Dearest Chump Lady,
I need your help.
First a little background….
I found out 2.5 years ago that my husband of 32 years had a lifetime girlfriend. I felt like someone was sucking out my guts with a vacuum. But I crawled to the phone and booked a marriage counseling appointment for both of us. With eyes wide open, I caught him in a lie within 2 days of that, and took to my couch or 4 days and 4 nights without sleeping or blinking. I got up and booked another appointment. Later that week, I caught him in another lie, and another, and another and another. I will spare you the song, because you already all know the lyrics, and after 7.5 months of his shit, I filed for divorce. Not easy, as we had an extraordinary life and were blessed with 4 daughters all in their 20s.
My ex-husband is the CEO of a major hospital that you know by name. The divorce involved lots of cash, lots more women coming forward, and lots of drama. (Main mistress was a married subordinate and was subpoenaed.) ExH got to keep his job, and the board worked overtime to keep it out of the press because, hey, that new heart center isn’t going to pay for itself. They wanted it kept quiet, and it was. (The “Smiths” had grown apart…) Although I wanted to explode on the news with the info, I buttoned it and for me and my kids’ sake. I instead took the very large monthly payment for the next 12 years and pray nightly that Karma will take the wheel on my behalf. (Btw, she hasn’t yet.)
All this is to say, I’ve been through some really, really dark days with all this, and I refused to take any drugs. It made no sense to me that I would mess my brain up because of an asshole’s fuckedupedness. No way. So I forged through without an aspirin or a Zoloft.
But here I am today. There is still drama with the hospital, the mistress, our daughters not wanting to see him, etc. and now we have our own first daughter getting married in November. She is having a traditional Catholic Mass, much like the one we had 32 years ago….
I am starting to lose it. The unity candle, the vows, the music, the dresses, the whole thing has me back on the couch staring into space. I am totally non-functioning thinking about our vows, and how seriously I took them at 23 years old, and how my sociopathic husband never did for one minute. Shit!! There’s not that many promises to remember! It’s basically be nice, and don’t screw around. I am so pissed, and so sad, and overwhelmed, and I am trying so hard to be “on” for my daughter. I am still not at meh, and spiraling down over this one day.
I ask you….
Should I start a drug? Will it help? Will it make me more nuts? Will I be able to feel the joy of the day for her? Will it hopefully prevent me from the godforsaken ugly cry during their vows? Will I get fat? Will I turn into a vegetable? Will I wish I had taken it sooner? Will I want to commit suicide when I get off it? Will I ever get off it? Is one name brand better than another? Can I drink on it without getting hammered? Will it stop the never-ending desire to punish him for what he did to me? Will it temporarily help, and then when I get off it, I’ll have to deal with everything all over again? Will I be going through life floating with cotton in my head?
I don’t want to hear anything from the doctors; I want to hear from you whom have walked this walk. Those of you who took (are taking) an antidepressant….did it help or hurt you? Did you hate it or you couldn’t have gotten through without it? I kind of feel like I got this far unaided….what’s a day in November? But, oh, the pain of planning your daughter’s wedding alone. Now is the time? Or keep fighting through it?
Thank you so very much!
Dear Unmarried Mary,
You’re birthing a new life and it hurts like a motherfucker. You can do cleansing breathes, and Lamaze your way naturally through the contractions, or you can get a full spinal block and not feel your nether regions tear to shreds. It’s your choice. It’s not a contest. The new life comes either way.
You had four kids, run with my metaphor… For some people (agents of Satan), it’s a one-two push, no less painful than a bowel movement, and they zip up their skinny jeans the next day. For other people, it’s a high risk, three-day induction, and the new life comes backasswards and they go home with a catheter. (Ask me how I know…)
When it comes to pain and resiliency, we are not all created equal. If you feel like anti-depressants would help you, by all means, talk to a doctor and try it out. No one should judge you (isn’t half the world on Prozac?) and don’t judge yourself so harshly.
Look, you might get fat and feel like a suicidal vegetable without anti-depressants. Talk to a medical professional and weigh the risks and benefits. I can’t see the harm in trying it. Last I heard, anti-depressants aren’t addictive. (Xanax is apparently, so you might want to think about that one carefully, but it’s an anti-anxiety med.)
I’m throwing this out to the chump collective. I didn’t take any kind of meds during my ordeal. But I didn’t lose a 32-year marriage either. What helped me to stave off depression was:
- Reaching out to friends and family and not allowing myself to be isolated.
- Working a steady job with deadlines that kept me focused.
- Doing the daily work of being a single parent; I couldn’t afford the funk.
That isn’t to say I didn’t suffer PTSD — oh, I broke out in rashes, ground my teeth, had horrible nightmares, intrusive violent thoughts, nausea. I just didn’t take anti-depressants for it. In my case, I wasn’t against it, but I felt like I needed to feel everything in order to escape the marriage, if that makes any sense. I didn’t want to numb myself into a place of acceptance where I could live with the pain of living with him. I needed that agony to drive me to safety.
Here’s what’s different in your story — you got the divorce, you got the great settlement, you have ARRIVED at safety and this shit is still kicking your ass. So absolutely look at what else you can do.
Funny thing is often when we get to safety, when we battle through the divorce, and arrive at the other side, THEN we break down. Then the grief hits. When you’re fleeing, you can’t really process everything. You need some time and distance to do that.
And what you’re grieving is huge. Your entire marriage was a lie and he’s a fraud. It’s no surprise your daughter’s wedding would stir up your feelings. A) You have to see the idiot and B) What could be more triggery than a marriage?
How hard to celebrate a marriage when you are grieving a marriage. I wish I could give you comfort. The only thing I can say is not everyone is a sociopath. I’m not being flippant — seriously, it’s a disordered minority of freaks who can conduct a double life for 32 years. You didn’t have a run of the mill cheater — you had a freak. They exist, but they are not the norm. Chances are your daughter is marrying a truly nice man whom she loves and it will be a happy day, a solid marriage, and will result in lovely grandchildren down the line. (win! win!) All things to look forward to when you’re feeling up to it.
Your experience isn’t going to be her experience. But your strength — the way you navigated yourself through this shit storm with dignity — will model good things to all of your daughters, married, single, or divorced some day themselves. So what if you navigate this shit storm with Lexapro or Wellbutrin? More power to you.
You’re still mighty, Mary — with or without medication.