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Reconciliation and Restoration. Wednesday February 22, 2017

Family can be wonderful. I love my family, I value my family; but, oh, I how cherish my friends.

There are many levels of friendship of course, and many reasons for friendship. My friend of longest standing (we do not use the term "oldest friend" for obvious reasons) has known me for 42 years. We see each other only every month or so, but inside ten minutes will be finishing each other's sentences. A friend who was once my neighbour moved to the States seven years ago but we text nearly every day. Another friend is my eagle-eyed Moodscope buddy who regularly comments on my score and supports me through my down times. I love them all.

2016 was a bad year for many of us. It was particularly tough on my family. We had broken bones, surgical operations, a serious car crash, the stress of demolishing and rebuilding our house and things going disastrously wrong for my son Tom and his partner. Oh, and a worse than usual bipolar cycle for me.

In the middle of this, I nearly lost a very dear friend.

Oh, it was entirely my fault; not that that made it any easier.

I had known Raz for only a year. Although I had told him about my bipolar he had not lived through my cycles of mania and depression. And I had not told him what to expect, for there always seemed to be other things to talk about. Many, many other things: that's friendship.

So, when my mania arrived it was a shock. Who was this unreasonable, demanding, jealous, raging creature? Who was this person who abandoned him just when he really needed a friend? I wrote my blog "Bipolar Exploding Hedgehog" (26th October 2016) and cut myself off.

I regretted it of course. I regretted it within 48 hours, but the damage had been done. After an exchange of bitter and angry emails Raz retreated into silence. My texts went unanswered and even unread.

"Let him go, Mum," said Tom. "Some friendships are not meant to last forever."

But I couldn't let go. Friendship is too valuable to just – let go. Especially in hurt and anger.

On Christmas Day I tried reaching out yet again over that chasm of pain and betrayal. And this time Raz replied. Perhaps it helped that we share a Christian faith and Christmas is a time of peace and reconciliation.

It's taken a while. We have had to feel our way into something that is not quite the same. To trust each other with silly jokes and to share our creativity together; to lean on each other again. We are mutually fearful of further misunderstanding. The flip side of love is pain.

But it is worth it. It was worth reaching out again and again. I don't know if I could have done it for years rather than the two months it took. I do know it would still be worth it.

Friendship is a most precious gift.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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S Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 2:25am

Thank you for your post. I do not feel I can do what you do, but maybe I will one day.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 11:27am

One day you will strong enough to reach out. Maybe you will have to reach out a number of times, and maybe the person you would like to touch will have moved on, and not be reachable any more. But, you will have tried. You will know that you have done what you could. It does take time to heal hurts. It was easier for me because I was at fault and I freely admit it. Of course, the fact that Raz is touchy and sensitive didn't help, but there you go: none of us are perfect.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 7:59am

Hi Mary
Well done for reaching out and I am glad that it has worked out for you. I tried to comment and it got eaten but most of my words of wisdom were not very wise and were a bit gloomy so I won't bother repeating them. So I will just say how are you and how are you getting on with the new meds?
Love TF x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 11:29am

Hi TF, just had a great conversation with my psychiatrist. I have been more stable in the past 14 days than I can ever remember being before. This is amazing. Long may it continue! So far, I am getting on really well. Thank you for asking!

LP Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 8:55am

Hi Mary,
I feel for you that damage was done that feels that it cannot be entirely undone. It sounds as if there was an innocence about your friendship which has changed.
Although you may miss the lightheartedness, what develops now will be different, but more real, as your friend is there with you knowing what you went through and now that things are better for you.

I have had similar with my siblings, so the hilarious banter is no longer, replaced by measured humour with good intent. It will rebuild maybe in a different way, but I have no regrets, my needs had to be taken into account. In my book those closest "have your back" and you theirs and for me that's what matters most.

Thank you for a touching blog Mary, my friendships have been distanced by my constant feeling of not enough time to fit in even the essential stuff. I just need to let them know that I am still here.
Hi Love and light to you and all. LPxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 11:30am

Yes - it has changed. We are no longer in free-fall. We also realise we have the capacity to hurt each other deeply. But - as I say - it's worth it.

Michael Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 11:26am

Timely blog Mary. In the paper yesterday was the results of a study from Oxford into how men and women are most likely to maintain a friendship. Summarised:

“What determined whether they survived with girls was whether they made the effort to talk more to each other on the phone,” Professor Dunbar said. “Talking had absolutely no effect on boys’ relationships at all. What held up their friendships was doing stuff together. Going to a football match, going to the pub for a drink. It was a very striking sex difference.”

"He said that previous research of his had found that women typically had far stronger, close relationships that were “very intense, and very like romantic relationships, in the sense that if they break they break catastrophically”,

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 11:36am

Interesting indeed and yes! Raz (while having many traits more associated with the distaff side) likes to do things with me; joint creative projects, having me assist with his students and their English. I love just being with him, talking and about anything and everything. Yes - we call it a passionate platonic relationship. I'm demanding; he is private, touchy and sensitive. It needs work. but then, most things worth having and doing need work, don't they! Thanks for sharing that study. Completely fascinating and I think, completely true. Certainly in my experience.

Michael Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 11:55am

They did not mention the dynamic of male-female friendships. But I am guessing it helps to know the genders operate differently. It could be a big reason for heterosexual relationships breaking down i.e. the female is expecting different responses and the male may be oblivious to her needs? Having said that I tried to get in touch with my best male friend from Uni. He point blank refused to re-engage as I was the one that had not replied to his letters. I proffered an explanation and a heart felt apology, but this had no impact. Maybe if I could arrange to "bump" into him at this local pub??...

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 4:22pm

I hope so, Michael. I wish you luck with that friendship.

DAVE Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 1:00pm

Thank you,
Wonderful example Mary of self-awareness and a realisation of how we can, sometimes innocently affect our relationships with others. To put this into all aquaintences, family and friends, to my mind, releases all negative anger and attitude, of which some carry for days, weeks, months and even years.

To live a life without contention or take offense is a happy inner soul, open for all to see.....I truly believe in striving to live this principle, in that position we are in control, even imperfect, but know the route of resolve and regain that inner peace.

Life s to short to be at odds with all around us, and even if you hadn't succeeded with yourknowing that you could do n more, which releases your responsibility in matters of contention.

Thank you Mary

God bless

DAVE Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 1:02pm

ps should read...

With your friend Raz, you could do no more.


Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 4:22pm

Thank you Dave.

Molly Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 4:02pm

Hi Mary, I hope that you and Raz continue to keep on track. I have angry episodes and have lost friends over the years. Like Raz, I am sensitive and take things personally. I think some friends are worth fighting for, some may not be, especially if they do not understand or even attempt to understand, mental health issues. I find I would rather not be with them. I think true friends will always be there especially if the effort is made to put things right, as you did. It takes alot to admit you may be wrong as many people are never to blame, of course ! Although with bipolar, I do not believe it is your fault at all, as you cannot help the way it sometimes affects you. Maybe Raz needs a better understanding of it so if you explode, he knows it is not the real you? Thanks for your blog, I remember your Exploding Hedgehog blog..... Molly xx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 4:25pm

Well, he now knows what to expect. And, being him, and a world class physical chemist (or maybe a chemical physicist) he has immediately started work on a project to help me! My hope and faith at the moment is in the new drug I am taking, which, so far, appears to be working very well.

Michael Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 4:59pm

and yet no physical chemistry :)!!

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 9:41pm

Well, Michael, I don't quite have the right equipment for there to be quite *that* kind of physical chemistry between us! ;)

Tychi's Mum Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 6:43pm

Mary, do you mind me asking if it's Lamotrigine that you are taking? I've got a vague recollection that it might be. I'd be really interested to know more about how it's helping....what dose etc. I have been taking Lamotrigine since February with no noticeable improvements. I am now on 350mg daily. The maximum dose is 400mg so I'm keeping everything crossed that it might start working very soon otherwise it's back to the drawing board... Fantastic blog as always....x

Orangeblossom Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 4:31pm

Thanks Mary for your great blog. Appreciated it lots. Love & affection

The Gardener Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 6:23pm

Being a lateral thinker your title took me back to my Hist/Pol degree, when one of my papers was 'Revolution and Reaction in Spain'. I have just submitted a hopeful blog to Caroline entitled 'Whatever happened to old so-and-so?' Which was keeping up with people (or not, as in your case with Raz). Looking through my phone list I note that I have lost contact with the other half of several couples who are now widows/widowers. Often it was only one who did the e-mails - I think those of our generation who never embraced computers are still in the mind-set that telephoning is expensive. HO said a while ago that there is a time to let go in the circumstances he was in, and what I am suffering. The last few days have been so awful - I know I am near end of tether with coping with the abuse and physical demands (had to get fire brigade in again last night) then a daughter and I backed away to making the final 'leap', looking at the people Mr G would spend the rest of his life with. I've never been good at coping with people with mental disorders - it's a bit like talking to someone recently bereaved - there are no rules - so you beat a cowardly retreat. I have an estranged daughter - she married, and was separated 18 months afterwards. Her husband was a charming Hungarian, we were seriously unhappy about it - we wrote to him just sympathising and expressing regret. Our daughter opened the letter, took exception to our writing to him, and has not spoken to us since. Not in the same vein as your 'falling out' Mary, but mending fences is SO difficult

Leah Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 8:40pm

TG I am thinking of you as you have to make difficult decisions. I have often wondered what happened to people I was once close to years ago but now haven't contacted for years- no arguments just usually moved away and lost touch. I am known as a communicator and usually sent people a card once a year but if after about 6 years they did not reply back I stopped sending one. That is sad with your daughter , marriage breakups are hard and often people are 'forced' to take sides. I found it hard to lose contact with people who I had been friendly with during our marriage but they felt contacting me would be unfair to my ex. It is complicated.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 9:43pm

In a marriage breakup the question of who gets custody of the friends is a tricky one. I found I had inadvertently run away with some of the friends my first husband brought into the marriage... Pleased to say it didn't work the other way round. Gardener - you are in my thoughts and prayers. I have no words of wisdom for you, but pray that you will be given wisdom.

Brum Mum Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 6:57pm

Dear Mary, your post made me cringe as I thought of friendships that I have messed up. They are not many but I am over sensitive and over loyal and then get easily hurt. There are too people I fell out with so badly I have not spoken to them since. My mood definitely affects my ability to relate. Glad you got your friendship back on track.

Brum Mum Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 6:57pm

Dear Mary, your post made me cringe as I thought of friendships that I have messed up. They are not many but I am over sensitive and over loyal and then get easily hurt. There are too people I fell out with so badly I have not spoken to them since. My mood definitely affects my ability to relate. Glad you got your friendship back on track.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 9:52pm

I am so sorry the blog today made you cringe. See Michael's comments above on female relationships. We can give so much passion to them they can implode.

Brum Mum Wed, Feb 22nd 2017 @ 10:30pm

Mary, cringing of my own making, not yours!

Ginny Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 8:59am

I haven't actually got many friends. I have one who I do see once and week and sometimes at other times. She also suffers from depression and we do help each other.
But apart from a male friend who also has a mental illness, but is not always good for us to be together, as we are both up and down.
So, how do find friends? Yes, I know. Join groups, clubs etc. but when you have a mental illness that is hard. I would like to join some groups of people with a mental illness who actually take part in activities, such as swimming, walking (I am in a walking group, but it isn't necessarily one with people who have a mental illness. There just don't seem to be any groups around here.
I think in times gone by, there were such groups (run by Mind, I believe)but they no longer have the funding to do this, unless you are actually having support from Mind, then you can join in with their groups. Our local Mind has a policy that if you have been in a group for more than six months you cant stay on any more, I think it is to do with funding, and also the vast number of people who are using Mind nowadays.
Just needed a vent really, and today's post just provided an opportunity.
Yes, I can talk to people on the internet, there are all sorts of group, but I can get obsessive about things and could spend too much time on it.
I do really enjoy reading the e-mails every day, they are really helpful.
I haven't commented or upgraded my score for quite a while, as I had forgotten my password, but I have now re-set it. Could have done it ages ago, just didn't.
So, now I have started I will try not to be too much of a pain in a neck.
I have bipolar 2, and most of the time my mood is slightly elevated,which does keep me going, but as most of you know, it is not fun when the anger, aggression, tearfulness starts.Because I am always doing too much, I get too tired. Will have to work on that, but I like to try and keep busy.
Thank you
p.s. I could just be feeling sorry for myself!

Mary Wednesday Thu, Feb 23rd 2017 @ 11:07am

Ginny darling: you;re entitled! Just for little while. And here is a safe place to rant. Good friends are hard to fine, and you can meet them anywhere. I met Raz on Facebook. Funny that, because he hardly uses it - but we believe that we were put together for a reason and that we were each a gift to the other.

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