This isn’t the first time my family has disapproved of my choice of partner.
Many years ago, I left my first husband for someone else. A woman.
It was a crazy time, and the first in a long line of bad choices which led me down an incredibly rocky and unstable road.
Then, A part of me knew it wasn’t the right choice, but I couldn’t live in my mind unless I acted on it.
Clinically defined, Impulsivity is “an individual’s predisposition toward rapid, unplanned actions without regard to the negative consequences of these actions to [oneself] or others”
I don’t understand why I must act on things when I know deep in my heart, it isn’t good for me. Family & friends can try to steer me right, and I will continue on my destructive path.
The path of least resistance is the direction an object or person moves forward with the least amount of obstacles in the way. When I make a choice, it’s usually, the one my mind can handle at that given moment.
I tend to be on the anxious side. I have been that way as long as I can remember. (see post) For myself, when faced with a difficult choice, I have to do what I can handle. It’s how I have survived for almost 38 years.
Imagine having a conference with your conscience. You’re sitting in Jiminy Cricket’s office, it’s rather small, but comfortable, & Jiminy says, “kid, if you make the choice I am proposing, it’s going to shut you down. You are going to feel like armageddon is here and you are in line to be dipped in molten lava & wait time is 10 minutes & counting.”
I would say “Oh, sweet Jesus!” as I shift uncomfortably in my chair, “I just can’t do that, Jiminy. I mean, won’t my heart explode while I wait? How do you prepare for LAVA?!” I take a deep breath and ask “Got any other options?”
“Well, yeah,” says Jiminy unsurely. “You could go with this series of choices I have outlined here. (hands me a large, heavy book with the sinister title of Easy Now, Pay Later) It’s a really tough read, a lot of sad parts and some of it makes zero sense. If you go this direction, there will be more trouble but smaller bites.”
I set the book in my lap and say, “I’m gonna go with this one Jiminy, thanks. No lava baths for me.”
Then, he starts singing “When You Wish Upon A Star*, and I get the hell out of there. My mind can only handle so much.
Jiminy is an asshole too. He gives me the choices, then when I inevitably pick the hardest choice for the long run, he taunts me. Occasionally I hear, “could have just had one really hot bath and this would all be over. Yep.”
Thanks Jiminy, I know. I got this.
I know what has happened in my relationship with Jason, I haven’t forgotten. He will probably do stupid things that piss me off, but I am going down this road because it’s my choice.
I didn’t make this choice to upset or hurt anyone, and personally I think asking me to choose between Jason and my family is not an option I should have ever been encountered with. It only caused further upset, piling another 1000 degrees to the lava I was waiting in line to dip in.
I couldn’t handle it.
I know my choices don’t make sense to my family, but they are my choices. Ultimately, I am the one having to live with them. With that being said, I must be sensitive to how my relationship affects them. That is why I am proposing to them that from now on I keep my personal life seperate from my family life.
That is a new concept in my family because we have always been close and all up in each other’s business. For the sake of their sanity, I think this idea is a viable option.
As far as I go, I’ll be fine. I’m simply going to keep reading my book and conferencing with Jiminy when he comes at me with something harrowing.
Sometimes, I might say, “what the hell!” and dive into the lava. Sometimes, I won’t. I will be okay though.
Life.. it’s complicated and messy. No one gets out of here unscathed by the rigors of life. However, not everyone handles life’s obstacles in the same way; largely due to how each of us perceives our life and the lives of the people around us.
I have always traveled down a difficult path, and some bad things have happened as a result. I am not the only one affected by my path because I have a family, and children who love me.
When you are in a family, you love the members unconditionally, but unconditional love comes with a price. The often difficult task of understanding and loving the one with the ill mind.
Love can bring a lot of unpleasantness. The reason love can hurt us so badly, is our close proximity to the ones we love.
I wrote a post about perception several months ago. If you read it, you know I think our beliefs, morals, boundaries, goals, everything in our lives, varies, based on how we perceive events in our lives. It amazes me that because of perception, every member of a family can live through and survive the same tragedies, and yet, end up having completely different experiences.
We are hardest on our families. We have higher expectations of them because we feel being in a family has certain implications.
When family has expectations we can’t live up to, and then degrades our capabilities, we feel like failures.
****When someone in the family has been through a tremendous amount of pain, compounded by addiction and mental illness, it alters their life in a way no one can quite understand, unless you have been there.****
The sad truth is that every single person in my family can read the above paragraph and relate somehow. They either went through something horrific as well, battled addiction, mental illness, or they have been affected by a loved ones’ suffering. For me, I became a victim of my own mind, and felt alone, and felt no one could possibly understand.
The stigma of mental illness and the stigma of addiction often go hand in hand.
The battles are different for everyone. Some go completely off the deep end with addiction. They are the type depicted in films, books, the media, and unfortunately, so much damage occurs for everyone around them. Not everyone fits that category.
Never in my life was I compelled to steal from people (especially family), violate, do physical harm, or sell my body for a “rock”, a bottle, or a shot.
Episodes of mental Illness have not sent me running naked in the streets or caused me to hear voices telling me to chop up my family. People usually don’t know I have issues, until I tell them.
Research suggests that the majority of people hold negative attitudes and stereotypes toward people with mental illness as well as addiction. Hell, I’m guilty of stereotypical views myself, sometimes. I didn’t realize I was being self-deprecating until I just snapped to it one day. My user name for many of my online profiles is, CrazyinOk82: Stigma was rearing its ugly head, and I didn’t even realize it. That’s how powerful stigma is.
What is “crazy”, is that ignorance is not the only thing causing this huge lack of understanding. It’s the damn healthcare professionals themselves. They often hold to the same stereotypes.
This is so frustrating because everyone, especially the mentally ill, look to the professionals for guidance, understanding and support. When their view of you is altered due to rampant stigma, you can’t trust the treatment you receive or stop seeing them. Who is everyone going to listen to anyway? The healthcare professionals, or the “crazy people”. Yeah, you already know.
As long as there is a grain of truth to a stereotype, some people are going to hold it as the gospel truth.
Meanwhile, families are being torn apart. Misunderstanding and lack of effective communication can cause irreparable harm. Change doesn’t happen overnight, I get that. A great place to cultivate a foundation for change, is at home.
It’s easier to give your friend a break, be empathetic and understanding, than it is to extend the same courtesy to someone you have been around your whole life. The issues hit too close to home.
Being mentally ill is incredibly lonely. I feel like no one gets me and never will. In everyones eyes, I am just a fuck up. I make bad choices, I’m selfish, lazy, full of excuses, and those are just a few of the lovely gems I have heard coming from “a loving place” in my lifetime. One of the worst things you can say to me is that drugs, alcohol, or my choice of partner are the cause of my issues. Those things are symptoms of a much bigger problem.
When we misunderstand mental illness — and its gravity — we do damage. Rather than give individuals our understanding, compassion and support when they need it most, we intensify their struggle.
It is very easy to focus on things that are superficial and visible, but it is what is anchoring these behaviors, that are the main problem – and this is what the general public should be educated about.
Alcoholism and addiction are progressive diseases. THEY GET WORSE OVER TIME. Alcoholics didn’t just decide to chug a gallon of vodka one day because everything is so right inside of them. Addicts don’t start out with a needle in their arm. No. Their first drink or drug was the same way it was for you! With friends having a good time!
I have never met someone who out of the blue, woke up one day and said, “You know what I need? A bag of heroin and a syringe.”
When I tried to speak from my heart about what life is like for me, my sister and Mom became irate and the interpersonal skill of communication, was nonexistent. They thought I was being self- absorbed because I had been writing a lot instead of paying attention to the family. I validated their feelings , understood, and put my phone away. It didn’t matter.
They don’t understand that sometimes I need to be in this cocoon. Especially, to stay safe from my sister’s powerful energy. She is so angry and internalizes everything. She is also very powerful. When she feels any kind of way, you know it.
The content of what they are saying to me is not helping me. It’s hurting me. Trying to make me feel like less than a human being, or a person undeserving of decency (treatment I get from my sister) and the ever present guilt trip my mother puts on me when I cannot do the simplest things she wants me to do just gives me more feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness when no one understands.
The link below is what I was attempting to talk with them about, while referencing the importance of my work. Instead of being met with support, I was devalued and told everything I have to say is shit, even when I sat there and took it, agreed with them, anything to make it stop…
Do you know what helps? Not feeling alone or isolated, being validated, supported and loved unconditionally.
Luna Greenstein, marketing and communications manager at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says,
“Storytelling accomplishes more than most probably realize,”It helps people feel less alone, and it cultivates empathy and compassion. “Additionally, it’s a great form of education for the aspects of mental illness that are hardest to understand.”
All I was trying to say to my family is this is why what I’m doing is so important.
I might not ever get through to my sister and mother. That’s a shame because as far as a support system goes, I am seriously lacking. Since I don’t fit the mold they have for mental illness, they don’t get me or realize how debilitating my illness is. I found my voice finally, it only took about 38 years. I know that I am on the path I am supposed to be on.
My kids will get this, even if not right away, they will. The reason they will, is they’re smart, empathetic, and they have a dad and step-mom educating them and allowing them to form their own identities separate from theirs. It’s exactly the way I wanted to raise my kids. We might not always see eye to eye and that’s ok. Simply aiming for understanding is awesome, progressive, and supportive. I truly hope they know and understand how grateful I am.
This is not the life I wanted, yet here I am. I’m sorry to anyone who has ever been affected negatively by my words, or actions. Please know, it was never my intention.
Sometimes the people around you won’t understand your journey. They don’t need to, its it’s not for them.
***I do not want to give the impression my family is horrible. I am simply trying to show the other side of these scenerios. No one ever thinks people with mental illness know how we affect everyone around us. Trust me, the mentally ill get it. ***
****Also,this communication issue needs to be resolved. If you would like more information about loving someone in your family who is afflicted with a mental illness, please click here.