My bipolar II is affecting my partner, and I’m not sure how to reverse the hurt it has caused, mainly because I don’t remember a lot. My partner is one of those people that has a chronically joyful smile and is just the salt of the earth; he’s reliable and his goodness has seemed boundness. He is one of the loveliest and kindest-hearted people I’ve ever known. My BPII seems to be affecting that – a lot.
I have substantial memory problems from depression and some from ECT. My partner told me recently that I have said some mean things over the past few years in both relative wellness and illness. I can’t remember any of those things, and it’s distressing because I feel like I’m being held accountable for things I do not remember saying. I have examined this, and I do not think he is using gaslighting, a form of emotional abuse, or that he is exaggerating his feelings or the truth. What he says I said is in line with what I *would* say. I simply do not remember saying it.
I am trying to swallow the reality that I have said extensively hurtful things, and I’m trying to figure out how to resolve them. Some of the things that hurt him are my truth, such as how I feel about the mental load in our relationship or how motherhood has affected my sense of self.
We had very few relationship concerns until we were hit with the motherload of major life stressors in a period of about three years: a stressful pregnancy and postpartum period, becoming new parents, a mental illness diagnosis, buying a new house and unemployment. It seems like everything now is festering under the surface, and it’s hard to know what to say or not say. More importantly, it’s hard to know what to do. I like the saying, “Love is a verb.” I believe it is. I’m not very good at showing my love through my mental illness. I’m angry I have bipolar. It’s hard for me to feel love because most of the time I hate living.
I have been critical of my dedicated partner, and he’s doing his best. I’ve been expecting perfection, but he’s doing his best. I find fault with him because I’ve basted in my own faults for so long that I know them thoroughly. Maybe I was getting bored criticising my own faults, and that’s why I’ve moved to his. I feel self-hate and since he is an extension of me maybe that feeling has been oozing onto him. I realize some of this is toxic thinking and not BPII.
The learning I need to do is to figure out
- what is my unhelpful thinking?
- what emotions are his responsibility to identify and manage?
- where did I cause harm and what can I do about it?
- how can I prevent it again?
- how can we both get better at sharing, hearing and responding to the needs of each other?
Any other ideas? Thanks for reading.