When we were dating, she was undiagnosed bipolar -- her various other medical issues were masking that big underlying problem -- and that complicated things. I was mostly clueless about it, unfortunately, and my cluelessness likely contributed to our not working as a couple. I didn't treat her badly, but I didn't treat her nearly as well as I could've, and part of me was too wrapped up in myself and my reactions to her issues so that I wasn't helping her through her issues.
Then "Better living through chemistry" happened. Alicia got properly diagnosed -- which made a lot of things suddenly make much more sense (so that's why she was having those problems) -- and got the proper medical treatment to smooth out the peaks and valleys. Or at least make the lows not as low. She has a more manageable life now, and that's a relief.
I realized recently that when we visit, Alicia tends to be "up." Sometimes REALLY "up." She gets more manic, and sometimes a little scattered, to the point where she can have trouble having a coherent conversation. (To her credit, one time when this was especially bad she realized it was bad, and kept apologizing for all of her jumping-in and her tire-screeching changes of subject.) When that happens, at some level I'm flashing back on that bad last month of our dating time, and part of me's worrying oh shit! I'm losing her! And another part of me is getting annoyed: please let me finish a single thought. I make so much more sense if I can get a complete sentence out! And a third part of me gets annoyed with my annoyance: Dude, Alicia's dealing with something "off" in her brain. She's not doing it on purpose. But the effort to communicate, plus my conflicting reactions to it, are sometimes tiring and trying.
I realized something further this time. Through everything, all of the bad kind of drama (most of which I won't tell you about), Alicia and I have remained very fond of each other. We're scarily on the same wavelength about many things; she's smart, well-read and hilarious; and it certainly doesn't hurt that she's very cute (the best comparison I've thought of so far is that she looks a little like Faye from Questionable Content). It's that fondness for each other that's kept us together, if not as a couple then as friends. And as I was leaving Eugene last night with a smile on my face, I told myself she gets "up" like that because she really likes seeing you. Would you rather have her be depressed by the sight of you?
Fondness is a powerful thing.