My Sacred House

Dec. 28, 2012

There is something I should tell you.

I have Bipolar II Disorder.  

After years of thinking (and hearing from my ex-husband) that I was just plain crazy, I was finally properly diagnosed in 2011...a year after my older son was diagnosed with Bipolar I.  A year after he brought a gun into my home for the purpose of suicide.  A year after he shamed me into keeping his secret.  A year after I missed the opportunity to have him hospitalized and properly treated.  A year after my nightmare began.

Since then, I've done my homework.

I know that parents with bipolar disorder are more likely to have children with bipolar disorder.  I am learning more about my condition and realizing there are things I can do to keep myself well. I can maintain a solid schedule of appointments with my psychiatrist to check my medication and discuss symptoms. I can see my therapist regularly too. And, I can do things for myself: "self-care" they call it. Things like playing the piano, going for a run, reading a book, or getting my nails done. These are luxuries that in the past I may have overlooked, considering them self-indulgent and not as important as my family. But actually, they are critical for me and for my family. Taking care of myself IS taking care of my family. I can't care for them if I'm not healthy myself. It's not at all selfish to practice self-care.

I wish my son would let me share with him what I have learned. The fact that he has chosen the path of Denial causes me great pain. Through therapy, research, and reflection I have found some relief knowing that he has chosen this path. I am trying to accept this as a possible reality. But are the choices he has made actually symptoms of his illness - thus, not really choices at all?

Over time, I have learned a new way to cope with our estranged relationship.

I consider myself a sacred house.

I have a front gate and a manicured lawn.  I have an inviting front hallway and a warm living room.  My sacred house has a quaint kitchen and cozy bedrooms and there is one room only for me.

I can invite people into parts of my sacred house as I see fit.  Those who I trust and feel closest to are invited inside all of my house and can wander the rooms freely--except the one room where I alone may go.  And those I barely know are not invited into my sacred house at all.  Those who have betrayed me or who I fear are not allowed into my sacred house.  I must keep my sacred house safe.

My older son is at the front gate.

This does not mean in any way that my love for him has diminished in the least.  As the days turned to months and then to years, my love for him remains true and full and real.  It only means that for the physical and emotional safety of my younger son and me, he is not invited inside my sacred house.

He cannot hurt me from the front gate.  Or at least, he cannot hurt me too much.

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