Not long ago I woke up to pounding and hammering – and it was NOT a headache. The house I am living in is being remodeled to make handicap rooms. (I admire ANYone with the courage to remodel.) It took a team of grown men just one day to make significant progress – or cause significant damage, depending on your perspective. They left a huge gaping hole where the side of the house had been, with wires and boards hanging open, unconnected, exposed.
But hey, that was nothing compared to the massive corresponding mountain of debris on the lawn. If a giant tornado had ripped open the house, shredded the parts, and dumped them in a pile, I think it would’ve looked similar. What a tangle of rotten boards, good boards, bent nails, old wasp nests – all things fascinating to little boys – torn insulation, siding, drywall, gutters…and things I don’t even recognize! It’s been weeks, and the family is still tediously sorting through the debris, salvaging the good lumber, drywall, which they are using in reconstruction.
Can you picture this? Then you can picture our relationship’s destruction and rebuilding after the tornado of a manic season rips through it.
But you don’t need me tell you this, if you’re living it. What you probably want to know is how we put it back together…….
I can remember when my husband used to feel that since the destruction was part of his disorder that I could/should just dump all the debris in a box, labeled “manic disorder” – shelve it, and move on. I tried that.
But somewhere in that debris was our relationship. Though he often does not, I DO remember the words, the tones, the actions, the emotions, MY emotions (if nothing else)… and it’s not always clear to me afterwards, exactly what goes in the “to the dump” box, and what are real issues that need pursuing if we want to rebuild. (And you can bet I’ve been tempted to put the WHOLE relationship in the dump box sometimes – and so has he!)
I’m not a professional, and this is not Manic Recovery 101. (Someone needs to write that book). This is a simple outline of what we’ve found helps us survive and move on…build character….not walls.
Review: We’ve learned we do have to “recreate/review” the history of the “off” season (as tedious as that is, and as much as we may want to skip over it). It helps each of us understand when things went off the rails…and what we can learn from it, and what we need to throw into the “discard” bucket. When Paul said, “this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,” (Phil 3:13) he had not skipped over the hard work of assessing his past actions and motives. Like all of us, you can bet he had to walk through the mistrust in relationships that his sins had produced, until trust rooted. (Acts 9:19-27)
Repentance, remorse: There is a level on which it doesn’t matter WHAT caused the 6 inch gash, it still needs stitches. Regardless of what prompted the inappropriate words or actions (sin, disorder, misunderstanding) if something harmful was said or done, repentance and restitution is needed to clear the air. No excuses. It doesn’t mean trust is restored – that takes t-i-m-e. It does mean everyone agrees on what was harmful, what isn’t, and that is how trust can begin. I am helped when someone asks, “what did I do that hurt you (this time)?” Paul made this observation, “godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: what diligence it produced in you….” (II Cor 7:10, 11) I am blessed to have a man who diligently walks out restitution … which has produced godly character, and healed gashes in our relationship.
Relax: Humor helps! My loved ones with bipolar disorder have great senses of humor, and make good natured jokes about the things they said, or did, when off-the-reservation (as my husband describes it). Believe it or not, it helps reduce the tension for everyone. They lead out in showing the hard times are not a “taboo” topic. When the meds are stable, don’t neglect the med for your spirits..”a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”Prov 17:22
And did I mention it was tedious? Tediously worthwhile .