Healthy choices

It’s New Years Eve. 

I’m not going to spend any time doing the whole “The Year in Review” this year though.  I know where I’ve been and what I’ve done.  If I need details I have my past blogs.  

No, I’m going to keep looking at where I am now, and where I want to go. 

Where I am at the moment isn’t pretty either. When I’ve been honest with myself, I’ve known that I’ve not been doing as well as I’ve tried to convince myself I am.  Oh, the bipolar disorder really does seem to be under as much control as it possibly can be.  By and large, the entire year has been emotionally stable.  But, as in many cases with bipolar people, there are other issues that are a byproduct of living with this disease.  It’s practically impossible to live with an illness not have related problems. 

My problem seems to be relationships.  No, my issues result in relationship problems.

I’ve done a lot of dating in the past year.  There has been a huge investment in time and effort meeting new people with potential.  I’ve made multiple attempts to start a meaningful relationship, none of which have been successful. 

So I have to ask myself; why? 

I honestly don’t think that there is such a driving need to be attached with someone.  I’m not looking for anyone else to ‘complete’ me.  I’ve become complete on my own, and have every intention to remain so.  I never want to have to need anyone again.  It’s okay to want someone, but as a partner, not a an integral part of myself.  I think that what is driving me is something else entirely. 

I think part of it is insecurity.  Though I’ve learned to be happy with myself, my self image is very low.  I want to be noticed; I want people to think I’m a good guy; I want to be wanted.  I think it’s a matter of validation.  My belief in myself isn’t strong enough to stand on it’s on; others have to believe in me too. 

Affection, attention, and connection is very much at play here as well.  From such an early age I was so deprived of this that it’s become an insatiable craving.  I don’t need to be completed, but I do need to be connected.  And in my opinion, any need is not good. 

And the end result is that I’m constantly searching. 

But here’s the bad part.  My efforts to be with someone are not isolated.  They involve others, and the failures affect each of them directly.  And there have been a lot of women involved.  In the last year I’ve had eight attempted relationships. By that I mean that I have tried to develop something more than just a casual date.  It may have only lasted a couple of weeks or in some cases a couple of months.  But in all but one case, I’ve ended it; and usually not in the kindest way.  I do try and not make anyone feel like it’s their fault; it’s always something wrong with me.  But even if both agree it’s not going to work it’s still a rejection, and rejections are painful.  And in all but one case, I’ve slept with each of them.  Now, it’s interesting that I’ve not been the one imitating this.  And on several occasions I’ve actually resisted taking it to that level.  But so many woman in my age group have their own needs, and society has progressed to the point that they can actively pursue them.  With all of them, there have never been any regrets expressed when the relationship ends.  I’m not making excuses or trying to justify my behavior though. It’s been my choice, and it’s both selfish and risky.  While I try (for the most part) to be as safe as possible, there’s always the chance of picking up or passing on an STD.  This is a scary prospect, but it hasn’t stopped me from doing it.  Where this is harmful is more emotional.   There has often been overlap between the end of one and the beginning of another.  I’ve never told any of them that I was committed or exclusive, but my actions have implied it.  And I know that if any of them knew that I wasn’t exclusive they would be extremely hurt.  I never lied; but I lived a lie. 

Frequently the way this has worked is that I’m ‘seriously dating’ someone, but still having conversations with others.  I may not be sleeping with more than one, but I am connecting with multiple women at the same time.  And just like there’s been a perception of exclusivity with my ‘date’, I’m sure that the women I’ve been chatting with have believed that it’s been only with them, and that I’m interested in developing something more.  It’s a horrible way to treat people, but it’s a way of hedging my bets.  There’s always one (or more) on deck to step right in when the current one ends. 

The sick part of it is, I’m sincere with every one of them in the moment.  I genuinely like each of them, and my interaction at the moment is true.  I’ve never, ever tried to manipulate anyone.  I like people; I get along well with pretty much everyone; I have the ability to see the good in a person and care about them for who they are.  But again it’s all about perception.  If they knew that there were others they would be horrified, and they wouldn’t be talking with me.  Not to mention, I’ve given hope to so many that their own search may be over and they’ve found someone who satisfies their desire to be involved.  It is a recipe for pain and disaster. 

It’s really narcissistic behavior. 

And I know it’s so very harmful.  Last night I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time. 

I considered suicide.  The madness has to stop.  But it was only a brief impulse, and I immediately realized that there are better ways.  Because in spite of all I’ve done up until now, there is a sliver of hope.    If I were truly narcissistic I wouldn’t realize or care that I was behaving so badly.  I feel very guilty, and as I can I really try not to put everyone in this position.  It just seems to happen.  But doing wrong and knowing you’re wrong are two different things.  It does NOT change any facts that my behavior has truly been reprehensible.  Nor does it change the pain that I’ve caused.  The hope is that it can stop.    

I’ve been seeing (and sleeping with) one lady now for about a month and a half.  Of course I’ve continued my other conversations, but emotionally and physically I’ve remained exclusive.  (I know, I’m kidding myself.  Exclusive is exclusive.  There should be no other conversations).  As it usually happens I become attracted to someone else, and start looking for reasons to end my current relationship.  And this time has not been any different.    

It’s New Years Eve.  And I have set up a date with someone new, and she’s planning on spending the night and avoiding the inevitable drunk drivers.  But we both know what will happen; no one will sleep on the couch.  And I’ll use that as an excuse to stop seeing my current lady.  There’s no doubt that I can pull it off, and neither of them will know how it went down.  I’ve done it too often to think it will be otherwise.  It’s just the way I’ve done things. 

So I’ve made a choice. 

The truth is, I really do like the lady I’ve been seeing.  Other than my perpetual search there’s really no excuse to move on.  She is special, and she feels the same way about me.  So I’ve done the honorable thing.  I’ve cancelled my ‘new’ date, and am spending the evening with her.  As I should.   I’ve implied to her that I want a real relationship; it’s time to do so.  And you know what?  I feel really good about it.  It’s going to mess up the girl for tonight, but we’ve not been out enough for her to believe we have anything going forward.  It will hurt; it will leave her alone on a night that she really shouldn’t be alone.  But it’s honest, and it keeps her from being sucked into a situation that would ultimately be more damaging.  She’ll just think I’m a jerk; and she would be correct.  I am.

I am deeply ashamed in my behavior over the past year.  As it usually happens, I’ve left another trail of bodies in my wake as I pursue my own needs.  It’s monstrous. And I can’t blame being bipolar for my actions.  It’s a nature that I’ve allowed myself to develop over the years.  I can’t undo what I’ve done, but I can stop from doing it again.  Awareness is half the battle, I have the chance to change and make myself healthier and happier.  And the decision to stop hurting others.  Have I found the relationship I’ve been looking for?  Only time will tell.  But I am determined to be honest and true, and put a real effort into giving this a chance.  And I think it’s a good thing I think that I am not completely enamored with this lady.  Love at first sight has failed so miserably for me.  A healthy relationship starts slow and grows over time.  Maybe this is the time.  I’m willing to try. 

That’s progress, isn’t it? 

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4 Responses to Healthy choices

  1. I don’t think being bipolar has anything to do with this behavior. Oh sure it might; you can connect it, just like you could connect it to Kevin Bacon. But this is something else. You could call it game playing, green grass syndrome, I’ll stop there before I call you a pig.

    Before my last relationship ended a year ago I dated online. This behavior was/is rampant and I won’t go back. Fortunately I am at the stage in my life when a romantic partner isn’t biologically necessary.

    I don’t know what it is about the thrill of the chase and conquest for so many men online that they need to continually repeat their behavior. I imagine there are women like that too. Just another reminder why I say “I’m done”.

    Thanks. Happy New Year,
    ~ Dawn

    Like

  2. mcbarlow5 says:

    I have to agree with Dawn that an illness can not be used as an excuse for this behavior, especially given your level of intelligence and self-awareness.

    However, I’m glad you made the right decision and wish you a healthy new year!

    Like

  3. Love Can exist says:

    I just stumbled on this and I must say it is wonderful. Wonderful insight into behavior that really I think developed from your illness – namely you don’t trust your feelings and emotions. So essentially you keep a safety net, allowing you to walk the tightrope, and hope that this time you make it across, BUT I really would like you to rid yourself of the net (the multiple connections). Is there a time or a time in which you “know” and are not afraid to take the first step without the safety net? Because really this is what reasonable people do…we go slow and stop if we start to lose balance – pause – and then take another step after all the net is not there and if we don’t have good balance on that first step, we step back and return to the platform. We may do this several times before we take that third step. After we take the third step we continue to the other side because the net is not there and it is even more difficult to walk backwards!! But again, we stop and pause, evaluating and slowing down gaining our balance.

    So why must the net be there? See your actions are based on the net being there. Because as a result of the net being there, then your speed at which you cross is affected. It provides a confidence that should not be there and you take the first three steps without a care in the world. If the net was not there, would it not impact your attempts to walk the tightrope? I say yes it definitely would! And not only would it affect the speed in which you cross, it would make you take a step back if you felt you were losing your balance. And this is why relationships with bipolar are difficult. Because based on your decision you really thought about going ahead and falling to the net and climbing the pole again. Instead you elected to stop, pause, and keep your balance.

    Remove the multiple connections, trust yourself, if you fall I promise it will not kill you. I know this is difficult for a bipolar to take on – because in your mind the fall will kill you or you will feel like dying, but if the net is not there, it will save a lot of broken hearts. It will build your confidence but also make you recognize even more how important “balance” is.

    God bless you Dennis – you have no idea how much this little blurb has helped me come to grips with a recent relationship!

    Like

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