Part of thriving despite having bipolar is being self-aware of how I’m feeling at all times and keeping myself in check.  And yes, it can be as exhausting as it sounds.  But at other times, it really helps me with remembering to self love.

That’s how I know that I’m currently coming out of a depressive phase and entering into a manic phase.  I know this because I feel a lot more energetic.  I also know that it was triggered by Friday’s court disposition.  It energized me.  I came out of that courtroom feeling determined to fight a long hard battle and win.

My aunt and uncle are trying to adopt my children.  The government is doing their best to make me look as bad as Mr. J.  And here I am, busting my hump working 4 jobs and going to every meeting and case manager I have available to me every single week.  But because I had that moment of weakness and saw him, they have big doubts as to whether the children would be safe with me.  And my aunt and uncle feel the same way.

I can’t say I blame them after I saw that news report with the teenage mother and baby missing.  They had a protective order against the baby’s father and he’s missing too and they have reason to believe that he’s kidnapped them.  I still have intrusive thoughts about that.  That could have been me and my kids.  Actually, it would have been just me.  There’s no way my family would let anything like that happen to the kids.  But then what?  He kills me, dumps me in the woods and the kids never see their mother again.  Or their father for that matter because he would most likely kill himself afterwards.  Then what?  then our kids have a horrible family background they won’t know about until they’re well into adulthood like me.  And that’s the last thing I want for them.
And I used to think it wasn’t possible.  Because I know him.  But I now know that as long as he knows he’s the only friend I have, it is possible.

Because he is deathly afraid of going to prison.  Even when he used to abuse me, he would only do it when we were either alone at home or only in the presence of people he already knew wouldn’t call the police even if he killed me.  And that was scary.  That’s why he would isolate me.  That’s why I was allowed only around certain people.  Because the more people I have in my social support network, the less power he had over me.  The more likely he was to be arrested.

It’s awkward trying to make new friends since I’m so terrified of getting close to anyone and getting hurt again.  But I’m being cautious.  I’m getting rid of a lot of behaviors I used to have that left myself emotionally vulnerable to too many people.  I’m establishing healthy boundaries.  And I’m learning what those are in group therapy and regular therapy.  And so far it’s going well.  I’m not forming bonds over alcohol or anything that weakens me in any way.  I’m forming bonds over things that I draw strength from: music, health and fitness, karaoke, art, even parenthood.

I’ve learned that just because you form a bond with someone doesn’t mean you can open everything up to that person.  There has to be healthy boundaries.  And I feel a lot better not sharing everything with my new friends.  I don’t feel guilty for not doing so either.  I don’t know why I felt that way before.  I felt phony.
Actually, now that I think about it, I think I felt that way before because of how two-faced my parents were.  I watched them be nice to people they couldn’t stand.  They would give compliments and smiles to their friends’ faces and talk mad shit about them behind their backs.  So, I tried to over compensate for their insincerity by being way too open, way to vulnerable to too many people.
So, now I’ve begun setting healthy boundaries.  I’ve even started setting them with the women in my shelter.  I’m sorry to say that some of that was because of what I learned living with Mr. J.  That institutionalized mentality is something he’s very familiar with and he wasn’t wrong about a lot of that.  Because of what I learned from his depravity, I’ve been able to keep myself from being taken advantage of by the women in this shelter by recognizing the same kind of manipulation tactics I’ve grown accustomed to.
I can always find the positive in everything no matter what.  It’s kind of like the last 5 years acted as a vaccination to fortify me against any further abuse.

I’m exercising the sheer power of my will as I enter into this “manic” phase.  I’m taking my medication and feeling it keep me calmer than I usually am during this phase.  It makes me feel bad that I need to depend on medication in order to be “normal” but I don’t want to stop taking it because it makes me feel so much better.
For all I know, I might not even need to take it for the rest of my life.  Maybe just during the next few years while I retrain my brain to process things in a healthier way.
It’s possible.  But I really don’t need to be worrying about that right now.  I’m really excited about the prospect of being a whole new woman.  I already find myself daydreaming at times what it’ll be like to be a single mother with my children with me.  I imagine how much fun we’ll have and how many memories we’ll share.  No one there to spoil the fun.  No one there to make us feel like we can’t be ourselves.

Free to raise them how I choose, feed them how I choose, discipline them how I choose reward them how I choose.  No one there to tell me I’m not doing it right.  No one there to tell me I’m going to easy on them or that I’m spoiling them.  (BTW Of course I’m going to spoil them!  I don’t want them to experience what it’s like to go without if they don’t have to.  That’s what the broke college days are for!)

Like I said, I’m triggered into this phase.  I feel a challenge.  They don’t want me to have my children.  They think I’m incapable.  They think I’m unfit.  I’ll prove them wrong.
I’ve got two wonderful people helping me with parenting techniques and how to implement them in real life situations.  They say I’m doing great but I still like that I have them because I lose confidence a lot.  I end to freeze up because I’m used to being yelled at when I’m dealing with the kids.  Being stopped and told I’m not doing it right.  And to have that help during those moments is a great help until I can get over that.

And I feel safe saying it here…
I’ve even been thinking of Mr. J less and less everyday.  I’m not ready to jump into another relationship though.  Well, technically a relationship with myself counts as a relationship but that’s not obviously not what I’m talking about.  And this is a wonderfully exciting time for me.  I get to discover myself.  I get to put myself in a constant state of cognitive dissonance in a positive way.  I imagine that wonderful mother and be that woman.  I keep thinking of what I want to teach my children and apply it to myself.  Their existence is enough to make me want to be a better person.  I want them to be proud of me.  I want them to admire me.  I want them to think their mommy is pretty, and elegant and classy and strong.  I want them to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they’re beautiful, and smart and talented and strong and capable.

Even if it turns out to be hereditary and they end up with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, I want them to know they’re awesome.  Just like I know I’m awesome.  And I’m not concerned if I ever find “Mr. Right”.  I’ll be happy knowing that I’m demonstrating what loving oneself looks like.  Show them that no relationship is worth being mistreated to have.

Okay, now I’m getting emotional.  I miss them so much.  I’ll show them.

Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.