Regret Nothing : 30 Days of Truth

Day 22 : Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.

I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.
Drew Barrymore

As a woman with Bipolar Disorder, emotions are a quintessential part of my life.  So, naturally, it would be shocking for me to admit that regret is not an emotion that I often experience.  Difficult to believe?  I would certainly believe so, especially in a person where emotions are often extreme and feral!

I experience a certain lack of regret for a number of reasons.

I typically choose my words and actions wisely.  I have often said, “There are just some things in this life that you cannot take back.”  Once certain behaviors are out there in reality, there may be no amount of apology or reparations that can fix the damages.  However, this is not to say that I don’t make my fair share of mistakes.

I do not regret my mistakes.  Mistakes are learning experiences, not irreparable failures.  Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  That is exactly the nature of mistakes.  They are meant to teach us lessons.  It is up to us to derive an appropriate lesson from our mistakes.

There is another saying out there about regret.  “Never regret anything, because at one time, it was exactly what you wanted.”  That is precisely it.  Often, the choices that we make seem like the best choices for us at the time.  I am a stubborn kind of person, and even if there was some kind of time machine where I could go back and warn myself, I would certainly not have heeded my own warning.

I am a firm believer in fate, and I have faith that everything happens from significant purpose to later be determined in hindsight.  You know what they say, hindsight is 20 / 20.  And when we begin to work out the course of the events in our lives, we start to see how the tapestry comes together to weave the people we have become.

I am a stronger person person for having bipolar disorder.  I am a better mother for having a son on the spectrum.  I am a better wife, because I have a husband who loves me.  I am a more determined person for having dropped out of college.  Each struggle provides me with more character and more things to build myself up.

A wealth of evidence exists in my life to prove fate to me.  Xan and I met ten and a half years ago, through my high school sweetheart.  The two of them had become college roommates, and I had grown quite close to Xan.  And throughout the years, we remained close friends, despite any falling outs we may have had.  It was like we were drawn together by some unexplainable force.  I explained a great deal of that in a series of posts entitled, “Possibility and Ascention”, “Seeds of Affection”, and “Mo Anam Cara”. After all we had went through in the five years we weren’t romantically involved, we came together after all.  And as imperfect as my marriage is, it is the most perfect, unconditional love I have ever experienced.  I have certainly found my soulmate.

Every experience has a place in the tapestry of one’s life.  Experience is an essential part of who we are.  Our successes and mistakes come to shape us into the people that we are.  And without those experiences, we might not be the people that we will eventually come to cherish.

Often, I treat everyday as if it were my last day, or potentially the final day for someone I love.  After Xan’s car accident, my eyes were wide open to the fragility of life and the certain mortality we all face.  Each day must have some peaceful conclusion, lest someone passes in the night.  A lesson has to be derived from each event, and work toward the betterment of my myself and those around me.  And each day, I attempt to say or do at least one thing to better another person’s life.  Or at least their day.

I live life to live it.  I regret nothing.  Because in the end, it is my life.

Conditional Conditions

I was having a fantastic time at Tang Soo Do class last night.  I excelled in techniques that were far above my level.  I was really doing well with jump kicks and then, POP!  I landed on my knee wrong, and here I am.

Mental health disorders with limitations are difficult enough on their own.  I find that I am unable to just go to the mall.  I have to plan, and take a Xanax or two well in advance.  The same is true for many other crowded public places.  Forget concerts, bars, clubs, and occasionally anywhere within Pittsburgh City Limits.  Even the idea of attending an event is overwhelming, fiercely bashing my panic button.  It’s enough of a deterrent on its own.

Phobias often limit places I go and events I attend.  Social anxiety often limits my capacity for meeting new people and maintaining friendships.  And bipolar disorder comes with it’s own special set of challenges.

Bipolar disorder has proven to globally stunt me, from the disorder itself preventing me from having stable relationships and jobs to the medication causing aphasia, making it difficult to express my own thoughts.  “My memory ain’t what it used to be,” although it was never stellar in the first place.  I find it challenging to create new short term memories and even sometimes long term memory is kind of foggy.

Depression and mania, in their own respects, both cripple my ability to function.  In depression, I have a tendency to isolate myself, causing my relationships to go sour quickly.  I find that the state of depression and the behaviors associated with it are generally a mystery to others.  Since it is so misunderstood, people may start attributing it to life events incorrectly.  And when the depression doesn’t subside, others become short with me, occasionally to the point of ignoring me.  No one likes a wet blanket, so to speak.

Depression also causes me to lose interest in activities I used to find enjoyable.  Worse, I become disinterested in work and start to have issues with the processing speed of my cognition.  I cannot focus on a particular task, and most situations become completely overwhelming.  In short, I feel like I am unable to handle my life any longer.

Mania is a horse of a different color.  In certain types of mania, I become overly social to the point of being overbearing, blunt, attention-seeking, and needy.  It puts an extreme burden on friends and family.  In euphoric mania, I will demand my impulses be satisfied without a thought to how it will affect anyone else.  Contrastingly, in dysphoric mania, I will become enraged at the slightest thing, real or imagined.  I have been known to become aggressive.

I have a tendency to become overly ambitious.  That would entail me taking on too many tasks at once, with the intent to finish them all, but with zero follow through.  This is especially detrimental to my work, seeing as how I find it next to impossible to sit still, or remain on one task for any significant duration of time.  I will demand immediate satisfaction, and have an inclination to become aggressive with co-workers.

With psychosis involved, there is a whole new ball game.  In psychosis, my grasp on reality starts to loosen.  I will insist that conversations took place that never actually did.  I will invent ulterior motives from suspicion generated by delusion.  Or, contrastingly, I will assert myself incorrectly by insisting I am infallible and all-knowing.  In the worst instances, I have had delusions of being a time traveler, not living in this reality but in an overlapping parallel reality.  Psychosis makes typical functioning next to impossible.

Mixed states provide a variety of issues drawing from both mania and depression, respectively, but also brings other unique symptoms and behaviors to the surface.  In mixed states, I often suffer from dissociation and splitting.  It’s as if my mind cannot handle the overload of external stimuli that provokes and emotional response, therefore I dissociate.  Occasionally, I have been prone to partial dissociative amnesia, where events that took place become only vague in my memory.  I have been known to have multiple personas, and in the most distressful of moments, my dominant persona becomes pushed into a partially conscious state as a disgruntled, passive observer to the actions and behaviors of the alternate persona.

As if these conditions are not serious enough on their own, they can be aggravated by a physical illness or injury.  I am experiencing a lot of emotional turbulence over this knee injury.  First, I am panicked that I did not receive professional medical attention.  I am wearing a brace from my last visit to the ER for a similar condition, but I obsessively worry that I may be using it incorrectly.  I am putting a small amount of weight on it, and it occasionally hurts pretty badly.  I worry that I am doing more harm than good.

Secondly, I am embarrassed over the injury that happened in the middle of class.  In short, I landed wrong during the jump kick and felt my knee give out.  I feel like a complete rookie, although I am only a white belt at this time.  As I am very sure that many people have gotten injured before, I still feel like it is maybe too big of a deal.

Next, I feel guilty that my husband had to spend his entire night driving back to 511, our old home, to retrieve my knee brace.  Why didn’t I have the presence of mind to bring that knee brace when I am well aware that I have life long knee problems?  It seemed like an entire night wasted, all over a silly injury I probably could have prevented, had I been more careful.

And lastly, I feel helpless.  I am responsible for supervising my child while my husband is off at work for nine or ten hours a day.  I am terrified that I am not going to be adequate to care for him properly.  I am unable to move around, therefore my function is limited.  Mostly, I will likely be confined to a sitting position for most of the day.  I am at the mercy of others.

All it takes it one spark.

Love the Way You Lie : 30 Days of Truth

Day 3 : Something you have to forgive yourself for.

Mutually Abusive Relationships
There is practically no literature on the subject of mutually abusive relationships, as this is only a recently recognized phenomenon.  While professionals, such as Dawn Bradley Berry, J. D. acknowledge that it occurs, few can agree on whether it was mutual in nature.

The dynamics of abusive relationships are significantly more complex than professionals seem to think.  In decades prior, society bred women to be docile, obedient, and complacent.  Most research reflects that in abusive relationships.  The man “attacks”, and the woman is “victimized”.

Unquestionably, that is precisely the manner abuse presented itself in my relationship prior to this one.  It began innocuously with casual criticisms and negative remarks.  A person is inclined to believe that a loved one only means the best, even if the words sting.  There was hardly a second thought toward the words.  Eventually, they grew into berating remarks, lambasting lectures, and generalized nitpicking over every action, behavior, expression, inaction, word, thought, emotion . . .

By then, I was already convinced that these heinous contortions were the embodiment of what I truly was.  I was already manipulated into believing I had been delusional about my own nature to begin with.  It was like being in a house of mirrors.  Every reflection revealed a new flaw.

But, a miniscule portion of my consciousness spotted the cracks all along.  It seemed I was not entirely convinced that this was the absolute truth.  Contradictions existed at everywhere in this fun house.  How was it possible that I was so stupid when my grade point average was far above his?  If I was such a flawed, inadequate, and vile person, why did I have so many faithful, loving friends?

At that point, the seeds of alcoholism were taking root.  I violated my own rules of drinking.  It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!  I’m not drinking alone if I’m drinking with my boyfriend.  Hair of the dog, best way to cure a hangover.  If I’m still managing to get to school and hold an honor’s average, I’m not drinking too much.

Liquid courage and comfortingly numb.

Naturally, I engaged the fire breathing dragon with my own fire.  Raw throat from screaming for hours, until one of us locked the other out, or I started packing a bag.  I was attempting to turn his own game right around on him.  The problem is that he was the gamemaster, and I was just a pawn.  I was always the pawn.  He could play me against me, and change the rules at will.

It was common knowledge. I would never leave.  I was already too terrified of the potential consequences.  Besides, all of my money was tied up in that apartment.  We had acquired a sizable amount of mutual property.  I was unwilling to sacrifice all of my gains, my gains, because I paid for them, to someone else.

Next, we moved into the isolation stage.  Suddenly, all of my girl friends were whores and my male friends wanted to get into my pants.  Your friends are a reflection of who you are.  No wonder you’re a completely stupid whore.  A drop of truth existed.  One of my closest friends was a teen mom, a stripper, and into drugs.  I didn’t see a whole lot wrong there.  She had a good heart, despite her mistakes.  But. . . maybe I was wrong.

We graduated college, lost our apartment, and moved onto some family property.  This was the turning point.  Here, we were completely alone.

I was a victim as much as I was an abuser.

It is one of the most difficult realities I have to face.

Prior to that point, I had never laid my hands on anyone with malicious intent.  And truthfully, I can’t pinpoint where it began.  Being in a perpetual state of inebriation has likely damaged that portion of my memory to beyond retrievable.  I can only recall certain events.  But, my mind will never be able to purge itself of the horror, guilt, rage, terror, hurt, and animosity I felt.

He started abusing me first.  Again, it started innocently enough with playful roughhousing that usually got out of hand.  Eventually, it turned into vulgar, degrading, often coerced, dangerously rough sex.  Then, it finally graduated to domestic life.  The transitions were so smooth that it was too hard to distinguish in the house of mirrors.  Sometimes you need to be put in your place.  You don’t know what’s good for you.

I became the monster that I loathed.  I was an animal, trapped in a cage, and emotionally, verbally, and now physically beaten for mistakes.  Sometimes, it was events that were beyond my control.  And, I gave in to my natural instincts.  I started fighting back.

I wanted him to feel the pain he inflicted upon me.

I recall a specific incident, the worst of them all.  We were drinking and playing World of Warcraft.  He was highly competitive, and I was entirely defensive.  As usual, he had remarks on my lack of skill and inadequacy in the team.  I started back in on him.  There was a back and forth that eventually provoked me to get up in his face.  He saw me coming and hit me in the face with a CAT5 cord.  The cord slashed my face and the connector rendered my right eye useless.

I pounced, but he knocked me flat on my back, with his foot on my chest.  He commanded, “You stay down there!”  I wrested myself free and attempted to get on my feet, only to be knocked flat and pinned again.  “Stay on the f***ing floor!“  Once more.  “I thought I f***ing told you to lay on the f***ing floor!”

I couldn’t free myself this time, and I angrily searched the floor for something, anything.  I grabbed a discarded vodka bottle and hurled with all of my strength at his head.  He jerked to dodge the impact, and I got to my feet.  I stared at him defiantly with my mouth twisted into a snarl.

“What the f*** do you think you’re doing?!  You could have f***ing killed me, you stupid b****!”

“I’m sorry I didn’t!”

He came at me, but I lunged for him, tackling him to the floor. I began mercilessly wailing on him as he antagonized me, “Is that all you got?! A fly could do more damage!” I slapped him across the face so hard that my red handprint swelled on his cheek.

He threw me off of him, but I was still in pursuit. My cheek burned, my eye puffed shut, and my rage incinerated every last shred of humanity that remained. I grabbed him by his shirt before he made it to the front door. He shoved me, but I remained latched to him.

“I’m leaving you, you crazy b****!”

“Take this with you!”, I spit at him and sunk my teeth into the flesh over his heart. He picked me up by my throat, viciously thrust me to the floor, and slammed the door. I laid there, coughing and gasping to regain my breath.

That wasn’t the end. The end didn’t come for nearly another year. And in that year, incidents such as these were commonplace. I could not legitimately claim victimization. I shared equal fault for the escalation of the abuse that occurred. Despite any trauma I have suffered, I am responsible for another person’s trauma.

That alone hinders healing.  Most of the world will never see themselves in that light.  I have more than glanced at the monster in the mirror.  I became it.  I abhor all parties involved in each and every single last act.  Including myself.  How could I possible forgive myself for such atrocities that I committed when I have personally felt the pain they inflict?

The Scorpion and the Frog

In one of my previous posts, The Family Furnace, I described a situation happening with my family, and came to some conclusions about the situation.

What I failed to mention is the circumstance of the situation.

Prior to the last month, I had lived in one of my family’s properties for six years.  I went to live there in the summer of ’06 after I was facing certain eviction from my apartment.  When my parents heard about that predicament, they offered to help me fix up the property, so we (my ex and I) could live there.  In preparation for our arrival, the bathroom was completely gutted.  The only bedroom with a remaining ceiling was plastered, and an extension cord was run from their house to mine.

Temporary patches to a desperate situation.  Which became more critical as time passed.

The house was fatally flawed.  Winter started to approach, and I started to inquire as to how I was going to get heat.  I was told that I faced thousands of dollars of work, replacing the furnace, hiring professionals to install a furnace, water heater, and rewire the entire house in order for it to be up to code with the electricity company.  It took me by surprise.  The only other option was to improvise.

I lived in one room with a futon mattress in the corner, and a kerosene heater in the middle of the room.  The floors were bare, and the house was not insulated.  My ex had the place covered in garbage, wrappers, used glasses, empty bottles, etc.  Essentially, we were squatting in a hobo house.  The only luxury we had was running water, but it wasn’t hot.  The rest of the house was so cold that the water in the toilet would occasionally freeze.

When I was not thinking about the misery of the weather, I brainstormed ideas on how to improve my life. That’s when I discovered that constantly wearing a hat increases body temperature, but has the unfortunate side effect of making me dirtier with sweat.  I learned how to warm a bowl of water over a kerosene heater so I could sponge bathe.  I also came to the conclusion that this was rock bottom.

The obsessions started.  When those thoughts were not enough to occupy my mind, I considered all of the ways that I could die.  Exposure.  The constantly recurring infections I picked up from unsanitary living conditions, chronic health problems, and a weak immune system from inadequate housing.  I could die in my sleep from asphyxiation due to the kerosene heater.  Even better, I could be consumed by smoke and fire.

After living without heat through a Pennsylvania winter, I learned to appreciate the basics of life that others often forget about.  The essentials of life are not guaranteed, and sometimes, we are forced to fight for them.  I count my blessings each day to not be cold, hungry, and dirty.

However, I still have a problem counting my other blessings.  Particularly with people in my life.  I often find that I have difficulty letting go of wrongs and seeing clearly in the present without the past forming a cloud over it.  I despite being left to fend for myself, getting kicked out of the house that I poured thousands of dollars of time, manpower, and money into that pit, and all of the rest of things in the past, I was set on putting the past in the past, and working toward a better future with my parents.

I came to the realization that my parents were never parents when I was a child.  What would possibly make them such now that I’m an adult?  True, I have a Mommy and Daddy complex, so badly that I accidentally married a man under false pretenses of not being like my father, when it turns out that he is.  Worse, I spend time daily obsessing about the similarities between my mother and me.  And the worst, I attempt to find family in other people.

But, all of that is fine.  One day, I will be able to resolve that.  But, I knew that if I dropped the inexplicable unreachable expectations, maybe it would possible to move forward as friends.  Seeing as how we have had some time and space, literal and figurative.

I made an effort to drop my suspicions and stop reading into things my mother says to me.  We actually had a good conversation, and I was happy with her offer to clean out my refrigerator.  I was ready to resign my key to her when she asked.  She was excited to hear that we were stopping by in the evening, and she couldn’t wait to see Beast (my son).

We did stop by in the evening.  When I asked if she would mind watching him for twenty minutes so we could go to the store, she attempted to make up some lame excuses.  Her voice was noticeably displeased, although she was completely enthusiastic less than twelve hours ago.

I noticed that I accidentally left my keys at home, and requested Zen’s (hubby).  He put up a fight, and I became extremely frustrated, feeling as if this was going to become a serious battle.  Yes, my mother brought up the refrigerator, but never requested the key exactly.  My parents were pleasant enough.

Until we were going to cross the street to leave.  We were about to climb into the car when my father called after me.  “Hey, when are you going to have the rest of your stuff out?”  I carefully explained that we’ve been taking serious and unexpected financial hits, and we’ve had to take it weekly in our PT Cruiser.  That’s when he dropped the bomb of complete betrayal.  “Well, I need to get in there so I can fix the place up and have it rented out by winter.”

My mother had lied to me.  She told me that it would be impossible to have it rented due to the numerous code violations that stood between them and a renters permit.  My family was passively-aggressively bounced so they could turn a profit.  And, I was stung by the memories of living in abject poverty while they stood by.  The memory of spending my last two months of pregnancy alone, because my husband was fixing the house.  And all of the money siphoned out of our account by $700 electricity bills in the winter and repairs to every emergency situation that happened to that place.

Betrayal could never be enough of a word to cover all of the emotion coursing through every nerve and vein.  I was stung, and the venom made me lightheaded and nearly paralyzed.  I climbed in the car and assured him that we would do so swiftly.

I was quiet for a few minutes.  Zen asked, “What’s wrong?”

I replied, “It’s unbelievable.”

Zen said everything under the sun to try to make me feel better.  He attested how it would be impossible for them to get it rented, because nobody in their right mind would take it.  Even so, they would never be able to do it legally.  We could vindictively turn them in to the township, or repossess the furnace in the middle of the night.

“I’d rather draw up that contract for the furnace that they will inevitably default on, and have to drag them into magisterial court.  There would be nothing more embarrassing, and it would cost them more money,” I insisted.  Still, it was nice that he would go out of his way to settle my vendetta.

I asked, “Wait, why aren’t you upset?”

“Are you surprised?”

When I made certain promises to the man upstairs (my higher power), I asked him to give me a sign as to what I should aim for.  He responded, “Put others before yourself.” The problem is the inability to accurately anticipate wants and needs outside of the basics.  I assumed that my higher power would want me to forgive and start over with my parents.  But, after some thinking, I came to a realization.

There is a parable about a scorpion and a frog.  At the end, the scorpion betrays the frog’s trust.  When asked why, he could only reply, “Because it’s in my nature.”  Sometimes, we have to be reminded that there are ugly truths in the world.  And sometimes, things are exactly as they seem.  My gut reaction when my mother asked for the key was that she was intending on pilfering belongings she did not expect that I would miss.  Zen admitted that was the reason he withheld his key.  He knew better than I did, because my mind was clouded with optimism.

Optimism can be just as dangerously perilous as pessimism.  We can be misled into believing in the best in people, when it just simply nonexistent.  I realized that I am not a scorpion, and I didn’t have to be the frog either.  Instead, I know better than to play the game.  It is the exact reason why I am put off by gambling.  There is too much risk to be manipulated into losing it all.

I resign myself of that life.  And just because I can’t have the relationship that I want with certain people doesn’t mean I am unable to have a relationship at all.  I don’t have to hang onto the past to remind me to not let it repeat.  I only have to keep one piece of it, the least poisonous as a reminder.