It was such a beautiful evening. A candlelit room, flowers, a tower of chai cupcakes, a circle of loving friends, with me all made up and shiny in red. My two best friends in the world, hailing from wildly divergent spiritual backgrounds, teaming up to marry their girl off to their girl.
I made vows. They were long. They’re hanging on my bedroom wall, which is the only way I have any idea what they say. I think it’s safe to report that in the last three years I’ve broken every one.
Several people have expressed a desire to know how my whole self-love situation has progressed since my self-wedding on July 30, 2011. I want so badly to tell them, and to say now, that it caused a revolution in how I treat myself, that I’ve learned my own awesomeness and am living by my authentic inner goddess truth or whatever.
Not so much.
By the time I lost my wedding ring I probably should have known something was wrong.
I fucked it up, guys. If you know anything about my life these last few years you know it hasn’t been easy. After my psych diagnosis everything became so complicated; then my life as a writer kind of collapsed like a soufflé sitting on a beehive. This year I’ve found myself unrecognizable as the woman who walked down that aisle to Apocalyptica and then did Bollywood-esque moves in a circle while ever so slightly drunk on sangria.
I don’t even dance anymore.
It’s hard to say what went wrong. I could point to individual circumstances, but blaming any one thing, including myself, seems like a cop-out.
I feel like I swallowed a drought. My insides are dusty and cracked, soul parched, silently begging the sky to open up both to green the land and to release the tension in the air. I’m a hungry ghost, wandering the world with my mouth wide open but unable to find satiety. I haunted all the places I used to touch the Sacred; I rattled my chains and howled without a voice.
I’m fairly sure that, looking at 2014 as a whole so far, you could quite accurately say I’ve been having a slow protracted nervous breakdown.
My sincerest hope is that I’ll look back and realize it was more than that – that it was Jungian metanoia, and the rebuilding after the breakdown led to something amazing.
The past few weeks have been much better, but the really shitty thing about bipolar is that you learn not to trust feeling well. You know it’s going to be yanked away from you, whether tomorrow or in a month. You try to enjoy it and do as much living as possible, but underneath is a current of fear and sadness that never goes away.
It’s funny. I decided to self-marry because I was tired of being at war with myself. Not a year later I was diagnosed with an illness that basically means my brain is at war with itself.
Here in 2014, four years after my first novel hit shelves and three years after I vowed to care for myself as I would my beloved, everything I used to love and enjoy, everything that I thought made me who I was, is just…gone.
For a long while I was obsessed with “getting it all back.” For a brief span of months around age 30, I was happy – I didn’t realize it at the time, and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but I really felt like life was functioning on all eight cylinders for the first time in adulthood. Since then I’ve tried to reach back in time and capture that feeling, that person I was, when I was HPS of a coven and had an actual human lover and was dancing and my career was in its infancy so anything, anything could happen.
I’ve realized recently – embarrassingly recently, in fact – that I don’t want it back. At 30 I didn’t want to be 23 again. Why would I want to be 30 now?
And by God, if this last year has served to tear down and pulverize everything I thought I liked about myself and everything that made me who I believed I was, I’m going to make that demolition worth the dust in the air and the pounding jackhammers all night long. One of my life mottos is “Make the pain count.” Life is going to suck, and suck hard with malice aforethought, and you can’t always prevent the suck no matter how “together” you are. What you can do is use the suck.
I’ll stop with the sucking metaphor there, though, because it could go someplace weird really fast.
If this were a two-person marriage, I’m pretty sure my wife would have walked out by now. I don’t say that in a bitter way; I’ve been an inattentive spouse at best and an abusive one at worst. But unlike an ordinary marriage, when one of us treats the other one like crap, the other can’t leave. Try though I might I can’t get away from myself.
It’s that better part of me, in fact, that has kept me hoping – that little voice whispering “Come on, you can try again – nobody’s keeping score but you. It’s going to be okay.” She says she loves me, and she’s not giving up on me. She knows who I can be underneath the rubble of who I have been, but she can’t tell me; I have to figure it out for myself.
That’s how I know wisdom when I hear it: it’s almost always really annoying.
I don’t know how I’m going to make things better. I’ve certainly tried. Every attempt, from the tiniest shift to a tectonic realignment, has fizzled. But I know, deep down somewhere more visceral than my heart, maybe my liver or spleen, that I’m meant to do something really badass with my life, and that the way I’ve been living since the wedding is not it. I don’t know which way to go, or how to start, or much of anything; but I have an inner conviction that I’ve got work to do.
I also still have an awesome wife. And you know what they say: behind every great woman is that same woman, because she had to kick her own ass.