cat-with-mouseSince my divorce, I had several relationships. Some were fun and some were trouble, but only one lasted for more than 4 months. As time went on, I found that the “down” time in between relationships grew from a few months to a few years. This current break that I am on will hit four years this coming May.

So here I was, fresh out of a short-term relationship and I was tired of the dating game. Tired of guys not being as into me as I was into them. Tired of the ups and downs… just tired of it all. I needed to take some time to regroup and figure out what I really wanted in my life, but what I discovered was something altogether different.

Soon after the break-up, I started to lose interest in socializing and I found myself spending more and more time home alone. I thought that maybe the break-up hit me harder than I realized or that maybe I was still grieving over the loss of my cat, Hollie, who I had put down a week before I met my last boyfriend.

Over a period of months, things became much, much worse. I would alternate from being an insomniac to sleeping for hours on end in the middle of the day. On those days that I did sleep, I found that I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I became melancholy and bitter. I started to lose interest in everything I loved. I stopped going out. I stopped talking to my family and my friends. I would find myself lying on the floor of my living room in the fetal position, crying over nothing or I would stare mindlessly at the TV for hours and hours.

The shadow that developed over me became so heavy and stifling that I could feel it weighing me down and suffocating me. My work started to suffer and people started to notice that I wasn’t myself. They would ask me what was wrong and I had no idea how to answer them.

Then one Sunday, I had a wake-up call. An old friend was having a baby and I had helped to organize her baby shower. Though it was a happy occasion, the day drained everything out of me. When you are in the arms of depression and you have to be social, it takes every ounce of strength and will to maintain some semblance of normalcy.

I had to constantly remind myself to listen, smile, laugh and participate in small talk with strangers when all I wanted to do was find a corner away from everyone and cry. I got out of there as fast I could without causing a scene.

As I drove home, the events of the day really hit me. I was alone, I was single, I wasn’t ever going to have a baby. No one loved me. No one cared about me, and suddenly for one brief moment that felt like a lifetime, time slowed down. I imagined myself turning the car into oncoming traffic. I could see the cars in the other lanes coming at me like a bullet train, and as my car hit the concrete medium, I felt free.

I felt a stillness deep down into my soul that was so alluring and tempting that my hands actually started to turn the wheel. Then I thought about my two cats at home. What would happen to them? Who would take care of them? I got worried that something awful would happen to them, and I was thrust back into reality. I started to scream and cry, “What is happening to me?”

It may sound crazy to some people, but my cats saved my life. If I didn’t have them to worry about and care for, I could quite possibly be dead right now.

It was after this incident that I sought out a therapist. Luckily, I had a friend who was going to school to become one herself so I asked her for a few recommendations. I interviewed a couple but finally settled down with one therapist who I felt comfortable with.

Through my sessions with her and with the help of some medication, I discovered that I had never dealt with the loss of my parents nor had I ever realized the amount of neglect that I had experienced as a result of my mother’s illness. I learned about my ex-husband and the effect his abuse had on me was a real thing. I also discovered that I spent so many years trying to be “strong” and survive that I ended up neglecting myself in every way possible.

Today, I am so much better. I am slowly getting back to my social self. I am also taking care of myself mentally and physically through diet and exercise. I have engaged a life coach to help me discover my purpose and I still go to therapy on a weekly basis. I’ve come a long way and that is something to be proud of. As for dating… I dabble with online dating from time to time, but I’m not ready yet. I still have a lot more work to do on me first.