It really is this good.

This is a Really Real Relationship post.

I’m all about radical vulnerability. Being wide open, and raw, and honest.

And I realized that while I’m showing all of the sides of mental illness and widowhood, it feels like I’m offering a Facebook version of my relationship.

And that’s not who I am.

It’s not what I’ve ever meant to do.

And honestly, I want people to know that things CAN be good, even with shitty mental health and a shitty traumatic past, and even with a relationship that’s just, almost, perfect.  I deserve good things, and things don’t have to be perfect to be good.

Wonder Woman and I have a really great relationship.

Over two years in and we haven’t had a single fight. We haven’t raised our voices at each other or said harsh words to each other even once. We apologize almost immediately if anything has even seemed passive aggressive. We even apologize if we’re grumpy or in a bad mood.

We really are sickeningly sweet.

But.

We have hard talks about hard things. We have some areas of our lives and our relationship that are really hard to work through. We are polar opposites in a few areas.

We are gentle with each other about those areas. We are respectful. We are understanding.

And, we get help with navigating those areas from a couples therapist, because the view from the outside is much clearer than the view from within.

It helps, and we always come out of our sessions with ideas about how to move forward, together.

I think there’s this view that couples therapy is for couples that are falling apart.

That it’s a last resort.

It was one of the first things we went for when we realized we were hitting road blocks in some areas of communication.

Don’t get me wrong. We have GREAT communication. But some areas are just HARD when we are so different. Different histories, different traumas, different preferences.

Different ways of communicating.

So I’m writing this post for two reasons.  One, is because I realized I was offering this “facebook reality” of my relationship, and I just don’t like that. And two, is to help with normalizing couples therapy, because really, what’s wrong with getting an unbiased outside perspective?

Vacation

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But also a bit of Mental Health thrown in there.

We never took vacations.

It’s one of my big regrets from Parker and I, but also from Kidlet’s childhood.

There was the year we traveled from Maryland to Florida to see our families.  That was our only family vacation in the 8 years we were together.

I think once we came from Florida, to Maryland, tagging along with my mom.  I guess that was a vacation. During that trip we managed to go over to DC for part of a day. Parker had never been to D.C. and she absolutely loved it.

A few years later when we were living in the homeless shelter up here, we met her family in D.C. for the day while they were on their vacation.

But vacations weren’t really on our radar.

Keeping the lights on, paying off the rent before the eviction notice expired, stretching the food stamps by making it to the food pantries on time. Making it to countless doctors appointments.

Those were the things we worried about.

But not vacations.

Wonder Woman and I leave for vacation tonight. I can’t count the number of overnight trips and vacations we’ve had in the 2 years we’ve been together. This is a belated anniversary trip, something we wanted to do, but couldn’t quite afford to do in September, so we were able to put aside some money and make it happen a bit late.

We’re going to a cabin in the mountains. The mountains are Wonder Woman’s place, she loves the cold. Mine is the beach and the warmth.

We’ve done lots of beach trips, it’s time to hit the mountains. I guess I can bundle up for a few days.

We have a fireplace in our cabin, and there are fire pits in the resort.

I guess I can handle that.

I still have great memories of going to the beach over Christmas on our first vacation. Hanging out in front of the fire together.

I look forward to repeating that.

I still feel weird taking vacations. I still have to remind myself that I deserve nice things. That I deserve happiness. That I deserve to travel and have these experiences.

That I deserve stability.

I’m so used to struggle that it’s hard to settle into stability.

It’s hard to feel comfortable with packing for a trip. It’s hard to avoid overthinking it.

It’s hard to find the balance between “bring absolutely everything you might need” and “if you forget something you can just buy it.”

It’s hard to find the balance between over planning/letting anxiety win and waiting for the last minute/letting anxiety win.

It’s hard to find the balance between being thankful for what I have now, and grieving what I didn’t have then.

We never took vacations.

I deserve this life.

Love

This is a Really Real _____ Post.

Widowhood. Life. Relationship. Mental Health.

This is one is going to cover all of it.

Today I got messages from a few different people, telling me how amazing Wonder Woman is, and how amazing she is for me.

They weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.

I love the way she loves me.

I love the way she’s always there for me without ever trying to fix me.

I love how she makes me laugh whenever I take life too seriously.

I love the way she loves me.

And.

I love loving her.

No one ever said anything to me, but I knew. When I started dating Wonder Woman, people wondered if Parker was being replaced.

They didn’t want anyone trying to stand in Parker’s shoes.

And the thing is, no one can ever fill her shoes. I wouldn’t want anyone to.

Wonder Woman fills her own shoes.

There’s no comparing the two. Parker loved a completely different version of me.

Parker was great at loving the version of me that didn’t know how to stand on my own two feet. Parker was great at being the other half of me when I didn’t know I could be whole by myself. Parker was great at surviving utter chaos with me.

I loved the way she loved that version of me.

And I loved loving her.

But now I’m an entirely different person.

Widowhood does that.

Wonder Woman is great at loving this version of me.  I can’t imagine ever being anyone’s “other half” ever again. I’m too busy being my whole self. Wonder Woman is a great partner in life. She’s great at showing me I can stand on my own two feet when I forget how capable I am. She’s great at supporting me in being the best person I can be.

And the best person I can be is constantly changing. I’m regularly discovering bigger and better things I can accomplish.

I’m looking at job postings and not freaking out at the idea of applying. (I’m even working on my resume.)

I’m working on new and deeper DBT skills.

I’m getting better at riding the waves of bipolar.

I’m working through trauma and learning how to navigate the world without so many triggers. I’m also learning how to navigate the world of triggers when I need to.

I’m really enjoying my life as I push forward.

I love loving them.

I love loving my life.

I love.

Happy Birthday Dear Ghost

This is a Really Real Window Post.

Today is Parker’s birthday.

I feel like I should write a big commemorative post, except, I’m not sure what I would say.

This is the 3rd birthday she hasn’t been here to celebrate.

The birthday before she died, she was in the psych unit and we had to celebrate a week late. That same day she broke her ankle.

She was in a cast from having ankle surgery 6 months later when she died.

Connections.

I find that my memories are fading quicker than I’d like them to. This is why I hate not having pictures. (Take the damn picture, get in the damn picture.) I have a bad memory to begin with and now there are very few people who still discuss the memories we had. Memories fade. Something I never believed when people first told me after she died.

She would have been 41 today. But she’s forever frozen in time.

We don’t get to make new memories.

We don’t get to fight and piss each other off.

We don’t get to joke about how 41 is worse than 40, because now she’s OVER 40.

We don’t get to make each other happy.

We don’t get to share a life.

I still miss her even though my memories are fading. I still miss getting her balloons or cheesecake each year.

I miss seeing the smile on her face the year that Draven came home from his dads on her birthday. She felt like it was the best present in the world to have him back after 2 months.

She loved him.

She loved me.

And we loved her.

Today we are supposed to be celebrating her. Showering her with love. Filling her feed up with birthday wishes.

She acted like she hated the attention and hoopla while at the same time wondering why she didn’t get a whole birthday week.

Her mom would be baking her a cake the next time we went to see her. I wonder what her mom does to commemorate the occasion now. I miss her too.

Today is my ghost wife’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Parker!

I don’t feel like fighting.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

CW: Suicidal Thoughts and talk of Suicide.

“I don’t feel like fighting this shit today.”

That’s the text I sent, from my bed, as I cancelled my plans to go to the gym. I had been in bed for too many hours to count, only getting up long enough to take the dog out and feed her.

And eat. Eating through emotions just reminds me that everyone was right, that surgery would have been detrimental.

I need a shower.

But my bed feels so inviting.

I can still see happiness just outside of my reach. I know it exists, I know I have a chance of getting back there.

That makes the suicidal thoughts not as scary.

But I’d still be quite content with a bullet through the head. I hear the gunshots in the back of my mind. I know it’s a wild, random thought. I know that it is better than something that’s within my reach.

There’s a reason I don’t want guns in my house.

Ever.

I don’t feel like fighting this shit today. I don’t feel like being skillful or effective. I don’t feel like doing what works.

It feels like too much effort. It requires energy I just don’t have today.

So today I spend all day in my bed. Getting up to sit at the computer in the dark.

I don’t know where this came from. This sad anger that wants to explode out all around me.

I don’t know why I never release this storm on Wonder Woman. I’m thankful I don’t. I never want her to see that side of me.

I never want to make her feel like that.

I never want to be that person again.

So I push it down.

I still wonder where it came from.

And then I remember. I need to buy a cheesecake in the next few days.

Kidlet and I are going to eat cheesecake together over video chat.

For Parker, on her birthday.

The third birthday she’ll never get to celebrate.

11-4-78.

A date I recited over and over again after she died. Everyone needed that identifying number.

A date I couldn’t remember for the first 3 years we were together.

A date I will never forget.

A date she took off of Facebook so I’d have to remember it myself.

The body has a way of reminding me when these dates are close. No matter how much I try to avoid the inevitable crash beforehand, it always catches me. The days before are always harder than the day of.

The day of, I can celebrate the life that was, the days before I just remember that the world goes on without her.

I wonder how many of the people around her still say her name. I wonder how many stories have been forgotten. I wonder how many people still keep her alive with jokes and tales of days past. I wonder how many people still remember her.

I wonder how many people she influenced. How many people still carry a bit of her in their lives and in their personalities. I wonder how many life changes her death put in motion.

I wonder how many pictures have been taken because she’s no longer here.

I don’t feel like fighting this shit today. And that’s okay.

Today I sit with it. Today I remember her. Today I mourn what was lost, what will never be.

Today I keep her alive through my tears and my anger and my sadness.

Tomorrow I keep her alive by fighting with everything I am.

That was scary.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Friday night and Saturday morning were hard.

I came home from therapy and just crashed emotionally. I was grumpy and I was exhausted.  I tried taking a nap. I woke up and couldn’t drag myself out of bed.  I had a concert to go to that night and I stayed home instead.

I’m really upset that I missed that concert.

I ended up spending 15 hours in bed while my brain was silently screaming.

“No, no, no, no, no! I don’t want this to be back again!”

I woke up Saturday and wanted to cancel the gym, wanted to cancel my date that night. I wanted to cancel life.

Suicidal thoughts quietly passed through, barely noticed.

“No, no, no, no, no! I don’t want this to be back again!”

I could feel the depression wrapping its arms around me.

Luckily, I’m surrounded by amazing people. Lots of people. Wonder Woman, who lays with me in my sadness. Mickey who gently tells me we’re still going to the gym. My girlfriend who tells me we can stay in instead of going out. People who give me space, surround me with love, and offer encouragement.

I went to the gym even though I didn’t want to. I went to my DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) group. I felt the weight lifting off of my shoulders. I started to feel like maybe it would be okay.

I still went out dancing that night. I allowed myself to have fun, even though my brain still isn’t completely back where I’d like it to be.

I kept moving forward.

And now, things seem a bit brighter again. I see the good in life.

I’m glad this passed quickly, and I didn’t get stuck. I’m thankful to be surrounded by such amazing people.

I feel good!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I feel good.

I. Feel. Good.

I’m euthymic.  I’m not manic, not depressed, not suicidal. Even the passing ideations are leaving me alone.

It’s been over a month since I’ve had a mood episode.  I almost never get a whole month free from this shit.

It’s nice to see who I am when I’m stable. When I can separate my personality from my diagnoses.

I keep questioning, am I actually hypomanic and just not seeing it? But I’m still sleeping, I’m not spending every last cent, I’m not cleaning my entire house in a frenzy.

Yeah, this is the middle ground that I spend my life looking for.

The medication comes with side effects, but I’m learning they’re worth it for the benefits.  I actually had a pdoc appointment where we didn’t change anything.

This is one of a handful of times that’s happened in the last 7 years.

Life is good.

Life. Is. Good.

It’s nice to see that. I can see both the positive and negative aspects of my life right now, and I’m fine with them. I’m working to change the negative where I can.

I’m not sure there’s a huge point to this post. Maybe it’s just that I share all of the negative with everyone and I’m making sure to share all sides of the story.