Parents give to their children, in a general sense. Parents give life, shelter, comfort, food, love, support, etc, etc. I don’t want to be too specific because I know people suffer from neglectful parents. And for me, I never felt like my parents gave a lot to me. I did grow up in a wealthy background but I never felt emotionally up to par.
It took me a while (like 23 years) to appreciate them as people and to appreciate how they provided for me. They did what they could with what they had. I forgive them for whatever malfunctions come with pre-divorce parents. And I embrace the thought and motive behind what they attempted to provide.
My parents were together for 25 years before they got divorced. They were divorced when I was 13 but I never felt like they were together, for my entire life beforehand. I would give each parent a different Christmas list, even when they were together, one for mom, one for dad.
My mom recently told me that my dad was the “yes parent” and my mom was the “no parent”. The difference of their attitudes drew a wedge between my sibling and I. I gravitated towards my dad, surprise surprise that the bipolar impulsive child needed a yes parent. My dad was my favorite person for most of my life, he still is.
But, whenever things get bad in my head and I’m coming to terms that this is my life, I don’t think any child grows up thinking they’ll have a mental illness. When you are in kindergarten, no one says what do you want to be when you grow up? And the kid says he wants to be a doctor but he forgets to factor in that he’s genetically disposed to having bipolar or schizophrenia or some other mental illness. It’s just not heard of! No one says that kind of stuff. And once you’re diagnosed and once everything hits the surface, it surely hits.
In 2nd grade I wrote an autobiography where I wrote that when I grew up, I wanted to be a mom. It’s funny now because for me to have a child, I have to go off lithium. To go off lithium is a huge huge deal for me being bipolar 1. And when I was 7, I was so innocent and precious that I Just thought being a mom was that easy. And it’s not, when you have a mental illness.
I know, I’m different than my friends and my roommates and my peers and my classmates and my teammates. Yes, some of them suffer from anxiety disorder or OCD or whatever. But bipolar is such a different beast from all of that. When you suffer from bipolar and a substance abuse disorder and an eating disorder all at the same time, it’s like okay, how did I get so lucky to have the DSM choose me THREE times?!?!
But actually, okay. So what I mean to say is that, I have been getting suicidal a lot. I always think if a bus hits me or my plane goes down, it’s fine. I’m never afraid of death, I don’t welcome it but if it happens, I wouldn’t be angry.
Except that I think about leaving my parents and that changes everything. I love those two irrational humans to the end of the world and I am scared of what would happened if I were to die. That sounds so weird, it’s weird to type it. When I’m manic I tell my parents I want to kill myself. I’ve told my mom my plan before. But every time I’ve been really distraught, I don’t think my parents ever thought about me killing myself, even though I would explicitly say I wanted to kill myself. Maybe it’s an intuition that they know I would never follow through.
Maybe they were just ignoring the reality of my mentality to not encourage me from proceeding. But in the sense of DBT, my life worth living goal, is because of my parents. And it feels good to say that because I never really appreciated them to the extent I do now. And I’m glad that I can have a reason to live my life and to make them proud. I’m motivated, because of my mom and dad, to get to the point where I can give back to them and how much they’ve given to me whether it be financial, emotional, etc.
As I’ve grown, I have realized that family is forever. I always thought it wasn’t, that I could just forget my dysfunctional background and move on to bigger and better things. My dream for so much of my life was to be older and grow into a new life so I could leave my family in the dust. But in reality, my parents are the people who have my back no matter what. When I feel lonely, which is often, I always have them. They’re amazing people who raised me and of course, I wouldn’t be who I am without them. I believe we all have a connection to our parents no matter how they raised us and it’s something that we should embrace.
This post is a shout out to you, Mom and Dad. I love you two forever!