It’s been a weird time Casa Andrew since I finally came out and admitted that I struggle with depression.
Now please understand, I’ve known this for quite some time so I’m not talking about admitting it to myself. Rather, it was something I finally confessed to my lovely, long-suffering bride.
In finally admitting it aloud, with someone else within earshot, I’ve noticed a few things.
The first time.
The first time you tell someone it’s scarier than that time you were 13 years old, and asking a girl out for the first time. Seriously, do you recall the scene in Despicable Me 2 when Gru is trying to call Lucy to ask her out on a date? We’ve all felt that.
This was worse.
A boy asking a girl out fears rejection, sure, but that fear is based on social status, i.e. he’s afraid of being rejected for being too low status. No man likes to think himself low status, and a girl rejecting you is proof she sees you as low status.
When you’ve been married for decades, and you’ve got 3 children, you’re not afraid your wife is going to reject you based on social status. That ship sailed, a long time ago.
Instead, you’re afraid she’s going to reject you for being defective because, well (and let’s be perfectly frank here), you are. There’s something wrong in your brain’s wiring or biochemistry, and whatever that wrongness is, it’s not fixable.
The fear of rejection.
This isn’t a fear of rejection for whatever your status might be, this is a fear of rejection for who you are.
I’ve been faking my way through life for 40 years, keeping a stiff upper lip, putting a smile on my face, pushing on, putting one foot in front of the other, plugging away, keeping on keeping on, blah, blah, blah.
The problem with this approach is simple; the pain doesn’t go away. In fact, I’ve discovered that it compounds over time, but that is a story for another day. Today we’re talking about the fear of rejection.
For years I’ve kept this awful secret from my wife, most of the time because I thought I could handle it on my own. Some of the time because whenever I sidled into the subject, she didn’t seem to believe me enough to take it seriously. And lately, as an outgrowth of that, because I was afraid of rejection. Of who I am.
You see, if I’m rejected because of status, I can adjust. If I’m rejected because of talent, or skillset, or personality, I can adjust.
But if I’m rejected for who I am, what am I to do?
If my dear bride decides, “Ahh, depression, that explains so much, and upon further reflection, it just isn’t worth it. Get out.”
Now, not only am I rejected for something fundamental to who I am, which after 40 years, I’m pretty sure I can’t change, what then?
I lose my boys.
And if I lose them, what next? The gas pipe, the rope, a warm bath with the razor blades, whatever.
In short, I feared that telling my wife meant the end. The end of my marriage, my home, my relationship with my boys, my equilibrium…
The end of everything.
The end of me.
Fuck me, this is hard to write. I gotta take a break.
Okay, I’m back.
In February I returned to a crisis point, a place I’d been a couple of times before. This time I was standing in my kitchen thinking, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”
Luckily for me, I followed my thought process to a realization (also not the topic of today’s post), and when I got there I realized three things.
- I’m not quite done.
- I can do this, at least for a while.
- I must to tell my wife, because whatever else, I can’t do it alone anymore.
That night I opened up. I gave her a glimpse of what I was going through, and the most amazing thing happened. She offered nothing but love and support.
I owe my life to a realization, and to a wonderful young man, and his brothers.
And I owe my present, moderately good state of mind, to the love and support of a wonderful woman, and some really understanding friends.