Day 10 (Part Three) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.
Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.
Liz and the In Between, focused on my relationship with Liz. It detailed all of the significant events within our friendship, and how it had turned ugly at times. These were the years in between the first entry and this one.
Kat and I eventually buried the hatchet about five years later. We were both adults who had done a great deal of growing since. We did attempt reconciliation, but mutually decided that we were too different to have a friendship. We grew out of each other. That’s life.
It took Lea and I much longer.
I recall a Fourth of July party I was invited to many years after the incident. A mutual friend of many years invited me, and his sister, best friend to Lea, naturally invited her.
Before I knew it, only a large patio table separated us. We inspected each other, sizing one another up. She still had the same snow white skin, but now she donned raven hair in place of her usual highlight job. Also, she had become much larger than me, at least fifty pounds or more. It was a little more intimidating, but I didn’t care. I’d tussled with men twice my size.
I don’t know what she saw, but she looked fairly intimidated. I was that same, fiery haired, piercing eyes girl she had known then. I hadn’t aged yet, though many of the girls at that table already had. The only differences were these. I wasn’t staring her down behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses. I was 1/3 less than girl I was. And, we were no longer surrounded by brick and mortar that was the all-seeing, all-knowing, completely crooked system that was our public school.
Yes, we were in the real world. Where there were real consequences to actions. If one of us did one thing out of turn, we’d face something that didn’t include losing two perfectly good school days to absolute intense boredom of a desk with blinders, essentially.
So, we were deadlocked, powerless to make each others’ lives hell. We were adults, not children thrust together in the same place at the same time. We had the freedom of escape, to be free from the tangled web of the high school social society. As much trash as we could talk, it didn’t matter. Too much space and too few connections let those words fall on indifferent, rather deaf ears.
So, it dissipated throughout years of silence. I was already married with a child. We were truly adults, lives so far separated from those emotions and the petty grudges generated from them. What did it matter anymore? Through the power of Facebook, we put it to rest through humor over the incident.
Liz and I had settled old scores. That was, until I started getting serious with C.S. I remember driving around our neighborhood, the one we grew up in, yelling at each other. I wasn’t making time for her at her demand.
She retorted coldly, “You’ve been engaged so many times, I can’t even take you seriously anymore.”
There was no birthday reconciliation that year. Months droned on. It seemed to be over, and I was distraught, but infuriated. How dare she judge my relationship?!
I invited her to the wedding as an obligatory gesture. I knew she’d never attend. She should have been a bridesmaid, and yet, she would have rather carry on a grudge over my priorities changing.
Mid-summer, mid-pregnancy, I received a card in a letter in the mail. It contained a wedding gift and a phone number. I hesitated, but mustered up the courage to accept the olive branch. I announced my pregnancy. A boy. He even had a name.
She came to visit, and it was the first time I saw her in about a year. She seemed overjoyed, but deeply troubled. Liz, Liz, always something brewing under the surface.
She came the day after I had my son. Later in the week, she brought us dinner, on the house. And that was the last time I saw her face to face. It was almost three and a half years ago.
In that time, her relationship with Fox deteriorated. There was always some contingency on him leaving his wife. When you graduate college. When you get a good job. When…
They were fiercely fighting, and rarely seeing each other anymore. They had opposing schedules, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Fox to steal time away from his wife. One day, he left his email open on his laptop, sitting on her kitchen table. She flipped through it, and discovered a few very old, very intimate exchanges between Fox an I on the MUD.
We talked. “I know it was years ago, but why would he even save this?” she ranted.
Time passed, things changed. That was pretty much the end of their relationship. Well, that, and when she got a confirmation that he and his wife just got a new lease on their house. It wasn’t my fault. She jumped into bed with their mutual married boss and ditched Fox.
I’ve actually searched and searched for the goodbye letter I wrote her in one of my journals. I’m thinking our biggest falling out was in 2010. Liz was always one of those people who insisted that she came first. She randomly called and announced that she was back in town. She wanted for me and her to go out. I explained to her that a person couldn’t just drop by on me. I have obligations to my family, plans that I’ve made, and things that just need done. She was furious, insisting that I never made time for her. All of these years, she made time for me, and the least I could do was see her during the few days in the year that she was in town.
Finally, I fought back.
“In all of this time, I listened to you prattle for hours about a miserable relationship with a married man, the same one that I urged you not to turn your life upside down for. You defiled his marriage, and he still didn’t leave his wife for you. Then, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jumped into bed with his married boss, your boss too.
Meanwhile, I am being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my marriage – to a man who fathered my son, is falling apart, and my son is showing signs of developmental delay. The moment I tried to open up my mouth to share my troubles, was always the moment you had to go. I’m tired of being on standby and being expected to be here at your beckon. I’m tired of you leading me around by the nose. So, if you’re going to get pissed off and walk out of my life, it better be for good this time. Because I’m not taking you back.”
We didn’t speak for about a year or so. That was, until a random birthday card for my son appeared in the mail, containing a gift card. I let it sit in my nightstand for a month, pondering what I should do with it. And finally, I broke down and emailed her.
Back to the status that rubbed me the wrong way. Lea is pregnant, after several years of marriage. And Liz, who I haven’t heard a word from in at least six months, made a comment. “I’ll definitely be there! I’m so excited to see you!” I know she’ll be in town; she lives far away. And I also know that she won’t make any attempt to stop by, or even contact me.
I invited her, holiday after holiday, to stop by the house. She always said she’d try, but there was so much going on. I never did see her, not once.
I stumbled upon what may be one of the most heartbreaking revelations I’ve ever had. Liz and I were never friends. We were frienemies. Not from my end, but from hers.
I was a pace car. I was not a concept to admire, but envy. When I actually married the man she truly desired, and had the family she secretly longed for, I had unknowingly won. She couldn’t come around, because she couldn’t bear the sight of it. I had become her superior in every way, and that is a fact she can never reconcile, nor bring to the surface. It’s too juvenile. But wasn’t all of it?
Clearly, she’s not an active part of my life. Her absence has not made a bit of difference. In a way, I wish I could have ignored that birthday card. She would simply no longer exist, and I could retain all of our funny, powerful, intimate, and warm moments. Instead, I am in some friend limbo.
So, instead, I think I’m going to start hiding both Lea and Liz’s feeds. I don’t need it. Sometimes a friendship is beyond salvageable. The remnants are too few. I don’t want to remain friends for nostalgia’s sake. I am not a keepsake. I am a human. If we really remained friends, wouldn’t she at least message me from time to time.
I place this in the sea and wave goodbye. For the last time.
Staring out the bus window into the grey oblivion, the words slid right down the slate of my mind, and were carried away by the light breeze. It’s not an uncommon occurrence. Many other times I will myself to think of him, it is as if he’s become a ghost, who haunts at the most unfortunate moments.
That’s why there are journal entries for these moments. This was the first in the trinity, the one prior to Possibility and Ascension. It was started and completed in the same week, nearly a year after the relationship ended.
The last days of that relationship are blurry; my memories are obscured by the drugs and alcohol intoxicating my mind. The days blended together in a ritualistic, self-medicated loop, work.drink.sleep.work.drink.sleep.sleep.drink.sleep… suspended in agonizing slow motion. The silence was deafening in the deep, dark hours of night, still, cold, indifferent. We were two strangers, caged together with a thick glass section between us. I glanced across the DMZ, through ripples space and time itself, eager and desperate to eradicate the great divide. But even if I could manage to successfully navigate the minefield, a feat I had attempted in vain when feeling particularly masochistic despite the optimistic spin I put on it, I would be greeted by a stranger. Or rather an animal, for he had regressed into a rather primitive state. This animal was vicious and feral, seemingly ripped from the wild and unsuccessfully domesticated.
My realizations were like awaking from a coma. How much time had passed? Who are you? Where am I? Is this real? – each more dizzying than the coma itself. Awakening is clarity, but the clearer things became, the more confusing the reality. The chambers of my mind grew to accommodate my expanding thoughts but created a warehouse echo. I spoke, my voice reverberated off the crumbling walls and returned with a different sound altogether. Perhaps, instead it was an accurate reflection but one can never recognize oneself in a room of distortion.
So perhaps my lover had been a stranger all along, reflected through hopes and dreams to create a lovely distortion. They certainly aren’t all hideous, like mirrors that make one look tall and slender. Had that been entirely truth, how long had he been a projection of my mind’s eye onto the screen that set the stage for our drama? I looked into the rabbit hole and tumbled down, spiraling out of control. How can one count time based on a relative measure?
I searched farther, grasping for answers as if they were my life raft in the black waters of time. Our relationship started with sparks and flares… – Were they real like fourth of July fireworks? Or instead were they the result of strong hallucinogenics resulting from intense desire to feel something? More dialogue and script flowed through the undertow, sucking me into the dark abyss.
You know how when someone says ‘I love you’, you feel obligated to reciprocate?
I’ve always meant it with you.
My heart swelled with infection while it festered away every inch that loved him with each tides push and pull. It was abundantly clear that his performance was increasingly scripted, as I deviated with my improvisation. Obsessively, I went farther, feverishly searching, scanning, hoping that there would be salvage, or better even, treasure.
Heaven knows that I love you, I love you today.
Today, that day, the only day that might as well had even existed in three years. I felt it in my soul, the answers becoming closer sending off the flares and sparks I had been trying to rekindle, leading me in my personal night. Yet on closer inspection, they certainly differentiated from the ones in my memory. Instead, they appeared to be a blazing inferno on the shoreline. I clawed the beach, pulling myself in for survival, for myself, for my sanity and found the treasure I’d been seeking.
Fool’s gold. The beautiful scenery warped into something more sinister. Twisted, charred, black… a glorious fire to commemorate something that never was.
It reminded me of the last string I pulled in the tapestry of our relationship. My hair was ruby colored in the dull late autumn sun, surrounded by the grey scenery of the city. We were bound for better. He was up but I was coming down. A lovely romance played out in my head, on panes of fragile glass. We were vines twisting together up a lattice in vivid green, in a dream. He deviated, but my vision was obstructed. I felt the support let loose, my vine withered and my fruit shriveled. He vaguely explained and my vision returned to expose his transgression occurring. Struck with immobilizing poison, I watched like an invalid. And when I came to, I was convinced it was a dream.
Smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors, I fell in love with the demon trickster himself. A year and a half passed since the incident and all was voluntarily revealed. The force pushed me outside myself, forced once again to watch this great tragedy unfold repeatedly. Play.stop.rewind.play.
Just say yes, you little masochist.
Addictions leave you little choice.
Help me tighten these chains. Is that my voice? My mind screamed to be released, for me to take the free ticket to ride and go. But my heart without it’s limbs could not be freed from it’s vice.
The pleasant memories melted into the form of nightmares. There was a double edged sword, turning the pleasurable jabs into horrific stabs. My monologue’s narrator was raspy and exhausted. Playful smiles turned to sinister grins just as loving chuckles morphed into maniacal laughter. The blaze pushed forward, engulfing everything in sight. It seared my flesh, leaving nothing but brittle bone.
Release me, for the love of god!!
It was morning following the apocalypse. The war had been lost and I stood amongst it’s remains. To my surprise, I was intact despite everything. A wave of sorrow welled up inside me but nothing came. I had finally been released but not by my captor. He stood beside me, my caretaker, strong and silent like an angel.
I have always been beside you. That wasn’t quite the truth, I was sure. He had misspoke and instead meant, I have always been inside you… I felt those words resonating inside my soul which echoed it in perfect clarity. This could only be made possible if they had the same dimensions… making them identical. Twin souls! It made perfect sense as the pieces seamlessly clicked together. Only could twins never truly lose one another. They were the only two that see each other through the deepest pits of hell and come out seemingly unscathed.
We were whole. From the moment we met one another, five long years ago, we were whole. And now we had the opportunity to experience it in our own realities..
I wrote this for my husband, a year after we got together. This is our story.
When one door closes, another opens.
And occasionally it occurs as overlapping events, rather than simultaneously. Such is the nature of life, with its interwoven fibers amounting to the gorgeous flowing fabric. We are the sum of our actions and the resulting events. But it’s not so simple. The seeds were strewn about our fields throughout a long period of time, lodging themselves deep into our soil. Then under the right conditions, they emerged to the surface to the light of day.
The winds of change can scatter and confuse time, and when we awaken, years have passed without a whisper on the lips of consciousness that this was this but now is that. When we awaken, like moles into the sunlight, scratching for vague patterns of our new reality, we are left with grins or grimaces. I could not say that I grinned or grimaced, for I smiled – breathing in the air and beauty that surrounded me. – C.S.
His accent was intoxicating. His stories were enchanting. His facade was alluring, but it wasn’t enough to disguise the man underneath. It wasn’t a question of where he had come from or what he had done, but more of our interactions. They were flawless like ice crystals, solid in structure but liquid all throughout. We anticipated each others responses. No one person had such an intricate and complete understanding of me. The seeds of our affections were sown. And yet, we were blind to it.
Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve – – – words that often arise when hindsight comes into perfect focus. Had I not been so engulfed in my failing relationships, I could’ve realized it.
The purging had ceased, inebriation started to fade while the sun battled his way above the horizon. The first dim morning rays crept into the room, scarring the darkness into hiding. Innocently entangled in one another, grappling for a certain reality that remained just shy of our reach, we breathed in unison. Our voices were so low that the breeze seemingly whisked our words away, leaving only remnants in my memory. What only remained was his gentle baritone murmur in my ears and the soft vibrations against my chest. However, one managed to sound loudly in my mind.
I want to make love to you . . .
Stunned. Paralyzed. I want to make love to you too . . . – stifled far too soon. It wasn’t the phrase. It was the sentiment.
Beside me, pressed so tightly our hearts could echo one another. An invisible orchestra played between our natural sounds. Each breath was the cymbal crash against the skin of my neck. The trembling baseline was his voice and body swirling with my soprano melody. Locked together in this eternal waltz, our instruments impeccably played on. Beside me, inside me, we were unified.
All in the firing of one synapse, one millisecond, one singular possibility.
I ached. To feel his bare flesh against mine. To be absorbed into the depths of his soul. To possess every last part of his being.
But damn logic right to the depths of hell! My mind twisted and bent into a steel cage around my heart to protect my already compromised structural integrity. I had been a victim of love, complete with open, festering war wounds. I was not yet ready to allow anyone the opportunity to victimize me once more, for better or worse. Code Red! Lockdown! I rationalized our emotion away like birds into the sky. And it was smothered before seeing the light of day.
I could’ve made love to him . . . if I had been more intoxicated. If I had my inhibition stripped and alarms silenced. I would’ve granted him access to my heart, had it not been in such a critical state. And despite these things, I should’ve taken that impossible leap of faith across that great chasm.
And that was the last time I saw him clearly for nearly six months. However, unbeknownst to us, affections simply don’t dissipate because you will them to do so. But tactics – distraction, false rationalizations – can be instituted in order to subvert the truth.
Silence, with the exception of our constant dialogue like a clear flowing stream. It was never the conversation that was important, but rather the continual contact. We caressed each other through discreet discourse, as if our words were hands searching each others’ darkest secrets. Outright confessions would’ve been too forward and obvious. Physical displays would certainly be condemnable. Our verbal intercourse continued, flying low under the radar as an innocent act of friendship of which even we were both eagerly convinced it was.
There are moments were feelings and situations are clearly defined, even if they aren’t noticeably bolded or otherwise visibly highlighted. Our book was clearly still in it’s early chapters.
His bare bedroom walls were soon filled with the colors of our affections. Even the air was different, crackling with a indescribable high voltage energy found between new lovers. And yet we were not. We needn’t have discussed it; it was merely understood. Perhaps, if we spoke it aloud that would make it real, holding us responsible for our every unconscious exchange. Our gaze met and dropped and met again, like a spark between live wires.
Chronos smiled, freezing time for us, and only us. The night stood still, permitting us to slip between the cracks of space and time. We defied the continuum without breaking our bonds. And for those moments, we were more than just two solitary entities inhabiting the same space. We were the space; we were each others’ thoughts, voices, and breaths.
My head swam and as quickly as we exchanged words, they had gone like whispers in the bitter, but beautiful winter breeze. Time began once again, the second hand beating ferociously, creating a terrible sound in my mind like gunshots on a battle field. My heart swelled until it nearly choked the breath of life from me. I was numb from the excitement yet mourning the loss of what never was yet might have been. In another place, in another time . . .
Responsibilities and duties rooted us in distant lands, desperately apart. Being a moral person very rarely instantly gratifies anyone who continues to hold up to its code. Severed from one another through obligations, requests and eventually demands from those who were more perceptive than us, we drifted away on turbulent seas toward distant destinations. Another six months fell from our calendars like flower petals wilting away.
Familiar places, familiar faces, we once again found ourselves on our eternal carousel, orbiting one another but never to meet in the middle. Gravitation pull kept us circling, leaving others to be our asteroids consistently knocking us off course. Nearly two years elapsed before our irregular orbits had crossed paths once more. But other planets were aligning, creating a universal, cataclysmic event, speeding up motion and time.
The Eve of Omega and Alpha culminated at the end of a mighty crescendo. All in one space and time resided unrealized past, present, and future respectively as if the freshly laundered fabric of time had been folded, once over, twice over, then again. I was frozen, pondering the possibilities, and still too nearsighted to distinguish. My crossroads were much fuzzier and perilous than I had realized and my choices too weighted and narrow. Yet, he stood further down the path, silently beckoning me once again, always too far ahead like a time traveler. And for once brief moment, I caught his greyish outline in the distance, down the overgrown path. However, it wasn’t enough to detract from the bright signs, falsely guiding me down yet another treacherous path.
But there, another stood beside me, guiding me down the rabbit hole. He took my hand as he had done many times before and drew me in, only this time I couldn’t resist. My mind had been poisoned, distorting (reality), destroying the judges and silencing the council. I was alone in deep, dark silence, as thick and black as the essence of night itself. His coaxing, his orders, my circuitry was being rewired. I was becoming.
Enslaved, I carried out the will of the master in the fray of the sinister sociopaths. Degraded, defiled, stripped of everything sacred, anything sane or reasonable. The war ensued, my flesh the battle ground in which they ravaged every last morsel of respect.
I’m not here. This isn’t happening. I’m not here. I’m not here.
The fires in my belly weren’t nearly enough to thaw the ice encasing my soul. A piece had met it’s cruel demise, withered and fallen off into oblivion. Recollection of manufactured moments, fragments of time enmeshed with conjured emotion poured out and circled the drain until they were banished. That regretful incident eviscerated us, the flower child and I. All for not, HE, the incarnate of Hades had unknowingly paved the usually treacherous path ahead. The cosmic highways once again converged, allowing for a head on collision that this time would not be mistaken for anything other.
The spring air was crisp, and the beauty exuded more so than ever before. We spoke, old moths to the flame, drawn in, never missing a beat to the rhythm of the familiar drum. Perhaps we marked time to it, never straying far enough for life in all of it’s obstructive noise obscure it’s particular pulse. Our time was infinite. We walked the earth eternally, as long as the sky was blanketed in the celestial beings that kissed the sky. Even with every step I took, I felt my chains to the other becoming more cumbersome, the burden unbearable. I trudged on.
Suppression, unconscious denial, drawing fine lines in the sand at high tide to be redefined as necessary. Only vague remnants floated in the seas of unconscious mind. Moments that hardly brushed another were only partially unearthed, still questionable to the naked eye. With fresh rain, more flooded in, flushing the ground, stringing vague context in the light of day. The night, with all of the shadows it cast upon other landscapes, stood in stark contrast to the light from the burgeoning flames, growing ever closer, threatening a spectacular inferno.
Come with me.
Such a simple phrase struck a nerve and coursed my stagnant lifesblood through my icy veins. With only those discreet rounds of discourse, a pulse was discovered and we were once again resuscitated. The obstacles were become fewer and fewer; the road cleared, becoming more navigable. Torrents of rains had cleared, leaving only fertile soil, ripe with nutrients to nurture our long dormant seeds.
Drunk words are sober thoughts. Confessions poured from my soul through my mouth faster than a river through the universe, traveling at the speed of light. I was the sinner and he was my savior, hearing every gruesome detail, redeeming me with stroking words, caressing my frail soul. The picture was black, the sound garbled like in a damaged film reel. The scene continued regardless; the show must go on !
I can’t stand, to see the morning come. While the evening rain is still falling.
Out of the ashes, the phoenix was once again reborn. We both stood amongst our own personal ruins, seemingly miles apart and yet within earshot to sound the alarm. His flame flickered and mine sparked brighter in return. Call and answer, call and answer, a repetition so primal and instinctual that it was out of our control. The beacons in the darkness.
What is the difference between a best friend and a significant other?
I pondered, time and time again. The tides shifted the sands more, redefining the landscape, blurring some beyond recognition and shaping others beyond their infancy. Clocks, their pendulums clanging loudly, sounding down each moment. Every word, each breath shared, one by one, counting each moment closer.
That boy loves you more than you’ll ever know.
First synapses firing, connecting, the stirrings of conscious realization. The Alpha and Omega, overlapping in folds of time. The mirage eroded before me, and the poisonous cloud released.
For the first time in centuries, we were standing face to face within the labyrinth. Side by side, we made our way through its dark, narrow walkways. Our flames licked each other eagerly, separate for the very last instant of eternity. No walls remained, only the flesh and air between us.
I can feel it coming in the air tonight. I’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life.
In the dead of night, so silent the rain did not dare make a patter in this moment, he grasped my arm firmly and wrapped himself around me. Underneath the long reach of the trees branches above, time slowed to accent the moment, and brand it in heart and memory for lifetimes to come.
I have always loved you.
He breathed into me, a life and fire to awaken mine. Our lips touched, melting into one another. Reunited, intertwined, conjoined at the purest moment of our final reunion. My being shot out so quickly reality could not keep pace. Time and space bent for us, allowing this moment to live in all of our eternities.
I, as well. I have always loved you.
It echoed louder than a chorus of angels, spreading throughout all the worlds to be recognized for the cosmic event it was. Twin souls, united, now indiscernible from one another. Two halves of the whole conjoined, intertwining with each passage, every last exchange. Our flames united into the blazing inferno, lighting up the whole world around us. He gazed into me as I gazed into him. And in that very second, we fell into one another, freed from the labyrinth. Only the world, our beautiful, majestic world, with the vast fields yielding those just emerging seedlings, existed among us.
Tu es mon soleil, mon seul rayon de soleil.
How do you describe bipolar disorder to others who do not have it?
Most of the population experiencing bipolar disorder have heralded it as something “people can’t fully understand unless they have been through it.” Being a member of that group, I can wholeheartedly agree. In my personal attempts to convey the complexity of bipolar disorder to a non-Dx person, I have found myself at a loss for words that would do it justice. Describing emotions is putting the intangible into context.
Even when I am successful at touching upon the idea, I am largely incapable of even scratching the surface. The intensity, duration, debilitation, and so many other aspects seem to get lost in translation. Non-Dx people are mystified. “I feel those things, too.” Every human being has emotions akin to those that are experienced within the spectrum of bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people cannot wrap their heads around the magnitude of what creates the dysfunction. “I can control them. Why can’t you?”
Frustration ensues. Such miscommunication is an extreme aggravation. Tempers may flare. “It’s not the same thing!” It’s the same animal of a different color. In essence, similarities can be drawn, but a fault line exists between the two.
I am empathetic to the plight of a person who suffers with bipolar disorder. I have experienced the rage that boils when I feel as if I a being dismissed or preemptively judged against an unjust standard. The words above send me into elevations, like a volcano spitting lava high into the sky. At this precise moment, communications break down entirely. All hope is lost. If the villagers don’t evacuate now, total destruction is eminent.
On the other hand, using descriptive language devoid of passion fails to drive the point home. To a non-Dx person, it is any regular conversation. Words are words. It does not have the demonstrative power of action. However, action is often misinterpreted more so than words. Too many questions arise. Why? Now, we’re right back where we started.
And extreme action is likely to be met with animosity or apathy. It is ironic that when a person has a severe bipolar episode, others often fall short of providing the appropriate responses. I’ve often encountered loved ones who laid certain claims; “I am not going to tolerate this behavior.” – “Get a grip.” – “I refuse to talk to you when you’re like this.” – “Get over it.” – “Are we going to go through this, again?” Resentment. That is what perpetuates throughout repeated episodes.
The schism between people with bipolar disorder an non-Dx people grows in breadth and depth. Communication is endangered, if not completely extinct. Isolation begins, and episodes worsen. Without a support system, a non-Dx person is likely to crumble. A support system that is non-existent in the life of a person with bipolar disorder is the quickest route to utter annihilation of oneself.
I have been there. Then, I managed to navigate my way back again.
Back to the original question. How do you describe bipolar disorder to a person that doesn’t have it?
In my experience, I have worked it out. Non-Dx people do have strong emotions. These are in response to serious situations. To them, they are overwhelming; to me, it would knock me flat.
I allow the non-Dx person to draw the comparison between emotions. It is a good jumping point, although it is likely meant as a retort coming from their end. “This is not an argument. This is a discussion,” I remind myself repeatedly when tempers start to flare. I continue with the following points:
My brain chemistry is unique in the way that I become particularly reactive. That is one of many facets of bipolar disorder. Extreme sensitivity to situations that provoke strong emotion.
This may be met with a usual, “Grow a thicker skin.” or “Let it slide.”
Recall a situation where you felt strongly about something. Like, when someone very close to you died. Or, you lost your job. Or, you found out that the love of your life cheated on you.
Weren’t you very distraught? Even extremely sad?
Imagine having those feelings arise without cause. Then, consider what it would be like to live months like that.
That is how I relate depression. Extreme feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and despair for long periods of time.
For hypomania, I continue like this:
Now, remember a time where you felt the best you ever did. You got a promotion or bought your first car or house. Maybe the day your spouse said yes to your proposal or the day you got married.
Yeah, those were some great times.
Now, think of what it would be like to feel that way for a long time.
That sounds awesome!
Sure, but think of a time where you were the most angry you could ever be. Someone you love lied to you or stole from you. A co-worker betrayed you and threw you under the bus. Your boss unjustly blamed you. Think of a time where you just wanted to scream and break things.
That’s the other side of the feeling good. It is being really irritable or angry constantly for a long time.
Oh, that’s not good.
No. But that’s not all. What would it be like to never really know for sure how you’re going to feel? Pretty scary, maybe? And worse, you may never know how long you’re going to feel that way.
That’s part of living life with bipolar disorder. Did you ever have a time that you did or said something you regret because you lost control for a minute?
That’s what an episode is like. Struggling for control, every single day, because you can’t help the way you feel.
It puts the person in your shoes for a second. It helps them cultivate an understanding of the intensity and duration of human emotion that creates the dysfunction. This dysfunction has a name. It’s called bipolar disorder.
Now, I want to know. How have you gone about relating your disorder to others? It doesn’t have to limited to bipolar disorder. Non-Dx people and people of different Dx’s all have trouble relating to disorders. How do you explain what you experience?
Mutually Abusive Relationships
There is practically no literature on the subject of mutually abusive relationships, as this is only a recently recognized phenomenon. While professionals, such as Dawn Bradley Berry, J. D. acknowledge that it occurs, few can agree on whether it was mutual in nature.
The dynamics of abusive relationships are significantly more complex than professionals seem to think. In decades prior, society bred women to be docile, obedient, and complacent. Most research reflects that in abusive relationships. The man “attacks”, and the woman is “victimized”.
Unquestionably, that is precisely the manner abuse presented itself in my relationship prior to this one. It began innocuously with casual criticisms and negative remarks. A person is inclined to believe that a loved one only means the best, even if the words sting. There was hardly a second thought toward the words. Eventually, they grew into berating remarks, lambasting lectures, and generalized nitpicking over every action, behavior, expression, inaction, word, thought, emotion . . .
By then, I was already convinced that these heinous contortions were the embodiment of what I truly was. I was already manipulated into believing I had been delusional about my own nature to begin with. It was like being in a house of mirrors. Every reflection revealed a new flaw.
But, a miniscule portion of my consciousness spotted the cracks all along. It seemed I was not entirely convinced that this was the absolute truth. Contradictions existed at everywhere in this fun house. How was it possible that I was so stupid when my grade point average was far above his? If I was such a flawed, inadequate, and vile person, why did I have so many faithful, loving friends?
At that point, the seeds of alcoholism were taking root. I violated my own rules of drinking. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! I’m not drinking alone if I’m drinking with my boyfriend. Hair of the dog, best way to cure a hangover. If I’m still managing to get to school and hold an honor’s average, I’m not drinking too much.
Liquid courage and comfortingly numb.
Naturally, I engaged the fire breathing dragon with my own fire. Raw throat from screaming for hours, until one of us locked the other out, or I started packing a bag. I was attempting to turn his own game right around on him. The problem is that he was the gamemaster, and I was just a pawn. I was always the pawn. He could play me against me, and change the rules at will.
It was common knowledge. I would never leave. I was already too terrified of the potential consequences. Besides, all of my money was tied up in that apartment. We had acquired a sizable amount of mutual property. I was unwilling to sacrifice all of my gains, my gains, because I paid for them, to someone else.
Next, we moved into the isolation stage. Suddenly, all of my girl friends were whores and my male friends wanted to get into my pants. Your friends are a reflection of who you are. No wonder you’re a completely stupid whore. A drop of truth existed. One of my closest friends was a teen mom, a stripper, and into drugs. I didn’t see a whole lot wrong there. She had a good heart, despite her mistakes. But. . . maybe I was wrong.
We graduated college, lost our apartment, and moved onto some family property. This was the turning point. Here, we were completely alone.
I was a victim as much as I was an abuser.
It is one of the most difficult realities I have to face.
Prior to that point, I had never laid my hands on anyone with malicious intent. And truthfully, I can’t pinpoint where it began. Being in a perpetual state of inebriation has likely damaged that portion of my memory to beyond retrievable. I can only recall certain events. But, my mind will never be able to purge itself of the horror, guilt, rage, terror, hurt, and animosity I felt.
He started abusing me first. Again, it started innocently enough with playful roughhousing that usually got out of hand. Eventually, it turned into vulgar, degrading, often coerced, dangerously rough sex. Then, it finally graduated to domestic life. The transitions were so smooth that it was too hard to distinguish in the house of mirrors. Sometimes you need to be put in your place. You don’t know what’s good for you.
I became the monster that I loathed. I was an animal, trapped in a cage, and emotionally, verbally, and now physically beaten for mistakes. Sometimes, it was events that were beyond my control. And, I gave in to my natural instincts. I started fighting back.
I wanted him to feel the pain he inflicted upon me.
I recall a specific incident, the worst of them all. We were drinking and playing World of Warcraft. He was highly competitive, and I was entirely defensive. As usual, he had remarks on my lack of skill and inadequacy in the team. I started back in on him. There was a back and forth that eventually provoked me to get up in his face. He saw me coming and hit me in the face with a CAT5 cord. The cord slashed my face and the connector rendered my right eye useless.
I pounced, but he knocked me flat on my back, with his foot on my chest. He commanded, “You stay down there!” I wrested myself free and attempted to get on my feet, only to be knocked flat and pinned again. “Stay on the f***ing floor!” Once more. “I thought I f***ing told you to lay on the f***ing floor!”
I couldn’t free myself this time, and I angrily searched the floor for something, anything. I grabbed a discarded vodka bottle and hurled with all of my strength at his head. He jerked to dodge the impact, and I got to my feet. I stared at him defiantly with my mouth twisted into a snarl.
“What the f*** do you think you’re doing?! You could have f***ing killed me, you stupid b****!”
“I’m sorry I didn’t!”
He came at me, but I lunged for him, tackling him to the floor. I began mercilessly wailing on him as he antagonized me, “Is that all you got?! A fly could do more damage!” I slapped him across the face so hard that my red handprint swelled on his cheek.
He threw me off of him, but I was still in pursuit. My cheek burned, my eye puffed shut, and my rage incinerated every last shred of humanity that remained. I grabbed him by his shirt before he made it to the front door. He shoved me, but I remained latched to him.
“I’m leaving you, you crazy b****!”
“Take this with you!”, I spit at him and sunk my teeth into the flesh over his heart. He picked me up by my throat, viciously thrust me to the floor, and slammed the door. I laid there, coughing and gasping to regain my breath.
That wasn’t the end. The end didn’t come for nearly another year. And in that year, incidents such as these were commonplace. I could not legitimately claim victimization. I shared equal fault for the escalation of the abuse that occurred. Despite any trauma I have suffered, I am responsible for another person’s trauma.
That alone hinders healing. Most of the world will never see themselves in that light. I have more than glanced at the monster in the mirror. I became it. I abhor all parties involved in each and every single last act. Including myself. How could I possible forgive myself for such atrocities that I committed when I have personally felt the pain they inflict?
Thanksgiving will hopefully be a day of thanks. It marks two weeks since the LEEP procedure. Since it falls on a holiday, my doctor’s office was kind enough to squeeze me in on Wednesday, Nov. 23. I’m sure the scheduling nurse I spoke with was aware that I’d have a Sword of Damocles hanging over my holiday table. It was kind of her to be so considerate. (Note to self: Be thankful for considerate, compassionate people).
The Healing Process
I was briefed after the surgery about care and restrictions. No worries – this is not going to get graphic. I’ll admit, it was not quite as I expected it. They likened it to a colposcopy with a biopsy. I know there is a huge difference between the two. One is a little snip and the other is more akin to taking a sizable section. Like trimming the hedges versus pruning a tree.
They under-exaggerate when they describe the more unpleasant parts of post-op care. I was in nearly constant, serious pain for the first four days. I would wake up in the morning in severe pain, because a full bladder likely pressed against the area. The more I moved, the more the pain increased.
Mothers will especially stand this next part. It is more akin to the physical sensations to about a week after labor and delivery. My bottom half was sore. It was pain like a T, across my hips through me, and into my back.
They don’t tell you the real story on a lot of it, although they are still defined within the parameters of “typical healing”. To sat the least, it was a lot more intense than I predicted.
The healing time takes longer than I predicted too. The doctors assured me that I’d be back on my feet, doing my daily activities in a few days. But, those activities are not to include any aerobic / strenuous activity. I haven’t been able to do any housework. No stairs, so I have to limit my use of them at home. It’s frustrating to leave something on a different floor.
I’m still not quite back to normal. I always feel like the doctors overreact when they give you restrictions. Possibly, it is because they know patients will not follow them to the letter. But, they weren’t kidding here. I’m moving better, but I am still in pain. I need extended time sitting. I’m tired.
The biggest thing they don’t tell you is the emotional rollercoaster that follows. I don’t know if it’s hormonal, but I have been completely out of whack. I described some of it in With This Pill. Manic Monday touched upon the subject in 2.5.
This is a conversation C.S. and I had on Friday.
I thought I was on the cusp of a depressive episode. Mobility is difficult. It is irritating and frustrating to be at the mercy of others. I am a control freak. I like things done my way, and I like to be an active participant at all times. But right now, I feel like a useless invalid watching life pass as I’m bound immobile, as much as possible.
I feel useless. I can’t take charge of classes because I have to meet them in their classrooms. I must have children assist me in classes by passing out lyric sheets and retrieving items for me from across the room. I hate asking people for help. Then, I start to feel like an inconvenience, a burden, if you will.
I was under the impression that they were going to poke in there and assess my healing. Then, they were going to report how much had to be excised, and what my chances of having more children is going to look like. What they failed to mention is that tomorrow is also the delivery of the results from the sample they took. What I thought was going to be a completely benign appointment turned malignant fast.
What the doctor is looking for is are Clear Margins. Essentially, if the tissue they collected has both the cancerous cells and a margin surrounding it of healthy tissue, then we can be assured that all of the cancerous cells were excised. However, if the margins are not clear, then cancerous cells still remain and pose a possible threat.
The course of action after that is typically to wait until the results from the follow up Pap smear come back. If they are positive, then we visit colposcopy land to see how bad it is. And, there is a possibility of yet another procedure.
You guessed it. This poses a greater threat to my future pregnancies. The more cervix that is removed, the higher the risk of miscarriage and pre-term labor. I have a plan, but I need to get C.S. on board. If the issue is forced, I want to make the Hail Mary pass in order to conceive another child before I would have another surgery. We have two months to make a decision, because after that, it’s do or die.
I really do want another child, even if it’s not at a great time. If I have to do it and take some risks, I’m willing to do that. However, C.S. has not expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about another child. I don’t want to come to blows over this. But, if there is a serious disagreement, I know it’s going to turn into a serious problem.
One bridge at a time, Lulu. One bridge at a time.
I am completely luck impaired. If I had luck as a stat like in role-playing games, it was be a -3. I swear.
But today, on the luckiest day of this millennium, I thought that I would acknowledge all of the luckiest things that have ever happened to me.
- From what I understand, some people search their whole lives for that one special person. I met him in my teens. I became romantically involved with him, and nine months later we were married.
- I am blessed with a wonderful son. Many women have fertility issues. Even if this surgery results in infertility, I still have T.D.
- I was lucky enough to have a mostly uncomplicated pregnancy with T.D. and a complication free labor. He was born healthy and beautiful.
- Through pure chance, I fell into the job of my dreams. This was the spark that started my passion for education and love of children. Some people search forever for the job they love, and I received mine by chance.
- I am naturally gifted in many areas. I was afforded so many different chances to hone my abilities.
- I am lucky enough to have a permanent home.
- By chance, I have found a mental health community. Here, I find warmth, comfort, guidance, and camaraderie.
- C.S. was lucky enough to walk away from a potentially fatal accident. I am lucky to have him alive.
- Through absolutely random chance, I met a stranger on the bus who helped me save the big spring musical. It saved my job, gave me work over the summer, and promoted me to Music Director.
- Once, I found $123 on a sidewalk with no one in sight.
- And best of all, I am the luckiest gal on the planet to be surrounded with people who love me for who I am. This one goes out to you.
Maybe I’m not so unlucky after all. Happy 11/11/11!
Yesterday was not a complete loss.
After the episode detailed in I’m Not Okay, C.S. suggested we go to Half Priced Books. We dressed and headed out in an unusual October snowstorm. The ride was enjoyable, although I was too anxious to sit still. It’s always a wet day outside when we go to the bookstore. That’s the last weather a person would want when transporting books.
Between the three of us, we must have purchased 25 books, two flash card packs, and three journals. I’ve been keeping handwritten journals in flimsy composition books. It’s nice to finally have a sturdy home for my ramblings, so they may live on for years to come. And we put quite a dent in our bank account.
As I was sitting with C.S. this afternoon, peeling off price tags after our retail therapy, it hit me. We were in a fortress of books, and I looked him.
C.S. have a thing between us we call, “The Golden Thread”. It’s a subatomic line, coiled around each of our hearts, that runs upward through our brains, and connects to the other. It is the line that allows the one to know, at least on a subconscious level, what is happening within the other. It’s not a perfect connection, just as any other. It is susceptible to interference, outages, etc. But, it is the one thing that has always bonded us.
The only thing The Golden Thread can’t provide me with is any intelligible positive emotions toward me.
He never said the words, but I heard them ringing out, clear as a bell, “I’m sorry. For everything. I want you to be okay. I love you.”
Today, a very dear friend and I had a conversation about the LEEP procedure. She’s was more affected by the precancer than I am. She had the procedure done many years ago, when it was new, without complications.
And on this date, she is healthy and cancer free. She helped ease my fears. I’m extraordinarily thankful for her and all of her support. Without her words, I don’t know what shape I’d be in.
Thank you all for your encouraging words and support. This is one of the hardest times I’ve ever faced in my life. I’m grateful for everyone – for Ruby, Monday, James, ManicMuses, Always (yes, I saw your post on Canvas), and anyone and everyone else I may have not named. You’ve all given me a special kind of support that no one else in my life could. Again, thank you.