Many years ago, when my (now 29-year-old) daughter was just a toddler, my wife packed her things to leave. She picked Jessica up, who was so adorable in her little fake fur coat, and told her, “Kiss daddy goodbye.”
With tears streaming down my cheeks, I kissed them both as they left, knowing full well I deserved to be alone.
Ya see, I had let my anger and depression consume me, and was no longer fit to live with.
I could point to my childhood and my chronic pain all day long, blaming them for my foul attitude, but the truth was I let myself become a victim of the darkness. Instead of plotting my own course and choosing my own mood, I allowed negativity to bounce me around like a pinball, and was as unpredictable as the weather.
Thankfully, after a week, Laura showed up at my parent’s door and asked me, “What do you want out of our relationship?” I told her I wanted to be together, and I’d do anything to keep her and Jess in my life.
“Then you have to change,” she said, “because I can’t live with you the way you are now.”
Not exactly the “welcome back!” I’d hoped for.
But as stated, I deserved it. She now says, “We were both the problem; we both went into the marriage with unrealistic expectations.”
While I appreciate that, I still think I was the majority of the problem.
So I told God, “I want my family back. I know I’ve let anger and depression swallow me up, to where I’m a miserable person, but You have to help me change my ways, Lord.”
This is obviously much easier said than done, but if you work at it, a change of attitude is totally doable.
Part of changing is realizing the people you’re taking your anger out on are NORMALLY not the ones who caused the problem. They’re just the victims, and I don’t care how dependent someone is on the other, eventually, “victims” getting tired of being trampled on.
As Laura did.
Change is possible, but it comes in a thousand tiny decisions a day.
Like not popping off to someone when something doesn’t go exactly the way you planned.
I’ve seen angry men get mad at their wives because they forgot to put mustard on their sandwich. Seriously.
I mean, the woman made his plate and brought it to him, and then he popped off, “You KNOW I like mustard on my sandwich. GEEZ! How long have we been married?”
So now he’d not only insulted the person who was trying to help him, but he’d also embarrassed her, and brought down the mood in the whole room.
It happens in a FLASH, so be careful.
If you want to keep your loved ones around you, I’d advise you to keep your freaking mouth shut and just eat the dang sandwich, bro.
That’s just one small example.
If you’re not sure if you’re difficult to live with, have a sit-down with those closest to you and ask them, but don’t let your feelings get hurt when they tell you the naked truth.
Start small, and work your way up to the bigger issues, but remember to do one thing as you start this journey toward better mental health:
Warn others you are trying to change.
I say “warn,” so they know you’re at least TRYING.
I’ve had to say to my family a thousand times, “I’m sorry, I let my pain speak for me again. I was rude, please forgive me.”
If you’re too “big” to say you’re sorry, I’m afraid you’re in trouble.
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually, those you love the most will begin to slip out of your life, and you might lose them forever.
So start TODAY, before it’s too late. Don’t wait!
I started this journey nearly 30 years ago, and thankfully was able to save my family. I have had to eat fields full of metaphorical “crow,” but it’s been fully worth it, for I am blessed to have the best family on the planet in my corner, loving me, and rooting me on.
Change is possible, with lots of effort, patience and prayer.
“Anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. (James 1:20)”