This week marked the end of a year since my last marriage ended. The relationship only lasted five years, only two of which where we were actually married. Now that a year has passed I’ve gotten over the shock and have had time to grieve over what was lost. I’ve moved on.
Our relationship had a fairy tale beginning. I was only a couple of months out of my previous marriage and had absolutely no intention of getting involved with someone new. I wasn’t going to sit at home and rot either, and decided to take east coast swing dance lessons just to get out of the house. The second week of these lessons we met. The moment our hands touched there felt like an instant connection. Instead of dancing, we sat and talked for hours. It was like catching up with someone I had known for years instead of just beginning to get to know each other. By the end of the night we were finishing each other’s sentences like a couple that had been together for years. It was comfortable and natural, and I totally forgot my resolve not to get involved.
We had our first date a week later. We went out to dinner at any oyster bar, and shared a dozen of them as an appetizer. Again, it was like being with an old friend. The next night I went to her house can cooked dinner for her. And we went out the next night again. And the next night. And the next. Once we had our first date we were spending time with each other every night. Two weeks after we met we had our first sexual encounter. She knew we were planning to spend the night together, but she didn’t know how or where. I planned a surprise dinner at an art museum, after which I took her to a nice hotel to spend the night. It was amazing.
At that point I hadn’t figured out I was bipolar, but I did tell her that I had a history of mental illness, including the fact that I had been hospitalized multiple times. I was hypo manic, but I felt like I had been normal for years, and told her that whatever my issues were I had them completely under control. And at the time, I did. She would tell me about how horrible her marriage of 24 years had been, and what a complete asshole her ex was. We would sit and talk for hours, commiserating our respective pasts, and finding out that we had many experiences in common.
It was incredible how similar we were with each other. Not only shared experiences, but our tastes, our way of speaking, even mannerisms were in complete lockstep. We would talk about how we would decorate a house if money were no object, and it was always exactly the same. She would use slang that was just like mine. We would even cross our legs at the same time and the same way every time we sat down. It was like talking to myself and looking in a mirror. It was only a couple of months before the “L” word was spoken. We both claimed we were not going to, but the feelings were strong and in spite of myself I fell in love. She took me to meet her parents, and from the first they accepted me as one of the family. Things couldn’t have been any better.
Then trouble started. I had a series of events that triggered the first depression I had in years. Within two weeks I had been falsely arrested, lost my job, told I had cancer and lost my mother. Depression was completely understandable, and she was wonderful with her acceptance and support. After just a couple of months without a job I could no longer pay my rent, and I moved in with her. It had only been six months, but it seemed like the natural thing to do. We were together every day anyway, and there was no sense in us both maintaining a household. It took about four months before I got my depression under control, but as frequently happens I became hypo-manic again. I found work, and threw myself into the job at a fevered pace. Life was good, and our relationship flourished.
Time passed, and after a couple more years we decided that we should get married. She did an awesome job the next year preparing, and we had an incredible wedding. I felt like I had finally found my soul mate.
But now the mania was starting to escalate. I started having problems at work, and my anger was building daily. It was never directed at her, but I would come home from work ranting and raving about all the issues I was having. As usually happens with my episodes, anger turned into rage. My driving became so aggressive she would frequently close her eyes as I whipped in and out of traffic, tailgating and cutting off other drivers. My anger at home became out of control. This went on for about six months and she was putting up with a lot. Then I crashed. The depression that settled in was just as extreme as the mania I had just come out of. After six months of trying to fight it, I ended up in a mental hospital. This was the time that I finally accepted the diagnoses of bipolar disorder, and everything could now be explained. I really felt like I had turned the corner and could, for the first time, be able to manage my symptoms.
As soon as I had been released from the hospital, I lost my job. By now she had started pulling away from me emotionally and physically, but I just put it down to her being worried about our circumstances. Then it got worse, and she asked me to sleep in the spare bedroom. After three days of this, I asked her if this was temporary, or did I need to find a new place to sleep. She told me it wasn’t temporary, and that I needed to move out. Immediately. She wouldn’t explain why, just that I needed to get out. I begged her to go to marriage counseling, but she refused. The marriage was over. I had just found out the reason for my struggle, but before I could really make any changes, she quit. She never even gave me a chance.
I know I had been hard, maybe impossible to deal with. And I know I did some things that had been extremely hurtful. I take full responsibility for what had happened, but I had signed on ‘for better, for worse, in sickness and in health’. I had a health problem, and just as I started to deal responsibly with it, she bailed. We may or may not have been able to save the marriage, but she wasn’t even willing to try. I could understand that we had some problems, but I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t try and make it work. We had seemed to be soul mates; it seemed to me that the marriage was worth the effort. But just like that, she decided it was over. No warning, no effort, no chance. And that was that.
Next: The separation and the enlightenment.