It is okay to feel my feelings

Hello True Believers,

          One of the hardest things about being bipolar that people don't understand is that you have feelings like everyone else walking the planet. The difference is, at some point, early in your life, you were made to feel that your feelings were not only not valid, but sharing them means punishment and rejection. That is why we go from being extremely happy to extremely shutting out the entire world, because we are so down, we don't want to share our feelings with anyone, because we're only going to be made to feel inferior for having feelings to begin with.

           At a very young age, my mom told me that I was a mistake....to be honest, it is one of the first memories I have. I was only 4. She blamed me for ruining her life (it didn't take a math genius to do the math of my parents anniversary and my birthday and realize, albeit in the womb, but I was at the wedding). She also made it clear that being hurt or feeling anything in general wouldn't be tolerated or nurtured. I was taught I had to hold on and digest any feelings of hurt or pain.

          True story, when I was a Sophomore in high school, my parents went out of town for a truip with the church choir. I stayed with my aunt, and like many teenage boys, I was spending some quality time with my friends playing pickup football. I caught one pass and stepped down on a board with a nail sticking straight up. So much so, I had to lay down while my friends pulled the board out. I, in my teenage wisdom, kept playing with my friends. Well, that night I get back to my aunts and take my shoe off and my sock was dripping with blood. My aunt say (mind you, my mom's sister) and yelled at me not to get her floor dirty and I better stop bleeding then and there. I knew not to even tell her about the knee popping tackle I suffered and I dealt with the blood and pain. Well, fast forward to a couple of days later and my Father (God rest his soul...I miss him EVERY single day...quick back story, he died on my 22nd birthday) caught me limping and seeing me change the homemade dressing on my foot. When I FINALLY admitted my injuries, against my mom's wishes, he took me to the ER, I got a tetanus shot and turns out I developed Osgood Schlatter disease (where the ball of my knee was pulled away from my knee cap). But even then I was immediately told when I walked through the door that it was my fault that I caused this much trouble and wasted good money on my hospital visit.

       At 42, I notice now, that when I am feeling hurt, or upset, I shut down. I have already made the "Pavlovian response" that voicing my feelings means rejection and punishment...so I don't. I push them down until I am able to disassociate myself from them. But doing so means I have to make myself dead inside for a bit. This is when I have to put on the facade of "fine" being the answer to when anyone asks me how I am doing.

       So when the manias happen, it is usually started by the rare moments someone grants me some sort of approval that I will never admit to eternally seeking. The amazing thing happens, I know whenever I have a moment of self approval, one minor comment from someone takes it all away and I "hermit up". It feels like the universe is reminding me that I am worthless. That my brain, the Heavens and all of creation hate me. That I am a blemish on a beautiful canvas of light.

        I find myself doing things because I know it will make someone else feel better about themselves because they can say that they helped me. I allow people to belittle and tell me how they "know me" and know what is good for me to help me, even though they haven't experienced a fraction of what I have. Because it is easier to die a little more inside and comply, than explain the fact that I am hurting. Because when I say I am hurting everyone wants to "fix" me....like I don't already feel like the mayor of the island of misfit toys, but now I get to have someone close to me treat me like I am broken down AND worthless.

      All I know is that I work damn hard to make sure my children know that I am proud of them. To make sure they know that my approval and affection is NEVER something they have to compete for, whether with each other or internally. I stay active with them, because these are the memory years for them. These are the years that when they look back it won't be about the things I did for them, it will be about if they felt loved and safe with me.

I believe in YOU and your Love and your Light,
-Corey

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