I finally confessed all of my issues to Mrs. Pie today. It was absolutely terrifying, but when I was done it was a catharsis. I was really worried about ruining things with her, even after 15 years of marriage. With Grandma Pie going to a nursing home full time, our house is finally ours again. For the first time in 7 years, my wife was acting like herself again..
She was surprised when i told her the root of my depression – it goes back to a phrase I learned as a child – One man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. Whenever I see someone whose life is going well, then I can’t help but wonder who is in pain from that person’s pleasure. Then I feel guilty about it and start to feel pain myself.
Then the jealousy sets in. Why am I not as happy as they are? What have I done wrong with my life that has prevented me from sustained happiness in my life? It feels like people are rubbing their happy lives in my face and pointing out how bad my life is. I’ve been told that to be happy you find what you love and do it passionately. I love feeling special to people and when other people show off their own happiness, I feel less special.
I know it’s petty and stupid and immature – when other people are successful and happy and getting attention, I don’t like it. I want people to think of me and be amazed and impressed. I don’t know why I crave this, but nothing makes me feel more validated and there is no feeling I love more than being special. I want it all the time.
I support this delusion with the premise I outlined above – one man’s pleasure is another man’s pain. When someone else is being successful and happy and special, I must not be special anymore, and I want to fix it right away.
What my wife told me was that I didn’t need the validation of others to be happy. I needed a way to make myself feel special to me, and that would make me happy. Or at least happier. No guarantees.
The problem is that I have no idea how to do this. I was drawn to acting and theater because it fed these addictions and feelings. When I performed and got applause it was the attention and the special feeling that I desperately wanted. This is why I miss performing so much and why I’ve been fighting depression so much since I had to give it up. I don’t have that continual stream of validation to boost my confidence and ego. l want that back.
It may be easier to try and learn to live with myself and somehow find a way to validate myself in my own mind, but I have no clue how to go about doing that. It may be easier to try and become an actor again. But I don’t know what that would do to my family.