“Sorry is the Kool-Aid of human emotions.” ~ Stephen King

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So, I was in Wal-Mart yesterday which is such a great place to be on a Saturday afternoon but what the hey…there’s nothing else any more exciting for me to do on the weekends 🙄.  Anyhoot, there are arrows on the aisles showing which direction you are supposed to go and even though I want to rebel…just because I need some pizzazz in my life…I followed them.  I think I was the only one in the store that did.  Go figure.

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But here’s the thing:  I found myself apologizing for people getting in my way when they were the ones disregarding the arrows.  I apologized.  Me.  Then when I was driving home, I started thinking about how many other things I apologized for in the 30 minutes I was there (it seemed like an eternity…just sayin’ 😳).  I said ‘sorry’ to people who cut in front of me with their carts…a lady who almost ran me over with her electric scooter when she was backing up (but thanks to my lightening fast reflexes, I was able to save myself)…a guy who reached in front of me and grabbed a loaf of bread (not the healthier whole grain, but good ole Sunbeam)…a couple who cut through the self-scan lane I was on and knocked into my cart…and finally, a guy who shoved past me at the exit.

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All in all, I’d say I apologized at least a dozen times…if not more. *BTW:  the lady who almost backed into me was looking at vacuums and I very politely put the one she wanted into her basket (how she was going to see to ‘drive’ was beyond me 😳).  I told her she almost ran me over but I wanted to help her anyway since I survived and she didn’t bat an eye.  I wonder if she has scooter insurance…I feel a stiff neck coming on.

You know, this is a habit I really need to break.  I find myself saying “I’m sorry” all of the time.  It doesn’t matter if I’m to blame or not, I feel like if something goes wrong, I need to put a ‘sorry’ out there.  And I don’t say it lightly…I actually mean it.  Like when the guy pushed past me, I started thinking that maybe I was going too slowly.  Maybe he had an emergency and I was in his way.  Maybe he won the lottery and was going to collect his millions.  No matter what, I MUST have done something to create that situation.

I did the same thing today at the gym (our leader kicked my ass today…I can barely move).  I apologized when someone slopped some cleaning solution on my shoes, and numerous times when someone would bump into me.  And even though they might not apologize, I do, whether I was the ‘bumper’ or the ‘bumpee’.

So, writing this blog has it’s ups and downs.  (Yes, grasshoppers…I’m changing the subject but it’s all going to make sense…stay with me…).  The up is that I get messages like this almost daily:

“I want to say ‘Thank You’.  I read something recently on your blog, and it stuck with me, in relation to toxic positivity.  I just appreciate and honor the fact that you’re real and authentic, and I admire the fact that you speak openly about depression, anxiety, and mental wellness…it makes those of us, who aren’t okay, feel seen and heard.  It gives us the courage to speak to our words our pain, and reach out.

Lately, things have been kinda crazy, and a lot of hard changes have happened.  However, I know this truth:  You are strong.  You inspire me to find strength and move forward.  You’re loved, I’m so grateful for you.”

And then, one of my students from a few years ago wrote to me and told me that she was so happy I taught about Domestic Violence in our classes and took the information seriously.  She said she also appreciated me sharing ma’s emotional story which is hard for me to do and often makes me cry.  She said that she dated someone a few times and started seeing the warning signs I preach about.  She ended the relationship and later found out he was a violent guy.  She told me I saved her from something that could have been detrimental to her and her beautiful kids.

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Now the downside?  I was starting to explore a some-what relationship with an old friend but we ended up being like oil and water (I was the oil…I use too much conditioner on my hair 🤨) and argued about…well…almost everything.  Anyhoot, no matter what happened or anything that might have been said, it was always my fault.  If he said something vile…it was my fault.  If he lied to me…it was my fault.  If he ‘tested’ me…it was my fault.  THEN, there would be a reference to me being bipolar and how that makes me ‘crazy’ so duh, it REALLY is my fault.  Hmmmmm.  Obviously, I ended things (or actually he did…but I took him up on it and now it’s my fault I didn’t try harder… 🙄…as my grandpa would have said:  “You can’t win for losing.”).

But here’s the thing:  I did apologize for everything.  Again and again and again.  I never said:  “I’m sorry but…” but sincerely apologized.  Like anyone, I said things I needed to apologize for…I’m no saint, that’s for sure!  But he didn’t buy my apologies, and then would say: “I’m sorry but YOU…” etc.

Putting my life out here like I do and talking about having bipolar makes me a target in so many ways.  People now know how overly sensitive I am…how guilty I can feel…how those of us with bipolar ruminate and question and worry…how impulsive and jumpy I can be, etc.  By knowing this, my mental illness can be used against me.  Who’s going to believe the ‘crazy’ one isn’t to blame for relationship issues?  Who’s going to believe ME if there are different sides of something being told?  After all, everyone knows that ‘bipolars’ are cray cray.  Right?

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Wrong!!  We are not fucking crazy (sorry ma, but talking about this gets me pissy 😠).  I’M not fucking crazy.  Period.  Yes, I have a mental illness.  A pretty serious one at that.  But guess what?  I’ve built a great career after years and years of schooling.  I raised a son who kicks ass in everything he does (except basketball…sorry, porkchop).  I was the ‘breadwinner’ in my last marriage (yes peeps…the 3rd one 🙄) and am financially independent now.  I do everything with the house and yard.  And the list goes on.  Just because I have a mental illness does not mean I’m crazy.  In fact, compared to some ‘normal’ people I know…I’m pretty damn ‘sound’.

So, why do I keep apologizing for every little bitty thing that happens and the biggies too?  Do I believe I need too because I am bipolar…cray cray…mentally ill?  I think I’ve kinda been ‘trained’ to over the years.  I think some people like to prey on those perceived as weaker or ‘less than’ in their eyes.  As a result, we take on more of what happens in any situation than someone else might.  (Since 25% of the population suffers a mental disorder or illness at some point in their lives, there’s a chance these ‘judgy’ people might be on the other side someday.  I don’t wish that on anyone.  But the reality is, it could happen).

So, I’m not going to do it anymore…keep saying “I’m sorry” all of the time.  Well, I am probably going to go to my grave (it better be a BIG stone, son…BIG…🙄) apologizing for dying.  But I am going to try to stop feeling like I’M the one that’s always wrong.   Like I’m the one who’s always in the way.  Like I’m the one always to blame.  Like I’m the one…the only one…that has affected whatever it is that has happened.  I’m not going to apologize for being me.  If others want to use what I write against me, that’s fine.  Go ahead.  I’m actually pretty fucking tough for my size (right ma?).  But as long as what I write helps people, I’m going to continue.  And no.  I’m not sorry for that at all.

Kristi xoxo

 

“Sorry Seems to be The Hardest Word” (Bernie Taupin)

So, the other day in one of my posts, I talked about how guilty those of us with bipolar often feel because of the strain it can place on others.  After reading some messages from you Grasshoppers, I know that others feel this in relation to their own mental illness.  In fact, in an article published by the National Institute of Health, it states:  “The stigmatizing attitudes toward mental illness held by both the public and those who have a mental illness lead to feelings of shame and guilt, loss of self-esteem, social dependence, and a sense of isolation and hopelessness.”  Basically, any of us can experience guilt based on what we have, and not just necessarily by what we do.

Some of you commented that one way to combat the guilt tied to actions/behaviors/words/etc.  was to apologize to those who were hurt by these things.  I’ve been talking about this very issue with my counselor, and I totally agree.  I’ve been wanting to apologize for a long time.  But, my problem (among many) is how to go about it.

How can words possibly convey the burdens and hurt I’ve inflicted on others during my life as a bipolar?  Will the words sound genuine if I speak them?  More ‘real’ if I write them?  What exactly do I apologize for?  Being mentally ill in the first place?  What I’ve ‘done’ during the course of this sickness?  Both?

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Photo by Bruno Thethe on Pexels.com

If I were to list all of the people I should apologize too, the list would be too long for the gigs I’m allowed on this site.  Seriously.  I have tons of family members I know I’ve hurt.  Ex hubbies.  Friends I’ve had.  I’d have apologize to entire classes for the times I was down and not totally ON for them, which is what each of my classes deserves every time I’m in front of them. And, sorries should go to people I haven’t been kind to since I was so far down to even be able to care like I should.

When I try to apologize to family, I can’t do it verbally.  I get so choked up at the hurt I’ve caused that talking is difficult.  Just writing this is making the tears begin.  But, that’s no excuse for not apologizing…period.

My mom has taken the brunt of this illness.  It was really starting to show itself when I was a teen, and the acting out I did during manic times and the anger I expressed to her during my depressive states is shameful to me.  Mom was my scapegoat for everything I was feeling but couldn’t describe or handle at the time.  I remember sitting at the table when I was around 16 or so, and she had made me an Italian sausage sandwich…onions, peppers, the works.  She served it to me and I threw it across the kitchen, hitting a quilt she was hand-quilting while yelling and crying.  Mom had no idea what was wrong, but instead of yelling back and punishing me, she hugged me.  I’ll never forget that.

Another time in high school, I called my mom a ‘bitch’ for no good reason.  Actually I screamed that word to her in her face.  Right after, I stormed out of the house and rode my bike to my grandparents house.  My grandpa was waiting for me in the kitchen with some food for me.  Mom had called him, just to tell him how upset I was and what I said.  I started nibbling, and grandpa sat down at the terry cloth covered table with me and told me he had never been disappointed in me during my entire life, but today he was.  I sobbed.  Having my grandpa say that told me how far I’d gone in hurting my mom.  I apologized to her when I got home, and she accepted it with no further mention.  That, my Grasshoppers, is forgiveness.

During the breakdown I had, mom took care of me everyday for a few weeks.  Everyday.  I know what an incredible burden that had to be and the guilt I feel for putting my 73 year old mom through such a trial haunts me constantly.  She saved my life and never once said anything to make me feel responsible for what was happening.  The words “I’m sorry” don’t even say a fraction of what I want too…but other words don’t exist that do.

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And my son?  For all of his growing up years I tried so so so hard to hide my mental illness.  His dad and his family don’t believe in ‘weakness’ and being ‘sick’ isn’t an option.  How could I admit what was swirling through my brain and how that was affecting me to someone who rebuffed anything that had to do with mental illness?  Plus, I wanted my son-shine to have the best childhood possible.  So I wore the tightest masks I could find;  I’d be damned if I’d let him see my illness.  There was no way I’d have wanted him to carry any burden of it around as a kid.  My job was to be a mommy and make his growing up years happy and stable.

But when I decided to ‘come out’ with being bipolar, which was a necessity after my breakdown, my son (26) became such a support to me.  To be honest, it took him a while to accept this unmasked me since he had never really seen it before.  But now?  He handles all of my moods, cycles, insecurities, crying, quietness, hyperactivity and everything else with support, care, and understanding.  He’s been my rock, which makes me feel like I’m failing him as a mom now.  But he says he’s supposed to take care of me (since I’m an elder…WTF?) and says that just how it is.  I don’t agree with that, but him doing it is more than I can ever thank him for.  And not being the mom he still deserves is something I’ll never be able to make up for.  He’s going to be moving out in a couple of weeks, but only 2 miles away so he’ll be close if I need him.

And these 2?  They’re just the tip of the ice burg.  What about apologizing to my ex-hubbies?  I know my sensitivity, impulsiveness, strong emotional reactions, periods of depression and the list goes on, affected each of them.  Would I still be married to O’s dad if I wasn’t bipolar?  Would I have saved my son from going through a divorce had I been honest with him about the severity of what was happening to me?  I don’t know.  But the question makes me ruminate often.

My sis and dad have been so affected by this too.  Both have their own struggles with mental illness (hello…genetics anyone?) and so many times when I’ve wanted to support them, I can’t because of the state I’m in.  How can I apologize for this neglect, when I know how important support really is?

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So yes, apologizing is necessary, at least for me.  I’m not going to say I’m sorry for having this brain disorder.  That I can’t help.  But to my family, friends, students, and so many other people that have been affected by me having this fucking bastard (you didn’t think I’d leave that out, did you?) of an illness, I am so sorry for what I’ve put you through.  So very sorry.  Please forgive me for all of these overwhelming burdens I’ve placed on your shoulders.  I don’t know any other words that truly reflect how shamed I am by this.  I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

Maybe Elton John was wrong.  Maybe sorry isn’t the hardest word to say.  Actually,  finding the words that will convey the depth of this apology is much more difficult.  I just hope to find them someday, because I owe them to a lot of people.

Kristi xoxo