If you would’ve asked my wife six years ago if she had any kind of idea what she was getting herself into when she married me she could’ve looked at you with a, “What are you talking about” look on her face.
After multiple arrests where she swore to herself to leave me in jail, the loss of my driver’s license, multiple late night outs, inappropriate friendships, angry outburst, financial burdens, alcohol abuse, two marriage counselors, manic and depressive episodes with suicidal ideations and suicide attempts followed by inpatient hospitalizations, at times on the brink of divorce, today I’m sure she could tell you a different story.
I am a bipolar spouse. I am also a bipolar spouse with a failed marriage and a (currently) extremely successful marriage which wasn’t always the case. My ex-spouse despised my bipolar in spite of the fact that it was under more control during that marriage. She hated everything about it. Even the site of my medications. It just did not fit into her world of a “perfect” marital relationship. So after years of her lack of support she walked.
Bipolar episodes are triggered by stressed and events. The majority of my current marriage in our past was spent under attacks from both my wife’s ex and my own ex fighting in custody battles for three years that begun three months after we married. The damage to our relationship they caused lasted well past our custody disputes were won in court. The damage was done.
When our relationship wasn’t being dominated by defending ourselves in courts it was dealing the stress, with my episodes, alcoholism and behaviors. I can be the epitome of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now that those custody battles are over and I have stopped drinking, my episodes are not as often and rarely as severe.
I am fortunate to have the woman as the wife I do. That she has shown me the grace and mercy time and time again. There have been times when she could’ve given up completely. There were times when she did give up momentarily and I don’t blame her. Times when I was bailed out of jailed only to come home to bags packed for me only for her to turn right around and dispense undeserved grace out to me.
After six years she’s still learning and discovering my bipolar as it manifest itself. There have been times when she has had to distinguish between what is normal and what is not. There have times where she has been flat out wrong leaving me drowning and there have times when she has hit the bulls eye keeping me safe and secure.
Spouses with bipolar disorder are likely to have a different impression of their marriage than their husband or wife.
For example, a married person with bipolar is more than likely not be aware of the complete impact their disorder has on their spouse, children, or other family members. There’s no way possible I could begin to describe how Rebecca has ever felt dealing with my behaviors. The anger, frustrations, irritations, feelings of unappreciative, even the enjoyment of my hypomania and full blown mania. Countless times she talked about how in spite of in the midst of her anger her most intense emotion was her worry for my safety. Though I don’t minimize any of my past behavior nor excuse them though I never would act any of those ways if it had not been for the bipolar, I can only see the world through my bipolar eyes.
I know I’ve let my wife down many times. I’ve hurt her. Made her angry. Made her worry. Made her fed up. Confused her. I still occasionally cycle, but only once has it been to the magnitude and destruction as in my alcohol days. I’ve always taken my medication consistently, yet it is never a cure nor will it ever be.
Today our lives are a different story. Slowly, we are rebuilding our lives together. Today we are living a dramatic change. The relationship we never got to build as a result of those custody battles and my episodes caused ruthless damage to our family. Much if it is due to the fact I received electroconvulsive therapy last July which has worked wonders.
Let’s face it, truthfully, nobody really “needs” anyone specifically. We are social people and need others, but we can live and survive and be happy without a specific person in our life. But if anyone comes close to needing someone I need Rebecca. Not just because of her sufficient grace and forgiveness, but also because of her unconditional willingness to care for me for not only my bipolar but also my Parkinson’s.
It’s taken me a long time to see Rebecca has a heartfelt way of connecting to the pain and struggles I endure. In spite of things, she brings comfort and has never judged me. She lacks selfishness.
Resilient is what she is. Tough when it is difficult. She surrenders rights to get even with acts of grace and forgiveness. Courage is demanded to live a life of surrender.
I see hope in Rebecca. She hasn’t given up on me and has supported me in everything I have done. She has embraced us with a hope that is a combination of optimism and realism. To listen to her tell me her thoughts of me erases doubts I plague myself with about my own self. Today I see a hope that moves us to a place where healing occurs.
Come November 9th we celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We’ve known each other since we were 10 years old. We were married by a judge in a courthouse after which our marriage was overwhelmed with disorder and chaos. What a way to begin this renewal of our relationship in our marriage. To say the change in behaviors towards each other isn’t enough, but to publicly re-confess our devotion to each other. To profess to each other and our loved ones, “Hey, we’re still here. We’re still standing and nothing beat us by God’s grace.”
Truthfully, I wouldn’t have blamed her for leaving at anytime in the past. I’m difficult. I’m moody. I have bipolar. Yet Rebecca loves me. She showers me with grace, chance after chance covered with encouragement. She isn’t hindered by my weaknesses or my past. They are not who she sees when she looks at me.
Grace sees past the faults, the struggles, the pains and the failures that threaten to define us, and cuts to the heart of the individual, their circumstances, and their timing. It saturates the cause so the vision can manifest.
Grace is such a beautiful word, the idea that our current or even pasts trials or challenges can be forgotten, they can be moved by the sheer will of human beings with each other. In my own weaknesses and humanity, Rebecca’s own grace inspires and provokes the inner most parts of me lost in depression, anger, guilt, and doubt to survive until her hope arrives.
Life with me is not easy. It’s unpredictable. Rebecca has made the mistake of looking for patterns when attempting to spot episodes. It just doesn’t happen. The mistake can lead my behavior to be a free-for-all. It’s in those times when Rebecca can possibly find it most difficult to show grace.
When it comes to my bipolar, or any of my mistakes for that matter, Rebecca reflects God’s grace in a way I doubt she realizes. God uses Rebecca’s grace to take me from where my life was, where I was headed, episodes triggered by anger and bitterness self-medicated with alcohol, and led me to a place where I desire to spread hope to the hopeless, to love the unlovable…give grace to the undeserving.
Rebecca and I both have learned a lot from the devastation we’ve endured. Even though it has made us stronger I would never choose to go through any of it again. However, looking back I do see God’s hand protecting us through it all–especially regarding my last DWI. I had hit bottom.
To this day, each day, I continue to be overcome with what God has done in our lives.