The Choice to Heal

Most of my teenage and adult life has been spent struggling with mental illness and substance abuse and, without it ever being my intention to hurt those around me, I significantly damaged or destroyed virtually every relationship I tried to engage in. Needless to say, genuine intimacy was not one of my strong suits, though, it was something I sincerely longed for. After years of ineffective therapy and medication regimens, I was finally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) at the age of 22.

BPD is a mental illness that affects a person’s sense of self, interpersonal skills, emotional regulation, and most importantly, their ability to have meaningful and healthy relationships. Being with someone with BPD is often described as psychologically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. After destroying multiple attempts at long-term relationships, I developed an addiction to crystal methamphetamine. The meth addiction only added fuel to the fire of my already problematic sex addiction. Most of my relationships were characterized by constant lying to cover up my rampant infidelity. I didn’t value myself, my partners and, though I desired to be in a healthy relationship, I had lost all hope of ever achieving real intimacy. I was caught in a swift downward spiral. Then, I met someone very special. I now know that this encounter was the catalyst that saved my life.

I knew something was markedly different about him but it took me time before I could put words to it. I eventually came to understand that this individual represented the first miracle I had ever witnessed. Over time, I learned and realized that he had been through more suffering throughout his life than anyone I had ever met. He had endured and survived truly horrible things, many of which can only be described as torture. Despite all the pain that was dealt to him, against all odds, he preserved the ability to love and, for some reason unknown to me at the time, he began to give that love to me. I was not good to him at first. I lied; I cheated; and I was selfish just as I had been in every other relationship. But through his willingness to try to understand me and see the underlying good despite all he had been through himself, I fell deeply in love with him. I knew that if I did not change, I would lose him completely. I had to heal.

I now believe that healing is a choice, a choice that has to be made repeatedly, whenever needed, with purpose, energy, and conviction. It was witnessing the raw power of the human heart to endure and to love, embodied in my partner, that finally gave me the courage to make that choice. Along the way, I have come to my own understanding of the term ‘soulmate’. Many people see a soulmate as someone who you connect with on a deep level, who understands you, and loves you unconditionally. I can’t argue with any of that but I’d like to offer an expansion to the typical definition. To me, a soulmate is someone who comes into your life and lovingly rips you to pieces. It is a painful process and after it is over the real work begins. You can either refuse to take a hard look at the person you have allowed yourself to be or you can realize that you could become so much more than what you were. Then begins the slow, deliberate process of resurrection.

To this day, I often wonder if it was yet another miracle that he staid by my side. It was a long and frustrating struggle before I began to remotely resemble the person I wanted to be or the partner he deserved. I like to think that he saw something in me that he believed in. Today, I no longer qualify for the diagnosis that plagued me for so long and I have been drug free for nearly a year. I have my own apartment, a job I love, great friends, and have reconnected with my family. Best of all, I still have him. Our relationship may never be easy but I am so very grateful for the small yet profound intimacies he and I share that many people take for granted. I feel incredibly fortunate to be loved by someone who has all the reason in the world to not love and yet found it in himself to love me. In the end, it wasn’t worried friends, a loving family, or a dedicated therapist that taught me the value of intimacy; it was an extraordinary individual whose life has been largely devoid of genuine unconditional love and affection. I thank the universe every single day that I met him and I now know that the human heart has no bottom. Let our story be a message to others: light can be found in even the darkest of places. As long as you follow a path of love, healing is always possible.

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