re: Present Day:
Writing this blog is a challenge. It’s examining my own head in the context of a treatment I hoped would help with depression. But the blog isn’t totally insular. We don’t live in individual bubbles, which means the condition is affected by that which happens around us, and it affects those around us. As I write in attempts to connect with others on the issue, I find I come to realizations, and to new questions. This is my story, but in an attempt to find wider perspective, I reach out to others to discuss depression. How it got to where it was, what effects it has had, what it means for my relationships now. Questions that only others can answer…manifest. But depression is a sticky subject. As much as we tout the phrase “Don’t keep it inside…Reach Out!” when it comes to depression, there’s often this clumsy reality of it meaning you’re going to bring up things others don’t really want to talk about. Sometimes the “Reach Out” catchphrase seems to have this crummy subtext that’s like, “But I hope it’s not me you reach out to. At LEAST I hope you don’t talk about THAT particular thing”.
Navigating a swamp of uncomfortable subject matter- what can be said to who- can be so debilitating that oftentimes we find ourselves just clamming up. Which can get isolating. That isolation is what lead me down a dark path. Writing became the solution as, being one who I feel is often loved from a distance, it seemed fitting to share the story where others could take in these experiences from said safe distance. The downside is it can be painful. I find myself crying sometimes, hurt from recalling not-so-distant memories that never really found closure…and fearful of the perceptions of others.
I can easily then imagine being advised- the depressed receive unsolicited advice from the not-depressed quite a bit- “Stop writing, if it HURTS you!”. Ah, platitudes. But. No. Doesn’t deep tissue massage hurt? Doesn’t exercise hurt? And yet we need to do these things to work out kinks, balance imbalances, strengthen where we are weak…so yes, this process hurts, but burying it under a veneer of false happy hurts more in the long run. Avoidance doesn’t make that past go away.
And if it hurts someone else to read? Yeah, you might read things here you don’t especially like reading. And so, you don’t have to. At the end of the day, this is my story to tell, a story about hurt, humiliation, humility, hope…and leaving out certain inconvenient, awkward bits will not do it justice. Again, the blog is bigger than me. It’s also a reflection of things other depressed people wish they could say. The thing is, there was a time when I thought I shouldn’t be here. At all. And then I still was. And I couldn’t imagine what purpose I could serve, that someone else couldn’t. Then I started this blog. Because few people are writing about TMS, and depression, at this level of detail. And I thought, maybe my accounts can help somebody else. It seems they have. People I don’t even know. So I have a conviction, that’s stronger than the pain. I need to do this. I believe I’m still here so I can do this. Through the discomfort- mine and yes, I realize, sometimes yours- rises a sense of purpose, and in my mind, that supersedes all else. I want to thank those of you who do read, and I hope it provides some insight- or at least a sense of connection, or a good laugh during dark days. On to the story. Buckle in- this one is a long and twisty-turny ride.
I slept badly last night and am exhausted this morning.
My jaw is locked up on one side. It throbs.
I’m also processing a family friend’s unexpected death, so there’s that. I don’t know really who to talk to about it. I don’t want anyone to try to reach into their magic solutions bag and try to make me better. This is the problem with too many well-meaning fixers.
If I want to know what to do, I’ll ask (incidentally, I run into the opposite problem with professional therapists, whereby the latest trend seems to be to just listen and offer 0 guidance, when they should be the most qualified person to do so…but given the fact that they don’t know to do this, Maybe Not! IT’S A RIDDLE).
I just want to connect with another human and talk about this. I walk into DD in a haze to get coffee before TMS…even though I’m not really supposed to have the caffeine beforehand for some reason. An overview of the Grammys plays on TV.
I am thinking a lot about love this morning. My higher powers of reasoning are seemingly obliterated by senseless, pointless, useless infatuation. All my lizard brain wants to do is bond, bond, bond.
My lizard brain is looking out for me never. My lizard brain is a pain in the ass.
Ah, fuck it. I know partially why I didn’t sleep well, and I know why my brain is turning to thoughts of LT in particular and infatuation in general. It’s because when I am authentically me, I am really fucking good at being with somebody, good at making someone else feel special. And I was not so much in my marriage, as an in-denial, untreated depressed mess. And now, dammit, there’s that part of me ready to prove what I can really be, as the clouds clear just a tad.
Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that. My head feels a little more clear the last day or two.
And also, we like to distract ourselves by doing things we’re good at. And I need distraction over something that really bothered me, that kept me up last night. A thing that happened with the X.
Going off topic for a second, we’re going to say “X” now, not “STBX”, because, let’s get real…the only thing that makes us not officially exes now is paperwork, and honestly, relationships- by and large- form in the brain, and the government doesn’t determine whether that switch is on or off. For the record, while I acknowledge that this is how the game must be played, I find the law being involved in marriage- a matter of the heart- and requiring filing paperwork for it… to largely be bullshit. But these are the rules on how you acquire certain rights and call yourself family (how I think those rights should be acquired would be a tangent, so I’ll hold off). But the point of bringing this up is that I find myself resentful lately, because a handful of folks who found the starting paperwork soooo important, seem to be just tickled to now deem the marriage over, even though the ending paperwork doesn’t exist yet. Because hey, that’s what makes X happy! And it works, as long as I keep my mouth shut about how that makes me feel. It works, as long as I am erased from memory. The whole thing pisses me off, because you either in principle give a shit about someone else’s paperwork, or you don’t. So there’s that in the background.
So, those feelings going on, and then…reminders of the new relationship. Enter the Accidental Text from X.
I get a hooray-toned text yesterday from X about doing some sort of event that’s not for another month. It’s pretty clear this is not for me, that this is for the new girl. He catches it, but the damage is done. This whole thing is becoming more and more real. Him making plans with the new girl way ahead of time makes shit very real.
So do the tears that spring to my eyes. It’s funny how you can get so used to heartbreak, to that dull ache, that you forget about it. It’s just there, a part of you. Until something pokes that fragile spot and you’re like, oh yeah, I have a broken part in me.
I reply to the text, forget what I said. I get an apology. It doesn’t change much.
Why do I even care? I feel this uncomfortable shift that forces me to recognize…he still matters. Even what he does…matters to me. And I become furious. I don’t want him to matter because I don’t matter much to him. Not anymore.
It’s hard to let go. Why? Attachment? No, it’s not that, not anymore. It’s…it’s…well for one, it exacerbates just how foolish I feel. Did I ever really know the guy, even after 6 years? This whole ordeal over the past few months seems to be further proof that I, in fact, did not. So if I did not, well hell, when do you know someone? Do you ever? Or should have I seen the full scope of what he was capable of, and just have poor judgement? Where do I go wrong when it comes to character assessment? Was my love blind? If my love is blind, is it better for me to not be in love, or at least, not so in love? Or perhaps it is not so much blind, but was a love so determined not to disturb the ties that bound us, that it left me in denial? How do I correct this? How do you know “your person” won’t change into someone totally unrecognizable?
↑ MY BRAIN ↑
And I think the answer is: you don’t.
You never really know. And why do I even have those questions at this juncture? I’ll get into that in a moment.
Others say to not think even about those things. Others say to just jump in, get back on that horse, girl. Date, Date, DATE!!
I wonder if these people have an unlimited capacity for psychological pain, even in the face of the radically-different-from-5-years ago dating culture that now exists in the city, courtesy of apps that provide seemingly unlimited options, leaving you feeling like, well, just an option…not terribly valued. Maybe my well-meaning advisors have Herculean hearts, and it doesn’t crush them the way it does me. I wonder if being immediately replaced- Good Luck Chuck style- after a serious relationship for now the 4th time (yep, although this was the first time it followed a marriage, which does hurt even more), with a woman who becomes the long-term partner might have anything to do with it… something that has ramifications most cannot relate to. Maybe my heart is just not so different from my body; my divorce is like an old football injury that never really disappears, effectively retiring me. I turned in my wedding dress like an old jersey.
But putting well-meaning advisors aside and addressing why I bother asking the aforementioned questions about really knowing someone, knowing their tenacity, their sincerity:
It isn’t about the past, readers. It’s about the future. It’s because the question has since become, how, going forward, could I look at anyone now, who promises forever, and take such a person seriously? How on earth could I do such a thing, as my dearest friends and family bear witness? Perhaps these jump-back-in-the-saddle folks subconsciously DGAF what their wedding guests think because it’s really all about the reception (getting fed and hammered) anyway. And/or possibly they don’t love the way I do, in such a complete, all-encompassing, trusting way. They got one eye open, one foot on the ground, just as you have that personal bank account with enough to get by on should your partner check out- just in case. Do they too they have a certain level of love on reserve, kept on ice, so that if the relationship ends, they will be hurt, but not devastated? Their lives disrupted, but not destroyed?
I’d be lying if I said that’s easy for me to do, but I’d also be lying if I said a part of me does not aspire to be this way. Yet if that’s the case, well it seems quite silly then, doesn’t it, to vow “’til death do us part”? Wouldn’t “for as long as I can” be a far more authentic statement? Isn’t this the world we live in now? Less romantic perhaps, but so are prenups, and those exist. And yet, is there anything more romantic than daring to speak so very candidly- and doing so publicly– to your partner? Is it not romantic, to define your commitment in the context of truth that is personal to you, rather than in the context of crafting The “Daaaawww” for the sake of your community? Your community, who, ultimately, are going to side with and fight for whoever they happen to be closest to in times of trouble anyway…not the actual union? They’re witnessing the vows to support their friend/family member- it’s less about witnessing the social contract itself.
So again, these days the hurt isn’t that I lost him; it’s that I don’t trust my own judgement anymore, and I’m not sure how this uncertainty about someone else’s promises, promises is going to play out going forward…and that’s scary.
Now listen, I know I’m not unique. I’m aware that people immediately take up with a new partner after ending a marriage all the time. This does not make it healthy or normal. This does not discount the feelings of the one left behind. And just because I happen to have some photos online of me and a hot young thing smiling at the camera with me does not mean I am ok with any of this.
Another thing turning around in my brain in the chair that upsets- a piece of unsolicited advice I get…”Stop Looking At What They’re Doing”.
And why not take this standard issue advice? Because what’s popular isn’t necessarily right for all the people. Ever heard of exposure therapy? The more we expose ourselves to something unpleasant, the more desensitized we become. Do these people really think I’m never going to find everything out in the end, given social media? And I’d rather find out from myself, than through the grapevine from a friend who (inexplicably!) refuses to unfriend the guy who broke my heart…casually mentioning “Did you hear? Did you hear they’re engaged? Did you hear they’re married? Did you hear they’re having twins?”. So in my particular situation, “exposure therapy” works best for me. I’d rather see the whole thing unfold on my own, taking on each bit of information that smarts…than fill in the unknown with a narrative I want to believe, and be walloped with the whole truth later on.
Anyway, The Accidental Text was just one more of those things whipping a very hurtful reality into me. I didn’t break down at my job when I got it, but it all feels like a weight on my chest. I held it in. And this is how the hurt spills out when I’m in the chair today. This is why I am so tired and drained at TMS, thinking about all of this.
And then. Something clicks for me in that chair.
There is going to be more and more of this. This couple will become more and more public. There will be dozens upon dozens of tandem photos, professions of undying love, fancy vacays…and the applause of all that surround them, so deafening that my crying is drowned out. And I’m going to have to get used to that.
People, we can’t avoid hurt. I don’t know why we think we can. Things may progress between them. And so I can’t avoid if they co-habitate, get married, have a kid, with everyone around them, even people I thought cared about me, act like it’s the fucking second coming of Jesus Christ.
Ok, that last line was bitchy. But I guess the validation that surrounds all of this is what hurts the most. That’s the hardest part. It isn’t just about two people anymore, and how their actions affect me. The effusive displays of approval make it feel like the effects on me don’t even fucking matter. Like I don’t fucking matter. If feeling like I don’t fucking matter 4 months after X moved out makes me a little bitchy, I’m sorry.
Yet there’s something rather utilitarian about bitchiness creeping in, when you’re in despair. Bitchiness slaps you in the face and pours ice cold water on it. Bitchiness hauls you off the floor. Bitchiness wakes you up. My eyes are opening. This is going to be a part of my reality. An accidental text can’t be setting me off because it’s proof of a relationship I still am bewildered by. I don’t have to embrace or normalize what X has done, but I do have to accept it, and steel myself for every new hit that’s going to feel like a punch in the gut. I may have tons of apprehension about the future, but for the present, I can accept what currently is.
It’s not to say it’s crazy for X to matter to me. It’s not. But the development of that relationship, I have to try not to make it matter, as hard as it is to watch. I have to focus on what should matter. My health matters. Growing as a person matters. Helping others matters. This blog matters. These are things that are, more often than not, with you much longer than any one person is- your body, your mind, your potential, your creativity, people in need that you can help.
And, addressing the depressed people out there now, I think that’s something to try to remember, when you feel like a person, or even a whole group, has turned away from you, and you’re never getting them back.
X said on our wedding day that I was his constant. As painful as it is to say, I have to refute that. I was never his constant. He was never mine. You cannot count on one, single person to stick with you until the end…you really can only count on the fact that as you move through this existence, there always will be some person or other whose life you can benefit, who can benefit your life. That, and you, what you offer this world, these are your only constants.
This may be discouraging. But the reality is, all people come and go. Life is not The Notebook where you die together. “My kids!” Yeah, if you outlive them and they also really like you. But there are no guarantees…except you! You have you. ‘Til the end. So take care of that. Going beyond the end, you have the legacy of your achievements, your good deeds, your art, your business ventures. That’s what lives on. I’m not telling you what to invest your energy in. I’m simply saying that, if you are left, if you never find someone in the first place- as long as you have some other shit going on- it’s ok. You have these other things. I guess for me, I find I can depend on my abilities and contributions more than I’ve ever been able to depend on one person…they seem like a better bet. I’d rather look back on my deathbed and be proud of what I accomplished and who I helped, and take the hit of not having invested my time in constantly dating in search of the one.
Yes. Rather that, than look back on all this time I spent on flashes-in-the-pan who don’t care about me, in pursuit of something- long-term love- I was perhaps never meant to have…when I could’ve spent the time on something else fulfilling that was always more there for me than any one person ever was. Let me add this: when you’ve experienced depression, you can help people who are in the depths in ways those who have never been through it like that cannot.
When I had to write essays back in school, I was always the worst at writing conclusions, at least any that really made any sense to me. I came to the- ahem- conclusion, that conclusions existed for the purpose of tying things up in a neat little bow for the reader, to give a refresher on what points the paper made and, most importantly, a feeling of closure. ‘Cause like, otherwise they kinda feel hanging, right? Hanging and a little uneasy. So, my old standby became “In conclusion…” and then I’d summarize the points.
But this is not a college essay I’m being graded on. I’m not even being paid to write this. So, given I have no neat lil literary bow that feels quite right
to put on this post, if you want a reminder of what the post is about, reread it. As far as the closure? I’m just going to leave these loose ends hanging. Not because it’s a copout and I couldn’t theoretically do it, or I don’t care that I leave you scratching your head. It’s that writing one would feel disingenuous towards you on this post that’s all about uncertainty. This is how life works for me- there often is no closure but rather, a lot of loose ends. A lot of them. But don’t let that feel unsettling, reader. Hang on these loose ends for a while, like they’re a dozen cord lisses. Swing around on them, let yourself flip around and roll and spin. Here’s a visual aid, as an example of just how fun loose ends can be.