You’ll never see it coming.
Love, that is. You won’t even realize it until you turn a corner and crash head-first into it. It will come out of nowhere. It will look like a light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel the first time you feel its warmth emanating out of your heart. All the way to the top of your head and down to the tips of your toes. It will feel electrifying and you will think about how you’ve never been happier…
…And then you remember this little minute detail.
I don’t know when exactly I realized that I had depression or how long I’ve had it for. I just remember being young when I first felt an overall sense of hopelessness, followed by long periods of crying. I remember being ostracized for being myself and it killed me to know that being myself appeared to be the source of many of the problems I faced growing up.
Needless to say, it’s been a very long work in progress to get to where I am today. I count myself lucky because I’ve never had to resort to medication in order to keep my emotions in check, but I can tell you that it’s still not an easy path. It still lingers in my bones; rattling my teeth when I least expect it. Truthfully? I doubt it will ever go away.
The thing about being in a fairly new relationship when you’re fighting a never-ending battle between staying somewhat sane and spiraling into a bottomless abyss is how you stop being able to maintain any modicum of self-respect and self-awareness. When I sink into one of my moods, I shut down and shut myself off to everyone. I build walls to guard my heart because I’m so afraid of what he will find. Even when he holds me tight and showers me with kisses so gentle that it melts my heart, I pull away. I begin to act as though the world is too harsh a place for someone as fragile as I am.
He has given me no reasons to be insecure, yet I am. After all, who could love someone who can’t even love herself? There are days where I feel as though I don’t deserve this kind and generous man who does the best that he can to support me in every way possible. He shows me that he cares for me through his actions where words fail him, like making scrambled eggs with chili flakes just because I have an inclination towards spicy food; he brings me flowers to show his appreciation and indulges my cravings for weird food items — all in an effort to make me smile. Yet I am inexplicably overcome with this fear that the next time I pull away from him in the dead of the night, he’ll eventually tire of it all and walk away. Sometimes I overcompensate in the worst possible ways, giving so much more than I take because my mind has set up this illogical notion that being the way that I am, doing so would be the only way for him to one day love me the way I would want him to.
But these are the lies my mind tells me when I am at my worst.
What I’ve realized thus far in my current relationship (while looking back on my previous ones) is how little I allow myself to feel as though I deserve to be loved or cared for. It is a daily struggle to find the right balance between taking care of myself, taking care of my loved ones and allowing myself to receive care when I need it, but it is a work in progress. Perhaps one day, I will be able to figure it all out and achieve the balance I long for so deeply.
But in the meantime, it comforts me knowing that he’s still here. And when he reaches out for my hand at night before sleep takes hold, I am reminded that love can still grow — even from the most unexpected and darkest of places.