I know Pandora is a proper noun and not an adjective but at this point I’m fighting the overwhelming compulsion to change it to match the regular format for my blog titles.
I’m going through some serious emotional distress right now and it supersedes my OCD. I just need to get it out of me so that it’s not a weight pressing down on my chest and that I can go back to breathing normally again.
It’s been exactly one month since I started writing. In that time I’ve collected 69 subscribers from 8 different countries in the world. Right now I’m kinda hoping that none of them will read this. It’s sort of embarrassing to reveal such personal details to strangers on the goddamned fucking internet but I promised in my very first entry that I was going to be open and honest and show every side, warts and all, to get the greatest therapeutic results from all of this.
If I’m going to lay everything out on front street then I’ll start by just bluntly saying that I’m currently undergoing psychotherapy and taking medication to combat depression. It’s hard to know exactly how long I’ve actually been suffering from it, but I was medically diagnosed and began treatment almost 9 months ago. Since then I’ve been through peaks and valleys of emotional instability. I can go weeks at a time feeling just fantastic, like everything in the world is perfect and then I’ll see or hear something… sometimes it’s even a certain smell, that can trigger a complete emotional breakdown.
It’s made me alternate between wanting to be around certain people 24/7 and then just isolating myself completely and ignoring the world, missing work for days at a time, while I sit in an apartment that reaches Trainspotting levels of squalor.
Right now my kitchen is a nightmare, there hasn’t been a clean dish in my house for almost a week and I’ve got almost enough empty Pizza Pizza boxes scattered around to build a second bedroom.
I was feeling this way exactly one month ago and that’s what led to the birth of VTAN. I’m happy to say that I haven’t felt that bad since, but today on the anniversary I feel like I’ve taken ten steps backwards.
A friend of mine is getting married. She’s having a huge pre-wedding bash tonight and I was looking forward to going but right now the thought of getting dressed and going out to a crowd of people, happy and smiling people, has got me paralyzed with fear.
For one thing, this friend of mine is someone I’ve always been VERY fond of. Her opinion of me MATTERS. I can’t really explain it, but I am just so ashamed of so many aspects of my personality and she’s only seen the good so the idea of risking that, of shedding light on the dark and disgusting side of me and having her opinion of me change is a genuine concern.
I’m worried that because there’s going to be so many strangers, friends and family of her’s that I’ve never met before, I’ll get into a fight with someone or just be an out of control dick to everyone and ruin what is supposed to be a fun and joyful occasion. At the same time I feel, and maybe I’m flattering myself by thinking this, that she will be sad if I don’t show up.
It’s a shameful feeling, not being able to trust yourself like that. I wish I could say that I wasn’t always this way but the truth is I’ve been antisocial my whole life. I’ve never had close friends for very long because I always drive them away. Some people have a love/hate relationship with their families, mine has always been tolerate/hate.
I’ve skirted the issue since the beginning but now it’s time to get right down to the marrow of it. I’m going to tell my story, or at least a version of it. So much of what has happened is clouded by emotional bias that it’s become more and more difficult to remember exactly how things went down. There’s an alarmingly poignant moment in Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke where when asked how he became the way he is the Joker says
Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!
So instead of telling my side of things like I’ve done over and over again to anybody willing to sit still long enough to listen, all I’m going to do is make a list of facts.
In July I experienced the dissolution of a romantic relationship that lasted for 7 years. Towards the end we had problems getting along, but for the majority of the time we spent together we were truly and staggeringly in love. I intended to marry this girl. I had her name tattooed on my arm.
Throughout her whole life she had always suffered from low self esteem. She was frequently unhappy with herself, especially with her perception of her body. I was so happy being with her and was unable to reconcile the notion that she could be so unhappy with herself and yet still be happy being with me. I didn’t fully understand her emotional state and so I never respected it. I thought it was my job to “fix” her. I was not equipped to deal with that responsibility. My failure to make her feel better about herself caused me to resent her. That resentment grew and grew over time.
I began to have a warped perception of our life together. I would look at her depression as an attempt on her part to sabotage my own happiness. She assured me that this wasn’t the case. I never believed her. For many years I took her for granted. I had made several attempts to end our relationship but she would always beg and beg and during some of the more hysterical times she would say that if I left her she would kill herself. We would always reconcile after that.
I began to experience the degradation of my own sanity. I became more and more hostile.
I became violent.
I truly believed at that point that I was being held hostage. I thought that because of her threats of suicide that I was trapped with no way out. During that period of time I briefly considered killing myself.
We got through it.
We recognized that we were both crazy. We decided that no sane person would conceivably want to be with either of us. We looked at that as evidence that we belonged together. Just two crazies trying to make it work.
Our love continued to grow but it was a hard and dangerous, unhealthy love.
She got pregnant.
I never thought I’d ever want a child. I hate my own father so fucking much. I’ve committed myself to honesty and this has all been facts. Writing that last line felt so good, and knowing inside my heart that its the truth made it feel even better. I hate my worthless father. I hated him so much that the thought of creating a person who felt that same way about me was terrifying. But when the idea became an actual possibility I had a complete change of heart. I wanted us to have this baby. I thought we would be a happy, insane little family.
She wanted an abortion.
She got it.
I didn’t allow myself to feel anything about that. I wasn’t happy or sad. I just made myself feel nothing. I began a period of greater emotional disconnection. For a time I thought I could sustain it but the truth of it all is that deep down inside I am a viciously selfish and unrepentant person. I need things to be exactly the way I want them to be otherwise I’m never satisfied.
I got fired from my dream job. It was a shitty job with shitty pay and terrible hours that made her spend countless nights alone but I loved it. If I could go back I’d be earning half as much as I do now but I’d do it in a heartbeat. I missed holidays and special occasions because of that job. I made it a priority over her and I made it clear to her, through actions if not words, that I cared more about that job than I did about her. She was so desperate not to lose me that she endured the loneliness and borderline poverty that this shitty job had caused for her. When I finally lost that job something inside of me snapped. I became unbearable to live with.
Our relationship became a stalemate. I didn’t want to be there anymore and I would say it to her face… cruelly. Every time I left she would cling to me harder. It got to the point where I would threaten to leave, expecting her to say that she would do anything to make me stay. For about a year this is how I got what I wanted, whenever I wanted it.
I always was, and admittedly still am, very physically and sexually attracted to her. Because of her problems with self esteem and body image she never believed me. She would go to extreme measures to lose weight. She got a prescription for Adderall, ostensibly because she was a university student and needed help focusing on her studies. She took them because she knew the side effects included rapid weight loss. While she was taking this medication her personality was noticeably different. It got to the point where I began to feel like she was a whole different person. I began to make rationalizations in my head. I had promised to love and be committed to one person. The drugs had transformed the person I loved into a stranger. I saw no reason to stay committed to that stranger.
I started a new job and was immediately attracted to one of my new co-workers.
I had a sexual affair with her and kept it secret.
I chose not to feel guilty about it because of all of my twisted logic. Once again I tried to end our failing relationship but she refused to let me go. At this point I admitted the affair. I did it thinking that it would be the one unforgivable act that would finally make her not want to be with me. I underestimated her capacity for forgiveness. I accused her of being so hopelessly afraid of being alone and unloved that she would rather cling to me than risk not having anyone to love her. She assured me that it wasn’t her low self esteem that caused her to take me back, she just loved me so much and couldn’t allow herself to let go of it all.
Only now do I realize how much she must have loved me. We went to couple’s counseling and tried to overcome what had happened. That’s when I began to feel real guilt. I was overcome with shame and I wanted to make it up to her. I started being the man I should have been years ago. Treating her right, actually caring about her. Putting her needs before mine for once. I really tried hard to do better but sustaining that effort became a real challenge.
At this point she began turning to a friend for advice. In my effort to keep this entirely factual I won’t say any more than I resented this relationship. I suspected he was attracted to her (after all who wouldn’t be) and while he’s ugly as a fucking mule’s anus, I knew that because she always hated the way she looked she would be drawn to anybody who thought she was pretty.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to omit opinion and speculation so I’ll skip forward ahead and just say that
eventually this guy became her best friend. actually even that’s too speculative to truly be considered a FACT so I’ll strike it. I started to feel like she cared about this guy more than me. I was shocked by my jealousy considering how eager I was to be free of her only months earlier.
She decided that we needed to go on vacation to clear our heads. If we could relax and just ignore all the stresses and pressures of our lives then we could get everything back on track.
This part is almost impossible to discuss without bias so rather than ruin my honesty streak I’ll just say that before we left she had made a plan with this friend of hers and told me nothing about it. I found out about it in a traumatic way that ruined what was supposed to be a dream vacation and rang the final death knell of our relationship.
We got back from Cuba and he moved in with her almost immediately. I had a brief sexual relationship with another co-worker and really thought that I was on track to starting a new and happier life by myself.
Then something happened.
I started crying. It started suddenly and it didn’t stop for almost 4 whole days. I was struck with an uncontrollable despair. I started to panic. I couldn’t believe that the last year had actually happened. It was as if I was playing through a game on Xbox and was taking stupid risks and making crazy decisions without any regard for the outcome because I knew that I had an extra life and could just restart at any time.
The notion that things were irrevocably changed hit me like a kick to the ribs and literally knocked the wind out of me. I was having trouble breathing and had to go to CAMH for emergency care. It’s only in retrospect that I’m able to say that during the months following my confession of infidelity the two of us worked harder on our relationship then we had in 7 years. It was the happiest I could ever remember being. It showed me what I had been missing for the previous 2 or 3 years and more importantly WHAT I COULD’VE HAD FOR THE NEXT SIXTY.
Canada Day was always a special day for the two of us. She had never been close with her parents and it’s accurate to say that she was mostly raised by her grandparents. Canada Day was important to them emotionally so it had become important to her and by extension to me as well.
Last July I was spending the holiday alone. The thought of her spending our special day with another man made me physically sick. I tried to distract myself but we had shared so many experiences together, I spent more than 25% of my entire life with this girl and there literally isn’t a single thing in this world I can look at, listen to, touch, smell or taste that doesn’t remind me of her.
On Canada Day of 2012 I almost died. It’s not an exaggeration to say that some piece of me actually did.
Since then it’s been a struggle. I’ve been dating sporadically and trying to make new friends but it hasn’t been easy for me.
I know that we aren’t going to get back together.
I don’t want to.
I’ve been working hard with my therapist over the last 9 months to become a better person. Not just changing parts of my personality, but exploring the events in my past, traumas from when I was very young that have made me into what I am today.
I wish that I had these insights into my personality back then. I’ve become so much better at self reflection and identifying and talking about my emotions.
I don’t wish we could get back together.
I just know now that I am capable of being a better partner now then I ever was before. I could be a good boyfriend. I could be a good husband and conceivably even be a good father too.
I just didn’t have those skills when I needed them.
Now it’s too late.
Writing all of this has not been easy for me. Even now I’m considering going back to CAMH because I don’t think my regular meds are going to be enough to get me through tonight. I take an anti-depressant regularly but I have anti-anxiety medication for when I’m feeling the way I’m feeling now. So far they work pretty well except for a noticeable decrease to my libido.
Tonight I’m invited to see two people in love cement their relationship. It should be inspirational but the only other friend I have who was married just went through a divorce.
It’s all got me feeling a little hopeless.
I want to go but I don’t know how I’m going to react.
I just don’t trust myself.