Nothing ever goes according to plan. It is a running joke that is the ironic truth to my life. And a fact that was proven yet again last night with my family. Everything that could possibly go differently than I expected or requested, managed to occur in a totally chaotic way. Totally beyond my usual ability to function, yet I SURVIVED! So far. Lol. We will see how the morning goes.
Last night I expected the girls and my husband to arrive around 7-7:30. I know that since we are relying on friends to provide transportation, travel doesn’t always occur precisely when I expect it to due to the inherent fluctuations in lives not lifelined to my own. When 9:00 rolled around I processed my disappointment in what I felt was a healthy fashion. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to paint a whole egg with the girls before bed, but I opted to see the positive side that we could still sneak in some painting before bed. Mini trigger avoided, family wasn’t even aware of my flare up! I was feeling proud of myself.
Flash glimpse into the future: we paint eggs!
While I waited for the gang to arrive, I requested that Patrick come as prepared as he could to lessen any perceived responsibility I might “unfairly” (manic trigger terminology) put on myself and consequently resent him for. I asked him to consider food, clothes, and entertainment – the three areas that stress me out the most because I literally and figuratively have no way to provide these things for myself or for my children (who are by nature pretty demanding). I also requested he shoot me a text before he was heading over to the house. So I made my list of requests that would easily enable some semblance of sanity. Or so I reasoned.
I had been left money to order some pizza Patrick and I had discussed. He wanted pepperoni and banana peppers. I wanted the “Extravaganzza” pizza that looked unfairly delectable. There were no special deals to enable me to buy both pizzas and no frugal maneuvering to be had to create a half and half custom order. So I ordered the “Extravaganzza” justifying that Patrick was only eating one or two slices while I would be the one finishing the leftovers over the next seven days. Seem oddly detail oriented in this paragraph? It is. Insanely, these very specific points matter later on in the night.
The pizza came quicker than the thirty minutes they told me to expect. I was receiving HOT food I didn’t have to prepare myself, all alone, to be enjoyed without needing to attend anyone else’s demands, while the food was actually still BLAZING hot. Holy crap. That never happens! And so I enjoyed my treat of a meal in the best way possible, savoring the solitude before it slipped away for the weekend. Things were off to a chaotic start but in such a positive fashion. I could get used to this!
When 9:15 rolled around and I hadn’t received a text announcing the family’s impending arrival, I decided that I would take a twenty minute snooze to let off some of the anxiety and sleepiness I was building up. Two huge factors that when allowed to accumulate without rest and recuperation leads to the most explosive blowouts during my episodes. My thought: twenty minute nap – wake up feeling a little more rested and a little more prepared for the family.
Bonus, I could be naked again before the family gets here and I have to wrap myself up for social decency standards that I deem to be universally overbearing and demanding and completely opposite to my own (but that’s another rant). So I slipped off my pajamas, set a timer on my iPhone, and slid under the blanket for what was going to be a very rewarding twenty minutes.
Precisely seven minutes and twenty three seconds after starting the timer alarm, there came the ear-splitting screech of my screen door opening, followed by the polite knock of my husband announcing his arrival!
**His arrival!?! Shit! Where are my pajamas? I’m fucking naked and the kids are coming in. Did I miss the text message? No time. Fuck fuck fuck! They hate seeing me naked and always comment on exactly what they’ve seen that they shouldn’t have. Makes me feel like some perverted creeper trying to show my nimbly-bits to innocent children when in reality I cover myself up so I don’t unfairly damage them. Shit! Shit! Shit! Find those damn pajamas! Why didn’t I hear that text message? Where’s my phone? Get dressed now!!**
As the door clicks as it is unlocking I’m zipping up the zipper on my onesies. My heart does a double beat as I remember I forgot my adult themed items laying around the bathroom, my sanctuary that never gets violated when I’m alone. The kids almost always head to the bathroom when they walk through my door. I need to gently let them know they can’t go in there until I say it’s okay. Not worried, my girls are amazing and listen when I say stupid insane things like “Don’t go in the bathroom until I get in there first.” Thank goodness.
Patrick steps through the door and I am immediately comforted by his presence, until Patience steps into the doorway and Mommy mode kicks in full force. Mommy mode is intense and demanding. I put myself through paces mentally when I’m with my children. Or at least it feels that way to me.
I am constantly running things through my mind: am I showing enough affection, do they think I’m manic, have I said something too harshly, did I speak too “grownup” for them to understand, did I hurt her feelings, did I miss an opportunity to teach, guide, or love, am I scaring them, do they need something, how can I get them something they don’t need, do they know I love them, do they believe I’m not angry when I manically chastise them and I apologize after realizing my mistake, am I damaging my children with my bipolar, am I causing them to develop bipolar tendencies, on and on and on it goes, constantly overlapping and searching for areas of improvement and opportunity. Needless to say, I get stressed out when my mind really starts whirring and I have to couple the buzzing while simultaneously caring for holy tornadoes.
But when those beautiful angels stepped into my house, I immediately felt at home and needed to wrap my arms around them and make sure they know I’m Mommy and I love them insanely. I fell back to those instincts I doubted existed because I spend all my time apart from my babies. All those doubts were replaced by the pleasant stress of having children. That glowing aura that makes you want to pull your hair out in frustration but then glue it back on so you don’t terrify the children.
The girls immediately wanted to start painting. Which instantly distracted me from helping Patrick carry in anything he brought and getting the actual baby in the house. I took Patience and Prudence into the dining room where I had laid out the paints, ceramic eggs, and brushes all ready for them to dig into. I started being a little overbearing trying to instruct them on how to open the paints, to be careful, blah blah blah. Those old Mom tendencies of mine that show up and put a damper on the fun we are trying to have. I am trying to put that Mom persona to rest, she’s kind of a drag on our good times. I think I can create a better version of “mothering” that enables freedom and fun without nitpicking and nagging.
Thankfully Providence came into the living room and stole my attention away from the painting “rules” I was attempting to establish and sucked me into her tiny toddler aura of awkwardness. I just had to get her coat off of her to see what cuteness she managed in her current outfit! She’s at that stage where she has a big ‘ol Buddha belly on a tiny little miniature person body. It’s so freaking adorable!
So things were going well, the girls were painting, Provi was happy and with Mommy while Daddy was there doing his own thing. Things were good…until they weren’t. Remember the pizza I ordered? It comes back to haunt me now.
After finishing eating earlier, I put the remaining food in the oven and turned it on the lowest setting to keep it nice for the others. I of course forgot it was in there. While the kids were busy doing other things, Patrick started smelling something with his super nose. The food in the oven! He remembered I ordered pizza for us and decided to get himself a piece to carry around while the baby was still awake and toddling around. Unfortunately I came into the kitchen, frazzled by the new addition of people in my house, saw him open the pizza box and close it without taking a piece. Red mania started brewing.
**Aww shit! No he didn’t! Did he just decide he isn’t going to eat that pizza? Dammit. I knew he’d be pissy if there were black olives on it.**
This is a simple example of how my mania subtly introduces anger and negativity into my relationship with Patrick. I knew. I just knew he was going to do that. As soon as I start believing “I know” what he’s thinking, believing, saying, meaning, or understanding I immediately enter my manic level of unreasonableness. And I immediately enter the zone of uncomfortableness with Pat. At this point our synergy fails to register/manifest in my brain and actions and leads to me blowing up at him for no realistic or justified reason.
I recognized this and starting creating my processes on how I would handle my manic negativity without attacking Patrick or causing the family to have to leave prematurely. Hello avoidance mode! I plotted my night to include copious amounts of time in my sanctuary, the bathroom. If he was going to need me around him I could busy myself painting or rudely distract myself on the iPhone. I had options and I was ready to make them work! I felt irritable towards Patrick but not in the openly grumpy fashion I normally exhibit in these types of overreactions. Things were better than usual at this point. I felt proud of myself for holding it together so well. Nobody even felt uncomfortable.
At some point, Patience got grumpy and Daddy sent her to bed. He also handled getting the baby laid down while I was distracted cleaning up the bathroom so Prudence could wash her hands. This was good because it allowed me some distance from him while I cooled down. After both Patience and Providence were laid down and Prudence was busy painting her egg, I excused myself to the bathroom. Patrick joined me.
Uh oh. This is where things usually go sour quickly. He and I in an enclosed space where I metaphorically feel trapped and therefore instinctually go into attack mode. Passionate fiery often hostile and inflammatory verbal attacks with my “sword of truth”. That’s okay. He doesn’t realize I’m upset yet. I’ll just keep it that way. No need to fan the flames. No need to get aggressive.
So I get to work getting the hookah ready for us after Pru goes to bed, which will be momentarily. I think I must have been moving too stiffly or said something too sharply because he knew. He fucking knew something was wrong with me. And just as soon as he knows something is up, he comes in with the question I desperately need him to ask but hate to hear in my mania:
“Is something wrong?”
I keep my head down and debate how I can best open my mouth without attacking him or spewing the hostile negativity that I know is prone to come out in these manic fits. I can’t think straight. So I start searching my sanctuary for the thing I need most. While Patrick continued to wait for a response to his serious inquisition, I rummaged through the chairs and cupboards looking for it… My dry erase marker.
“Never deviate.”That’s all I could spell out for Patrick to guide him at how upset I was feeling over his rejection of the pizza. That’s all I could come up with. Two words that made absolutely no sense. Until he pried further.
And then it started. Less than an hour, perhaps within 30 minutes of his arrival, I was having a manic fight with Patrick. This did not bode well for the weekend. Such a bummer.
He asked me what was wrong. I told him how I was upset about the pizza. I couldn’t stand that he is so picky about food, how he is influencing Patience to be like him, how I’m never going to be able to correct her behavior because his is so bad, blah blah blah.
I started going on my manic rant where I tear down Patrick, attack him and accuse him of being less than the exemplary man he truly is, make connections between his bad behavior (as delusionally defined by me) and the problems existing with our children. Basically I start beating him up with words, attacking his character, his moral fiber, his ability to parent, and any other negative kick to the crotch I can latch onto and spew venomously. Ugh. These are the darkest parts of myself I don’t understand and can’t figure out.
And yet he stood there, right in front of me, in a casual posture, and let me get that filth out, while maintaining an active listening aura but with a completely non aggressive feel to it. When I finally came to the end of the negative rant, he looked at me, sincerely, and asked “What are you feeling right now?”
That did it. That was the key that I needed to turn this overly dramatic episode around.
I felt overwhelmed by the bleakness of my future. I told him it was hard for me to accept that I was going to have a daughter who would complain about every plate of food set in front of her, all because her father feels entitled to act that way. It is hard for me to imagine spending the rest of my life biting my tongue because I accidentally tied myself to a man who likes to be specific about food long before I knew that being ungrateful for the gifts bestowed upon us was a manic trigger for me.
I don’t want to attack Patience for acting like her dad. She positively adores him. Nor do I want to dissuade her from parroting her role model, because I believe that could damage her sense of security. But it is a struggle for me to reconcile allowing her to develop negative tendencies because her father was never taught to “shut your mouth and eat the food that is put before you and be grateful for every bite for there are others who get none and no choice to have it any other way”.
It was when I started trying to express this to Patrick that my manic fit stopped entirely. I remember it clearly because I even told Patrick in the middle of a rant that seemed manic, “this has stopped being about the pizza and the children. This has become about teaching you about my manic tendencies using a ridiculous current example like the pizza.”
And from there we had a positive and informational talk (more me spilling long monologues for Patrick to absorb than us conversing). I felt good. It was still intensely uncomfortable for Patrick. I could feel that. Because while I was talking to him in a positive way, I was still in rant like presentation mode which always comes off highly aggressive and fiery with passion and definition of detail, resulting in extreme uncomfortableness. Despite him being uncomfortable he still presented himself in the specifically detailed fashion I so insanely need him to understand and instinctually follow when I’m manic.
It’s a tall order and a lot to ask of anyone. I’m lucky to have found someone so capable of handling me at my worst, one willing to swallow unwarranted attacks without batting an eye, and then swoop in and soothe me into submission by getting me to interpret my own feelings for his understanding. All while sitting there calmly, cooly, and looking hot as hell. I’m a lucky girl indeed.
The rest of the night went swimmingly. I even got to a point where I was contemplating whether or not my bipolar started when I was five or six years old. It was when I was started
“knowing” that I was going to be the President. I was ridiculously detailed that I would first become an accountant and then very specifically a “corporate” attorney which would lead to my Presidency. I knew this and could detail my plan to adults.
But I wonder if this is when I started avoiding my true nature and where all my roadblocks to life started. Because I can honestly tell you that the artwork I create, the words I write, the stories I tell – they give my life color, meaning and definition. I did not feel alive or myself until I started embracing the creative side. Until I started digging down to what I define as ME. At five years old I started developing a life plan that had nothing to do with what made me happiest in life or was suited to my particular talents. But that’s another topic for later discussion.
This weekend has given me so much already. Time and fun with my family, a deeper understanding of myself, and a stronger trust and faith in my husband’s ability to weather my bipolar storms. I feel very blessed right now and positive towards my future involving bipolar that isn’t so bitchy and mania that is not so scary.
I’m including a picture of the family we just took last weekend after the Cleveland Comic Con. I want you to see how beautiful my girls are and how handsomely suave my husband is. It’s okay if you don’t agree, I know I’m partial to think the world of my loves.
Patience is sitting in Daddy’s lap with her grumpy face going on. She has a beautiful smile she hides behind her grumps a lot. If I had to guess which child is most likely to end up bipolar like Mommy, my money is on her. She unfortunately has a lot of my emotional quirkiness and ridiculousness. I don’t care if she’s bipolar, I just hope I can help her learn control before adulthood. Providence is the baby puckering up in the middle, and Prudence is the light shining on my lap. I love my family. They are the light of my life.