I don’t talk about my last relationship much, because there was so much uncomfortable guilt I felt when I couldn’t be functional with my depressive episodes that comes with having bipolar in a relationship- this would be a major reason why I eventually left.
The guilt came from the fact (loosely defined, thought would be more accurate) that it was my fault that I was sick. That I was broken. I did things in my life that got me here, I thought. And that he didn’t sign up to be with a broken, broken thing that I was, and it was all on me. It took a lot of therapy to rid of the guilt, and the self blaming thinking pattern out of my system. Because after all, you don’t choose to have trauma. And yet, some of it remains to this day and still is one of the major things that I’m working on. That some things (most things,) aren’t my fault just because they happened to me- my illness, my separated parents, and my pain.
I always firmly believed that without my breakdown, and the subsequent hospitalizations, and the diagnosis, we would have made it through the storm. If both he and I could be cloned, and my clone didn’t have my bipolar gene, so to speak, the cloned couple would have made it. Because that couple, sans bipolar, were so happy together. They had so many similarities that made them a perfect team. They also had enough differences that made them interesting to each other. Ignorance wasn’t bliss in this case. Looking at the situation more objectively, in third person: she had a traumatic childhood that she had wiped from her memory. She didn’t know why there were strange thoughts in her head (that were separate from her own thoughts) were always criticizing and attacking her. She always felt unsafe, except when he was with her. This changed after the breakdown- she always felt unsafe. He had a relatively happy childhood with several siblings in a loving home- he had a healthy view of marriage and partnership, unlike her. He was in a word, wholesome in those aspects plus more. For this she felt undeserving of such a good thing.
So what happened? Besides being unhinged and unstable, I started to feel unsafe with him emotionally. It was his first time seeing someone depressed and suicidal up close, he didn’t really have the experience or the tools to be helpful. He just didn’t, and couldn’t comprehend- not that that was even possible by someone without the disease. You have to understand, a depressed person is fragile, and any harsh word, even if not intended, could shatter their trust in a single blow. And fragile people don’t take chances- they are often full of fear. Their choice is not fight but flight. So I reacted out of this fear. After a quarrel, one that was becoming more frequent because of the recent change in my mood and my drastically different life style as a depressed mental patient than him, or our mutual friends (unemployed, seemingly lackadaisical), I said I had enough and a short good bye.
Shy of one year since we parted ways, I am realizing that maybe, just maybe, he did truly care for me. Past tense. There is no way to know what is going on now because we fell out of touch, and I moved away to another city where my family lived. This isn’t something I had considered before when I was unstable and broken, because it was unthinkable- but thinking back to all the things that were said during those heated conversations, I can now see the possibility that perhaps he didn’t mean me harm, he just wanted me to get better. Some of it could have been phrased a bit more delicately, but he didn’t know how to handle someone in that situation. I also didn’t know how to hold on during such a situation, when I wasn’t his equal in a relationship. I didn’t know how to be the sick one. I didn’t know how to trust someone to stay, as I had been betrayed so many times, and disappointed by so many that came before him, when I was at my lowest.
What “could have been,” is something we all think a few times after days, weeks, or years have gone by. We reanalyze with new data and new information about ourselves in the present state in the old situation. But that situation couldn’t have turned out any differently with the old me, and the old him. It takes two to tango, right? So I’m letting him go, a little bit every day, and opening myself to embrace what will come next with my less broken self.
Here is a poetry version of what I just wrote, if you prefer terseness.