Last week I was invited to join a group of psychiatrists for dinner. The topic for the evening was bipolar disorder. There was a doctor presenting that night and he was discussing symptoms and medications to treat bipolar disorder. He acknowledged that he had been diagnosed as bipolar at the beginning of his career, giving him both a personal and professional understanding of not just what it means to be bipolar but how it feels. At some point during the night he said that 10% of people diagnosed as bipolar will take their lives. What he said next struck me. He said that when a bipolar person taking medication commits suicide they do it when they feel better but not as good as before. They feel like they are living their lives at 90% and that missing 10% is vital to feel truly alive and happy.That high the bipolar person once felt in their mania stage seems unattainable and that feeling of never being able to be completely ecstatic drives them over the edge.
Hearing this was my a-ha moment.
If only I could count how many times I’ve read on blogs (my own and others) about a similar phenomenon after an affair. I know this feeling. I’ve spent almost two and a half years healing, rebuilding my marriage, reconnecting with my husband. Yet still, I don’t think many days pass where I don’t think about the affair. His affair doesn’t upset me anymore. I don’t harbor anger or resentment for Bat Shit anymore. My husband and I really don’t talk about his affair anymore either. Not because we are avoiding the topic but because there isn’t much more that needs to be said. So twenty-nine months later I am in good place but there are times that I am aware that I will never feel that “high” I felt before his affair again. That feeling seems unattainable. It’s strange to feel this way when my marriage is probably stronger than it was before the affair. We’ve done the work, we are better, we are happy, but we can’t make the scars permanently disappear. I think this is the place where some wives decide to walk away. Divorce becomes the answer when we feel like we will live the rest of our lives at 90%.
Luckily, I had two a-ha moments during the past week or two.
My second a-ha moment came while I was watching the series finally of Parenthood. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil the episode if you haven’t watched it yet). There’s a scene in the episode when Camille and Zeek stand together and are looking at their family; their children with their spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchild. As they look at their family, how it’s grown and the love they see before them they say:
Zeek: Boy, we did good, didn’t we, Camille?
Camille: We sure did.
It’s so simple, maybe even silly. But it was in that scene of Parenthood that I thought, I want that with my husband. I want to someday be surrounded by our children, their spouses, and grandchildren. I want to share that moment with my husband. I want to spend my life with him.
So when the doubts surge, even in happiness, I need to remember this is the story of my life. Love, marriage, affair, survival, love. I need to remember to let the happiness flow.