Thursday, August 5, 2010

bipolar husband and his friend

Mania is that friend your husband should have snubbed years ago, but won’t. You know the one- thirty-something, in between shitty jobs, currently between the endless meaningless one night stands, bar hopping jerk who laughs at anything resembling responsibility. He doesn’t laugh at it in a fearless, “I laugh in the face of danger” way. He laughs because he mocks it. Mania is that friend that tells your husband to go out with him, keeps him out for two days on a bender, gambling away your savings on the way.
Entire movies have been dedicated to this wad of adolescent ejaculant. I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and my favorite, She’s having a Baby. Alec Baldwin’s character is charming and repulsive all at once, and as a wife, I detest him, but I hate Kevin Bacon’s character more.
This character is always spouting the Peter Pan philosophy of wives being the death of a man. Not women, especially not single young women, but wives. The nagging, ever demanding perfectionist wife who cuts a man’s testicles off and wears them like jewelry. Yes, it is always the wife that emasculates.

This is mania. You know, like Manic depressive? Mania, like bi-polar. Mania, who I have come to know somewhat well, loves to lie to my husband. It tells him I’m suffocating him, that he needs to do things his own way. Mania is the invisible antagonist whispering my husband’s lines to him like Tyler Durden at the bottom of the stairs while the main character fights with Marla.
I remember watching that scene for the third or fourth time, thinking she doesn’t see what we see- she only sees this man, stonewalling her, obstinate and ungiving, while he recites these lines from somewhere. The argument ends when she says, “I never can win with you, can I?”
But mania is not Tyler Durden. Tyler, at least, had a plan to redeem humanity. An effed-up plan, sure, but he had the good of mankind as his aim. Chaos as a means to a simpler more wholesome future. Mania don’t give a rat’s ass about humanity. It hops on for the ride, eggs you on until you’re about to crash, and hops off to some other fool willing to buy the lies.
I see it riding on my husband piggy-back style, shiny eyes asparkle. It doesn’t care about consequences, negative outcomes do not apply- because it doesn’t have to suffer them- as soon as the car crashes, the collectors come calling, the wife leaves, the ambulance comes, the police click those handcuffs, mania flits off, unless there seems to be more fun to be had. Delusions of grandeur, great acts of charity, kindness, all in the purpose of self-aggrandizement.

It reminds me of the demon in the movie the Fallen, who enters a person and leaves by breath, and cannot survive outside of a human host longer than a breath. It jumps in, wreaks havoc, and jumps out, just when the fun might end. In it’s wake it leaves murders death destruction, and a very very broken human being.

The last time mania came calling I asked my husband to leave, and he stayed at a fleabag motel (called the Royal Inn oh rich and joyful irony that is) for a week. The shock of it knocked him on his ass, I think. He did start taking more meds, but I think the fear of losing everything kind of got him to change his habit. When the husband loses his family because of the idiot friend, he no longer listens to him rant about responsibility and wives- that all seems pretty empty once he realizes this man is a coward governed by ignorance and hatred.

Or at least, I like to hope so.

I hate mania. I hate that lousy punk, and I can’t really kick it out of the house, and when I try to talk to my husband, mania twists my words against me. It turns my love against me, and uses all my good intentions to show him just how controlling I am. And when mania leaves, there is depression, coddling and empty of hope. It takes forever to get my husband back.

It doesn’t seem to matter what meds he’s on, either, unless he’s heavily medicated with anti-psychotics and sedatives. But then he’s in the hospital, and obviously not working. And that usually takes a week at least.

I hate mania.

The same coin

I have a very very good friend- I say best friend, accepting all the childhood connotations without the childhood fluctuations. For the past ten years, give or take, we have been building on this friendship, and I am often quite amazed at it. We met my freshman year, for all of thirty seconds, when she was singing at a retreat for Campus Crusade for Christ, and I went up to tell her how beautifully she sang. She thanked me rather curtly, and seemed very distracted, so I assumed I was telling her something she already knew very well, thank you, and there were other things to think of. The funny thing is I wasn't really bothered- I had no hard feelings about it.

This girl was, whenever I saw her over the next year, so self-contained. She seemed to be so calm, so detached. She always dressed well, looked put together, presented a very tidy front. It felt like she was smooth-faced, nothing to grab hold of. These kinds of people always fascinated me.

I had a friend in high school who felt similar to this- quiet, seemingly assured, never gave too much away. I always felt calmer in their presence, since I felt like a roiling ball of static electricity and chaotic emotions. I felt like I swung wildly from one extreme to the other, and though I could be comfortable swinging unchecked, I would have loved to have been tidy.

A year after we first met, we were roommates. She had the single attached to the double I shared with another friend- one who was much more my kind of messy and odd. It took us a few months to really talk. I will never forget the bus ride we took together from the dorms to campus. She said something that immediately hooked my attention. "People think I'm a bitch, but I'm really not." I remember that. If you asked me what came before or after, I can't recall. But I remember that. I nodded, even though I hadn't seen much other than the smooth face she presented- I agreed, because I had known and been great friends with girls who were the very same.

We were so different, and found each other intriguing because of it. And beneath our differences, we found this common nature, and all our differences had sprung from different reactions to the same feelings and experiences. My fascination with the fringes of society came from feeling so not normal- and her tidy front came from the same. She wanted to blend in, and I thought I never could.

We became very close, as close as two girls still learning themselves could be, and things happened, life changed course, and we were not so close in contact. We suffered separate woes during the same period of time, and when we started to talk again, we had been...mmm...shall we say battle hardened? More familiar with the ugly things of life. Like two men in a bar will eye each other and know that they are soldiers.

She was not nearly as tidy. And I had had my frayed ends burnt off some. And we were still the counter swing of the same pendulum. It was amazingly wonderful work, to get close again, to climb over all the stupid stuff that got between us before, and to get right down close. God blessed me with a friend who wanted to be understood as much as I did, who understood the desire, and who, like me, wanted to grow, even when it hurt.

Over the past year, through all the difficulties, I knew that while my life seemed to be shaking on rocky terrain, I could call my friend, who still presents a wonderfully calm face to the world. She is loving and wise, and I value her conversation and understanding and all her hurts and worries more than she knows, because she's like me, and we're very good at self-deprecation. I am finally beginning to understand that I can mean that much to someone so wonderful.

The thing is, all of this will still apply, because she's just moving down the coast. It's just that she'll be far. We always met for coffee for hours, at least four hours of talking and coffee. We worked out hard life stuff, face to face, and now I'm gonna have to get good at the phone. She better get a land line because this cell phone static is totally killing me.

I am so getting skype.