“Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a man deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost.” ~Thomas Morton
Just over a week ago a friend invited me to ride with her to Texarkana to see ‘Julie & Julia’. The trip takes just over an hour so we had plenty of time to talk. I did. Talk, that is. A lot. And then, most surprisingly, I was dealt a strong dose of my own brutally honest medicine. “At some point you just have suck it up… get over it all and live!” she said. Hey! I’ve said those words. Not to myself in a very long time, but I have said them to tons of other people.
She’s right. Of course.
And, then, after finishing this entry and getting prepared to post it, I had an instant message chat with an old friend. Following that conversation I sent him an email about some of the things we discussed. He responded as follows:
“FYI...you are beginning to sound really snide. There is absolutely nothing worse then feigned interest from you friends and few things as abruptly disheartening as hearing (in essence) "im sorry, i am not really interested after all...".”
He’s right. Of course. I answered:
“Point taken. I didn't mean to come across as snide and I really do care what and how you are doing, but I can see how you thought that my inquiries were more flippant than heartfelt. I am sorry. My attitude in general is pretty bad lately and I'm quite sure it carries over into everything, but that is no excuse… [edited bits] … At the same time, I'm terribly self-absorbed right now. Despite the I-don't-give-a-damn-about-anyone-or-anything vibe I have going... you should know me well enough to realize that I feign nothing. I'm too old to play games. I won't ask how you are unless I really do care.”
I was right. I was also very, very wrong. Of course.
Things have not been terribly ideal of late. In fact, life has been pretty shitty… or shittier, I should say. I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to live my life closer to the melancholic than the joyful, but the last two months have been particularly difficult and it would seem I’ve become rather vocal about my problems. Oh, I usually voice my frustrations, just not excessively. Most of the time I am telling myself, “Suck it up! Move on!” and that keeps me from turning into the resident drama queen. Apparently I've been to tired to repeat the mantra in my head. I hate drama.
“I shouldn’t be so upset because life goes on and I should go on with it.” ~The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
So what happened? I cracked. That’s what happened. Everyone has their breaking point and apparently, after 15 years, I reached mine. You read that right. Fifteen years!
It’s hard enough for the average human to learn how to turn off the rollercoaster of self-pity and regret. We all have to live with the consequences of our actions and decisions. Letting go of such self deprecating behavior is nigh impossible, however, when one makes major, life-altering (and not for the better) decisions when one is clinically mentally unstable. I have been open about my struggle with Bipolar Disorder. What not many know is that I spent the summer of 1994 in a full-blown highly self-destructive manic phase. My diagnosis followed a year and a half later, but by then I had already derailed my train. Living with consequences became a reality and much of what has occurred and continues to occur in the avalanche of my life is a direct result of a snowball that started rolling downhill at an alarming rate… 15 years ago.
Every time I have ventured forward… stepped out in faith… in an attempt to better life for me and my children, the sound of slamming doors has followed close behind. Spirits of Marriage Past (not elaborating) have surfaced to haunt me. Is it possible that the fates do not want me to succeed?
I have chatted with counselors and others who are Bipolar and I’m not alone in the battle of regret. It’s common. That doesn’t make me feel any better though. It’s hard to course correct… especially when there is someone in your life actively hindering the improvement process. This makes for far more bad times than good. I have friends (specifically those from childhood or high school) who constantly and consistently tell me how strong I am… how they could never have dealt with some of the situations I have found myself… how they admire the fact that I’ve never given up. Well, friends, reread that quote above. I hit bottom about a month ago. This is not a depression rock bottom (My meds are fine.). I hit an I-don’t-give-a-damn-anymore bottom. For several weeks: I. Gave. Up. I stopped asking for help. No offense to my friends, family, coworkers… God… but, I stopped asking because I wasn’t getting any help anyway. Emotionally? Nope. Spiritually? Obviously not. Financially? Yeah, right. Who could in this economy? I truly felt, and still do (to an extent), as though I had nowhere to turn. And, yes, I found contentment in my self-indulgent misery. I was happy in my unhappiness. Not giving a damn about anything is incredibly freeing… for a time.
I couldn’t write about it then. I can now because I did reach a turning point, hence my birthday post and my pledge that I am just getting my life started (see, Mo, I told you I’d steal your Carpe Diem phrase). I’ve been trying to live… really live… but I also get caught up looking too far into the future. I see where I want to be and I forget to live in the here and now. There are some astoundingly major obstacles that have to be overcome, but I’m the only one who can do this. There are some drastic changes happening within me. I can no longer pretend to care about certain things. My brutal honesty, for those close to me, may become – for a time – a bit more brutal. I may shock you. Toes are bound to be trod on.
"I'm thinking that sometimes you just have to make the decision to be happy. Just realize that things aren't ever what you hoped they'd be. Not ever. For anybody. The only thing that separates one kind of person from another is that there are some who stay angry about it and there are some who accept what comes their way." ~Away From Her, Film (2006)
It’s time for me to choose to be happy. I am far too exhausted to continue being angry at the manic reckless bitch who started the rolling snowball. The avalanche didn’t kill me and I clawed my way to the surface a long time ago. It’s about damn time I felt the sun upon my face… and let my heart thaw.