Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Opinions please-what I wrote

This is what I wrote to my sister, with some details changed for anonymity.

All I want to know is if this is somehow unanswerable. To me it is raw and so maybe it isn't the way I see it, which is simply asking for understanding, and again, to me acknowledging that understanding would be helpful.

See what you think, but again, please be gentle. This is so incredibly painful.

Hi. This is very hard to write, but important. Please take it as intended, which is just to tell you "this is how I feel, I hate that I feel that way but it is very hard not to, and it's fair to you to let you know this because I don't want you to see my pain and think it is aimed at you in any way". And it should have been sent a while ago, but it's taken longer to write than I'd hoped.
Dr. Brain says I need to be very upfront with you about something because while I don't ever intend to show this it may sometimes be impossible to hide. Basically, I'm just sad right now in some ways that might be a little hard to just guess at. I'm so excited about the baby and can't wait to meet him/her, but well, I guess the best way to show this is to say that last Friday evening I watched a movie and a baby was born and I cried for about 2 hours. This is an intense reminder that some of my dreams aren't ever going to come true, and that hurts.
I don't know any way to say this that makes it not sound horrible, but it can be very hard for me to watch your life. We both grew up in the same environment and both of us lived through some really bad things. We have the same gene pool and the same high odds for getting bipolar. But I got sick and you didn't. And because of my illness there are a lot of things I'd hoped for in life that I won't have. Even when I'm doing the best I ever do and am able to act "normal" illness affects every part of my life. I'm so thankful that you and brother beat the genetic odds. Even though I hate parts of my life I also believe that things happen for a reason, as part of a grander scheme, and it's not like I wish that one of you had gotten this instead. I just wish it weren't part of any life, and I wish that I did not have it. And it's harder with you than with brother because you and I grew up together and went through things he didn't, and because your life looks so much like I used to think mine would be.
If I was asked before I was diagnosed where I wanted to be as I approached 35 years old I would have said "I will be married and have children, have or be working on my PhD in gerontology, and be enjoying working as an OT." Of those goals I meet "I enjoy working as an OT". Which is a sad thing since work isn't the thing that should be first, much less often only. As recently as grad school 2nd year I had to fight tooth and nail to be allowed to write a real thesis instead of just a research paper. I needed the thesis as a foundation for a PhD; that's how sure I was that I wanted to go that route. And instead by the time I started my thesis i was rapidly decompensating.
I know your life isn't perfect, but sometimes it feels like you just got to have so much of what I want (which would be because I wanted some very typical things). This isn't saying my life now is awful; it's not. However, it's very far from normal and never will be normal, and there are many things I've wanted that I've had to set aside and go on without doing/having. I am so very, very fortunate. I function so far above where I should be able to and I have wonderful people working to keep me doing well. But having to have a team of people who work together and intensely to keep you able to get dressed and go to work every day is not exactly what you spend your childhood dreaming of, nor do you ever expect that it would be that way.
So over the next month if you see me looking sad or I sound sad or stressed or whatever, please don't take it personally. I know that we veer to totally different extremes in believing in God, but it is God these feelings are directed at. It's just that you kind of are a catalyst. I'm working hard on something I have to go back to over and over again, accepting that my life isn't like I hoped and that instead I have to be thankful for very simple things. I don't know how to explain any better, just that it is hard sometimes to stay focused on being glad that I can work when seemingly everyone else gets to take that for granted.
If you ever doubt how I really feel, please take a look at what you'll see soon, the many, many hours I've spent making things for this baby because doing so and having some small part in it's life that way makes me happy, even a huge amount of what I've made for you is going to generally be covered in waste products (although given what I do that sounds about right). The sewing is good for me, but being able to show love to the baby and to you by doing something like that is much more important, and I hope you can see that is as my true feelings, even if sometimes my face says otherwise.
Again, it's not your problem. I just want you to be fully aware because I don't want to inadvertently hurt you. I don't want you to think this is about you or the baby or anything else. It's just me having a hard time that I'm working on, but I can't snap my fingers and make it stop. I wish.....
I really hope you understand and that I've not hurt you. If you have read this and feel hurt, please, please give me a chance to explain before you feel that way because it probably means I've said something wrong. This has been incredibly hard, and very tearful, to write, and I've tried to be careful, but I'm not always the best judge when crying. I do need thought shut up and give the cats proper attention, per them, and try to make up for only a few hours of sleep last
night between my mother's dog and a storm and mom getting home.
Just Me


The Bipolar Diva said...

That's a beautiful letter. It didn't sound to me in any way that you were blaming, or coming down on your sister. It only sounded like you wanted her to realize what's going on with and you didn't want to hurt her feelings by having her think you were mad at her.
I can't see her taking it any way but a loving, caring concern from her sister.
It's beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I just have to reiterate "it's beautiful." Although she's probably going through her emotional stuff right now during pregnancy, I can't imagine what would make it so difficult for your sister to respond to this very touching and honest letter. You clearly are showing your love for her and the baby. At the very leaast, it deserves a simple "I love you." Regardless of her response, however, you did a wonderful, caring thing, for both of you, in writing and sending this. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Just Me said...

Thank you both. Everyone else, please, please keep commenting. I don't care if you totally agree with what I did, right now i need honesty and I also just need acknowledgment. I am hurting so much.

I didn't even realize totally how much I was hurting until I cried at the comments so far.

Thank you so much.

Jen/Just ME

Gabi Coatsworth said...

You put it so well. I hope it helped you to write it down. I have two bipolar sons I blog about in the new online magazine wwwGoodMenProject.org, and they find it so hard to identify their feelings because they can change so fast. Well done.

Jean Grey said...

It's a very beautiful, honest letter. But she may still feel very uncomfortable with you for a number of reasons. She could feel guilty that you got sick and that she did not. She could fear saying the wrong thing, and making you worse. Or, she could fear that she has the potential to become you, or that her baby could have your illness. Or- because she went through so much of what you did, and did not get bipolar, she could feel that you are responsible for some of your own problems. Given the experiences that she had growing up, and that she has a mentally ill sister, she no doubt has a lot of fears as a mother to be right now. This might not be the best time to press her for a response. But I think it is good to have said it- now it is out there. It may change things over time, even if she can never talk about this directly.