I can’t sleep.
I’ve been up since 3:00am. It’s not like I’m wired or anything, just all the recent events (See: Looking Forward) are rolling over and over in my brain. I feel forced to take a good hard look at myself again. I’ve been doing pretty well lately keeping the mood swings at a minimum, and I’ve felt like I was finally getting a handle with maintaining things. But the more I examine everything that’s been going on, and the results I’ve had make me realize that I’m just doing the same thing I’ve always done.
I’m worrying about when I’ll hear from my lady friend. Sure, I’m anticipating trouble, and there’s always a chance that things will somehow resolve themselves. But it’s a pretty small chance. The last time I did something stupid with her she went on and on about how she didn’t want people around her that made her life more difficult. She has had her own struggles with self esteem and drama that she has worked very hard to overcome. She wants to associate with people who enrich her life and don’t pull her back down. Frantic texts, phone calls and voice mails certainly aren’t going to do that. (See the ‘Looking Forward’ post for more details) Last time, she let me know that she needed time to process; this time there’s been no contact at all. That’s not good. I’m not particularly upset that it’s going to end. My anxiety comes from when it will end, and how. Will I get a simple text; ‘I’m done’? Will there be a long email explaining that, while she’s very fond of me, she just can’t handle the negativity? Am I going to get a phone call? Or will there be an invitation to dinner so she can tell me in person? How long am I going to have to wait? I want to know that it’s truly over. But if I’m 100% honest with myself, I want to know for the wrong reasons. Once it’s truly over, I can get back into the hunt. I won’t start looking while there’s a chance, but I know myself well enough to know that as soon as it’s officially over, I’ll be back on the dating sites trying to meet someone new. Sure… this is the time to break the pattern. I have control of my behaviors and can make myself make healthy choices. But sooner or later (probably sooner) my emotional side will kick in, and I’ll be off and running. That’s the loss of control that comes from whatever it is that’s wrong with me for whatever the reason is. Even though my brain might know that I’m not being healthy, I won’t be able to stop myself.
So what is the driving force that keeps me doing the same things over and over? There are so many influences that have shaped who I am; what can be to blame? It would be easy to say that being bipolar is why I do these things. Of course, that has to at least be a part of it. The nature of this illness is that emotions and moods completely override intellectual knowledge and awareness. I get severely depressed for no reason at all. The manias push my emotional state into an unimaginable frenzy. Both sides are a loss of touch with reality, and result in destructive behaviors. It doesn’t have to be a severe episode either. I believe that there is an inherent side of this disease that allows thoughts and behaviors to be ruled by emotion. Bipolar people tend to be extremely intelligent; why do we do so many stupid things?
I think to understand how I got to be this way I have to look at how I was treated in the formative years. My mother was not maternal in the least. From the very early years she became focused on her career. She threw herself into her job, and there was very little time left to be a Mom. I’m sure that created a feeling of abandonment that impacts my relationships today. I tend to go over the top to please and take care of my partner so they won’t have a reason to leave. She was also very aggressive with her work. She worked exceptionally hard to be the best at whatever she did and was very proud of her accomplishments. She also had tendency to feel like no one ever acknowledged just how good she was, and she overstated her own importance. Does that sound familiar? She was not physical with me in the very least. I have no memory at all of being comforted or even being hugged. I’m sure it happened some, but it was so infrequent it created a huge need for affectionate contact. That’s a very strong driver for me today. I want, no I need to be with someone who is very demonstrative and doesn’t mind that I’m constantly touching them. Usually in the beginning it is good for us both, but it eventually grows old for them and becomes an annoyance. And leaves me feeling unfulfilled in the relationship.
In his own way, my father wasn’t any better. He seemed completely devoid of emotion. To say he was stoic would be an understatement. The only time I saw any emotion it was generally anger. But never strong anger, he just expressed extreme displeasure. He seemed to have no ambition at all. He stayed in the same job his entire career; a job he really didn’t like. Once, my mom even started sending out his resumes for a new job just to push him out of the one he complained about all the time. And he never touched me with affection at all. Ever. The need for affectionate contact was just increased that much more.
Those who knew her well might disagree, but I believe my mother was bipolar. I also believe that my father was depressed for more or less his entire life. I never had a chance. Not directly blaming them you understand; bipolar disorder is a physical disease that doesn’t need an unhealthy environment to happen. That’s no one’s fault. But I do believe that there are a lot of other neuroses and personality traits that do stem from my upbringing. I don’t blame anyone. We are all who we are, and there’s no reason to point fingers at anyone for just being themselves. It was no more a choice for them than being bipolar is for me. To overuse a common phrase; it is what it is.
I’ve really worked hard on remaining positive and employing all the tools and applying the therapy and lessons learned to overcome the illness. And I’m positive today. The problem is, I’m positive I’m going to make unhealthy choices and continue to put myself into situations that are destined to fail. The illness and the personality traits I’ve developed are just too strong. I’ll have some success and maybe even a little progress at times. But ultimately, I’ll just do it all again. My only hope is that the more insight I have the easier it will be to deal with the failures. Understanding why I behave the way I do and being able to explain how I keep having the same outcome is comforting in its own way. In spite of the mistakes, in spite of the losses, in spite of the messes I create I have learned that it will pass, and I’ll move on.
Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong. Maybe instead of the intense focus on control, maybe I should just work on acceptance. It seems like no matter what I do my illness always wins. I think I should just acknowledge that being bipolar and all the other influences that have created who I am are just too strong. There’s nothing to be gained by continually beating myself up and feeling bad about myself. Maybe it’s just time to deal with my reality.
I’m not saying ‘it’s not my fault’; I take full responsibility for what ends up happening from my bad behaviors and poor choices. I’m saying it’s explainable. I have to clean up the messes I create and deal with the pain and suffering I both cause and feel. But if I just give myself the permission to be me, I can forgive myself.
Now when am I going to hear from my lady friend…