I’m staying in a hotel, not seeing family, and having cheesecake for dinner. No regrets.
No cleaning staff, room service, gym or pool access. I’ve never felt so happy in the absence of so much. People, clean sheets, easy access to food–all sacrificed.
My Bipolar loved one is visiting and staying in our apartment. My mom is there also and she’s asked me multiple times to join them. I will not.
Bipolar illness has ruined more family visits than I can count and I’ve hit my limit. Violent anger that can include the throwing of objects makes me feel deeply anxious in my loved one’s presence.
In my early childhood when my parents had a happy enough marriage to make me feel safe and secure, we had some magic. Those times are treasured; often in New York at my mom’s childhood home on E. 79th Street, we were surrounded by old friends and family. A lovely apartment, a candlelight service at St. James, and the rare pleasure of a harmonious family dynamic.
Mind-blowing to put a number on it, but it’s been about 20 years of family holidays gone terribly wrong. Excruciating interludes of white hot pain, followed by the exhaustion unique to despair. Sometimes we’re spared the agony but too often our best efforts careen off a narrow Alpine road, a James Bond 2 seater flying over frozen gorges in dazzling purple flames.
The genesis is easily identifiable. My father became hostile and impatient with my mother years before they got divorced. His constant aggravation simmered just below the surface. And long before my sibling was diagnosed with Bipolar, she was prone to explosive episodes, set off by the slightest perceived provocation.
I drag these memories around like a ball and chain: my ankle has been rubbed raw. So physical is the pain that my nervous system mounts a viscous internal attack. Muscle aches, near sleepless nights, raging headaches all come. When we hit full crisis mode, vomit and hives join the party.
Mood disorders like Bipolar know no bottom when it comes to suffering experienced by both victim and target. I’ve found with experience that things can always get worse.
Like spiraling down a well, once her behavior spins out of control, there’s nothing to hold onto.
No rest for the weary, as they say. No mercy for the injured.
The criminally overused truism “it’s darkest before dawn” fits this year because I’ve chosen surrender instead of obfuscation. Sitting in emotional pitch blackness is surprisingly peaceful. Compassion for myself dictated the decision and compassion is self preservation. Here we are. No more pretending.
Two more days and this will all be over. Love to everyone struggling through the holiday. Below are some resources if you need extra support.
Onward and upward, Fighters!