Work in Progress
In the fall of 2012 after 15 years of marriage and 18 years together, my husband and I decided to divorce. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. We have two wonderful sons together. The night we told the boys they cried.
I felt like a failure, but I knew I couldn’t live with this man any longer. During the last 5 years he had become mentally and emotionally abusive. I couldn’t do anything right. It was never enough. The house was never clean enough. We never had enough money in the bank.
He went to work every day and worked very hard. I was a domestic engineer and loved it! I was the one who saw our boys take their first steps and hear their first words. When they were sick I was there to take care of them. For this I felt blessed.
But I just couldn’t take the abuse any longer. When he left for work I was happy when he came home I wasn’t. There was a time when we were first married that I nearly cried when he went to work because I knew I was going to miss him. I thought we’d be together forever. I was wrong.
In October he moved out and we started divorce proceedings. The task of splitting up 15 years of marriage began. When he had the kids I spent a lot of time crying. I hated it when he took them, not because he was a bad father, he was a great father, but because they weren’t with me. Up until that time they had always been with me. Now, my youngest slept in my bed every night when he was with me. My oldest acted like it wasn’t a big deal.
In November he took the boys out of state for Thanksgiving. I was so lonely. This loneliness caused me to do something pretty stupid. I signed up for Match.com and quickly met a man. We began seeing each other.
At the same time, I also started seeing a therapist. I talked about my failed marriage and the guilt that went along with it. She reassured me it wasn’t my fault at all. I also felt guilty because I believed I had failed my sons. She reminded me that I was actually teaching them a good lesson by not taking the abuse from their dad. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, the boys had picked up on what their dad was doing. I sure didn’t want my boys to follow that pattern of abuse from their dad.
By January our divorce was final. Even though I put up a big front it still hurt. During this time I was having trouble eating and lost about 50 pounds. My ex-husband also began going to therapy. I was happy he was doing this. I wish he had done it years before. Perhaps our marriage could have been saved.
In March I refinanced the house I received in the divorce agreement. Even before the closing I started having a little trouble breathing. By the time I got to my car I could hardly breath at all. I somehow was able to call a friend and she told me to come over. As hard as it was, I made it to her house. She helped me through what I later found out was a panic attack. I was on my own with a mortgage and two kids. I was scared to death! I’d never been on my own before. So many things were running through my head.
Over the next few months I kept seeing my therapist. She explained that I had anxiety due to the trauma of my divorce and the abuse that I had gone through. She also said I had a mild case of depression.
Over the next few years I had a couple of breakdowns. My ex-husband and I were getting along pretty well. On the outside life seemed to be going well, on the inside it was a different story. The guy I had been dating wasn’t a good person to say the least. I thought several times about breaking it off but I was so insecure and I was afraid of being alone so I stayed in the relationship until I just couldn’t do it any longer.
A couple of months after the breakup is when it really hit me. I was alone! My friends were all married and I was alone when the kids were visiting their dad. I remember that weekend well. It was a holiday weekend and I had no plans. Most people would have loved the time alone – not me. I was miserable.
Saturday afternoon I began crying and “feeling sorry” for myself. Scary thoughts began to enter my mind; “my kids will be better off without their pathetic mom, they will be okay, they have their dad to take care of them.” I even had a plan. These thoughts continued all weekend.
Finally on Monday I called my therapist and left a message asking her to please call me back. I really needed to come in. Her office called me back first thing Tuesday morning and got me in on Wednesday. Barbara, my therapist, knew the second she saw me that things were very bad. We talked and she told me my depression had gotten so bad that I needed to go on anti depressants. Not wanting to be on medication, I asked about other alternatives?
Not only had I not dealt with my failed marriage, but now I had a bad relationship of two and a half years to deal with. We discussed returning to a Meet Up group that I had attended a few times. She reminded me not to stay home when the kids weren’t there. “Bug your married friends, just get out of the house.” We scheduled weekly appointments and I agreed that if she didn’t see an improvement I would take the anti-depressants.
The next day I attended a Meet Up. There were only three of us there, all ladies. One of the ladies asked me my story, I confessed that just the day before I’d been diagnosed with severe depression. She asked me to please put her number in my phone and call her anytime. She was going to help me with this. I thought to myself, “wow this perfect stranger cares!” We are still very good friends!
That was two years ago and I am proud to say my depression and anxiety are much better. I’m lucky that I have never gone on any meds for it. When I think about what I nearly did to my boys, my dad, my friends, it breaks my heart, that’s the guilt I live with. I’m also happy to say that my ex-husband and I have become friends. He got help with his problems. We will never be together again romantically.
At first I was ashamed of my depression and the thoughts that went along with it, but now I see that there is nothing to be ashamed of. My friends, both old and new, my kids, my dad and that smile from a stranger on the street is what helped me through.
Through talking to people and telling my story I realize that so many others have had those suicidal thoughts as well. I still have times of depression. I understand that this will be a life long fight. I say BRING ON THE FIGHT!
I wrote this a year ago during my Peer Specialist Training. During the time I have worked as a Peer Specialist. I have learned a lot, not only about myself, but about Mental Illness. There are a lot of individuals who struggle every day. My heart goes out to them.