Yet I feel so often like a marionette. I generally have taken to calling my body my meat puppet. Because it feels I’m so driven by the emotions and the temperments that rattle around in my skull. I really hit one of my “empty” states this last week. I honestly believe it’s triggered by “too-muchness.” Too much therapy, too much new medication, too much focus, just too much. When this happens my spirit just shuts down. My defence mechanisms conspire to keep me safe and in so doing keep me from accessing the thoughts, feelings, and emotions I’m trying to heal. Because we all know you need to “feel it to heal it” and the “only way out is through” but that can be problematic when you are fighting decades of suppression habits. I’m working on patience and forgiveness mostly. Patience with the process and forgiving myself first.
I’ve come to believe that how we treat ourselves and see ourselves is a reflection, or is reflected in how we see and treat others. The more patience, understanding, and forgiveness I find for myself the more I extend them to others. And through that process, I start to feel less needy, less concerned with how others perceive me because I understand that they have their own personal battles to contend with and so much of what we think of others is merely that, a reflection of our own inner world. That can mean someone doesn’t like me because they don’t like loud people – my job then isn’t to be quieter for them it’s to accept that not everyone will like me- and it’s ok. If I focus on liking myself and being with those that lift me up and I like in return I have more energy to be a better human. But realizing this and then undoing how I have lived for decades is not an overnight task. Pain and anger and hurt are deeply embedded in the psyche and that shit gets in your body, your gut reactions, it has guided my perceptions and beliefs for a long time and it takes concerted effort to root out those things and be free of them. It’s extra difficult when hurt is being re-opened by experiences. You don’t want to just strip yourself of all your protective layers all at once, slow and steady and in its time is the process.
That means sometimes I’m going to hit these walls.
And that can be hard for the bipolar brain to reconcile.
Without care, therapy, and/or medication the bipolar brain thrives on periods of intensity. We become radical when manic, capable of moving mountains…but we dry up and turn to dust when the wave passes. Like fireworks, we burn so bright and then leave an echo with nothing but traces of smoke. Internally this feels like nothing. Discussing it with my recently diagnosed son we both describe it as emptiness, deeper and more disturbing than even nihilism because that has emotion and feeling behind it. This is like you reach in and you are just not there. It is why we love our mania so much – it feels glorious to want, need, do, experience but when that becomes too much we completely shut down.
So this is the work, to calm the mania to burn steady and not fry up, to elevate the times of nothingness to remember who I am. To see consistency, not as plodding and repetition, but to feel the steady and easy pace of routine and practice. To learn to build to the peak so that I can stay a little longer. To allow rest to be truly restful and restorative rather than filled with guilt, shame, or dread.
And there it is. THIS is the practice. To write even when uninspired. To practice not being pulled in every direction by the strings of habit, the whims of neurotransmitters. To cut the strings and act out of purpose, and self-determination. To live from truth. It’s not easy cutting the strings. But one by one I’m releasing the old habits and moving forward. Ever forward.