blame game

Nicole and I had a little conversation about her depression and her attitude toward my wife and I. It morphed into her telling me that my issues were to blame for her bad attitude. She said that I needed to see someone to take care of my deep-seated anger problems, then I will stop misdirecting that anger at her. She says it is my anger that causes her to refuse to be responsible for her life. By the end, we were both quite angry, and I still am irritated with her.

It irritates me that she blames me for something that is partially caused by her bipolar and partially due to her being lazy. She completely disregards the effort I have made to get over the idea that I am responsible for her bipolar. I have learned to not be guilty over her condition, and her amateur diagnosis tries to put me back in that place.

It also irritates me that she has no appreciation for the effort of my wife and I to provide for her and give her opportunities that she has wasted. She has no idea of the effort it has taken for me to just be here and alive at this time rather then running away or hurting myself.

I won’t argue that I don’t have issues, but she is the biggest source of my anger right now. When she says that her problems are my fault, it is just a big “fuck you” right in my face, and I don’t deserve that.

meow mix

One way to tell if I have a depression coming on is if I get overemotional about things, or cry at the slightest provocation.

max meow mix

I almost cried at the warehouse store the other day when I saw the Meow Mix bag. The young cat on the bag looks almost exactly like Max when we first got him from the shelter. Then a couple days later I was mowing next to Max’s final resting place, and I almost cried again. Yes, I still miss him.

flying

A little daydream I wrote in 2006 during a depressive spiral:


Every time a plane takes off, jets thrusting,
guided in flight by Bernoulli’s invisible hands,
I reach out with my mind, chasing, climbing, until I can see inside.
People-watching in my imagination,
inventing stories and lives for the passengers …

In 17B, a teenager caught between parents in a divorce.
In 20E, a woman fleeing an abusive husband.
In 2A, a businesswoman working on her Powerpoint slides.
In 36D, a nervous flier who wishes he could flirt with Miss 36C.
In the galley, a manic flight attendant on the edge of control, putting on a brave face.
In the cockpit, a copilot distracted, anticipating his lover’s skin.

In 11F, a dreamer who enjoys the journey more than the destination .. briefly aware of my presence, his spirit nods in understanding of a common need to roam, always moving, avoiding the process of growing roots, escaping responsibility and commitment …

Finally my mind is stretched too thin
I snap back to reality
Wishing I had a journey to take, something interesting to do.

When you’re on the move you have no chores, dishes, cleaning, mopping, shoveling snow.
No army of helpers to take care of the details
no pilots to guide the way.

Instead of the adrenaline of takeoff,
the tedium of another day is all that awaits.
With one last glance at the rising plane,
I hang my head again.

timeline

By the time I was 7, I knew there was something wrong with me. I knew I wasn’t like other kids, but I didn’t really know why. I knew I carried lots of secrets and baggage with me, and I knew I couldn’t talk about it with anyone – not people at church, not friends or teachers at school, not other family members or my adopted mom’s friends. I learned to trust no one but myself.

By the time I was 10, I understood what emotional abuse was, but I didn’t understand that it was happening to me. I saw it inflicted on A-mom, and I tried to help protect her. At the same time, I learned my love of the forest, because hiding in the woods was a refuge away from the problems at home. I found I could hide physically, but when I was at home I learned to hide emotionally as well.

By the time I was 16, A-mom and I were out of the situation that had caused so much hurt, but there was the little problem that I still felt empty and damaged and hurt inside. I trusted no one with the deep secrets until Lisa came along. She was the first person I wanted to trust, and the first person I ever felt safe telling some of those corrosive secrets. I suppose that’s why I loved her so intensely, probably in an unhealthy way, and she was right to keep me in the friend zone no matter how much it hurt me at the time.

By the time I was 20, I thought I had healed from the scars on my psyche. I naively thought that I could get past that pain that easily, and that I would be okay. I thought it was safe to start building honest relationships, even though I had never been in one or near one. I thought I was going to be successful in spite of everything that happened.

By the time I was 21, I had lost my co-survivor, my A-mom, and I inherited all her emotional baggage as well of two houses full of bad memories. The old wounds inside were ripped open again, but I thought I could band-aid everything over by myself. I started to hide things again, even as I was getting married. I thought I could keep the memories out of my head by keeping myself busy at school. I learned that evil people can haunt you both physically and emotionally. I also learned to self-medicate with alcohol.

By the time I was 25, I felt like I had healed again. I had purged all physical reminders of the past, and I was working on removing all my memories from that time and place. I moved far away, making it easier to separate myself from the past. However, I was bitter with the feeling that I had been manipulated into starting a family I wasn’t ready for. I ignored the bursts of anger and depression that still popped up with regularity.

By the time I was 28, I had physically recovered from a near-fatal crash, but emotionally I was still trying to reassemble myself. My deep depression after the crash hurt me deeply, but I didn’t want to admit that I needed help. I felt I could fix things on my own. After all, I had a new job and had escaped a strange job situation with an emotionally unstable boss. I had two little kids to try to build a relationship with, and a support system with my wife’s family. I minimized the fact the depression and anger were getting worse.

By the time I was 34, I knew I was moving into deep waters emotionally. I was hiding more from Anne than ever before, trying to protect her from the growing beast inside me. I turned for help to Lisa, who in turn told me I needed more help than she could give. I admitted to myself that I couldn’t fix things on my own, and finally sought help. I started therapy, and learned how easily the old woulds could be ripped open again and hurt more than ever. I left therapy, and paid no attention to the fact that my anger and depression were unabated.

By the time I was 36, I learned I had bipolar, and this gave me an easy way to explain the anger and depression, still ignoring the fact that I had never dealt with the root cause of the hurt inside. Despite all my efforts to purge the past from my mind, new memories would rise to the surface and hurt me all over again. I tried therapy again, but I never felt like it could heal me. I felt more damaged and broken than ever before.

By the time I was 43, I had finally calmed down the bipolar symptoms so that during periods of stability I could come to terms with what happened in the past. I realized that the scars will never fade completely, but by then I could think about the past without being overwhelmed by it. I had finally come to an point of acceptance where I understood that my life will always be affected by what happened when I was a kid, and nothing can change that. I decided I could stop being angry because no amount of anger can change the past, it only gives the past the power to hurt me.

After all this time, I have still never learned to forgive.

while my ear gently weeps

The sign said a Beatles cover band was playing at the senior center by the lake Friday night. The fish-in-laws invited Anne to go with them, and she asked me if I wanted to tag along. It was a nice evening, so against my better judgment, I decided to go.

The band started playing, and it was evident they were not on top of their game. The singer/guitarist played okay, but their harmonies were cringe-worthy. They were advertised as a Beatles cover band, but after three songs that started playing an assortment of light rock from the 70s to the 2000s, without much success.

Some of the crowd had no idea whether the band was good or not. There were several people from a nearby special needs home attending, and they were having a great time dancing and clapping with the music. Maybe I envied them a little, having so much fun being themselves and living in the moment.

out of touch, out of time

Manic moves and drowsy dreams
Or living in the middle between the two extremes
– Hall & Oates

I have been away for a while, for multiple reasons. Being out of touch with my circle of blogs can leave me with an empty space, because I don’t feel like I have that support system when things aren’t going well. Even if no one comments or interacts with me, I still feel like I need an outlet for my thoughts (no matter how trivial or deep they may be).

our pop-up trailer

I went on a campout for a few days with family and some of Anne’s former daycare-parents-slash-friends. Anne hasn’t done daycare for about 18 months, but she still likes to do the campout to see the kids and let the kids interact with each other. It is less enjoyable for me when the daycare people are there, because I don’t know them very well. I just feel uncomfortable and a little anxious because I don’t feel like it is safe to be myself or to let my smile card down.

While we were camping I started feeling sick. I ended up with a massive head cold, coughing, phlegm, the whole works. I took a day off work, and should have taken two more, but we have a rather stringent sick policy at work (we have lots of sick leave, but we get reprimanded if we use more than 5 days per year). It has taken me about a week to fully feel better.

I’ve also been in a bit of depression the last few weeks. Part of it is due to external forces, but mostly it is just the bipolar depression hitting me. I haven’t been productive at work, I’m not motivated to do anything at home, I want to be alone most of the time … but of course the world needs me, so I press on.

Next I went to a learning conference for work, which was interesting. There were other people from my office there, but I avoided them as much as possible. I thought it would more enjoyable to sit in the hotel room and write blog posts in the evenings. Then I find out my old-ass laptop couldn’t connect to the hotel’s wi-fi for some reason (even though it works fine at home). So with no internet, I took my pants off and watched baseball on the tv. (Yankees suck!)

Despite all of the above, the main reason I haven’t been online is because I have no time to myself. I don’t feel like I can do any writing, blog or otherwise, when anyone is around me. I get a few minutes when everyone is out or when Anne is gone and the kids hide in their rooms, but I quickly run out of time. I’m not hiding anything .. ok, maybe I am, because I write some pretty negative stuff about the family sometimes, and I can understand how they might be hurt by some things I have written .. ok, I guess I’m hiding things, but I need this space to be myself when it’s not okay to be this person anywhere else. It’s not my fault that the truth would hurt everyone else in my life.

 

crystals

for D, who I hope can get clean


snowflakes on your body
not melting on your frigid skin
protecting you in a layer of perfection
a quiet peace you’ve never known

crystals in your hair and in your veins
the warmth has left your pallid face
unblinking eyes went cold long before
pale blue windows on a broken soul

snowflakes falling, drifting, blown
lying in an alley, all alone

lingering grief

The Invisible Scar website had an article about the grief suffered by people who were emotionally abused as a child. She writes that people grieve things such as the loss of childhood, loss of the people who the abusers should have been, loss of future happiness, or the losses felt by their younger selves. The article includes the idea that those sorrows must be processed in the same way as those for a death in the family or a traumatic event, because for some people childhood was a very long traumatic event from which the grief was delayed for many years.

I know my experiences from childhood were not severe compared to those of other people, but I was deeply affected by what happened to me. My entire life has been clouded by what I learned as a child: shame, guilt, spite, anger, mistrust, isolation, social anxiety, and a lack of self-esteem.

I lost so many things during childhood, but it was not until I escaped from the situation did I begin to realize what I had lost and what it had cost me. I became very angry as a young man because despite my new freedom, I still felt like I deserved to feel pain and hurt from childhood. “You sabotage yourself,” someone told me, and they were right; I kept returning to that mental state of being a victim, and the memory of my losses fueled my anger.

Over the years that anger settled into my psyche as a deep and lingering depression from which I was powerless to escape. It took me many years before I admitted to myself I needed help dealing with the Beast within my soul, and to get rid of the boxes of stuff in the mental attic which I was afraid to open. I tried therapy for a couple of years, and I think it helped, but I was scared to continue because the feelings were too raw. I tried to bottle it up again, but of course that was unsuccessful.

It has been only recently that I have been able to let go of some of these memories and no longer allow them to have power over my life. I still struggle with depression, but it is more due to the bipolar than the memory of the abuse. I still have problems with social anxiety, but I have been able to fool most of the people most of the time, and avoid situations where I know I would fail. I still isolate and compartmentalize, and I have discarded all connections to my past life except for those buried in my memory.

Looking through the lens of time and distance, I still feel sad for the losses I felt as a child. I wish for him that I had been in a different place where I had felt like I belonged, and like I deserved to feel good about myself. I wish for him that I had been able to gain confidence to succeed in life, and that I learned healthy social skills to be better able to relate to people without damaging myself in the process. I wish he had received unconditional love from people whose problems did not cause them to be abusers. I wish he didn’t have to hide alone to feel safe, a feeling that still exists to this day.

I still feel damaged, and I still feel for little Rob and the shit he had to go through, and I still have anger issues. However, I see myself with more empathy and compassion now than ever before, and I suppose that is a healthier place.