Well, it’s been two weeks today since I decided to start keeping a bullet journal. I’m surprised at how quickly it’s become one of the favorite parts of my day.
In other words, here’s what I’m coming to terms with: I have a severe chronic illness. It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to manage my symptoms and make the necessary accommodations for myself in order to get things done. For twenty years I didn’t do that.
My mother told me the usual childhood lies: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, there’s no such thing as monsters. I understand those lies. I forgive them. What I can’t forgive are the other lies she told me. The lies she told me about myself.
For someone who has crappy handwriting and zero skill at drawing or illustrating, googling about bullet journals is incredibly intimidating. I mean, do an image search, and you’ll see what I mean. But at the same time, who doesn’t love playing around with nice pens and stickers and all of that, while trying to be organized?
I know that my parents were proud of having a smart, good kid. I even know they loved me, and would be horrified to know what their parenting resulted in. But it doesn’t change the fact that no one saw me as a kid.
Sometimes dealing with complex mental illness feels like you’re carrying around a list of diagnoses on your back. For a while, every time I heard something new, it was like “oh great, there’s something else wrong with me.” I’m coming to realize now that being able to find the right labels and understand them is a gift–at least for me.
When I talk about writing, I talk a lot about ‘doing it anyway’. Working on this book has been a masterclass in ‘doing it anyway’. As I’m going through and making the requested changes and additions, I keep seeing things that make me cringe and go “is that stupid? It sounds stupid” and “OH MY GOD THIS PLOT MAKES NO SENSE”. And then I just have to take a deep breath and keep going.
I made a lot of changes to myself in 2017. Playing around with my appearance. Dressing in brighter colors. My therapist commented that it was like I was ready to be seen. That really stuck with me, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.