Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Of late, my thoughts have been around my wife. Even now, I can hear my friend screaming “EX-wife!!” Yes, she’s my ex-wife, but the reality is that I want to be married. Not to her, at least not anymore, but if I never find a wife then, in my life anyway, that makes her it. I put in my effort with her and she burned me for it. But I truly wish I was in a fulfilling and loving relationship with a woman who returns the effort that I exert for her. Sarah did not.
Summers have been emotionally difficult for me for quite a long time, and inevitably it takes me time to understand why. I slide headfirst into a deep depression, and in a season where families, friends and loved ones are out enjoying the weather and the company of one another, I sit, alone, fighting to find the motivation I need to go out, and feeling guilty at my failure to do so.
Then it strikes me.
It has become an annual event, the depression, and then the realization. In June, during a major heart attack, my wife told me that she wanted the relationship to end and threw me out of the house. Not quite two years earlier, I was married in July. What was meant to be a happy memory now brings pain. In August, a year after we separated, I signed the divorce papers, intentionally wearing the same shirt I wore when I was married, a shirt I then left on her porch although I doubt that she understood the symbolism.
I honestly don’t remember these things until I take the time to really think about why I suffer from a seasonal depression at a time that is significantly different from for most people. It’s a fascinating phenomenon, and the focus of this post, that even when your conscious mind forgets painful events, your subconscious remembers.
Back in Boston, when I was in graduate school in the late ‘80’s, my friend would refer to what she called “birth trauma”. In new-age philosophy, the hypothesis is that the mind subconsciously remembers our birth, yes, our actual birth, on a subconscious level. Birth, of course, is a very difficult and stressful event, and when our subconscious remembers this it causes the stress we tend to have around our birthdays.
That seems a bit extreme to me. I can’t say it’s wrong; I don’t remember my birth so how should I know how traumatic it is? I was born cesarean section, which I know because every time I leave the house I go out through the window. (Thanks to Steven Wright for that gem. Trust me, I’ve written my own jokes in these posts and you never laughed like you just did!) But I can tell you that it’s important when you can find these roots of our difficult times.
I guess it comes across in a fashion similar to seasonal depression. In the winter people tend to fight depression, although the reasons are very different. In the winter, it’s being stuck indoors because of inclement weather, decreased light as the sun spends less time doing its job, and the stress of the holidays. Having these problems in the middle of the summer, like I do, it’s a little more difficult to explain. Yes, I’m depressed because (at least in part) because I’m divorced, but I’ve been divorced since 2011.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been told I need to move on. It’s been nine years, in a relationship that lasted less than three years if you count the dating period, so how can I possibly still be hurt after nine years? I dated a woman for a period, once, in that time. It never felt right, and I’m sure a big part of it was my own fault. How do you explain this to somebody?
Should you have to? The short answer is, no, of course not. We all fight our own ways through our personal jungles, and some of us have sharper machetes. Why do I need approval of others who have no idea where I came from, who have never walked my path? And how can I judge others whose path is unknown to me? We live with this constant need of validation. When we are criticized, we are immediately defensive, and tend to either lash out or explain ourselves rather than simply smile, and turn away, a powerful gesture that I have been working on of late. But you cannot turn away from your own scars. Smile as you might, your heart knows the insincerity.
All I can tell you is that you cannot face these demons that drag you down until you recognize them. You cannot fight an invisible enemy, so when you are down for no apparent reason, I recommend that you stop and think about your history. It might seem like an exercise in futility, but I’ll tell you this, when you see it, when you put a face on that demon, when you actually stand up to it, you will realize that your demon is a whimpering coward playing at being a monster. And on your side, you have a lot of people who love you, and that includes me.