Back in October when I took the first week of Peer Support training, I applied to my sister’s P.E.O. chapter for financial assistance. The ladies who interviewed me were lovely—kind, supportive, sure that the Iowa board of directors of their group would approve my request. One of them had even read this blog.
It was a nice way to spend a morning, but I didn’t set my hopes too high. I’d been negotiating philanthropy and human services long enough to know my chances of being disqualified for one reason or another were more likely than not. The ladies said it would be after the first of the year before a decision would be made. Okay.
After my wake-up call in January about my growing debt, it was hard not to hope for reprieve. My sister called to say something had gone wrong with the application and had to be done over. Okay. A few weeks ago, she called again to ask questions that I’d addressed in my initial letter. Okay.
I thought I was staying relatively detached. There might be a slim chance out there in the ethers, but I needed to concentrate on the Work in front of me—finding the strength to stick to my budget without the stress triggering one more hospitalization.
And that’s really the bottom line for me. How much can I push against the illness without blowing up? How long can I keep with this budget and work on my compulsive eating? I’ve never thought in terms of time. There’s no benefit to that, is there? There’s just today, doing the best I can, practicing my Start with One Serving mantra and doing everything on the cheap. I know the intensity of this time is temporary, but I can’t focus on an end date when I don’t know where it is.
This week I received a letter from the P.E.O. board. They will be sending me about half the money I asked for. Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful for it, grateful for anything, and glad the waiting is over. But no immediate reprieve is coming. Instead I can now plot out an end date to the extreme financial squeeze. July.
That doesn’t seem like much. Four months. But when I look at the two months I’ve already spent doing this hard work, experiencing the worst of my bipolar symptoms with just my therapist standing fast beside me, I can’t comprehend four months. I feel myself contract even more, hardening to anything but The Work.
This isn’t good. Becoming rigid like this invites a kind of shattering that takes a long time to heal. I need to let in some softness, find a way to play and laugh, figure out a way to be with people that doesn’t end in rage and resentment. (Ah. I think we’ve hit on the agenda for my next therapy session.)
Because this shit is real now. I’m not spot-training anymore, I’m going the distance to an actual finish line. Can I pace myself and push my limits at the same time? Am I ready to be a bipolar Olympian?