Yes, i’m in the weeds. Bipolar depression is the absolute shits. The thing is, though, i’ve been here before, and i basically know what to do. I have experience with what this is like. I’ve been experiencing active suicidal ideation, but don’t let that scare you too much. And while i haven’t had a plan for a long time, and the fact that i have one now is concerning, i’ve told the appropriate people and taken the proper steps. This is learning to live as well as i’m able with this wacky noggin of mine.

I’m done with that subject and on to something better.

**********

Audre Lorde said,

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

I am developing a vision of who i am and what i want. The first half of that has been coming along nicely for some years, but that last part has been tough to even imagine.

I needed the safety of my marriage and trust in my therapist before i could clear away enough of the wreckage of my past to see what was on the horizon. For most of my life i’ve been hypervigilant, functioning in survival mode. My brain was stuck in my childhood, and my body thought it was dead. It took years before i could think of anything i wanted to do beyond surviving. My desires only went as far as “not to be fucked up.”

At this point in my healing i finally do have dreams and plans for the future, but i have trouble bringing them to fruition. My first success came a couple of years ago. I decided that i was going to take the bus to the mountains, stay in a hotel by myself, and meet a couple i’ve been friends with online for years.

It was a big challenge. I’m so dissociative i have trouble with things like planning trips and setting itineraries. I’m easily distressed, and when that happens, my system can get activated and things can get FUBAR, fast. I also get lost very easily, which triggers such a high level of anxiety that i will run away from whatever and with whoever i’d made plans.

The trip was a resounding success. I was able to do everything i’d planned to do. The meeting was fulfilling and joyful, with a minimum of dissociation. I got lost in the airport looking for the shuttle desk where i was supposed to be picked up, which triggered me, but that was at the end of the trip. I could go home and care for my upset rather than having to hide it away inside myself until after i’d met my friends. That would’ve curdled my milk, you know?

I plan to go to my old home town for a week by myself to write. I think i can make it happen before the end of the year. For spring of next year, i’m going on a tropical vacation. I know where. And i’m hustling hard for enough money to do both, plus get myself a couple of things i’ve been after for some time. They’re expensive, but i’ll be working at it until i can get what i want.

To accomplish my goals, i’ve had to redefine and reshape my role in my marriage.

I made a mistake in my relationship, and it’s cost me, and probably him, too. When i fell apart so badly that i had to pull away from everyone except my husband, sons, and therapist, i may have given up too much. I surrendered all my responsibilities except cooking, cleaning, and basic mothering, and dumped the rest of it in my husband’s lap. I thought that was what i had to do, but now i wish i’d done it differently.

He paid all the bills and made all the decisions. I tried to keep myself and the house together and did the best i could to mother our kids, but beyond that, all responsibilities were his. I even stopped driving. I was so consumed with my own problems that i didn’t see that he had issues, too. He’s reliable and responsible but he’s not without flaws and limitations. There were areas i might have been more helpful and a better partner.

For instance, by the time i emerged from years-long, intensive therapy, i had no idea what our financial situation was. I didn’t know what bills he paid, how much they were, how much was in our bank account, or what our credit looked like. I had decided that i wasn’t good with money and didn’t know nuthin’ ’bout budgets or saving money. And that’s total bullshit.

When i’m manic i need someone else to handle the money — that’s just common sense. But at other times, i can be quite good to have around when it comes to spending, saving, and paying bills. Before i met my husband, i made a small inheritance last for five years while i stayed home and raised two kids. If i could do it again, i would have gone to school, but i was enmeshed in a religion that told me i had to stay home to be a good mom. I made it work by investing the money and paying myself a small monthly stipend, draining my inheritance as slowly as possible.

I bought used or gratefully accepted hand-me-downs and any charity i was offered. I clipped coupons. I didn’t splurge on anything. And i paid my bills on time. I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t care about labels or what the Joneses have. I’d grown up in such poverty that i felt like i was livin’ large in my little low-rent apartment where everyone who lived there was my friend. I cooked, cleaned, and entertained my kids on a shoestring, but it never felt like we went without.

I have emerged from years of uninvolvement to find us in what i consider to be an untenable situation financially. I’m not happy with our debt load or the handling of our finances. That’s on me as much as it is on my husband, and i own that. But i’m ready to shoulder more responsibility in our relationship… And i’m coming up against some attitude and push-back.

So i’ve had to do an end-run. I’m in my 50s, and i’m done waiting for some things. I have to bear the responsibility for some of how things currently are, and i am. However, i’m going to get what i want, with or without help. Without help is fine — i’m hustling, i’m working, i’m striving. And if i’ve gotta come up against someone who’s standing between me and what i want, it doesn’t matter who it is or how i feel about them; i’m gonna do what i’ve gotta do. I am living in the second half of my life, and time waits for no one.

I’ve been a certain type of way for most of my life. Apologetic. Walker on eggshells. Terrified of rejection. Trying to be who other people tell me i should be. NO MORE. I might still feel that way sometimes, but it will no longer keep me from pursuing my vision. And a vacation is only the beginning. It’s not just about STUFF i want; it’s about things i want to DO. Things that will make the world a better place for me having lived in it.

I’m going after what i want. I’m pushing for it, and all those messages i got from abusive caregivers and well-meaning societal robots aren’t going to stop me. And anyone who has trouble adjusting to this new me can step aside. I did all that other work so i could do this work — so i could do something useful and help others instead of only trying not to die.

I want to write to help people, but i think i can help in other ways, too. My vision isn’t fully fleshed out, but i know where i’m at, and i’m clear on my next few steps.

This depression is slowing me down, but it won’t stop me. I have smaller plans to accommodate my current mental state. Plans for August that are doable, goals that are reasonable and reachable.
Watch me.
Help me or get out of my way.

I want to apologise for my tone in this piece so badly. I’ve lost the battle a little to even be writing this part, i think. But it’s babysteps, and i’m doing pretty well, all things considered. Being strong and firm and matter-of-fact is new for me. It’s hard to write these things, harder still to say them, and hardest of all to speak them to a loved one.

I am though, and i’m going to keep on with it.
Watch me.
Help me or get out of my way.

Y’all take care of yourselves as best you can, and i’ll do the same.

Hang in there.

Love and Peace,
~H~

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