When we met many, many years ago, we were both so young. We were both so innocent. And we were both so ignorant: ignorant to the “truth”; of all the trials and tribulations life would bring; to the difficulties our lives would bring.
But what can I say? We were 12 and inexperienced. We were naive and unlearned.
But that soon changed. We changed. And thanks to circumstances beyond our control — things like death and divorce, moves and job losses — our eyes were opened. We were tougher. We had hardened, and neither innocence nor ignorance could save us. The only salvation we found was each other. (Well, that and angsty, angry metal music.)
And we clung to that; we held on tight to one another. We tried to save one another, because we were afraid of what would happen if we didn’t. Because we didn’t know how to let go.
Make no mistake: Our relationship is rooted in friendship and love, and it always will be. But we both carried baggage. We both brought yet-to-be diagnosed illnesses into our relationship — your alcoholism and my depression.
Our illnesses fed one another. We sickened each other.
But even now — now that things are better and we are both healing — my depression still permeates every aspect of our lives. It affects how we spend our days and what we do at night; and it affects how I speak to you.
It determines whether I hold you close or push you away.
And while I know I don’t have to say it — I know you have never asked me to say it — I am sorry. Not for my depression, but for how it changes me. For how it changes us.
The thing is, I love you more than than anything. You are the proverbial “moon of my life,” and “my sun and stars.”
You are the father of my daughter, the keeper of my heart, and you are my rock. You are my world. But sometimes my disease clouds my judgment, and my mind.
Sometimes my disease makes me short-tempered and angry, and you are almost always my “target.” You are the recipient of my blind and unforgiving rage.
Sometimes my disease pulls me inward. My thoughts race but I cannot focus on one. Instead, I am consumed by chaos. I am overwhelmed, and I am sad. (Not just sad sad, but a sadness so painful and paralyzing sadness I cannot possibly explain it.) And so I disappear. Sure, I am present — at least physically speaking — but emotionally I am distant. Mentally, I am worlds away.
And sometimes I am so riddled with self-doubt — I feel like a bad mother, a bad wife, and a bad person; I feel unlovable and worthless — that my life appears hopeless. Everything seems meaningless.
And on those days, instead of pulling you close (instead of asking for help and support or even asking for a hug) I push you away, because hiding is easier.
Because pulling back is easier. And because my depression has me convinced I am dragging you down.
I am certain you would be better off without me.
On my “good days” I know that isn’t true. I know you love me for the woman I am and not the disease I carry, but depression is vile and insidious. It warps your mind and twists your thoughts. And it makes you feel as though you do not matter.
It convinces you your life does not matter.
So please know that I am sorry for not being fully present. I am sorry for being a downer and a buzzkill. I am sorry for always being so “serious.” I am sorry for pulling back and pushing you away. And I am sorry my fuse is so short and I get angry over “little things” — insignificant and absurd things, like your pile of clean clothes on our dresser or the dirty boxers you often leave on our bathroom floor. But please know I am not truly angry at you, and your mess has nothing to do with my mood, I just feel like I’m losing control, so I grasp at straws.
I try to make sense of my mess by asking you to clean up yours.
But none of my depression is your fault. It isn’t your fault when I’m not laughing. It isn’t your fault when I’m not smiling, and it isn’t your job to try and fix it. (I know you want to — and that means the world to me — but you can’t.)
However, knowing that you want to help me shows me just how much you care. Knowing that you want to help me shows just how much you support me. And knowing that you want to shows just how much you love me — in spite of my disease, and in spite of myself.More On