Do you often think to yourself, “my husband is an asshole?” Maybe he’s a control freak or maybe you allowed things to get out of control.
Are you married to an asshole? Who isn’t? But what degree of asshole is he? Can you manage his assholiness or do you need to divorce him? Is he the cause of your depression?
You are probably familiar with flying on an airline and emergency procedures. The ones the flight attendants go over just before take-off. Have you ever thought about the importance of those oxygen masks? They explain that the masks drop down and the oxygen starts to flow.
Have you ever really thought about the importance of putting yours on first? You have to breathe. You have to take care of yourself first in order to care for others.
Is that the root of your problem? Is that the cause of your depression? It was for me. I couldn’t breathe. I never put myself first and I eventually lost the ability to care for those around me. OMG, I’m ashamed to say that this is what happened to me three times. What is wrong with me? Am I wired to be a doormat?
Just like with husbands number one and two it started off the same.
I look and feel great.
I love my job.
I have friends and family who love me. And then it happened.
I met Mr. Wonderful number three. Woo Hoo. He loves me. He thinks I’m smart and funny and beautiful. He showers me with compliments and gifts. He loves spending time with me. It doesn’t matter if we go out or stay in as long as we’re together. He promises me that this will last FOREVER. LIES! How did I not see this pattern? Maybe they weren’t lies at the time but things change.
Did he turn into an asshole or was he always an asshole? Did I change? How did I go from an interesting independent woman to a depressed doormat? All I know is the new wore off, reality set in, his needs came first and I became depressed.
As with many couples, we agreed to put his career first. After all, it was for “us.” We worked together and I became his assistant. We played together too. But little by little he explained away the changes. He needed some guy time. “It’s ok,” I explained to myself. He deserves it. I deserve it too.
I tried going out with friends but every time I did he showed up. Sometimes he called with a reason I needed to come home. He was so controlling that I stopped going out. I was even flattered that he was a little jealous. Besides, we needed to save money and I was so busy with the kids and when I had a free minute I wanted to spend it with him.
Eventually, everything was about him. If I did speak up I got accused of being a nag. I didn’t want that. I wanted to be the cool understanding wife. But deep down I knew he was being an asshole. I knew things had changed, but I didn’t know what to do. And you know what you do when you don’t know what to do? You do nothing. You learn to accept it and you make excuses. I was so afraid of losing him that I lost myself.
Does any of this sound like you?
You don’t stand up to your husband because you just don’t want to fight anymore. You let the kids get their way too often because you’re too tired to care. You don’t open the mail because it’s all bills and they are all overdue. You need a haircut. You wear the same clothes that you did years ago. You don’t eat right. You suffer from anxiety and maybe you self-medicate with alcohol?
Maybe you are depressed because he is an asshole. Maybe he’s a control freak or maybe you allowed things to get out of control. Maybe you enabled his bad behavior because you hate confrontation. Maybe you don’t want to rock the boat. But the boat is sinking and you are the only one on it.
Believe me, I know. I was depressed. I gained weight and suffered from insomnia and anxiety. My gums would bleed whenever I brushed my teeth and I didn’t go see a dentist. I’ve gone through menopause without seeing a doctor. I truly put my health, my happiness and myself last.
I dropped my hobbies and the volunteer work that I used to love because he needed me to concentrate on “our” life. All the while he slowly made his own private life. I had panic attacks. It got so bad that whenever he did something that I knew was wrong I would have an attack. He started accusing me of being allergic to him…in a way he was right.
The real kicker is that my husband, who I put first, put me last. When I said I needed to change he said “good.” When I asked for his help and support he said he couldn’t help me because he barely knew how to help himself. In reality, he’s suffering from depression too. But men and woman do not suffer from depression in the same way. Women take the blame and men blame others.
Was it his depression that made him an asshole or was he always an asshole? That’s a matter of opinion but when I started to challenge him he wanted out. After all, I did for him, he wanted out? Wow. Now on top of my depression was grief. I went through shock, denial, anger, depression again and finally acceptance. I accepted that I had changed. I had become a person he didn’t like and a person I didn’t like. I became a doormat. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was history repeating itself. I have no explanation why I didn’t see it coming but I do know that it could happen again. I’m wired this way. I allow people to take advantage of me. For me, this cycle needed to stop and I took charge.
With help from my family and friends, I’m recovering. I promised my kids and myself that there will not be another man until I am in complete control of my own needs. I committed to supporting myself. I read, went to church, joined the gym and got a new job. I treated myself to the salon. I bought new age-appropriate professional clothes. I have hobbies. I do charity work. I have friends. I like myself. I’m happy. I no longer have panic attacks. I’m no one’s doormat and I’m no longer depressed. I did it without drugs, but if you need medical assistance then run, don’t walk and get help.
You need to take care of yourself before you can care for others. Put your oxygen mask on first and breathe.