high inquisitor

I have questioned my memory of the person I was in the past. I think I was a decent person, but at the same time broken, awkward, and angry due to the years of abuse. I tend to remember the worst of who I was and how I treated people, and I remember the stupid things I did because of early-onset bipolar. These feelings happen during my depressive moods, and I have a difficult time escaping the darkness that envelops my thought processes.

I have this irrational desire to question my old friends to find out what I was like from their perspective and see how terrible a person I really was. I found something I wrote here during a depressive spiral in 2011:

I keep going back to my memory to try to find the answers on my own, but I need [old friends’] testimony as evidence to build the case against myself. I want to know if they remember everything the way I do, if their story checks out with the alleged facts in my mind. I have to know what they were thinking or feeling at the time, why they did what they did, why they cared about me in the first place, what I did to drive them away, … and why they decided they could no longer trust me. I need them to tell me how badly I hurt them, and if those scars remain, and if they think about those times with sadness or anger. I want them to confirm that I was really the monster I think I was.

I’ve had people from the past tell me they remember me as a basically good person and a good friend who seemed to have things figured out. Maybe I really fooled them, which makes me a disingenuous fraud, or they aren’t being truthful; either way, I don’t believe them. I think they are trying to protect my feelings, trying to be supportive and kind rather than honest. That’s not what I want from them; I want the unvarnished facts, don’t pull your punches, give it to me straight … I can handle the truth.

I want to know … but I don’t know if I have the right to ask these questions. I want to put people I’ve loved through this insane line of questioning even though it might hurt them now more than I ever did before. Sometimes I’m prepared to torture my friends and family to get the truth, and fuck the consequences. … I know I shouldn’t do this, to myself or my loved ones, but I’m still obsessed. I still want to know, even if I have to hurt them to get the answers.

 

I have had to accept that people from my past grew up and let go; they’ve moved on, lived their life, and made their choices … while leaving me in their past. They have forgotten the exact details of that afternoon in 1986, or that weekend in 1989, or that evening in 1993. They don’t remember what song was playing, or what cookies we shared, or where we sat in the grass. They have done what adults do, leaving the details to fade into the background, just remembering the highlights, maybe feeling a little nostalgia when looking at an old yearbook, but then closing the yearbook and coming back to the present.

Sometimes I don’t know how to do that. Sometimes I want to punish myself by examining everything in painful detail, repeatedly analyzing what went wrong and what I could have done to fix it, wishing I could go back and just make a small revision or two, and wanting to find out how the story could have ended.

girl of my dreams

Lisa visited me again last night. Of all the people I’ve ever met, she is the one who appears in my dreams most often. Sometimes as a friend, sometimes as a lover, sometimes as someone else’s lover, but always with that brilliant, genuine smile that lights up the room and makes you feel like you are the most important person in her world.

During our friendship she saved me from my dark places, she saved Christmas for me, and on one occasion maybe saved me from hurting myself (though she never knew it). She was the most emotionally well-adjusted person I knew, but she had her problems too, and I was there for her to cry on my shoulder. She was the first person I ever truly loved, but we never officially became a couple because she said it would ruin the relationship. She was probably right, but at the time I would have followed her anywhere had she wanted me to.

We remained in contact for several years after I got married, and we even visited each other a couple of times. Then my bipolar started raging again, and my e-mails and messages got increasingly neurotic. It scared her away, and she said she couldn’t continue down that path. We drifted apart, like so many friendships do. It would be difficult to be friends again without saying or doing something stupid that would make her uncomfortable.

Out of all the people I’ve discarded and relationships I’ve let slip away, this is the one that hurts. I remember what we had in 1989, but I can’t seem to let that go. I couldn’t go to her wedding, and I can’t go to reunions because I would see her there. I’m afraid to write to her because I don’t know if she would be interested in what I have to say anymore.

We are friends on Fakebook, but we don’t interact with each other. How sad is that? I would have spent a lifetime with her, and now we have the ability to catch up on things but never do. I don’t know what her thinking is, but maybe she believes that I would just cause chaos that she doesn’t want. She’s probably right, as usual.

unhealthy nostalgia

I spend way too much time looking back at my past. I dwell on things I’ve done, both good and bad. I mentally escape to places I’ve visited. I think too much about people I’ve loved (or hated). I ruminate about the events that shaped my life.

Usually my brain is occupied with the tasks at hand, whether working, dealing with Nicole’s illness, or taking care of the house we live in. The trouble comes in those quiet moments when I’m by myself and my brain is caught in between processes. That’s when I revert to the rumination and dwelling on the past.

There have been times when I was unstable that I actually felt like my “current life” was not real, and I needed to run away from it to someone or something that was real. I felt like I had lost my true self with every decision I had made since events in 1989 and 1990. I felt like I could reverse time and fix those choices many years later, with no regard for the collateral damage it would cause to other people. Fortunately I escaped this distorted thinking and never followed through with any half-hearted plans I may have had.

I think my emotional depression promotes that dualistic, fork-in-the-road type of thinking where I ponder what might have been if I had made the other choice, or if fate had made the other choice for me. My bipolar depressive mood swings exacerbate this way of thinking. I have read the term “double depression”, and I believe this describes my state when I am at my worst. During these episodes it is difficult to concentrate on real life and stay engaged, but that is exactly what I need to avoid slipping back into those thought patterns.

It’s not good for me to be alone for long periods of time, because I think myself into a spiral of sorrow and regret for the life I have lived and the choices I have made. It was very bad when I was driving the big rig for days in a row, because my mind wandered during the long stretches of open road. While I was very creative during that time, I was also self-destructive in my introspection, and it shows in my writing from that period.

This behavior is unhealthy. I need to spend more time thinking about what is, and the choices I will make now and in the future, rather than dwelling in the past. It’s difficult for me to let go, like a story where you have grown so connected with the characters that you don’t want to let them go … but sometimes things need to fade into the distance.