From the outside I must have had it all together. Married for X number of years. Children. I came from a two parent household and I was able to overcome all those familial dramas; alcoholism, affairs, domestic violence, and even the dreaded unspoken secret. I graduated high school in the top 15. I left my small home town to attend a University. Received a bachelor’s degree. Eventually getting a Master’s degree. I was happy with my job.
Appearances from the outside must have conveyed such a happy and successful life. Yet, inside I was dying and felt completely alone surrounded by husband and children. Surrounded by people popping into and out of my life. At some point, I stood back and took a good look and saw that I wasn’t happy. Life just didn’t’ feel right. It felt empty.
Even now, about 7 years later….I’m still struggling to stay afloat to maintain “appearance” and to provide what I have lied to myself about…a stable family to my own children. It’s funny how we come to that sort of conclusion. How we believe our children are an extension of ourselves and it is totally our responsibility to make them happy. The unnecessary responsibility we place on ourselves. The last 7 years have been a personal journey. In all honesty, a very painful and confusing journey.
I don’t know when that moment happened…when I woke and felt the dark black cloud take over. The moment when I realized that I felt like I gave and gave until I felt completed depleted. When I didn’t want to give anymore. Ignorant. There was a lack of something. Unaware of “it”. I had a low level of contentment when I stood back and looked at my life. There was this small sort of happiness. Yet, there was the presence of the dark cloud. That feeling of sadness when I really thought about life.
It might have begun with a vibrant smile; A familiar smile.
Let me go back…the summer before my senior year I saw this smile for the first time. Friendly. Eyes to match. Full of laughter. He had an easy going personality. We struck up a relationship that summer. After that summer he moved to go to college. We attempted the maintaining of a relationship. It didn’t work. Next time I saw him, he surprised me when he showed up to my high school graduation, flowers in hand. That smile. He spent the evening with me and my family. Then he was off back to his college. I didn’t hear from him again…until I ran into him 10 years later. It was like we picked up where we left off. For the first time I thought about doing what I condemned people for. The one thing that led to the scarlet letter. IT never happened. He again, disappeared and I didn’t know why he just dropped out of the picture.
As for me, I took the entire event personally. I think all the years of unhappiness mixed with my perception of “rejection” was far too much and I broke. I fell into a deep depression and fortunately I had a close friend who recognized what I could not. She saw the depression through my attempts to mask it. I was placed on anti-depressants.
During the process of counseling I did a lot of thinking and I couldn’t understand how the one person who should have my best interest in mind had no clue as to my downward spiral into depression. It was then that I spoke of my unhappiness for the first time. How, for once I felt completely unequipped for anything. I couldn’t shake the feelings of inadequacy and saw myself in the most unappealing light. Yeah, I kinda felt like the ugly duckling that couldn’t fly. I felt the worst of the worst. To end this chapter in my life…the guy with the smile appeared one day while I was having lunch with a couple of girlfriends about two years ago. He comes walking up like nothing happened and says, “Hi. Long time no see.” Yes, that smile. But this time….smile didn’t affect me one bit. I put my hand out to shake his hand and his smile broke since he didn’t know what to do. He shook my hand and I asked about his family. He said they were good and he was silent. I won’t lie…it felt like I slayed the giant. I really wanted to stomp on him but I didn’t. I smiled and said, “Well, it was good to see you but I’m having lunch with some friends.” I turned around and he walked off. I felt a level of satisfaction.
But the entire incident with this fella and my fight to climb out of depression allowed me to see the ugly truth. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like being a wife. I didn’t like to live in the confines of a belief system that I felt was suffocating me. I didn’t like my “so-called friends”. Yes, my eyes were opened but I still struggled with my insecurities. I still feared the consequences of wanting what I wanted. I was scared. I am scared.