Sunday, June 2, 2013

To A Friend

My friend, when I found out that you went to the hospital yesterday, I was so relieved. 
Mixed states.
Rapid cycling.
When you feel terrible enough, shameful enough to think you should probably die and - most dangerously - with the energy and impulsivity to be capable of actually doing it. A firestorm in the brain, neurons crashing and shorting and you can't even remember what peace and calm is, much less how you can navigate back to center.
But you will.  ^_^

I think that somehow I knew, just from those two Facebook posts, no matter that I'd only met you once in person, even though we spent most of the party in two different rooms.

But those two posts were open enough for me to read between the lines, knowing what I know about us.

We understand extremes all too well. It's the pattern we've read in our lives, in our minds, even while our hearts are just pleading "Please, I just want peace, I just want calm, I just want to be in the center..." Happiness is suspect, knowing what inevitably comes next.

And those posts were a sign that you were looking for an extreme solution. The problem is that it's only possible to make them work when we ourselves are capable of acting extreme. And our minds don't give us that drive and force of will often enough or long enough to sustain that. So they can only be a sign that we're in dangerous territory, and we are about to become terribly vulnerable at the worst and most critical time, a time where we are desperately looking for something, anything to hold on to, to fix damage that we've caused.

People can't tell from the outside how close we are walking on the edges of a crumbling cliff, with two abysses below. The hardest lesson for me to learn is that often I can't tell either, and you are getting one of these lessons now too. If only we could warn people, "Watch out, I might be acting impulsively even though it's going to seem rational to me at the time!" and "Please, help... I don't want to hurt us..."  If we could at least warn people, then we could ask for grace and forgiveness ahead of time.

But instead, because we often are so unaware and used to our version of normal, we often aren't able to warn people and then it just seems like a really terrible and embarrassing excuse. The shame crashes down. We know this about ourselves, we know we are dangerous, we've navigated this before both successfully and not. We should know better by now. But we did it again.

But think about this really carefully right now. How many times have you gotten through this and didn't do any damage? I bet a lot. That's pretty incredible when you think about it.

So now, forgive yourself. It's not an excuse, it's just our reality. The truth is that the meds can mitigate a lot but not erase completely. Oh how I wish they erased, but they just don't. Adjustments become necessary, especially during times of extreme stress - the kind you've been going through lately.

Only when we can forgive ourselves can we ease our own pain enough to become vulnerable to empathize and sympathize with the people we've hurt. And only then can we heal each other.

This is easier said than done, of course, as I've already admitted...  ^_^

One of the scariest things, my particular monster in the closet, is the inevitable feeling of dependence on others. It just emphasizes our particular lack of control and stability. The dependence on meds is easy compared to the dependence on the people around us to watch out for us, pick up some the slack when we lose it, to deal with their own pain alone until we are capable of helping, and forgiving us before we are capable of asking with our whole heart.

That's a whole lot to ask of people, and boy do we know it. So we try to manage and fix it on our own, to try to ease the burden we know we are putting on them. In our attempts to control the uncontrollable and with the best of intentions, we set ourselves and our loving ones up for failure. Because when we fail, we need them to understand that we do try to fix it even as we've done our damnedest to hide how difficult it was to do so. It's the shock of it that often ends up creating the most havoc for us all, amirite?  ^_^

So I'm saying to you now - you have been trying so very hard and it's okay to be too tired. It's okay to let go of that. I see what you've been doing, and it will be okay. You don't have to be perfect all the time, but especially you don't have to do it right now. 

Whether or not you and I ever learn to be vulnerable and transparent is something we can't promise yet, I think. We can hope and strive and throw our whole hearts into the effort, but right now we don't know the way yet. Right now we probably shouldn't promise much beyond keeping ourselves safe and that we'll try our hardest. It's a bit humiliating, but perhaps it's the most honest and from what I've been hearing that's what they want. (And WE'RE the crazy ones?!) There are reasons we're the way we are, and it will take time and more mistakes as we fumble through to finding the reasons and understanding of how to do it other ways.

That's okay, it really is.

Your friend along the cliff,

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