Monday, September 03, 2007

Who Am I?

I just had a rather eye-opening conversation with Dave. In the time since I've gotten back from Michigan, we've been talking pretty regularly--building up our friendship, I thought. We haven't hung out other than lunch at Mickey D's one day--because he's been "so busy," he said. Well, today he admitted to me that he wasn't ready to see me again, because of the events of "that night." He just can't get past them, basically. And when I reminded him of all the GOOD times we had, whether it was the Keys or Vegas or just sitting around his house, drinking wine, playing cards and watching the Sopranos, he said, "Yeah, well, you're not that person anymore."

At which point I dissolved into tears.

I guess that's the part about all of this that bothers me the most. All my life, I've been a certain person. This person has been a lot of things, from pretty damn funny to very serious to incredibly sweet and loving to flighty and undependable to incredibly exasperating to wildly unpredictable to absolutely terrifying to be around. And for almost half my life, I've been repeatedly diagnosed with BD--and, as you all know, I just couldn't do anything about it until recently. I couldn't admit, even to myself, that I might be "crazy" (which is how I STILL look at it). And do you know that he still feels that I "lied to him" by not telling him about these past diagnoses?

And once I DID get to that point--you know why I finally sought help? To stay ME. To stay the Jen whom most people knew and loved, the me that most people saw, the me who I was about 95% of the time. I'm on medication to be able to FIND myself again, instead of the Jen that people saw "that night". I got help because I wanted to be that "me" as much as I possibly could be, and to reduce the amount of time that I was the out-of-control Jen.

And to hear someone whom I loved so much, whom I used to be so close to, basically erase everything we had and say that I was no longer the same person because of this diagnosis--well, that cut pretty deeply.

It makes me wonder, frankly, why I'm getting help at all, why I'm on the meds. If the people who knew me before insist on hanging onto that 3-hour segment of time, if THAT'S how they define me, rather than all that truly wonderful time that came before it....then what is it all for?

This is not in any way to make him the bad guy. I know that that night was absolutely horrible for him. I know that he's STILL dealing with the emotional fallout. However, for the most part, his life is back to normal. I'm the one who is still picking up the pieces, each and every day. Twice a day, when I have to take my pills, I'm reminded of WHY I'm taking them, of the destruction I had to cause before I got to the point of seeking help. I carry that around with me all the time, every minute of every day. I hate myself for having let myself get to that point before I sought help. And I wish I could have done it sooner--I truly do--but I just COULDN'T. It just makes me feel like he doesn't understand ANYTHING about this disease or the strength it's taken me YEARS to build up before I could get to the point of admitting I had this and seeking help.

One of the reasons so many people resist going on drugs is because they don't want to lose themselves. Good or bad, right or wrong, BD plays a HUGE role in your personality--not just the crazy, out-of-control, "psycho" times, but the good ones, too--the ones where you're even MORE outgoing, MORE social, the "life of the party," very funny and fun to be around...that's part of it, too. And as anyone who's been around me for more than 5 minutes knows, I pride myself on being sarcastic and, I like to think, humorous. I LOVE to make people laugh. And yes, when I went on the meds, I thought--will I LOSE that? Will that part of my personality be erased as these meds "stablize" me?

But I've been on them now long enough to know that, thank God, that part of my personality wasn't the BD talking--that was ME. That's who I am. For the first time, I KNOW who I am. I AM funny, and sarcastic, and loving, and sensitive--and guess what? I still have a short temper! Yes, that's right--I'm not perfect!! *gasp* The meds don't eliminate ALL my flaws....but they do keep them under control.

And for someone to take 5 months of good and reduce it to "you're not that same person anymore"--well, it just shows me that not only do they not know this disease, but they don't know ME.

PS--I know Dave sometimes reads this blog so I don't want anyone slamming him on here (that's what email's for, ha ha), but please call me out if I AM being unreasonable. Because the way HE makes it sound, his friends all think he's a saint for NOT having me arrested that night and they're shocked that he even still lowers himself to speaking to me. Am I expecting too much, or should someone who loves you unconditionally do just that--with no "limits" on the friendship? Am I asking too much to expect more than just a "friendship at arm's length" kind of thing? I say that I deserve more than that; he says I'm lucky to have that much. What do you think? All I know is that lately, talking to him has been upsetting me even more, because I feel so unimportant in his life. Am I dealing with everything okay? Yeah, I think so. I'm kicking ass, actually. But I also deserve to have people around me who love me no matter what and who will still be there for me completely, just not from afar.

Or maybe not.


Renee said...

*sigh*. I read this last night and got too pissed to comment.

Dave is proving, not for the first time, that he is undeserving of your friendship.

If he can't get past what happened that night, that's okay. Even understandable, to a certain extent. It was a horrible night, for all involved. And I guess, as much as I'd like to, I can't control what others think and/or feel, and their feelings shouldn't be discounted. HOWEVER, you were in denial about the BD, which means you had convinced yourself you didn't have it. How, then, if YOU don't believe you have it, could you tell other people that you have it? You weren't lying to him about it! That pisses me off. Maybe he should read up on denial. While he's reading, maybe he could pick up a book on BD and learn a thing or two about THAT.

You are the SAME person you've been your whole life. I've known you for 25 years and not once in all that time have you become someone different. Of course we ALL change throughout the years, but we can't stay 6 forever. You've always been the same wonderful person you are today and no diagnosis is going to change who you are.

Please don't question why you're getting help. I'm so proud of you for embracing it this time and getting the help you need. If those two people need to hang on to that 3-hour segment of time, fuck them. Because that's NOT you, and they should be as proud as the rest of us that you're getting help to STAY you and NOT have more episodes like that. If they can't let go of that (and I don't know what's going on with J, so maybe it's not both of them), they don't deserve to know and love the you that you've always been and will continue to be for the rest of your life. Personally, I LOVE that person and can't imagine my life without her. And I know I'm not alone in that statement.

Going back to why you're getting help... what's it all for? It's for YOU. Not for Dave. Not for J. Not for anyone but YOU. So that you can be happy. So that when you find someone who truly does love you for who you are, warts and all, there won't be another one of those horrible nights.

He thinks he's doing you a fucking FAVOR by LETTING you have SOME of his friendship?! Are you fucking kidding me? You're lucky to have this much?! How arrogant can he be? Yeah, he's a saint, all right. Let's all clamor for Dave's half-assed caring. Maybe we'll get lucky, too. For the record, this does not constitute "slamming" him. Clearly, I've calmed down a lot by "sleeping on it" ;-)

You ARE kicking ass, and you DO deserve to be surrounded by people who love you unconditionally. People who make you feel unimportant in their lives shouldn't have the priviledge of knowing the "pretty damn funny to very serious to incredibly sweet and loving to flighty and undependable to incredibly exasperating to wildly unpredictable to absolutely terrifying to be around" person that we all know and love. Nobody should make you feel like that. Nobody should feel the way he's making you feel.

*sharp exhale of breath*. I hope I wasn't too vague with my feelings :-) Let me know if you need further clarification :-)

Anna said...

You’re Jen. You’re the Jen I love and the Jen who so many others are blessed to know and love.

You are who you are, who you’ve always been, who you want to be. Today you’re the best YOU that you’ve ever been. Fortunately, you’re more aware, more honest and actively working towards a better YOU than you’ve ever been before because you’ve opened your eyes to the BD diagnosis and you’re taking your meds to make You even better.

Don’t let others define you, especially exboyfriends. Get rid of people in your life who continually upset you or bring you down. Life’s too short to waste time on them when there are so many better people out there to spend time with who will make your life better.

keesh said...

I agree with the girls and want to add to this, something for you to think about. What do YOU gain by having HIM as a friend? I mean cause clearly he is God's gift to mankind and perfect by all means. Sorry, not to slam him. But seriously, do you want someone in your life who can't let go of the past? Especially when you learned from it and are changing it? I just think he is being unfair and if he can't stand up to his friends and let them know the real person you are, well too bad for him. You are a great person and your "illness" doesn't define you. So what if you had Diabetes, would he have held it against you if you went into insulin shock? Accidentially ate too much sugar and had an attack? Seriously, you are not to be held anymore responsible for that night than you already have been. Because for you, YOU have to deal with this the rest of your life, he had 1 night and 3 hours of the experience. Get over it Dave...

Lori said...

My first thought is that Dave and his friends are very lucky that they are all so perfect their lives will never blow up on them. Let's nominate them all for sainthood! No, no...wait! Saints showed compassion for those who were merely human. So maybe the whole sainthood thing won't work out for them after all.

Was that a slam? Oops.

Jen...throughout all our lives people have made and will continue to make judgments based on their own point of view. Sometimes they are funny, in an ouchy kind of way. Sometimes there is nothing funny about them and plenty of ouch. The thing is...that's THEIR point of view. And yes, they have to own it. But you don't. You can step back and acknowledge that sure, they technically have the right (however ill-advised) to consider you tainted and not worth their time, energy or love. You can nod and think to yourself "okay, got it. That's how you feel." And then you can put your shoulders back and your head up and flip them the finger because their opinion of you does NOT MAKE IT TRUE.

I don't know what happened on the fateful night that you've mentioned. I gather it wasn't pretty. However, it was the nudge (the kick, maybe?) you needed to get something done about the BD. Now a supportive, loving friend might still look back on that night and shudder...but then would look at you and realize that sometimes you've got to go up in flames before you can get on with the rebirth stuff (after worked for the phoenix). Supportive, loving friends don't step back in horror and point out that you aren't the same person. They stand beside you and help you get in touch with the new and improved version of yourself.

And if they can't do that, then there's only one thing to do: kick 'em to the curb. You deserve better. You ARE better. Chin up, chickie.

Anonymous said...

Dave needs to get over it.

Anonymous said...

You are getting help for you.

Cuz you deserve it.

Anonymous said...

OK and maybe a little bit for other people too.

Anna said...

Good point with the diabetes analogy, Kish!

Jen said...

Okay first of all....

I laughed my ASS off at the repeated comments like "Dave should pull his mf'in head out of his ass.....but that's not meant as a slam." Quick lesson here, my friends. Just adding "not to slam him, though" doesn't undo the slam.

Now. To address your points. First, kudos and mad bonus points to Renee for using the word clamor. Unfortunately, bonus points here are like the bonus points on Whose Lines Is It Anyway--they really don't mean shit. =-) Still, mad points.

Second: in his defense, he DID say that he's proud of me for getting help, he cares about me, he supports me, etc. He just needs to support me "from a distance" right now because he's "not ready" to see me in person, etc. He said that with everything that happened that night, he's just not able right now--and mind you, it's been less than 2 months--to go back to how things were, even on a platonic level.

I reminded him that 1) I deserved more than that from a friend 2) I don't expect to go back to "how they were" right away but sheesh, once every couple weeks would be nice and 3)he's never get that "old image" of me out of his head if he didnt start making NEW memories with me.

I hear what you're all saying and I'm glad you see my side, just like his friends (of course) see his side. But it's still something that's been bothering the hell out of me all day. Dave, like some of my other exes over the years, has the uncanny ability to NEVER BE WRONG. I know!! Every issue is MY fault. It's something *I* did. And when we were talking about this, he turned it all around on me to make me think that I was selfish and completely irrational and unreasonable to even EXPECT anything other than what he's offering right now, considering everything that went down. and then he reminds me again that I was lucky not to be arrested that night, so I should take the phone calls and be damn happy with it. (Those were my words, not his, but that's the gist of it.)

So I enjoyed and appreciated your comments. I still dont know how I feel but I do agree with one thing that was a common thread: as much as I still love him, he's been the source of more drama and unhappiness than he has anything else lately. He's NOT someone I feel I can depend, as a friend, anymore, because he offers me a "friendship with contingencies." And I know that in HIS mind he feels that he's completely justified and right here, and that's fine. But basically, I feel that I deserve more from a friend, and he's not willing or able to be that kind of friend for me.

Nik said...

Ya know, for the most part, I agree with what everybody has said,but there's something that bothers me and I gotta say it.(And yes, I'm ducking for cover as I say this)

Dave, and I hope you don't take offense to this Jen, doesn't owe you anything and he doesn't have to forgive you for what happened. If he wants to hold "that night" against you for the rest of his life, he's entitled to do so. I'm not saying that he's right or wrong in doing so, just that he has every right to feel how he feels.

Now having said that, Jen, why does he still matter that much to you? It's obvious he doesn't care about you, at least not the way that you want him to. You had what you had with him and that's all said and done. I'm having a tough time understanding why this "friendship" with him is so important. If someone was treating me that way, I wouldn't want anything from them or have anything to do with them. You are setting yourself up for some serious hurt if you continue to put him and your "relationship" with him as a priority in your life. Here's a little something I've learned, life is too damn short to waste time on people who couldn't give a fuck less about you.

You are a strong woman and you shouldn't feel the need to be validated by others. Keep your head up and know that there are plenty of people out here who love you, flaws and all.

I hope, I didn't piss too many people off by taking Dave's side a lil bit. As I said, for the most part, I agree with y'all on this.

Renee said...

Not at all, Nik. I said the same thing-- if he can't get over it, it's okay and even a little understandable.

And I feel that if he CAN'T get over it, Jen, you need to move on. I know it's important for you to remain friends with your exes, but I really don't think it serves a point. The relationship ended for a reason... I don't know. Never been friends with an ex, so I can't say. But again, he's not proving worthy of YOUR friendship.

Jen said...

No, you're right, he doesn't "owe" me anything. But my problem is with the half-assed friendship he's offering me, the friendship-with-conditions, from-a-distance thing, the "you're lucky you even have this much after what you pulled that night." Frankly, it's almost like living that night all over again every time I talk to him, because I constantly find myself trying to prove myself or justify why he should hang out with me.

Wow. that's kind of pathetic. Point taken. =-) But you all know how I am with just makes me sad to completely lose the friendship. I guess I pictured him playing a totally different role in my life, one of those ppl I can lean on....but yeah, as Kish mentioned before, he's not really the greatest "lean on" kind of guy. That quit smoking thing should have been a big clue.

Jen said...

No, you're right. Anyway, you're my friends and it's my damn blog...I'm sure he wouldnt expect much less. I'm sure the convo about ME with his guys wasn't much more flattering.

And besides, "mean posts" are the least of thigns to worry about right now. =-)

Anna said...

Just wanted to say: Very good points, Nik! I'm with ya!