Although I am writing this because I have to share with you how proud I am of myself, you should feel sorry for Bill. If you know anything about me, you know that I can be painfully honest. PAINFULLY!! Bill feels sorry for his best friend because whenever Andy has Girl Problems, (including his Mom), we have a “Therapy Session” in the garage and I always tell Andy EXACTLY what I think. There have been conversations with him and other friends that had me wondering afterward why they still remain friends with me. Of course when I apologize for being so mean, they remind me that they came to me because they knew I’d tell them the Truth, even if it hurt.
Then there’s my poor dad who calls me his mirror. Is it really a coincidence that my first multi-syllable word was not only “reflection”, but was a moment indelibly implanted on both our minds? Even Grandma can see that special quality our relationship has; when Daddy needs a-talkin-to, Grandma thinks I’m the only one who can “take him out back and put the boxing gloves on with him.” (For those who don’t know, when the boys were young and angry with one another, he’d let them go out back with boxing gloves and work out their frustration, then go fishing or something with them. We have amazingly strong bonds with these individuals now. Strange how we work :)
Grandma was probably the first person to learn to never ask me a question if you don’t want to know the answer. Fortunately for her, if she ever forgets, that all I have to say is, “Grandma, do you really want me to answer that?” In fact, I would have to say that Grandma and I have a uniquely honest relationship. There are things she simply denies: (I lived with a man for about 2 years long before I met my husband, and during that time, she told me that she’d stop talking to me if I ever lived with a man without being married”. **rolling my eyes like I did then**) that I simply ignore with her. These are the things we simply don’t talk about. There are also the things that I matter-of-factly point out: (Such as the conversation about the shoes I would wear for my wedding, when I had to at last point out that it was my wedding and if she mentioned it one more time, I would wear one blue leather moccasin and one white satin slipper and make sure everyone knew it. I also pointed out she was lucky I chose to wear shoes at all. Because we have such a pure relationship, she KNEW I was simply being accurate :P
The best thing about the honesty I share with Grandma, especially after living with us, is that she shares things with me now too. She was “Mommy” growing up, so naturally I shared my heart with her on different occasions. Obviously I’m very good at sharing my thoughts and feelings. Grandma hasn’t been. Grandma has been the “Bearer of Children’s Joy and Sorrows” for a VERY long time! Having helped raised her own brothers and sisters, and now she gets to share in 4 year-old Nico’s life, she has at least 80 years of listening to the honest thought of children.
Anyone who has been around children much at all, has got to know what little sponges they are. They soak up, not just the new tactile experiences from the world around them, but the emotional ones too. My Grandparents, whether they spoke of it or not, BOTH knew this. Grandpa taught me about this through great discussions of the brain, the way our environment could affect us and how important Religion was to people. Grandma Taught me by example.
It has only been in these years since we lost Grandpa that I really have understood this. Anyone who knew my grandparents could see they were the very definition of “SoulMates”. Grandma NEVER said anything the least critical about Grandpa until she had to go in the hospital and we had to discus those terrible legal issues no one wants to talk about. When the nurse asked about a DNR, Grandma said “there were things Dad did that I really didn’t agree with.” Naturally Dad’s reaction was to arrange a lawyer so she could get those things taken care of. My reaction was to find out exactly what she was talking about.
So we really started talking. Or rather I really started LISTENING. My Dad and I have always had a weird relationship, probably because his parents helped raise me. So when I started thinking about the fact that Grandpa might not have always been perfect, it was as unsettling as watching him walk out the door of the house that last time. Not everyone even has the concept of perfect parental figures, but I thought I HAD one! It was a few months after Grandma lived with us that she made it a point to remind me, “You know Grandpa wasn’t always perfect.”
I don’t even remember what it was I was talking about, but clearly I must have been complaining about poor Bill. And it made me really start thinking about my marriage and marriage in general. After all, Grandma had at least 30 years with Grandpa before I came along. And she’s not nearly as difficult to live with as I am.
In a perfect world, Marriage is Forever. I know we don’t live in a perfect world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create one for someone else. Anything worthwhile takes effort. Anyone who has to live with someone who is Bi-Polar is already putting effort into the relationship. Unfortunately(?) for Bill, I feel the need to not only make myself a better person, I also feel the need to make my marriage the best it can be.
For me, that means telling poor Bill when he has done something to upset me, especially if it upsets me A LOT. Yesterday was one of those days, and poor Bill had to, not just listen as he was told he had done something to wound my already bruised psyche, he was doing so as he tried to take care of my physical health! How difficult it must have been to be truing to do something nice for someone who is telling you that you hurt their high-strung emotions!
See, that’s just the thing: we all know people with BP cannot trust their emotions. We know we tend to feel things more intently than others, and at times, disproportionately to the situation. I know when my house is not clean, I get tense. For two weeks I have done nothing but go to work, just as my husband asked me, and here he was asking me to sit another evening when I had already made the compromise of staying home instead of going back to work. This weekend was a terrible waste of time, which for me is as precious as the air I breath. I NEVER get to see my cousins and my uncle had brought some of them up from North Carolina for the weekend. My car broke down and ruined my plans of visiting with them as the men in my life explored their testosterone levels. No matter how irritated I was, I understood they were just trying to help. I started the weekend with an adverse reaction to the new medication for my Fibromyalgea and I was just returning home after an amazingly close call in Grandma’s car. You’re thinking it was really not the best time to have what was likely to be an emotionally charged conversation.
You’re probably right.
But I did it anyway.
After four days of emotional restraint, I’m lucky I didn’t have a heart attack, but I was able to keep myself in-check, even when I felt his anger was unnecessary. THAT, my friends, is a moment for someone like me to be proud of. No one wants to be told they had reacted to a situation poorly. No one wants to be told they hurt the feelings of someone they love. No one wants to, but I truly Believe that people cannot correct mistakes if they don’t know they make them.
How can you expect a relationship to be successful at all if there’s no communication? A relationship where someone keeps hurting the other is not successful at all! I expect people, ALL people, not just the people I love, to tell me when I have done something they consider harmful. If I make a mistake I want to know so I can either correct it, or make sure I don’t do it again. This is part of how we learn.
Those who know me, are well aware that learning and emotions are two of my Life’s Priorities. Yesterday I successfully handled both and though my poor husband hates it when I share our lives, I think it truly sinful to not help someone when you are able. I know someone will read this and believe in themselves. No one is really normal and when you KNOW you’re not, it’s hard to believe you ever can be again.
Having an emotional disorder like BP makes me constantly second-guess myself. I have to wonder if what I am feeling is appropriate in terms of what the situation is. Sometimes I simply reflect the emotions of other people around me as well. Because I know my emotions can easily get out of control, I TRY to be emotionally in tune with the people I love, ESPECIALLY when I am being honest with them.
Yes, these past days have been terrible difficult. My priorities seemed to be ignored at times, but I am thankful for the gift of that challenge. All these things came together in such a way that I was able to address my emotional needs with my husband, who is learning to care for a very difficult individual. I was able to do this because of the people I love: the nieces, nephews and others who look to us to set examples for them by the way we deal with our difficulties; my parental figures who have lead by their examples and honesty; because of you-that one person who I know needs to hear this and Believe they are not alone in their struggle.
Life IS a challenge. As long as you Care, it will never get easier. In fact, the more you Care, the more difficult it will get. I KNOW this though; it also gets more worthwhile the more you Care. The greater the Struggle, the greater the Victory. You are more in control of your life than you Believe.