Getting help for my depression was just the first step on my journey towards happiness. After starting my medication, I realized that there was a big difference between not being depressed and being happy. I was doing everything I thought I needed to be doing, though. I was the perfect employee at work, the perfect husband at home, and the perfect family member or friend whenever I needed to be. How could I not be happy when I was being everything everyone needed me to be?
I added talk therapy into my regiment for every other Thursday after work, not expecting much. Happily, for whatever reason I felt more comfortable telling Don things than any therapist I had tried before. I make him work for his money though, so I’ll summarize the following conversation for you:
Don: Who do you love most in the world?
Me: My husband?
Him: Is there anyone else in the world you should may love more?
Me: (Long pauses, tons of incorrect guesses, and finally I give up)
Him: Maybe you should love yourself the most in the world?
Me: Uh… I’ll get back to you on that.
Fast forward to later that evening and I’m watching one of the first episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK. The premiere felt so fresh and had me drawn into the episode in a way the show hadn’t in a while. At the end of the episode she ended it the way she end’s every episode:
Ru Paul was right- I needed to love myself! And not just love myself, I need to love myself FIRST! Perhaps my conversation with Don earlier helped a bit, but I give the win to Ru on this epiphany!
Hindsight may be 20/20 but looking back I must have been blind. How could I not be cognizant of how I constantly put my husband on this pedestal where I consistently strove to prove my worthiness to him because I didn’t feel like I deserved him.
I felt like I had to be everything for him. I felt like I had to keep every aspect of the home clean and tidy for him. I felt like I couldn’t stay late at a networking event because I had to be home to make dinner for him. I felt like I couldn’t make plans with any friends to hang out one on one so I would be there for him. Almost every ounce of my free time where I wasn’t working, and he wasn’t around was spent trying to do something for him. What I considered my love for him was consuming me and my identity.
Would my husband want any of this for me? Hell no! He’s a wonderful man who would not want me to feel this way for a second. It just so happens he was so innocent that when I told him about it, he was shocked and mortified he accidentally allowed me to feel that way! He’s the best- I mean, just look at us together- his eyes are too kind for that!
It didn’t even need to take a shrink to figure out where this came from- my childhood! My husband didn’t care about the clean floors, dusted counters, clean smelling home, homemade dinners prepared for him while he relaxes, and to have my available at his beck and call. But it’s how my father treated my mother growing up, so there’s that!
Either way, the first step for me learning to love myself was for me to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t already love myself. Now that I’m putting myself first, I’m happy to report our marriage is better than ever!!
If you’ve ever experienced anything like I’ve been through or are interested in learning more about my journey to stay happy, please find our podcast and subscribe!
I look forward to sharing with you what learning to love myself looked like in the next blog post!