Saying Goodbye to Dark Sources
“But love is not a transaction. Love is transcendent—it transcends language and material possessions and can be shown only by our thoughts, actions, and intentions.”
-Joshua Fields Millburn
This past winter, I found myself sitting in my car on the verge of ending it. I could go to the corner Rite Aid, buy a bottle of vodka, take the handful of pills in my bag, and make my own pain go away, forever.
I have had intermittent bouts of depression since I was a teenager, but I always thought depression was some sort of uncontrollable, unexplainable force. I always thought if I could just stop thinking, if I could just get it together, if I could just get away from here, maybe my blues would just…disappear. Of course, they never did.
Last year my depression permeated every bone in my body, and it was getting harder to do even the simplest things. The crying and sadness took over at unexpected times, paralyzing me. Most people turn to family or parents during dark times, but for me that was not an option…
My relationship with my mother was never good. As a teenager her temper and mood swings were so unpredictable that I felt like the roof could explode at any minute. I lived in a constant state of anxiety, because there was no way to prepare.
For so long, I tried to figure out where her anger came from—what topics would set her off—but there was no rhyme or reason to any of it. The only constant was that she was high and low. She could be screaming, flying up the stairs to throw something at my head or hit me one second, and then later would offer to buy me something, while reminding me of how much she loved me. We never spoke about it, and I swept it under the rug each and every time. When my mother was nice, she convinced everyone, myself included.
However, it was her words that left the deepest scars. You’re evil… lazy… rotten… stupid…you’re garbage…you’re ashamed…you don’t know how to talk…no one likes you…you deserve nothing… these were my mother’s declarations of maternal love to me. Growing up, I was convinced people were using me, that friends hated me, or that my boss was about to call me stupid, before I ever walked in the door. I took every subtle gesture as proof that my mother’s cruelties were right all along. I became scared of life.
I tried to distance myself, which only infuriated her more. She would start screaming when I would spend time with friends or talk about moving. She would hurl insults, throw things, and would accuse me of not caring about her or loving her. She demanded constant attention and devotion. When I would recount her viciousness in session, my therapist brought up Borderline Personality Disorder. But at that point, I had lived with it all for so long, I couldn’t see anything changing. I knew she would never get treatment.
My therapist asked, “How have you managed all these years?” Like so many of my answers, I said, “I don’t know.” And I didn’t. I guess the depression, anxiety, and heart palpitations were my body’s way of managing.
For so long, I felt weak, unwanted, and very much alone. Last year, things dipped and I couldn’t see a future for myself, which is when I seriously thought of ending it. Because even while her physical presence was gone from my life, I still talked to her semi-regularly, and I still heard her voice in my head. And why wouldn’t her voice be there? The damage was done a long time ago. I came to the realization that I would never be rid of this darkness and pain unless I made a decision.
I had to finally come to terms with how damaging our relationship really was. I made the choice in therapy to end contact with her, and now, I feel like a weight has been lifted, because I’ve finally felt her presence leave from my life.
The other beneficial methods of combating my depression were time and commitment. The time spent talking to an empathetic therapist and really evaluating what happened, is what truly led to a new way of thinking and living. I had to commit to setting and sticking to boundaries, because making the decision to sever ties with a parent is not easy.
I urge others suffering from depression, to find a compassionate therapist, commit to regular sessions, share, listen, and take very good care of yourself.
I stopped and started writing this piece so many times. Writing down the things that happened is still very painful. For so long, I tried to distract myself. I needed to forget. But I learned those wounds and feelings never go away, they just reappear stronger and more dangerous than before…unless we face them.
Despite my ongoing struggles with depression, I’ve learned to take it one day at a time. I’ve found work I enjoy, and I now notice the incredible difference in only surrounding myself with positive and supportive people. With my therapist, we face the difficult questions and tackle the darkness, together.
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