Swimming

07/01/2012

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I now own a polka dot bathing suit. And I wear the thing several times a week. This is big news in my world. I am afraid of water because I have a phobia about having my air cut off and I have all kinds of issues around my physical self, just being uncomfortable in the space I take up, in certain social situations. Wearing a normal bathing suit in public has really been such an awkward thing for me. Readers of this know I have PTSD.

But this summer I swim laps -- with a swim belt, sure -- and in a fun bathing suit. I even dress and undress in the women's locker room. Big stuff for me.

It's been a hard year, last summer to this one, but not the hardest. It has been one of huge personal growth. This won't sound like "personal growth" at first but I suffered a very traumatic end to a very traumatic romantic relationship at a time when I was already the most emotionally vulnerable I have ever been. Just a bunch of ground Windy. Also, totally different relationship: the divorce that John and I had been planning, which has been so difficult, for years, really did come to its fruition and we finally started living apart (because we could finally afford it) after dating other people while living in the same home with all our hurt about our marriage still bubbling up long after it was over. Crazy stuff that no one should do to anyone else. But we were all radical about it (most of the time) and, well, we survived, and somehow (read: competent therapy and lasting, committed good will and a sense of responsibility) are probably better people for it now. And the living apart was scary at first too. I have been food insecure. I have been truly poor with a child. I also know all too well what being a mother makes me: vulnerable. I wanted my space and I didn't want it. My newer partnership was often quite bad for me, by circumstance as well as by the intrinsic nature of it, but I didn't want to admit it fully. Only people who have been through a divorce with children can possibly understand the terror. But -- it's done now, and frankly, I am glad for it. And I think John is awesome, even if I don't want to be married to him. Nor he, I. 

I keep reflecting on this in awe. I've stopped using anti-depressants, which I really had to be on for around 18 months during what can only be described as a breakdown, long overdue but probably, I think, brought on by the stress of being constantly re-traumatized by the nature of my stress in important relationships while trying to accomplish hard things in my vision of political work and raise my children well. 

The person I was partnered with during this period tried to get me to stop taking the medication because I was a "different person" on it. I wasn't, though I was not as easy to trigger, and I was still plenty vulnerable. Medication, friends, sometimes needs to be a part of your life if you find yourself crying in a Target for no apparent reason, avoiding even telling your best friends what you have done, or what you have allowed to be done to you, this time. And then you can stop using it too. I have not used the prescription in about two months now. I still get moody sometimes, but boy, moody is nothing compared to the hell I have lived through: the crying, the not being able to think, to work, to really take care of myself and make good decisions. 

I write. I do good work. I'm about to graduate after being debilitated with emotional illness for almost two years. I enjoy my children. I don't take crap, but I don't-take-it in what I hope is a pretty friendly, open way - that I am comfortable with, that I am refining by the week. I swim and sometimes I let my face get wet. Once you accept that you have to float, there is a lifeguard and friends, and polka dots are just fun, moving through the water gets easier. 

It's a crazy world. Sometimes you get crazy too. And then the good world makes you good again. Crazy.

 


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