I was standing in front of a wall of cards yesterday with cheesy phrases and a sickening amount of glitter plastered across the front, hoping to find one suitable for my Valentine; my husband, Jack.
Kisses and Pugs — It’s Valentine’s Day! Let’s Avo-cuddle! You’ve Got a Pizza My Heart!
So many love-related puns, so little time...
But as I browsed the endless rows of affection-filled folded notes, I started contemplating how surreal it felt to be standing there. As cruel as it was, I was told I’d never find love because my mental illness would be too much for another person to handle.
'If you lay the full spectrum of your problems on someone else, they’re never going to stick around,' my father told me. Since I had inherited many of my issues from him and he carried a string of failed relationships in his history, I thought he probably knew what he was talking about. I resigned myself to never talking about it with anyone. Not even friends. I craved to be viewed as 'normal', meaning I was well liked, high achieving, and cool under pressure. This was an easy facade to keep up for a time, but the older I got I found my tapestry of illusion starting to unravel.
My depression was harder to disguise and my anxiety would start to boil over with people telling me to chill out on a daily basis over basic things. I began to wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to tell them why I’d been acting the way I’d been acting, but every time I had this thought, my father’s voice would echo in the back of my mind. Abandonment was the last thing I could bear at that point. So I suppressed it further.
I met the body positive movement and my future husband around the same time. I often think if Jack and I had met before I found bopo, we might not be together today. It was bopo that allowed me to see that if anyone doesn’t accept you, flaws and all, then they don’t deserve to be a part of your life. Admittedly, it’s still a bit terrifying the first time you openly admit to someone you care about that you’re mentally ill. You just sit there anticipating their reaction thinking, Don’t be a dick! Please don’t be a dick! I really like you!
While I can’t remember what Jack said when I first told him, I can at least confirm that he most definitely was not a dick. But it’s easy to be accepting of something when you’re long distance, my father oh so optimistically reminded me. How would Jack react to my first meltdown?
I found out within the first few weeks of me moving to the UK to live with him. I had mistakenly booked the wrong tickets for a trip to Essex I was going on and I started spiraling into a panic apologizing to him and word vomiting about how his parents would be upset with me because it would be a lot of money to rebook. I’m the middle of my meltdown, Jack grabbed my hands and told me to look him in the eyes.
'I’m not mad at you, and my parents won’t be mad at you,' he said calmly and directly. 'You made a mistake. It happens, but it’s not the end of the world. Neither me nor my parents are ever going to react the way your dad thinks we’re going to, because we love you.'
And to this day he still reminds me daily that he’ll always be there for me.
In sickness and in health.