A letter to my wife.

My Dear Wife,

We’ve had a rough road, haven’t we? There have been so many ups and downs over the years.  We’ve raised children together, gone through times of financial hardship, had job changes, moved to new houses, and lost parents and loved ones.  We’ve also made some good friends, been to some amazing places, enjoyed having plenty of money, lived the high life and had a lot of great times.  We’ve fought, we’ve made up, we’ve had misunderstandings and we’ve forgiven each other.

We’ve been husband and wife.

And all of that is not usual.  Every couple has its share of good times and bad.  Marriages are made up of two individuals sharing their lives together.  There are always going to be conflicts and friction, intimacy and distance, anger and laughter.  We are all just two human beings trying to merge their uniqueness into one.  It’s about being in love; and I’ve loved you enormously.

But I’m bipolar.  And that changes things.

I have to say; when we met I really didn’t think it was any different.  Yes, I had a history. There had already been hospitalizations, I had been on many different medications, even some suicide attempts.  But I thought I was beyond all that.  And it was all explainable.  There were plenty of valid circumstances and events that justified the problems I had.  And I disclosed all of this from the start.  Even before things started getting serious I made a point of letting you know that I had dealt with some mental issues.  But I also sincerely believed everything I told you, including the fact that it was no longer a problem.  I had been off all medications for years.  The depressions I felt like were the cause of my troubles hadn’t happened in 10 years.  There was no reason to believe that it was going to be an issue.  We talked through all that.

I had no idea I was hypo manic.

I was just charming, fun and entertaining.  I was a really nice guy, and loved taking care of you.  And it was real; it was always real. It’s no wonder you fell in love with me.  And I fell in love with you so quickly.  Our lives were truly as one.  When we decided to get married, I had absolutely no reservations or fears at all.  My love for you was complete.  Our life together was incredible.  All our friends believed that we were the perfect couple; and we were.  It was a magical time.

Then the troubles started.

The hypo mania that I had been experiencing started getting out of control.  As my mania grew my behaviors became more and more erratic.  You know I never really directed any of the anger and rage that goes along with my manias directly at you, but I’ll admit that you took the brunt of it all.  I didn’t understand it, and I’m sure you were even more confused as to what was happening.  Things were no longer fun.

In my manic state, I had no idea it was as bad as it was.

But you stuck it out.  You tried to understand, and did what you could to deal with all the fall out of my actions.  You listened patiently to my rants and raves and offered what comfort you could.  You supported me when I lost my job and struggled through the financial hardships.  I couldn’t appreciate it at the time, but you were a good wife, and you endured a lot.

And things continued to get worse.

I don’t need to go through all the trials; you were there.  And you know how eventually I hit rock bottom, and made the difficult decision to have me committed to the hospital.  It was a horrific time.  But at the same time, it was a turning point.  I finally was able to accept that I was bipolar.  There was finally a reason to explain why I did the things I did.  We tried to learn together all we could about the disease, and you tried to help me as much as you could.

Looking back now I realize the hell I must have put you through.  Even though I wasn’t abusing you, it was an abusive environment.  For so many years I inflicted pain and hardship on our marriage and on you.  You suffered though more than anyone could be expected to.

I hope you realize that it really wasn’t me.  I am the nice guy; the fun guy that you fell in love with.  The hell was the disease, not me.

And yet, it was me.

It’s easy to blame all the things that I did on the fact that I’m sick.  And my behaviors were a result of the illness, not anything I would have done if I wasn’t so ill.  That didn’t change any facts from your perspective though.  What you had to deal with was your reality.  And in truth, I accept full responsibility for my actions.  I can blame the disease, but ultimately it falls on me.  I’m not making any excuses.  I was horrible.  If I had run up a $10,000 bill in my mania, being bipolar wouldn’t absolve me of the debt.  And it doesn’t absolve me of what I did to you either.

Things are different now.

I’ve fully accepted that I have a life threatening and horrible condition.  I’m taking my treatment very seriously, and I’m working as hard as I can to get this under control.  But there has been a lot of damage done.  Too much damage was done.

Now you’re faced with a decision.  I really can’t expect you to ignore all the pain that you’ve put up with.  And I can’t promise that there won’t be new issues in the future.  Our marriage has turned out to be completely different than either one of us expected.  And, to be fair, I’ve had my own issues with the relationship as well.  I don’t blame you for your reactions, but in my own reality you’ve inflicted your own share of pain.  As I’ve moved forward in managing my illness, you’ve pulled further away.  I no longer get the support from you, even though I need it now more than ever.  We have done the best we could with what we had at the time, but it hasn’t been a good marriage for either of us.

If your decision is to leave, I will be very hurt.  It will be a bitter pill to swallow, and I’ll be very angry that you bail just when things are starting to improve.  Frankly, I’ll be pissed.  But if that happens, time will pass.  I’ll continue with my therapy and learn to understand all that has led up to this.  I’ll be angry, I’ll be sad, and I’ll get over it.  There will be no reason to worry about me.  I’ve lived through over 50 years of an uncontrolled disease; I’ll live through this.  I have no doubt that you will too.

If you decide to continue, there will still be many challenges.  We’ll never have to stop dealing with this illness, and there will still be times where I will fail to manage it.  I feel guilty enough for the past; that guilt will only continue knowing what I’m putting you through.  And I’ll always be afraid that we’ll be in this place again, and faced with the pain of loss and failure.   It’s a lot to expect, and a huge risk for us both.

Truly, I don’t blame you for anything you decide.  It may not happen quickly, but ultimately I’ll understand.  We got married for all the right reasons.  And we’ll continue our lives, together or apart, for all the right reasons too.

I won’t say I’m sorry for being sick.  How can I?  It’s not anything I chose or had any control over.  I am sorry for what I’ve done to you however, and I’m sorry that things have worked out the way they have.  But I won’t regret the time we’ve had together.  As painful as it has been, there has also been great joy.  I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and I refuse to ignore what we’ve had.

We are who we are as a result of all we experience throughout our life.  And I have to believe that eventually we’ll grow and become better people as a result of all of this.  It may be too late for us, but I know that we are too loving and have too much to offer to a relationship not to try again.  And if that happens I have no doubt that we’ll both enter into a new relationship with a better perspective and more appropriate caution.  We are good people, and can still be happy and healthy.    I won’t ask you for forgiveness, and I won’t forgive you.  There’s nothing for either of us to forgive.  I don’t expect you to overlook all that’s happened; I only hope that you can at least understand.  Maybe we’ll work through this, and maybe it’s time to move on.  I have loved you with all my heart, and regardless of what happens there will always be a love for you.  You have been my wife, and I have been your husband in every way.  No matter what happens.

Your Husband.  In spite of it all.

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6 Responses to A letter to my wife.

  1. Footnote: This is an open letter to all my past relationships. I’ve been married four times, and there’s a part of this that applies to each of them. And there are parts that don’t really apply to any of them. I try to look at things with an open and honest view, and apply the lessons I’ve learned and realizations I’ve had. I feel like there are a lot of people struggling with similar issues, and want to share my feelings and perspectives. Hopefully it will help others faced with similar decisions.

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  2. SimplySage says:

    I hope things work out in your life. This was truly poignant and honest and can be helpful to so many.

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  3. Things are working out. My marriage ended almost two years ago, and I’ve moved on. lessons learned.

    Thanks for the good wishes.

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  4. Holding On says:

    I wish you well. I look back on the string of relationships I was in before I met my husband and I can see a pattern. New relationships are intoxicating. Meeting someone great always sent me into hypomania. They would fall for the part of me that was up, exciting, energetic, loving and free-spirited. Then things would change…I would change and they would be shocked. Wondering where the happy-go-lucky girl had gone, that had been replaced with a brooding, angry, irritable blob that couldn’t get off the couch. The only person able to love me through it all, despite it all, is my husband (14 years). I don’t know how or why he has stuck it out with me but he has. I’m eternally grateful for his love and support.. I hope you can find peace with in yourself and that one day you will find someone to share the complete you with.

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  5. Very moving and honest…I too think a lot of people can relate to what you’ve written whether or not they have bipolar disorder. The themes are universal. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. risingthirteen says:

    I am grateful for your candor . . . as I am healing from a live-in relationship with a man whom I loved dearly yet disliked (sometimes hated) for his hurting me with his erratic, self-centered, extreme-risk behaviors. As I am now 4 months out of this relationship – I am now beginning to understand how his bi-polar disorder and active substance abuse, was the root cause for his actions.
    Thank you for your blog . . . you are helping me so much with my healing process (as well as attending to my own therapy and al-anon meetings).

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