Tag Archives: husband

Happily Ever After

(When I referred to a doctor in this post I am referring to PhD’s in psychology or a related subject.)

First of all, Adelle. I knew nothing about her until peridot (http://greenegem.wordpress.com) turned me on to her. This was after all those silly Grammys. I was happy for her because everyone was talking about how great so was and because she has an old lady name. I had never purposely heard her music before and had no idea what was going on.

I recently lost 34 pounds. I look better. Maybe if I had met Adele sooner I wouldn’t have gone to the trouble, which is ridiculous. She is absolutely gorgeous and supremely talented. I think she looks on the outside like her insides – at least when it comes to music. Not knowing she is almost intolerably beautiful was helpful, in some ways. Some artists are good, but too good looking for anyone to ever hear their music. We’re a shallow group and some of us would never listen to someone pretty. There are some of us that only like artists are pretty. Both groups miss out – but my bet is that you belong to one of them. Think about it.

I am so shallow I almost didn’t hook into my current psychologist. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong until I stepped my ignorant self back and realized it was because she looked so differently than previous counselors. My first real psychologist appeared to dress exclusively in Eileen Fisher. She had a soothing dress, voice, her gray blonde hair was even soothing. Ah, Dr CJ, I will always miss you. It took me a while to find my doc here (in fact I met with an extremely well dressed and well appointed woman in the interim. Not a great therapist, an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist), but she looked the part. The Social Worker I saw I would not go back to because of unprofessional behavior, including wearing his wrinkled shirt untucked with his sloppy jacket over. He was also unapologetic about making me wait between fifteen and twenty minutes almost every week.) My new doc always wore a crisp suit and tie. Attractive, salt and pepper hair with a well polished wedding ring. I learned so much from them and kinda assumed that was what psychologists looked like.

Current psychologist is almost six feet tall and slouches. She is always neatly dressed in clean unfashionable clothes and fixes her hair everyday with what appears to be a curling iron. She is well groomed but she doesn’t look like anyone else. She is fiercely smart – this is the woman who said, “Ah – so you don’t like being in the same room with someone smarter than you”.

So what if she was right? Most of my friends are at least as smart as I am. M. The thing I don’t like is people that I have tenuous relationships with being smarter than me. Or when those same people can do things that I do well better than me. Many of my close friends are better writers, and I’m okay with that. I don’t feel threatened. I know they would still like me if all the words fell out of my head or even if my first novel shot up the Best Seller’s list. They would probably still like me if that book wound up in the remainder stack. Those other people? Who knows how or why they cause me such grief. I’m sure one of those doctors would be able to tell me.

I’m reviewing all of this because my husband and I start marriage counseling Monday. I told our potential therapists about these issues:

I’m bipolar
We’re eleven years apart and we have too much father/daughter stuff going on
There is no infidelity that I know of. (I didn’t want to seem naive, but I highly doubt there is.)
We are both committed to staying in the marriage

If we got all of this under control, we could all live Happily Ever After.


The Family Tree Project

There are a lot of problems with the Family Tree Project. It’s not Mr. B’s, Small’s teacher’s, fault, but I am just uncomfortable with the entire idea.

When they assigned it to my aide’s daughter, she called it nosy. I don’t have much of a problem with that – but can see there are times when revealing my past would not do me well. When I worked in the capitol, I would introduce myself using my first and last name – both are rare. Occasionally someone would scrunch up their nose and try to think where they had heard the names before. The Capitol’s major and I share the same name, and that was probably why, but once or twice I said, “you don’t know anyone I’m related to.”

Now, fifteen years older, I see that was a snotty thing to say. While my parents were state employees, stirring around in law enforcement and tax evasion, my paternal grandfather was a tom cat, sprinkling the rest of us around the country. He was guilty of a lot of poop and I have never met him, nor will I ever. The man is dead, and lays in a pauper’s grave in the town my father grew up in.

My maternal grandfather was a carpenter. My grandmother was an artist. I have no shame that comes in that, but I do not bear their name. I can’t brag that I am one of them as soon as I am introduced to someone new. Those grandparents will take up a large amount of my daughter’s family tree. Their children might be another story, one being a leech and another a meth user. In my own recovery, though, I have met many an addict that is a genuinely good person who happens to have some serious problems that they solve (or don’t) using drugs. I am naive enough to believe the drugs I take are different than the drugs they do.

Enough for now. Monday my husband and I start marriage counseling. We’re dropping the baby at 3:30 and the sitter will have her until 7. Will keep you up to date.


before I wake (G)

What five things do I want to do before I die? My list when I was twenty-five is miraculously different then the list I might make today. I want to write about both lists.

I’ve done a lot of things off the first list. I am content, my cup runeth over. I wanted to go to Berkeley – I got to do that. I wanted a husband, I wanted a little girl. Check, check. But wait! There’s more!

I wanted to go on long backpacking trips, specifically I wanted to walk the John Muir trail (211 miles). The longest I’ve been on a backpacking trip was two nights, so I suppose that belongs on the list, although the charm of sleeping on a gritty floor waiting for the bears to go away has lessened as I grow older. I wanted to tackle Half Dome and I’ve done that, I even got to sleep up there the year before they closed it off to over-nighters. Things have changed, and I’m not entirely clear I want to do that anymore. Give me day hikes and youth hostels. Let me think about walking with John Muir.

I want to spend more time in Europe. I’ve been there once, to Frankfurt and I didn’t like that. I want to see Paris in the spring, Rome anytime, and Spain. I want to visit Saint Petersburg. Russia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and I understand Saint Petersburg to be the most beautiful cities in Russia, maybe even anywhere. I do not want to ever go back to Germany, you can have that. I have a not very good friend in Switzerland, (who is the reason I hate Germany so much) so even though when I was younger I wanted to visit so badly, I do not want to see her. She has invited us to stay with her and I don’t want to see her philandering husband, either.

I also want to spend time in Africa, and more time in Asia. I could have gone to the Middle East after University, but there was a misunderstanding that made it not possible to go. When I think about this, it irks me.

(Weight Loss)
I want to be a reasonable weight. I was doing well, then I went to a wonderful wedding and ate three slices of cake. They were three different kinds of cake, but still, get a hold of yourself, Malakoa. I only gained .8 pounds, but they are .8 pound I do not want and now my belly is floppy again. My only real exercise is yoga. Although it is challenging, it may not be the right kind of exercise for me to drop this extra weight.

I was reading the other day from a self-proclaimed atheist about the God-fearing people’s response to 9-11. The part of his quotation that stuck out to me was that “people worship a God who couldn’t save us from these attacks.” It doesn’t really sound like atheism to me: It sounds like someone disappointed with God. If God does this, the writer reasoned, He can’t be a God. It seems like a misunderstanding. It is my experience that a lot of people who reject God do not understand who God is or what He has done. Simple questions like, “If Adam and Eve were white, how come all the people in the world are different colors?” are answered easily if you look to the Bible. (Answer: There are no colors assigned to Adam and Eve. The mark of the Canaanites is sometimes spoken of as dark skinned people, but there is no real proof anyone was white or black or purple. We can believe with some confidence Jesus looked like a ugly, hairy Middle Eastern guys.) I realize that believing that all agnostics or staunch atheists base their faith on figuring out the color of good ol’ mama Eve is potentially insulting. There are good and interesting arguments against the existence of God, but none truly convincing to me. I believe there are answers, and I believe I know a lot of the simple ones.

I would love to speak and write. I intend on working some of this blog to a book, and if it doesn’t I want to write another two or five. I go to conferences, etc, I think, “maybe someday I’ll be the one up there.” I’m only in my thirties. I don’t know if that’s young or old for that sort of work. I believe God has given me the gift the gift of prophecy. This doesn’t mean I can predict floods or locusts, but that I can explain difficult things clearly and am able to speak convicting truths where others are blind or just uncomfortable dealing with. These truths can be received harshly. I was warned that prophets can lack compassion and I try to be generous and compassionate. I’ve talked before about the bruised hand, and I am beaten up sometimes. Truth can be healing as well. It is a relief for people to see how they making things worse because of what they believe about themselves is not true, and what they are doing is destructive.

That’s more than five. Hope you didn’t give up on me. See you tomorrow.


Believing in the One

For many, many years I worked in youth ministry at an Evangelical Christian Church. Please don’t stop reading – I’m not going to walk you through the Four Spiritual Laws (I have a problem with them anyway.) I’m not going to offer a free Bible if you subscribe. I’m just going to talk about dating, courtship and marriage. Just that.

In our group we discouraged dating in High School. It was a time to be “on fire” for God and to focus on His relationship with us and ours with Him. We should study, have a lot of fun, and do our best to remain pure in every single way. We saw kids who were strong in their faith felled by relationships. I would say to the girls, and I believed it then and believe it now, that the question we should ask is not, “How far can we go physically?” but rather, “How far can I go to be a blessing to God?” I don’t know if anyone ever listened to me, but it’s a good question. I should ask myself that more often.

I heard a lot of stupid things about marriage and dating at that time. One of the kids once told me that relationships were like a pyramid with God at the top. The two of you are on the edge, and the closer they get to the top the closer they get. I didn’t buy that for a second, and I told her so. The unmarried members of the staff were far more Godly and could be committed to God because of their singleness.

I read some books. A lot of them focused on saving the entirety of yourself for your one true soul mate. I wanted (still do) for the to wait for marriage to have a physical relationship, but I don’t think there is a call to wait for that soul mate. I saw relationships continue a lot longer than they should have because they believed since they were both Christians they wouldn’t have been brought together if they weren’t perfect for each other. I’ve also seen young people stay in physical relationships because they believe to be “married in the eyes of God.” They weren’t. (If there is a call for me to write more about this here, or to dash out an email I will). But that’s the danger of one of the “soul mate” designs.

Here is another reason why: Say some kids decide they like each other. They decide to be in an exclusive relationship. The do not have sex of any kind. (This is actually pretty funny to me – do you think you’re fooling God by “just” having oral sex or “just” groping one another?) The couple does share a lot of things with their girlfriend or boyfriend but the relationship doesn’t work out. Not only are they broken-hearted they feel like they’ve dishonored and misunderstood God. They thought that this relationship was going to be their last, but it wasn’t. Their faith in God’s leading takes a blow and guilt sets in. They feel that they did something very wrong.

I think it’s not necessarily true. After I become a Christian, I learned it was possible to love God through a relationship that didn’t ultimately end in marriage. We shared a lot of our lives together and I believe he saw us on a marriage track. I didn’t feel the same, but after a short time, we were able to be good friends. We didn’t belong together and the reality was both of us knew it. He came a long way to attend our wedding.

Some people argue that a heart that is never broken is no way to begin a relationship. I don’t know if I agree or not. In Genesis, the Bible says, “And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.” We can be there for each other, renew our souls and teach us trust. I’m not recommending serial dating, I don’t think that’s healthy either, but there are many rules that we taught that aren’t necessary true or Biblical.

The paths are different for everyone. It goes back to everyone’s Journey. I believe in seeking counsel, but I also believe that ultimately the decision needs to be 100% up to the couple. That said, I don’t think you can be 100% sure. You can be sure about your commitment to marriage, but without some sort of doubt you can’t have faith. Marriage is a huge act of faith. What are you to know about the next five, ten or fifty years? You can’t know what will happen in one year. We were married about two and a half when I was diagnosed with bipolar illness. I’m quite sure my husband clung to the fact he told God and everyone, he married me and would stand by me “in sickness and in health….as long as we both shall live.”

I know that my husband is the “one” for me. Ya know how? Because I’m married to him. I took a huge leap and found myself in love, pleasing to God and matched up. We’ve had quite a bit of troubles sometimes, but we are still together because we told God we would and because He is welding us together. We disconnect sometimes and truly connect other times. We both promised each other, and the people that watched we get married that we would do all we could to serve and love each other. We promised God we would, too. When our pastor asked B why he was sure I was the right one, B said it was because of the sense of “peace”. It’s funny to hear a man I respect and admire ask the question I think is most silly. He has an enviable relationship with his wife and family. For him, there might have been just “one”. I’m okay with that, even though I believe it is not true of every couple.


Almost

The only time I almost killed myself it was an accident. I had been diagnosed a few months and the psychiatrist decided I needed to go down and eventually go off one of my medicines. Problem was that was my first effective medicine. It stopped the racing thoughts, the visions of violence and it added no sorrow with it. He wanted me to go off it and I couldn’t. Like a dangerous lover I wouldn’t detach.

I went in for my menagerie of tables, capsules and horse pills and added a few of the newly forbidden pills just for good measure.

Within minutes I could hardly think, focus my eyes or breathe without opening my mouth. Soon after that I walked in around in a stupor. I took long naps. My husband pushed me to do things like take our child to swim lessons, where I was required to get in to the water with the baby, and go to sing alongs. I didn’t want to, but I know he thought it would snap me out of the catatonic state, but it didn’t work. At all. Times like that he becomes paternalistic. I know it bothers my friends and family but if they saw what goes on. Usually his precepts are right, (Even if I ignore them) but in this situation, he was wrong.

When B and I went to the shrink and as soon as the the doc saw me he was distressed. I told him what I did and he told me I was emotionally attached to the drug. He wanted me to go to the hospital, but I wouldn’t. (I’m not against hospitals, but I feel they are for very ill folks, and I did not recognize myself as one.) He finally told B to make me rest, that meant no work, no chores and no childcare.

Although I didn’t recognize it then, I am extremely lucky I didn’t put myself in to a coma, or worse. I knew better than to adjust my medications. Or did I? I don’t remember. I may have thought I knew better than the doctor, after all, it was my brain. Problem is, I didn’t have a cazillion years of medical school and decades of experience treating bipolar. He might know a tad bit more about bipolar than me.

This is the same doctor that hooked me up with Stanford Medical Center where I saw the utmost expert on bipolar in the United States. He really didn’t help. (And, in his report, he called me “overweight”. Shut up, Po Wang) After that my regular shrink arranged for me to go to the Women’s Wellness Clinic, which essentially works with women whose depression is related to her reproductive system. That was not me. (However, I have to add that psychotropic medicines all but banished PMS symptoms from my body.)

The suggested no useful changes, said I was on the right track and spanked my butt on the way out. I felt like there was no hope. I would gaze at people that did not want to be gazed out. Inanimate objects were more understanding. I was so zonked I would drool, so much that I often had to wipe it off the table. I am not kidding.

Two years later. I was dissatisfied with the hew doctor who when I told him of my elaborate suicide plan, said he was concerned and wanted to see me two weeks later.) Feeling that this doctor had no true concern with my health and well-being, I found someone new that took my insurance and within days I walked in to a small practice in a suburb of a slightly bigger town and met a tiny Pakistan-born and educated psychiatrist. She took one look at me and said she could tell I was on psych meds. She prescribed a drug that all but took away the side effects. Within a few weeks, she also diagnosed me with ADD and OCD. I stopped drooling and staring out into space and started being okay.

I added some vitamins (can’t tell you which, I’m not the doctor.) and things have been better. Not perfect. I have breakthroughs and sometimes sleep too much. I have one day a month I overeat, but I’m not overweight any more. I’m being much more careful. I must take my pills on time – even an hour off can put me out of balance. I don’t take drugs not prescribed to me, am careful with OTC drugs and if I add a vitamin I check with my doctor.

I know meds are not the only answer. But, although I have a list of things that have worked for me before and work for me now I believe I will always see medication at the top of this list, including my vitamin supplements. Other things on the list include Bible study and prayer, therapy, writing this blog, making junk food a treat rather than a way of life, yoga, other exercises. It’s an holistic treatment plan that is potentially dangerous only if I deviate from it. I don’t do all of them every day (hello, Cheetos) but they are as important as anything else I do.


So sings my soul

I have made every effort to write without cliches or catch phrases.  I know I haven’t ironed them all out, please forgive me, and please read until the end.

We started the morning with Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I’ve listened to it a dozen times.  I had seen the tears in the audience, it’s easy to cry listening to the songs that remind you of Grandma’s old radio or  sweet old time religion.  What came this time was the peace I saw in the faces of the celebrities.  It transcends the music hall, the awards, even Carrie’s magnificent voice.  It changed their hearts.  Music can do that.  God does that.

There was a time I was struggling greatly with my faith I came across this song, “I’ve Got Friends that Do.”

And I may not know what its like
To send my only son to save the world and watch him die
And I may not know how it feels
To hang there on the cross to prove that love is real
But I’ve got friends that do.

I don’t know why or how those words were so enlightening to me, but it genuinely convicted me that God doesn’t owe me or anybody else anything.  God sent His only son for us.  He watched Him die, for us.  I will never know the cost, but I  do know that what He has done is all I ever need him to do to worship and even love Him.  Jesus said, “it is finished”.  While God does bless me, give me good things and make me very happy sometimes, he’s not required to do so.  My heart for Him is only a response to His love for me.  When I felt totally unloved and unhappy, he has already concocted a plan in heaven to make me very happy.  Because I felt that way, didn’t mean it was true – He always loved me.  In between now and then things like the joy Small brings me, the security and love B brings me and all of the other things in life that are satisfying and fun are just a drop in the bucket compared with what is there for me there.

I am (making every effort to be) not ashamed of the gospel.  I believe in the power of God for salvation, and I believe He uses it.  I know that Jesus is real, is God, and is mine forever.  The fact, and I believe it to be a fact, that I am on my way to heaven, is exciting.  I get to see huge pearls and gold.  I get to see angels again.  I get to a real home, not one that will be taken away from me.  I don’t think I’ll have to clean it, either.  I really believe this is the point of Jesus’ words and the good news described in the Bible.

I don’t know where the peace in those country singer’s faces came from, other than being a gift from God.  I have that peace, sometimes, and I wish I had it all the time.  It’s a Fruit of the Spirit, which means it’s an extra special gift that God gives to His children.  According to Bible-knowledge.com, without peace, we can easily become “rattled, shaken, tormented” and “and knocked right off of your game in the Lord the first time any type of adversity should ever come your way.”  Who hasn’t been like that before?  Who wants that?

I think God has given me extra special gifts.  I’m not in the middle of a bipolar episode and I still believe that is true.  If I am elevated, I try to ignore any personal “messages” from God. I’ve said it before that I want to worship a real God, not one borne of mental illness.  I’ve was in a hospital with a schizophrenic woman who  talked the whole time about the Roman Catholic Church, Jehovah Witnesses and some other sect of the modern world.  Since I was pretty amped so I laughed and even though I made every attempt not to laugh at the poor, tormented soul.  I didn’t have success – I just couldn’t stop laughing, but it served as a message to me that I did not want to crazily create an object of worship:  I wanted something hard.  The image that comes to me is a sturdy Craftsman chair, made of strong wood and constructed by a skilled artisan.  I don’t know if that is because Jesus was a carpenter, or what.  I read once that the plows He made were used up to the third century.  I think his word and work in the Bible proves that is true of Jesus.  Jesus is supernatural though, so things sometimes don’t seem solidly grounding. There is more to Jesus than a carpenter’s chair.

I most frequently hear from God through the Bible.  It is that carpenter’s chair.  Yes, there are different versions and what I believe to be the occasionally translation error, but I feel there is no evidence that is strong enough for me to believe it to be anything but factual.  Still, things happen to me, I see prayers answered, I hear God’s voice, I’ve seen angels.  (If you feel like proving me wrong, go ahead and pm me with it.  I don’t want to mess with healing people getting upset if you leave guest book messages.)

One last story.  This is one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me.  I lived in a big, old fraternity in college.  It was a mansion at one point, Spanish style with a once stately great room.  I don’t think anything about the house was stately while I lived in it.  There was an old Steinway piano, and I was going through an extremely difficult time.  I had, what I understand now to be, a major depressive episode.   I was failing out of school, so I just dropped out for the semester.  I didn’t do a whole lot: I went to Bible Study, I ate and ate, slept for hours and hours and I played that piano.  Steinway pianos have heavy keys, so I had to pound to make any music out of it.  The piano was out of tune, which made it sound more like what was going on with me.  That piano probably kept me alive.

I hadn’t really played piano for years, but I played pretty much when I wasn’t sleeping or eating.  I played show tunes, Disney songs and worship songs.  I played for church and for Bible study.  It was the only productive thing I did then, but I have nothing to show for it but that night with the angels.

It was Saturday.  I was alone in the house, which is an impressive thing when the house has twenty-three residents.  I went to the piano and felt like I really could freely play and even sing as loudly and fully as possible.  I had a book of worship songs and I played from the beginning to the end.  While I was playing, I swear to you, the room filled with angels.  The were swirling and swooping around the room.  There were dozens of them.  They gushed peace and joy and I received it, completely amazed.  The angels were silent, but in joined my worship as a created being.  I was refreshed.  I was surrounded by so much beauty.  I wasn’t exhausted like I’d expect to be after encountering supernatural creations.  I wasn’t scared like people are in the Bible, because I knew from reading about angel visitations they probably aren’t bringing messengers of death.  I was able to laugh and play with flourishes and took chances with my voice.  Bliss, joy, peace were their gifts.  The angels left without taking away any of the blessings they brought with them I don’t know where they went next.


Step 3?

Someone tell me how to make amends.  I spent $260+ on clothes, shoes and a shelf.  And a few other things.  I knew how much it was and I knew I had to talk to B about it, but he got to our check register first.  He was furious.

$260 is a very large sum of money for us.  We have little to live on for the rest of the month, for gas and groceries.  (We have a lot of food in our larder, don’t send us grocery store coupons.)  He wants me to return as much as I can and make amends.  He wants me to clean the house.

From what I read on AA webpages, making amends needs to be something linked to the offense.  Returning the goods or repaying the $260 are good examples of making amends.  Asking “what can I do?” is not a good example because it shows the offender doesn’t understand the nature or depth of the offense.  B wants me to scrub the house.  I am doing it, but I am neutral.  I’m not doing it because I want a clean house.  I honestly don’t care one way or another if the house is clean.  I’m not motivated by love.  I love my husband but I am not cleaning to make him happy.  I just feel nothing about this job.  It’s true I’ve spent about an hour on the computer when I could be scouring the shower floor, but my knees were hurting.  And I hadn’t looked at  facebook all day.

He was very very very angry last night.  He didn’t sleep well and he was still angry at me when he left for work.

I thought we had arrived at some understanding.  When I go on a spree (and this won’t be my last) I move blithely through the store, picking out things I like and things I think I should have.  The later is the danger, because I don’t want to take those things back.  Sure, I’ll return the things I just like, but the things I need, like the $6.99 swimsuit, are different stories.  I got a lot of pants 70% off and I do not want to return them.  They fit me, unlike much of the other clothes I have.  And it’s only $14 I’ll get back.  It seems not worth the trouble to do so.  I am really not myself when I’m shopping.

When I come down from the high, I feel really guilty.  I am ashamed at what I did.  I am convicted that not lying is not the end of God’s instruction, but deception is also condemned over and over again.  I hide the things I bought.  I take off the tags.  I seek out more.

There is an embossing plate collection that I have a 50% coupon for.  It’s ten plates, and plates are usually $4.99.  After the coupon, they could be $1 each.  I want them.  I think I need them and have to have them.  I know I am wrong!  But the drive is in me and I almost feel desperate to own it.  I try and think about how I can get the $10.  Can I return something so I have the cash?  Can I take money from the community change drawer?  (If you have ideas, just let me know.)

I don’t know what I’m going to do next.  I have to go this afternoon to return the shelf and some clothes.  It won’t be enough, I know.  I won’t be “allowed” to buy anything for a very long time.  I hate being treated like a child.  People say that B can be controlling, and it’s true, but I think part of it is trying to manage a mentally ill spouse.  He doesn’t know anyone else who has a wife with bipolar, and 90% of bipolar people’s marriages fail.  He and I both are committed to our marriage.  He needs support but we’re not going to drive an hour + for a support group filled with a bunch of sick people either (a) feeling sorry for themselves or (b) 300 pounds because they take Seroquel and use it as an excuse to drink a milkshake everyday. I was on that path and want to stay as far from it was possible.

Sigh.  I wish I could fix things, and I’m sure that I can, but I’m not going to do as good of a job as possible.  I won’t blame it on the mania, I’m just too selfish.