In exactly one month and three days I turn 30 years old. This is significant because:

  • I didn't think I would live this long
  • I'm doing better than I thought I would be
  • Yes, you read that right. A woman is actually somewhat content with the impending rollover of the ol' odometer. Except not...really, because there's still that whole 'I wasted my life and all I got was this lousy neurosis' thing, not to mention at least 80% of my favourite pastimes will become 25% more pathetic. Whatever, I'm the Mistress of Guilty Pleasures. In the meantime, however, I still have many years' worth of damage to undo. Except once again not really, because I cling to that old adage that no experience is wasted if you learn something from it. I have to catch myself often when I say I lost the entirety of my youth to addiction and mental illness. Yes, these things have greatly hindered my quality of life. Yes, I've done a lot of dumb, dangerous, pointless shit. And some of it cannot be undone, and for now I'm taking it on faith that there is a reason for this.

    I have actually begun praying on the regular. Not to the point where I won't still call myself an atheist for the sake of brevity when conversing with assholes, but enough that I may seriously want to do a major overhaul on my entire personal philosophy. After all, it's not just the bad shit that has me contemplating the possible existence of a Higher Power.

    I have met the woman I am going to spend the rest of my life with.

    Now I know for a fact I've spouted that tripe before, but this time it's different. No, really. There's another old saying I like: "a true friend knows all your faults and likes you anyway." That's pretty much Kendra and I in a nutshell. Of course we've been angry with each other; she has thought more than once that she'd reached the end of her rope, and I can empathize. But she saw fit to wait for a better day. And like me, she doesn't want to earn that day with anger and threats. Ultimatums are the devil's Terms of Service.

    That being said, I consider my story to be a cautionary one for people with mental health problems, both for the sufferer and their partners. The former should not pursue a serious relationship while still in the fray. Likewise, someone thinking of pursuing a relationship with a mentally ill person must take emotional inventory to assure their presence wouldn't actually make things worse. Long story short: if your loved one is struggling with any problem, be it addiction, mental illness, or anything in between, your relationship will be strained.

    Note I said strained, not suffer. "Change your ways or else" is a sure path to the latter. A closet full of demons is hard enough to contain without some holier-than-thou Nora Negative prodding at them. You don't have to be passive-aggressive to revolt against this kind of motivation. As for Kendra, well, she has motivated me in an entirely different way. I want to be what she deserves. I want to deserve her. And I want to earn my stripes, my right to say "they beat me down but they couldn't keep me down." And forgiveness doesn't come with a debt. Kendra has assuaged my devastating, gnawing, perpetual guilt by telling me this over and over again. Maybe I will pay them off someday. Maybe then I'll finally forgive myself.

    We are so getting Maria McKee to sing at the wedding.


    Author's Note: The title of this node is a lyric from the song 'I Take My Chances' by fellow recovering alcoholic and personal idol of mine, the supremely talented Ms. Mary Chapin Carpenter. Her presence at the wedding would make it all that much more special as well.

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