I am not the most disciplined individual. My dad used to say I had no "stick-to-it-iveness." I start things, projects usually, work on them for awhile, then get bored. Maybe that's due to my weird intelligence (I can tell you what wine goes with what meal, including the year, the vintage, and what grapes are prominent in said vintage, but particle physics is Greek to me), or maybe I just need constant input, like Johnny-5. Now, I think it's time for me to focus.
You may remember a year or so ago, I mentioned writing a book about my journey through borderline personality disorder. And I did start it. The few chapters I wrote are saved in Word, under the title "Staggering Down The Road Less Traveled." This afternoon, one of our neighbors asked me what I do. I stammered a bit, because I try very hard not to tell people here about my online writing. I responded,
"I'm...err...writing a book?"
Confident reply! Anyway, he nodded, and asked me what the book was about. This is where it got dicey. Throwing caution to the wind, I told him. To his credit, he did not throw his arms up the air and scream "CRAZY PERSON OH MY LORD!" He listened, then told me about his daughter who is an English teacher.
The reason I want to write this book is simple: people need to understand you can not only survive mental illness, you can live a fantastic life. You can claw your way out of that hole and step into the sun. But the journey is incredibly difficult, and writing it all down the first time brought back memories that I wasn't prepared to deal with. I took a break, wrote for a big website, made a little money, and now, I just write here. So, it's time to get back to "Staggering."
My plan is to start over. Yes, it will still have humor (some of it dark, because that's who I am), and yes, it will still be my story. The thing is, my story is so many others' as well. I met a psychologist here who didn't believe that I had graduated from therapy, that I no longer self-harmed, that I was, in effect, cured. He said "Borderlines don't really every stop being borderlines."
Therapists hate treating borderlines. I've been told that by actual therapists. I got really lucky in Vermont, and found a therapist who only treats borderlines. Thanks to him, my family, and my own determination, here I am. Scarred, a little cracked, but in the words of Leonard Cohen:
There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.
I am filled with light. Seriously, I truly am. I love my life, I love my husband and my son, my step-children and grandchildren are wonderful, my relationship with my dad and stepmom is fantastic, and I think now is the right time to get back to the book. Will those memories pop up again? Probably, but I believe with all my heart that this book will help people, and that matters more. Who knows-maybe it will help me in the process.
Now, if Shelly runs for president, there will be a slew of Diaries, so don't you fret, Wombats. I will write here on Poking At Snakes, once a week or so. I need to write "Staggering Down The Road Less Traveled," because there are millions of people with BPD, and they need to know it's possible to live without it. Borderlines are told over and over again that they are incurable, which translates into hopelessness and despair. My fervent hope is my book will show other borderlines that we are curable, we are lovable, and after the therapy and the hard work, there is an amazing life waiting for all of us.
Maya Angelou was one of my heroes. Her early life was traumatic and filled with pain, and yet, she became a poet laureate, an award-winning author, and an inspiration to millions of people all over the world. She said, of her life:
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
My mission with "Staggering" is to let other borderlines know we can thrive, not merely survive. And I plan to write it with passion, compassion, humor, and style, in honor of Dr. Angelou, in honor of my friends who fought their own battles and won, and in memory of my friends who didn't.
I staggered down that road, tripping, falling, bleeding, crawling. It was worth every single step. I rarely stagger anymore; perhaps that's my fear with writing this book. That somehow, I will break, or regress, and all my work will have been for naught. I don't believe that's going to happen. Obviously, this will be an incredibly difficult book to write, but it needs to be written, by someone who has survived, and now thrives.