Friday, June 8, 2018

Don't listen to the lies of the shadows

Well, this has been a helluva week, hasn't it? First Kate Spade and now Anthony Bourdain. For those of us going through our own personal hell, news of another's pain and their no-takebacks response to that pain can feel particularly tough. If they can't handle pain – these beautiful glittery people with their money and their fame and their success – then how the hell can we?
But here's the thing. Depression lies. Whether it's a depression that dogs us for years or it's the result of the acute pain of betrayal, depression wraps us in its dark cold arms and whispers lies in our ears. It tells us that we will always feel this agony. It tells us that we don't matter, that we are worthless. It speaks those lies in our own voice.
"How do you battle an enemy that wears armour made of your own skin and scent?" asks Bunmi Laditan (aka @HonestToddler on Twitter). "One that knows your secrets and has a map of your unhealed wounds?"
I'll tell you how we battle that sneaky cruel bastard. We reach out for help. We tell our story to those who can hear it, who can remind us that this is depression talking. To tell us, as often as we need to hear it, that depression lies. And that beyond the despair is possibility and that we can get there. Medication can work. Meditation can work. A walk in the woods can work. All of the above can work. For today. And that's all we need to think about. No "next week" or "I will never" or "I will always..." Today. Find what works today. Find it in a doctor's office, on a therapist's sofa, in a friend's arms, on a website. It's out there, proof that you will leave a hole in someone's life if you exit.
My mother attempted suicide three times and I'm eternally grateful that she reached out for help each time while she could still be saved. She battled addiction and was sober 25 years before she died at the age of 71 from COPD. There is not a single day she would have sacrificed. There is not a single day with her that I would give up.
After discovering my husband's betrayal, I too wondered if the world needed me. It was only the pain I'd experienced from my mom's suicide attempts that stopped me from doing the same thing to my own children. I didn't believe I mattered. But I knew they did. And so I asked for help. I took anti-depressant medication. It felt like a heavy blanket lifting off my heart. It didn't make things great but it made my pain manageable. It gave me the opening I needed to let the slightest sliver of light into the darkness. And if I could see a sliver, I knew, I could slowly open the door to more light.
"You guys," tweets @HonestToddler, "when you're too tired to fight, lay down. Rest.... Fuck those shades who lie to you and tell you to keep their twisted secrets. Call 911 on this bitch ass lying shadows the way you would on an intruder in your home. We want you to stay."
Please. Stay. Let's watch the sun rise again tomorrow together. That's all we ever have. This moment. Together. Let's remind each other that we are stronger than the pain. That we each matter. That this, too, shall pass. Fight if you can. Rest if you must. Trust that there's a sliver of light waiting to show you what's possible.

If you are struggling, reach out. There is never shame is asking for help. There is no weakness in feeling pain. Those who fight for their own lives are the strongest bravest people I know. I'm proud to be among them.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post! My son has recently begun to have panic attack and high anxiety issues. Thankful that he reaches out for help from his friends including his fur baby that is willing to walk him down and out of his moods! He’s blessed and he states that he knows how irrational it is but he can’t control his feelings when it happens! He knows how to reach out and I’m grateful that he does! Depression stinks big time no matter what the cause!

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  2. Love you Elle, along with every other woman that visits this site and bares their soul. So proud to be part of this group of strong brave women .. thank you all xxx

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    1. My thoughts exactly Sam A!!

      Elle I think you cleared up my past a bit more for me w this post.

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  3. This has been a hard week. It makes me reflect on what I have gone through and again reminds me of we never know what others are dealing with. No one knows what I have dealt with besides my husband and therapist as far as I know.

    What I find interesting is I planned my suicide two years before dday. That was when I was at my lowest. I did not understand what was going on in my life and honestly the gaslighting and my husband's treatment of me left me feeling hopeless. Luckily he took an extended guys trip and it was the wake up call and ah ha moment that it was not me. For me things improved from there and I realized he was the miserable one. I had no idea why. At the end of that year he broke up with both ow and things improved some.

    Dday arrived and of course it was horrible, painful and dark. However with time I have had it reinforced that it is him who has the problem and not me. He made all the bad decisions. I was not part of it. Of course it has affected me but I really try to focus on the fact that these were his decisions not mine. He kept it all a secret from me for 10 years. He still finds it troubling that in a way dday made me feel better. There were lots of new questions but it was a major ah ha moment as to why things were the way they were and it was on him.

    This news this week makes me want to be true to myself. Focus on being optimistic, controlling what I can control and taking care of myself. No matter what my husband does or anyone around me I need to focus on me and take care of me.

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    1. Hopeful 30, I hope your next week is better than the last. Every post of yours holds a magical tidbit for my own heart and I thank you for that. You have mentioned a couple of times in the past about the times when your husband was gone and how nice your home ran in his absence. I also confess to this same experience. My spouse traveled a lot for work monthly. As a military wife I was use to handling everything and everything in his absence and when he was home it often felt like something was "off" but I brushed it off as "adjustment" to homecoming. I think the fact/truth is that this is all on our spouses and their choices. I spent several hours in bed this past week just weeping and feeling sad about my almost 40 year "marriage" to this guy. It sometimes feel like it is too much to bear. I know I sacrificed my happiness to have a financially stable home for my kids but I also made the decision back in the late 1980"s to get my graduate degree so I could support my kids if I had to. I sometimes wonder what I really "knew" but did not "know" at the time. What I know for sure is that I, like you, put up with a whole lot of stuff that I never should have put up with but I did it for the greater good or what I thought was the greater good. At any rate, I feel better now and June 14 marks my 3 year D-day. I have plans for dinner with friends and maybe a walk in the park but it won't be loaded with the shock and pain of the initial D-day and I know that for sure. I still sometimes feel hopeless for my stupidity for staying with this guy way back when but that was then and this is now. I had coffee with my best friend yesterday morning and we were bemoaning the effects of aging on our bodies. She said, "I fully expect to outlive my husband so going to the gym will keep me out of the nursing home." Wow, little does she know that her comment hit me like a ton of bricks and I now have a bigger motivation to hit the gym.

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    2. So good to hear from you. I always relate to your comments. My husband has always said I will outlive him. Who knows...but I do work hard to stay in my best shape/health both for today and the future.

      Sounds like you have a good plan for dday. Honestly dday is somewhat of a more positive day in my mind than our anniversary. To me our anniversary is somewhat of a joke but dday was when everything got real.

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    3. Hopeful 30, I'm actually beginning (this year I think) to feel the same way about D-day because things really have gotten better since then. It took awhile and the first year for me was triple hell squared but right now, I can appreciate how much better my life is and so is his. The level of communication and give and take is fantastic. I actually told him that I feel like I've forgiven him for all he did however added that the pain and memory is still there. He cried. We had our tender bonding time this morning after I came back from a short work assignment. I sent him a text when I left my appointment letting him know I was on my way home and I'd been gone for about 2 hours. When I opened my door I say a bouquet of roses and rose petals on the floor leading to the bedroom where he had closed the drapes and had soft lights and we cuddled and made mad passionate love. He thanked me again for giving him a second chance to be the man he always wanted to be and thanked me for listening to him without judgement. He knows he screwed up his life with bad choices that started way before we ever met. I met the guy he wanted to be but it took 40 years for him to hit rock bottom before he realized he needed to change his life. Him being honest with me about everything was a very shameful/painful experience for him but it really explained a lot to me of who he was and the things he did (unrelated to infidelity). I had a WOW moment or zillion over the past three years and they still come often. WOW. I am so grateful I did not listen to the shadows and neither did he although he tells me he often has suicidal thoughts when he looks at me after something was said on television or radio or.... I rarely feel that way anymore. The actual reality of looking at me and knowing all the things he did without my knowledge overwhelms him at times but he is just like his now deceased mother and although I saw some of that I never in a million years thought he would take that disgusting road into the seedy side of life. I can beat myself up and say I "should have seen it coming because his mother slept around with anyone who could give her a good time and jewelry (HOHOHO) but whats the use in that? I'm having a great life right now. Don't have a perfect guy but he is doing his best every day to make good choices and share his feelings and thoughts and that is a day I never thought would arrive.

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  4. Thanks for your reflections, Elle.

    I just wanted to say that you all mean so much to me, all you sisters who read and write on this blog. Your words and sharing are making a big difference to others. We can't see each other, but we can feel each other's honesty and pain and hope. I treasure this connection with you.

    We are not alone.

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  5. Carol, the FirstJune 9, 2018 at 12:18 AM

    I would be surprised if most of us didn't, in the confusing and painful days after D-Day, think of ending our pain, however briefly that thought might be. Pain unlike any we ever felt before.

    I remember wanting to drive to the OW's apartment when I knew she was at work, breaking a window, locking myself in her bedroom and slashing my wrists while on her bed. Then let her explain to her kids and their coworkers (H and OW worked for the same company) why I did it! See how wonderful sex would be for my H in her bed that I died in! Let him tell our kids why! Very dramatic plan for a usually calm, rational person.

    Luckily as soon as that plan formulated in my mind I thought of my 3 children and what that would do to them. I loved them more than I hated my H and OW for the pain.

    That was the day of my first baby step out of hell.

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  6. I really liked this post there is still such a denial for people who suffer from mental illness. But...You made a comment on how the medication worked for you in a previous post. It dulled the pain so that it was manageable for you. But you also talk about how you have to feel the pain to move on. I'm glad that the medication worked for you as it did my daughter and others who have taken it. But it doesn't work that way for everyone. It dulls it so much that they feel nothing. One of the side effects of the antidepressants is suicidal thoughts. Which is scary in itself. Dr's use antidepressants to treat other things too like IBS and nerve pain, as was the case for my husband. He was on amitriptyline to dull the pain from the nerve injury in his arm and to help him sleep. If he didn't get a full 8 hours of sleep it changed his personality. When it started not working his Dr told him he was depressed too and switched him to Citalipram. No mention of going to a counselor to talk to someone. He still couldn't sleep, mixed his meds up took double doses or forgot to take his medication on top of what she mixed in his coffee and 7 weeks later he slept with the cow and our lives changed forever. I understand what you are getting at with take the medication, there is a big stigma still where mental illness is concerned. If you need to be on this medication please go to a mental health expert not your family Dr like my husband did. Some place where you can be on this medicine but it is monitored better and counseling is connected with taking it for awhile. I admit that the deaths of these two celebrities hit me hard. Not only did I feel sadness but anger too until I saw this on instagram. It was a picture of a semi colon (;) and the person said " when an author uses a semi-colon, they choose to keep going, the author is you, the sentence is your life. Choose to keep going." This is why I post so much on here about what happened to us. There is nothing to be ashamed of where mental illness is concerned. And if you don't want to take the medication, exercise, meditation and maybe some form of spirituality will help. But finding someone to talk to even if it's the same thing over and over again, find that person who will listen to you at any cost.

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  7. **Sorry I meant to say don't just go to your family dr, have them refer you to a mental health expert.**

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  8. Thank you for these posts. You women are extraordinary human beings.

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  9. These suicides reminded me of how deep my despair went during the first year after d-day. And they reminded me of how when I told my H that sometimes I feel like dying, his response made me feel ashamed. He acted as if I was threatening and manipulating him. He brought it us as if I am crazy and out of control, not someone who needed kindness and understanding. I wasn't threatening suicide or thinking I should kill myself. I just so deeply didn't want to exist and didn't think i deserved to exist. At the same time I knew I had to stay alive. So I wasn't suicidal, but I knew that despair. And now looking back, I see how selfish and inconsiderate my H was.

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  10. My 1st year I was in a pretty dark place and unfortunately there’s a lot of us that probably think life isn’t worth living.
    I remember just praying before I went to bed, that I just wouldn’t wakeup, I just didn’t want to have another day living with all that pain. I’m so glad I’m past that dark time. I also thought about how nice it would be if my husband just died and we didn’t have to go through all the work of repairing ourselves. When I look back on that really dark time I’m so thankful I made it through it. Now I understand depression and can understand how someone can feel hopeless and have no fight left in them. I have children and grandchildren and looking back they were the reason I couldn’t actually take my life. Now I’m so thankful I didn’t do anything so stupid. Its 2 1/2 years and I live life to the fullest I can honestly say I’m at peace and happy. Of course I have triggers but not like before I can move on. It sounds kinda silly but when I have bad thoughts I realize I’m only putting myself in a bad place and I think of helium balloons go up in the air with those bad thoughts. My marriage now is so much better then before DDay. I’m to a point I just want to live life to the fullest. One thing I really learned on this site is you have to take care of yourself walk, listen to music, paint, climb a mountain, golf with friends anything that helps bring peace within yourself! I’m so glad we are talking about this! You will come out of this and one day feel that dark cloud lift.

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  11. My experience on Dday and days after was just wanting to die. The heartache was so bad. I was I shock and unfortunately was not able to sleep or eat for many months, so my thoughts were all consuming. I wasn’t depressed as much as in shock. I lost weight due to the stress and my messed up inners. I figured at 100 pounds my body would start to consume itself. 3 years out and it’s just a blurrrr. I was not suicidal as much as I just needed a reprieve from thinking about IT. I didn’t want to kill myself, but rather be in a peaceful spot with no thinking. So although I can’t understand constant depression, I can certainly relate with wanting peace. It’s a very alone and dark place that many of us endure. Call someone if you can’t hang on anymore. As bad as this entire ordeal has been it not worth taking your own life. It’s not even about you.

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  12. I’m 3 years out. I made it. I’m good! I’m finding my way back to me. My h and I are good. I do however find the need to have a drink or two or three to take the edge off. I’m not certain what the edge is? I’m not stressing the h or the OW at all. Absolutely nothing from the affair anymore...but I need that drink. What is it? I can’t really stop or cut back. Im not alcoholic but I just need to take the edge off. Any insight would be helpful. Anyone else?

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  13. Heartfelt, I feel the same way. I attribute it to PTSD. I just get anxious for no reason. There is absolutely no reason for me to be anxious. I have tried cutting back and so far it is working but it is hard some evenings. Then I say I just got into a bad habit. I agree, I don't know why either. It just feels good for me to relax some evenings,be carefree and not have a care in the world. I appreciate any insight as well.

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    1. LLP, good to know you also feel this way. For about the first 6 months after Dday I didn’t drink at all. I basically was in a fetal position when at home. So I don’t feel the drinking started to cope with things. Like you would have thought I would have done this back in the day.
      I’ve changed quite a bit over the last 3 years tho. I have a don’t mess with Texas attitude (even tho from MN) and don’t take shit from anyone. I stand up for myself more than ever. I guess the PTSD does make sense. I’m trying to cut back and figure it out. Thx for your insight

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    2. Still Standing 1June 14, 2018 at 5:10 AM

      Heartfelt and LLP thanks for this honest discussion. It's helpful to me hear that you just have that anxiety for no reason and LLP your explanation that it is still lingering PTSD is so spot on. It hadn't occurred to me. I'm doing so well in so many ways, but, in my current situation, where I am taking baby steps into getting to know an awesome new guy, I can feel my anxiety creep up as time elapses in between our conversations. Its all new territory, but the uncertainty and waiting is eerily similar to that limbo I was in while my ex was carrying on his affair and living with me still and I just had to wait and let things unfold. Nothing triggers anxiety like uncertainty and vulnerability and new relationships are 100% that. I just thought I was extra crazy or a super anxious attacher but I think the lingering PTSD helps explain why it might be so intense sometimes. So thank you. Sometimes being able to put a label on it or relate to others helps take some of the ouch out of it.
      Luckily, I've gotten some pretty good coping strategies these days and alcohol is not an option for me. I need to challenge myself not to eat junk, especially sweets. So when I feel those urges I count backwards from 5 to interrupt the garbage in my head. It gives yoou just enough time to detach from the toughts and what really are just habits triggered by emotion.
      My own history with an alcoholic mother and an alcohol dependent ex (the difference is actual physical addiction vs. mental dependence and only a slippery slope dividing them) makes me feel concern when I read words like "I'm not an alcoholic but... I can't stop or cut back."
      Watch this great video from Mel Robbins on how to identify the people, rooms, activities, times of day, emotions that trigger your desire to have a drink. Have a strategy to replace the behavior with something else. Create a new ritual to replace the ritual of having a drink when you cook etc. It's very doable stuff. https://www.facebook.com/melrobbins/videos/1698792550216622/
      Hope this helps. And again, thanks for this honest thread. Really helped me feel a little kinder and gentler with myself during this fun but anxious time.

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    3. SS1 - thanks! I’ve watched her before and that was a good one with a strategy. I definitely need to break myself of the habit. Like she said, it’s a ritual, so if it could be accomplished with a mocktail even better. Sigh, this healing involves layers and phases and you don’t always understand that making it through the first few months in shock and really not coping doesn’t mean you won’t latch on to something to cope when the shock lifted. Thanks for your insight.
      Glad you have a nice feeling about this new guy. You deserve it! :)

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  14. My Dad suffered from depression. He had a great childhood in a loving huge family. He grew up as an athlete in many sports and ended up going to college on a football scholarship. He became a Math teacher and ended up as the Assistant Superintendent of the local school system. He was married to my mom and had 5 kids. He was the most loving, funny, sincere man that would do anything for anybody, he had a ton of friends! And yet, when I was a teenager, he retired at 55, was drinking too much and wouldn’t leave the house. He eventually got better when he was older-stopped drinking and smoking and became clear and healthy. I’m so glad he didn’t drink himself to death.

    It can happen to anybody. Who knows what is going on in anothers Head.

    I don’t know how I got through the past 15 years. I thought many times it would be easier to be dead. I don’t know what kept me going-well - I do know-my kids for sure. I had to be there for them. I wouldn’t want them to go through that. But I honestly don’t know how I made it through all those dark days, affairs and many many d days. I hope whatever it was will get me through this mediation and divorce!

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