In that moment, you feel exhausted and erased and scared and crumpled and hideous, but you can also see, through your tears, that you are loved.

You are a razed house, a pile of bricks and splintered lumber, and the sky is bright blue and the air is clear and bracing and you are loved, loved, loved.

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I have a lot of good friends who care about me and I know they know I’m struggling and I know I make it extremely difficult for anyone to help me because I just shut them out if they try to bring up things that make me uncomfortable. The whole truth digs down into places like “I hate myself” and “I hate you for loving me” and “I feel embarrassed about how good you still are to me” and “I feel envious of you” and “I am ashamed of everything I do and say” and “I feel worthless” and “I feel nothing for you sometimes” and “I want to be alone” and “I hate everything.” I’m going to guess that you haven’t said these things out loud, in a vulnerable way, to your husband.

Maybe the reason I’ve behaved this way for so long is that the only friend who could ever tell me anything moved away shortly before my husband and I started dating. But mostly what you’ll lose is this witness, who sees how sick you are, who knows how broken you are, who makes things uncomfortable day after day after day. You haven’t acknowledged what you carry around inside every day, even to yourself.

But the entire time I’ve been with him, I’ve stayed a mess.

I met him at a time when my life was fraying, and he was doing very badly as well (he was living with his mom), and I’ve just kept going down. I take jobs and do them halfheartedly and then quit.

He’s not a dick — he tries to suggest that I go back on antidepressants, look for work, whatever, but lately I’ve been feeling like maybe the thing that’s keeping my life fucked up is being in a relationship with him. I have those bad dogs, which would make finding a place of my own even harder.

I love him so much and I believe he loves me and that feels good, but I was better off in nearly every way when I was in unsatisfying relationships or single, even though my life was by no means perfect or even happy a lot of the time. I’m not getting any younger, and I’m definitely not getting any more dateable (I’m 38).

,” recognize that it’s just you, doing what you do: Protecting yourself.

Withdrawing instead of looking more closely at the chaos INSIDE OF YOU.

Even though I was never totally immobilized, the levels of self-hatred and rage and embarrassment and sadness I’ve waded through are off the charts.