“It’ll be OK Ker”

The holidays have come and gone again. It’s a new year… I’ve not made any significant changes or resolutions because each time I do, they fall through. I’m disappointed again, and give up…. hence the empty bag of chocolate chips sitting on my counter.

I have decided to continue to work on the goals I set nearly four years ago when my life fell apart after Anthony’s second psychosis and then again three years ago when he took his life. Saving for a house and paying off my (our) debt. Two things I hope to have accomplished by July, 2019. The third, to register for my master’s degree. All three I’m incredibly proud of and horribly sad about all at once.

Bipolar, suicide and more significantly the loss of my goofy, loving, caring and kind husband, changed the trajectory of mine and my children’s lives forever. We were supposed to be together in our finished self renovated home. Me working on or finishing my masters degree and him a supervisor at Daytona still, or running his own business. We were supposed to be celebrating our son’s achievements at college, and dancing with our daughter in the kitchen. Instead, Almost three years out and I still can’t think clearly or plan ahead very well. We dance in the rental kitchen without him, and celebrate without his laugh or hugs. We talk about him daily, we remember his warm spirit and presence. Yet, we ache because he should be here with us. I am rebuilding my life still, as I promised I would; but not by my own choice.

Every tiny step forward feels like a giant leap away from when he was here with us. I have to keep moving forward, I know this, but some days, I still just want time to stop so I can breathe, and know he’s closer to us than he will be tomorrow.

Grief is not linear. It’s not a step by step process in which you go from a to b to c and you are healed. It’s more like a bouncing ball stuck in a glass container bouncing around chaotically with no real ending to the bouncing. You may not notice it as much as the bounces become further apart, as time goes on you keep fumbling through and finding ways to move around the ball, but it’s kind of always there.

This was the hardest lesson for me to learn in year two. I won’t completely heal from this. I will live. I will move forward. But it’s always going to be a part of me.

Anthony would always tell me “it’ll be OK Ker. Everything will turn out OK”. When I worried about getting the house Reno’s done, or if our son was going to make friends in middle school, or if our daughter was ok at pre-school, he’d say those words and I would believe him.

I wish he would have listened to his own advice when he felt so low he couldn’t see any other way out. I have more empathy for him now though, as losing him has sent me into some of the darkest places I’ve ever been. If he felt that way for days and weeks, I can see why he felt that was his only choice. I hate that he suffered from such dark emotional pain that he felt the only way out would be to take his own life. Though I’ve had days where I didn’t think I would make it; where I’ve taken out his picture and sobbed so hard because this life without him is so lonely and dark sometimes, I picture him saying “it’ll be ok Ker” and I have the strength I need to keep moving through.

So I keep trying to rebuild our little family’s lives keeping his simple phrase in the back of my mind.

just before Christmas I had a good hard sob while laying in my bed holding his picture. So many traditions are changing now that the kids are getting older, and we are creating new ones now. I ached for some of the familiar this year with him and am tired of all the change and loss of self since he died. I needed to release some grief and I kept telling myself “it’ll be ok.” “I’ll get through this hiccup too” while I ugly cried into my pillow. As I wiped my face and got up to straighten my pillow as I had to get on with my evening, I turned and noticed my tears had formed the shape of a heart on my pillow.

I believe in signs. I believe it was him letting me know he was near, sending his love. I believe it was his way of letting me know the changes are good and we will be ok. I believe he was telling me “It’ll all be ok Ker”. I believe him as I usually do.


The Cabinet

Last year and this year these two weeks are always the hardest on me. Yesterday, with my parents, brother, and daughter, I celebrated our son’s 20th birthday. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And the 16th will be the second year anniversary of Anthony’s suicide.

I can’t believe it’s been two years… and yet I can. It’s hard to wrap your mind around how something g can go so slow and so fast at the same time. This seems especially true for grief.

This last week I’ve come so close to having meltdowns in front of co-workers, in Walmart(which is a common place for me to cry) and in front of family. I’ve managed to keep it together this far as I’m far too busy to cry right now. I know for sure on Wednesday I won’t be able to hide it, but that’s ok too. I’ve learned that wherever I am emotionally, is where I’m at.

Today, my dad and I were in Walmart as he wanted to by me a good set of pliers. We were in the tool section and all the tools damn near brought me to my knees. Especially the yellow tape measure.

My husband was a carpenter by trade. He loved working with his hands and was good at math. I could literally see him working on a project in our old shed, with that yellow tape measure attached to his beige cargo pants. His forehead dancing with sweat, while his eyes fixed on the project at hand.

I miss the smell of his cologne and his sweat mixed together with the smell of wood. The way his hands moved as he explained and then drew what his plans were for his next project. I miss him so damn much. He was so proud to show me his plans. I envied his ability to visualize something, and then draw it on paper, eventually creating something beautiful and amazing.

My favourite project was the multi purpose hutch he built during his third year as an apprentice. He carved 2×2 inch squares on the drawers, and the cabinet doors. He drilled holes centre of each and found square wooden knobs to fit in each one making the cabinet look entirely made of tiny drawers.

I helped him sand the ruff edges of the unit prior to his bringing it to Brahman Furniture. I worked there for two years sanding wood and my wonderful supervisor at the time allowed us to put it on the line to be spray stained.

It was a deep brown and the finish gave it the perfect amount of shine. He sanded and sprayed the knobs. It was the perfect addition to our little town home. It matched our brown and beige sued and leather couch set perfectly. I loved the work and craftsmanship he put into it. We filled its large centre with photo albums, trinkets for our lizards and the side drawers he had measured to fit dvd’s perfectly.

After his last manic episode he sold the cabinet prior to losing our home. I often wonder if it was hard for him to give up.

Either way it’s all gone now. The house, the cabinet, the tools, the smell of wood, sweat and cologne……. him.

I still grieve him prior to his passing. Many of his projects never finished or even started because bipolar disorder wouldn’t have it. It took so much from us, from him. I often wonder if bipolar hadn’t taken seed in his once focused mind, how many projects like that cabinet he could have finished.

I’m hoping in this transition I will rebuild as strong and as beautiful as that cabinet was built.

I miss you Peter. More than you’ll ever know.

What I’m Learning in My Healing

It’s been almost 21 months since my life was turned upside down again.As I write this, it is exactly been 21 months, 13 days, and four minutes since I got the call that made me drop to the floor screaming no at the top of my lungs.

I try not to look back too often. I try to keep moving forward towards my goals, helping my children achieve their own goals and bathe in the joy they bring me with each milestone.

I try to bring my focus on the now, so I can be present in my day to day and take care of what needs to be taken care of now and work toward keeping my promise to my husband.

Every once in a while though, I still find myself thinking about the past. Well more like living in it. Every morning I think of Anthony, but the moments I “relive” aren’t as often.

It can be something that reminds me of him and our life together, or sometimes my mind drifts to the chaos of post bipolar diagnosis without any trigger.

My good friend from work and I were talking about her pregnancy and upcoming wedding. I have come to a place in my healing where I can talk about Anthony openly without crying or tearing up. So, in conversations about significant others I openly refer back to our happy, imperfect and mundane experiences as husband and wife.

She was talking about her fiancé’s over zealous excitement for their upcoming wedding and his persuading her to attend a wedding show this past weekend. She talked about her feeling out of place; hair disheveled, no make-up and feeling physically uncomfortable due to her pregnancy. I want to shake her because she is one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, inside and out, and her pregnancy only illuminates her beauty.

“It’s not that I’m not excited to be engaged, it’s just right now, the wedding is the furthest thing from my mind! All I can think of is this little person inside of me. I just wanted to run out of that place! I’m so glad he’s excited and wants to plan, I’m just not in the same place right now.”

I smile. I’m so happy for her and the new stages she is entering in her life. Genuinely happy for her. Which, makes me smile even more because I don’t have to fake it. The grief doesn’t steal those genuine moments from me very often anymore.

I tell her about Anthony’s excitement. I tell her about my asking him to narrow down venues while I plan wedding lists. I tell her about our making our own wedding favours together. We were a team and we worked together to create the most perfect day symbolic of our own personalities and relationship.

Suddenly I’m thrown into the past as we drive by the Galt Gardens he frequented in his psychotic manic state.

The mania changed everything about him; The way he dressed, the colour of his eyes, the way he smoked a cigarette and drank his coffee, even the way he walked. It was like he had morphed into some unknown being.

I see him walking in a black dress coat that was too small for him. His eyes fixed on the sidewalk in front of him and his backed hunched slightly forward. His fists are clenched and his face looks distorted. It’s 11 at night and he’s walking towards the park with an unknown purpose.

I remember that moment like it was yesterday. I remember it so clearly because it was right before he was hospitalized on the mental health warrant his sister and I went to court for. I remember praying the police would drive by and pick him up and he’d finally be stabilized. He’d be my husband again. He’d be a father again. He’d be the person all of us needed, loved and missed.

Unfortunately my hopes were in vain. He was picked up that night, but he was released 72 hours later, with a prescription for anti-psychotics he was intent on not using. The weekend after, he and his homeless friends moved into our home while the kids and I were visiting family for thanksgiving.

Breathe. Just breathe for a moment and you’ll be back in the present.

Suddenly I default to insecurity and doubt. “Do you think if I would’ve left first, or if I had said enough when he got his medical marijuana card, he’d still be here?”

My friend shot a quick look my way with empathy in her eyes and quickly put her attention back on driving.

“No. No I don’t. I don’t think anything could have been done. He was sick. That’s all there is to it.”

I have managed to analyze every moment of our life together placing blame on myself and occasionally others for the choice made that day. I have managed to accept responsibility for things I’ve had no control over. I’ve even gone as far to dismiss the wonderful good in our marriage. Which I know, is so, so wrong and so, so, soooo damaging to my healing. But I also recognize this as part of my process to moving forward.

I’ve learned a lot about myself, being a survivor of suicide. Somethings are repetitive, and I’m sure you’ve read on other sites, but here is what I want to share in what I’ve found to be most important and most prominent in the process of my healing and in keeping my promise to Anthony;

1. This is not your or my fault

This has been the hardest part for me to accept. This was not my fault. I have to say it often, and try my damnedest to believe in this. I’m at a point where most of the time I do.

I had no control over what was going on in his mind. What he believed about himself and his perception of his circumstances had nothing to do with me. If I had any ounce of influence in his decisions he’d be hospitalized, treated, and stable. He’d be home, healthy and loved.

People fight. People make mistakes. I’ve made many mistakes in my life and in my marriage. If I was not blaming myself for faults in our marriage, I was shutting down, not talking and lying about my feelings. But this isn’t what caused his death. My finally throwing my hands up with the creditors and giving them his number was not what caused this. None of my actions were done out of maliciousness; these decisions were made out of compassion for both him, me and our children. My best friend and her husband argue too; neither of them have died by suicide.

What I’ve learned here is no matter how connected we all are, no matter what was said or done before the act, we are all imperfect human beings who have no control over any other human beings actions. By taking responsibility for his choice, I would only be damaging myself, and denying Anthony’s beautiful and tragic story.

I’d be minimizing his experience and what it means to be human. I’d be denying the suffering he endured and the torment bipolar caused him throughout his life. I wouldn’t be acknowledging the incredible battle Anthony made for himself and for us.

2. Don’t Accept Blame

The biggest mistake I made was blaming myself(I still find myself, on rare occasion analyzing and blaming myself, but I don’t accept that internal dialogue as truth anymore) and accepting blame from others.

The only good it did was well…. nothing. He was still dead. He was still ill before he died. I became physically and mentally unwell by accepting blame from myself and from certain people. It affected my work, my parenting and my ability to move forward. I was hypersensitive to any comment or look. In part because I was accepting blame my internal voice was placing on me and in part because I was accepting blame others put on me.

Here’s the thing; as noted before, I had no control. I now believe the fingers of those who pointed in my direction were in fact projecting their own feelings of guilt onto me. Instead of taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture, I honed in on their words as truth and accepted them as truth. In reality they were also hurting desperately and failing to cope with their own emotions and in turn using me as a scape goat.

If you are the brunt of blame and abuse, from yourself or others, let yourself be a wall. Imagine the words being slung at you hitting your brick structure and falling to the floor. Be curious but don’t take things literally and personally. Let the words go. See the bigger picture and know you did all you could do given the situation you were in.

3. Boundaries – Set Boundaries – Ask For What You Need

As ridiculous as this sounds, boundary setting is a new concept to me and has not come easily. Hence my once healthy marriage turned codependent.

Boundaries are important for healthy relationships. They keep us safe and define us from others. EVEN IN Marriage! The saying when two become one, has been taken too literal. We are all separate individuals (with different goals, opinions, beliefs etc) who choose to share our lives with another separate individual who may share some commonalities, but who also has their own ideas and way of thinking.

When grieving, setting boundaries is especially important. People with good intentions may come across as hurtful, and malicious hurt people may try to hurt you to make themselves feel better. You need to determine what you can and cannot accept in your time of grieving and healing.

If someone is hurting you, let them know it’s not ok and ask them to correct the behaviour. If they refuse or are not capable of change let them go. That’s their issue. If they are calling too much tell them you appreciate the calls but need some space right now. If they aren’t calling enough, if you need someone to just sit with you, or you need to be alone. Tell them. Set boundaries or ask for what you need.

Grief is the most vulnerable, exposed, and painful experience I’ve ever had and in order to survive and start moving through the pain, I had to let people go completely. Occasionally this was done in anger, and occasionally it was done with love. But these relationships had to go because I had to take care of myself first so I could take care of my children. This doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me a healthy person .

4. Don’t go it alone.

Grieving on its own is exhausting. Especially in the early stages. Grieving a death by Suicide is a special kind of hell.

You’re gonna need people. One who you can call to when you can’t sleep. One who can just listen to you cry. One who will tell you to get up when you’ve locked yourself in your house for days on end crying. I was lucky. I had a support group that was there for me in my darkest hours of grief. They still listen almost two years in.

Get grief counselling. Have a professional help you process the loss and information you can’t on your own. If you found the body. If you can’t sleep. If you can’t eat. Get professional help. I did. I believe in many ways it saved my sanity – possibly my life.

Find other resources. If you find yourself alone or immobile for any reason, join a support group online. Your friends will help lift you, but the people in these groups will understand the devastation, confusion, anger and guilt. They will help you to realize you are not alone. I joined a suicide survivor group where I live, but childcare was an issue; so I joined two support groups on Facebook. Many of these people have become more like friends. Plus, they get it when I need to be got. I know my friends and family love me, but sometimes I just need to hear “I was there” or “me too”.

5. You ARE stronger than you think

I think this speaks for itself – Trust me. I never thought the pain would let up. I never thought I’d laugh again or feel joy. I never thought I’d get off the couch. I did. You can and will. Give it time. My best friend and one of my greatest supports kept telling me “this too shall pass”. It won’t always feel this bad. I don’t know that it will ever go away, but you’ll be ok. You ARE STRONG. Even way you don’t feel it . . .

6. It’s Your Grief

Need to get a little tipsy? Do it. Need to spend a day in your bed eating chocolate chips and melted peanut butter? Do it. Need to have sex with complete strangers(with protection of course and safety)? Do it. Need to write? Do it. Need to dance your underwear? Do it!!! Please. I highly recommend it!

Own that shit. If someone doesn’t agree with how your grieving, f em. They haven’t been where you are. They are not you. Do what you need on your time.

I’m not advocating for becoming an alcoholic, or a drug addict or an exhibitionist (at least not intentionally – close the blinds while you dance in your unders – lesson learned). Simply what I am saying is that if someone is judging your staying in bed all day or feels you’re too happy to soon or grieving too long tell them it’s none of their business to judge. They can support but judgement is not needed now.

Write. Run. Cry. Dance. Stay in your pyjamas. And own your grief. You will have to get out of bed eventually, because you are alive, in the land of the living, people need you, BUT you need to grieve your way.

I realize this post is extremely long. I really want to drive home no matter how low you are right now, it can and will get better. You will get off the couch. You will laugh. You will also have moments like I did in the car with my friend. You will have forward steps…. and backward steps.

You will learn from this experience and you will still miss your loved one.

Christmas and New Years Survived.. again..only with New forms of Grief

It was a wonderful Christmas spent with family and friends. Aside from my daughter having caught the flu Christmas Eve it was pretty perfect.

We spent the holidays in the mountains in my childhood home surrounded by the trees, deer and elk scratching below the white snow blanketing the grass beneath. The air was crisp and fresh. The atmosphere quiet. So serenely still.

Nostalgia took over as I walked my dog around my small childhood town where me and my childhood friends played; sharing time between each of our homes, biking through the town without a fear or care in the world. As teenagers we played sports and partied in the forest. The familiar brought a smile to my face.

We celebrated the holidays with family and friends. People who know the kids and I and allowed us to rest and surround us with love. My mom and dad decorate the house each year and the decorations reminded me of the thrill of Santa coming, and the sound of family eating turkey. It was a pretty perfect Christmas.

Except it wasn’t; it was and it wasn’t simultaneously.

I had brought our stockings to hang over the fire place. It’s classic and beautiful. On Christmas Eve I sat in my dad’s rocking chair admiring those three stockings anticipating the kids opening their gifts enthusiastically.

Then it hits. It hits hard, fast, and without warning.

There is a stocking missing. There is a laugh missing. There is a person missing. My person. The person who would be as excited about the kids opening presents as I am. The only person who would share this with me.

This person is dead. He’s gone. My Peter, our Peter is gone.

I had to get up and leave. Grief has this way of coming in and making you breathless at the most inappropriate times. I sat in my brother’s childhood room and cried. I miss him. I miss sharing these moments with him. The kids kiss him in these moments and everything sucks and it’s unfair.

I remember finding his bin last year; the bin full of his belongings I was collecting to give back to him during our separation. I grieved last year but in a much different way.

New Years this year came with a different form of grief as well. A memory of our first New Years together haunted me all day. as I worked some overtime to get caught up at work. My getting ready after work to meet him back at work because he worked until midnight. I remember the outfit I wore. I remember taking the time to do my hair just right and fixing my make up. The black silk tank top matched perfectly with my purple dress pants and black earrings. We had been together for five months and everything still felt so new and exciting. I remember walking through the back doors just as the countdown to New Years started. He was standing at the slot cage, his big green eyes met mine just as everyone yelled Happy New Year. Except we didn’t yell. Our eyes stayed connected and we just smiled. The timing was perfect, the moment was perfect, I thought he was perfect.

This New Years this memory and that moment interrupted my thoughts all day. I wanted so desperately to go back to that place where I seen him and knew he was the one. The place and time where everything stood still; there was just us. The entire day was spent fighting the urge to tear my skin off because I was so desperate to get away from the pain, the grief and the want to go back to the perfect moments where he was alive, we were happy, and we were healthy.

I spent the evening being silently angry at him, getting drunk with two of his friends. I needed to numb the feelings that night. I needed to just not feel how I’d been feeling since Christmas Eve.

The point I guess I’m trying to make is the grief of last year wasn’t worse. In fact, I felt this year was worse. I don’t know if it’s because I gave up coping as well as I was, or if I was numb still, or if it’s just different from last year. Either way, year two is proving to be a challenge I wasn’t expecting.

I’m remembering more of the good, more of the man I married and less of the man bipolar turned him into. I’m remembering just how very much I loved him and how very much he made me laugh. These memories are a blessing and a curse because they make the pain worse.

The anger makes it easier to push forward. The memories make me desperate to go back.

I have no idea which way I’m going again even though I know I have no choice.

I have I mentioned how much I hate bipolar disorder right?

Fathers Day Without Him

Father’s Day 2015. The last Father’s Day my children had with him. 

We spent the morning at home relaxing and enjoying each other sharing our morning coffee and in the afternoon we took our daughter out on her two wheel bike for the first time. Our cat, Cooper, followed us to the park eager to see her try her bike. 

We spent an hour or so watching her and taking turns pushing her while she nervously and cautiously peddled forward. I remember how proud she looked while Anthony pushed the back of her bike. 

She didn’t notice how tired or sore he was. She didn’t see the slight changes in his personality at the time. I was and am thankful  for that. 

It was in June 2015 I began to pick up on the subtleties of his personality changes. His irritability, changing sleeping patterns and exhasperated pain. I didn’t know it yet, but he’d gone off his lithium. Cold turkey. 

Father’s Day that year will always be deeply embedded in my heart. It was one of the last days we spent together as a family happy and enjoying each other. Our daughter loved celebrating him and our son enjoyed the downtime with him. We ordered Chinese food that night and he opened our gifts of appreciation for him; his laugh, love, advice and comfort he brought to our lives. 

Our daughter painted him a picture frame with a photo of her – her hands shaping out a heart. I had struggled picking out an antique carver he had been talking about buying for several weeks from our son and I. When manic he would become almost obsessed with things and this carver was one of them… so was the antique store he  as eventually banned from after the mania took hold. 

At night we cuddled, and embraced each other.  “Happy Father’s Day Peter. I love you”. 

This is the second Father’s Day without him. No morning coffee, or family afternoon strolls, no game night, no gorging on unhealthy food infront of our favourite shows, and no night time cuddles. 

But he’s still a father.  Our children will forever have the better memories of him etched in their hearts of the teachable moments and skills he shared. 

Our son learned carpentery skills from the skateboard ramp Anthony helped him to build, and words of encouragement and love during his own struggles. He will always carry his father’s taste in music and TV, and will remember him helping him to tie his little tie our wedding day. 

Our daughter will fondley remember movie nights cuddled against his chest, and rides on his shoulders in her younger years. She’ll remember his creativeness and laugh.

I’ll cherish the earlier years and the pride he felt with each mildstone each of our children reached. Our daughter’s birth to our son’s school performances playing guitar and singing. 

This year we spent our day at Watertown with family and friends. It definitely helped to take the sting out of the day. We hiked to the waterfalls and ate giant hotdogs for lunch. We spent Father’s Day there when our son was 8 years old. I was excited to share those memories with our daughter while we were there. 

The Lookout on the hike where 10 years earlier Anthony, our son, and I stood on Father’s Day.

We all miss him dearly.

Happy Father’s Day Peter❤️️.

My Promise … One Year Later

A few months after Anthony’s passing, on what would have been our 11 year wedding anniversary, I wrote a post about making him a promise to help him to undue the damage his death by Suicide caused. 

The promise was a tool discussed by Jeffery Jackson in his Survivors of Suicide (SOS) handbook. This book has been a lifeline for me this past year. You may find it beneficial too. SOS can be found here.

I’ve woken up everyday since with intention and mindfulness (most days with tears too) as how I can take small steps towards keeping that promise.

Determining what and how exactly I would do to full fill this promise has been difficult, admittedly. There are days I am so exhausted from grief and managing life that I would sooner crawl into bed and cry and binge watch Netflix.  But the promise is there and it is what carries me forward with his love. 

It’s been a year and two days since he died. May 16, 2017. On D Day, ironically enough, I spent the day curled up in bed, or head hung in a toilet praying the violent flu that had taken over would stop. I’m wondering if it was a blessing in disguise that I slept through 502pm.

That evening, I mustered enough energy to take my daughter and I to a park near our old house. She picked the park as it was one of the last days we spent together as a family. We took her there to teach her to ride her two wheel bike, and our cat, Cooper followed us to mock our efforts I’m sure! 

We climbed the top of the grassy, yellow spotted hill and released balloons with handwritten notes attached to the strings. I watched her eyes chase the balloons and I sighed with both sadness, relief and a sense of accomplishment. 

Another small step towards undoing the damage done. Allowing the children the chance to grieve and experience joy each in their own way, time and with their own creativity. My eldest decided not to come. Instead, he watched episodes of a show they used to watch together and got ready for work. 

We are all grieving differently. We are all surviving. We are all here together. 

This promise has been instrumental in my healing and in forgiving him and myself. There are days however I still get panicked and stuck at the realization I will never see him, hug him, hear him or smell him again. But I remember my promise to him, breathe and take the next step forward. 

There are many things I have yet to do in order to keep my promise; the harder messy stuff will have to wait until I’m stronger. But I have made progress. 

Though small and simple, the ways I’m working towards undoing the damage caused by Bipolar and his death by Suicide also includes this blog, sharing our story, sharing mental health resources, talking about HIM everyday with the kids so we can remember Anthony and not Bipolar. 

I have practiced mindfulness and have recently been working on forgiving myself and him for his death by Suicide. I have been focusing on self care for me and teaching the children about self care as well so we can continue to tell our story and remember the life that was forever ours. 

I hope he would be proud. 
Please remember, if you feel alone, hopeless and helpless it is ok. These are just feelings and you are not alone. If you are thinking of Suicide please ask for help. Reach out. Please. Click Here For international hotlines. 

Mixed Epsiodes, Mixed Feelings and Mixed Up Christmas’s

I hate this years Christmas.

I hate that he is dead. I hate that he died by suicide and bipolar got the best of him. I hate it. It makes me want to scream. And I have. Many times. Especially at this time of year.

The holidays were always interesting for us. Some were wonderful, others were messy, and some were downright difficult. I’m having a hard time trying to remember the good holidays; the one’s we were together, the one’s which weren’t tainted by a bipolar episode. It’s making this Christmas particularly difficult.

I’m trying to enjoy Christmas and participate in the holiday “spirit” as best I can. Maybe I’d be more pleasant with several shots of baileys in my morning coffee or a glass of straight up Appleton’s on ice. Atleast then I’d be better at faking it and cleaning the floors, making dinners and keeping up the appearance would be much more fun. For me… not so much for everyone else I guess.

To be honest… I hated last years Christmas, and the Christmas before that and the one before that. He had manic episodes in the winter. The stresses of finances, the grief of missing his mom, the excitement of Christmas  Parties and shopping. Throw in some alcohol and it was a wonderful season of bipolar mania mixed with some combination episodes that often left us saying WTF?

I will admit though, mania also made for a family spoiled at Christmas time!

But the down side was he usually left when manic. He always ran. It was hurtful, and brutal and each time hurtful words would be thrown. I understood too late it was the illness that made him want a whole new life. A different scenery, a more exciting world.

Early on, he’d leave for hours, then a weekend, then a few months. When he’d come out of it, he’d come home and we’d somehow make things work. Until one day all of the hurt became too much for all of us.

Mixed episodes were by far the most painful for me to watch him go through. I didn’t know this was what was going on at the time. It was like he had the energy of ten black horses bolting across an open field, but the pain of the worst depression weighed him down. He couldn’t sleep, and one minute he’d bawl, the next he’d be laughing and the next he’d be raging. I wasn’t sure whether to hold him, laugh with him or run from him. It was confusing to say the least and because of this many times I failed at being the supportive wife I promised him I would be.

BUT there were times I was the wife he needed, his companion, his best friend and cheerleader, often his voice of reason. And this Christmas, I’m choosing to remember THAT.

I’m going to honour him by remembering the good we did together and the happiness we created together.

I’m going to remember how we shared the best hugs, and laughs. How we loved the shit out of our children and each other. How we cried with each other when we were were both at our lowest and lifted each other up when we were both at our best. How we stood together at his mother’s funeral and my grandmother’s memorial. Our long conversations on the porch sharing a coffee and making plans. How he loved every part of me, even the parts that drove him nuts. I loved all of  him too.

I’m going to remember those  moments instead. I’m going to let go of these mixed up feelings, and the fact that he is dead, and I’m going to allow the good memories to replace the mixed episodes and arguments, the dark Christmas’s and cruel words said by family.

I’m letting that all go so maybe this years Christmas won’t hurt so bad.

Maybe bit by bit, I will enjoy Christmas this year by honouring the good in our marriage and remembering all we did right. Instead of giving Bipolar the spotlight, I’m giving it to us. To him. Maybe the void of him being gone, can be replaced by joy because he lived, gratitude because he chose to share his life with me and we lived as husband and wife with our children and we loved as a family; Peace in knowing his mind is now at rest, and his soul free. Maybe, just maybe, this years Christmas won’t suck after all.