Part of managing being bipolar and keeping my emotions under control is constantly examining my actions and thoughts and looking for patterns and judging where I am in a cycle. It’s also a way I can continue to better myself; learning from mistakes and recognizing successes. When I write, I just let words flow. I try not to worry so much about how I present, but just let go of honest emotions and feelings as they come. So after I wrote my last post, I spent the rest of the day thinking through what I’d said and how I’d said it.
And I think I’ve made a mistake.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting scared and taking steps to protect yourself. It’s easy enough to get hurt even when you’re on guard; if you don’t try to keep from being too vulnerable you’re just setting yourself up for a lot of pain. That being said however, you can insulate yourself to the point that you’re cut off from everybody and lose opportunities for happiness. There’s always going to be risks when interacting with others and being in relationships.
So where did I go wrong?
So my lady (I’m 51 years old… I can’t bring myself to say girlfriend) has taken a new job that is going to limit out time together. It has been an important relationship, and I was really upset that I wasn’t going to be able to be with her as often as I had become accustomed to. But instead of looking at positive ways to work around it, I immediately assumed it was going to fail. And even worse, that’s what I indicated in the conversation I initiated with her. The previous night I had been ruminating about how little time was going to be available with her new schedule. In my mind I had it narrowed down to only three or four days a month, and that there was no way a relationship could survive that. So I worked myself up and allowed my fear to completely take over. And even though I thought I was being realistic, and I tried to keep from being too negative, I was compelled to talk about it, and focused on the fact that I believed it wasn’t going to work. I may have thought I wasn’t saying that, but that’s what she heard. And she was right.
So what could I have done differently?
My first mistake was allowing myself to obsess over what I had decided was how limited out time was going to be. I hardly slept all night… I kept doing the math… No contact at all during the week, At least one weekend a month with her gone to be with her family, and time she was going to have to have to take care of what she couldn’t take care of during the week. “Four days a month” ran over and over in my head, and I just let myself go with it. By the time I got up in the morning I was completely convinced that there was nothing to be done to continue the relationship. And emotionally, I bolted. I just had to talk to her about it, and unload the negativity that had become so overwhelming. That was my second mistake. If I had just recognized that I was zeroed in on failure I could have put aside the immediate emotion and given myself time to process. I have my weekly therapy appointment on Monday and the smart thing to do was to let it go until I had a chance to work through it all with her. I know how to do that… It’s my Scarlet O’Hara technique. “I’ll think about that tomorrow”. And if I hadn’t been so immersed in the limitations I was seeing, I could have been thinking about positive ways to deal with this. And there are positives. I work 15 minutes away from her house. It would be easy to run over there during lunch some days. I could work a few minutes longer each day and spend at least an hour with her. And (assuming she’d agree) I could sometimes spend the night at her house. I might be asleep, but I’d be there when she got home. And she’d be there when I woke up. We might not be spending active time together, but it would help keep the connection. On Fridays I could take a nap after work, and be awake for her when she got home. We can talk on the phone during some of her ‘lunch’ breaks. And I’m sure there are other things we can do, and I sure she has other ideas to keep this real and flourishing.
So why didn’t I?
I let my emotions rule my head. I know better than that, it’s gotten me in trouble time after time and I’ve spent a lot of effort with myself and in therapy to be able to recognize it and work on not letting it happen. I know I have OCD. And once an idea gets into my head it repeats over and over, growing bigger and overriding rational thinking. But again, this is something I’ve worked on and I have methods for dealing with it. I think that because I’ve had so many failed relationships I had decided I was being smart in walking away before it had a chance to fail. I didn’t consider all the good things we had enjoyed and how much I really wanted to be with her. The fear and panic took over. And once I lost control of my emotions the need to push the issue with her became consuming.
I was so wrong.
I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself that this is a process. I’m not always going to make good decisions and my bipolar brain is going to twist things around and put me into bad situations. I also know that if we can’t work this out, it’s not the end of the world. I am strong right now, and I’m okay with being alone. I know that there are other relationships to be had. I have worth, and there are others that I can connect with.
But these are just excuses and rationalizations.
I will be okay. But the truth is, I’m already invested in this relationship. She’s a special woman, and we’ve connected at a very deep level. The risks that go along with this relationship are totally worth it. There is enough there to make it worthwhile. I don’t need it (which isn’t healthy), but I want it.
I just hope it’s not too late.