I don’t know if Valentine’s Day is your thing or not, but my husband and I deliberately went on our first date the day after Valentine’s… 16 years ago almost to the day! I have no problem with others, who like all the romance around it, but for me, I have always found it a bit, um, trite is the most polite way I can say it. (Photo credit: WP Maund Photography, Charlottetown, PE)
My husband and I dated for five years before getting married. Some of that timewas spent as a long distance relationship, which was fine because he had morereasons than just me to come visit the city where I lived during that time. Wenever lived together while dating, and he was a bit traditional in the sensethat he asked my dad if he could marry me.
He proposed to me in May (a proposal, which is a hilarious story that I should definitely share sometime) and we got married that same year in October. I mean seriously. Five years of dating??? I wasn’t waiting any longer, so everything came together pretty quick.
Me, my husband, my mother and my father all went to Bangladesh that December so my husband could meet my family and for us to have a reception, Bengali style. Most of my family are still there and it was easier for us to travel to them.
He got to meet people like my grandmother before she passed away. He got to experience being the only white guy in an entire village that my father’s family called home. A crowd of brown people followed him from a respectable distance as he learned about our community. He got to experience the culture, which gave him a lot more of an understanding about my family. I am forever grateful for this trip, but I’ve only recently come to terms with that.
And Then It Changed
I dislike the expression that things can change in a blink of an eye, because it’s true. When we landed back in Canada, we got in a taxi to pick up our vehicles from our friends’ house. Our cab ran a stop sign at a highway intersection and we got T-boned by another car going highway speeds.
I was luckily the only one that was hurt,and most of my physical troubles were based on me sustaining a head injury.However, my injuries ended up impacting me for over two years, in addition tothe insurance and legal things that came from the cab driver making an error.For years after the accident, due to the vertigo, I always felt like I was on arocking boat and couldn’t trust my footing. My husband and I had been marriedfor only three months and we were already trying to adjust to our new livestogether when everything changed.
When traumatic things happen to people, howwe react falls into different categories. Some people would take this situationand challenge it head on. Others would give themselves the time to heal as theuniverse intended. Maybe you would feel that this was another stone on thescale of bad things to happen to them, I don’t know. There are so many otherways to react, but for me, I disappeared.
I became angry. Everything, everyone ‘made’ me mad. The carelessness of the cabdriver enraged me, and the legal and insurance stuff was very slow moving whichwas even more frustrating. My husband walked on eggshells around me becauseanything could set me off. He gave me so many opportunities to do things thatwould make me happy, because he knew that I was losing myself in the anger, butI rejected it all because of my limitations. He took care of everything, and myheart would cry because I couldn’t be more in love with him, but agonized thatthis ‘burden’ fell on him.
I was also bitter. So, so bitter. We wantedto grow a family, but it wasn’t the right time, as there were too many factorsthat could hurt me or affect a pregnancy when I couldn’t always keep my footingunderneath me. It would almost be irresponsible, but I didn’t care, becausethat’s what I decided would be the only thing that would actually make me happy,so a lot of bitterness and passive aggressiveness around not starting a family playeda huge role in our day-to-day lives.
But the worst was that I was furious at me because there were so many things that I couldn’t do anymore during that time, such as walk up the stairs by myself to get to the bathroom. Cook food? Nope. My husband doesn’t cook so we ate a lot of frozen pizzas, and luckily my mother only lived two hours away and couriered frozen home-cooked food to us. Clean? Nope. Being up for any length of time would make the vertigo so bad that I would fall over, so he had to do it. Drive? Go for a walk? Remember something that literally happened five seconds ago? Nope, nope, nope.
Then, the company that I worked for priorto the accident, let me go, for apparently something that had happened monthsbefore the accident, but the timelines for my dismissal corresponded with beingon a medical leave for too long. At first, I didn’t want to cash the verygenerous severance-slash-go-away-pay, because it meant that I accepted theterms of the release. However, my lawyer suggested that I accept the pay tokeep my previous employer happy and available to testify if it ever came tothat. Honestly, I should’ve followed my gut, but that’s a conversation foranother time.
We owned a house in another city that wewere renting to friends, but decided that it would be better to sell theproperty ‘in case’. I don’t really remember the logic at that time. Either way,when we got back to the house, and I was able to sit down, outside and bendover the garden to make it look nice to get it ready for pictures, and myhusband saw a glimpse of happiness in me, so we decided to keep the home.
Why that glimmer of joy was so important? It’s because I was ‘gone’ and myhusband was worried for me.
IWas No Longer Me
When I finally realized that I had nocontrol over what happened in the accident, that translated into every otherpart of my life. I had no control over the vertigo that prevented me fromstanding too long, walking down stairs, driving, cooking, grocery shopping,anything that was normal for me before the accident.
I felt useless because I couldn’t help myhusband who was picking up all the slack in addition to taking care of me. AndI thought it was horrible that he hadto do this because he loved me that much.
Every single time he put another frozenpizza in the oven, I gritted my teeth because I was sick of pizzas but he wastrying his best to feed us. Each time he had to clean the kitty litter, I triedmy best not to tell him how to do it better because regardless, he was the onewho still needed to do it. (Okay, so Iknow kitty litter may not be that bigof a deal, but it was one of those things that he told me when we first dated,made him want to upchuck because he thought it was so gross). Every time wegot in the car, he would HAVE to be the one who drove because I couldn’t, whichis something that normally happens anyhow, but it’s because that he HAD to thatit changed my perspective on it. He kept trying, and all I saw was how Icould’ve done it differently.
Unfortunately, getting let go from work reminded me of how disposable I was. Idid not have enough value to keep around, so they cut the dead weight. I hadnever been ‘fired’ before and at the time couldn’t help but take everythingpersonally. So I believed that I was dead weight to everyone.
And through all of this, my husband stillloved me.
Which means, I tried almost everything I could do to push him away so that he wouldleave me, which of course sounds TOTALLY ‘reasonable’ considering everything Ijust said, right? Insert d’uh here with a proper emoticon, and you’ll probablyagree that it wasn’t.
It hurt me to watch him do so much for me,because I didn’t believe I was worth the hassle. I felt like a shell of theperson I was before and I couldn’t just be grateful that he was there. And eventhough I loved him with all my heart, I decided that he deserved someone betterthan me and started to sabotage everything good in our relationship so that hewould leave me.
Let me be perfectly clear here. When wesabotage our relationships or our futures, or whatever, there is definitely a brief instance when we makethis decision to do so. It doesn’t happen by accident. It doesn’t happenbecause the universe is against us. It happens because there is a lot of powerin a decision.
No, I didn’t want to be miserable, but yes,I stayed there because I put me there… not my circumstances. This may seembrutally harsh, especially for someone who blames themselves for everythingthat has gone wrong in their lives, especially if they are in a position thatthey had no original control over. But blame and accountability are NOT thesame thing. Blame gives you a way to detach from your role in the hurt, wrongdoings, or horrible situations… accountability means that you accept that youhad an ability to do things differently, regardless of the circumstance. Nomatter what you think, how ever vulnerable you may feel, there is alwayssomething that you can do differently to survive that pain.
I can’t tell you the amount of times Iwould wake him up in the middle of the night because I felt ‘we needed totalk’. He never responded the way that I wanted him to, the way that would furtherfuel the fire of me believing he deserved better than me.
I felt an agonizing pain in my chest that squeezed and pulled at my heart atthe same time. I would hug my chest and ugly cry until I fell asleep on thecouch and not understand why I felt this bad. I loved him so much, but Idesperately needed him to get away from me for my own sanity, whatever thatactually meant.
I resented that he loved me and spun it toa point that I convinced myself that he didn’t really love me at all! My beliefwas that he was simply obligated to stick around, and he was too stubborn tolet me go in fear of failure.
And we lived like this for years after theaccident. Now in looking back at it, I can’t believe how much time had actuallypassed that I tried to get him to leave… and he didn’t, which I believe makeshim a little crazy, but I’m grateful for it.
I Kept Me There
Now all these years later, I’ve discoveredsomething about myself that I never really acknowledged, and let me tell you,it hurt. I deliberately sabotaged my own happiness… I realized that most of myrelationships failed and my circumstances never changed and I wasn’t where Iwanted to be because I sabotaged everything good about me and my situation. I deliberatelymade myself the victim.
I did that.
No, I may not have had any control over theaccident, but I took control of so many things afterwards that it would keep mein the same lack-of-control headspace. I may not have been able to help withthe cleaning, but I had the ability to show gratefulness for what was gettingdone, but I didn’t. I know now that a sign of affection for all he did for mewould be as much comfort to me as it was for him because we were a team, but Icouldn’t express that. It wasn’t until I accepted that I was making sure that I always felt this badand that it was a deliberate choice that I disappeared, even if it didn’t knowthat at the time that things started to change.
I don’t share any of this to brag aboutmaking it to where we are 16 years later or the fact that my hubby is a goodman and a great father (because yes, we eventually did come to a point that wecould start a family). Why I share this is because there was love in my lifeand yet I felt utterly and completely alone and lonely. It doesn’t really makeany sense, but at the same time, I know so many people who would get it. Andlike me, you are not a victim of your circumstances.
You’reStronger Than You Think
You are powerful and someone who can changethe world, but you need to open your eyes to get that vision. You have morecontrol over things than you think you do and it all comes with a decision toembrace to good and flush the bad away. Yes, yes, you do. There are people wholove all of you and are willing to do so much for you, so stop pushing themaway. You may feel lost or overwhelmed, frustrated, sad, angry, or may notbelieve they already exist—whatever. You are capable of doing amazing thingsand building relationships. And if you are the type of person that believesthat you can help other people better than you can help yourself, then please,please, please tell someone that.
You are loved even if you don’t believe it,so stop justifying otherwise. The people around you may not understand what ishappening to you, but it doesn’t matter… At the end of the day, your life meanssoooo much to them, even if you don’t believe it, but now you have to believeit about yourself too. Honestly, you are no different than me, I promise youthat. So if I can find my worth, so can you.
(Photo credit: David MacVicar Photography, Cape Breton, NS)
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From the bottom of my heart, thanks for reading!
Sarah, The Depressed Mom Boss