Six months.

It’s been six months since my wife left. And while I’ve tried to deal with my feelings about it outside of social media–as much as a social media addict like me can manage–I keep landing on this same concept again and again, and it bears writing.

Relationships are like antidepressants.

I don’t mean this in the hyper-saccharine sense of “they make people happy.” So let me explain.

I used to take antidepressants. Lexapro, to be precise. My mind was a mess in high school (as I imagine most seventeen-year-old, newly gay girls’ minds would be), so I went to therapy. Therapy was great. My psychologist was just the kind I needed: straightforward, tenacious, didn’t take my shitty, cop-out answers and made me dig deeper. As we dug and pieced me together again, or maybe for the first time, she suggested I take a low dose of an SSRI like Lexapro to give me a little more brain-space, a little more balance, until I found my footing.

At first, the drug was just what I needed. For years, I had been split open over and over by the extremes of my emotions: intense happiness, intense sadness, intense anger, intense love. When the drug kicked in, it was as if someone had seen me twirling faster and faster, stepped in, and grabbed me by the shoulders. My mind went quiet; the world stopped spinning. I could think, and work, and sleep.

I kept going for my regular check-ups, and the psychiatrist kept jotting off the script, certain I still needed them and they were still doing the trick. I don’t know when the drug stopped working; it was habit to take it. And the change was so gradual that it wasn’t until I could barely get out of bed that I noticed anything was different. I was lethargic. I was numb. Everything felt the same: like nothing at all. So I stopped taking them.

That “nothing” was good, at first. I needed a breath from the soaring highs and desperate lows. But after a while, you realize that it all kind of feels the same in the middle. And you start to miss the crazy a little.

Relationships are this middle for my heart, the way Lexapro was the middle for my brain.

This is something I can see only now that I have been alone for half a year. Before that, I was in a serious relationship from the time I was twenty. I thought I knew what happiness was; I thought I knew what sadness was. But nothing I felt during those seven-and-a-half years compares to the death-defying climbs and plummets I’ve taken since October. I feel exhilarated by the freedom, and devastated by the loneliness. I feel full-up from the love that comes from all corners, and profoundly empty from the yearning for something as simple as a slow dance. I miss her, and I hate her. And this is all before getting out of bed.

I can honestly say I haven’t felt this good or this bad before in my adult life. Relationships buff out the extremes and leave measured, predictable happiness and sadness. Is a life of more-manageable despair worth the loss of the highest highs? My answer changes with the wind.

It’s six months later, and I’m still trying to find center without the drug of a relationship. So if you ask “how are you?” and I say “I’m good,” it’s simply because by the time you finish asking, I have felt all the things and don’t rightly know how to respond.

The moment you realize you’re Ted Mosby (yes: another #himym post).

If you’ve been reading my Facebook or Twitter feeds lately, I’d like to start with an apology. I’m sorry for all the vague and melancholy posts. In just over a month, everything in my life has changed. I don’t mean that in some overblown, hyperbolic sense; nothing, not one thing, is as it was on October 1. But now I’m ready to really write about what’s happening, and I hope putting it down here will stem the social-media pity party for one.

You see, my wife left me.

(I’m not going to get into the Why of it; in the end, divorce must be mutual, since both people stop fighting to save whatever they had once held so dearly. And while the Why seems very important to me today, it won’t years from now, and it isn’t the point of this post, so I’m not going to spend time on it here.)

I’ve spent seven years believing, without question, that my wife and I were the real-life equivalent of Lily and Marshall. Together forever: the model of a loving, long-term relationship with its ups and downs that would always weather the storm. Then the bottom dropped out, and, looking around, I realized how imperfect we had always been, how we were never even close.

Image

Mr. and Mrs. Awesome…and Scooter.

As I always do in my hour of need, I turned to How I Met Your Mother for comfort. While I mourned everything I lost, watching my favorite TV couple move forward and closer together, something else happened.

I was watching Season 4: the season when Ted is left at the altar by Stella. Toward the end (Episode 23), he runs into her, the woman with whom he imagined spending his life, forever. Their interaction rang something in me that it had never rung before.

ted and stella (640x418)

TED: Okay, I’m gonna say something out loud that I’ve been doing a pretty good job not saying out loud lately. What you and Tony have, what I thought for a second you and I had, what I know that Marshall and Lily have: I want that. I do. I keep waiting for it to happen, and…I guess I’m just…I’m tired of waiting. And that is all I’m going to say on that subject.

STELLA: …You know that once I talked my way out of a speeding ticket?

TED: Really?

STELLA: I was heading upstate to my parents’ house and was doing, like, 90 on a country road and got pulled over. So the cop gets out of his car and he kinda swaggers over and he’s all: “Young lady, I have been waiting for you all day.” So I looked up at him and I said: “I’m so sorry, officer. I got here as fast as I could.”

TED: For real?

STELLA: Nah. It’s an old joke. I know that you are tired of waiting, and you may have to wait a little while more, but she’s on her way, Ted. And she’s getting here as fast as she can.

In that moment, I realized I have always been Ted, never Lily. Whoever “the one” is for me, she’s on her way, and this had to happen to set the course in motion.

Maybe it’s ridiculous to look to TV characters for cues on life and love. Maybe Marshall and Lily made me delusional about my own relationship, because I wanted that kind of love so deeply (and still do). And maybe Ted’s unflinchingly romantic heart and the fact that it all pays off in the end gives me unrealistic expectations about finding a soul-mate and the kind of love I will someday feel for, and from, that person. But these fictional characters sprang forth from humans, didn’t they? Bays and Thomas and the writers craft their words and actions: the heartfelt confessions of love; the sweeping, romantic gestures. Perhaps the moments aren’t realistic, but real people created them. In those grand moments of love on How I Met Your Mother, I see the incredibly real, incredibly human longing for the same thing.

Ted Mosby

“…and, damn it, if it wasn’t one of the best years of my life.”

Knowing this—that big, beating hearts exist in chests besides my own—gives me hope that I will someday find her. Perhaps the hope is misplaced and will screw me in the end, as I search for the kind of love I see on TV. But I’m 27: the age Ted is when his story begins. The story of my greatest love is on its way, even if I can’t see it yet.