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Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

I have spent the better part of the last 2 years thinking that I am now permanently damaged goods. Besides the constant sense of bitterness and the fragile state of my already-heavily-damaged ego, I have questioned if these experiences have made me unfit for future human relationships. Forget about the male-female romantic type of relationships (of which I fear I am permanently unfit) but even just the simple human interactions. What happens if I am too screwed up to ever have a normal friendship again??

If you had asked me 10 years ago where I envisioned my life would be at this juncture, you can bet your sweet bippy that it never would have occurred to me that I would be more lost than I was at 18 – rootless and struggling with my faith, my self-esteem, and my future – I thought I had outgrown these sorts of emotions. So now I feel that I am too messed up, too crazy, too jaded, too broken – damaged goods.

So last night, in spending some time with my nearly-perfect friend (who will be known here only as “The B”) I discovered that I am not alone in the feeling of being ‘damaged.’ “The B”  is tall, gorgeous, outgoing, funny, intelligent and charismatic – and yet feels that she isn’t good enough. We actually spent quite a bit of the evening arguing over who is crazier, more angry, and/or more flawed. How is that a woman who is almost the perfect ideal of a female in current American society share the same sense of inadequacy that I have? “The B” is the kind of woman that I want to be when I grow up – how can SHE feel that she’s as crazy as I am?!

Is it a woman thing? Are we, as females, programmed to feel inadequate in some way at all times in our lives? I don’t think that’s exclusively the answer – although I DO believe that females specialize in feeling insecure and flawed. But I know many men who suffer from some of the same feelings that we have, especially the men who have been through shattering divorces or other life-altering events. These men are normal, everyday guys who have managed (just like “The B” and I) to get out of bed and face each new day. So, no, I don’t think it’s just ‘a woman thing’ – I actually think it’s more widespread than that.

My evening with “The B” has helped me to realize something very important – we are ALL damaged goods! There is not a single person, no matter how good it looks like they may have it in life, that is truly content with who they are. Maybe it’s trauma (emotional or physical) that has damaged someone, maybe it’s simply born in them – but we ALL feel that we have flaws. I am so glad to have company in the Damaged Goods area of the department store of life! Does it make me a bad person to rejoice in the company I keep?? I have truly wonderful friends that have helped me to realize that they too struggle with the damages in their lives – and if they can survive, so can I!

So, to”The B” I send the assurance that we are both crazier than hell, totally screwed up, and yet totally lovable!! And we are not alone – there are a lot of us that are Damaged Goods – and we should stand proud!

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There are very few times any more that I truly miss being married. Let’s face it – I didn’t have the ideal marital situation. Neither of us was really in it with the right expectations and its a part of my history that I usually try to put aside, to forget as best I can. Yet there are times when, like brief flashes of lightning that jolt my world and cause an almost physical pain, that I realize what I am missing. I feel, more and more as time passes, that I have past my expiration date, that I had my one chance to be married and I screwed it up. And that makes me really sad. Not sad for the man that I lost (because, let’s face it, he has definitely turned into an A-1 dillweed!) but sad for the fact that I may never have a marriage, that lifelong connection to a loved one, again.

I was raised in a home with 2 happily married parents – an oddity even in my growing up years. More and more of my friends’ parents divorced as I got older and, by the time I was in high school, I began to realize how special a lasting marriage truly is. My mom and dad are partners in ever sense of the word. I’m sure they suffer through the rough times and the typical spousal frustrations of any marriage – but they have stuck together for over 40 years. If one forgets something, the other will remember – if one falls down, the other one picks them up and helps them keep going – if one has a tough time, the other one is there to hold their hand and promise to support them. I envy them their marriage, their partnership, their team.

There was a movie on tv today that I hadn’t seen in years – “Shall We Dance?” – with Richard Gere and J-Lo. This movie, which centers around a man frustrated with his humdrum life and looking for something to challenge him, has one of the best definitions of marriage I think I’ve ever heard:

”We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.”

It’s funny, I liked this quote so much that I had it printed in our bulletins for our wedding way back in the day. We all know that I love my quotes – been stealing other peoples’ wisdom for years – and I really liked this one from the moment I heard it. Back then, I was so naively optimistic about being married and being in love. Now this quote seems to ring with a certain irony.

I’ve lost my witness, the only person that could testify to my life, so now I wonder if that was it for me, my one chance. I know that I have friends and family that love me – but they all have their own spouses and children whose lives need witnessing. Who will be a witness to my life, to love me unconditionally through good days and bad? Who will help me pass the time on this planet, into old age and into the grave? Why has God chosen for me to go through life without a partner? Who will be the witness to my life…?

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My pets are my family – I don’t have children so I am blessed to have four-legged babies to spoil and pamper 365 days of the year. But Christmas with the animals is a whole ‘nother special treat! The wonder in their eyes as they spy a tree growing right in the house or the intoxicating dazzle of twinkle lights – special moments indeed.

Not to say it isn’t without it’s challenges – retrieving ornaments from hiding places all over the house, trying to rescue the tree skirt from a certain death by kitten, placing all the breakables above wagging tail height, and avoiding certain dangerous items (tinsel, poinsettias, etc).

Now with my new job, I am around animals all day – and I am reminded once more how special the relationship between a human and their pet(s) can be. The best moments have been the new owners who have given a new animal their Christmas home; the worst moments have been the loving families having to make the tough decision to euthanize during the holidays.

It’s so tempting, I know, to add a new pet to your household at the holidays. For some of us, it’s a way to battle the loneliness; for others, it’s the thrill of watching a child discover his first puppy under the tree. I myself have been scouring PetFinder to see if there are any new animals that desperately need a Christmas home. Dogs and cats alike have drawn my attention – but practicality persists and I will have to forego the addition of a new family member until life is a little more settled.

So give your dogs and cats an extra pat and hug from me and be sure to cherish those furry friends – they are wonderful companions during this festive season!

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‘Tis the season for candles – scented delights to buy for grandma in the stores, twinkling electric bulbs beckoning from the windows, advent tapers lit every Sunday in church. It’s a time for candles and celebrations of family, friendship, and faith.

I am reminded, every time that I look at a candle, of a song I was taught a long time ago that reminded us all that “it is better to light just one little candle than to stumble in the dark…if everyone lit just one little candle what a bright world this would be.”

This is the time of year that always has made me want to make the world a better place – lighting my proverbial candle and shining bright.

For those of you who don’t know, my world fell apart a while back and I am having real trouble shining bright during the holidays.  I’ve watched my illusions shatter, my dreams get shredded, and my life derail. How then can a person find any hope or peace in this wonderful time of year? It would be so easy to get bogged down in the depression andthe fear and the bitterness – but I choose instead to light a new candle and shine bright and NOT curse the darkness!

The day that my separation papers were signed, I made an appointment for a new tattoo. And for the art, I chose a celtic cross (for my heritage) with a maltese cross inset (for my firefighting family) and the following words: “What is to give light must endure the burning.” This quote is from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning.

Almost everyone who has seen the tattoo gives me a blank stare or a puzzled look when they read the quote. I’m sure it seems strange for a firefighter to advocate the burning of anything. However, the reason I chose this quote is to remind myself that, in order to shine bright, I must get through bad moments and ended relationships. I have to survive the shattering in order to rebuild on my foundation.

I firmly believe that God has a plan for me and that He has not abandoned me. I have to believe that, to have faith in that simple fact or else I will no longer have any hope for the future. I will try to rest in God’s arms for a while to allow myself to heal, to hope, and to trust.

So this Christmas season, I am going to relight my candle and move on with my life. I don’t know what lies ahead for me – it’s so hard to be alone at this time of year. But I will not let the darkness defeat me; I will survive the burning and shine forth!

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“Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” by Colin Hay

Yet another inspiration from the iPod. For all of you out there who, like me, are stuck in limbo, who are waiting for the better adventures that MUST be coming soon. For those of us who have all the faith in the world that good things wait for us. And for those of us who, up until now, have not known true love or sincere emotion. For those of us who BELIEVE!

Any minute now, my ship is coming in

I’ll keep checking the horizon

And I’ll stand on the bow, and feel the waves come crashing

Come crashing down, down, down on me
And you say, be still my love

Open up your heart Let the light shine in

Don’t you understand I already have a plan

I’m waiting for my real life to begin
When I woke today, suddenly nothing happened

But in my dreams, I slew the dragon

And down this beaten path, up this cobbled lane

I’m walking in my old footsteps, once again

And you say, just be here now

Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin

Just let me throw one more dice I know that I can win

I’m waiting for my real life to begin
Any minute now, my ship is coming in

I’ll keep checking the horizon

And I’ll check my machine, there’s sure to be that call

It’s gonna happen soon, soon, oh so very soon

It’s just that times are lean
And you say, be still my love

Open up your heart, let the light shine in

Don’t you understand I already have a plan

I’m waiting for my real life to begin

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Today is what I would (now and probably forever) consider a bittersweet day in my life – today would have been my wedding anniversary. I look back at the young and trusting person that I was just those 6 short years ago when we got married and I weep for the innocence lost and the dreams and memories that I will never make. I mourn the death of that marriage – I loved that man and I liked being married. I mourn for the happy person that I was that beautiful autumn day and I am sad for the good, decent man who has become not so much.

Now, I do fully understand how lucky I am to be out of  my marriage. Staying with a man who had been unfaithful and dishonest with me for the entire length of our relationship would have been foolish and toxic. Continuing to try to fix an unfixable situation would have eventually caused major psychic and physical damage to me. I spent so much time and emotional energy trying to make myself more attractive, interesting, and appealing to him – not knowing that he was…uh…otherwise involved. I am jumping for joy at the independence and stability that I have earned since ending things with him. I am eternally grateful that the Lord only burdened me with him for the short time – its only 10 years of my life gone, after all. I truly am a stronger person now having gone through all of this and I can hold my head high that I did nothing wrong except to love the wrong person.

However, with all that said, I am still sad today. As much as my mind tells me how lucky I am to be out, my heart still breaks for what I have lost. A few tears may be shed at some point today for the scars that I bear and the hurts that I still carry because of that once-happy day 6 years ago.

I will pray, once more, for forgiveness to enter my heart and for the hurts to go away. And I will give prayers of thanks for the stronger person I am now. Like I said, a very bittersweet day indeed…

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I found out today that yet another of my friends is living her “happily ever after” – storybook romance, beautiful wedding, gorgeous house, and now a baby soon to be delivered. She has all of the things that she always dreamed of and I hate to admit that I am so jealous of her I could spit nails. It was heartbreaking for me to read that she has yet another jewel in the crown of a happy life – and I hate myself for the envy I feel.

People talk about how women have Penis Envy and Baby Envy. Well, I have an acute case of Happy Envy. I am jealous of people who have succeeded in whatever dreams they have had for themselves – careers, families, spouses, vacations, homes, whatever. I cringe every time I hear of a friend who is happy and content with their successes – and I hate myself for it!

My 10-year college reunion was this year and, while I would really have loved to go and see all the places I loved and friends I’ve missed, I just couldn’t bring myself to face people and admit that I have nothing about which to brag, no significant improvements in my life in the last decade. I am physically sick to stomach to think about finding that all of my friends and classmates have made their dreams come true – and here I am, divorced, broke, childless, jaded, bitter, angry and depressed.

And I don’t want to expose my Happy Envy to anyone other than you, my gentle readers. I don’t want to admit that I have become that woman. I don’t want anyone to know that I am petty enough and jealous enough to begrudge my friends (not to mention total strangers or vague acquaintances) their happiness. I am embarassed that I have failed in so many aspects of my life and thus I look around me with a shameful envy for the things that I want.

I wonder, though, am I the only one who has ever felt this way? I’m guessing not, since Envy is one of the seven deadly sins. I’m betting that there are a lot of us in this particular boat, wanting the happiness that others have found….

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