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Bipolar Marriage - Making it for the long haul

BP magazine online article states that 90% of all marriages, where one person has mental illness, results in divorce.  I wasn't actually surprised by this, but I was somewhat stunned in a new way.  I know personally how hard it has been to stay together.  The challenges are staggering and no one can know this who has not walked this road. 

That statistic doesn't really give me much hope.  For me, hope comes from a much higher power.  It has to be God and God alone who can carry us and help us survive or thrive in spite of the odds stacked against us.  Who else can help us like he can?

Almost everyone I know has failed me at one time or another.  I've lost family and friends because of the terrible disease known as mental illness.  The losses have been staggering.  I've had to find a way to survive that didn't involve people...and I found that God would carry me.  When all else failed; when people hit the road and left us abandoned, I found God never left me alone. 

I think it's time to say this out loud.  I'm not throwing people under the bus, for they have done that to me. I'm just saying this out loud because, friends, I think people who make it are every day heroes.  I'm no saint.  I've made many mistakes and even in the past few months, weeks and days, I've had to apologize to my husband for how I have failed him.  After all, mental illness isn't his fault.  That's what many people think and that's why they fail to show up and be supportive.  But because it's not his fault, who am I to not carry this load with him.  Who am I that I would not bear this burden with him? 

It's hard.  Mind blowing difficult.  I've made so many mistakes.  But the great thing is, I'm still here fighting to make it.  I'm being honest so that others might find courage from my words.  If I can do this for 25 years, you can too.  That means I can go the next 25 years. I'm planning on making it.  I'm verbalizing my covenant aloud.  I'm holding myself accountable. 

The odds have been against us.  People have turned against us.  Family has betrayed us.  Friends have failed us.  We have failed each other.  This is the reality of the struggle.  Mental illness is real and difficult to understand.  But on the other hand, it doesn't win if we don't let it.  It's an every day, moment by moment fight for survival.  Glen and I have determined we won't just survive, but we will thrive.  We understand from trial and error what that means for us. 

We've cleaned house mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  We have committed ourselves to the cause and to each other.  We have confessed our failures and forgiven each other for making mistakes.  We've forgiven those who still after all these years don't see the need to be an emotional support system to us.  That's been the most difficult thing.  I've cried many tears over the loss of family and friends.  It's difficult to make it with supportive team members, and even more difficult to make it alone.  But, I know it can be done because I have done it. 

I'm grateful for this leg of my journey which finds me with a handful of friends who have my back.  These people hold my hand when I am alone and terrified.  I am most grateful to them.  But even if they were not there, I am confident that God could be enough if he was all that I had.  And he can be enough for us all.  People fail. I fail.  We all make mistakes.  I'm learning that I am human and I don't and won't be perfect.  This was hard pressed on my life as a young girl.  Failure was not an option.  Perfection  was the objective and I can't live up to that...and neither can you.  Those who think we can be perfect are pious and misguided.  I'm sorry, that's just the truth.

And so, in my agony of soul, surrounded by my own loneliness, I have looked over my life reviewing what I have done and how well I score.  I haven't made the grade I have wanted.  In my haste to get it done right, I have been unkind and unmerciful.  Relentless desire to success has given way to lack of grace.  I'm being more honest than most people would be right now.  I have a way of doing that.  I make people terrified by my ability to just speak the truth.  People pat themselves on the back and say way to go for being so go!  Yeah, well you need to be honest too.  For honesty would reveal that you haven't been so kind either.  If every one was honest, we'd all say we are terrified of mental illness and we have reacted as such. 

Glen and I have experienced this lack of grace and it has seared our souls.  The scars with most likely remain for the rest of our lives.  We have come to understand that some people just won't ever get it and we have to let them go.  That has meant almost every member of our families combined...and that's a staggering number of losses.  I have 5 brothers and one sister. Glen has 3 sisters.  None of them get it...they seem incapable and it has driven me mad for years.  I've cried and prayed. Cried and prayed more. I've begged God to open their eyes and hearts...but to no avail.  So finally, I must quit crying. It's done and over.  I must move one and I have.  I am and I will!!!  I must realize, as must you, that some people just won't and can't get it.  I don't know why, but unless is touches their soul, they won't see and understand.  They are blind!

I move on.  I forgive. I forgive myself.  I have failed too.  I don't always understand.  I forget that mental illness isn't Glen's fault.  It's a disease.  It's a product of the fall.  We are all imperfect humans.  You have cancer. He has bipolar.  You have high blood pressure.  He has OCD! It's just the way things are.  It's my cross and it's his cross.  It's unfair...every disease is unfair.  I believe we must find ways to understand the complexities of mental illness are far greater that many diseases.  But that's another subject of discussion. 

There's no easy cure...that's just too easy.  Pain changes us all.  Pain is a great motivator and it has made me dig deep into places that would have otherwise never changed.  For that, I am grateful.  I'm going on record that I will go the distance with Glen Roseman.  I will stand by him for the next 25 years, God willing.  We will make it to the close of life together side by side.  It's not been easy.  It's been very hard.  I wish people understood that.  I'd like to have their support, but the truth it, I haven't. I will no doubt cry over that fact again.  Just maybe, hopefully, I can cry less and less tears.  I know that I can go this journey with God by my side.  If he is all I have, then he must be all that I need.

So, how do you survive and make it for the long haul?  Honesty, forgiveness, love, compassion, grace, mercy...doing these things over and over and over and over....forever forgiving yourself for failing.  Facing each day with God.  Learning, reading, growing.  Knowing it's not over until we are dead and gone.  And above all...NEVER GIVING UP HOPE!


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