Friday, July 20, 2012


"...all I can say is get help, whether it is going back on your medication, joining a support group, or seeing a therapist.  You are a good person and you don’t deserve to be miserable.  It breaks my heart to see you destroy friendship after friendship because people don’t give you 110% of their attention and you assume it means that they hate you and are off cavorting with people they like better."

This is the section of an email, which I will show to the new therapist I'm going to find, because it nails me dead-on. This was in an email from Kevin this week. An email to me. I'd gone off on him over email. Completely off on him. His crime? He'd gone on a second date with someone. No, that wasn't it. He'd gone in a second date with someone on a night I'd suggested we get together a couple of weeks ago  but had been told that was when his brother was in town.

He'd had his first date with this person two weeks before. So it was time, and when he'd had the chance to review another show and his brother wanted to see an old friend, Kevin had taken this woman. He's going to be 32 in August, and he's had exactly one girlfriend. In college. I should have been happy for him. I should have been excited that this woman, who (according to my obsessive online research) seems a good complement to him.  instead, sitting in a theater exactly one El stop away, reviewing my own show by myself because I'd not been able to get anyone to go, it felt like a betrayal. he knows I'm sensitive about the topic of dating (because I never date), and he avoids it, but I asked him how it was going, he mentioned the date, and when I pressed him to tell me what he liked about her, he said she was very unique. 

And I went off. I went off about how he's never complimented me or my paintings, never once told me I looked nice. Ignored me when I tried to share writing-related topics and websites. Never took an interest in my stuff. All of which is true. Most of it can be laid at the feet of a person socially isolated by Asperger's, where the syndrome an the social fallout result in a guy who doesn't do niceties. I saw it as someone not making an effort because he didnt' think *I* was interesting. Never mind he spends more time with me than with anyone else, period. 

I was enraged that the friend I love was experiencing the social growth I want very much for him, but it wasn't focused on me. I was enraged that he'd said one thing (this time belongs to my brother), and changed the rules without explaining why. And if course, while I was on a completely manic rant, I compared it to the time, after our first date, when I'd suggested we get together on New Year's Eve and he'd reacted very negatively because he'd had plans with his family. And in my state I saw it clearly as: well, you can take time away from your brother, whom you haven't seen in a year, for her, but you acted like I was a criminal for suggesting you not hang with your parents, who live down the street.

And as I was doing this, I knew it was crazy, out of control. I knew that I want good things for him. I knew that I'd taken something that, as a good friend, I should be supporting, and turned it into a self-obsessed crime against me. Because I was terrified that he was going to drop me for something better. In my fucked-up zero-sum view of the world, someone liking someone or something else always means they like me less.

I hate that I'm back here, in a place where one small thing turns my world  into an obsessive madhouse. Sven said it well: "you expect everyone to be a 100% friend, but not everyone can be. Some people are just 40%. Or 60%. "

The worst part of it is the absolutely real way it feels from both sides: objectively, I'm pulling for him: I gave him advice on what to do when she texted that she;d had a good time after the first date ("Excellent! Text her back, tell her you did too, and suggest the next date"). I was excited for him, as though we'd both had a victory. But when I think of him actually on a date with her, I become massively insecure and jealous. Enraged. Especially since he was MY theater buddy. My mind can't accept that after a good date with her he'd still want to be friends with me.

You don't have to tell me that's really, really messed up. You can say that this week's episode of Sesame Street is brought to you by the letter C ("C is for Crazy, that's good enough for me...") Shall I tell you about feeling like I'm dying when I have these episodes, the things I want to do to myself, the remorse, the crying at the supermarket because my good, sweet, gentle friend has something good come into his life and I made him feel bad about it? 

Pick any pop-culture show with a werewolf factor (Buffy, Being Human), and in it the people around the afflicted dutifully help them into their cage so that when they turn into a beast of rage and mindless destruction they can't hurt themselves or anyone else. I feel like that person, only I can't see it coming, can't find a cage to lock myself in to protect others around me. 

I've done the online research, taken the "this is not a true medical diagnosis" tests, and it's a good bet I'm some version of bipolar. I'm probably a "rapid cycler," my moods cycling quickly over a period of weeks. I see mention of some people having episodes "at least four times in their lives" and WTF, people; I'd call that normal with some bad times. I go through this every freaking month. Menopause has not helped. 

So I need to get help. Again. And go back on meds again, hopefully something that this time doesn't make me fat and stupid. Again. 

And Kevin?  I did apologize profusely, but suggested I stay away from him for now, to protect him, at least until I can get things under control. I don't think I'd do a repeat performance; the remorse was a good remedy for that, but I can't risk hurting him again.  And after all that, after my being a complete bitch and flipping out and being absolutely selfish and mean and crazy, he won't let me go; he wants my friendship as much as ever. I have no idea why. I do see that my friendship means a lot to him, but it's untenable that I can't accept that unless I see them persevere after I've been impossible. He's a better person than I am; I'd have told me to fuck off my now.  I so want to be there to help him figure out how to make a relationship with this woman work; I do want to get to meet and like this woman. I want to have a positive attitude of inclusion. I don't want to feel like I'm falling all the time.


karen said...

Wow. What a friend.

Kevin seems pretty amazing.

I have similar feelings of disconnect, but I generally turn my dissatisfaction against myself, rather than telling anyone else how I feel. I know why. This, like so many other things, stem quite strongly from my childhood spent with parents who both made sure that fault was cemented in the blocks on their children's feet. I'm chipping away at mine.

But enough about me.

That honesty you got from Kevin is pretty insightful. In fact, I am definitely internalising that information, even as I type.

Okay. So here's my two-bits, seeing as you asked(ish):

And before I get to it, allow me this small but essential disclaimer:

Everything I write is TOTALLY a projection of myself.

Okay. That's out of the way. Please reject any shoe that doesn't fit, but not those that just need to be broken in a bit:

Gah! that's a lot of crap under my intro to this section!!!


So where I went with this was to a place I am struggling with right now. Accepting help from friends and not always being the capable, know-everything person in the relationship.

I came by it honestly: my mother was a bastion of strength for anyone who needed it -- a cousin with three kids leaving an abusive husband; a friend with crippling arthritis and her husband; a single woman at her work who needed a place to live while her divorce was being processed. But my mother could not take in return ... as soon as she "needed", she pushed people off to the point of damaging them and the relationship. I ... er ... think I do something of the same thing. So what I'm working on is accepting, and even looking for, support from friends. It totally makes me squirm, but I'm still trying to do it. I don't know if I am doing it very well or not. It is such a stupid thing to struggle with, but the flip side of not finding the balance is that I am always a rescuer of people who cannot give back, people who do not see their own participation in their own pain, people who do not see my contributions to their lives. And these same people, some of them though not all, probably have a lot to offer me, but I can't see it and think they are ultimately bloodsuckers because they don't deliver comfort to me in any way that actually reflects who I am and what I need. Um ... not that this is at all evident to them or, nay, even me.

Is any of this making sense because I'm just jammin' with what you said.

I learned a long time ago that I am not meant to give advice unless begged for it, so there is none here, only thoughts.

Does any of it fit into this subject?

One thing I will say, asked or no, is that Kevin seems pretty strongly healthy in his insight. I am totally rooting for you to not drop him off the face of the earth: he obviously can hold his own when it comes to setting limits in friendship in order to protect and nurture it.

Limits! I can tell you, there's another can of worms I'm struggling to let out one at a time!!!

xox With you in this struggle xox

Seeking Elevation said...

Oh, honey. This sounds rough. I'm sorry that things are hard for you right now. It sounds to me more like borderline personality disorder than bipolar, but I bet a good therapist can help you get to the bottom of all of it and set you on the road to feeling better no matter what the diagnosis may be.

The good news? You have an incredible amount of self-awareness. You want to change. And you have people in your life who want what's best for you, too. Those are very, very good things to start out with.

Keep writing, sister. We're listening.

karen said...

ps. and it IS okay to mourn and feel bad and struggle with the passing of something you'd hoped for that didn't come into fruition ...

Just saying ...

JC said...

You guys rock. When we having that beer? I'e been mulling over your comments (good, good ones, gals), and will respond, Right now, though, a run. :-)

JC said...

Hey, back, finally. Karen, yes, I definitely have issues with the way I perceive people, and the way that I interact with them. As my best friend said, "you expect everyone to be a 100% friend, but not everyone is, Some are 40% friends; some are 60% friends." I'm an all-or-nothing person, which is not good, obviously. I have to figure out how to not be freaked out by gray areas. I'm also very insecure in certain circumstances, which is weird because I'm also so very not in many others. I have a hard time believing that people really want to be my friend, if they are not giving me a ton of unconditional positive regard. The good thing about this latest crisis is that it was so extreme that it put a lot of things into perspective about my behavior. And yes, Kevin is an amazing friend. I don't know why he wants me around, but I'm just accepting that he does. We are truly Kirk and Spock: two opposites who complement each other.

Lisa: Yeah, I sense some BPD in there, too, which is dismaying; I had a college roommate with BPD, and she basically lost all of her friends because she was so irrationally needy. I can feel a physical difference, though, when I'm in a manic state, and I've gotten a referral to a friend's therapist, so when I get back Im' going to make an appointment so see what we can do about Joy's Bad Chemistry. Because people, I am tedious as hell when I'm this way.

I'll post more as a follow up, but I'm headed to Montreal tomorrow morning to hang with Sven, and it will be a much-needed break. karen, you should feel a disturbance in The Force around noon tomorrow when I land in Toronto for my 2-hour layover. :-)

JC said...

Oh, and Karen, thanks for understanding my need to mourn that Kevin and I won't be dating. It would not ultimately be a satisfying relationship for me for many reasons, but a little understanding goes a long way.