My Year To Thrive

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style." ~Maya Angelou

Fear & Growing Up with a Bipolar Parent


"You can't get rid of your fears... but you can learn to live with them"  girl & monster sitting on the couch, girl asks, "More tea?"

9GAG – More tea, fear?

That about sums it up.  I have spent so much of my life letting fear cheat me out of things, bully me.  I’m tired of & I want live bolder.  I can’t actually be fearless, but I can put my foot up fear’s ass (to borrow from the ever delightful Red Foreman) & tell it to STFU.

Since I have fallen in love with running I have been thinking a lot about the fact I had wanted to join the track team in high school.  Specifically I wanted to do the hurdles.  I didn’t really know anything about track, but I had seen people jumping hurdles on the Olympics.  When no one was around, I would build up a make shift hurdle in the living room & jump over it.  Know why I never even tried out for the team?  Never even sought information on how to get involved?  I saw them running the bleachers & I was afraid to do that.  I knew running around on those bleachers would lead to me tripping & falling to my doom.  I was too clumsy to ever be able to run the bleachers.  Now I can look back & see what a stupid reason that was, partly lack of self-confidence & partly ignorance.  I always had this idea people were just naturally good at stuff.  If you didn’t start out good at it, you would never get it.

My mom had a lot to do with shaping that fear & lack of confidence.  She was a yeller who could never understand me.  I was a dreamer, a reader, a typical sensitive Pisces.  She hated that.  My mom was an athlete, & was forever disappointed that I didn’t have that in me.  I played softball for six years, that was my mother’s game, until the car accident that messed up my knees.  At the time I was also in the marching band, my true love, & my knees couldn’t handle doing both, so I dropped softball.  I was never very good at it anyway, & I think in all those years I could count on one hand the number of times my mother came to a game.  She told me she wasn’t going to waste her time just to watch me sit on the bench.  Ouch.  I never got over that & from it I supposed I internalized that if I wasn’t good at something there was no point in trying.  Since I was also regularly told how lazy, stupid, & ugly I was, & that she wished I was dead or that she never had children, I really never felt like I was good enough for anything.  I am thankful though that through it all, I was blessed with a hopeful spirit.  It is that spirit, that spark of knowing things will get better, that has kept me from ending it so many times.

As an adult, a Social Worker, & someone living with Bipolar Disorder & anxiety, I have grown to appreciate my mother & what she was going through.  She was a twice divorced mother of four children, three of us who eventually chose to go live with our fathers, doing the best she could.  Life had not turned out the way she had thought it would, as is often the case.  She married her high school boyfriend at sixteen.  She told me at one point she had done so under pressure from her mother because his family had money.  That went horribly, horribly wrong.  He ended up drafted & coming back addicted to drugs & alcohol.  They had two kids by then, & he beat her.  She had scar tissue in one of her ears from being beaten in the head that left her with a constant roaring sound.  He even tried to have her killed at least once & she had to grab her kids & run from the house.  There is so much more that happened while they were still married & after, but I think I have gone on enough for now.

This post went in a different direction than I had intended, it was meant to be just a quick image post with a blurb, but you see how that went.  I guess I just needed to talk about it.  I will wrap this up by thanking Halfway Between the Gutter & the Stars for sharing this image in a recent post.  It came at a very opportune time for me.


Author: despitemyself

A person in flux.

7 thoughts on “Fear & Growing Up with a Bipolar Parent

  1. I can truly understand where u are coming from. My mom was a nightmarish monster. She was Bipolar and never treated for it. And because of that my childhood was tormented with her explosive behavior. She would go into rages resulting in phsyical and mental abuse of both me and my sister. For example she would pull butcher knives on us if something was not cleaned correctly. Or if s piece of lent was found on the floor she would launch into a screaming match that would last for three hours. Because of these manic episodes she suffered from sever high

    • That sounds awful. 😦 It’s a terrible environment to grow up in. It has made me afraid to have kids, because I don’t want to be like my mother.

      I’m glad you stopped by & found something you could connect with (even if it isn’t a welcome connection).

  2. Pingback: My Depersonalization Episodes « My Year To Thrive

  3. This is the first time I’ve read your blog, but I already see some interesting similarities and differences between us. My mother acted somewhat similar (and I am certain still would, if I gave her the chance to do so) but I really have trouble with the understanding and forgiveness. I definitely envy your ability to show understanding in a situation where you’ve been hurt fairly relentlessly, and I hope I get there someday.

    I was on the track team in high school -hurdles! It was the only event that seemed to find my gangly-awkwardness actually useful. Unfortunately, I have too much anxiety to RUN run, so a 100 meter obstacle course is about the best I can do.

    Are we the sort that dream of hurdles? I mean, we can run just fine without any obstacles, but are we both the sort of people who would rather have an obstacle there? Something to defeat? Something to clear? I can’t help but wonder now.

    Anyway, I’ll keep reading… so keep it up!

    • Forgiving my mother happened slowly over the years. Getting out on my own & having to take care of myself gave me a better perspective on what my mother struggled with, through school & work Social Work gave me a lot of perspective. Working with families very similar to mine, & helping them overcome some of those same problems really helped me develop a further sense of empathy for my mother. She passed away 4yrs ago, & I don’t know why but since then I have begun to see so much of her in me. I see the things I do when I’m anxious, irritable, angry, hurt, depressed, & now I can look back & see her experiencing the same things, except she didn’t have the luxury of withdrawing like I do because she had children to take care of. I don’t know if any of that is worth anything as advice, but that is pretty much my story. I haven’t let go of everything, but I believe I need to to move forward with my own life. I’m tired of being held back by the past.

      And as for the hurdles, you might be on to something. Just my mother’s whole family is bipolar with plenty of substance abuse, so I grew up surrounded by drama, everything was always a crisis. I have found as an adult, I need crisis to survive. Life just isn’t interesting without drama I guess. I suppose hurdles are an apropos analogy for serial crisis, lol.

      Thanks for commenting & complimenting, & I look forward to hearing from you in the future:)

  4. Have I told you I love this blog? I love this blog. Part of what is so great about running is the appeal of accomplishing something that’s all you, no fancy machines, no gimmicks, no one else, just you. I see a commonality in those of us who love running that includes a past full of self-doubt and fear, and it seems to me these things are the sparks that set us off in pursuit of personal achievement. It’s good to see you’re learning to settle the score with regrets from your past and focus on the reality of today.

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