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.

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 deserve love.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m surrounded by love and I deserve to be. That’s a profound statement coming from me, especially the second part.

I. Deserve. Love.

Sometimes I can’t remember that.

Sometimes, especially now that I’m “living my best life” I wonder how I deserve any of this.

“You deserve happiness, we both do.” Wonder Woman and I mention that (or some variation of it) to each other on at least a weekly basis. I need the reminder when things in my head are dark.

I look for the other shoe to drop whenever things are good. Things can’t be this good, not without something going wrong.

And the thing is, when I’m doing well things still go wrong. Deciding not to have surgery threw me for a loop. I sobbed in Wonder Woman’s arms, I sobbed in the shower, I sobbed while writing the post about it.

But I kept moving forward.

And now it doesn’t seem that bad. It was a blip on the radar in an otherwise great life.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I have an amazing fiancee. We communicate better than I could ever imagine. Our relationship is so gentle and calm. I love her and feel loved in return. I still look for things to fall apart. I still wonder what thing I’m going to do that will drive her away.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I have a derby spouse . (It’s a derby thing.)  They are one of my closest friends. We check on each other on a regular basis, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. We encourage each other constantly. They are exceptionally kind to me and I am kind to them. I still wonder what I’m missing. Are they just pretending to be my friend. Am I really worthy of a friendship like this?

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I’m in a new relationship. It has flowed together so smoothly. We are spending lots of time learning about each other and our lives. I care for her and feel cared for. And I still look for the other shoe. I’m waiting for someone to get upset with this polyamorus situation and call and end to it. I’m waiting for her to to decide that I’m not right for her.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

There are other important friendships, people I have known for years, people that supported me through Parker’s death, best friends, close friends, those friendships that can’t be defined.

I am surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

There’s my family that loves and supports me, sometimes by telling me hard truths that I need to hear, sometimes financially, sometimes by loving me in the best way they know how.

I am surrounded by love.

And I deserve it.

You deserve it too.

I feel like writing.

This is a Really Real, well, I’m not sure what it’ll turn out to be.

I just feel like writing tonight, but I haven’t quite decided what to write about.

This last week has been pretty incredible. Really, the last two weeks have, minus being bored at PHP for the last few days I was there. Boredom never killed anyone (or so I’ve been told), but PHP has yet again saved my life.

Or at least I feel like it has.

And it’s nice to be done with it, until the next time I need it. That’s not an if, that’s a when. I know this is part of my normal.

And I’m okay with that.

For now.

In the past two weeks I’ve had a date that went wonderfully (second date coming soon), I got invited to a Level 2 DBT group that started tonight, and I spent 5 days with some of my favorite people.

And I’ve been stable through all of it.

It’s strange how the simplest thing can overwhelm me and make me want to shut down. Tonight it was as simple as planning when we’re going to Renn Fest. Somehow the whole season went by and now it’s the last two weekends.

And I don’t want to miss it.

But the idea of scheduling a full day activity when it seems like we have something going on every day, was overwhelming.  What happens if I go the last weekend and it’s too crowded, what happens if we go this weekend and I’m too overwhelmed to handle the rest of the things we have planned that day.

What happens if I miss it, how upset will I actually be?

What will be the next trigger that spirals me down into the abyss.

I think that’s why I’m so afraid of making plans and making decisions. It feels like the wrong decision, the wrong plan creating too much of a day, the wrong emotion, will be ‘the thing.’

I’m stable but I can tell there’s still a lot of stress that I’m holding onto. I’ve been clicking my teeth nearly all of the time. Rocking my jaw back and forth and tapping my top teeth against my bottom.

My jaw has been sore for weeks.

It may be the Abilify but my psych thinks it’s just a habit when I’m anxious.

::shrug::

Either way, it fucking sucks.  And hurts.

I’ve written 400 words (404 now) and haven’t really said much of anything

and sometimes this is what stability looks like.

I guess this was a Really Real Mental Health post.

 

I Am Loved

This is a Really Real Love post.

I’m home!

I spent 5 days up in New York visiting one of my closest friends and her children. This is a trip I do a few times a year but this time I drove. I needed the long drive alone, something I don’t get to do very often.

I’m still not completely used to the relationship I have with Wonder Woman. I didn’t have to ask permission to leave town. I just told her I was going and made sure it was during a time when she could take care of the pets. We are so deeply in love, but we are our own people.

I’m used to codependency. We’ve been very careful to avoid anything like that. This is, by far, the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had.

And we still constantly and consistently show each other love, in our own ways.

Music is Wonder Woman’s thing. I have a few favorite artists that I play in rotation, occasionally throwing in a generic playlist on Spotify. Before I left she made me a mix tape, or actually the modern day equivalent, a Spotify playlist just for my road trip. It was the perfect mixture of her music, my music, and our music, including our song. I listened to it on repeat for most of my drive there and back.

Seriously, she made me a mix tape. I never would have thought to love her that way but I felt so loved by her with every song that played.

We texted daily, we talked on the phone at least once, but mostly, we just lived our lives while I was gone. I missed her (and she missed me), and by the time I left New York I was ready to be home and back in her arms. I’m looking forward to cuddles tonight.

I’ve missed them.

I am so completely loved in this relationship and I love her completely. But we are our own people.

It’s nice to be loved this way.

Tonight while I’m writing this she’s playing her guitar in the room near me. She’s doing her thing and I’m doing mine. We love that we can be in the same room working and playing, together but apart.

It’s nice to still be my own person while being completely in love. Two years in and I’m still not used to this.

Two years in and I’m still waiting for the major change. I’m waiting for us to stop cuddling every night or to forget to give kisses and say I love you every day. I’m waiting for the day that we stop showing our love through actions.

Two years in and I’m still waiting for our first actual fight. I mean, we have hard discussions, but it never turns into anything more than talking calmly and lovingly to each other.  I’m still not used to that.

I am so very loved, and I love her so very much.