Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Depression, The Trigger and the Lost Friendship

It’s been a while since I dabbled on the blog. So much has gone on in the last year or so where I have taken the blog to a place I never even imagined possible two years ago. I also began writing for Huffington Post and my outlet there just seemed better suited for reaching readers. 

But every now and then, in the hustle and bustle of what’s been going on, I have thoughts and feelings that aren’t HuffPo material. I don’t keep journals, and sometimes talking about things just compounds them. 

I thought about this. About about putting this on here. And with what this blog is and has become to me, I thought it fit. 

It’s about a boy. Isn’t is always… but I didn’t want it to be ABOUT a boy. I wanted it to be about lessons. Experience. Love. Friendship. I wanted to take the negative that’s happened recently and remind myself the same thing I’ve reminded myself every time things got difficult; this too shall pass, and you’ll look back and be glad. I wanted this to be about what I’ve learned about depression, love, and self worth in the last two years. And hopefully, I’ve succeeded.

Where to start is a hard. A friendship turned into something slightly more but always less than anything resembling a relationship. We cared. We laughed. We challenged. We hung out, we fought, we made plans, and when I was with him I’d look at him like he was the only guy in the world because in so many ways, I kind of wanted him to be. And yes, he played a sport. I once told someone in a network meeting that the was the best worst habit I couldn't break. 

Certain moments changed the dynamics of our friendship over the last year. Too any to list. He gave me one of the greatest gifts a guy has ever given me, even though I don’t think he ever fully understood it or what it meant to me. And after months of keeping him at an arms length, swearing no man - let alone another sports player after 2012 - would ever get in the way of the happiness I had found for myself in writing recently again, I caved. I told him I loved him. And I opened myself up to it. I opened myself up to the idea that our friendship could be the foundation to some kind of hilarious, fucked up, love hate relationship where we just got each other. 

For numerous reasons - some my own fault, some his - I waited for him when he told me he wasn't ready. Couldn't do distance. Wanted to keep being single for now. The "yets" kept me hanging on, hoping that the "we're not dating yet" would just melt away. I waited for him to be ready. I supported him, watched him, worried for him, wanted him to succeed throughout his season. Even when I had my own health issues, I’d check in to make sure he was doing his best. I thought about him often and realized I had officially fallen for my friend. And in my mind, I thought the support that had been put forward would be enough. I thought the value of the things I did that in the sports would, truly mean so much, would be the catalyst. That the wait would be worth it. That he would be worth it. That 30, he'd figure it out. That the 21 year olds aren't the ones who earn that place in your heart. 

It only took one short visit, one quick Google search and one jealous moment of typical girl behavior to realize the guy I thought would always be single, the one I thought would wait for a Kate Upton look alike with a bioengineering degree, had caved into being with a girl who is the antithesis of me. That typical cleat chaser. The girl I swore I would never be. The girl I never thought he’d want. The girl I knew I could never be because the psychology behind my affection for him (and any other guy I loved) was so different. The girl who posted pictures of her athlete in bed sleeping just so the world knew she could brag about sleeping with him. The type of girl who used guys to up her own status. The girl I never wanted to be. The girl I never could be. 

Fights ensued. Tears were shed. And four hours in the worst car ride of my life later, I realized my friend was no longer my friend. He never checked in to see if I was ok. If I got home. He never gave me a moment of his own time to help me deal with the loss of someone I really cared about. The only time I've ever needed him, he left me hanging. Bailed. And never cared. He watched me leave and all that came after was indifference. You know, that complete opposite of love, care or concern? Yeah. I was left with my heart in my hand bleeding over someone I had cared about for nearly two years. And there I was in Manhattan Beach, two of the biggest meetings of my life still looming in the days ahead, wondering where my friend had gone. And if he ever really was who I thought he was at all.

I recently told my mother about two months ago that I didn’t remember what depression felt like. I read the posts I wrote back then about that feeling of loneliness, hopelessness, sadness. About the sicide attempts and the feeling of loss that overwhelmed me for so many months after I lost my last love. Things I hadn’t felt in months, if not close to a year. My life was good. I was happy. Healthy. I had success in my writing, was living my dream in LA meeting with networks who a year ago I couldn’t even afford subscriptions to. My life had meaning without guys, a lesson I learned after my last baseball player all but destroyed me. I had beat depression. I was proud of that knowledge. 

When i sat in the little bungalow in Manhattan Beach having returned to LA from that terrible trip - my buddy was kind enough to let me crash because I was supposed to stay there for two nights and drove home instead not even able to look at the guy for another minute after how he treated me - I felt the trigger for the first time in months. It came back like it had never gone. That feeling of loss. That feeling of loneliness. That feeling that my friend I cared so much about - the one I took time out of of the most important week of my life to support in his own struggle - had all but put me out with the trash. That the months I waited for him to come around were lies. Wasted time? Maybe. But all of that didn’t matter. My biggest fear was that there’d be a trigger. That HE was the trigger. The kid I promised myself  I’d never fall in love with the very first night we met and I held his hand while he threw up hungover had snuck his way in and ruined it all. That the coldness, the callousness, the lack of support i got from my friend - things I just didn’t think he had in him until I saw then first hand - would drag me back back down. That all my hard work to get better, was fucked eight ways from Sunday because the love I made the decision to allow myself to feel and give wasn’t wanted and worse, wasn't even respected. I sat on the beach that night, a million miles away from home, homesick and tired, confused and sad, in the middle of the biggest week of my life, and all I could think of was how he looked when he asked me what I had expected by seeing him. All i thought of was “where did the guy I cared about go.” And “why did I trust him”. All I could see was a guy who looked right through me. And all I did was look at my phone wondering why he didn't care enough to even say he was sorry. 

We all make mistakes. Love the wrong people. God knows I’ve been there countless times. And in fairness, you can’t make someone appreciate the things you do, even if every other normal person claims they would. You can’t make someone love you, even if you deserve it. I couldn't change him. I couldn't make him care. I just wish I never felt like I had to. 

I thought I’d fall again. I thought I’d lost. All the effort, the waiting, the care and concern, taken, used and discarded, all the while the reciprocation given to a girl who was the complete opposite of me. This was my second coming of depression. I felt it. I was letting it fill me the same way I let my love for him fill me even when I didn’t want to. 

And then I got home to New York. Home is truly where the heart is and in an instant my homesick was relieved and all I wanted to do was fight a little for my own sanity, and find a way to stop loving a man who never deserved it. And then I realized I had some of the best friends a girl could ask for.

It wasn’t just my mother or roommate who reminded me that men like that don’t deserve it. Or my buddy Brett Jackson who told me never to trust a baseball guy like that again. That he was the typical one Brett never wanted to be (and couldn't be if he tried). The typical comments about men who treat women poorly, friends who let other friends down. I got those pep talks. They helped. It wasn’t everyone one of my guy friends who pumped up my own ego - truth or not - by telling me photoshop only goes so far and reputations go even farther. But it was my unlikely buddy B - a guy you’d all look at and never in a million years assume he’d be on my list of “who to call when I’m crying about dudes” - who reminded me about how to look at this situation. About who I was, who I am, and who I deserve. 

He and I talked about our past bad relationships. This kid, you'd never know his ex would be such a bitch because any girls ould die to have this guy love her. He’s a guy any girl would kill to be with, date, love, trust. He’s just one of those guys who from the minute you meet him, you know he’s different. He is one of those guys who under the toughness is one of the most genuine kids you’ll know. Those guys who pretend not to care, not to feel, not to sympathize, he’s not at all like that.  He doesn’t walk around crying and quoting the Notebook by any means, but he’s got a heart that most athletes don’t. And sometimes it comes out of no where. But it always comes when you need it the most. It came this week. 

“He’ll always be this person Stef, no matter how much you give him reasons to be better," he said. "And guys who don’t appreciate the good people who are there when shit hits the fan are doomed to chase after girls who stick around only for the good times. She might stick around, she might not, but all she’s getting is the potential to be treated the way you were. And I can guarantee if you listed all the things you love about him, they wouldn't outweigh the shitty things he says and does. He is happy being this shitty. And if he’s happy being this kind of guy, he has no reason to change. no matter how good you are.”

I thought about this. And he was right. For so long I had held on to these small moments that made me believe the big moments of disappointment were worth it. Those moments of vulnerability and love he showed that make me think he had it in him to get past all this ego. They weren’t. And never would be. You can’t change what’s important to some people. You can’t make someone see value in the good things when all they value is the superficial. And at the end of the day, you can’t wait for someone to change when they’re clearly happy with who they are - even if who they are is questionable at best to those who value things like loyalty, love, dedication, support and kindness. 

B was right. He told me about his ex girlfriend. About how he spent so much time trying to make her happy only to realize nothing he did was ever enough and nothing was ever reciprocated. And that’s when he let her go. You spend all your time trying to make someone happy, make someone believe you’re worthy of whatever small incriminates of love they might throw your way, only to realize you’re not happy. So why do you care if they are? And it didn’t take long for people to realize she was a shitty person after they broke up. That her decisions were questionable, her choices self destructive and her wants selfish. That she lost a good man who might not love often, but certainly loves with all he’s got when he does. I don’t know if anyone else will ever see that about my own guy. Maybe the world will kiss his ass and think he’s sweeter than pie because maybe I’m the only one who got to see the harder parts of him, the cold, careless, indifferent parts that don't fit on twitter or MLB fan cave. But it was enough for me to see it. And to feel lucky that I didn’t have to be the girl who settled for selfishness, narcissism and shallow attitude toward what was important anymore just to help up my popularity and chances of getting noticed for some kind of gig again.

B ended with the most important comment though. “Stef, you’re smarter than this. And you deserve better. Just like I did. Make a list of all the things he’s ever said or done to make you happy. Were they worth it in the end?”

The list was short. And suddenly I realized maybe I just loved my friend. because I loved. Maybe i just missed him. Maybe I loved those moments we drank beers together and laughed. And maybe I just loved the idea of who I thought he was capable of being every time I’d stop laughing and look at him and feel lucky he was in my life. That he was there. That we were laughing together. Maybe I didn't love him. Maybe I loved and missed all the potential I saw in his laugh the first night we went out. Maybe I just simply missed who he could have been.

The trigger had passed. The tears had been cried. The last thing I asked the guy for - in fact, the only favor I’d ever asked him for - was to say the words to me. “I don’t want you, I want this other girl.” To give me the closure I needed to stop waiting, to stop wondering, to stop hurting and hoping that our friendship would be that wonderful thing I used to think it was that would make for a great “how’d you meet” story some day. I needed him to end it, to say it, to let me go. It sounded stupid, but I needed him to cut me loose so I could move forward without ever wondering if he'd still be there if I looked back. It was the only act of kindness I ever asked him for. 

Would he say it? No. Maybe its because he didn’t care enough to give me closure. Maybe it's because you don’t give a girl who stuck by you through thick and thin a reason to never look back in case you ever happen to change your mind. Maybe he wasn't ready to let me go totally. But B said it best. ‘You don’t need his permission to leave him behind. Make your own decision for yourself because it will be the best decision you ever make. This is it Stef. Stop talking to him, or stop talking to me.”

The ultimatum wasn’t a real one. I knew that. B was my bud and he would always be there - maybe not to tell me jokes or tell me about a tv show when he was busy or annoyed ha, but when I needed him, I knew he’d be there. But I knew what he meant. I knew he was over hearing about all the ways this kid fucked me over. He was done hearing about how many times I let him hurt me. And so was I. So I picked my buddy. I picked the guy who told me I deserved better. I picked the guy who despite being busy and social, picked up the phone to call me to talk me through a pain another guy caused. Who saw the best in me and made sure I knew it, even just as his friend. I made the choice between letting a guy trigger my depression by being a dick, and letting a guy remind me I didn’t deserve it. And I know now i made the right choice. My friendship with B was more important than holding on to the hurt of my lost friendship with the other. And the opinion B holds of me matters ten fold more than what the opinion of someone who is a shitty friend ever could mean.

It was a scary realization. It was a hard pit in my stomach where you see the best things in your life, the things that made me happiest - my writing, my agency, my opportunities and life in LA - come into question because someone you trusted stood in front of you and looked through you like you weren’t even there. You question the best of yourself in these moments because if someone you love and trust can so easily look through them all, you wonder if they even exist. You think the loss of this friendship, the loss of this potentially you thought you had to be part of something special means you lose something special yourself. But it didn’t. And B helped me realize that. What hurt was losing the ability to believe my friend was the better person I always hoped he was. But losing the guy he really ended up being? There was no loss. In the end, love and friendship is give and take. It’s appreciated and selfless. it’s valuable. You want to be with someone who makes you better. And I can’t miss any of that because I never got it in return. What I got was the ability to look at myself in the mirror and say I’m walking away from a guy who will always only take from those who love and give to those who use. And remind myself I have enough friends who know what I’m worth. Know what I deserve. And know he wasn’t it. I got to look at myself in the mirror and say I could have let depression hit me again, and I didn't. I made it. I beat it. Again. 

I don’t regret those feelings. I don’t regret letting him in, I don’t regret caring, I don’t regret telling him and in some way, I don’t regret waiting for him. Even if he never realized the good girl in front of him. Loving someone unconditionally, without expectations hopes or requirements is sometimes the best life lesson there is. It teaches you to want the best for someone even if it doesn’t end up being you. It teaches you to be selfless. It teaches you what it means to truly care and worry about someone for genuine reasons. It teaches you to look at someone and see the best in them even when no one else does. And those are things I’ll take with me and give to a guy who will deserve them, value the, appreciate them and give them in return. I only hope he ever gets the chance to learn what that kind of love is. It might hurt in the end. You might get so little in return from it. But it reminds you that we’re all humans and sometimes you love someone just because you see things in them no one else does. And love should come from that place in your heart where expectations, wants and hopes are left behind. Where love is just this genuine feeling where you look at someone and feel endless belief in the best they can be. He never ended up being the best he could be. But I don’t regret for one moment the genuine love I had that taught me how to love without reason. I will love that kid for a long long time. I just realized that even if I love him, it doesn't mean I have to like the person he became, or the choices he made. He isn't the kid I used to trust, or laugh with or be able to understand anymore. That MLB swag and ego replaced any vestiges of who I used to care about. In the words of the book One Day, "I love you Dex. So so much, and i probably always will. I just don't like you anymore". And that's why I don't regret. 

My trigger has passed. My depression is still in check. My dreams to create this amazing TV show are still moving forward full speed and my writing still saves my life each week. And the further I get away from the rockbottom of depression I faced two years ago - that suicide attempt and everything that came after - the easier it is to pull myself back from the precipice of despair in situations like this to remind myself that just because one thing doesn’t work out, just because one person didn’t love me back, just because one company didn’t want me or just because one guy picked one girl’s bare minimum over my best efforts, doesn’t mean I have no where to go. Anti depressants, Xanax, sure I’ve been there. But sometimes the best remedy, the best deterrent to falling back into that space, that depression, that hurt, is one good friend, one good cry, one good reminder that all good things don’t stop being good when just one person stops being good. All it takes is that one reminder that someone you admire sees the good in you and doesn’t hesitate to make sure you see it in yourself. B helped me do that. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful to his young ass. 


  1. Thanks a lot for posting this Stef! You write this is about a boy, but to me this is about B, and how much people like him can mean to other people. Which probably tells you I have a history with depression as well. Seeing you write about the trigger enlightened me about my own situation, but what I take away from this is that I will strive to be more like B, and for that I thank you both!

  2. You deserve better! Glad you got out of at nasty ordeal & you'll find a man who truly appreciates you!

  3. HAHAHAHA totally about Kontos. He is such a toolbag. His girlfriend is even worse, I went to school with her.All she's looking for is an athlete who can give her reputation a boost so when she applies to trashy reality shows she can put something on her resume other than "failed basketball dancer, failed model, photoshop required, slept with Brett Lawrie". As impressive of a resume as THAT is. Girrrrrrrl, you are way better off without this clown. He's too into himself. Let them compete over the mirror in the morning! Do your thing!

  4. Wow...I am speechless. Last year I went through pretty much the exact same thing that you did. My guy wasn't a pro athlete, but the other circumstances were pretty much identical, right down to the girl he is with now who is the complete opposite of me and the complete opposite of everything I thought he ever wanted. It is hard, but with time and distance, you will see that you are much better off. I was stupid enough to go back with my guy 6 months after we broke up because he "thought he made a mistake". Turns out it was me that made the mistake. He hadn't changed, and ended up doing the same thing a second time. NEVER AGAIN! I have blocked his number from my phone, and am moving on with my life. There is someone much better out there - for both of us! Sending you a big hug!