I got into a fight with my husband the other day. One of those stupid fights everyone gets into sometimes, where it starts out about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher and the next thing you know, you're maligning one another's cultural upbringing. It was stupid and unwarranted and is sure to be repeated at least once in our life, because that's the way it is when you share your life with someone. You piss each other off sometimes.
But while we were in the midst of all this, he stormed off, and I sobbed, suddenly confronted with a terrible realization: There is no one in this world who loves me unconditionally. There is no one who would love me no matter what. I sat there for a while, thinking through the people in my life and realizing, as I considered them one by one, that one of the reasons I don't stand up for myself is because if I don't keep them happy, they'll leave. Sure, my kids love me pretty much unconditionally, but that doesn't count. They will (as they are supposed to) grow up and move on to a more complicated relationship with me, one more like the (I now realized conditional) relationships I have with my parents.
It was the kind of moment that just shatters you, when you realize that you are, fundamentally, alone. I couldn't believe that this was true, at the same time that I couldn't believe I'd taken so long to see it. And now I was faced with the choice of whether to keep everyone in my life happy and keep them around, or whether I ought to try to make the tough choices, taking the chance that they--my husband, my sister, my mom--would decide they'd just had enough and leave.
That was my evening.
Then a few hours later, when things had calmed down and we'd done all the "I'm sorry I was such an ass" and the "I'm sorry I was such a jerk" and everyone loved one another again, I couldn't help but poke at that wound, like sticking my tongue in the hole left by a lost tooth. You know it's going to hurt like the devil, but you can't help exploring in there. And you know what? There was no hole. That realization, so obvious at the time, was completely gone. Yes, we piss each other off. Yes, we have hard times, all of us, in all our relationships. And sure, there are some relationships that I know wouldn't make it through a test. But that's not true of my most important relationships. When we say we love one another unconditionally, we mean it. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I ought to be grateful that I have so many people who do love me.
That's one of the lousy things about having depression. It makes me feel like a loser sometimes, like someone who just couldn't hack life and went running to get the diagnosis du jour and some pills. When that happens, I sometimes quit taking those pills, because, hey, I'm better than that. But inevitably, something happens that reminds me why I have that diagnosis. Because when depression gets ahold of me, I lose all perspective. I'm just so glad that I got it back. And now, instead of feeling like melting into a puddle of self-pity, I feel like calling Depression on the phone and telling it that no one loves it, and hey, how does that feel? And also, it has a big butt. And it's not as smart as it thinks it is.
There will be more bad times, because there always are, whether or not we have depression to deal with. But I'm grateful, today, for the ability to see that Depression tells you lies, and you don't have to believe them.