Often I forget to look back at just how much of an incredible journey this has been, recovering from borderline personality disorder, and working on getting bipolar under control.

I went to a psychologist, who diagnosed me. No one would believe me because I was so high functioning. But no one was inside my agonizing head.

"How long do you think it will take for me to recover?"

"Two years, until you might feel anything like ‘normal’."

"Do you think it’s likely?"

He does the psychological version of looking me up and down.

"For you? Yes. If you do everything right."

That conversation was a little over two years ago.

I just looked up BPD in the DSM-5 again. I can proudly say that I no longer meet enough of the diagnostic criteria to qualify for the disorder.

How does that translate into the world?

I no longer sob under a blanket and watch Netflix all day.

Life feels worth doing, not just as a world where I’m trapped.

I can see it in the moment sometimes, that I’ve made progress.

I don’t wail into a pillow when someone I’m close to leaves for a little while, desperate not to be abandoned.

I don’t stumble for words nearly as often.

I listen to music and it makes me cry, but because it makes me happy, not sad and in pain.

Self care is not optional.

I can talk about things in my life that hurt and not be overwhelmed.

I understand what it’s like to love someone in a way they don’t for you, and that’s okay.

I recognize there needs to be a Me who exists outside any one person or thing.

I don’t want to hurt myself.

I can write music again.

People are very different from each other.

I understand what family really means, both born and chosen.

I discovered how subtlety and patience can be more powerful than their foils.

I rarely feel alone.

I learned how to communicate things that are hard, and in fact, those are often the ones that most need attention.

I found out that when you are feeling one way or another, you think differently.

I saw that it’s okay to make mistakes.

I discovered that you don’t have to rewrite the past to make people like you.

I found out that I love to write.

I felt what it’s like to love someone as who they really are right now.

Let your intuition inform you.

I recognized the power of living with intention.

I learned that perfection is the enemy of the good.

I know it’s okay to change my mind.

I know it’s okay to push back.

I know it doesn’t have to get better all at once.

I think I’m doing it right.

Some poetry and lyrics. 

our naked poetry
love me like i’m the last person on earth
fill the hole in my soul
hold me along the fault line
three-fifths longing
and two-fifths self destruction
heal the hairline fracture
carried down my spine
fill me with gold
your firm touch
breathing at the intersection
of trust and unease

Shoulds

Chorus: C#m G#m (staccato)
Verses: A B C#m
Bridge: E F#m G#m F#m x2, E F#m G#m C#m/A#

Verse:
Ways to live again
Take me for who I am
Wish I didn’t know
Wish I didn’t know
Wish I didn’t know freedom

Lost and found
Trapped in my reason
Waiting for permission to be free
Waiting for admission of
Waiting for everything, nothing

Taking my time
Not enough to ask why, ask me why
I don’t know why
I just am

Chorus:
No space to breathe
Time to seethe
Wake me when it’s over
Maybe by that time
I’ll have some answers

Verse:
Why do you wanna hear
All you most don’t wanna hear?
Fork in the road, lost my appetite
Don’t you hold me tight
Til you clear the table

Breaking me, breaking the walls
Breaking down everything
I didn’t know I had
Why can’t I see, why can’t I be
Something infinitely simpler

Bridge:
And I know why we are here
Can’t not make a good thing only better
I will never cease to be
So why is it so hard to love me?

Verse:
I wouldn’t have known what to ask for
Wouldn’t have dreamed I’d see so much
New thoughts, your words, your time
My take is too much

Another day, another night
No it can’t, it won’t be this
But I see, yet again
You have not denied me
We shouldn’t
We shouldn’t
We shouldn’t exist

Chorus:
No space to be
Time for me
Wake me when it’s over
Maybe by that time
I’ll have some answers

(Fade out on verse chords)

Bitter Sweet

Verses: Abm G
Chorus: Eb/C D Gm
Bridge: Gbm B E Ebm

Verse:
Ask me to forgo all consequences
Of your faceless plotting
Why must actors always suffer?

Unforsaken, unforgotten
Waking whispers
Can’t you hear me?

Chorus:
I bore your face
I bore your mind
I want to leave the past behind
I wonder why you bothered
Why you held on
Why you faltered

Verse:
Another day, another crime
Upon your soul, another line
What can I say? What will you make
Of this consequential lie?

Repeat chorus

Verse:
I’m asking you
Let go all wants
A poor man’s fable’s
Never hopeful

Chorus:
I bore your face
I bore your mind
Why can’t I leave the past behind?
I wonder why I’ve bothered
Why I held on
Why I faltered

(end on Gm, notes: G F#)

State Of Being

Verses: F C G (G C)
Chorus: Dm C Bb

Verse:
I can’t see what I think you’re doing
When I close my eyes, and I think I’m hearing things
Breaking glass, breaking nails deeper in your coffin

Hopeful watch towering o’er water fountains
Heading of the nonsense, off your high horse
When you see her? When you see her

Chorus:
Better than losing my own head over the fall of empires
State of being, state I’m crawling back
Unto the universal law of physics
Longing, urging, aching, breaking hearts
I can’t condone, I can’t let go, I can’t say no

Verse:
What’s your name, I seem to have forgotten
Your favorite game to play
Sheathed claws and virgo sensibility
With lots of sugar, lots of milk
A few drops of your precious honey

What must I tell myself in order to forget
Awake for hours and the thoughts are racing
Driving ahead, I’m chasing you in circles
Dizzy with the maypole’s colors
Second place is the first loser

Repeat chorus

Lock me in your prison of exquisite opulence
Crowning glory, don’t you wish you’d thought of that
Fortunes gained, fortunes lost
Found your dear aunt’s locket

[more verses]

"I don’t know. I’ll ask my girlfriend."

There were two distinct events in my teenage years that were defining moments of my journey to polyamory.

The first was with JDS, one of my first boyfriends, who I had met at music camp when I was 12. We broke up from whatever we were as 12 year olds, before I started grade eight. I had a new boyfriend that year.

Some time later, when things were on/off again (as they are in that early teen kind of way), I emailed JDS from my Hotmail account and asked if we could be together again. He responded with the above.

Ask… your… girlfriend? Mind. Blown.

A day or so later,

"Sorry, she said no. Good luck!"

Read More

Super Mario World. That was the background music to my rape at 11 or 12. See, I don’t actually remember which side of my birthday it was on. Timelines get fuzzy when things get scary.*

He is only a little older than me. While I could’ve kicked his butt a few years ago (at Super Mario World, among other things), he had hit his early teen growth spurt and I was no longer a match.

We had an interesting relationship for the years prior. Not a relative, but someone my family knew. We spent a lot of time together growing up.

It started as a “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” game. Doctor. Hide and seek. It was innocent and playful, and I encouraged it. But by the time I was 9-10 years old, things had changed.

~~

The scariest thing was his penis. Now it got big and tall and hard when we would play around. And he got more insistent on the things we did rather than it being mutual.

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Only those closest to me have ever seen my meltdowns. I have incredible cover-up powers; a lifetime of honing them and numbing my emotions. Few of you have seen me screaming and wailing, destroying objects around me, bashing my head against things, hopeless and wanting nothing more than to die in that moment.

It all starts with a trigger. Sometimes it’s a stressful event or environment. Sometimes it’s a slow build-up of the day’s/week’s/hour’s cruft, gradually infringing on my rational brain. But there’s always a tipping point.

They are often an hour or more of emotional agony, with a painfully slow recovery period in which I am exhausted and extremely sensitive. They usually cost me a whole day. I can trace them backwards to see where the twisted road went, and how I used skills to improve the situation, but they are still a black box of pain, and I don’t remember how things got to that point.

But something extraordinary happened the other day.

He was on the beanbag, talking about a possible web contract. I listen to his recommendation, and for whatever BPD-infused reason, all I’m hearing is criticism.

Stab stab stab.

It’s obvious I’m becoming upset, staring at him through the ladder of my loft bed. He asks what’s wrong and I become defensive.

"I just can’t handle criticism right now!"

I start to cry.

He softly reassures me that he’s not criticizing. Now I start sobbing and expounding on all the ways I’m feeling criticized. I try to breathe to stave off the panic. I can’t believe he would be so mean to say those things from the story I invented in my head thirty seconds ago.

A teensy little voice pops out of the tornado: this is one of those meltdowns.

Oh shit.

He asks how he can help. I weave my upper body onto the ladder for support and gasp something like, I’m trying, I think I got this, I don’t know how.

Sixty seconds.

"I don’t know what it is but I can believe there’s another explanation. There must be another possible explanation. This isn’t real, is it? Help me find what it could mean instead. It doesn’t make sense but I know I’m not thinking right. No, but I can do this."

Ninety seconds.

Crying, gasping, hanging on, looking at a blur in his direction.

"It’s actually not criticism I think. It’s not. I don’t know how to feel that but I believe it’s not. That’s another way to explain this."

Coming down a little. Breathing.

I replay words in my heads, check the facts. I can just barely see the words again, in their original voice, before my own story came to life. I know somewhere in me that there’s another thing that makes sense and that my calibration is off.

Two minutes.

It’s enough. It hurts, I’m processing, I’m tired… but for the first time, I was able to see through a meltdown from start to finish. It was so compressed that I hadn’t forgotten how it began. I used conscious effort to pull myself in the right direction.

Despite these meltdowns occurring regularly (with decreasing frequency and intensity over the past year, I’m happy to say), I felt like I never understood what was happening to me. It was like having read about something in a book hundreds of times, but only now experiencing it for the first time, over two intense minutes.

And it means I’m actually getting better.

I have a very close friend here at 20mission, also named Stephanie. We’re Steph Squared. She’s nine years younger than me, has a sixth sense for others’ emotions and handling social situations, and is one of the most generous human beings I have ever met. 

She’s been an absolutely incredible support for me. We’re both people who need people.

We’ve often talked about my mental illnesses and how they affect me. Yesterday she came home from work at a cafe, and mentioned that she had a moment of insight.

Read More

What being able to afford only going to therapy 50 minutes a week feels like.

My insurance company granted a “one time exception” to partially reimburse my psychiatrist bills from 2013. I don’t even know what that note means, but I get the feeling I’ll be on the phone with them for hours again soon.

I’m also convinced now, after having flipped back and forth a few times, that a good diet (which is low carb lacto-paleo for me) is not just the icing on the cake, but nearly critical to my mood stability. Probably 25% of it right there. Yep, blood sugar. Which absolutely sucks, because processed carbs are cheap. And I love good food. 

So. Lots of bacon and eggs, tuna salad, and discount beef cuts.

Anonymous said: How do you write about your trauma? I think I need to because I'm just holding everything in, but it won't come out.

beautyinthebellejar:

You have to bleed it out.

It’s less about organizing thought or making it sound beautiful.  It can be ugly because trauma is inherently ugly.  Before I write, I think about a particular theme of trauma and then let the rest flow through me.  It can be messy.  I can be disorganized.  

And honestly, writing about trauma is really the only thing that’s saved me over the past few years.  You need to give voice to these things so they no longer strangle you.  It can be so much to walk around with the enormity of a traumatic wound in your psyche.  

Just write.  Just write down whatever comes to mind.  Don’t worry about elegance or beauty in it.  Just get out the story.  

Bleed it out.  

Beautifully said.