A Relationship Found: A Reclusive Bipolar Story
at the mirror and asking, "Do I really want to be alone forever?" As a writer the tempting answer is, "Hell yes." Solitude is the writer’s best friend and someone with mental illness’s easiest resort and defense against being a menis and burden to one’s family. Speaking from experience (five years of marriage and seven years of courtship, this includes two years before my marriage and five years during it) life hasn’t been a cake walk even when married. The road to my present contentment started, however around eight years ago when I came to the opinion that my pen wasn't enough company. Perhaps some twenty years down the road that change in sentiment will have a bit more gravity then it does now but whatever.
I have always been a careful sort. When I considered marrying the woman who is now my wife, after she spent two years trying to convince me that she could deal with my quirks, I came to this same question, "Was I in love?" For a person with my background this is a pretty serious question. I have struggled to maintain my Bipolar and Asperger’s symptoms most of my life with varied levels of success. I was under no delusion that living with me would be any fun for her. It would be hell and she would never understand until it was too late as far as I was concerned.
I say too late because we weird Mormons mate “for keeps” if we are following our own honor code and religious creed. I certainly had not intention of going through the vast levels of self loathing and self doubt again so I tried to do things right the first time. Confining any woman in hell, even if I would try my hardest to make that hell as comfortable as possible, didn't seem right. I, however, had to face the fact that I couldn't control what she would or wouldn't do. I could only control what I was willing to do, even if I felt grossly under qualified to do it. In my family we make our partners miserable until death and hope that the ride was worth an eternity of something that might be better. Most of the males in my family are more then a little squirrelly and their wives handle matters as best they can but are a little unique themselves. I wasn’t looking forward to sharing their connubial felicity.
I, therefore was still faced the question, "Am I in Love?" with grim determination. What did being in love signify anyhow? I had tried to date once before I dated my wife and that young lady was a beautiful person but I found that she was tied to her family in ways that wouldn't work if I was to do anything serious where she was concerned. I felt infatuated at the time it is true but my rational side was able to overrule those emotions and point out the impracticality of tying myself to someone who didn't understand who I was and what it would cost them to be with me for any period of time. I admit that I was cold and cruel in how I let her down and neglected her until she found someone else to lean on. She proved she wasn't ready because she couldn't see through my pretense and pull me up short. Perhaps that is a bit much to ask of a partner but considering my personal struggles I felt it was a necessity.
In my attempts to stem the pain of an abusive past that I am not going to go into here except to say that it taught me that love can mean different things to different people and expressions of love sometimes feel like cruelty; I faced the fact that what happened in that past had as much to do with me as it had to do with my family in general. Yes, I had never known anyone in my past that hadn't hurt me deeply but face it; I probably wounded them in return. The more I thought about that the more able I was to count the wounds that I had inflicted and realize that my family walked on egg shells around me. They were, however, honorable folk. There are some families that do not have this dynamic and to you I can only say, “I’m sorry.”
Be that as it may, I noted that how the couples in my family define love gave me a moments pause and made me wonder what I was willing to do and give for love. After my first attempt, I knew that I wouldn't get into another relationship without answering this question. My wife has always been my friend and we met long before I ever considered her as someone I could bind my destiny to.
Through all of my ups and downs and even my first attempt at dating, my wife was like a bad penny. We talked but mostly about things she cared about. I cared for her enough that I was able to step out of my little Asperger’s world and shared with her bits of wisdom and sources of knowledge that I found instructive. At that time I had never thought of her as a person I could marry. We were on talking terms for more then ten years before I started seriously courting her and in that process I found my answer to what love might be.
I noticed that the more I nurtured that relationship the more it grew. She appreciated the things I did and returned the favor when possible. I devoted enough to her well being that on a couple of occasions I collapsed from exhaustion. My weakness didn't seem to bother her and she took that time to stay with me and nurse me back to health. As our courtship progressed, I realized that even if she didn't know what marriage to me would be like, she had put in enough sweat and tears into our relationship that I owed her a shot. In this I found the answer to the meaning of Love even if it took me five years of marriage to realize it.
The thought of failure occurred to me and was a pain that hung as a sword over my head. Even when we were married I withheld myself from her in many ways, waiting for reality to sink in and for her to run. She got pissed every now and again when she realized what I was doing but so long as I didn't run and treated her with respect she let me come to terms with our marriage on my own.
After a couple years of marriage I started to have some trust in our relationship and started to put more effort into it. I enjoyed helping her through the birth of our second son and cuddling her as the contractions came and went. I found the strength to cut the umbilical cord for our son and stayed with her as much as possible through her recovery.
Then fate dealt us both a blow that I am only now coming out of. I had a nervous break down on a sunny day with nothing really to prompt it. I stayed nearly comatose for six months. Many thought she aught to have left me then and even people in my family who, in their own marriages, would never have dreamed about saying the "d" word gave her carte blanch.
She stayed with me though. I am no more pleasant to live with now then I was to start in some respects but I realized that I had answered the question to what love meant a long time ago. I am now happy that I reap the rewards that basic preparations of my own soul made possible.