Why, today, do I want to talk about something so un-upbeat? Because today marks 6 years since my Happily Ever After changed into Never. Because what followed was 6 months of a terrible depression, and because maybe someone out there needs to read this and know they are not alone. And things will get better.
|Me and Jake on the day I married my 2nd ex-husband|
Six years ago yesterday I was just over a year into my second marriage. We had a good life, were financially stable and had a beautiful home. We were building a family with my son from a previous marriage. Life was 'perfect'. On that day my husband and I were having a strange vibe between us. Days before the issue of more children or foster/adoption came up and while I felt we were ready he stated that we had too much to work out. But I didn't know we had ANYTHING to work out. I had no clue because we never fought, never said a harsh word to each other. That night he slept in the spare room and I felt he must be internally dealing with something...I had no idea what it was.
The next day - October 2, 2009 - was the first day my son would wear his new karate uniform. I'd just signed him up and he was so excited! He came home from class full of energy. As we ate a late dinner my husband complained of stomach issues and excused himself. I finished eating with Jake and got him ready for bed, then went and checked on my husband. He was laying in the spare room, with the covers pulled up to his chin.
I tried to be a dutiful wife and ask what was wrong and what I could do to help. I knew things were 'off' with us and when he started to talk about it I suggested counseling, wanting to immediately deal with the issue and move forward. That is when he pulled back the covers to reveal he was totally dressed (even had his shoes on) and that he wasn't 'going to do this anymore.'
My mind reeled as I watched him grab a packed bag, apologize and tell me it was over, and walk out the door. The entire time my son was fast asleep in his room, not knowing when he woke up life would be totally different. We'd been together for over 5 years, but in the blink of an eye it had completely changed.
I immediately called my sister-in-law (whom I also worked with - that didn't help!) and told her what happened. She assured me that maybe a few days away he would rethink things. I saw his car pull in again a few minutes later and prayed he'd had a sudden change of heart, but he didn't. He'd forgotten his toothbrush!
In the coming days I would contemplate what I did wrong. I reassured my son it wasn't his fault (he's admitted he thought maybe my ex was angry that he'd joined karate). I wrote my husband a letter telling him all my flaws and how I would be a better wife if he would just come home. He did at least try to make an effort of showing up a few times, but his heart walked out and stayed out the day he first left.
After investigating I realized he'd been talking to a female friend for weeks before he left. I found it out by calling a number that was on our bill a lot. She answered and I hung up. I then called him and asked him if he was cheating. He said he wasn't, and maybe that was true at the time. But I knew there was something more going on. His family and mine and friends thought I was crazy for thinking it, but 6 years later they are married and have 2 children - maybe I wasn't crazy after all!
I began calling psychics and meduims within weeks of him leaving. I was so desperate for someone to tell me it would be okay and he would come home. I spent THOUSANDS of dollars for people to blow smoke up my ass. I knew somewhere deep down that it would be alright, with or without him, but my heart and head battled. I couldn't believe this fairy tale marriage and life was over, gone with the slamming of the door.
The stress and anxiety I experienced caused me to not eat. Anything I did eat would rapidly go through my body and within 10 weeks I'd lost over 50 pounds. My body was over-producing acid and years later I had to have my gallbladder removed because there was so much damage...not to mention the ulcer that was found as well from the stress.
My days consisted of going to work and trying to put on a good face, coming home and being a mom, but as soon as 7pm hit I would hide under the covers while my son watched a movie. On the weekends he was with his father I would stay in bed the entire time except to get up to get the phone to call more psychics. Even on Halloween, when my sister invited us to go trick-or-treating, I went in my pajamas, grateful for one day where I could be a slob to the real world but they would think it was a costume.
My husband told me just before Christmas that he'd filed for divorce, but after I begged and pleaded he promised to not have me served with papers until after the holidays. Months later during our first divorce hearing I was still pleading with him that he loved me, I just knew it. The entire time since he'd left he'd been sleeping on a friend's couch (or so the story goes). I couldn't fathom how he'd choose a couch over our family at home.
It wasn't until the divorce was almost final that I accepted it - happily ever after was no more. One day while driving home
from work the clouds literally parted and the sun began to shine. The radio was playing 'Hey Soul Sister' by Train. That was the moment I began to feel hope again. I stopped calling psychics on a daily basis (at the worst I talked to over 15 in one day). I found only one who was willing to tell me the truth - that he was never going to come home. After I first hung up on her, I eventually called back (months later) and asked for more. In that moment she stopped playing 'seer' and actually imparted great advice. She told me I knew deep down I would be fine, but that I had to choose to be fine. It was that simple, yet that hard all at the same time.
Today, I am grateful for that slamming door. I've loved and lost several times over since then, and I've learned....oh the lessons I've learned. I've realized my happiness shouldn't be dependent on another person or the money we have or stability we have. In hindsight I can see that 'perfect' marriage was lacking something. I wasn't myself, I was playing a role that I know I would have resented eventually. And I believe he was doing what he felt his family thought by marrying me. But his heart wasn't really in it either....I don't hate him for that.
After the depression passed, I realize I could have reached out sooner, I should have. I regret shutting people out during that time. I regret the joys I missed during those six months of depression. What I wish most of all is that I could go back to that moment, sit on the couch beside that broken Amy and hug her. Oh how I wish I could hug her.
If I could say anything to THAT Amy it would be that things will get better. The day would come when the darkness would fade and I'd see the sun was always shining, I'd just been too busy seeing the darkness that I couldn't appreciate the light. I'd tell her she is worthy of a real love that accepts her as she is, doesn't want to change her, and she will find it. And to never lose hope. Dark days still laid ahead, but that in the end if she held onto hope she would smile in the sunshine.
The depression I faced during that time was terrifying and exhausting and I felt as if I had no one who could understand me, but I see now how wrong I was. I didn't reach out to my family at the time because, well, I've always been seen as the drama queen and I didn't think they would take me seriously...but it was serious, VERY serious.
With the help of a counselor, journaling, and major soul searching on my part, I was able to get through and begin to enjoy life again. Since then I am very aware at all times where my thoughts are at - are they positive or negative? Unfortunately last year I went through an even deeper depression, but I was still able to get through it once I remembered all those things I'd worked so hard for and the determination to follow my joy.
I don't know if I will have another battle with depression, but I am also not naive enough to think it isn't always lurking. Each day is a choice on what I will focus on. Today, as I have for most days (especially since last year) I choose to focus on being happy.
The other day, as the darkness tried to creep in with memories at how deep my dispare was 6 years ago, I will admit that I struggled. I called my mother and started to cry and she helped comfort me with her tough love (stop it, it's over). I wanted to go home and drink away the memories (I did enjoy one beverage). After a few moments of weakness I turned on empowering music, remembered my belief in God and that everything happens for my good - even when I don't see it at all at the time. And finally I REFUSED to allow bad memories from years ago steal the joy of the day. With that the clouds once again parted and I was singing along with a smile on my face.
If you or someone you know is battling depression, please know that you don't have to struggle alone. Reach out to friends, family, or seek counseling. I was lucky that my work has a free 800-number available 24/7 to call for mental health concerns. I had free counseling at my fingertips and eventually used it and also went to see a counselor in person. Having someone to release the hurt and pain too does help. I promise you it does.
If you need immediate help, please go to your local hospital and they will get you to a mental health professional. You can also call for help at (800) 273-8255. It's the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, but just because you aren't suicidal doesn't mean they can't help...they have resources to help you find counseling or lead you toward free resources to get you help to cope with life.