“when a hurricane meets a volcano”
I may be human– this is my first thought of the morning. The next: and I have the anonymity that I want.
In love– what I thought was love, what I still hope, was love– or maybe I don’t?– in love, I stopped eating for a month (except for coconut chocolate luna bars), I lost 40 pounds, I took up smoking again, I spent 7 weeks in the nuthouse (inpatient and then outpatient), my career tanked, I abandoned the vast majority of all of my professional contacts, I divorced my co-parent and partner of five years, and I came very, very close to actually dying, and wanted to.
Obviously all of this was not just love– nothing is ever just one thing– nor do I blame the person (I thought) I loved who (I thought) loved me. It happened, the way hurricanes and earthquakes and volcanos happen, and it was beautiful and terrible and terrifying. “The process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay”– and in this cataclysm I have transformed, I have decayed; I will never be the same.
I integrated– I think?– I came out as someone with DID. I learned to be in balance with my parts and their necessary expressions, although this balance is sometimes imperfect. Only rarely now do I feel the hard and shocking switch of parts, emerging bewildered and often ashamed into moments shaped around the contours of someone who is me, but also very deeply isn’t. In the beginning, in love, I felt loved in my parts, for my parts, in ways that I never imagined possible, and I built my life around this expectation of love, even when it waned.
I took up body work, diet, and movement as part of my healing processes, and went from being someone scared to leave the shelter to take out the trash, to someone attending school full time, volunteering, going out to bars and movies, restaurants and studios. I rejoined the world. The panic and body shock of triggers, the drift and rolling wane of disassociation, the sick and sucking grip of anxiety have not left me entirely, but I manage them better; I now love and know my body, it is no longer an alien thing aching with pulse and tension.
I was broken and I am better. I learned much about my own flaws, my wants and fears, my strengths, needs and expectations; I understand my own failings, my own weaknesses, better than ever before; I have new tools and insights with which to manage the tectonic shifts of deep uncertainty. I have learned of triggers and patterns that I thought that I had outgrown, and in encountering them again have the opportunity to heal through them.
My primary relationship was broken and now is better. The energy of this love abrupted and nearly destroyed us, but we found our ways back to each other, with greater space, greater health, clearer boundaries and expectations, new understandings in a dynamic that better fits. Ultimately we were cleansed and strengthened.
And in many ways, large and small, through this love I’ve become better prepared for my mother’s death.
So, despite the pain and shame and fear that threaded through it, the bewildering devastation of its abrupt and awful end, I am, in this moment at least, glad it happened; grateful, for him and what we called love, although it unfolded like an animal with animal fears and wants; grateful for the animal want and draw and agony of it. And just as grateful that it is over.
First I left, because he couldn’t; then he left, because I couldn’t. Sometimes leaving is kinder than love, is deeply an act of love itself, wished for and intended or not.