DWB: Dating While Bipolar

BROOKLYN– My parents are one of the quintessential examples of what a marriage should be. At the age of fifty-eight, Kevin and Robin Carter have been together for 36 years. This has rubbed off on three out of the four men I am thankful to call my little brothers. Just recently, one of my brothers and his wife celebrated ten years of marriage. My best friend and his wife have been together nearly fifteen years.

So with all these shining examples of marriage working, where did I go wrong?

As the sun sets here at the coffee shop where I’m writing this, I’ve had a lot of things on my mind. I guess that’s to be considered normal, seeing as I have bipolar disorder. I perceive things a lot differently, which adds a third dimension to the way I normally think and react to things. Maybe that’s one of the great things about finally getting this disorder under some type of control; I have found myself thinking very carefully before reacting to things. I’ve become calmer, very rarely raising my voice about anything anymore, a direct opposite to the way I used to be. My former behavior was both very erratic and had a high amount of volatility. Perhaps this explains a lot of things that used to go wrong in my life. Especially the jobs I used to go through. Three months here, three weeks there; you get the idea.

But as unstable as my work life was, my love life has been just as erratic. I have been through two marriages, all before the age of thirty-five. Both unions were marked by volatile moods, the aforementioned instability in the workplace, reacting very poorly to stress, and being over quick, fast, and in a regrettable hurry; my first marriage lasted all of three years. The second one? Not even two years passed before that one ended. Those who know me well who will read this know very well that the second marriage was the one I just knew would stand the test of time.

Oh, and did I mention these two relationships had a slight touch of overlap?

Now that I am currently single, living in a brand new city and fending for myself in ways I never thought I’d have to, I’m finding that being single is a very isolating, emotionally exhaustive thing. I’ve always craved real, romantic love with a woman who does so unconditionally. Who remains loyal to me through my disorder, and wants to build something that will last.

There’s just one problem, and it’s not just the two marriages. Maybe it’s a mix of the bipolar disorder and the ache of the unhealed scars of the previous marriage, but I have found my desire for these things have become elevated, and every woman I’ve dated up here has seen it–and run. While it has been easy to spot disinterest in me (which is bad enough), moving at a healthy pace has been an insurmountable task. Recently, a woman I showed genuine interest in asked me to take a step back because my rapid, almost myopic pace to find that special someone had begun to make her uncomfortable around me.

The other problem has been trying to figure out when to tell a woman in which I have some interest about my baggage. Three dates? A month? Three months? Never telling them about my disorder can’t be an option, for if things become serious, eventually my new girlfriend is going to have to know why I pop four pills every morning. Or why I appear to be extra needy on a given day. Or why I’m not in a particularly good mood. So far, my timing has had me batting 0-for up here.

Lost in both the inexperience in dating, and the raging urge to find love on the express track, has been this: I have forgotten that love requires a friendship to begin first. The idea of “love at first sight” is largely bullshit, as I’ve come to find; it’s even more that way with bipolar disorder. A deep friendship is all I’ve really ever wanted, and finding that through my disorder and baggage has been tough to do.

I’m a good man. I’ve been through a lot of storms, and all I really want is someone to weather those storms with me without seeing me as some sort of headcase to be avoided. For my part, I need to learn how to slow down a bit, and remember the joys of getting to know someone. This is, of course, the tao of a healthy, loving, long-term relationship: always learning about the one you love until the day you leave this plane of existence.

May that someday be my portion.

 

 

The Reality of a Deadbeat

Permit, if you will, a moment of personal reflection.

I have been a man in a state of rebuilding for the last year and four months. During that time, and even before my separation from my now ex-wife, my writing has suffered. My writing and tweeting have dwindled down to nothing more than a few posts, here and there. The crash-and-burn of what many (myself obviously included) once considered to be a “power couple” produced many scars in need of healing and repair.

Losing the woman I once called my One Great Love–and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder–shook me down to my core. Even still, the pain remains, and will probably never go away totally. Moving to another state and hitting the reset button on my life have caused me to question my very ability to write. Perhaps, I thought, this gift I was blessed with was nothing more than a symptom of my illness.

But on October 1st, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump, a nightmare candidate that only neo-confederates, old white racists, charlatan preachers, and his cadre of surrogates so unbelievably incompetent (or in Katrina Pierson’s case, unbelievably evil) they rival “Saturday Night Live” parodies stand with, took full advantage of a tax system tailor-made for cheats such as he. In losing nearly $916 million after the bottom fell out of his casino empire, Trump was able to avoid paying taxes for eighteen years.

I had to pick the pen up again, because at thirty-four years of age, that is over half my own life.

The Times report continues:

The $916 million loss certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of “The Apprentice,” or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos. Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.

As Donald Trump’s antics continue to pile up in public view, a manure pile made larger and larger on a near-daily basis, including having his foundation shut down by the New York Attorney General’s office for not having the necessary certification to solicit money from the public, it stands to wonder: How was this man even remotely allowed to pursue the office of the President of the United States? With so much evidence of his destructive business practices, his racist and misogynistic rants, and the glaring proof that he, as the late George Carlin coined, is a business criminal of the highest order, how can any one person ever consider this man to run a lemonade stand, much less our Nation?

The answer is simple.

Because America loves a good dumpster fire story.

As we sit and watch this train wreck of a campaign continue to alienate itself from decent, even-minded people everywhere (yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s former prosecutor and well-known conservative Michael Chertoff announced he was crossing party lines to vote for her), it goes without saying that we as a nation cannot look away from what inspires us to ask, “What’s next?”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote this, which perfectly captures the danger Trump truly is, and why he’s just that:

Trump benefits from the expectation of phoniness. Pop-culture critic Jen Chaney wrote in The Post that “having a reality-TV celebrity running for commander in chief may subconsciously signal our brains to participate in this election the same way we’ve grown accustomed to consuming reality shows . . . believing that none of it is genuine, that none of it has any actual consequences.” It doesn’t matter, therefore, if two out of three claims Trump makes are false, or if he proposes dangerous ideas: It’s only entertainment.

Whatever reasons one might have to distrust or outright hate the former Secretary of State cannot overshadow the fact that Donald J. Trump is not just unqualified for the position he seeks; he is the very antithesis of what a President should be. I, for one, do not want a man who will reach for his phone to hatefully bluster at someone who he feels wronged him, or complains about a “biased media” who rightfully calls out his many indiscretions. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is soberly aware of the gravity and seriousness of the position she seeks to attain.

Deal in reality this November, folks.