I spend a lot of time thinking about mental health and kink, partially because I’ve had to learn to navigate kink and being poly while coming to terms with some of the challenges presented by my own mental health.
The short version of a very long story is that I am, most likely, somewhere on the bipolar spectrum. I say “most likely” because I do not have a formal diagnosis, nor do I want one, since social stigma around mental health disorders would prevent me from doing certain types of work. But, looking at my behavior and emotional state over the course of the past ten years, there is an escalating trend that is pretty classic bipolar (which, like many things, is a spectrum and my level, while still frustrating, is something that has, so far, been navigable without medication. I hope that continues to be true.)
I am prone to extreme spikes in emotion, both positive and negative. Mania is an exhilarating, inexhaustible addiction; depression is a bone-crushing monster. It’s not all bad, but it’s definitely not all good. It’s a complicated thing to navigate, and I’m incredibly lucky to have a partner who is willing and able to support me being as healthy as I can be.
So, the long and the short of it is, love gets tricky. When emotions are heightened- and emotions, for me, are usually fairly heightened- then how to differentiate what is “love” and what isn’t?
Truth is, I gave up on that battle. If love feels like the right word, then fuck it. I love you, even if it’s only in this exact moment, even if I don’t know every single dark, dirty detail of who you are, even if you haven’t met my teddy bear (for the record, his name is Cauchy, and he’s pretty much the greatest, sassiest bear I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and cuddling on a consistent basis).
Sometimes I love you mid-scene. I love the sounds your body makes, the way your eyes roll back just a little, the way your breath changes, the way your skin smells, the way the air around you tastes.
Sometimes I love you after a scene, watching you come back, watching your body put itself back together, watching your eyes focus and sharpen and the words start working again. Sometimes I love you when I’m a puddle of mush and your arms around me are the only thing keeping me from dissolving into a pool of messy, sticky, bliss.
Sometimes I love you when I am watching you sleep, or watching you gesture while you talk, or thinking about you when I am driving and you are nowhere nearby.
Sometimes I love you when I am horrendously depressed, and I don’t feel like I am capable of loving anything, but you show up and bring me coffee or tea in bed and help me get into the shower and remind me that this isn’t going to be forever, and read me poetry when I can’t sleep and bring me B vitamins to help my moods, or simply understand that sometimes I have to disappear from the world for awhile.
Sometimes I love you when I’m manic, and I know I’m manic, and I know that this isn’t the kind of love that means commitment and promises and all the expectations and things that we attach to and associate with that word, but I love you recklessly, desperately, without apology, without fear.
And sometimes I love you for no reason and with no discernable cause. Sometimes I love you because of what you bring out in me, and sometimes I love you for what I get to see in you. Sometimes I love you because there is no other way to feel, and it makes no sense and I can do nothing but shake my head and smile, ride the wave and know that love is not always, or even usually, forever.
We say love is tricky and complicated, and I believe there are kinds of love that are. I love my partner, and that gets messy and sticky and all kinds of complicated because I do love the nitty-gritty, mundane, day-to-day crap that we navigate together. But it’s not all like that for me. Sometimes it’s completely simple, pure like the radiating beams of light that break through a window at dawn. The sun is rising in this moment. I love you in this moment.
It’s that simple.
It doesn’t mean I want anything from you. It doesn’t mean I expect anything from you, or that I expect your emotions to run as strong and tempestuous as mine. It doesn’t mean that I have to say these words to you, or process out what it means, or try to deny or overcomplicate what I’m feeling. Trust me, there’s enough of that going on in my head already.
The simple truth is, I love you because of who I am. My emotions run wild and burn hot. You will probably never know this. It doesn’t change how we interact, and it doesn’t impact any part of your life. But loving you, saying it in my mind, admitting that small, simple truth- in this moment, I love you- it keeps my brain from going haywire. It’s a small thing I do that keeps me off medication and out of doctor’s offices and away from diagnoses that I don’t really want on my record.
It doesn’t hurt me to love you, in all the different ways that my body and my heart and my gut are capable of loving another person. I don’t have to know that you can’t pee while you’re wearing shoes or that your first dog’s name was Fluffy (and he was a hairless Chihuahua) or get your best friend’s approval or even necessarily ever see you again. I just need to give myself permission in the parts of my mind that acknowledge sometimes-uncomfortable truths and the parts of my heart that are prone to over-feeling that it’s ok. It’s ok to love you, even if you haven’t met my teddy bear. Which is to say, it’s ok to love you even when you don’t love me.
[Cross-posted from FetLife]