The end of a relationship can often mean the end of many other things besides the relationship itself. It’s the end of the shared memories. The end of the intimacy and ease that develops between two people who love each other. The end of the private jokes and the knowing looks. The end of the support from the person who knows you best in the world. And, for me, it was the end of a struggle in loving someone who did not love himself.
I did not enter into the relationship blind to this fact. I had loved him for many years before we actually became a couple, and in that time, I had known him in some of his darkest moments.
In the same way that there is no rulebook for dealing with depression, there is no rulebook for loving someone who is living with it.
There were no rules for me to follow when he started hurting himself. There were no rules for what to do when he’d start drinking at 9am to dull the pain of the daylight. There was no script for me to follow to calm him down when he was punching walls until his hands bled in anger and despair. There were no rules or scripts for those dark nights when he would disappear off the radar, sending fear and worry through my tired mind until I would hear from him in the early hours of the morning when he had finally come home, racked with guilt at his belief that he was letting everyone down and overcome with shame at his own behavior, unable to listen to or digest a word his loved ones spoke to him.
And yet, you cannot choose who you fall in love with, and I did love him. I loved him through every dark night and in the shadows of his days.
When he would hurt himself, I would take on the role of nurse and check his wounds. When he drank too much, I would try to counteract it with food and going for meals or cooking something at home. When he lashed out, I would wait quietly until he was ready, and embrace him as the anger melted away to tears. When we were apart, I would lie awake for hours to keep him company via Skype, just to make sure he didn’t have to feel like he was alone. On one of his darkest nights, I sat on the cold kitchen floor with him, taking the blade out of his hand as he battled through his demons. When loss happened, I just held his hand and tried not to flood his ears with useless words.
Yet, with all the love I had for him, and all the love that he returned to me, he could not translate any of it into love for himself. For that is the tragedy of depression: that it blocks out the light, and it blocks out the hope. When you love someone who does not love themselves, you learn that you have to love them enough for the both of you.
And sometimes that becomes your crutch and lifeline and begins to takeover and blur the view of the relationship for both of you.
Sometimes there were wonderful, glowing, happy days and weeks when the shadows retreated for a while and we both got to dance in the light. For every dark day, there was a day of light and happiness waiting for us.
In the end, our lives started to go in separate directions. We made the decision to end our relationship one sad Saturday afternoon in November and, with that decision, the process of letting go of that intense bond began. It has been a long road and was not going to happen overnight. I worried that in letting go of us, that darkness would overwhelm him. But I soon realized that his battle was no longer mine to fight.
Yet everytime I see him now or hear from him, I can see that glimmer of hope in his eyes and the light seems to be returning more often. It is always my hope that he will eventually learn how to stay in that light for longer, and to find a way of loving himself and to see himself as others see him. The road is still incredibly long for him, but the hope is there. Maybe he can learn to love himself.
Lynsey Logan is a vintage-loving, craft-attempting, social justice-seeking gal with a serious case of wanderlust. When she’s not educating young minds in her chosen career, she can be found looking confused from behind her sewing machine, or geeking out to Doctor Who or the latest Neil Gaiman novel! She blogs at http://www.agirlcalledlynsey.com and tweets @elleenelle.
(Image via Nan Lawson.)