Loving someone with depression has never made me feel more inept or completely useless. And deciding to leave that person has never filled me with more guilt. There is so much out there that talks about never giving up on someone you love who is struggling with mental illness, on being there for them "no matter what". But what happens if you do that and they still remain stuck in their black hole, what happens if you yourself are being abused and mistreated and no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter how much you try, they still treat you like shit? What happens when you finally decide "enough". I can't be treated this way anymore, I can't let my children be treated this way anymore. And you walk away. And then, only then, they see the light. After you say "you can't be an asshole and still be a part of my life", then they decide that that's enough to snap out of it, to choose to act differently, to do the work you've been fucking begging them to try to do with you for so long.
And they beg you for another chance. They do everything to try to show you how they've changed. And you're skeptical and scared and wonder if you've just done the exact thing that all those articles and TED talks and endless elephant journal entries implore you not to do to someone who is plagued with mental illness. Did I give up? Did I commit the ultimate selfish act and walk away from someone when what they needed most was someone to stick around? Would the change have happened if it were not for that line being drawn, without "enough is enough"? Where is that line of enablement, when does it change from love and support into just supporting someone to stay stuck in their dark cycle? Can "enough" also be someone's catalyst for change, can it be a gift as much as a tragic loss?
When we were in the throes of falling in love, I said to you "I'm willing to do the work". And you swore that you were too, but I knew you didn't really know what that meant. I had loved and had my heart broken a few times already, you had only thought you had, but you didn't really know what that meant yet. You couldn't. I knew early that I would be a lesson, that I was going to be the person to teach you some profound things and open your heart. I'm not trying to be pompous or narcissistic by saying that... I just had this feeling that it was going to be beautiful and that it was going to hurt. And I fucking did it anyways. I don't know why. I'm a sucker for love, and apparently also for pain. I'm a sucker for the romantic notion of commitment and love.
And so I stayed. And I loved you as hard as I could, even though things got messy and complicated and dark pretty fast. Even though I saw clearly how depressed you were becoming, even though you were mean to me and even worse to my children. Even though people questioned me, and I knew better than to shrug off the concerns of the ones who knew me and cared for me the most. I made excuses, I had an answer for every "why?". I ignored my own inner voice that said "why are you allowing it to be like this? Why are you accepting this?". By staying silent and avoiding the conflict, I permitted it, even though I knew I shouldn't.
I wanted so badly for you to the "the one". I wanted to be able to see you through the dark fucking spiral and come out the other side.
And then the waters rose and the foundation became saturated with more than just river and sludge. The flood washed away far more than just things. You reacted with anger, which was useless. I spat back to shut up, just get down to work. And you did, for that week. You sucked it up and chose for a brief moment to see the disaster with eyes of awe and gratitude and worked your ass off with the rest of our community to make things dry and whole again. I wondered, in that week, if maybe *this* was the catalyst.
It wasn't. You became impatient and fearful and weary and mean. The controlling bullshit came out even more strongly, you were angry about things we had no control over, like the construction of a house we were so lucky to be able to stay in in the first place while we waited for things to dry. And you left. I felt relief. And abandoned. Like so many times before.
Then you said you were done. And you disappeared. And when you came back you claimed you had seen the light. I was skeptical. Rightfully so. And it wasn't long before I was asking you to go again, to give me space so I could hear my own thoughts and listen to my heart.
You scared me that night. It was the first time I felt that scared that you might hurt me, and not in the ways you had a million times before.
It came to a head and I said I was done. And again, you vanished with hardly a trace. Without closure or considering its impact on the ones left behind.
It has been 7 months of roller coaster. Of me doubting my decision, flowing back to you in tiny, guarded waves, only to retract again. Recoil. People telling me to let it go, to keep moving forward. Everyone but you; you beg me to come back. In my heart of hearts I know it's over, that I am done and no amount of growth or personal enlightenment can reverse that.
It's too late.
But still, I wonder, is this right? Am I running away instead of "doing the work"? Where is the line? When does it change from being committed to standing up for yourself and saying "not like this". Am I doing exactly what I judge others of doing when things get "too hard"?
And I wonder if I am giving up on the only person who might want me, and this family, in all its messy, chaotic glory. I'm not that young anymore, and it's not like the baggage I come with is exactly desirable to most. 3 plus a coparent and all of the complication that it comes with is so many. Gayness on top of it all feels like too much frosting on an already sickeningly sweet cake. Must I be all the cliches all in one? Single, working, so many children, lesbian. Am I pushing away the only person who might want to even attempt to take this whole circus on?
And do I become "that ex", the one who couldn't deal with it, the one who walked away when shit got too hard.
Where is the line between commitment and abuse?
You say that you have changed. You've romanticized, once again, the life that we could have had. The kids. The love. It's easy to do that when you've been kept at an arms length, when all you have is hindsight and 20/20 vision and a sad bowl filled with regret and desperation.
I wonder if I've failed in all of this. I see how I could have done things differently, and how it could have been different. But maybe that, too, is just hindsight and romanticism. Maybe it had to be like this, because this was the way it meant to play out, the way it had unfold so we both could grow and learn and see with different eyes.
It's no secret that I'm a sucker for love. Likely that is my own brokenness showing. My own fear of being alone, of being continually abandoned by the ones to whom I give my heart. A self-fulfilling prophecy on a repeating loop.
I am afraid that I don't know what the right thing to do is. That I let you go and you evaporate from my life and go on to live and love beautifully while I watch from the sidelines, alone and in chaos.
I wanted you to be the one. And even though you're not, I'm still afraid to let you go. What if I've got it all wrong? What if I've got it all right?
I've never felt more ready and unprepared at the same time.
I wanted you to be the one~