Nick and I, with love written on our arms.
The Hotband and I. A promise of love, support and hope. Always.
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Forgiving someone. Not as hard as forgiving yourself, but a challenge nevertheless. There are a few people I could put under this category. A perfect example would be my own father, who selfishly left my family behind only to succumb to a cocaine induced death back in 1986. I think I have made peace with that. He was a man-child, who never really wanted the ties of marriage to bind him let alone the children that came along with that commitment. I have let that one into my mind back and forth over many years and believe I have long since come to terms with the fact that the man lived the best way he knew how, fast and on the edge, and eventually died the same way. I have a lot of his traits only I feel I am stronger than he was and his death was an example to me of the road I could have taken had I not been more careful.
But, with this being Domestic Violence Awareness month, I carefully thought over the aspect of forgiveness. Some might be horrified by my choice, but for me, this just feels right. The person I am trying to forgive is Tony. If you are a long time reader of this blog, then you will know that Tony is the man I was with for 2 and a half years, who beat me within an inch of my life. It started with a slap in 1989 and ended with my being in the hospital in November of 1991, bleeding in my skull from a brain hemorrhage.
For all these years, I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything but hatred for this man. Now, nearly 20 years later, all I can do is feel pity. Pity for him. Pity for the fact that he had such a hard and traumatic childhood that he felt the need to take it out on the flesh and bones of a woman he supposedly loved. When people would ask me “is there anyone in this world that you absolutely hate,” my answer would be Tony. Not even a pause. Not even a thought. It was something I had programmed my mouth to say.
Now I realize that hate is such a wasted emotion. I don’t hate him any longer. When I think of him, it is with sadness. Nothing more. I used to have deep-seated regret stemming from my time with him. Now, I feel he has done me some what of a service. He has made me a much stronger woman, knowing I am capable of living through a situation that others might have died in. He let me know that I am the type of mother who would protect her children at all costs, no matter how horrible the situation might be. He made me an activist, working diligently for rights of women everywhere. He made me rise above, showed me how powerful I actually am and what I am capable of when cornered.
To me, forgiving him is the ultimate. It is like forgiving the person who stole your child from you. He stole a huge portion of my life. Not just the two years that he beat and battered me, but many years to follow. All the years of self-loathing. All the years of physical pain from my various injuries. All the mental and emotional pain that had to be treated by doctors dumping various and sundry drugs down my throat to right my wronged brain.
But now, all that is gone for me. And I think, if I ever encountered him now, I would do so without fear. I would be able to look him in his eyes and where once upon a time I might have asked “why”, I find that that doesn’t really matter any more. I would be able to tell him that I forgive him. He was a child of abuse and neglect. He related to me the only way he knew how, with fists rather than words. It was his only way of having power in his life, the power that was stripped from him as a little boy. I understand that now. I can empathize with him…
and I believe with empathy comes forgiveness. And Tony, I forgive you. My nightmares about you are long gone and I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face, knowing what an amazing life I have since created for myself. I hope somewhere in the world, you are living the same way and are released of the demons that caused you to brutalize the things you loved best in all the world.
I wish you peace. I hope you have found it.
The thing I need to forgive myself for, well, I believe I have nearly achieved that. My drug addiction. The way it threw my entire family off kilter. The way it effected their lives, my life. The fact that I haven’t fully recuperated from the post traumatic stress that comes along with being a recovering addict. I did this on my own. No country club rehab facility. I laid on a couch for nine long days, near death, punishing myself for what I had done to myself. I suffered purposely, to make each moment an agonizing one. I wanted to feel every ache, every pain, every cramp. I wanted to choke on my own vomit. I wanted my head to feel like it was going to implode. I wanted to bleed out of my eyes and ears. I prayed for a heart attack to shut me down for good, the pain…both emotional and physical were unbearable.
But I chose to feel it. I chose to go through it without the benefit of the hospital so I would never, ever forget what the pain of addiction did to me, to my family, to my friends, to my career. God was incapable of punishing me more than I was punishing myself.
Even now, I find myself dwelling on the fact that I lost nearly two full years of my life, first to addiction and then, to my subsequent recovery.
I need to grant myself the ability to look in the mirror, 1 year and four sober months later and say “You did good, kid”. I need to be brave enough to walk outside, knowing full well that I disgraced myself as a nurse…but that doesn’t mean I have to give up my life. I sinned. I atoned. That should be enough. Enough for everyone…but most of all, enough for me.
I need to allow myself to start living again. Forgiveness is coming easily.
It is forgetting that’s a bitch.
I haven’t written in here since May. I said I was going to take June, July and August away from writing. I’ve missed it and while I have had a lot to say, the words were escaping me. It seems my inner voice has been a bit battered as of late. I wanted to write on September 11th, the way I always do. I couldn’t. I couldn’t even bring myself to honor the people lost on that day because I have been utterly swallowed by my depression lately.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had reasons to laugh in the past three months. Lots of reasons. There were a lot of fantastic things that happened over the summer. There were also horrible things, like my trip to Israel. There was pain, rejection, loss of connection and the annual celebration of the day I was torn via C-section from Esther’s pristine uterus.
44 years old. Happy birthday to me. Another day closer to death. The way I figure it, I am probably halfway to dead by now. If the average woman lives until 88 years of age, I am dangling on the halfway point this year. I did a quick assessment to see if I am anywhere near where I wanted to be at this age. The answer was a resounding…perhaps.
I’m a grandmother to two beautiful babies. I am married to the most amazing man to roam the earth since Christ himself…if you believe in that shit. My children are thriving in their lives. My daughter is happily married and a fantastic mother to those to babies I mentioned. My son just started his first year of high school at a brand new school and loves it. I am on decent terms with Esther. My dad is well, not healthy, but well enough for now. So those things are amazing and incredible and perfect.
But where am I? I’m not really any where. I am clean of my drug addiction for well over a year now. I gave up my nursing license and now, in retrospect, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I realized how miserable nursing made me and how it contributed to my depression. Whoever tells you that nurses get to help and heal patients, well, they obviously never worked in long term care. You don’t get to do any of those things. You get to shove pills into their incoherent slack-jawed mouths and then onto the next. There is no comfort. There is no care. There is no time to sit at a bedside holding a hand. All that bullshit you see on soap operas…it’s a fantasy. A fairytale that surrounds the beautiful myth of the nurse. At least it is in that setting.
So, back to school I went. Off to get my degree in Social Work. I decided I want to go for my Masters in Social Work and Human Services. Why? Because I need to hold that hand. I need to bring that comfort. I need to smile into pained and troubled faces. It does them good. Selfishly, it does me good. I decided that I am going to be an interventionist and work with addicts. Does it scare me? Definitely. I am scared shit to be around those who are using actively again…but now that I have been there and by the blessing of my Higher Power, found my way back…I feel this is the path I am destined to walk.
I love being in school because it is something I am good at. I am an “A” student, a perfect 4.0 GPA. The professors love me, they always embrace the returning adult students more than the new, fresh out of high school kids. They know we care a lot more and are a bit more hard pressed for time. There is no room for us to fail. We don’t have the opportunity to fail because we don’t have the time. The money. The lack of desire. Our grown up hearts are on fire to do something, anything relevant with the time we have left, however much that might be.
The way I figure it, I will walk out with my degree in 2 more years from now. 46 years old. Still enough time to begin a life, still enough time to put in about 30 years worth of employment.
I ain’t quite dead yet.
But in the interim, I am suffering. I have stopped taking all my psych meds. I just don’t want anything to do with them any more. And, it has its good moments and bad ones. I don’t feel fucked in the head any more. I have my memory back. My sense of humor has returned and it is whip cracking sharp the way it used to be. On the flip side, I cry at the drop of a hat. I fall into depressions very easily. And, my old friend insomnia has returned to fight me nightly. And while the bottles of Cymbalta, Lamictal, Buspar, Xanax, Geodon, Ativan, Klonopin and Trazodone all look tempting…I mainly find myself having staring contests with them. They dare me to open them and to indulge. And the temptation is always there. But, I don’t. I could. Nothing wrong with taking one now and again when needed, but I feel like one will be death of me. Just one pill will open up a can of worms for me. I can’t revisit the days of bottle dependency.
I keep them all over the house. Some on my desk. A few in my purse. More on my bedroom dresser. They stare at me and say, c’mon CP, let us take the edge off. And me, I scoff and say “no, let me empower myself, dammit”. “But you have a disease,” they retort. “You need us.” And that may very well be, but I want to try to go this alone. I want to feel like myself at every possible moment I can, however fleeting it might be. For those few hours, life is so perfect.
Then, the depression comes back, wraps me up in its itchy wool blanket and says, “No, no Dear. You don’t get to make the decisions around here. We do. Me…me and all your pills. Come down the rabbit hole, CP. It’s not that long of a drop.”
But it is. I’ve taken the trip before. For the five minutes I jump into the deep end, it requires a lot of swimming to get out of the murky waters again and I simply don’t have the energy to do it over and over again.
I’ll probably be writing more frequently now, but not daily. Just when I need to…like in the beginning. And tonight, I needed this to be here, like an old friend with open arms letting me fall into them and just cry. Let it all out, rubbing my hair til I fall mercifully asleep.
I need this.
I have openly written about my bipolar disorder many times before. I even had a separate blog for it once upon a time. I still utilize that blog now and then when I just feel like seeing my random, skewed thoughts in black and white but not necessarily form a blog post about them. I think the last time I was there was October of last year. (2009).
Anyway, it seems to me to separate that part of my life is to pull out a big chunk of who I am and put it somewhere else, further perpetuating the stigma of mental illness. Fact of the matter is, I find a certain beauty in being beautifully fucked up. Crazy beautiful. That’s what I like to call it.
While surfing around these interwebz, I found myself in pretty good company. Want a list of other fucked up famous people? Here’s a few of my fav’s:
Buzz Aldrin, astronaut. Yes. We put a fucked up person on the moon. Then again, how do we actually know he was there? Maybe he just pretended to be while he was off his meds and his full account of being there was just a figment of his imagination.
Jim Carrey, actor. This should really not surprise you. Jim’s has had well-documented freak outs over the course of his career. Plus, I really don’t think he’s an actor. He is just being Jim. If he weren’t bipolar, he probably wouldn’t be nearly as funny. Bipolar people, for the most part, are pretty creative and funny. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.
T S Eliot, poet. Okay. This dude wrote an entire ode to a Cat. Or, rather, a bunch of cats. For some reason, crazy people are often associated with cats. You don’t make fun of the crazy dog lady. No. It’s always the crazy cat lady who shares the Nine Lives with Fluffy and Waldo. Dog people don’t get our special brand of crazy.
Sigmund Freud, physician. *blank stare* Yeah. This one sort of speaks for itself. Next?
Marilyn Monroe, actress. Ah, Miss Marilyn. The quintessential poster child for the manic depressive. She’s up, she’s down. She’s high. She’s low. She’s pristine. She’s promiscuous. This is one of the more tragic cases of crazy on my list, because she really did have the world by the balls once upon a time. A big trademark of someone with manic depression is an over-sized ego that basically masks low self esteem. Oh, and large breasts. And a desire to sleep with the President. Barack is kinda hot now that I think about it…
Edgar Allen Poe, author. You’re seeing a lot of poets/authors and actors on this list. That is because really talented people are generally fucked in the head. Where do you think our creativity comes from? Life experience? Certainly…OUR life experiences which are vastly different than those of you “normies”. Poe writes about sex with corpses and black birds and tolling bells and Nevermore’s. He’s a scary bastard. Not Charles Manson scary…but the gentle scary of a person with bipolar disorder. We generally are not violent people…unless provoked.
Margot Kidder, actor. Another actor with a well-documented history of losing her mind. For four days, she roamed the streets of Hollywood, disheveled, dirty, homeless, without her teeth. Then again, she kind of sounds like my grandmother. Ah, but she has bipolar as well, so it’s all good. History of drug addiction. Another problem with we manic depressives are our addictive personalities. Sex, drugs…and obviously, Superman.
Vincent van Gogh, painter/artist. Yeah. Four words for you. Ear in a box. Which, of course, should not be confused with THIS which was epically funny but not at all related to mental illness. Well, maybe just a touch of borderline personality disorder with a dab of narcissism and a side salad of histrionic.
So, as you can see, I’m feeling pretty good about the company I’m keeping. And sure, someone will flame me for making light of the disease. But, keep your blood pressure in check. This is MY disease too. This is my life. I live and struggle with the wonders and the agonies of bipolar disorder every single day. I, however, choose to make light of an illness that nearly brought me to my knees once upon a time. Sometimes, you have to laugh…lest you never stop crying.
Lastly, let me leave you with a quote from someone with bipolar disorder that I admire greatly. Princess Leia. What can I say? I’m a sucker for chicks with cinnamon rolls on the side of their head. Plus, she has a Wookie.
Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.
– CARRIE FISHER
Truer words were never spoken and this time, I’m not laughing.