It’s taken me two days to write this post and even now, I’m still not really sure I like it and question that it does justice to how important what I’m describing is to who I believe I am. We all have moments that make us who we are, the unmistakable seconds, minutes, or hours, that hold a mirror up to who we think we are, sewing the empowerment of self-actualization to our souls. Memories and timelines fade, but unmistakably we can all identify the people and experiences that shape who we are. I feel like I have spent the last year holding a mirror up to my life, experimenting with what angle to hold it so the sun can cascade more light into the room and I can get a better view.
A year ago, while on a camping trip with friends, Katie told me she was very, very depressed. We had been drinking and instead of acting compassionately, I got angry at her for what I felt like was her hiding it from me. She told me while on a walk, trying to capture the last moments of sun. As we navigated the spiderweb layout of the campground, I asked her question after question about what she was planning to do about the depression. She had told me before that she wanted to see a therapist, but there wasn’t follow-through and I didn’t believe she’d actually go. I had even done some research on who to see, trying to encourage her to get help if she felt like she needed it. I admit that I was angry at myself for knowing she was depressed. She’s my best friend and we live together, and we’re married. How did I not see the depression sleeping right next to me? I also didn’t understand why she chose that specific moment to tell me. Why while camping with friends? Also, why was she depressed when we had just moved to our dream apartment in Ballard and had spent the last month exploring our new neighborhood? Why hadn’t she told me before now and why while we were drinking when my ability to clearly think through a solution with compassion was lower? I knew for Katie to disregard the timing of this news, to put us both in an awkward situation where we then had to pretend like we didn’t fight while making dinner with our friends, meant that this was serious. I remember being uncomfortable with her. I remember being scared to ask what it meant, to ask on a scale of one to suicidal, where was she. I do think I asked her if I needed to be aware of her hurting herself. She told me no. Overall, I was hurt she hadn’t told me sooner, let me help her. I was scared this news meant more than just depression, that maybe she wasn’t happy because of me.
A year ago, sometime this week, was on my way home from work, listening to an episode of Beautiful Anonymous. The caller was a young adult, just starting college, who was debating telling the people in their life they were transgender. As I listened to their story, to their struggle over how to navigate this information, I started to put together a series of unrelated events that had happened before the camping trip. My wife was depressed, growing out her hair, shaving her face, and painting her nails. I could say that conversation on the campground is the moment I’ll never forget, but I will never forget the sheer panic I experienced as I sat in traffic listening to a 19-year-old talk about what it’s like to be born in the wrong body. I realized that there was potentially a solution to Katie’s depression I had never, ever considered. As soon as the thought entered my mind, I had to let it go. I needed time to consider how to even have that conversation, if I should have it at all. I remember parking the car and walking upstairs, putting my key in the lock of our apartment and opening the door to my life. Potentially upheaving my life as I knew it could wait for another day.