I started to feel an ache for that fire in my heart I used to have when I was connecting with friends and dancing into the night. At this point I felt so insecure in those old friendships that I was never able to reach out.
My boyfriend became more and more withdrawn from the outside world after high school and I became more and more insecure in every way. I felt like every ounce of energy I had emotionally, I gave to him. I was distant from my parents, no longer wanting to defend his outbursts towards them or me. I felt like no one understood!!!
He was sad and dark... it felt like he was slowly falling deeper into a darkness, somewhere that I couldn't even find glimpses of light to grasp onto.
We had no idea what depression was. I just couldn't understand why he couldn't see how lucky he was to be strong and fit and able to do anything he wanted to do and I would be there to assist him with any and all energy I had left. I didn't see just how lost I had gotten in the process. Sleeping beside someone, begging them to just talk to you until you've cried so much you have no more tears and you lay staring at the ceiling, feeling completely raw…
Five long years went by and I had missed all of those teenage rights of passage. No May long camping trips, no parties, no one cheering my name as I walked up to get my diploma at graduation. My boyfriend was suffering from a mental illness I knew nothing about and I was so deeply lonely it hurt physically and I had cut off all vulnerable communication over the years with those that I loved, I had no idea what to do, I felt so lost.
Drugs were the next phase of his illness. They were a way of treating his symptoms and he didn't always want to do it alone. In my mind, it was, “Okay do whatever it takes”, if it makes him happy.. even if it was only momentary. I already knew at this point that I needed to get out of our relationship. But something just kept me staying.. I just felt so incredibly awful to want to leave, like it was selfish and I never wanted to cause him more pain or anger than he was already feeling.
Months went by and I got a new job and finally a friend. It was such an amazing feeling to have a simple thing like a girlfriend again. It brought something out in me that had long been pushed deep down inside. I got brave and told him that I wanted to take a break. I knew ending things completely would be too hard, hoping that just maybe it could be easier this way. It was the most difficult things I have ever had to do, but I needed to fight for my life.
I went home and soon after got a call from him. He said it was an emergency and to hurry and come pick him up. He said he was pulled over on the side of the road not far from my home. I jumped in my car and speed over. He had overdosed on pills and needed to be driven to the hospital. A picture of my four-year old self was stuffed up his shirt.
I was devastated... devastated with guilt, devastated with the knowing that this wasn't going to be a break-up like any other high school couple... I was back in the relationship. In my mind I was going to have to sacrifice my life for his. If being with him made him stay alive, than that was what I'd have to do.
I never told my family of his attempt... I just didn't know how.
His family was now involved which was a relief for me. After the overdose attempt, I was introduced to the world of Depression, the disease that haunted both of our young lives for far too many years. I felt like a shell of the person I was when our relationship first started, when I was full of light and love. I still wanted to travel and do humanitarian work, but that dream felt like another distant life.
I can't recall what spurred it but I decided I needed the support of my family if things were going to change. I was in the car with my Dad and it just came out. I told him that I hadn’t been in love with my boyfriend for a long time and desperately needed out of the relationship, but didn’t know how to do it. My parents had been concerned over the years and tried to talk to me many times. Had they known what was really going on they would have helped, but I had always shut them out. I knew my Dad was relieved to hear this, but wanted to tread lightly in the wake of my sudden honesty. He said he and my Mom were proud of me and that I was making a good decision. I felt so relieved to be honest with my family and so grateful for their support.
I let his mom know that I needed to end the relationship and she said that she knew this day would come. I knew that he was in good hands with his doctors and his family and there was truly nothing left in me to give. I called him on the phone this time as we had just had another fight and I was scared to do it in person. I told him that I would always love him, but that this relationship was no longer good for either of us.
He responded with pleas of love and when those didn't work, he used threats. That's when I knew I needed to get off the phone. I never shared the threats with anyone. I was too embarrassed.
I'm not even sure how long, as it's a blur, but over the next couple days or weeks, I got calls and letters of love and letters of threats. But I was doing my best to get back involved with friends and family. I was even going to my first barbecue with friends. I had just walked into the house to get ready when the doorbell rang. It was two police officers. They asked me to sit down, and as soon as his name left their lips I dropped to my knees. He had done it. He was gone...
An excerpt from Kendra Anderson from Made Beautiful by Scars- real women's stories
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Copyright Made Beautiful by Scars 2016