This came up in my Facebook memories and hit me super hard. I walked the stage with a nearly perfect GPA and top honors. But here I sit 2 years later with too much brain damage to attempt grad school. Grad school being why I needed perfect grades.
I was dying. I didn’t know it was cancer, but I was very much dying and I knew that. I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me, but I knew. And yet I forced perfection on myself. I asked for extensions instead of just skipping the occasional assignment. I studied while in the hospital. I wrote final papers right after surgery while on opioids.
I pushed and I pushed myself to perfection. Nearly killed myself striving for perfection. All so I could have a perfect GPA so I could get into the grad program of my choice.
And now? I can tell the difference. How smart I used to be, versus where I’m at now. Yes, I’m still intelligent. But not like I was. I can feel the difference and I can tell I’m no longer cut out for grad school. I was already going to be struggling because of Autism and ADHD. But brain damage to?
I am so angry. But I’m mostly sad that I put so much importance on my grades. C’s get degrees but I nearly died achieving perfection.
My path looks different now. I spent all of therapy coming to terms with all of the above and all of the below.
My best friend is Marissa. Granted, we don’t call her that. We call her Coffee. I’ll continue to call her Coffee on these pages. But her name is Marissa. I think it’s good to attach a real name to her existence now and then.
We’ve been best friends for a few years at this point. It all started with her sending me photos of the various animals in her life on Tumblr on a bad night and then before I knew it was had a friendship unlike any I’ve ever experienced. I’ve blogged about best friends before. If you’ve been here you know those usually blew up in my face. There was the ableist girl from high school. Tried to steal not just my spouse but my kids too last time Robin and I separated. There was Nate who was emotionally constipated and forbid me to have any emotions around him ever.
Coffee. I don’t have words. We have faced a lot of the same struggles, though there are plenty of differences. She is strong where I’m weak, and vice versa. I can honestly say that while it’s strictly platonic and nonsexual, I am absolutely in love with her. She is my person. She is one of my chosen sisters and I would do anything for her and know she would do anything for me. She’s held my hand through the process of nearly dying, losing my wife, and just every low moment of the past few years. She’s not afraid of my emotions and low points. And she approaches my BPD with common sense, compassion, and basic human decency. She’s also not afraid to call me out if I need to examine and rethink my behavior. She’ll enable me buying a children’s fishing pole to go “cat fishing”. But she won’t enable me treating people like shit. She makes me want to be a better person and helps me dig deep to find who that better person within me is.
And everything that she does for me, I strive to do for her in kind.
She is more than I could ever have hoped for in a friend.
And together we have built two really solid and healthy friend groups, with some overlap. A found family full of love, acceptance, neurodivergence, and queerness. My life is so full of love these days, but I found this chosen family with Coffee by my side. And through her love and guidance, I became a person worthy of their love. I do a lot of hard work. It wasn’t all Coffee. But she offered solid support and feedback.
There is a point to this.
Coffee is going to school to get a degree in running an agricultural-based business. The plan is, she and her husband Pete will buy some land in probably Kansas and they will run a lavender farm. In 10 years when my babies are all grown and out of the nest, I’m following them to Kansas and I’m buying a house as near theirs as I can and I’ll help them run their farm. Coffee will make sure I have a thriving wage and health insurance. I’ll also do what I do now, caregiving, on the side to help add enrichment to my life.
My path is no longer taking me to grad school at OSU and a PsyD that I’d use to diagnose especially women with Autism and ADHD. But that’s OK. Because my path is now taking me to Coffee, and her little family, and that’s even better.