I love Valentine’s day, and not just because everything is glittery and pink and no one can judge you for it. I genuinely love Valentine’s day and celebrate any opportunity I have to show The Boy just how much he means to me. And trust me, that’s a lot. You see, I’m broken. That’s not something I advertise, actually, just the opposite. I pretend to be thick-skinned, apathetic, and generally devoid of any and all emotion despite the fact that I am not like that at all. I’m vulnerable, emotional, passionate, romantic, and, though I don’t admit to this in public, depressed.
I don’t like to talk about it, and it’s likely that if you ask me about it, I will shrug it off as something everyone deals with, but I know there’s a lot more to it for me, I just don’t want to face it. But, The Boy has faced it and come out generally unscathed. (I said, generally).
A lot of people talk about how it’s probably a genetic condition, or caused by misfiring neurons, or unbalanced wizards hording all the seratonin from your brain, and in no way am I disputing that. I fully believe and accept the science behind what happens in my brain, but I think it’s missing some of the more personal elements. The elements that make it different for each person. I think that some of us are predisposed by the afore mentioned genetical wizards to function differently (I will try to avoid the word broken, despite that being the way I feel so much of the time).
Each of us has a different experience in life. That is why we have triggers, things that can bring on an episode, things that we will recognize as a potential episode causing event, and therefore, things that we will avoid. This could be something like social interactions, or Nicholas Sparks novels (though I avoid the latter for an entirely different reason). It doesn’t matter, but these things strike that match and the horrible consuming flame of mental disorder (whatever you may have) is burning and it can get out of control, and you don’t know what to do, and meds aren’t working, so you cope, you find something that will let you cope. Maybe it’s a tick or compulsion that levels the situation and gives you control and a sense of security and normalness, or, maybe it’s a taller wall with better battlements to keep all the bad stuff out.
So, you learn from that. You now have a new comfort tool like turning a locked door to ensure it’s locked even though you can clearly see it it locked and bolted, but you know that you just won’t be able to get any sleep unless you physically shake it. Twice. Because if you don’t, you’ll be upstairs, having anxiety attacks trying desperately to convince yourself not to be dumb, of course it’s locked, you locked it yourself. But, you doubt yourself and start rerunning all the episodes of Criminal Minds and Law and Order: SVU that you’ve ever seen in your entire life until you go downstairs and jiggle the damn lock. Twice.
Or, you put a brick in your wall. My wall is mostly built of “don’t let them know you love them bricks”. I had a really horrible experience with my first real love, another one with my first boyfriend, and an absolutely horrible time in middle school. All of those moments created a brick. This one to keep him from making me feel ugly, that one to prevent being embarrassed by my peers, and this one, for having the weakness of my love for him exploited maliciously.
So, you hide behind your wall, which makes you weird, and therefore you have more reasons to thicken and strengthen the wall and put archers at the top to really keep people away. But, despite your best efforts, people come up to the wall. They try to communicate to you through the wall, and some get through, and others don’t. Sometimes, you really want someone to get through, so you work with them, build a ladder, or something, but it turns out, you aren’t speaking the same language. And that hurts, because you wanted that person to be the person on the other side of the wall with you. But, please remember, it’s ok that that person wasn’t, because someone out there is.
Sometimes, the people speak your language, and they help you, and you love it when they come visit your wall. Those are often the people you surround yourself with. Friends, family, colleagues. The people who know your wall, and love you anyhow. Most importantly, the people who respect your wall and let you invite them over at your pace and when you need them.
But, then there’s that person. The one who acts like your wall isn’t there. Like he can’t even see it because it doesn’t matter. The one who walks right through it and sits down on the other side and talks to you in your language and acts like nothing’s a big deal. The person who treats you like you’re normal, even when you’re having an anxiety attack in Target. The person who makes you feel like you’re normal, even when you’re having an anxiety attack in Target.
That, to me, is love. The person who doesn’t even realize you have a wall, or doesn’t care, and is willing to hang out with you on the other side no matter what. Don’t mistake this for romantic love. Yes, for me, personally, the most powerful of this is with The Boy, who is my hero, my partner, my life-long companion (not a Doctor Who reference, I promise), but I also have this relationship with my parents, so it’s not all romance. It may be your brother, best friend, boyfriend, lover, next door neighbor, or even your dog, who reminds you every time he looks up at you with those sweet brown eyes, that there is someone on this planet who needs you, who is alive because you are alive, who loves you, no matter what.
So, this Valentine’s Day, go to that person. I guarantee that everyone has that person, sometimes, when we feel so broken that we think the sun has gone out, we have trouble recognizing it, but I promise, everyone has that person. Go to him or her and tell him you love him. As a matter of fact, say this:
“Thank you for thinking my wall was nothing, I wanted you to know, that I love you, and cherish you, and that I am better because of you. I know that may be hard to believe because of all those times I yelled at you for no reason or because you forgot to switch the laundry over and now it smells bad, but it’s true.
To prove it, I bought you this dancing dog with a light up heart that says, “I lub you” when you squeeze his toes and this box of chocolates. Please ignore that I ate all the peanut butter ones – I’m depressed and chocolate makes me feel better. Stop looking at me like that.
Now, let’s celebrate our love and our walls by watching Firefly on Netflix and drinking red wine out of our hand-painted Tardis wine glasses. No, we can’t watch Doctor Who, Moffat writes that and I’m trying to feel better, not sadder, come on, get with it.”
On second thought, feel free to ad lib, but none the less, find that person who loves you despite all the crazy shit you do and tell him or her. Valentine’s Day is about love, so go love.