A friend I had not seen in nine years surprised me with a visit. He was home for the holidays from California and he phoned from the road saying that he was three hours away and would be spending the night. The personal inner turmoil following that conversation soon revealed how much mental illness (and let's face it, a bit of old age) has changed me over the years and this discomfort proved to be the overall tone of the visit that followed.
It frustrated me that I was unable to set aside my illness even for a day to enjoy my friend's visit. The ebb and flow of my daily struggles leave no room for surprises or spontaneity; nothing could have made it more apparent. I watched in horror as I simply shut down.
David took care of my guest making sure that he was fed and occupied; I slept. It did not matter that I had not seen him in so many years, it did not matter that I might not see him for many more-the fact that the visit was unplanned sent me into a tail spin that would not be deterred.
I am not usually tested in such an obvious manner. I have no daily schedule or job, no children, no real responsibilities outside making sure the cats are fed (and they even remind me to do so.) There is usually nothing around that tests my flexibility. I keep it that way so that I do not have to deal with all the emotional fall-out. I keep it that way at all costs because I am mentally fragile, mentally ill.
Back in the day, the girl my friend remembers, invited homeless men to sleep on her floor! My door was always open. However, I think that, that too was a symptom of my mental illness. I could not be alone, I hated silence. Now, I have bounced far off in the opposite direction and must have silence and routine or I go berserk.
Bouncing between extremes- this, "mental illness" is who I am, who I have always been. I wish that I was further along in my recovery. I can see that I am still wrapped tight into the weird little world that my illness affords. I can step back from the me that is napping while her guest is in the other room and say that I wish I was not her. I wish that I was hosting and entertaining; moving and shaking instead of worrying and sleeping. This is who I am.
In nine years I suppose what I have come to value is my sanity. This means accepting a certain amount of insanity. This means I accept my limits and abide or collide.