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Your Story: Opportunity

May 4th, 2010

By Majarani

I always thought that if my “ship came in” as it were, I would be in the water so fast, the sharks wouldn’t even know I was there.

The reality is not so immediate.

After a lifetime of broken trust and a broken heart. After being abandoned by my parents, the Department of Health and Human Services, by my “adoptive” family, then, finally by my husband I am pretty beaten up- on the inside.

The divorce was a two year battle, and finally, it has ended.

I am free.

A man I have known professionally for about a year, approached me, on the day of my divorce, professed his love, and promised me everything. He’s handsome, independently wealthy, his long term goals are the same as mine. We have a lot of fun when we hang out. I could have all the children I ever longed for, a good husband that could provide, family vacation, I could get that PhD…I don’t love him, I don’t know him that well yet- not on a real personal level. By the nature of our professional relationship he knows damn near everything about me.

I’ve been dating a guy for about a year. He’s awesome. We have fun. He’s affectionate. He never wants kids, will never get married again.

It seems like an easy choice.

It isn’t.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

April 27th, 2010

When I first met her, I didn’t think I’d like her.  We were supposed to be friends, we’d both been told.  We’d both been told we’d like each other.

She has blond hair, and she’s thin.  Her teeth are perfectly white.  I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I’m judging her.  She knows I’m judging her.

At the end of the day, I write my friend.  He used to be in the lab—he knows how it used to be.  He knows me.  I tell him that I don’t know if I’ll like her.  He tells me to send him a picture of her in a bikini.


There’s nothing like going crazy.  Having already gone crazy and then recovered and forgotten what it felt like, I feel uniquely qualified to say it.

In my head, I try on metaphors:

Going crazy is like drowning in a deep warm ocean.  At first, it shocks your lungs.  Your limbs flail and you struggle against it.  You fight.  You fight so damn hard.  But eventually, you sink too far and you just give up.  You let it wash over you, fill your alveoli and stop your heart.  You let it have you.

Bipolar disorder is the color of water.  Bipolar disorder is the heat of the sun on a day in December.  Or July.  Or both, all at once.  Bipolar disorder is wanting everything in the world at the same time, wanting everything and knowing—without question—that it’s already all yours.

Bipolar disorder is pain.  On your couch, in your car, in your bed.  In the shower, sitting in your seat at the dinner table.  In your head.  Pain that moves down your nerves and makes you hot and shaky.  Makes you not eat or sleep until you’re nauseous and immobile.  Makes you so much less than what you ever wanted to be.


Sometime after I fell in love with her—in the passionately innocent way that only girls can fall in love with their friends who are also girls—I told her about the crazy.  We both have chronic illnesses.  We both have friends who didn’t want to deal with chronic illnesses.  We were both dealt shit hands, and we spit in the face of the dealer.  She’s better at it than I am.  But sometimes, I can get a good shot in too.

Still—I never wanted her to experience it for herself.  To see the crazy unleashed in full-force, wild-eyed and swirling patterns of dust around my existence.  Didn’t want her to see how it could consume me, steam-roll me, hold my head underwater just to see me squirm.  Didn’t want her to see how it made my legs shake and stomp, my teeth clench up in my mouth, my hands curl into fists until my nails leave half-moon patterns in the skin of my palms.


Bipolar disorder is a devil, a demon.  Real-life, with hot hooves that burn you and sharp horns that gore you, right through your abdomen, and pin you to walls.  Think back to all of the literature you can think of, all the ones about Satan and his minions.  Animal-shaped and furious, they dance with you—grab your hand and spin you around and around.  You are dizzy.  You are exhausted.  You sweat through your clothing.  You don’t know if you’ll make it.  You’re not sure you’ll survive.

Do you even want to survive?

The sole purpose of a devil is to tempt you.  To hold your hand out toward all the shiny things you think you could be.  You want to smoke weed, drink too much alcohol and fuck.  You want to run—as fast as you possibly can—in the warm streets on the darkest nights.  You itch in your own skin.  You are uncomfortable.

You want to be uncomfortable.  You want to lose yourself.  You are tired of holding it together.  The devil tells you that you don’t have to.


I didn’t want her to see it, but she did anyway.  She knew where I was headed.

My head lit up, hair messy and undone.  The previous day’s clothing, my fast words spewing out of my mouth.  A sideways wicked smile.  I was unraveling.

“Tell me how you’re feeling.”

I tell her I don’t want to.  That I’m sick of people who leave when I’m sick.  If I pretend that I’m not sick, I rationalize in my fucked-up head, then people will have no reason to leave.  I don’t want to get her involved with the nasty tangled web of my mind.

But she jumps in.  “I’m not going to leave.  I just want you to be honest with me.  I just want to help you.”

So I tell her about the monsters in my head.  Tell her I’m drowning.

I cannot see, in my own mirror, how crazy I am.  How crazy I look.  But in the reflective pool of her concerned face, I can see it clearly.  Because she is scared, I suddenly am too.  She’s pulling me back out.  And then, I do something I’ve never done before, not with any other person.  Not really.  I let her.

When I write that I feel run-out and done-for, she writes that she’ll pick me up.

When I say I’m glad she’s in my corner, she promises she’ll be princess of my corner forever.

When I remember that I once thought we couldn’t be friends, I think of how stupid I can be.

Here, with her, there’s hope between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Do you know me?

April 19th, 2010

I belong to everyone, yet to no one.

You want my time, they want my time, I love you.

All of you.

Sometimes I want to be left alone, maybe for an hour, a day, a week or a month.

I’ll come back to you, I always do.

I just need time to collect myself, my thoughts, my emotions.

To shake them off, disperse the intensity, to just be me.

There’s a lot that I share freely, and then there’s a lot that I do not share freely.

You think you know me, and you do.

But not all of me.

I always keep some for myself.  I have to, or I’ll fall down

in a heap of empty and nothing.

And you won’t have anything to greet you when you are invited back.

Never forget that I love you, and I love them,

but sometimes I need





Back to that again

March 1st, 2010

I said, “I don’t want to hurt this person, I’ve spend a lot of time trying to deflect their pain”.

“But aren’t you hurting yourself in the process”, he asked.

I said, “In way, yes.  But…”

His response, “But what?  Isn’t that how it was as a child?  You put others before you, you weren’t important.  You were made to be responsible for other peoples emotional well being and that’s never the job of a child.”

“Oh” I thought aloud.  Back to that.  It always goes back to the origin doesn’t it.

If I take care of them, they will at some point take care of me.  Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?  No.  That’s how we think it’s supposed to work but it never comes out that way. Not for me anyway.  Maybe someone, somewhere (besides Hollywood movies) it’s worked like that.  Never for me, yet I keep trying to complete that cycle and I lose myself in the process over and over again.

The source of that thinking, if I can protect the others, take their beatings for them, take the blame, take the spotlight and make it all my fault, I can control it and, somehow make it better.

No one comes out and asks me to do this, it’s one of those wordless agreements that we all make.  It’s an entire script, in my head, set on auto pilot.

My therapist suggested (about a year ago) that I needed to have a conversation about that wordless agreement, to tell the other person that I could no longer hold that position.  I was losing myself in the process and it wasn’t their fault, but I needed to resign from that job.

Sometimes, I think other people don’t mind that we lose ourselves as long as we serve as a prop for them.  (Again, auto pilot behavior.)

Once you’ve established that type of “agreement” it’s hard to move away from it.  It takes time, more conversations, discipline.  I have discipline to change my behavior, or I’m pretty sure I do.  It can be done even if it is like trying to turn a commercial ocean liner.

Funny how it is that I forget this small detail, that I push myself to the side in order to make things better for another person.  Not because I’m a martyr, I have ulterior motives (see above “If I take care of them…”).

All this collected crap manifests itself in many ways.  Much like plant roots, seeking the water and nutrients it needs to survive all the while hidden underneath the ground never seen by the casual observer.

Until something starts to wilt or die, then the journey begins again to find the source.  In order to make it right.

Playing With Fire

February 22nd, 2010

I have recently reconnected with someone from my past.

This someone was the most important person in my life for many years.  He was instrumental in my highest-flying moments of joy, and in the worst, dark depths.  He was my best friend and my worst enemy.  In the end, he fulfilled a pattern that had been present in my life since childhood:  the ones who say that they love you are the ones that hate you most when no one else is looking.

I focused almost all my energy alternately on pleasing him and rebelling against him.  Relative to how I am now, people say that I looked smaller then, more like a ghost.  (Physically I’m the same size as I was.)   I was more of a sidekick than a wife.

I don’t blame him.  I know his past, and how it shaped him.  After the divorce, I read that two only children should never marry.  You’ve both been brought up as the centre of attention.  You never had to learn to share.  We were two only children in a battle to be at the centre.  He was dominant.  All our space was his space.  All our plans were his plans.  All our friends were his friends.

And yet, he was my best friend for twelve years.  He was my high school sweetheart.  He had some wonderful qualities.  After I left him, despite how bad things had gotten, I missed him unspeakably.  I felt as though I had chewed off my own leg to be free.

Time passed.  Close to ten years after I moved out, I have reconnected with him online.  I barely thought of him anymore by then, but it was nice to share some memories together, and catch up on news.  We started writing more often, re-kindling the friendship side of our connection.

At first it was fun and easy.  But it’s been getting more difficult for me.  The more I know him now, the more it feels like he’s a real presence in my life, the more all those unresolved feelings come floating to the surface.  There were so many things we never talked about, near the end.

Sometimes after an e-mail from him, I can’t sleep at night.  I wake at 3 am with a pounding, racing heart.  All the insecurities I thought I had outgrown are being triggered, almost as though no time has passed at all.  I thought I had forgiven him, but I had only forgotten.  Now that I’m reminded, I can time-travel back to my old self instantly.

I have to stop, look around at my new home, my new life.  I remind myself what year it is, how old I am.  I look in the mirror and see that I’m different.  As soon as I stop focusing on the now, the past snaps me back like an elastic band.

Why don’t I just cut him off again?  Same reason why I can’t sleep at night.  There are too many unresolved issues begging to come to light.  I hope that if I can weather the anxiety, we might be able to talk through some of the past, and heal it.  He has changed.  He went through his own personal hell, and it humbled him.  I can’t bear to lose him again.  I’m willing to let it be messy, difficult, and awkward.  The possibilities are worth the risks.

Let’s go to Slab City

February 18th, 2010

When do you know it’s time to go?  Does the end have a sign posted to let you know it’s the end?  Tell me what the end looks like, tell me in your words what the end feels like.

You replay it in your mind, what you think will happen.  You warn the others, hoping they’ll prepare.  If they don’t prepare, you can’t be held responsible for them not preparing can you?

False starts of the end impede progress, you are too busy thinking “this is it” so you walk around looking at the sky.  The birds can see it faster than you, so maybe if you climb up in that tree you can see it too.

You look to the clouds for a sign, hoping you’ll see a formation or at least a diagram telling you to get out while you still can.

Hope whispers in your ear, it tells you that maybe just maybe it’ll work.  This time.  This time, things will really change.

This time, the person will see the impending doom of a black cloud that’s been over your head for longer than you can remember.

Hope tells you to wait.  Wait, wait, and wait some fucking more for the thing that’s going to really get through to the one it needs to get through too.

But it doesn’t.  It’s time to make good on all your threats, you didn’t sign up for this, you didn’t sign up for this class, this session, this fucking workshop.

Bastards, all of them.

Just pick up your toys and go, start fresh, begin again.  Do it better this time, make it clearer this time.

Go on down to Slab City, join the others looking for freedom.

Because I Have To

February 12th, 2010

By Dianna

I’m 35 years old and I live with my Mom and Dad. I’m OK with that…most of the time. They are my crutch as there are things I probably would do that I shouldn’t and things that I wouldn’t do that I should. My Dad is “old school.” He doesn’t believe in mental illness but believes everything is an act of will. Don’t want to feel crazy? Then stop.

There are many days when getting up seems way too hard and the very thought of walking out that front door in bright daylight fills me with terror. My stomach clenches, my hands shake, but I know I have to because the look on his face, the disguised remarks, or the silent treatment will be so much worse. So I do it, and in the end I am better off for it as the reality is never quite as bad as what I create in my head.

There are nights I’d like nothing more than to sit in my room with a bottle of wine and drink myself silly. This only leads to hyperactivity and a walk out the front door to a bar, because the truth is, I don’t like to drink alone. I have the built in excuse not to do it, too, because my Daddy will get mad at me. In the end I am thankful, when I wake up fresh and ready to face a new day. Each day this happens is a day that fills me with pride that I made the right choice and conquered the demon in that moment. You see that’s the thing. The moments always pass if you just refocus the energy, the battle is learning how to do that, the rest of my battle is to learn to do it for me and not for someone else.

Then there is the knowledge that eventually I have to let go of the crutch and I have to find a way to make it on my own. I have to get out there and build a life of my own and more often, I finally want to. Most days I am no longer scared.