This disease has many facets; many different turns and functions that at times are interesting but for the most part are just exhausting. I suffer through the reality of bi-polar each and everyday, and I deal with it in the only way I know how.
I discovered, or at least my husband finally figured out, an interesting thing that I do. (Interesting may not be the word, but it works here).
Let me back up to say that my father came to town over the holidays. My father is an interesting (there is that word again) character in my life. He is often over the top joyful, he is an absolute nazi about health and exercise, and seems to often have different memories of events that I was present for. He is incredibly selfish, although he sincerely doesn’t know it, and he is one of the few people in my life that can dictate to me and tell me who and what I am supposed to be. He is a force in my life; one I recognize and one I honestly try to mitigate and control from influencing me unduly. It doesn’t always work, as parents tend to have an unnatural ability to control our lives when we are children, when we are adults, even when they are in a grave.
This holiday, much like every time that one of my parents are in town, I spent the days up to their arrival in a quiet and nervous panic. It is a truth that I bury deep inside of me, mostly in the fear that if my husband found out about the true state of my nerves he would demand that my parents didn’t come. So I try, with all my strength, to be excited, happy, and put together so that no one knows that I am in some small ways terrified of my parents.
Then as my parents arrive, I go into hibernation mode. I put all the bi-polar acts, demands, intrigues, and drama to the side and I concentrate on being perfect. I mean perfect. And I accomplish to such a degree that no one, my parents nor my husband or friends are able to see anything amiss. The problem always lies at the end. My parents leave and all the truth I have buried for days on end rears it head, like a lion coming out of a deep slumber.
I hide myself behind perfection for many reasons. Some I am not ready to talk about; but some I can confess. For instance, I strive for perfection because I never want my parents to know the truth; that I am a seriously messed up individual. Like all parents they have an image of me in their heads; they often tell me what that image is. And to wreck that image, to give them the truth means admitting that I might be less than what they want me to be. And then what? Will my parents even like the true me? I don’t like the true me.
I strive for perfection because my parents have always expected the best from me. Understand that my sister is a successful lawyer in a large city, I am a successful executive in my own right. We have the degrees, the home, the retirement accounts that mark success in the eyes of my parents. They brag about us, and in the process brag about themselves. What if they couldn’t brag about me? What would happen if there was nothing great to say about their eldest daughter?
I am an amazing burden. It is a truth that you can’t deny; especially with a disease so complicated as bi-polar. I am a terrible person at times, I am up and down and all over the place. I cause my husband unnecessary worry, fear and stress. You may be sitting at your computer wishing you could reassure me or tell me differently, but this is a truth I have had to come and accept. I have had to make peace with the reality of this disease; and one of those truths is that I am a burden.
So my parents come, and I work so hard to be everything that I want to be, rather than deal with the truth of what I am. I hold my tongue, I hold my demons, I hold my truth so close to my heart that even my husband doesn’t know. I pretend to be all the things I am never going to be.
And when they leave, the burden of the truth is, I fall.