I went into a dark place.
Ronan was in preschool and had therapy in Mooresville, and we lived in North Charlotte. With good traffic, it was a 20 minute drive. With typical traffic it could be as much as 45 minutes… and Ryder was a car-seat screamer. From buckle-in to buckle-out, he screamed. NOTHING made a difference, and we tried EVERYTHING.
In retrospect, I should have just pulled Ronan out of preschool. But I was doing what felt like the right thing, we were going for therapy anyways, and I just kept stepping forward instead of stopping and evaluating what the problem was.
The car-seat screaming was killing me. Stress level 100 the entire time we were in the car. Loud music and talking and singing and eventually yelling and raging. Stopping didn’t help. Just driving on felt cruel. Eventually I just stayed in Mooresville, and even worse, we just stayed in the car in the church parking lot for the three hours that Ronan was in class. I would take Ryder out of his seat and nurse him. Ruby and Ryder and I would just play in the car.
This was the beginning of the deepest dive into the worst depression I had ever experienced. Everything became challenging. I was angry all of the time. I loved my kids, but I hated my life. This was when I first experienced the rages that became my normal for a time. Life was deep and dark and black. I began imagining ways to end the pain and suffering… it wasn’t physical pain, but I was definitely hurting. I was resentful towards Brock for leaving me at home all day every day. I hated him for leaving. We had moved away from friends and family, and our neighborhood didn’t have anywhere for us to walk to, and Ryder SCREAMED IN THE CAR.
I felt like a prisoner in my life, and I wanted out.
The turning point was sharp and painful. Driving northbound on I-77, Ryder screaming in the seat behind me, and I imagined how quickly it could all end if I just turned my car off the road. All I had to do was jerk the steering wheel and it would all be over. No more screaming. Just silence.
The thought rolled around in my head for a few minutes before I realized something was really wrong. That wasn’t normal. I wasn’t supposed to imagine dying in order to feel better. I didn’t need to die to feel better. Instead of dropping Ronan off at preschool, I drove to my doctors office.
We spoke. I cried. She hugged me. And she put me on antidepressants.
The change in me was immediate and sort of unbelievable. It’s really hard for me to describe what it felt like, but it was the opposite of hopeless. (I know the opposite of hopeless is hopeful… but I wouldn’t say I was hopeful. I just was no longer in the complete absence of hope.) I felt lighter, and had more energy. My anger had dissipated, and I suddenly had a well of patience. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it fixed everything – I still struggled. But I no longer felt like I was completely overwhelmed with the entirety of my life. I had joy again. I laughed again.
There was a part of me that knew, deep down, that I hadn’t truly addressed the problems that had caused my issues – but I just needed to not be suffering for a while. I needed to be able to feel whole for a while.
Brock and I noticed, not too long after I started the antidepressants, that one of the side effects that I encountered was being unable to climax. The first several times, I didn’t really worry about it, but eventually I googled, “sexual side-effects of antidepressants” and there it was. Within our marriage and our relationship, intimacy was already an issue and being unable to orgasm was another wrench in the works. It added a complication that we hadn’t foreseen. Brock and I both felt like the medication was good for me and good for our kids… but what was it going to do for our marriage?
I stayed on the medication for several months, recovering from the blackness and finding the way to fall in love with my life again. The engine of our MiniCooper died, and we had to buy a new car. The carbon monoxide alarm went off in our house and the fire-fighters came with sirens blaring. Brock got a big promotion at work. And then, right when it was time to renew our lease in the rental, our landlords decided they wanted to sell the house and gave us 30 days notice to move out.
A little more than a year after we moved out, Brock and the kids and I moved back into Jane and Ted’s house. We were back at the lake. This time, we said, it was going to be different – and it was. Before we moved in, Jane and I sat down and talked. And I told Jane EVERYTHING that had happened, and what was going on the last time we lived in their home. Everything that I should have been saying before. Everything about our marriage, and the porn, and what life was like for me. Why I struggled so much. And how things had changed. Also, we promised, it wasn’t going to take so long for us to find a new place. We didn’t even fully unpack. We knew what kind of home we wanted, and where we wanted to live – we just needed to find it.
But for the time being, we were at the lake again.
To be continued…