Twelve years later, I've been through a lot, and I've learned a lot. About love, life, and mostly, myself. I've learned that at 24, I wasn't ready for marriage. I don't think I would have been ready for marriage to anybody then, but especially the one I was in. I hadn't experienced enough of life yet. I didn't understand it, or my place in it. I wasn't diagnosed with my condition yet. I couldn't understand what was going on inside of my own brain, let alone the rest of the world and my marriage. I've learned that at 24 (or 25, or 26, or 27), I wouldn't have been ready to be a mother. Equally, I've learned in the years since that I do absolutely want to be a mother, and that in fact, I'll make a good one someday. I've learned that you need balance in a relationship. A balance of emotion and logic. A balance of exciting and calm. Whether you both have this balance, or you balance each other out in different scenarios, it's essential. I've learned that communication, patience, and love are the keys to a successful relationship. I've learned that sometimes the best thing you can do is to agree to disagree, as long as you do so from a place of love and respect for each other. I've learned that compromise is vital, but only when it doesn't cause you to compromise your morals, values, or self at the core. I've learned how my condition affects me, and those close to me. I've learned how to work with it, as best as I can, and how to to help others understand it as much as possible. I've learned that life is short, and you'd best be thinking about that when you make your choices, because you never know when you'll not have a chance to make them again.
I have learned that I am now ready. I still struggle with my condition. I always will. Just as if I had asthma or diabetes or a heart condition. There are some days my struggle overtakes me, as it would with those. But I've learned to separate that struggle from the rest of my world and from who I am as a person. I've learned to be better at determining when it's my condition, and when it's my circumstances causing the struggle. I've learned often, the two compound each other. I've learned that having a condition such as mine doesn't mean you can't be a good partner, spouse, parent. I've learned that I may pass on my condition. I've learned that I'm prepared for that, finally, when for years I wasn't. For years I wasn't fully prepared for all of it, and I never quite understood why. For years, I was my own worst critic. I'd defend others to the death (not literally, though I would have). And yet I wouldn't defend myself - not to the person who was hardest on me, myself. When I finally spoke to myself the way I would speak to a loved one, it made a world of difference. I no longer told myself I wasn't capable, I wasn't able, I wasn't worth it, I would fail. And that single act has allowed me to be ready, finally at 36, for the life I though I was so ready for, but clearly wasn't, at 24, all those years ago.