Jewish Journal

The Darkside of Me

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

October 18, 2011 | 8:41 pm

I’m sorry for the brief delay in posting.  My Grandfather passed away on Saturday.  He had been sick for some time now so although at one point we were close, it wasn’t a total shock.  But death is always hard.  And it forces another side of all of us to emerge.  You can only truly understand your partner in life when you’re confronted with hard times – how he acts when he’s fired from his job, what choices she makes when unexpectedly pregnant, how he deals with the loss of a parent or God-forbid much worse.  But no matter how happy we think we are, life is full of hardships for everyone and so the person we are when faced with difficulties is one of the most important factors in a relationship.

In my newish relationship, there’s been a lot of smooth sailing so far but of course it’s easy to be happy and in love when life is good.  But now my boyfriend will see the side of me that emerges when confronted with despondency and I will see the person he is when he is needed to support his partner.  I am much less worried about how he will respond.  I am fearful and embarrassed for how vulnerable I may be.

Having struggled with depression in the past, my natural inclination is to retreat.  No one likes to be around someone depressed so when I feel upset, I usually avoid seeing people to spare them being around me.  When I first found out about my Grandfather, I did have a good cry on Mr. DB’s shoulder but then he asked if there was anything he could do for me.  I wanted to tell him I needed him to stay with me but instead I told him I was fine and I left.

So now he thinks I’m fine and I don’t need him and I’m furious at myself for letting my ego get in the way.  It wasn’t the first time he’d seen me cry but it wasn’t far from it either.  We’re at that point in the relationship, where it’s time to come off down from cloud nine and step into reality.  If you’re lucky of course, you have times of bliss where you feel like you’re back in that beautiful place, but we all know you can’t live there permanently.

I was tempted to call him in the middle of the night and make him listen to me complain and recount my painful familial squabbles.  But I also am fearful of letting him see me as some overly emotional victim.  I want to tell him I need him by my side more, but I’m afraid to be needy.  I want to tell him I don’t need him at all, but I’m afraid to appear cold.  I don’t know how to be.

The funeral is tomorrow which is the same day he has some very important meetings at work.  He’s asked me how important it is that he be there for the funeral and reception at my parents’ house afterwards.  I told him on Sunday that I was fine, that I didn’t need him and that I would understand if he couldn’t make it because it was a critical day for him at work at a crucial time in his career.  I was lying.  I want to be ok alone.  I don’t want to need him.  I’ve gotten through tough times before without him and I could do it again if need be.  But it’s just hard right now.  My family is complicated and tense and sporadically fighting and I want to be together enough to be there for my mom.  And I want him there for me in my corner so I can turn to him and tell him what I’m feeling. 

But I’m afraid to be needy.  I’m afraid that if I admit I need him, then what am I going to do if our relationship doesn’t work?  Yet for my relationship to work, I need to be honest with him right now.  He said that if I needed him to come he would.  And I need to stop proving to him that I don’t need him.  I need to tell him that I need him.  I need to call him right now and tell him that I could use his support tomorrow.  I don’t know why it’s so hard for me, but it is.  I’m about to see him for dinner.  I hope I can find the strength to tell him that right now, I am not strong.

Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.

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Tamara Shayne Kagel is a twenty-something fixture on the Los Angeles scene currently living in Santa Monica.  Currently, Tamara is a successful freelance writer (just ask her...

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