Welcome to imperfect parenting, marrying and entrepreneurship online through depression and faith here with me, Jerry Banfield. I’m grateful for the chance to share something I imagine will be helpful for you today because this is a really personal story from my life that I obviously would rather just keep to myself.
Imperfectly Parenting, Husbanding, and Entrepreneuring with Depression and Faith
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I realized today that while what I pay attention to does grow, at the same time, if I want to help you, I need to share the stories in my life.
So here I go.
Let me put this in context first.
I have an absolute dream life. I’m in my studio in my backyard, doing what I love right now. I have a beautiful wife, two wonderful children, a boy and a girl. I have two dogs, we have our own home. We have two cars. We have an absolute American dream going on.
That doesn’t mean I don’t get to experience the normal growing pains and conditions, especially internally of a human being. In fact, sometimes it makes it more difficult because I look around and I say, “There’s no reason I should feel depressed in the middle of heaven. How insane must I be to feel depressed in the middle of heaven? How crazy do I have to be, to be upset with my beautiful, wonderful angel of a wife?”
That’s the nature of this thing, just imperfectly being me and it’s okay.
Especially as an entrepreneur online, I feel a lot of pressure that I can’t show up and do anything at work unless I’m in a good state of mind because if I do show up and I’m a disaster, whatever I create will just be awful and in these times it is better for me to just not do anything than to show up and be a total disaster.
With this in mind, let’s look at the last few days.
Normally, my marriage is extremely happy, very well-functioning. I feel like I’m professional at being married lots of times. Our life, our transitions, the way we handle things, it’s smooth and graceful almost all the time.
So, let’s look at the exception because the exceptions are more interesting, and it’s Thursday morning now.
On Tuesday morning, I woke up and I shared my idea to do Airbnb experiences in my home office studio with Laura, who is my wife.
She was completely opposed to this because it involves having people come over to our house, maybe on a daily basis, having different people come over and be in the studio. She feels this is our territory, our home and she feels the disturbance of having the people come in there.
She said that she doesn’t like that. She doesn’t agree with it at all. She didn’t say I couldn’t do it. But she just said she didn’t like it at all and she didn’t want it.
I thought, “How dare you? Come on. This is a great idea. You shouldn’t be afraid of having strangers over in the backyard.”
I got into judgment and I got upset.
Now for me these days, getting upset most of the time means kind of going around and pouting, maybe saying a nasty thing or two about, “Well, you’re just operating in fear right now.”
Things like that.
That mostly consists of it.
We just kind of had a day of more silence and a little ignoring each other than usual, nothing like overtly bad or anything. We said, good night, then yesterday, some new thing came up. I don’t even remember what it was right now, some new argument.
Oh, we were talking about something in our family, and again, we got into a disagreement, and this time it got more uncomfortable.
I also experienced some periods of feeling just depressed as in feeling like, you know, the normal things you think when you are depressed, “Where is this going? I’m just confused right now. I don’t understand all this,” and then the mental spin up of your mind trying to help you.
I’ve experienced some depression in my business, “Where is all this going? Am I doing the right thing? Will I ever just have some security in my income online?”
Then my mind spins up a ton of these ideas:
“You could start this business. Why don’t you just get an office? Yeah, yeah. You’ll get an office and then you can rent that out. You set up a studio in the office, then you can have people start renting.”
My mind just spins up to 100 miles an hour trying to help me with something that I’ve given it as a problem, and then I get exhausted.
“I just want to be with my daughter at bath time. I just want to be here while we are reading books in bed.”
And then I get frustrated with myself.
“Come on. I really just want to spend this time with my family. I don’t want to be thinking about my next business idea while we are reading books and putting my daughter to bed right now.”
Several times I cried throughout these different days. I was walking my dogs yesterday, listening to some Deadmau5 and crying, and I find this helps me to truly experience the feelings and get better.
I eat mostly whole plant vegan. I drink pretty much only water. Therefore, I don’t use anything else to kind of cope with or change my moods. I just get raw feelings. I’m sure I’ve had some really bad periods of depression in my life almost all from my own doing, the decisions I made. I’m sure I could have gotten diagnosed with clinical depression and got stuff if I had gone during the worst of many of these different depressions.
Today I’m grateful I have the courage to just face it because this morning we got a really good dose of facing it. Laura called me at 4:30 in the morning, which is unusual. We have had this whole discussion about our six-month-old son because sometimes he wakes up early.
Meanwhile, I go to bed at nine at night, usually with my daughter, although I stayed up talking to Laura last night trying to work through some stuff with her about whatever family issue we were discussing yesterday.
Therefore, instead of being well rested at 4:30 in the morning like I am most days, I can wake up at 4:30 in the morning having got a full night of sleep. Not last night though, because of what you could call just drama in my relationship.
Then Laura calls me at 4:30 in the morning. I’m exhausted and she is asking for help with the baby, which I’ve encouraged her to do a bunch of times, which normally I show up for, throw our six-month-old son in the baby carrier, and bring him out to the studio. He falls asleep, and I do some work. Laura sleeps. Madeline sleeps. It works out great for everyone.
Now, in this case, she calls at 4:30 in the morning. I’m sleepy and I’m not ready to be standing up with the baby doing work. I want to keep sleeping. Laura has already been up with the baby for an hour. Therefore, she is even more tired, more sleepy, ready for rest than I am. I come in, I say, “Look, I’ll just lay him down instead of taking him in the carrier.”
She says, “Well, if someone’s going to lay him down, I might as well have laid him down already. I thought you’re going to take him in the carrier.”
I say, “No, I’m too sleepy for that. I am just going to try and lay him down.”
So she says, “Well, I don’t need your help then. I can just do that and if he wakes up, then I’ll ask for it again.”
Then, all of the feelings come up in me again.
I say, “Come on. You woke me up at 4:30 in the morning and now you’re telling me to go back to bed? That’s messed up. Just let me help.”
So we both got frustrated and finally, after saying the same thing back and forth several times, I went to bed and I was really angry then, so angry, with all the stupid thoughts coming through my mind.
I say stupid because they are out of touch with reality, things like, “Well, that’s it. This marriage just isn’t going to work.”
All these things like that coming through my mind and, “She shouldn’t have done this and I can’t believe she did this. How dare she wake me up and then not accept my help?”
Then in the middle of all this, I’m praying, “God, please. I hear the devil talking in my mind again.”
I don’t usually use the phrase God and the devil, but I was listening to Immaculée talk about it in “Left to Tell“ and it fits perfectly for this.
I’m sitting there saying, “God, please, look, I want to love my wife. I want to go to sleep. Let me be a nice husband. Please. I’m tired of all of this drama. I just want to be nice. I want to be a saint. I want to be Christ-like. I’m sick of being so judgmental and depressed.”
A moment of peace, and then it gets going again, the thoughts start rolling. I start like nodding at them and say, “Yeah, you know what? She shouldn’t have said that. How dare she tell me to go back to sleep when she woke me up at 4:30 in the morning? How stupid is that? How dare she ask me for help, and then demand that I provide it in a certain way? I’m perfectly capable of putting a baby down.”
Here we are again, “God, please help. This is stupid. Now it’s five in the morning and I’m really aggravated. I’m so sick of this. God, please let me just remember you and remember your love and not find fault with my wife. Remember what we just read out of the Alcoholics Anonymous book yesterday about not finding fault and arguing because the alcoholic is likely to relapse.”
So I’m sitting there praying, and then these thoughts, it’s just a war in my head back and forth.
“How dare she? I can’t believe. I’m such a victim. I don’t deserve this. You know, maybe she doesn’t deserve a husband like me. I’m a great husband. I’m around all the time. There are all kinds of women who would like a man like me in their life and she’s not appreciating me. God, please. This is just ridiculous. I don’t want this. But yeah, that’s right. She’s not appreciating me. You know what? She needs to learn. I should teach her a lesson tomorrow. I will just leave her with the kids all day. God, this is ridiculous. Please help. Lord, Jesus, Dad, whoever’s listening to this, please let me have some peace. Let me love my wife. Let me stop with all this drama in my head.”
I finally fell asleep at about 5:30, I wake up at eight and the drama is on.
“I can’t believe she did that stuff last night. It is eight o’clock. Now I slept in too late. Now I don’t have time to walk the dogs. Now my whole schedule is messed up for today. I’m going to let her know about that. No, I’m not. Yes, I am. No, I’m not. God, please help me just love my wife. How dare you? Laura, I can’t believe what you did last night to me.”
I kept my mouth shut for like 10 minutes after we got up, and then all the poop started coming out.
“How dare you do that last night? I don’t like that. It’s annoying. That’s mean. You weren’t nice.”
I’m grateful that some grace entered in my heart. We feed the dogs at 8:45 in the morning. We have automatic dog feeders, which I ordered because I thought we were going on a trip, but we didn’t go on it. We have got a dog door and we could just leave the dogs with a bunch of water and food, and automatic feeders.
Anyway, we got automatic dog feeders that come on at 8:45. Our daughter Madeline likes to wake up before that. I looked down, and say, “Oh, it’s 8:43. Alright, better wake Madeline up right away.”
I wake Madeline up, and say, “Sweetheart, the dog feeder is going to come on.”
This to me is some grace, after I’ve been praying and suffering, my wife and I are just all feeling separated and uncomfortable, I’m just on the edge of just a breakdown, and Madeline looks at me and she says, “Daddy, are you okay?”
I said, “No Madeline, I’m not okay. I am mad at Mommy. I’m frustrated. I don’t like all this.”
And I just start, “blah!”
All the tears come out and I know while I’m saying that I’m mad at Mommy, and that I don’t like what she has done, I know when I am saying it that it’s not the whole truth either. I know while I’m saying it that it is really not her, that if I’m okay with what I’ve done and how I’ve been, that there is no issue. If I’m okay with my behavior, I can accept whatever behavior I’m finding so much fault with on her part.
I start crying, I start letting it out.
I told Laura a little before then, I said, “Look, we need to both surrender together. I can’t just keep breaking down and trying to make it better and apologizing, and then you don’t say you’re sorry. You don’t own up to anything you’ve contributed to making this uncomfortable.”
She asked, “Well, why don’t we just both surrender together?”
I said, “Fine. You go first. Why don’t you go first? I’m tired of going first all the time.”
Well, I went first again. I laid down and just sobbed, and at one point, Madeline looked at me and she started sobbing, and I started screaming.
Madeline and I just started crying.
Then Madeline just snapped out of it, but I must have laid and cried for like 30 minutes this morning. I laid down on the bed, sat on the couch and cried, stood up and cried. I went through four or five napkins, at least, in tears. That was nice, and I just cried the hell out of it.
I’m praying to God, “Please, God. Let me learn something. Let it pass. Let me forgive. Let me love. Let me be understanding.”
It feels like this red ribbon of ripping pain inside me and I just let it all out. Laura finally, after she sees me crying for like 30 minutes, she says, “Look, I’m sorry for what I’ve contributed to this. I love you. I appreciate you being here.”
That just really helped me open up and I said, “Look, I hate how I behaved. I hate that I don’t just act perfect all the time. I hate it. I detest that sometimes I get what feels like uncontrollably upset. I hate when I say little nasty things like I’ve been thinking of just sticking you with the kids all day. You just take care of them yourself. I hate when I do that and that’s what really bothers me. My behavior is the thing that really leaves me feeling depressed, that really leaves me feeling angry. Because I can’t control anyone else’s behavior. I can respond.”
“Now I’m not saying you should just put yourself in the middle of a horrible situation and just say this is great. What I’m saying is while I’m okay with what I’m doing, I am kind of ruthless about what I will accept and tolerate out of other people or/and I’m very loving and unconditionally accepting. Now, there are lots of things I will not be around you. If you’re getting wasted and being crazy, I’m not going to be around you. I’m going to leave and I’m not going to judge you. I’m just going to say I’m not interested in being around this.”
I’m grateful today after I said that, and I apologized.
I said, “I’m sorry for the stuff I said.”
The one I’m talking about is a really nice version of what used to happen.
What used to happen was a lot of screaming, a lot of yelling, a lot of cussing, doors slamming, and that was a nice version of what my parents used to do, and what my parents used to do was a nice version of things they saw in their life.
I ask God sometimes, “God, why is it like this? Why do we have to go through these things?”
I’ve got two thoughts that have helped lately.
One thought is, so you help each other.
I remember thinking this while Madeline was throwing up one day.
I said, “God, why? Why do children have to get sick and throw up? Why? Why? Why?”
Then I’m thinking like worse, you know, like I realize that Madeline throwing up was kind of minor, I just don’t like it, but there are other people whose kids are dying right now.
I said, “Why is it like this?” and the thought I got was, so you help each other.
That’s why it’s like this.
That’s why all these things happen that we hate and are miserable over. It is so we help each other because we really need each other when we are struggling. When everything is going great and we are popping bottles and celebrating, or whatever catchphrase you want to use with it, it’s often harder to need each other.
“I’m good. I don’t need any help. Life’s good. Don’t you see? I don’t need anything. I got it.”
But when we are struggling, we really need each other.
The other answer I’ve got, I asked, “God, why do we go through these ups and downs so much? Why can’t I just be perfectly happy and in your grace and love every single second of every single day and know it and remember it?”
And the answer I got for this is, you signed up for this adventure.
“This is an adventure, my son. This is an adventure you want to go on. You’re enjoying this. This is like a roller-coaster ride. You signed up for this. You can get off anytime you want to, my son. You can get off this roller coaster. If you don’t like it anymore, you can come back and be with me whenever you want to,” this is God talking,
“You can just hop off and come home. This is your adventure that you want. It’s like a roller coaster. It goes up, it goes down, it flattens out sometimes. It’s an adventure. It’s a ride. It’s a fun game. A learning experience. A school. This is an adventure. You can always come home to the peace of God.”
That’s what happens when we are finished with this earthly experience here. I just had a friend’s friend who just passed away younger than me from overdosing. He’s back with the divine now. Pure love. No more adventure, at least in this earthly context.
I’m grateful today because as soon as this cleared and I’m thinking about while I’m going through the middle of this.
“You know, I don’t even want to be talking about this stuff. It is times like this I hate having a podcast. I hate that I talk about everything because I know I got to talk about this too, and stuff like this, I would rather sweep under the rug. Let’s talk about how great Jerry is, how much money Jerry’s made online, how many people are following and love Jerry.”
I’m sitting there as I am mad at Laura thinking, “I don’t want to talk about this ever again on my podcast. This is so stupid. I don’t want to tell people how flawed and imperfect I am again.”
As soon as I started feeling better, as soon as I cried it out, I felt my feelings, Laura and I talked, and it is all okay now. There was no real issue, it was all an internal experience. Nothing outside is wrong, there is no problem, everything is just perfect.
As soon as the depression clears, I said, “Man, I’ve gotten to get out there and talk about this because how many of us actually hear about this level of experience from someone else?”
I know for years of my life, no one shared with me on this kind of level about what was actually going on in their relationship.
“How are you doing? Good. How are you doing? Good. My boss is a jerk. Oh, yeah. Well, I hate my job too.”
We are never getting to the real issues like the things that really drive you insane and never putting the spotlight on the behavior you would like to change.
I imagine today it is possible for me to have an even smoother marriage than I have today, and what I’m living today is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s way smoother than what my parent’s modeled. In fact, I was thinking of my dad yesterday, “How the hell did you deal with Mom for so many years? There is so much. I can’t imagine how you didn’t leave. Good lord.”
I’m grateful today my father stayed because my father and mother did show me what it is like to stick it out and love each other, go through some really hard stuff and raise children with love.
I’m grateful today.
I’m grateful that my daughter helped me a ton when she just looked me right in the eyes and I didn’t try to put on with her. I told her the exact truth, I shared exactly what I was feeling just like she does with me.
I’m grateful that my daughter helped me out a ton because when I opened up to my daughter when she really looked at me and felt my feelings, then it all just came out. I think it helps a lot of us to either have children or elders in our lives because I find the children and elders are both extremely helpful for those of us who are kind of in the middle.
You might look at me as a child if you are 75, like my sponsor in AA. You can see those of us that are kind of in the middle who are like parents, who are grown, but not older, and we are not little kids.
We really need those connections with kids and elders because I find it often can be very challenging to really let my feelings out, not always, but it tends to be really easy with children and with elders to just let the feelings out if you open your heart to it.
I’m grateful today, I imagine this might help you to open your heart to this kind of experience, to show you, you don’t have to perfectly walk through a day when you are depressed or you are having an argument in your marriage or when you are struggling with parenting.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you can do it with some grace and some dignity, and then share your experience with someone else and try to help someone else to also have it a little easier.
I’m grateful for the chance to share this with you today.
I love you.
You are awesome.
I imagine if you found this helpful you will make sure someone else gets the chance to find it helpful also, and I imagine you will be listening to more of this lovely voice soon.
I know I love hearing myself talk so much.
I just can’t stop.
I just can’t help myself.
Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard at www.michelgerardonline.com.