
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