Recently these visits have been so nice and stress-free that I've realized this is what childhood must feel like in a family of origin that is not hysterically alcoholic and abusive, a home you can feel safe in. I am grateful I got to experience this at last. Even today, in a bad mood, I'm grateful, and it's not just for a peaceable friendly meal, but also for the confidence I have that Cassie and Chris are responsible, kind people. I'm glad I don't have to worry about them. I don't think it's a good thing when people worry about their grown kids. Sometimes you do, but it shouldn't be a habit.
I used to feel a momentary blip of anger when my mother would excuse my father's rudeness, his black silent moods interrupted by an occasional sniff that conveyed his contempt for me. She would adopt a voice she may have thought of as kind and compassionate: "He's worried about you." Well, that's a co-alcoholic doing her job well, saving her compassion for the alcoholic. Covering the reality of the children's pain, excusing the poor sod who "doesn't mean anything." This was a feature of his abuse of me, intended to diminish me in every possible way all my life. His will dealt me a last huge blow after he died, the coward. "Worrying" about me was not helpful. It was a form of criticism. And these are the kind of thoughts that pop up when I'm in the mean reds.
I had to explain the term to Tom a little bit ago. Here is what I had posted on my regular Facebook (though not on my Page, which I try to make more uniformly pleasant than my Self):
There are blue Mondays and then there are mean red Mondays. You are experiencing the latter when you are tempted to write to a spammer, "If I ever get anything from you in my inbox again, I will hunt you down and kill you."And no kidding, I had just restrained myself from posting exactly that.
This is my brain on bipolar. Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany's, got the mood once in a while, as anyone might occasionally, but for reasons. (Here is a link to the quote.) The bipolar brain floats and dives on its own schedule and under its own power. I've compared it before to living in a hurricane zone. Hurricanes just happen, and you can't stop them; about the best you can do is hunker down. What I was maddest about today is that I had gone back into a rhythm of good day, bad day. You can work with that. You can get things done on a good day. But today's the second bad day.
I had a plan for today. I'd been waiting to continue reading an old fiction I pulled out last Thursday, and read with pleasure and some admiration of the youthful energy that produced it. I'd had to stop reading in the middle and go into my bedtime routine, or find myself awake half the night. Now that I think about it, I don't like that, either. I'm glad I realize that I have to control myself, though. Mania feeds on itself. The worst thing is to start writing the Great American Novel all through the night, and the next day, and the next.
On Friday I knew better than to go back to the story, because when I'm depressed I think everything I ever wrote is just not worth it. There's the internalized Nasty Father, still criticizing harshly. Best not to give it the chance. That's reality.
I could claim that years of practice have given me insights into karma like that, as well as the discipline to turn off the screen at night when I don't want to. But that's about it. It has not led me to constant joy or a reliable contentment. The blues are bad. The mean reds are worse - agitated depression, quick to anger at, for example, a photo posted by a friend at the end of a retreat, everyone in their black Zen robes with big happy smiles. I can't do retreats anymore for multiple reasons of aging and chronic illness extending beyond the bipolar depressions into fibromyalgia and lymphedema torn rotator cuffs and sleep disorder. I wish I could, but I can't.
I can't think of any reason people shouldn't share their joy at a retreat of advanced students meditating their ass off and filling the air with good energy. I remember how good it felt. All I can do about my current reaction is refrain from commenting and go do something else. Sounds like right speech again. And again.
As for the mood, sometimes even a Danish and window-shopping at Tiffany's doesn't do the trick. I just have to live with it. Accept it. That sounds like Zen to me.