I’m a little down right now. My husband, younger daughter, and I had the first half of an eight-hour gun carry permit class last night. One of the things our instructor showed onscreen was a list of requirements for the license, and there was a part I hadn’t seen before. It said that the applicant shall not have been committed to or hospitalized in a mental institution.
The “or hospitalized in a mental institution” applies to me.
As you may know if you’ve read this blog before, I went in voluntarily for 10 days after a suicide attempt in the summer of 2012. It was a month after my husband’s affair came to light, and I had been worn down by a month of grief, anger, betrayal and all the other negative emotions, all the while continuing to go to work, hide the nature of our marriage problems from our 14-year-old, and work on the marriage with the help of our marriage counselor. There was a really bad counseling session, and I just lost hope. I went home and felt a lot of relief at the thought that I could stop hurting, permanently. It was my life, and I could choose to stop existing.
I’m glad now that I didn’t succeed at that.
I guess the price I am paying now is that I can’t carry around a pistol for self-defense like most other citizens can. It feels like I’m being punished for having a serious episode of mental illness. I get why the law exists, in a “better safe than sorry” sense for people who have had serious mental breakdowns.
But we don’t punish people who have serious physical conditions, such as having an arm amputated because of cancer or injury in an accident; they can still get licenses to drive cars and get gun permits although they may not be able to react and control a vehicle or a weapon as well as a person with both arms. It feels very wrong for my hospitalization — which I voluntarily did for my own good — to limit my options today.
In the context of this very disappointing news about my gun permit, I thought about my therapist’s recent emphasis on cognitive distortions. “Jumping to conclusions” or “magnification” aren’t applicable to how I’m reading the laws about gun permits, because I’m just quoting from a very clear piece of law written in black and white. There’s no imagining or reading into that — it’s actually the law.
I guess there’s a chance the state could choose to ignore my mental health hospitalization, but it seems unlikely. I told the truth on the application even though I figured it would be the kiss of death for the permit.
I feel guilty and ashamed of the emotional exhaustion and despair that led me to try suicide, but I also understand how I got there and feel compassion for that six-years-ago me going through an out-of-the-blue bad revelation about my husband’s faithlessness.
And it may be irrational, but I’m feeling a good bit of anger and resentment at my husband. He is the one who chose a dishonorable way to deal with his unhappiness in our marriage. The fact that I crumbled after a miserable month of trying to cope feels like my weakness but also somewhat his fault too. I hate that I eventually buckled after trying to cope with the reality of his affair, his deception, and his criticisms of me written in his messages to her.
I know that my suicide attempt wasn’t his “fault.” It was an escape choice I deliberately made when I was in unbearable pain. I could, theoretically, have chosen differently. It’s just hard not to resent my husband for shocking and hurting me, contributing to the clinical depression I was already coping with before his affair came to light. His actions made me feel so much worse. I’m mad at myself, but I’m also mad at him.
I think the fact that I won’t be able to get a gun permit now, while he can, is unfair. I did read in some articles about cognitive distortions that expecting life to be fair is unrealistic. Well, duh. Of course that’s true. So there’s that. I don’t know what to do with the resentment toward him that I still feel, though. I feel like I’ve been the one who has been hurt and who continues to suffer in new ways like this from his shitty life choices.
I’m aware there are other options for self-defense, like pepper spray and martial arts. I’m just mad that one option I would have liked is now off limits for me. And I’m aware that under my state’s laws, I can still **own** a gun at home — just not carry it around on my hip.
I’m trying very hard not to radiate a punitive silence and anger at him right now, despite feeling it.