I wrote this essay/blog entry a day before yesturday. I did not post it because it did not feel like the right time yet. Now more has happened and it does seem like the right time to talk about my feelings I had then. I will write more soon, and tell more.
When I wrote a research paper in the ninth grade I did it because I suspected I was depressed and I knew next to nothing about the subject. The first sentence of my paper was a quote: “Depression is like a murky pool.” I never understood the quote at the time but I thought the imagery was neat. For years I thought it meant that understanding depression was like groping around in a murky pool, you never knew what was underneath there. Now I understand, years later, that being depressed is like being in a murky pool. You are alone, you can’t see much. You cannot see the light above the surface clearly, if at all, and you can’t breathe. You are being weighed down with lead weights tied around your ankles. I was in that pool for years.
The main reason I got out was my husband’s help and support. He made me feel a love and acceptance I had never experienced before and in that positive environment I felt like I could be myself and slowly those lead weights came free. I did not even notice the ropes slipping free and how I began to float towards the surface and for the first time in a decade I was able to take a breath and see clearly in the free light and air with my head above water.
The terrible thing in this story of beauty and triumph is that in my wonderful recovery I hurt my husband a great deal. All those days, months and years of living with a depressed person, wondering if they have hurt themselves or will you find something worse when you come home, is very draining. Your life starts to revolve around that person’s disease. You lose yourself and you chop off little pieces of yourself to take care of your sick loved one. That is what happened to my husband.
He not only became burdened down with the weight of my lead weights he forgot who he was and forgot why he even did it. I was like a vampire or a parasite slowly sucking away his happiness and sense of self to gain those things for myself and I never noticed that. We were happy. We loved each other. Our marriage, despite all the financial and social things, was the real consistently good thing in our lives. Or so I thought. I projected my happiness onto him. I thought: I have become a better person in the course of this marriage; he influenced me for the better. I must have done the same for him. We grew together.
Well, that is what I thought. It felt amazing to be liked, loved and accepted by someone so completely, warts and all. I did have this nagging suspicion in the back of my mind, somewhere in the worst fears section of my brain, that he did not like me as much as I liked him. I figured it was just my old low self-esteem talking. I mean he was so great, kind, patient and nice. He was so talented, capable, funny and smart. I was a loser with no real talents or skills. My IQ was painfully average, my humor was often bristly and mean and not nearly as funny as I thought. On top of that my youthful good looks were not nearly as youthful or good as they had once been. Come on, that is just my old self-esteem and fear. I am great, people like me, I like me etc. I had all this new found self-esteem and he told me he loved me like a million times a day, of course he liked and loved me.
Wrong, so wrong, I had created my happy marriage as a work of one sided fiction. I just really wanted this wonderful person to love me. It turned out all those little worrying red flags I had experienced really were signs that not all was right. My husband’s occasional signs of depression and not being able to keep friends very actively. He was feeling like an old loser after he had stopped doing things and hanging out with people because he felt he needed to just take care of me and cater to my needs. There was the way he never complemented my personality, intelligence, sense of humor or anything internal like that and how all the compliments on my looks just stopped coming, even when I specifically asked for compliments. I figured he did not need to do that, he loved me anyway and it was ridiculous to need compliments, I needed to have my confidence standing independently.
Now here I am, I have to peer to the surface of the murky pool and stare the plain truth in the face. I am a loser. People like me only when they don’t know me. The one person who truly knows me does not like me and this not liking has worn down the love over the years making his responses of “I love you.” as hollow and empty as a looted tomb. I just fell off a cliff, how are you doing?