They say it's an inevitability: that life goes fast and nothing will stay the same for long. That doesn't make change any easier, especially when everything changes at once. Especially when it happens over the course of a week. The home you knew for years becomes a distant memory. A best friend becomes an enemy. Your name and your reputation are slandered and you begin looking for a new city in which to live. A chance to start over. A chance to be free of those who will hurt you. Last year, 2015, was the year of getting to know myself. I went through some dark periods but they made me stronger. This year, 2016, will be known to me as the year I had to come to terms with my illness. The year that almost broke me.
I used to love people. I loved learning about them, I loved telling them about myself, I loved connecting on that deep level that comes with those special kinds of kinship. Sometimes it means staying up until three in the morning talking about nothing in particular. Other times it means sitting in silence; being wordlessly understood. Over the years I've become calloused but never irreparably broken. Who hasn't? Recent events though have sounded the death knell on my willingness to share my heart. I've never been so closed off.
When I say it's high time for me to come to terms with my illness, I mean it's been the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. I barely understand myself which begs an even scarier question: how am I supposed to make others understand me?
I try to be as open and honest as possible about my illness, especially to those around me. Some just don't get it. While I could berate those people for being ignorant and ableist (would they give me as hard a time if I had heart disease or something more visible?) I let it go. It's okay. They don't have to understand. They aren't beholden to me. Others say they get it and invite me to share my struggles. Most are well-meaning and I'm so incredibly thankful for them. I've learned though, unfortunately, not all seemingly well-meaning people actually are. They'll take that vulnerability and use it to tear you apart.
Without getting into too much detail, a best friend of mine did this not too long ago and I'm struggling to get through all the layers of hurt, confusion, and anger. The years of talking me through my darkest times, countless nights spent crying, and endless adventures were all nothing. She told others my sadness, my mental illness, was nothing but drama. The times I spent pouring my heart out, my struggles to find the best medication for me were nothing but attention-seeking behavior. I thought I was understood. She offered me a safe place then she turned around and used my deepest insecurities to tear my world apart.
Through all this though, I've learned a crucial lesson about the human spirit and self-preservation. I've lashed out in anger. I've been so inconsolably indignant in the most unattractive way. It's brought out this ugly, vindictive side of me that I've never seen before and quite honestly, it's terrified me. I used to find forgiveness so easy. Now? I tell myself she doesn't deserve my forgiveness. I can't wish her well because somebody so nasty should have nasty things happen. But I can't think this way. It's just as toxic. No, I've realized that rationally, sometimes there is no place to go but into anger when you've been hurt so bad and are afraid of being vulnerable. It doesn't make it right. But it's natural, maybe even a little bit healthy. How gentle and kind can you be when you feel the need to build walls around yourself? Vulnerability can be terrifying. Vulnerability after being hurt by one of your most-trusted friends can be impossible.
Nobody ever said that living with mental illness would be easy but nothing could have prepared me for something like this. To be perfectly honest, it made me feel kind of hopeless. There's nothing I can do about my mental states sometimes. I can't tell when an episode is going to happen and when it does, it's as if I'm a spectator to my own hot mess. When it's over, I'm sad and ashamed. Now on top of all that, I'm apt to cut myself off before getting hurt by somebody so bad again. In a way I'm glad this happened because it made me take stock of my life and my priorities. In another way, and definitely more so, I'm gutted to know that I've lost a best friend and that it happened in such an ugly way.
Such is life. Though it's definitely been the most horrendous, it wasn't the first and it won't be the last. I'll keep working on myself to become a better person and maybe I'll slowly begin to trust others again. Until then, I'll try my best to stay strong and keep my chin up. What else is there to do? Mustn't let this steal my joy. Heartbroken? Yes. Beyond repair? No. Not just yet.