When your plane is crashing. You have to put on your own oxygen mask first.
Along with anything mental health, there is a huge stigma around being selfish. Putting your needs above someone else’s is seen as something negative. If someone were to call you out for being selfish, it would probably hurt your feelings. Right? If you value yourself over others, you’re seen as being egotistical. Well, I call bullshit.
I have spent 27 years putting others before myself. Trying to fix everyone else before trying to fix myself. “Their issues are far worse than mine, I need to help them.” Giving so much of myself to others, piece by piece ’till it feels as if I have nothing left to give.
If you’ve read anything on my blog you know I’m having marital problems. My husband has his own set of mental health issues. I knew that when I married him. Or so I thought. He has mentioned his struggle with anxiety and depression, something we bonded over. I felt we understood each other sharing in the same struggles. What I didn’t know, was how much he kept hidden from me. How haunting his demons really are.
I struggle with a lot of trauma from sexual assault. I do not like being touched often and I really struggle with intimacy. Something I disclosed from the beginning. However, my husband is very affectionate and like to always have some kind of physical connection. Whether it be a hand on my knee or holding my hand. I’ve had to really work on this. It’s hard when the man you’re married to wants to simply put an arm around your waist while in bed and you have chills up and down your spine and you cant stand it. We have had multiple conversations about how it is in no way personal, how I cringe at times when his hand touches my leg, how I love him.. It seems as though I can tell him these things until I am blue in the face and yet, he thinks I’m no longer attracted to him. He thinks I don’t love him. He thinks I’m secretly mad at him..
One night, I could tell he was upset. I knew he thought there was something..off. It was late, I didn’t have the emotional energy to get into it with him. I rolled over and went to sleep. About an hour later, I rolled over and noticed his side of the bed was empty. I thought maybe he went to the bathroom. The light was off. Then, I heard foot steps outside. I looked through the blinds and there he was. Punching HIMSELF. HARD. I couldn’t believe what I saw. How do I approach this?! It was in that moment I realized his demons were far worse than I could have imagined. I didn’t know what to do. I just…went back to bed. I don’t think I slept at all that night.
We eventually talked about it. Not much coming from the conversation. He promised he was okay. Promised he wouldn’t do it again. It was just a way to get some anger out, let off steam. I’ve continuously encouraged him to get some mental help. I’ve offered to go with him, hold his hand. But there’s always the issue of no health insurance. I’ve offered to help him pay for it. Expressed how important it is that he take care of himself. It always just seems to get swept under the rug.
On another occasion, we got in to the most trivial argument. He lashed out at me because I fell asleep while waiting for him to get home from grocery shopping so, I wasn’t awake to help carry in the groceries. He called me inconsiderate and got upset when I seemed shocked as to what was going on. I slept in the spare bed room that night. As I was drifting off to sleep, he came in and asked me to hide his gun from him. HIS GUN. I thought I was having a nightmare. I rolled over and shoved my head into a pillow. When I woke up the next morning and saw his gun case at my feet, I realized I had not been dreaming. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. What have I done to make him so unhappy?
From then on, I’ve always been very careful how I approach things. I don’t want to upset him, hurt his feelings.. Make him want to hurt himself. I feel as though I’m walking on egg shells.
I put his feelings before my own. To say this has taken it’s toll on me is the understatement of the century. I keep a lot bottled inside. It’s been weighing so heavily on my that I experienced my first panic attack. Crying, hyperventilating. It was almost an outer body experience. It was terrifying. I think I slept away an entire day after that, I was so emotionally exhausted.
I live my life in fear. Afraid that something I say or do is going to make him more depressed and want to hurt himself.
I’m trying so hard to worry about my mental health. Trying so hard to fix myself. And at the same time worrying about him. It’s an impossible balancing act. I’m not quite sure how much longer I can do it. I love him. But, I have to love myself more.
My therapist continues to tell me that when it comes to my mental health, It’s okay to be selfish. That I need to put myself first. But what do you do when the price of putting yourself first could possibly be someone else’s life? She’s also told me that I can’t live with that burden on my shoulders. But how could I not? How could I not think about it on a daily basis. With every single decision I make. Every single word I speak to him. It haunts my dreams and consumes every moment of my life. It’s debilitating.
I’m trying so hard to work on me, to become the best, most healthy version of myself. Therapy, medication, positive outlets. But, I’m finding it so hard, when the person I spend most my time with is so negative and unhealthy. I want so badly to fix it, make it better. Make him love himself. I just don’t know if I can.
I don’t have any of the answers. I don’t know what the outcome will be. All I know is that I need to continue to fix myself and love myself. I need to be selfish when it comes to my mental well being. No matter how difficult it may be.