Bipolar Relationships - Hurt and Transcendence

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Can anything good come out of being victimized in our relationships?

    Tabby writes:

    When I am "good", meaning UP, everyone loves me. I'm the hit of the office, hit of the group.  I'm funny, charming, flirtatious, witty, can out-work everyone around me and the work is done exceptionally well.

    Tabby was commenting to my last week’s post, The Altruism Achilles Heel, where I observed how we - those of us contending with bipolar - can be bled dry by those who feed off of our healing and nurturing tendencies.

    Bipolar hardly equates with altruism, of course, but the privations we endure have a way of turning many of us into better people than we were before. There is considerable upside to this, but the downside is we turn out to be easy prey for the “successfully sinister.”

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    Tabby brought up a related concern, one most of us are intimately familiar with. When we’re up, we combine life-of-the-party sociability with employee-of-the-month productivity. Everyone is drawn to us, and therein lies the trouble. The real test of any friendship or relationship is who is willing to stand by us when we’re down.

    Hardly anyone, of course. And there we are - once more - left alone in our despair and disillusionment, licking our emotional wounds. What would Jesus do? It seems he has been there. I quote:

    He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place ... Mark 1:35

    And when day came, He departed to a lonely place ... Luke 4:42

    Jesus had no trouble attracting crowds. He healed, he comforted. Many loved him. A good many were ready to kill him on the spot. Just about everyone misunderstood him. Time and time again, we see him needing to get away. Sometimes, his exit is precipitous and dramatic, with a mob about to stone him. Other times, he quietly slips out before dawn.

    The first passage I cited adds that Jesus prayed, but his version of prayer was probably subdued and reflective. “Do not babble like the heathen,” Jesus advised, echoing the sentiments of Ecclesiastes: “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”

    I’m guessing that Jesus needed to settle his mind, to take stock, to come to terms. The inner nature of the divine may be a mystery to us, but we know human nature all too well. The people who professed their love for him today could be the same people who would slit his throat tomorrow.

    So what would Jesus do? He withdrew one last time. He sweated blood. He knew what was coming. It came. He transcended what came.

    It’s a universal experience: Time and time again, people will let us down. But I would submit that we bipolars are far more susceptible. We think that people are drawn to us because of who we are. But they tend to view us as something else - sometimes healers and miracle-workers, other times their own walking-talking home entertainment systems.

    Inevitably, we fail to live up to their ridiculous expectations. Then we’re left alone to deal with our hurt and the crushing depressions to follow, with yet another trial to face - and one more opportunity for transcendence.

Published On: November 20, 2011