Part III: Sorry I’m in Pain

“Pains 4 U” feat. Rome Fortune from Pains 4 U (2015) by Cash+David


Key lyrics: 

“I wish it didn’t hurt when you did your worst.”

“I spent so many years trying to get my shit together. Just when you were riding high, I was fighting for my life.”

“Let me take that pain for you.”

“You set me off. You’re coming ’round, and I’m taking pains for you.”


I actually became obsessed with this song before I broke up with my ex, mostly because I liked the sound of Liz Lawrence’s (the “David” of Cash+David, named after Johnny Cash and David Bowie) voice, even in its successively altered states during the chorus of “Pains 4 U.” The lyrics of the song definitely took on new meaning for me after the breakup, however.

Could’ve been cruel. Could’ve done it like you

I feel like my ex treated the breakup like something I had done to him rather than something that happened between us. I betrayed him, pure and simple. I felt like I never got the chance to impress upon him how he had hurt me.

I told you in Part I that I’d probably be discussing the issue of my mental health again, and now I am. You see, the reason I decided to “take a break” from that relationship was because my ex was having a lot of trouble handling the insanity I described to you earlier. For two years, he was the sole income-earner (I was still in school at the time). Sometimes he had to miss work to take me to appointments (since the thought of leaving my house alone was usually too overwhelming to bear) or even just to help me through a panic attack. Most days he also had to cook dinner, since I usually couldn’t bring myself to do it for one reason or another, even though he was already exhausted from working a job he really didn’t like.

These were all things that I knew he held against me, though he didn’t admit it until after we broke up. I could never ask him to do any household chores without starting a fight — because, after all, I basically sat around and did nothing all day compared to his full-time job. He was constantly making me feel guilty by groaning and complaining every time I needed his help. There was just no explaining to him that the mold and the moths were preventing me from doing more and that I wasn’t trying to be unfair. He wouldn’t hear it. He continued to play the victim, acting as if I was somehow mistreating him by having depression. He interpreted my needing his help as an attempt to control him. When I asked him to rid the pantry of the moth-infested food — for fear that the sight of the insects would get stuck in my brain and prevent me from eating if I tried it myself — he acted as though I was just ordering him to clean for the fun of it. Or if I didn’t have the energy to go out on a Saturday night, he would all but accuse me of trying to keep him from his (our) friends.

I maintained my position as best I could, explaining to him over and over that my asking for his help in life was just that. I was having a hard time, and I was asking for his help. Still, I couldn’t help but feel guilty every time he seemed so horribly put out by having to live with me. The thing about depression is that it causes you to fixate on negative feelings like guilt and shame, which, of course, are only compounded by the way that people blame you for it — being berated by professors for not performing well in class, or being told by mentors that you’re not getting better because you don’t really want to or don’t have enough faith, for example. I needed him to be someone I could count on to at least try and understand, before assuming my illness was of my own making. No one asks for depression; I certainly didn’t want it. Still, the fact that every conversation (or argument) he and I had ended with him crying and me comforting him made me feel guilty for putting him through it. I do my best to avoid making my ex out to be some horrible jerk. I know he’s not a bad person. I wouldn’t have liked him otherwise. Still, there’s no getting around the fact that he was constantly making me feel guilty for something over which I had very little control. He blamed me for suffering, and that, my friends, is cruel.

Let me take that pain for you

I think what’s made this particular post so difficult is the fact that I don’t want to sound too whiny. Doing this blog series, I’ve been really careful not to come across as self-pitying or — gasp — too negative. But that kind of demonstrates my point exactly. I spent my entire relationship tiptoeing around my ex’s feelings and trying not to be too much of a burden on him. I could feel that he resented me for being depressed and/or anxious all the time, and I was wearing myself out trying to help him cope with the mental illness that I suffer from. I couldn’t do it anymore.

Suffice it to say that my sympathy was a little lacking when, after I told him I’d been dating someone else during our break, he countered by telling me how he had called three different friends of ours, making sure I knew how sorry they all felt for him and cried with him. “You made me bend over backwards for you!” he cried, in an apparent attempt to make me feel guilty again for causing him so much pain. But, of course, just as I had done so many times while we were together, I tried to comfort him. I couldn’t help it. I hated seeing (or hearing, I guess, since we were on phone) him in such pain. It was during that phone conversation that I realized that, no matter how much time we spent apart, he’d never be willing to take my pain for me. I don’t think he could even see it.

“Something for Nothing” (2016) by Rationale


Key Lyrics: 

“Everybody wants something for nothing, but nobody wants to love who you are.”

“I just want to be the one you call when things go worse, and I’ll come running.”


Everybody wants something for nothing.

You know, my ex actually told me once that he loved me more on my good days. We were talking about how my having depression was so hard for him because he didn’t realize that I would have so many more “bad” days than good ones. He loved me more on my good days. He actually said that.

That would be pretty hurtful on its own, but there’s actually another reason why that’s stuck with me. It’s a sentiment that echoes every time someone tells me that I’m “too negative” or that I focus too much on depression. That’s what I hear whenever someone says that they appreciate my somewhat harsh candor but then gets angry with me for directing it at them. I hear it whenever someone implies that having depression makes me less qualified to do … well, anything, really.

Look, I’m not going to lie; it’s certainly made things a lot more difficult. But I’d argue that having so much more to overcome on a daily basis makes me more qualified than most to handle whatever life decides to throw at me. But people don’t really see that when I’m having a bad day because they love me more on my good days. They love that I’ve been able to fight my way through hardship to become the person I am today, until the person I am becomes inconvenient for the people they are.

Everybody wants a piece of the spark. Nobody wants to deal with the whole damn fire.

I just want to be the one you call when things go worse, and I’ll come running.

When my ex and I first started getting serious about our relationship, I sat him down and explained to him as best I could what exactly I go through every day having depression. I just wanted him to have a sense of the reality he was getting himself into. He did his best to understand and promised to continue doing so for as long as we were together, but it turned out to be a promise that he wasn’t able to keep. I’ve tried my absolute hardest not to blame him for that, but I’m still reminded of something else I said to him early on in our relationship: I told him I was afraid that if we ever broke up, it would be perceived as all my fault — that I would be seen as the one who broke his heart, regardless of the actual circumstances. I’m not really sure why I just had the feeling that it would turn out that way. But what pisses me off so much is that I was right.

“I just want to be the one you call when things go worse, and I’ll come running.” This was something I always wished my ex would say to me … but he never did. He promised over and over again to be understanding and accommodating, but in the end, he just couldn’t do that. I only wish he’d been honest with me about it sooner. He resented me for having depression. He loved me more on my good days.

I said in Part I that I broke up with him because of his shortcomings and not my own. This is what I meant. Neither the fact that I have depression nor my personality type is a character flaw. One is an illness, and the other is just a fact. But the flaw in his character that I was never able to accept was his refusal to admit that all my mental baggage — on top of our personality differences I talked about in Part II — was too much for him to deal with. Instead, he allowed his frustrations to manifest passively by grumbling and complaining every time I needed anything from him. He expected me to apologize for being a difficult person despite him being forewarned and knowing that it wasn’t even entirely my fault. There are so many small-minded people who believe that mental illnesses are the fault of those afflicted. I really didn’t see any reason why I should choose to spend my life with one of them.

Also see: Anatomy of a Breakup PlaylistPart I: Gone Insane and Part II: Opposites Repel


One thought on “Part III: Sorry I’m in Pain

  1. So well defined. Then there is the kind of depression that hides behind a strong character and erupts it’s head in my psyche as uncontrollable fear of not being able to take care of everything and everybody which then takes on the character of what looks like insane decisions. So I walk around scared depressed misunderstood mourning always in silence and alone and usually with everyone mad at me. I understand you better now Shayne and pray with all might that you can heal from this or at least be comfortable. I love you with all my heart. Heart to heart.

    Sent from my iPhone



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