Today’s #SameHereHero: “Bryan” (Being a single guy, I’ve had my share of breakups…but having never been married, nor had the responsibility of having to put your kids first, Bryan’s story is such a difficult one that I can only imagine the feelings. That said, based on conversations w friends in similar in similar situations (male & female friends), it sounds like this scenario is beyond common. Life gets you in a routine, you’re not happy, you ask to discuss how things can change & no suggestions are offered, & it sounds like you’re faced w the dilemma: do I continue this way for “the good of the kids” even though I’m at a breaking point – or do I need to get healthy for myself, & might change be better/worse for the kids? While Bryan’s story is told form a man’s vantage point, this scenario is what any partner may face in a relationship when their significant other isn’t open to discussing how things can change.)
“Moving to NJ from NC, subject to a 2.5-3 hour daily commute w 2 young kids was a challenge. While this seems ‘normal,’ & like ‘everyone does it,’ it led to a routine that drove me into depression & a contemplation of self-harm. My typical day would be getting up before the kids, w no time to work out, to rush to a train that was filled with aggressive commuters, & rarely on time. The time to commute led to a rushed day at work, which only compiled upon itself bc I knew I had to leave on the earlier side each day to get home to have any chance of seeing my kids. Lunch therefore was usually skipped, & then all day the thought of the commute home, & that same horrible experience, was hanging over my head. Once I got home, my wife would be exhausted, the kids would be exhausted, & I would be as well. Evenings would be filled w bickering, yelling & hearing comments from my kids such as ‘why did you even come home,’ as well as muttering under my breath – repeating comments from my wife about things that I needed to do, or things that I forgot to do/did wrong. After the kids went to bed, I found myself having to dig out of the work I missed.
Given the exhaustion all around, physical attraction & activity disappeared. Then, that repeated daily, w wknds filled w kids’ activities & no personal time. I was able to play tennis once every wk or two during the winter, & that was my only solace. It was not enough. When I begged my wife for consideration to change our situation, I was told that since this was ‘typical,’ that there was nothing wrong w us…& that the kids were in a place where we couldn’t move, she was close to her family (who rarely helped out, & I had none nearby), & that nothing was changing. Eventually, one day, I realized that I was in a very bad place, & felt I was not in a position to ever be happy again. Each morning I’d contemplate self-harm on my commute. Eventually, someone approached me who knew me & realized how miserable I was, & urged me to take action. So I did – something that I knew would end the relationship, bc something had to be done. Admittedly it was not the most appropriate action, but it brought me to a place where changes where guaranteed. I finally moved out of the house, & focused more on myself. I had asked for change & bc I was repeatedly told ‘this is how it is’ I knew if I didn’t do something, this wouldn’t end well.
I was on an island. I was alone. I was feeling like a complete failure. I had no support from those I loved & shared a life w, & nowhere to turn. Depression grew more strongly. While all of this was going on, my job was in serious jeopardy as well, which only added onto the situation. But the anxiety & depression was strong. And, I had no insight into the tools & resources available to me. Once I moved out, I realized I needed help. While I should’ve asked for help more strongly before I moved out & made a change in my life, I finally looked for, & found, a therapist. I was alone, still not happy, & needed an independent source of support.
I found a therapist who combined traditional methods, along w role playing & yoga, to help talk through & manage the depression. I also now had time to work out & eat healthier for the first time in almost ten years. It was not easy, & growth was slow, & honestly three years later it’s still a daily battle.
This is the first time I’ve discussed this more publicly. No matter the ‘why’ on my end for all of this, I will still be the ‘bad guy.’ I will be blamed for moving out, for meeting someone new, for ‘abandoning’ my family. I am still mad, still disappointed, & still sad that everything happened the way it did. But my actions were a reaction to years of build-up, lack of support from my own family (as perceived by me, which is what mattered as I was struggling), & general unhappiness w my life, even if that life was considered ‘picture perfect’ by outsiders/social norms. It took me months – since I started reading these stories, to get the courage to write this post, because I know that no matter how I wrote this, people would still judge. #SameHere…there are many things I would have liked to have either done differently, or fallen into place differently. Marriage breakups are never easy, & you always want what’s best for your kids. Sometimes you wonder if ‘sticking it out’ & not being happy is better/worse for them. However, I hope this was helpful to some…I thank you for letting me share, bc it has been therapeutic for me to get it out there as well.”