You hear people trying to curse their own children to have kids who will be like they were growing up all the time. Maybe this Chronicle won’t be solely a bipolar issue but it will be packed full of issues that were definitely not made better with my being bipolar. I had an experience that was eerily like getting to talk to my old self the other night and it made me realize a few things: I have come light years from my former self and I need to acknowledge that. When you are in the middle of your own maelstrom it’s impossible to see a way out. And Jin Kano was right, there was nothing wrong with me. I was fine. I wasn’t crazy. Everything I ever said did make sense. *All things considered.*
Now first of all I think we need to rewind to understand that I carried a lot of baggage for a long, long time. Up until four years ago I was miserable, conflicted, angry, sad, lonely, terrified, trapped and I hated the world and myself. God, did I hate myself. It’s a horrible way to wake up everyday being inside someone you can’t get away from and you loathe more than there are words to describe.
Talking to my friend, I’m going to call her Honeysuckle–I saw for the first time that I have moved so far from where I had been and what she was living in, that now I could see that old me as some other person entirely. I have known since the “schism” that at that time I had to give up or give in and that someone new had been made; I never realized how far I would come from that darkness. The difference between Honeysuckle and I is that she couldn’t make any delineation between herself and the world that she is burdened by and that means that she forever feels that it tears her apart. I lived that for so long and knowing how it was to be pulled in so many ways and beaten down by so many things made me hurt for her and want to help. But if I have learned anything in my last 30 years of counseling and psychiatric care it is that someone needs to want the help and it will be the first and main inclination for them to resist every offer of it until the make the decision that they can’t take anymore. I could listen to her but I wouldn’t be able to make her feel better and I couldn’t make any difference in how she saw herself or her world but I wouldn’t let that stop me from being there because not doing so would only add to all the other voices in her head and I couldn’t become one more reason she felt bad about herself.
I believe that a person goes through their lives picking up what I call “Internal Figures”. They can be old IFs… your mom, she never showed you enough love. New IFs… the guy on the bus gave you a look you couldn’t decipher but for some reason it stayed in your head all day and made you uneasy about yourself. Maybe your friend hasn’t been returning your calls. Or the girl you went on a date with seemed to like your girl pal more than you! You collect these Internal Figures and as you go through your day and the motions of your life they are leaving messages in your head. They tell you things that make you insecure, make you feel like a failure, make you wish you hadn’t met them, make you wish you hadn’t been born and make you wish you could just end it all!!! The confuse you, make you feel angry and conflicted. Those IFs are the things that break you down.
BUT, really… you are actually okay.
I’m sure you are sitting there looking at my blog with a WTF face and thinking I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. But all those Internal Figures are the problem. They are what is bad and what is wrong and they are not YOU. You are fine. Those are your issues and you can get control of those Internal Figures, you can get past those people that make you feel like shit and cut them loose. I know… because I was the person I described above and I still have some IFs… but mainly the voices I deal with now are my own and they still say shitty things but I don’t have the chorus of hate that drilled my ass in one place and made me want to kill myself every other second of every moment of every hour of every day. I am not living under that blanket of issues that made me feel small and as if I just can’t win. I know that I am not the crappy childhood, the screwed up and promiscuous relationships, the self destruction, the lack of boundaries and limits, the intense and ruined friendships, the isolation and loneliness, the drinking and drugs, the suggestive, suspicious, dark and disappointed looks.
When I was talking to Honeysuckle about this concept of Internal Figures she kept interrupting me and saying she didn’t know what I was talking about but ‘I would understand if I had been molested and if had been raped and people took advantage of me.’ I know how it feels to be too young to know what the hell is happening and not know you should be scared. If there is anything I do understand it is being violated in every way, not only by others but by myself. When you can’t trust yourself, there is just nothing for you. My laundry list of hurts and abuse is long that it’s not worth looking at because life needs good vibes out there and looking at that shit just keeps you there. Those Internal Figures were like demons who sat on me and were never going to leave without a forceful eviction.
Honeysuckle was talking to me and incapable of hearing me and I could see it for what it is… Her IFs are so LOUD that she has to keep repeating her issues to hear herself say anything at all. The voices inside her mind are deafening and she thinks that the things that they are saying are what makes and defines her. But I wish she knew the truth. I wish she could see them for the manipulative things they are because Honeysuckle is a beautiful and caring person who is compassionate and deserving of freedom from her Internal Figures. She loves people and she thrives on meeting them and going to new places and being part of a community and they could give her good experiences that would make her soul glow if she could control and overcome her IFs. But life is a routine and we get into a rut and we get used to feeling the way we do and it’s damn hard to learn to think and live another way. She is so deeply buried under the weight of her IFs that they’ve become her way of life.
When you are being challenged by someone to do something outside of your normal routine your first reaction to the threat is to shut down. As we spoke Honeysuckle began to apologize to me for resisting everything that I suggested she might try to get her to see things differently. It’s very normal when you are used to feeling persecuted and misunderstood to feel the need to apologize and she did several times as if she had earned my anger. She was looking for one more Internal Figure to add to her cast of Internal Figure characters. She was fine and it made perfect sense for Honeysuckle to react the way she was. It will take her a long time to get to the point where she will want to change and she might never get there. She can’t do it for me and no matter what she does I love her. She may make me angry by the way she acts because I want her to do things that make her feel good not angry at herself and frustrated, but I never am angry at her and I understand where all of it is coming from so I can empathize and relate to it. I don’t like the way her reactions to things in her life make her feel but they are all ways I have reacted and I know the place it is coming from. My heart hurts because I can see it hurts her and I want more than anything for her not to hurt. Life comes with happiness and hurt.
For me, all of this held a strange duality. I felt like I was having a conversation with Honeysuckle and with the me I buried long ago. My therapist, Dr. Tone, is often telling me I have control and me knee-jerk reaction is always to tell her that I don’t feel like I do. I think it is a side effect of being bipolar. You always feel like you have a strange beast inside you that will take over at any time and leave you hanging on by your fingertips. The conversation with Honeysuckle was so empowering that it did a bit of housecleaning to some phantom IFs I hadn’t even realized were still rooming inside of me. It’s a very strange feeling to see yourself at once as two sides of one coin. To see yourself then and now without the transition. It’s humbling and incredibly sublime feeling to be greeted with a moment by no chorus of Internal Figures.
But battling them is not something that is an easy task and I won’t sit here and tell you that I am in my blissful state of mindful peace free forever of Internal Figures. I am a shut in. I am terrified of men. So there are fears there. Fears and self hate are not the same thing but what is there to stir the fear is definitely Internal Figures. I battle them by staying in until I can go out with David there. Or when I’m hypomanic I might go out on my own, but I will cross the street to avoid passing a male and I am forever looking for possible exits in restaurants and buildings incase men come near. I wear headphones out in public so I can put a barrier between me and the public at large for my social anxiety. I will avoid all eye contact and I have pretended deafness and muteness when someone has attempted to talk to me. I still have fear about any man who addresses me verbally and I only reply formally and submissively. I will talk to men who are elderly because those men remind me of my grandfather. Those are males I like and am comfortable with. And Asian men. (It’s not racism… remember Jin? He helped me. Jin is Asian. Asians are therefore safe. Associations are strange.)
As for what I think is the most important thing I got out of dealing with my Internal Figures? I have to tell you that I could probably tick off some big things but really the monumental thing was a subtle knowing that came before I even worked on some of the other junk that I was carrying around. It was sometime Spring in 2012 I was sitting with Matthew on the couch, David on the loveseat watching some movie, I think it was blah, blah, blah. I had my feet on Matthew and was thinking the moment was perfect; my husband and best friend. I realized in that moment that liked myself. I LIKED, LIKED myself. I don’t think I had ever liked myself before and it was an amazing feeling to realize that I liked myself and it wasn’t because someone else liked me. I wasn’t getting my worth from anyone else. It was the most unfortunate moment for other people because I realized that other than David, Matthew and my family… I didn’t need to be the center of attention and didn’t need hanger-on’ers. I didn’t need to be making scenes and wonder how to catch people’s eye. It didn’t matter anymore. I could literally be my own friend. I was finally my own person it was like I became whole.
So, now I read books instead of playing an MMo and trolling for internet friends to stave off the loneliness. I might make some friends with authors but I don’t need them to make me feel like I am someone. As a matter of fact if someone does or doesn’t want to be on my blog doesn’t faze me in the least. I wish them the best but I really have too much going on to think on it for longer than it takes me to read the email. I do things as I want to do them and in a way that I feel should be done. I don’t censor myself and I don’t try to reign in my silly side because I worry people will think I’m crazy… think what you want. I talk to my cats and will one day own an old house and have 46 more of them. Bring it on! I love being alone, in the quiet.
If there is one thing I do wish was different… I wish I was better at keeping the good Internal Figures. It’s strange but I think as you become a whole person your own personality begins to take up a lot of room inside of you. I can’t hear the voices of my grandparents and I can’t hear the voice of my first grade teacher any more. I think you absorb those figures instead of them talking to you, their wisdom is something that begins to talk through you. I don’t get to hear the sound of my grandfather calling me my grandmother’s name so much as I feel how much he held family important and loved so deeply; even after my grandmother’s death he kept her close to his heart and on his mind. Those are the IFs that become gold inside my soul but not by being whispers but by becoming pieces of me.