The Longing to Leave – 3

Reading the comments that appeared at Beyond Blue about The Longing to Leave-2 has been a continuing inspiration. I realize how different everyone’s experience is about the impact of depression on marriage, and how desperately hard everyone works to reach what is for them the right answer about staying married or not. For some, the “longing to leave” is a justified move to safety from a destructive relationship. For me, though, it was a fantasy borne of depression. I often wonder how it is, given where I began in my struggle to build a loving relationship with another human being, that my wife and I have stayed married for so long. “Marriage is survival,” I once heard a pastor say at a wedding, and the uncomfortable laughter in his large audience confirmed the truth of it. Despite all our struggles, we’ve managed to survive the worst of times.

For so many years, though, and long beyond adolescent dreams, I was searching obsessively not for the real work of two people always learning about each other but for a drug-like love that would give me a shortcut to salvation.

Depressed and full of shame at who I was, I searched desperately for someone who would make up what was missing, gifting me the worth I felt I lacked, so that I could feel like a whole person at last. Of course, I didn’t think of it that way. I simply imagined I was falling in love. It would start with an attraction that soon became obsessive for a woman whose spirit and warmth I reached for instinctively – almost like a predator – to take in as my own. This was falling in love in a strangely one-sided way. I needed the responsiveness of the other person, to be sure, but only to a certain point. I can try to explain with a story, really a moment when something began to get through to my isolated mind.

……..

I had, or imagined I had, an intense bond with R for two years in my early twenties. Her loving me meant everything. She was beautiful, talented and lively, and deep down I felt not just proud that she was part of my life, I felt alive and justified because of her presence. More than that, I projected into the minds of everyone I met a judgment that I had value because such a woman loved me. That was the reality of what I needed from her – the sense of self-worth that I lacked on my own. Then I had to take a one-year job in another city, and after some months, the strain was evident. I ignored what was clearly happening – so desperate was I to believe that we would be together forever. After all, I was nothing without her.

I was visiting, and we were up early, getting dressed and ready to go out for breakfast – avoiding deep talk though clearly ill at ease with each other. The windows were open to a fine New England spring morning. I was dousing my face with cold water in the bathroom when suddenly I was startled by a beautiful singing voice floating in through the window. It was a woman’s voice pouring a haunting melody into the air. It seemed to surround me, and the feeling and the sheer beauty of the tone put everything else out of my mind. I relaxed into its flow for a few still moments, and then I started to move – I had to find out where that was coming from. It seemed part of the air I was breathing for that short time, but all of a sudden it was gone! Don’t stop, I thought – where could that singer be? I leaned out the window but could only glimpse shut blinds and blank walls through the low-hanging sycamore branches. I walked back to the bedroom and found R quietly sweeping a brush through her long dark hair.

“Did you hear that?” I asked.

“Hear what?”

“That incredible singing – it was the most beautiful thing. Where could it have come from?”

“Oh,” she laughed, “that was just me.”

“Just now? Just right now? I mean, it stopped a few seconds ago.”

She nodded slowly, still brushing.

How could that be? She had a wispy speaking voice that didn’t carry well across a room. I didn’t know what to say.

”… I … I never knew you could sing.”

“Oh, I sing all the time.”

“I mean … I never heard you sing.”

She smiled into the mirror. “Well… you have.”

She finished brushing her hair. We got our coats and left. And she was gone for good._

…….

To say I crashed when she left is putting it mildly. What could happen when my sense of who I was and what I was worth in the world walked away? Gone! There was nothing left! I drank heavily, fell into complete depression, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t work, cried a lot, burned with the obsession of having to get her back. For the second time in my life, I went to a psychiatrist. He treated the immediate breakdown of functioning and tried to assure me it was a natural grieving over an event that had the emotional impact of divorce. I suppose that was all I wanted at the time – to heal enough so that I could function. Then I’d be able to resume my obsessive quest for a woman to make me feel whole again!

And so the pattern continued for years. When I met L and we married, things seemed so different. But as soon as we got past the intense early years into the time when the relationship gets real or gets broken, I picked up again the habit of obsessing over that shortcut to fulfillment. I could dream of other women, other places, other careers that would end the inner fear, emptiness and pain. It was the sort of dreaming that would always keep me from hearing the song close by. The dreams gave me a way out instead of opening up and talking to the woman who loved me about the real crisis I was in. There was always a fantasy person elsewhere who wouldn’t need all that talking and honesty!

It took many years, but finally the escape artist in me called it quits. Those fantasies came in such abundance that I just couldn’t take them seriously anymore. Only then could I get on with the work of recovery and the work of marriage.

What has your experience been like? What have you tried in order to get past the voice of depression and reach out to another person?

45 Responses to “The Longing to Leave – 3”

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  1. Wife1234 says:

    Thank you for your articles. Would you say it’s worth waiting for the man who left or would you say it’s not?

    My husband of 6 years left out of the blue. I looked through the texts and photos, events we have been together recently. All seemed happy. One month ago he wanted a third child together. One month ago he wanted to move back to the state we are from; he was willing to quit his job he hates anyway and buy a house there. One month ago he told me I am part of him, the love of his life, and he will never desert me. Then his mom who has never liked me visited and then he all of a sudden withdrew from me, lashed out, then withdrew again for a week and said that the week of withdrawal was the best week of his 6 years with me. I was struck. How about all our happy memories, your commitments, your words, dates, 2 preschool boys, mortgage, savings, and projects we share? He said he was “just making the best out of it”. He did not offer more explanations. I asked to not file for divorce and offered for him to live alone for a while so he could see that the fantasized world isn’t that great. I encouraged him to see other women and live independently, while I’d go on with my life with the boys until he comes back. He said it’s not what he wants. He said he wants out – for good. He moved out next day and said he is still considering separation, while he had already filed for divorce, about which I learned only a few days later when I was served. When I asked him why he lied to me about separation, he apologized for not giving me heads up.

    He cut off all contact with me and did not answer any questions, nor was willing to cooperate with co-parenting. Everything had to be done through our attorneys. I was devastated and I am still healing, since only one month passed since he made his decision.

    Our relationship had a lot of events: 2 kids, 2 cities, 2 condos and 2 houses, trips abroad and to visit family locally, new jobs. He quit one day before I had to start a new job. In court he claimed that I am emotionally unstable because I took a new job, though we both agreed it was a good idea to start this new job since it was paying much more and it was 40 miles closer to our home! It’s right off the hwy from our house. When I got the job offer he did tell me he was jealous and seemed to get down a bit because he was struggling with finding a better job. He hates his job, boss, and colleagues.
    He also accused me of being crazy. It turns out he gave his attorney recordings of me yelling when we had a fight and was trying to prove I am crazy to take away full custody. Really? I have always been the primary caretaker. The recordings were back from 2016, too. Needless to say, I doubt his attorney encouraged him to pull the “crazy” thing in court, but I was devastated that he even considered trying to prove that. He entirely shifted the entire blame on me. Then I saw a post from 2016 where he was claiming what a great family man he is (even though he never wanted to spend time with kids and me, especially if no booze was involved), and how I am nagging him non-stop. The commenters suggested I had BPD. Then it rang a bell for me why he kept sending me to therapists and suggesting I needed help. Hell. I went to therapists, asked them for meds like my husband suggested, but for the therapists to tell me — you do not need any and we are not going to prescribe you any because you are healthy. This is serious, they’d say, and you don’t just get to start meds. You do not have the symptoms. So, I only saw a therapist when we had a fight to cope with his stone walling and anger. I saw one once in a few months and it helped.

    Having read your articles, it seems like what my husband had and what the therapist also told me about him – depression. He has history on his mom’s side. His mom’s mom and her entire family suffer from depression. His own mom and him suffer from depression and alcohol addiction. Husband used to do drugs, including cocaine, pot, and prescription drugs before marriage, and he’d often ask me to do them with him but I never wanted to. Once I found a bottle of my prescription drugs against pre-term contractions in his underwear drawer. He promised to me he threw them out. He asked to have sex on drugs but I do not like even the idea drugs, let alone trying them. He kept reassuring me he had the best sex in his life while on drugs. My therapist also told me that my husband was fantasizing about pixie girls. He blocked my access to his phone and pc. If I asked if I could see who he is texting, he’d yell and curse that I am “accusing him of cheating”. At the same time, we had lots of happy memories, but he would most of the time be withdrawn and down, hating the world. He’d often come home and say: “The end of the world is in 2060. We might still be alive and we might never have grandkids. We need to move to Canada where climate change won’t affect us” or “Let’s just sell everything and buy a land lot in the forest in Michigan so we can be away from the civilization”. He’d also always need a drink (or five). He is a functional professional at the same time, though he does have issues with time management.

    All my attempts to try and help were met with anger and resentment. He said he is perfect and I am the problem. Any time I suggested events he should attend, he’d find an excuse not to. Any time I’d suggested jobs he should apply, he’d find excuses why he wasn’t good for those jobs. Any time I’d offer to meet people, go out with married guys for a beer, have a community, he procrastinated and made excuses. The only times I could help was with massages, dinners, lunches, morning coffee, and taking care of the boys. I was working so hard at myself – to be kinder, better, gentler, softer, smarter but it was never enough. He did admit the last year was good but still said it was because I was working so much that I did not have time to disturb him.

    I miss him and love him. I pray for him every day. I hope he is healthy. I regret texting him that I still love him and he is and always be the daddy of my kids, and if there is anything that can be done to rescue the relationship, I am all for it. He responded that he does not want to discuss anything with me because he feels its futile, that someday he might write to me how he felt the entire time in the relationship, that he was not happy since 2014 (before we even conceived our second child), that we married too soon (after 9 months of dating), and that he saw how insecure I was when we were dating and saw the red flags but still married me in hope I’d change but I did not. He also said I need help to deal with my insecurities and he does not trust me to change. I do not know what he is talking about. I have a happy career, friends, community, support network, therapist confirming I am healthy mentally, and I am not the one who left; so how come it’s my fault and he is the one with trust issues? I do think his depression and alcoholism (and possible drug use) have impaired his emotional intelligence. Top that with his extended family issues and the influence his mom has on him, and I feel sorry for him and for us, our family, our boys, and our dreams.

    I hope some day he realizes the harm he has done. Right now he is saying he is doing the right thing and “it will be better for everyone”. I hope some day he realized the hurt he caused the kids and me and regrets, and I could be there waiting for him. At the same time, I realize it might take him 5,10 years or even never… And it’s unfair of me to sacrifice my life to his depression.

    At this point, I concentrate on the boys and their happiness, my career, and my self worth and self esteem. Church helps me a lot. I am praying for all abandoned women and for the men to accept God into their lives.

  2. Depressed man says:

    What’s with the “R” woman huh.

    I’ve always been depressed and suicidal, yet somehow now I’m a married man in his 30s with a daughter.

    Of late, I’ve fallen in love with “R”, a woman 8 years younger than me. She’s so lively she makes me feel alive again so we’ve dated and slept with each other.

    Should I leave my family to be with her or end it?

  3. Melody says:

    My beloved man of a year and half left me suddenly. We were perfect when we were together. But He finally said he didn’t know what he wanted one day, and he was a bit fed up with me. He wants space to figure what he wants and sorts his life out, saying that if we meant to be together we will one day, but not now, in the future. I was heat broken and begged him to stay… without any self esteem. But he was so insisted that he wanted to leave… he sounded no feelings at all, not even pain…. At the same time I found him texting random girls online… I asked him, WHY. He said he didn’t know either… he wanted to flirt with them to feel good… I was totally mad after hearing this… I was not enough for him? Everything was so confusing and so sudden that he was just becoming an another man…

    I respexted husband choice and we broke up, still being friends. I started to read blogs a lot and I knew that what happened to us must related to his depression ( he did tell me his was suffering one, but I just didn’t realize its effect that well) Afterwards I still tried to care about him coz I know he was sick a bit…. what I cannot stand that he went to clubs and tried to get a new girl immediately after we broke up… I felt I was like an idiot…I was also the one got hurt no just him

    So Recently I decided to heal myself first and tried not to contact him… I couldn’t do much to help him anyway. Not sure where we wound go for the next step. Would he one day realize that I was the one and come back to me? Or we cannot be together again and not even be friends? I am not sure…. I love him … I excape but I pray that my man will get better …

  4. Michael says:

    I’m really glad that I found your posts on the Longing to Leave. Thank you.

    I seem to be in a very similar situation. I’ve been in a relationship with for 17 years and have been married to her for 9 years. We have two young children.

    Our relationship started in a rather damaged way, with me wanting more from what she saw as a friendship than she did, and her feeling that she needed to rescue me. Eventually when she did say that she wanted to be with me, I started to experience a sort of “Buyer’s Remorse” where I really wasn’t sure if I really wanted to be with her, or felt bad that I didn’t love her enough. I tried a couple of times to end the relationship, but always ran back to her and gave a self-centered “I don’t know what’s wrong with me” performance. I often imagined that there was a right person for me somewhere else.

    At the core of this, I could never be sure if I wanted to leave because I didn’t love my partner, or whether I did love her but was depressed and hoping for a way out of feeling hopeless. This has been going on for over a decade. I only feel like I can say I love her in a sort of “Oh, OK, all right, yes I do” way. What holds me back from leaving is the thought that doing so would make reality bite and show me what I had thrown away. Of course, when you have children as well, there’s yet more of a powerful cause for staying. I have been to see many counsellors, I take Anti-depressants and have been in a day clinic this year. Also my wife and I have had marriage counselling twice.

    Like I said, this escape desire has been there for a lot of the time. Since last year it has become more acute, because I got back into touch with a woman who I had briefly gone out with 20 years ago ( I was depressed then too). This person, also an “R” is someone whom I find funny and makes me feel at home: I’ve been living in a different country to that of my birth for the last 6 years and miss my home in a lot of ways. R and I have been in contact by pretty much daily texting, and the occasional skype sesh. I realised last winter that I was in the grip of an “Emotional Affair”, but with the added twist of being thousands of miles away from the other person. The realisation unleashed a load of feelings, mostly based on guilt. I told my wife straight away because I wanted to be honest. I also told R and she admitted to having really deep feelings for me too. She was in a marriage with someone whom she no longer had much in common with, and who looked pretty dull in comparison to me. None of the “realisation” did anyone any good: It ruined Christmas and sank me into a tearful, self-hating depression, It meant that I made promises to end contact with R that never stuck, and it put a tonne of stress onto my wife’s shoulders and made her think for the first time that she might have to leave me, because I seemed oblivious to the emotional pain that I was causing her.

    Things have kind of settled down now. My wife and I are affectionate but wary. I try to keep my relationship with R at a friendship level, although she’s still in love with me. I know the difference between “In Love” and Love and I know that what R and I had was being “In Love”; in truth, the feeling is still there. I know that what I have with R is a fantasy, and I know that it’s an addictive one: when my wife is away on business R and I have massive intense text conversations about all sorts of silly rubbish, and behind every text I send is the desire to tell her that I love her. I know that I should create a stillness in my mind and think about what I really want from my marriage and from the future, but the idea of any of it involving ending contact with R is unbearable. Immense respect has to go to my wife for tolerating all of my nonsense and for being perceptive enough to see through a lot of it: what she once referred to as me “wanting to have my sweets”.

    I have almost given up on the idea of leaving my wife for R, mainly because it would hurt my children, but also because I know that, wherever I go, I will have to bring me with me.

    There it is. Your great article has helped me to spell it out. I am sorry if it all sounds whiny and self-centred. All that I am looking for now is to see if R and I can ever be friends, or if not, how this romance will die the death that is laid out for it.

    • David says:

      holy smokes. This is exactly my same situation. Thank you for sharing Michael

      • Daniel says:

        I went through this exact same scenario with an old friend from highschool. Both married, both feeling “stuck” and on opposite sides of the world from each other. What I realized is that it is purely escapism fantasy, and if you were to leave your respective spouses for each other you’d soon find yourself in the same rut once the daily grind of living together wears thin, and then you’d both be fantasizing about meeting someone fresh/new/exciting/thrilling.

  5. Worried Wife says:

    What a wonderful site and blogs have blown me away , I have been with my husband for 27rs we both had been married previously, we dated for 2yrs before even moving in together and our love grew and grew , he became a wonderful husband and father to my two young children who are adults now and have kids of their own , the family love my husband so much as do I . He has recently been diagnosed with depression , he has over numerous years been caught out contacting other woman on the internet but as far as I know he has never cheated on me but I do believe he has fantasies about another life with other woman . Recently he told me he had no feelings for me or anyone else , felt he was trapped in a bubble , he isolates himself from me and family but when he’s around work colleagues he seems normal , he’s talking about leaving and getting a place of his own but this is a man who has no friends , never goes out , but all of s sudden he’s looking for weekends away , now due to the betrayal on the internet I then have no trust and question a lot which doesn’t help , but all I need to know is where he is going and who with , I’m worried sick he has someone behind the scenes or if the depression is so bad I don’t want him to be on his own especially when I don’t know were he is . I’m wanting to be supportive and help get him through this but I’m also walking on broken egg shells . On a good note though I did talk him into seeing the doctor and I’m hoping with medication then counselling it will work things out . I have my own concerns about how I would cope without him if he leaves as I love him so much , he’s been my best friend like forever and at my age I cannot begin to think about dating again but then again I’m too young still to live a life on my own . Any advice would be wonderful .

  6. K. says:

    Thank you for writing this online. I am honestly relieved to know a person exists out there who has experienced what I’ve been living for years. We’ve been married for 6 years and together for longer, and I long to leave about once a month… usually when I’m PMSing. That’s the first clue that something isn’t right. But then you, with depression, mirrored my sentiments so exactly that I was shocked, because I have chronic depression. I have had it since childhood. I, too, always crave instant gratification and substantless, self-gratifying relationships. I want someone new to flirt with but I don’t want the reality of a relationship. I usually want to be alone because I’m addicted to my selfish lifestyle of gratification (and food addiction, because food is gratifying). Your post basically blew my mind. THANK YOU. It’s weird to feel validated for something so… awful, but I now have a deeper perspective on why I’ve always thought the way I do.

    • laurie says:

      K,
      John’s posts are amazingly candid and true. I love what you said above. If you have a man who loves you. Stay. You’ve shared some big issues that you know about, understand and are dealing with personally. Does your husband know all of this? Like if he read your post above would he understand? Most men have an innate department inside to rescue a woman in need. You are his wife. It will give him purpose and create some intense intimacy with you both for him to know what you are dealing with. Do not be afraid. It’s the secrecy that divides couples because everyone spends their brainpower ‘assuming’ and it’s usually wrong. So be honest. Come clean. With love. What you put out is what you get back. Put out negative pushing away, you will get that back. Lovingly share what your brain and thoughts do to you daily….you will get love back. Good luck.
      Laurie
      thewifeexpert.com

  7. Amy says:

    My husband moved out two days ago. I believe he has suffered from depression for 2-3 years. We have been together for 15, married for 5, we have 3 daughters. He cannot stand me. He says he does not love me anymore and he has to get away from me and try to be happy. He never forgives anything and my mistakes have become all I am in his eyes. It feels like he makes an effort to cause me pain. I know what that sounds like but others have seen it and agree. He used to be a great dad, now he is unpredictable, impatient, and destructive. The only time he is sure to be “fun day” is when I am attempting to discipline or feeling aggravated and overwhelmed by one of my kids. He will not back me up, he intentionally takes an opposite view. He has said very damaging things about me to my kids. “Mom let’s us down.” “Mom is a lunatic” Not just a few times but regularly. He is so intent on his hatred for me, he cannot see himself, and is not only unapologetic, but sure he is the victim of a “conniving emotional terrorist”. He has no boundaries anymore. Nothing is to cruel, nothing is cruel enough. I wish I was overstating this. Here is the really great part. I have a Major Depressive Disorder that I have been fighting to overcome for 4 years. I declined for 3 years before that. It took me that long to see myself. I only started telling people outside of our home 18 months ago. I am not well but I desperately want to be. I have asked my husband on 3 different occasions to help me. I arranged for him to see my therapist so he could help him understand what was happening. He has yet to admit that I am ill. I’m “turning it on and off when I feel like it” it just a convenient cop out. Now, I am not the miracle easy depressed person. It’s been hell for him and my kids. I try to be self aware, I’m always looking for my part in any issue, I ask people to help me see myself. I would rather hear what a jerk I am than lose the few people I have left. But, I freaked out about money, I could not open mail, I lost my job right before the depression set in, it was a contributing factor I’m sure, but from that moment I lost him too. Money is a real issue for him. I am his wife, but he will not have a joint ACCT with me because I might steal from him. He acted like I was crazy to be upset by that. His response was “like you would do that for me.”
    He has an intense need to control me, but he withold money, feelings, and absolutely every bit of information he possibly can. The only time he gave me money, was after I earned the oldest way. Many times he would be furious he “had to pay me” But, I’m the one that made this system up. How can I be held responsible when I have no money, ergo no power?? Yes, I blame him for my depression. I have occasionally seen pain in his eyes but mostly rage and disgust. I printed Mayo Clinic Info sheets about male depression, left them in his truck, 2 times. I watched him throw them out on the road as he drove away. I have no hope, I feel like an idiot for staying, I feel guilty for my behavior and the problems I’ve caused being depressed. I laid in bed, he bore a lot of that burden. He goes nonstop. I cannot move. I ask for help, he will not even acknowledge I spoke. I mess up and cause a problem, I tell him I’m sorry, I need help, why won’t you help me? Because you never helped me. I want to help you. Too late. I don’t want your help I want to be left alone. I know I will never get better until he is gone so I knew this had to happen. He is unreachable but I wonder if I should try to help him some other way. I caused pain, I still love him even though I’m pretty sure that is sick. And, we have kids. He is better with them than me but the distance is increasing and his words and actions towards me are damaging the relationship and my daughter’s future. I know I cannot see this clearly because of my own issues. I can take honest assessment. I feel crazy, I bet it looks crazy. I hope I get the advice I need.

  8. Debbie says:

    Marriage, life, relationships, are all very fragile. Human beings too are also very fragile.

    I have gone into a mode in my life where I am married (miserable or not I am married), but I refuse to get out because to me, I am in my fourth marriage and if I divorce, that is it for me.

    Obviously I find men that need mothers, are very abusive, very controlling.

    My husband of current really wants me home at a certain time, I get home, I start to say hello, before I could get the words out “shhhh, I am reading something on the internet”, then i am still there and he switches over to the t.v., I ask him about what is on “wait wait, shhhh darn, now I missed it”, wow every time you are here, you constantly blow it. I don’t blow it, I have plenty of self esteem, I have created a new life for me, and it is not as anyone would think. The absolute last thing I am going to do is divorce him.

    I have a life, not much of one, but i am very content, happy because my love is my cat at the moment.

    Am I being fair, well, he isn’t budging, because when he lost his financial empire in 2008, his financial empire came down, “his” because I was not allowed on “his” account, but that is ok, I am ok, I am wonderful Do I wish I had a great marriage? of course, but the reality is this, I have tried this three times, and i just not believe the get older, and I have alway wanted that dream marriage, but until recently, I realized it is not a dream it is reality. I have worked full time, My first husband and I. I loved having my two children, but my husband could never hold down a job, he eventually got one the 5th year 1 year too late of our marriage. I state that because I was already going to leave him.

    If my husband of current is reading this, know one thing, I am a woman, that cares, shares, laughs, plays card games, allows him carte blanc, to do what he wants when he wants.

    I am a caregiver. I have odd hours. The jobs that I get when I am away from him the longest are really great. He always wants me home, just to be home. I do basic things, but he will not associate with my family, he has not associated with his mother and father and so family means nothing to him. Why did I not see that the signs of him playing ball with my son were fake, because they were not, he does do a good job. But, i have mentally, emotionally, physically checked out.

    We are roommates, we get along, I live upstairs and he is down, we have no friends, as he took those away from me, and it drives him crazy people call me, yet he will not let me talk, because is has one or many issues, he cares about one thing (himself), he does not have the capability of loving another person. I have seen how incredibly rude he can bE.
    Remember, I have tried all that I can, I have tried to be nice, I have been coarse, I cannot be a rude person, it is not in me. He is a jekyl hyde and admits it. I am not leaving, because he has chased my kids away, now they have told me, we cannot be around if he is there. I have not seen them for 6 years far before any of this. I do not expect the day I file, people will flock back to me.

    Does any of this make it right? No, what is important is my personal happiness, and that I have the changes to fly to see my sons, which I do and absolutely love it.

    Life is a journey, not a race.

    We are all different, no names placed on anyone, he calls himself the jekyl hyde, but really, the reason we are staying together with such oddness is that financially, we both have a better life than living alone. Right wt

  9. Renee says:

    First, I just have to thank you for being so honest and real by sharing your experience with depression. I came upon this site while looking for answers to my husband’s behavior. The things you write about couldn’t speak more truth into our situation. He doesn’t communicate though so I’m having a hard time understanding what I can do in the situation. Is there anyway to get private advice from you? I’m hoping my husband will read this blog but I wouldn’t want him to see any comments. Thank you.

    • Someone says:

      John hadn’t been active on here for a long time. He seems to focus his time on another health web page more and had had recent surgery and chronic pain. He posted about it on the home page. I wrote him but he didn’t reply to my situation–that was 7 months ago. So I read his past replies to others. They often were so similar to mine I got great advice through his past posts to people in similar situations. I also read all the blogs and bought both his ebooks. All helpful. Post under am alias name too. I did. Most people do. Others will respond with advice and often just reassurance that you’re not alone.

      Take care.

      • laurie says:

        I’ve been following this and wanted to check up on you all? I was so sorry about John. How are things now? I’ve dealt with the same thing for years. The husband listens and searches solutions to everyone else but me. If I could be his marriage coach -we’d be back in love and all would be great. Instead he thinks I am stupid. He’s even read some of my blog posts and never says anything but quotes me in conversations that he ‘knows.’ In the meantime I’ve been successfully marriage coaching others (willing) for several years…. Ego and pride have so much to do with many marriage problems. Everyone wants to be right. Love. Love. Love. Acceptance and understanding. Doses are available. God bless.
        thewifeexpert.com

  10. Andy says:

    I’m feeling similar things at the moment. have told my wife i have not been happy for many years. Family illness, court battles with her family, her own illnesses, and a sexless marriage due to her illness has taken its toll. I am frustrated with marriage, work, and friends.Feel like a hampster on a wheel with no way off. I have contact with a girl i knew many years ago. Have seen here once in 25 years but stay connected with email and text. I feel a deep connection with her like I can tell her anything. We have had some great conversations and even sexted a few times. I always make first contact though and recently she seems to be not replying to texts or returning calls. I feel empty and lost inside. When I hear from her i fee like i can fly. Always felt like that from way back when with her. Feel like she is the one that got away and would not have married wife if i knew she was available. Wife & family want me to get counseling. Parents think its a midlife crises.

    • K. says:

      I think I feel the exact same things you do (I’m a woman), though I’ve not cheated, I’ve wanted to, with a man who was also married. There are so many other people I think I should have ended up with, but then I remember, we never did… that never happened with them, they never wanted me.

  11. Donna-1 says:

    For the last year, I have had very vivid and seductive fantasies of escape. They are not so much what I would be doing or where I would be going as simply getting away from all the externals that weigh so heavily. Freedom. Freedom from responsibility, freedom from making decisions that involve others, freedom from the demands of family; freedom, I reasoned, to be me. But here I am — me. The me with depression and responsibility would doubtless be the me breathing the rarified air of freedom…only I would be going it alone. A part of me says, “It will be worse if you are alone.” Then the other part of me says, “It may be the key to recovery.” An angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, but which is which? It seems safe to say I cannot continue as I am. That’s what I really want to escape. I want to become someone else, somewhere else, the “true” successful me, the creative me, the me I always wanted to be. But, honestly, I have all the tools right here. I just need to figure out how to use them. And when I’m depressed the tools all look like sledge hammers with which to beat myself over the head.

    • Jay says:

      Wow! When you spoke for you, you spoke for me too!
      Inside I am crying, to feel understood, by the words of a stranger.
      I am so scared right now. My life is technically at it’s height, at 30 years in. My partner is an attractive, loyal, solvent, intelligent, cultured, supportive sweetheart of a man. He has provided us with the security of a beautiful home, and agreed to a beautiful cat, who has turned us from a couple into a family.
      Technically we are very happy. I love his family, and have a good rapport with his friends. But in my mind I an SCREEEEEAMING to get out! Fantasising even in hyper-real terms, over the ideas of going it alone once more… Like you, and this article’s writer both site, I believe it is the true key to my own salvation… To hit rock bottom, and rebuild.
      I also imagine new lovers, feelings of stirred desire, introductions to worlds and people unknown.
      And despite my lev for my partner and our life, I cannot connect to any emotion when imagining the impact my (what would seem to many people) inexplicable departure would have.
      I only hope I can ride this out. How did your situation go Donna?! Xx

  12. Rachel says:

    Hi John,
    I know this post is a few years old but it’s been getting me through the day. My girlfriend (long distance for now, but I’m moving to her in January) started engineering school back in her home country (she is 24). Everything was perfect before, we’d planned on marriage and were very happy together. I went to visit her in August and everything was great–she has struggled with severe depression and anxiety in the past, though, and will not ask for help or tell anyone/admit it to herself that she’s struggling. Anway, she started school in Sept. and got very busy, but I was fine with it because she’d finally found a program she liked and excelled at. Then one day she just stopped talking to me. She sent me a sweet message once, saying how sorry she was and if we could talk, but then never contacted me again. Two weeks after that she asked if we could talk again and then just cried and said she couldn’t do this, I’m too good for her, she can’t treat me right, she’s so ashamed, etc. She also cut off all contact with her friends from the college we both went to in the US. I’ve been in contact with her friends and parents and for the first few weeks she denied anything was wrong. Then her mom said she was very confused and sad and that she requested therapy. After that, she ended things. When she did so she said she cared about me more than anything and that she was always there for me (which obviously isn’t true). I send her messages sometimes saying I’m thinking of her. I’m heartbroken. This was so sudden, so random, and we’ve never really fought ( we’ve gone through hard times, like periods of anxiety, distance, etc. but have always been very strong and supported each other). She’s the love of my life and there’s nothing I can do. I worry she just doesn’t love me, which seems so insane because two days before she cut off contact she was telling me I was her soulmate and she couldn’t wait to be with me forever. I just don’t understand how she can be partying, excelling in school, etc. and not care/be able to care how she’s hurting me and all her friends. She is on antidepressants but has been on them for 5 years and has had multiple relapses of depression but has not reevaluated her medicine. Anyway, I don’t know how to do this without her. She’s my best friend. I’m still moving to her country in January as I have a job, but instead of living with her I’m getting an apartment. How can I deal with this, how can I help her?? I know something is wrong. Sometimes I think I’m making that up because I don’t want to accept that she doesn’t love me, but the situatuon definitely seems odd to me. I am willing to do anything to support her. Thanks for any advice. -R

    • Donna-1 says:

      Rachel, you ask how your girlfriend can be partying, excelling in school, etc., yet remain aloof from you and others. She is likely investing herself in people and pursuits that do not require a lot of emotional upkeep. She can lose herself in these temporarily and tell herself she is “successful.” If she were to involve herself with you again (and I’m sure she loves you) she’d probably be assailing herself with the emotional cost and the energy reserves she would need. Would she be able to “do her part”? Would she be able to “hold up her end” of the relationship? People who are depressed tend to ruminate about these things. She may have come to the conclusion everyone would be better off without her problems and burdens in their lives. She may think she is doing you a favor. She made the choice for you, however, as well as for herself. Without even giving you a chance to discuss it. I don’t think she realizes she is denying both of you the chance to make it work. Depression consumes its host and becomes the total focus. But I believe that for her, this is a survival technique. Not just a coping mechanism to avoid uncomfortable conversations. She may be in a fight for her life and everything else gets sidelined.

      Maybe you could write her a letter explaining your level of commitment. That you want to work through this with her. It will not be easy to convince her, and it will not be easy for you to maintain that level of commitment. Be sure to measure the cost to your own emotional well-being and whether you want to pursue someone who has already left you once.

  13. Amanda says:

    John,

    Your story is MY story – but from a female protagonist’s POV. Everything you’ve felt and done has been my experience. The relationships and marriages and the wanting to leave, to be free… the catastrophic depression that has almost cost my life.

    I played this over and over again. Destroyed one ‘perfect’ marriage at age 24 and then another (not so perfect) aged 36. And fell into an abyss of obsession and affairs -and had another depressive obsessing over me for years afterwards.

    I fell into a relationship with an amazing empath. It was rocky at first, a web of deceit, lies and confusion spawned of the depressive depths of my internal hell, but 5 years on, we’re together and he’s amazing.

    Came to therapy with me. Forgave me the hurt and lies. He could have written the book on Emotional Intelligence.

    Depression is still a frequent visitor. My fear is that at some stage in the future, I’ll sabotage the precious, life giving relationship I have yet again. Reading your story made me realise that my behaviour might have been a symptom of depression. Should I forewarn my partner?

    Does it ever stop?

    • john says:

      Hi, Amanda –

      It’ great to hear that things have been going so well in this relationship. I hope you’re giving yourself as much credit as your partner. After all, you’re the one who’s changed the self-destructive behavior. It sounds as if therapy has done a lot for you, and if you keep working at that, there shouldn’t be anything inevitable about the old behavior returning. About “forewarning” your partner – since he knows the sort of thing you were doing before, I think it’s more a matter of learning to catch yourself at the first sign of a relapse – and letting him know at once what’s happening. I find it really powerful if you can both be completely honest about what you’re feeling at a time like that. You must have great communication with each other to have come through all the rocky times.

      I know how hard it is to break the patterns that have lasted over most of your life. In my case – and I’m not saying this is true of you – the deception and fantasies all came from a place of shame or self-hate or whatever it should be called – a deep conviction that I wasn’t any good. So periodically I would self-destruct, inflicting a lot of damage on my family and others along the way. Until I could change that inner belief, I kept repeating the same pattern.

      Whatever the source of your fear, I’d keep working on that – and you’ll continue to do well.

      My best to you –

      John

  14. Gwen says:

    Dear John,

    Thank you so much for commenting on my post — I didn’t receive an e-mail so didn’t realize that you had! I don’t know if it’s comforting or disturbing to hear you say that some of the behaviors I have described are ones you are familiar with. Part of me wishes things could be explained away as another relationship reaching its natural end rather than this being about him being depressed because I am still hugely hurt in either scenario, but in the latter my worry about him continues as well.

    May I ask you for a huge favor? I am going to have some final communication with my (now) ex before he gathers his things from our home (I am guessing now that he has decided to go back to his previous relationship it is not appropriate for me to keep in touch) and I think the very last thing I will ask him to do is to read your website. I think he will find much here to relate to and when the time is right, your wonderful writing will be of great help to him, too. However I am self-conscious about him reading my post as he would recognize himself. Would it be possible for you to remove my previous post (although I know your answer is very helpful and others would have benefited from it..) I apologize for this awkward request…

    Thank you so much for being so open and so articulate about your plight. It’s been unbelievable finding out just how lonely things can get with depression in our lives– either as direct sufferers or as those who love them.

    All the best,

    Gwen

    • john says:

      Hi, Gwen –

      I can certainly take the comment down. What I’ll do is “unapprove” it – that way it will stay here if you should change your mind later. That’s also better for me since I can’t stand to toss such heartfelt writing.

      I hope this site is helpful for you both – and I wish you all the best in getting through this.

      John

  15. john says:

    Hi, Gwen –

    This is completely relevant and not at all “petty” – it really gets to the heart of what depression does to relationships. I’m sorry you’ve had such a sad and frustrating time dealing with this man, but there’s no way you should see yourself as a failure. As you said, you were witnessing completely irrational behavior and thinking – all terribly distorted by depression. It seems to me you’ve held up incredibly well, but the partner on the receiving end often starts to get depressed too. There’s a big cost to staying with a relationship like this in hope that things will turn around. I hope you can get the support you need – perhaps counseling – to recover from what you’ve been through.

    Your friend’s behavior on SSRI’s is eerily familiar to me, as I experienced much the same thing. The detachment and lack of emotion make it easy to think relationships can be switched on or off and to imagine changing for the better by finding a new partner or job or city – or all of them at once. He is so lost in depression, I can’t see how he can have a healthy relationship – first he has to do a lot more internal work and put treatment for depression at the top of his priorities. It is not unusual, however, for someone to function fairly well at work and appear normal while all this disturbance is just below the surface.

    I’m glad some of the stories here have been helpful to you. Please feel free to comment anytime. If I may say, believing that what you contribute here is misplaced or petty is, I think, another way of finding fault with yourself. I’ve got the same habit myself!

    John

  16. meadowgroove says:

    Hi there

    My boyfriend of 8 months broke up with me recently and a friend has suggested that part of the reason may be that he may have been depressed. I know 8 months is not a marriage, but we were very much in love and everything was going great for 90% of that time together. He completely ignored me sexually for 5 weeks before he left though. Is this part of being depressed? I didn’t say anything to him about it as I didn’t want to put pressure on him and also I thought it would just improve in time. But in my experience it is very, very unusual for a healthy male in a loving relationship to not want sex with his partner for 5 whole weeks, especially in the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, ie the first couple of years….would this be a red flag in your experience? Is there a phenomenon with depressed men of withholding sex as well as withholding feelings or information about feelings, as you mention in some of your posts?

    Some of the things in your posts, especially the ones about addiction, are ringing true as well – he was depressed in the past, has “escaped” several times, first from a career, then from a job and then from a whole country, has been very sexually experimental (sex parties, dungeons, going to bed with women within minutes of meeting them etc) in his past, drank too much, and uses pornography pretty often. Which is not an issue in itself (we even viewed it together once or twice which was quite erotic), but during the 5 week stretch I mentioned, I once got up in the morning to find him doing what he called “working with” dirty movies, ie downloading them and categorising them, instead of actually staying in bed and having sex with me. Again, I didn’t say anything. He also confided in me that he goes through phases of having very violent fantasies of killing people etc, which can last for a few weeks at at time, and that his mind races a lot. He is not a violent person at all and would never have dreamed of harming me or anyone else in actuality, and in fact it was lovely to see how good he was with his little niece and nephew, but I think he was quite worried about these phases from what he said to me. I think he also suppresses anger much of the time.

    If we were still communicating I would suggest couples counselling as to me the relationship was more than worth saving. I would love to fix whatever is broken. The reasons he gave for breaking up with me did not ring true and it was the very first I had heard of any of them. It is such a terrible shame and waste because in other ways we were so good together, and I am heartbroken that he has left, because he told me that despite his experimental past, his priority now was to meet someone who was right for him and get to know them properly (that was me – for a time anyway). But if he is depressed, at least there may be a reasonable explanation for his sudden disappearance and refusal to even try to work things out.

    meadowgroove

    • john says:

      Hi, meadowgroove –

      For a lot of depressed men it’s not a matter of withholding feeling but a loss of feeling – and loss of interest in sex. Some people feel so detached, even from the people they’ve been closest to, that shutting down completely or leaving seems the answer – it gets rid of the risk of having to look at your own pain and makes it easy to get excited about something or someone new. It’s hard to say what you’re friend is going through in terms of depression – it could also be bipolar depression. The porn thing is a high for some people, pure fantasy, and conveniently isolating sex from feeling or relationship.

      I’m more interested in what you say about yourself rather than your friend. You point out that you didn’t say anything to him about his ignoring you for five weeks and preferring porn to staying in bed with you. I’ve found during my own depression and weird behavior that hearing right away from my partner exactly what her emotions are is far better than hearing nothing. Holding back your feelings out of some concern for him doesn’t help either of you. You need to get your own feelings out when behavior is that hurtful, and he needs to have pressure put on him if he’s failing to think of your needs. That’s strictly a matter of taking care of yourself – I don’t mean to suggest that it’s up to you to make him think about what he’s doing. He should be aware of his impact on you – though in this state he might be so self-obsessed that nothing else matters. I know it’s easy to lose touch with the harm you’re causing when you’re wrapped up in depression, but that doesn’t let you off the hook. Letting him know exactly how you’re feeling is better than holding back.

      The partners of depressives get ill themselves from the constant emotional punishment they take – and yet so many hope to restore what’s been lost and get back to the way things used to be. I’ve come to believe that’s not possible, that two people have to adapt to a new reality in the relationship.

      I hope you can get your own help and support to sort out what the best action would be for your wellbeing.

      John

  17. Victoria says:

    Yes; how painful this is. To sit and read so many of my own thoughts, fears, pains, and tears, expressed by so many others, in so many ways.
    48 hours ago I began a list of things I was grateful for.
    As I look at the list, I can place a similar list beside it mentioning all the things I am not grateful for.
    Will they balance, or will this day be another one where the dark outweighs the light?
    Someone in my life, who is going through her own series of gray, has suggested we take a vacation; on another planet.
    I asked her if there will be ex’s, siblings, parents, or any of our children on that planet.
    If so, then No.
    I would walk into the woods on this 20 acres and melt into the leaves and fade away into being fungi, if I thought my pups would just leave me there and let me be.
    Pups are a gift from the Universe though. They keep me sane and from melting down.
    Maybe, in my next life, I will be a Pup?

    • john says:

      Victoria –

      Well, I’d leave out the other planet and the next life. 😉 The lists I make are about the specific things the go on when I’m a mess. It helps to write those down – that process starts to defuse them and prevent overwhelm. I’ll have a post on that going up soon on the Health Central site.

      Of course, you have plenty more than the pups to keep you sane – and from melting away in those wonderful 20 acres. Woods have a special feeling all their own – I love it.

      My best to you –

      John

    • john says:

      Hey, Victoria –

      It takes a long time – at least that’s what every person I know in your position has told me. I’ve seen it close up in the experience of someone in my family as well. I’ve known a couple of cases where leaving left no doubt and turned a life around – for the better. But for most people – how could there not be second thoughts and grief at the loss of what had been such a great hope.

      Getting yourself back together after that experience can’t be easy, and I know that changing expectations in your mind doesn’t change your feelings for quite a while.

      All my hopes and wishes for the best –

      John

  18. Jessica says:

    I am so lost…Ive been trying to figure out what is going on with my husband, why he is acting the way he is, why is is running and pushing away from me. and everything I have read here is him. there is nothing i can do……

    • john says:

      Jessica –

      I can well understand the feeling of helplessness and how painful that must be. It’s likely your husband can’t listen to you if he’s in the driven state I tried to describe in this post. That’s not your fault, but I think it’s also true that your words and actions can’t change him. As I’ve mentioned to others, getting help and support for yourself may be the best thing you could do. You haven’t caused what’s going on, but you’re the victim and need to take care of your needs. Your husband is the only one who can begin to turn himself around.

      All my best to you ==

      John

  19. John D says:

    Mi – It’s true, you’re not alone, and I hope that helps a bit. I’m not clear on what your manifestations of depression are, but it sounds like depression talking when you describe yourself as a disappointment. I hope you can hold onto the fuller sense of yourself when you’re not depressed. That’s made a huge difference to me – to keep in mind that I’m not the monster the illness says I am.
    I’m glad you came by – I look forward to reading your blog.

    My very best to you – JJOhn

  20. Miragi says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how painful it was to sit and read through all three parts of this series. I also can’t begin to describe how it is to be in a relationship where both of us suffer from the same, and yet differing manifestations of depression, or whatever it is that we have.

    I think about leaving alot, not to appease my own sense of dissatisfaction, but because I tire of being a disappointment to my husband, my children, my parents and anyone else unfortunate enough to get in my way. And after reading your description of how you felt about leaving and starting over, it’s clearer now to me that my husband experiences things much like you do. That ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome….

    While it’s gut-wrenching to read about something so painful, it’s necessary in order to know that neither him nor I are alone in what we deal with. Thank you for having the courage to be open and real about your various feelings and experiences~!

    Mi

  21. stephany says:

    I have no idea if this is a depressed mind I write from, but I’ve given up happiness to a place in my mind that has hope for it,and wants it, but I also have convinced myself it will never happen. Giving up is a form of self-preservation, because of circumstance most people I’ve cared about or loved, died, and then my daughter, well it’s like she died too. How does one’s spirit not give up, it’s practically my quest now. To stay in the game. I’ve had one woman friend take the opportunity to tell me I’ve always needed medication. Apparently I’ve been quite manic in her opinion.So I sit here with everyone gone, and wonder what happened.

  22. Stephany – I’m glad you’ve come back – and you’ve got me wondering, as your writing usually does. “Letting go of the fear” – I do hear a lot about letting go, especially of fear or anger, but I confess that I’ve never been able to do it. What happens to me is that the fear will go away because something else has replaced it. And that something often arrives without notice, like an experience of religious conversion. Wham, all of sudden, I’m in a different place. It’s not like a choice – that seems too rational to me in dealing with a powerful emotion. (I suppose connecting with the right person is like that – all of a sudden this dreaded intimacy thing is here! Where’d the fear go? Why did I ever think this was so hard?) That change sometimes happens when I start doing something – taking action in spite of the fear of doing that very thing. There are (a few) times when I can step through the fear – and suddenly I’m on the other side of it, and, hey, I’m still alive! But those rare moments are the gleaming exceptions to my ingrained obedience to most fear. It’s just so hard to shift it. I hope you can get there.

    John

  23. Thorsburg – I’m with you about the platitudes from friends – though it’s interesting that you have friends who are trying to talk to you. I know when I was overpowered by those feelings that you describe so well, I literally couldn’t hear what my friends were saying. One of them told me right to my face that she loved me and asked if there was anything she could do. I never heard those words until my wife reported them to me later on. Another time when I was recuperating at home after a hospital stay, some friends brought food over to help my wife. When I thanked one of them, she just looked at me and shrugged – you know, the food – it’s just love. People can’t always put it in words, or I can’t always hear what they’re saying. But they’re trying. Of course, there are also friends who run at the first sign of serious trouble, as if they might catch a dread disease by getting too close.

    I’m curious – you write really well. Is writing one of the things you do when you “work like hell to keep your head on straight?”

    Thanks for that story – it must be really hard now, but I hope the telling of it was helpful.

    John

  24. stephany says:

    I love this blog. I’m about to turn 48 and feel like I’m 17. I fear being alone, admit to wanting a man in my life, and the fear of never having a man like me, or love me often rules my soul like a guard at the door of a bank vault. Letting go of the fear and doing a freefall into that emotion-filled abyss is not easy. One day recently, my mother told me “You’re not getting any younger you know.” I felt like the 17 year old again. Then I thought, well I’m not perfect. I have 3 daughters, have made it through a nasty last 6 months, and hey, I’m still here. If I had a singing voice I’d crank out that song. Oh, and that is what made me cry when I read this article the first time. When he said he never heard her sing before.

    I don’t think any one has ever heard me sing. I hope one day some one will.

    I also am taking time to listen to my innerself, my spirit and soul. It’s the only navigational tool I’ve got to lead me to “my safe harbor”.

    The compass, that still holds that 17 year old heart. She knows from experience now, and without experiences we never learn.

  25. Louise Yeiser says:

    This link will take you straight to the link mentioned in [email protected]‘s comment above, without having to wade through all the other stuff:
    http://sneakpeeks.typepad.com/blog/2006/11/the_bad_day.html

  26. oops … that should have been “poster boy for NA.” Apparently depression can also affect one’s proofreading skills …!

  27. Oh, John. You shouldn’t have asked.

    You know those holiday letters people send out? Two pages of nonstop braggadocio about their jobs and cars and kids and vacations? This post is nothing like that. In fact, just writing it down makes me want to go put my head in an oven (check out the recap of my favorite scene in “Crimes of the Heart” here to put that last comment in perspective: http://sneakpeeks.typepad.com/blog/first_of_the_month_musings/index.html)

    Ok, here is is. Fall madly in love at 19 with a man, he left me and married someone else. Reacted just as you did after your breakup with R, although the therapy and meds that had kept me alive against my will this year weren’t available to me in 1981.

    1984. Meet a man who becomes platonic friend. He proposes; I don’t feel “that way” about him until 1) my father suggests there might be something to a “nice” man instead of the emotional cripples i’d been dating and 2) i get laid off my job and panic. I marry the guy. Despite having been friends with this lovely, funny, kind person for over a year, he becomes controlling, belittling and emotionally/verbally abusive.

    I take this for four years, decide to kill myself, friend suggests I see her therapist who has five dogs. Since I like dogs, and figure the car and garage will still be there after I meet this lady, I do. She saves my life.

    I get divorced in ’91. Make one more stupid mistake where therapy and meds couldn’t save me from myself, but I got out before he punched me and, despite the relapse, I was finally “getting it.”

    Got a new job in a new town. Loved my life. Felt the most mentally healthy I’ve ever felt. Met a wonderful man; got married. Had two or three great years before he lost his job and fell apart. Got pregnant accidentally during brief halt in hostilities; he assured me that he WAS in the marriage for the long haul and he DID want the baby. Was great until she was born, then relapsed after a number of years of being a posted boy for NA. Divorced him when my daughter was a year old.

    Had started seeing a therapist when the marriage started getting rocky; still am, plus I take my meds and work like a son of a gun to get my head on straight.

    But I am now the thing I swore I would never be: a single parent. Last fall, met a man who is also a divorced single parent. He had four kids and one dog; I have four dogs and one kid. Lots of things in common, including depression. Match made in heaven. We fall in love … plan to get married as soon as he gets some things worked out, including finding a job. Spend blissful Thanksgiving and Christmas together. Four days before Valentine’s Day I get an IM from his daughter that he had a woman over to watch movies the night before. I call him and he says everything’s ok; we’re still good — the next day he calls and says he’s leaving me for her.

    Spend six weeks in an outpatient mental health program … continue to see my therapist and take my meds … and Friday would have been my 22nd anniversary (1st marriage). David’s been gone 26 years … Brad’s been gone 16 … Mark’s been gone 7 … Steve’s been gone almost ten months. I have tried to understand and heal myself … to learn from past mistakes … to pay better attention to warning signs … to educate myself about healthy relationships (and I actually did have one) and to not make the same mistakes over and over.

    But this last one has broken me. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do, I end up with a broken heart. I can be strong enough to set boundaries and enforce them — yippee. There’s a ringing endorsement for healthy behaviour: I’ve kicked four men out of my life and now I’m all alone. I spent years knowing that there are worse things than being single – now, overwhelmed by single parenting, I’m no longer so sure.

    And all people can offer me are platitudes, suggestions that somehow my daughter is a sufficient substitute for an adult companion (i’ve seen those emotionally incestuous parents and have no desire to be one, thank you) or blather on about how I don’t need a man to fulfill me.

    Thanks, but I am not a 20 year old ingenue anymore who’s looking for someone to complete her. I’m a 46 year old woman who knows she’s not getting any more “marketable” with every day that passes. A single parent who wants to give her daughter every good thing I had growing up, many of which I can’t provide without, yes, two incomes AND a father for her. I’m a woman without anyone to talk to about funny things the dogs did or my daughter’s last report card.

    And as I watch my father’s declining health and realize that he’d be in a nursing home if it weren’t for my mother … well, despite my best efforts to stay in the moment, it’s hard not to picture a bleak future where I end up dying alone in a “facility” somewhere.

    I’ve tried to get past the voice of depression and reach out in the healthiest ways I know how … this time, I don’t know if I can ever get up from knocked on my *ss, which is where I’ve been since last February. Or if I even want to. And since I can’t live this way but I can’t … check out (my folks and my daughter depend on me) … I don’t know what to do. And that feeling of being a rat in a trap with no escape only makes me more despairing of this life.

    Jesse Kellerman wrote this in his last book and it spoke to me, so I wrote it down: “At what point did bad decisions cease to be an interruption of life and become life itself?”

    I dunno … but that’s how I got here …

  28. http://zathynpriest.com/blog says:

    Finding honesty in ourselves and admitting it silently is difficult enough, but admitting it on a Blog to others takes on a whole different perspective.

    Reading about other people’s lives, the lessons learnt, the lessons still in the process of being learnt, is something that triggers a part of our mind to re-evaluate ourselves and where we are in the present moment. Where we might be in the future.

    Thank you John for another insightful post.

    Best Wishes,
    Zathyn Priest

  29. You leave me kind of speechless, Stephany. For now I’ll just say a simple thank you for your support. I’ve been reading your blog and it gives me a model for unbelievable courage and honesty. The way you are handling and writing about your ongoing struggle is a powerful inspiration. Thank you for that!

    JohnD

  30. stephany says:

    This is a brilliant piece of writing, pure emotions translating into a learning process that many people never realize in their lifetime. When you write/admit to having needed someone to give the sense of self-worth that you didn’t have on your own, has got to be one of the most profound life lessons we can learn. I truly feel that is key to success in any relationship, whether it’s marriage or friendship, that we must know who we are, be all we need to be for ourselves, and then as a result, we can then have a real, honest and equal relationship with another person. To be able to be alone, rely on one’s self for life joy, and fulfillment– is the key to success for a whole relationship with another person. I say this, based on life experience of my own. The longer I alone, I feel I am learning the most about myself.

    Your blog is the only one I’ve read yet, that causes tears to run down my face.

    I’ve been reading other posts, and your honesty and revelations are amazing, thanks for sharing.

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