Friday, July 18, 2014

Fighting It Out

Jane:  Over a year ago, my husband and I started a ritual of taking walks. As romantic as it may sound, these walks were actually quite horrible.

Nate:  Looking back, we say that we chose to have our arguments in a public place because with witnesses around, we would be less likely to yell and wring each other’s necks. 

Jane:  When we started our walks, I was in a major manic phase and I did not know that I had bipolar disorder yet. Two characteristics of mania are impulsivity and recklessness. 

Nate:  It was very difficult for me to set my feelings aside and try to talk some sense into her. She was in her own little world and I could not bring her back to reality.

Jane:  We would have heated arguments away from home because we did not want the children to know that we were fighting. During the over twenty years of being a wife and stay at home mom, I felt as if all my personal hopes and dreams were put on hold. At the time, I just wanted to be free and have some time for myself. I felt stuck. I wanted an escape. I thought I could just pick up and leave without a plan. I was willing to walk away and leave everything behind. 

Nate:  In the beginning, I was furious and felt very hurt. I didn't know where all this was coming from. She was beyond difficult and bent on doing whatever she wanted with no regard to me or our family. She wasn't thinking about the consequences of her actions, she only wanted to have things her way. She was on a road to self destruction.

Jane:  I admit that there was no talking sense into me. Through my eyes, I could not see that the things that I was saying and doing was such a big deal. I felt like everyone was holding me back.

Nate:  At the time I felt that she was not the woman that I had married. I knew that there was something wrong. She changed into a stranger almost overnight. I didn't recognize the person in front of me! During one of our conversations, I stood up and held out my hand. I said, "Hello, I don't think we've met. My name is Nathan. What's your name?" 

Jane:  While we were going through counseling the psychologist suggested that we get a divorce. Through all the crazy things that were going through my mind, I always knew that my husband loved me. Looking back, it pains me to know that I had treated him the way the I did. Even though I was combative and irrational, he tried his best to make sure I was happy.

Nate:  As part of our ritual, we would go to McDonald’s and I would get a caramel frappe for Jane. We'd park the car where we had a view of the water and watch the ferry sail between one destination to another. Sometimes we would walk on the beach.

Photo by Linda Zoe Masters
Jane:  During the day we would see the mountains and the Seattle Space Needle in the distance. At night, we would look at the lights of the Seattle skyline and watch the planes fly overhead to and from SeaTac.

Nate:  It does not matter what season it is, we still go for our walks.

Jane:  On crisp, cool summer nights the flowers are fragrant. We'd walk around searching for the smells. If it was cold, he'd offer me his coat. He still opens doors for me. Through all the things that we have been through he has always been a perfect gentleman, even while I was treating him badly.

Nate:  As a couple, we are in a better place. Now that we know that Jane has bipolar disorder, we discuss the things what we have learned and the steps we are taking to improve our lives. Through my reading I have learned that when dealing with someone with bipolar disorder in a depressive or manic phase, you are talking to the symptoms of the disorder not the individual. It took me a long time to understand that.

Jane:  We enjoy walking around our little town. On our daily walks we discuss many different things. Sometimes one of us will bring up a hot topic from the past. What started out as fighting has now changed. We no longer argue. We now enjoy each other's company. As we stroll along the waterfront we hold hands. My husband is not only the love of my life, he is my best friend. I am grateful that he did not give up on me.
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