- because of my housing situation being uncertain until last Sunday night (I move this weekend into an awesome coop, yay!), I had to hold onto a large amount of money (from family, student loan refunds) and that is never a good thing. I cannot manage responsibly when large sums are on the table and try to pay everything in advance because of this. Now I have to find a job because I don't have a way to pay the rent for December yet. I am sure that I can, but it's really stressful. (On the bright side, I have eaten out at a lot of really nice places lately? Crap.)
- My boyfriend and I have had some struggles in terms of him supporting me (or epically failing to do so). I just moved to the city where he lives. So far everything has been so much better that it terrifies me. Part of this is that he has realized that his life was not going in a good direction and he's started going to a Buddhist meditation group every week and generally sorting things out. (By agreement, we don't talk about this stuff unless he wants to because it's his spiritual life, I already have one, and he's trying to find himself as an independent person not heavily influenced by parents, friends, etc.) I have been ill and somewhat crazy while I've been here, and even when we've had problems, we've worked through them and he has been super supportive. When I was having a hypomanic episode, he helped me spot it early and kept me busy and from getting angry and anxious until it passed a few days later. This is probably the first time I've had something like that pass without serious badness. Part of it is medication, part of it is self-management, but I know my boyfriend's support helped a lot.
- I feel really guilty about the money thing. I don't feel like my boyfriend is looking down on me for that anymore. But I feel guilty because it's something I can't handle myself, and saying that feels like an excuse, like if I just tried harder, it would be ok. But when you make this little money and have to depend on family, at least temporarily, for help? Trying harder does not cut it. It really helps to have him saying, "hey, Erin, maybe you shouldn't be plunking down $80 on Fiestaware right now." If I can't do it by myself, I feel like I'm failing. Relying on partners for help? Not so good in the past.
- Recently - largely because I've just started graduate school - I've become aware of this huge gulf in my life between my perceptions and others' perceptions of me, in part because of discussions with a friend of mine who does academic work in gifted education psychology. Although I have struggled to manage my physical and mental health problems while at school, I was always able to get by with decent grades and very little effort at a fairly prestigious university. Now that I'm at a graduate school that gives me a lot of flexibility in terms of what I want to study, and feeling much better in terms of ptsd/bipolar/fibro management, it is really sinking in how much my illnesses have disabled me.
So there's this whole new grieving process because I'm never going to be the person I was as a young teenager, before I was raped, before I got sick, before I got crazy. I know that I want to be me now with all the wisdom I have, but I felt like I could do anything then, but it didn't mean anything, because I didn't know what "anything" was. And I know that now I am doing exceptional for me. For me. But other people can't see that. I worry so much about people thinking I'm lazy, I'm faking it, whatever. It's been relatively easy for me to cover up how much stuff has affected me because I have this crutch of giftedness, and also the "up" periods of bipolar disorder, to rely on. All this time I've been forced to use my giftedness as a crutch when it should be a gift.
- Part of the reason my boyfriend and I have been getting along better, I think, is that now that he's spent more time with me not a-visiting, he really sees how much impact small things have on my life and it's not as easy for me to hide them. And part of the reason that I love him, I know, is because he knew me when I was younger and I sometimes feel like he's one of the only people who can really see me because he knew me before I got sick. I don't think that it is a bad thing, but it's definitely a thing. It can be easier to love myself when I see myself through his eyes, because sometimes all I can see is the here and now.
- Things are better than they have been. I sometimes feel like the period between 15 and 21 was, creatively and mental-health-ily, a wash. I can write again. I am slowly getting better at overcoming the social anxiety that has always held me up, which is mostly complete terror of dealing with authority figures when I need help. That's not so good.
- This is part of healing from the abuse I was given, too, I know - the ability to remember what I am capable of, and not to take it for granted or be ashamed of it. In some ways it's harder than when I was dealing with flashbacks all the time and not able to function sexually and triggered severely every day. Healing can't stop at just learning to deal with how the abuse affected me - it has forced me to go beyond that, and not in a "fah, abusers!" way, just because I know that I have to take care of me, and I want to take care of me.
- The lesson I feel like the universe is telling me this month is to be present with my emotions and let them pass, to be present with people when they struggle and bear witness to their struggle, to show support even when my limits are tested. I think this aggravated my boyfriend for a long time, but he's getting it now. I'm not going to fake anything anymore, and I'm not going to run away from myself or people in my life just because we can't agree on things.
- My friend Kathleen and I were talking about our favorite quotes this month, and we both agreed on this one from St. Francis: "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." This means more and more to me as time goes on.