It is beyond doubt that when I met the guy who would become my husband fifteen years ago, I was on a trajectory towards suicide. I was skinny, cigarette addicted and adrenally exhausted from a year long stretch of dating men whom I mistakenly thought would fill the deep void of loneliness I felt inside.
“But… that never works,” I hear you shudder.
What can I say? I was twenty three and I have attachment issues.
Fifteen years later and I have just come off an almost year long stretch dating someone that I was using to try and fill the loneliness inside. (Old habits die hard.) And I have twisted myself into any possible configuration just to get him to love me, to like me and mostly to be as passionate about me as he was in the beginning.
It has been exhausting, and left me completely unable to function. Of course I was being emotionally needy, dependent and unstable, but I couldn’t stop myself. I went down the rabbit hole of desire and now that I have emerged, blinking, into the light, I am shocked that I have even survived.
All these years later I see clearly that this time what saved me are my kids. I have no doubt that I could have committed suicide over this relationship–this was the extent to which I let this person invade the deepest parts of me–I am not made of resilient stuff, my heart is a soft thing which I give away without reservations, and yet my children prize this about me, and are too young to take advantage of it.
I have been so scared to cast them in the caretaker role, especially the eight year old who is extra vigilant about whether I have eaten anything on any given day when my inclination is to starve the heartache out of my system. I didn’t want them to see me sad, but sadness is a part of life and one day when they know their first heartache, perhaps they will remember that mommy knows it too. Most importantly my thoughts (and plans) to commit suicide will always be tempered by these beautiful beings, who love me, accept me and who need me to be there for them.
I am so grateful that I have their love, without it being something I have to worry about losing. As I relearn how to care for myself, like a baby or someone disfigured by a terrible accident must learn the most basic skills, I am grateful that my children will love me, until I can once again love myself.