It was time for a talk.
Rather, the boyfriend needed to talk and I needed to listen. I went to his house, unannounced, after he did not respond to a direct text question…again. I followed a new communication method from a highly recommended book. I busted into his room, and said something like, “I’ve been an ass, I haven’t been listening, and I’m very sorry for that. I know you don’t want to talk anymore about this, but I’d really like to understand you. Why do you not want to go to treatment or try other meds?”
Well…it disarmed him. Which shocked me. And then I listened, a lot. And I’m still listening. He said stuff and, I learned to listen to stuff. I didn’t judge and I asked clarifying questions and I did that whole repeat what they just said thing. Nothing was resolved, but that’s so ok. What happened was better. I became his friend, his ally.
I read somewhere online that depressed people need their friends to be more like family and their family more like friends. It stuck. The boyfriend doesn’t need me harping on him to seek treatment, or begging him to just talk about it. He needs a buddy, someone who just likes his company, without motive. He needs a beer drinking, soccer watching, steak gnawing pal. That used to be me…what the hell happened?
In light of my new revelation, things have been a little better. All be it, just one week of better, but hey! We gotta start somewhere!
Before the soccer game he invited me over (he actually invited me over!) to watch the soccer game. I noticed he’d been online chatting with this idiot hussy I can’t stand. For a really good reason, I can’t stand this chick. I really wanted to throw shit and be crazy, instead I went for a walk. I did debate throwing stuff, punching walls and keying cars while I walked.
I calmed down, then went to talk to the boyfriend. I asked calmly, “It’s really totally completely over?” (We took a break a few months back). He said, “Yes.” Like he has a million times and will have to a million more. I then asked how frequently they chatted, he responded one-two times a week. Honestly, that hurt. I started crying.
BUT! I stayed calm, I wanted to listen and I think the boyfriend knew I wasn’t looking for a fight, I was looking for clarity. I asked why he talked to her and not me. Despite the recent upswing in mood, I still seem to be a bit of a bad guy. He said, after a long moment of contemplation, she’s easier to talk to, you can be hard to talk to. This is when my inner dialogue went nuts, “ME!!! HARD TO TALK TO!?!?!?!” screamed in my head.
I took a deep breathe, I didn’t say that he’s the ass-face making it hard for both of us, that he needs to get over this shit because the only reason I’m hard to talk to is because you refuse to try, and so on. No, I quelled the beast, calmed the months of anger, and said, with a smile…”try me, new leaf, I want to listen, just please, try me.” Then I could sense the conversation being over, I wiped tears rapidly away and said something about beer warming and soccer starting soon.
The US won, we had delicious steak, we talked about cars and bicycles and all things soccer. He even let me cuddle with him on the couch.
Today, I was stuck home sick…again, and we had a micro conversation about tennis and fencing. We haven’t text chatted in ages. I’m thrilled. Is he coming back?
Now I have to start asking, what now? He needs help, this isn’t just going away. So now what? I’m going to ask at my next group meeting for loved ones of depression/bipolar/schizophrenia. They are wise. Maybe I can get some help from them. Before some have said a tough love approach is best, get help or I leave ultimatum stuff. But as soon as I backed off that approach, and listened, things got way better. And that’s what I’d want, someone to listen to me. Don’t we all just want to be heard?