Hi again. I’m trying to actually do this thing. Write down what is going on in my life and my reflections on them. I’m struggling to find the right words. Here, take a look at my drafts. On Saturday, September 28th, Eli asked me to marry him. No, that’s not quite right. On Saturday, September 28th, I got engaged. Mm, feels off somehow. On Saturday, September 28th, Eli and I got engaged. That’s not it either. Should it just be ‘we got engaged?’
On Saturday, September 28th, Eli and I went for a long walk on a familiar fall trail because it was a beautiful day and he was feeling sad and we had already watched the new episode of The Good Place and didn’t really know what else to do. We walked for a very long time, until I got tired and we wanted to turn around. (My Health app says I walked 3.5 miles that day.) Most of our hike was an uphill climb, but the way back was gentle, sloping, breezy and gorgeous. In front of us, leaves were literally flying off the trees, and raining down on us like they had on one of our first walking dates back in 2015. We paused in this clearing at the bottom of the hill for what I felt was entirely too long to be normal. In my head, I thought, “Hm. We seem to be standing here for a really long time.”
When he wobbily knelt down to the ground, leaves crunching beneath him, I think I blacked out from sheer joy. I said “Oh my gosh” about ten thousand times, and to be honest I have no idea if he asked me to marry him, or if I even said yes? I think I said of course. Now that I think about it, I have a vague memory of him saying in the cutest, sweetest voice on Earth, “Will you maaaaaarrrrrry me?”
Afterwards, we stood there for probably 35 minutes just talking and laughing and kissing, and for that reason I am so beyond happy that we were alone in the woods, able to take that time for ourselves and each other. Able to talk about every anxiety, wonder and worry that flooded in moments after we got engaged.
When we finally made it back home, we looked at each other and said, “what do we do now?” (I called my mom, and then we got tacos, naturally.) For the next 48 hours, we walked through life in a state of complete shock, unsure how to complete basic human functions.
I’ve wanted to be engaged all year. Every month, I wondered to myself, will it happen this month? Will it happen this weekend? Is this it? Is this the moment? I’m feeling especially grateful to have realized that, after all that, I really did want it. We both did. And I don’t want to shy away from telling you that, despite the taboo around it all. We realized this week that we have been shifting and growing all year. We’ve felt uncomfortable, like a hermit crabs in too-small shells, not because we’ve outgrown each other, but because we’ve outgrown our old label. I never thought much of the title “boyfriend.” I just thought- this is the only person I want to be with -and that was it. I didn’t consider it until now, but we’ve been outgrowing that label all year. It doesn’t fit us anymore, and all that we are. We are so much more, so much bigger. It feels good to have a new one that fits better. It feels like we just bought a whole new wardrobe, and now we can stop cramming our toes into shoes that give us blisters. We can breathe again.
On the podcast this week, we discussed my engagement, and the nitty gritty feelings that tag along to positive events when you have a mental illness. (Episode coming in mid-late October.) I can’t wait for you to hear that episode, because I think it’s important that we talk not only about the good, the bad, and the ugly in our lives, but the places where those feelings can unexpectedly overlap. I am beyond excited, beyond happy to be engaged to Eli. It was the easiest decision of my life, because I’ve made it every day for the last four years. But I would be lying if I didn’t also say that there is anxiety, not about the work we have in front of us, but in simply feeling that since this is a good thing, something bad will soon follow.
I have a hard time receiving good things in my life, but I also have a very hard time believing what my brain is telling me. I know it lies to me, so I find it difficult to trust good feelings because I’ve trained myself to be skeptical of the bad. So in a way, my treatment of my mental illness has also bitten me in the ass.
I think when you have a mental illness, you can sometimes start to see yourself as other. And I have done that for so long that I have begun to internalize it. In fact, I’ve made it my superpower. I’ve come to believe, “well I’m not like everyone else!” And that applies to everything in my life. So when I get engaged, just like everyone else, my brain tries to suggest that it’s somehow wrong because 1) I’m NOT like everyone else and 2) since that is the case it is going to go away.
PTSD is an asshole that way. But I am fighting it by talking about it, because I truly believe that by putting words to something you take away some of its power. My PSTD may not be going anywhere right now, but neither are we.
Thank you for reading, and sharing in this exciting moment with me. God knows I’m terrible at it. But I’m trying to allow more people to share in my joy, even if I have to ask Siri how to do that.