“Don’t you think you’re pushing people away so that if they leave, you can say you were right all along?“
I shared in a previous post that I’m almost finished with my MA degree. As good as that sounds, it’s not as exciting, yet. I have pending comprehensive exams prior to the degree and I only have two takes to get it right or else I won’t get my diploma. But aside from that, getting to this last milestone was a challenge.
*Trigger warning (TW): depression, suicide*
In 2018, I was diagnosed with clinical depression rooting from my abandonment issues when my dad left our family. I’m talking about “let’s get in a car accident because that sounds better than the pain I’m feeling” level of intensity, or “a knife in my hand sounds like a good idea right about now”. Whenever my dad visited, I could not even stay in the same room as him. It brings me to an overdrive, I bawl for hours, I get anxiety attacks, and I’m not acting like myself— all enough to make sudden decisions that I might regret later on, like conveniently getting in a car crash. This happened while I also felt jealous of my best friend being close with an officemate. I visibly see him jiving well with her and was genuinely happy to hang out with her compared to hanging out with me. That broke me too.
People around me (Read: family) telling me to “move on” and “think happy thoughts” obviously didn’t help at all either. If anything, it made me feel worse. I would find myself in bawling marathons every single day, spiraling into my own emotions, feeling a little bit better, then going back at it again for several months before and after that diagnosis.
I was dating Dane already then for a few months. One time, he wanted to go home early from a date, and that triggered an episode on how he’s abandoning me just like my dad. It involved me wanting to get out of the house, get myself in an accident to stop myself from feeling the emotional pain that was tearing me apart. I told him that if he didn’t leave my house, I’m the one who’s leaving. He knew it wasn’t a good idea for me to leave in that state, so he left me at home with my family. Thinking he already left, I got out of our unit in hopes of finding an escape for what I was feeling, whatever that was. To my surprise, Dane was just waiting outside my door and was able to physically stop me from leaving the premises, endured painful words and physical resistance. It wasn’t until I saw him covered in cold sweat in the 30 degree hallway of our building that I started to calm down. I didn’t want him in such a situation. He took me inside and stayed until I was calmer. God knows what could have happened if I was able to leave home then. Thinking about it now, it’s very embarrassing that he had to see me that way, but during that time, all I felt was an intense rush where I needed an immediate escape.
Dating and loving me is difficult. I always doubted intentions every time, don’t trust easily, find all the ‘what ifs’, put up walls, and look for reasons for relationships not to work— all because of that abandonment issue. “What if he’s like my dad and leaves me?” is my favorite question of all. I always needed the reassurance. I always ask at least twice if he’s sure that he loves me, several times a day, sometimes even a couple of minutes apart. And never once did he ever show he’s tired of answering the same “Are you sure you love me?” question.
But despite all the constant reassurance, I still ask a lot of what if’s. What if this is just infatuation? What if everything’s temporary? What if he gets tired of me? What if he finds someone better? What if he’ll leave me too? The list goes on. Telling that to my psychiatrist in one of our sessions, she told me “Don’t you think you’re pushing people away so that if they leave, you can say you were right all along?” That hit home and I’ve been living with it in my head since.
I push people away A LOT. My logic is, it’s better for them to leave me now than later when I’m all attached. And then when they go, I tell myself “buti na lang“, it’s a good thing that it happened now, not later. But that sentence from my psychiatrist made me more aware of what I do and say to take care of my relationship. Yes, I still need constant reassurance now even over 2 years in our relationship, but I think I’ve made a lot of progress in trusting. I don’t want to lose him. So I made it a point to consciously make the effort of making the relationship work too. That includes… not making stupid decisions like getting myself into car accidents.
Nietzsche’s right when he said “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I used to fear saying out loud I have depression due to social norms, but honestly, having it and working on it makes me a little more driven to make things work in my relationship. I don’t want to be dependent to Dane to be my stronghold, but having him as support as I work my way into recovery has given me so much to live for. I still get random bursts of emotions, but my episodes have become much tamer. I don’t have suicidal thoughts anymore and I’m actively exerting the effort to be better. I want to be with him, but I need to work on myself too. Meanwhile, my best friend and said officemate are in great terms after I told them how I felt. And once I heal from all this, maybe it’s time to forgive my dad too.
Edit in Apr 2022: I finally forgave my dad.
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