love in the friend zone

As I entered high school, in the aftermath of years of emotional abuse, I was a psychological train wreck. I put on a front for everybody, because that’s what I learned as a child: It’s nobody’s business, they don’t need to know, you can’t trust anyone other than your dysfunctional family. I became an actor, playing a role just as well as anyone in the drama class in high school. I had “friends”, but they knew nothing about my life other than what I allowed them to see. Everybody thought of me as the smart guy who had everything going my way; I felt like a fraud. I had the stress of being a teenager, the stress of portraying the overachiever I was expected to be, the stress of undiagnosed early-onset bipolar, and the stress of recovering from an abusive childhood. I was at a breaking point, and I wondered what it would be like to die, though I didn’t have any suicidal plans.

Lisa was the first person I knew I could trust with everything. We had become acquainted over a couple of years of friendly competition in middle school, but when we got to high school we became much closer and started hanging out together most of the time. Rumors flew of course, but at the time we didn’t care, we were just having fun being friends. I realized she wasn’t being superficial, and she wasn’t going to pull the football away at the last second. Even in my confused and fragile state, I understood that she was a true friend.

There was one day when something had triggered me, and I was in one of those mixed depressive states I have come to know too well. I was on the verge of tears all day, but also ready to fight with anyone who crossed my path. At some point I hid myself away in an unused corridor and cried so hard it physically hurt, the sadness and anxiety and anger just pouring out of me uncontrollably. Somehow, Lisa found me, and she sat down and cried with me. It made her sad that I was hurting so badly, and her empathy touched me deeply. No one had ever been there for me in that way before, and it was unbelievable that anyone could care for me so much.

My love for her grew from friends to something more. I was so immature emotionally, and maybe I saw her as a caregiver as well as a friend and a potential romantic partner. Eventually I got the nerve to bring up the topic, and finally I asked her what she thought of being more than friends. She gave me the “it might ruin our friendship” speech, and from anyone else it may have sounded fake, but I believed she was being genuine.

I accepted what she said, for the time being, and our friendship was fine, but I was always looking for an opportunity to convince her she was wrong. That opportunity never arrived, for various reasons. We both had relationships come and go, and we remained friends, but she was who I wanted to be with. I would have followed her anywhere if she had given me any kind of indication that she loved me in the same way I loved her. Anywhere.

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Part of me still misses what we had at the time, and I have thought a lot about what a life with Lisa might have been. I used to IM her and write her manic e-mails in the pre-Fakebook days, but she eventually stopped replying (probably because my messages were bizarre and obsessive). I still dream about her, and I’ve written poems and blog posts about her. I’m friends with her on Fakebook, but we never chat or message each other; if she wanted to communicate with me, she would have by now. I could never tell her the million thoughts I have had about her, because it would be too disruptive to both our lives. It would be unfair to her to drag her into my messed-up mind.

I know that between us, I am the only one who is still obsessed with our ancient history. I’m not a perfect person, and I know hanging on to memories like this is unhealthy to me and potentially damaging to my current relationship. I know I should forget those days, but I don’t know how to let some things go. I love some of those memories, but sometimes they fuck with my brain. Maybe other people forget their memories from those days, and they are better off for it. Maybe it helps them move on.

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your wildest dreams

My daughter told me that when she dreams of me, I am always angry, volatile, moody, or closed off emotionally. She said she can’t remember a dream where I was happy or supportive. I didn’t tell her, but it made me very sad.

I have struggled to be a father to my two kids despite having bipolar, and I’m afraid it hasn’t worked out very well. During the first half of their lives I was completely uncontrolled, and I brought chaos and instability to their lives. After my diagnosis I was doing a better job of managing my illness, but I was also very absent emotionally (and physically at times).

I think the biggest change is in my level of anger that I brought with me since childhood. I love my family very much, but I was so angry that it was damaging my relationships, nearly to the breaking point. At the same time I have been mostly depressed due to the bipolar, and the combination of angry bipolar was very chaotic for me and my family. This was the environment my kids grew up in, and they learned their behaviors partly from me.

It has taken me 40 years to release the pent-up feelings that were so toxic earlier in life. I think I am in a much more accepting place with respect to my past experiences. I have finally learned to allow what happened to remain in the past. Unfortunately there was damage done that I can never undo. The best I can do is move forward and try to be a better person for my adult children.

self-centered

My bipolar makes me self-centered, and not in a healthy way. Sometimes I obsess over my depression and anxiety and insecurities, and the inner dialog becomes all about me-me-me. In those times I really don’t care about other people and their problems.

It’s difficult when I spend so much energy managing my own health, and there is so little energy left for anything outside myself. Sometimes I feel like I have to protect my fragile psyche when events become too overwhelming, and my thoughts focus inward. It is good to take care of myself, but I’m not very empathetic unless something affects me personally.

emotional eating

I seem to be stuck in an endless cycle of eating, satisfaction, and depression. I think I am addicted to the feeling of being full and satisfied. I can’t get satisfaction any other way, so I eat the sadness away. I feel full and content for a while, but then the feeling goes away, so I have to eat more to bring the feeling back again. In the meantime I feel embarrassed and disgusted about being fat, which leads to depression. A few hours later I need to eat again, and the cycle continues. I wish my depression made me lose my appetite. Instead it makes me crave comfort, and comfort food, and so I eat.

I learned this behavior when I was young. My adopted mom was also an emotional eater. Furthermore, we used food as an escape from the toxic and abusive environment we lived in. When she and I would go out to eat, we could avoid talking about our problems, and for a short time escape reality by enjoying the food and the feeling of being full. After the meal was done, we would go back to reality, and the momentary happiness dissolved.

I don’t know how to disassociate food from happiness. I enjoy good food, but I will also eat mediocre food to get the emotional high. In the meantime I don’t really do anything to take care of my body, like exercising or making better food choices. Vegetables don’t make me feel full and content.

Because of the embarrassment and anxiety of being seen eating, I would rather eat alone. I prefer take-out food to eating in, and I love drive-up windows. I try not to go to the same place more than once a week so they don’t remember me, because that would also be embarrassing.

By the way, it’s time for a snack.

the mother of all visits

The mother of all visits went pretty much as I expected. The first couple of days were fine, the next 2 days she got on my nerves, and on the last day I think we were both glad she got on the plane.

The simple truth is that I just don’t like her. She is a little too pushy, too loud, too racist, too whatever, and it just rubs me the wrong way. She thinks she knows everything and is an expert on everything, and isn’t afraid to let you know. She thinks she has my problems figured out, and she thinks she can figure out Nicole’s problems. Just like 10 years ago, I don’t really know how to tell her that she has no right to do that.

We are such vastly different people. She hides her vulnerabilities behind brash outspokenness, while I try to disappear into the wallpaper. She loves to speak her mind constantly – so many words – where I am more parsimonious with my thoughts. She is very emotional, while I am dead inside. She has no respect for my personal space, while my space bubble is the limit of my vision.

She pushes too much sometimes. She touches me when I don’t want her to. I guess it is a combination of her personality and her desire to be parental. She is constantly finding new and horrifying ways to express her love, which I have not returned. She is trying too hard to be “Mom”, and I don’t really want that. I don’t know how to express that without upsetting her deeply. Like I wrote in the old blog many years ago, I don’t want or need another Mom; I had one, and the experience wasn’t the best, and I don’t need B-mom thinking she is finally ready to assume that role.

This is no way to build a relationship, yet that is exactly what she has wanted for the past 10 years. I don’t know how to like someone when I don’t, so I guess I fake it, just like I fake everything else.

It has been almost two weeks since she left, and we haven’t talked. If I could get a word in, I might tell her how much her meddling irritates me. I could tell her I don’t have room to “love” any more people. I could tell her I don’t really want her to visit again, and definitely not longer next time. Then again, I won’t get a chance to say any of those things because she will be talking the entire time.

vulnerable

I am sinking. I feel vulnerable and fragile. It scares me that anyone could walk up to me and say something that would damage me to the core, and I seemingly have no defense at the moment. I’m afraid that I will let that vulnerability show.

I tend to isolate myself when I feel this way, like a wounded animal that hides while they regain their strength. I feel wounded, but I don’t feel like hiding will help me. It’s not like I can hide anyway, because I have to put on my mask and go to work every day.

I’m trapped between the need for income and insurance on one side, and my own unmet needs on the other. It has always been this way; reading back through 12 years of blogging reminds me that I have always had this conflict between what I need for myself and what I need to be for everyone else.

I don’t know how to solve this dilemma. I read advice that tells me I need to take little breaks and do things just for me. The reality is I want escape, and no amount of temporary respite will give me what I need. I don’t want a break. I just want to leave it all behind.

These are the type of thoughts that lead one to believe it is okay to put an end to it all. It makes the most sense logically, if you really consider it. The problem is that I don’t want to die just yet.