It’s starting again! That low pa-pa-pa-pa in the pit of my stomach that turns into toe tapping, then squirming in my seat. Then the sighing starts and my brain that has already been looking for a clear path of thought gets its ‘aha’ papers and moves toward the door.
Car keys, bus, trolley, bike, walking – anything to transport me out of my restlessness and into breakout mode from whatever is boxing me up inside.
This has been from childhood forward. Don’t always know what’s caused it to launch, but I know once it’s translated itself into movement, it’s time to give in to it and get going! Staying put or staying still is not an option.
If I can’t leave or I have to stay put, my ‘onery’ takes over and nobody wants to deal with my ‘onery’! What happens then? Everybody who thought I should stay put or shouldn’t leave wishes I would just go.
And that’s the point. Why wait for others to be the reason I need to move, to go, to ride, to explore, to be somewhere else for a while? I just get impatient and need some space. Give me some room to be out and about, and hey, I’ll be back to my generally sunny self. Can’t help the feeling when it comes, but it won’t go away until I go away.
Where does it come from? I don’t spend a lot of time figuring out childhood issues anymore. If I had to put a cause to it, I would imagine it was from needing at an early age to escape random bad tempers and overly oppressive natures. Having mindful parents, I couldn’t just walk out the door when I wanted. But sitting still for anger fits and their iffy causes didn’t suit me either. I quickly learned the sanctuary of a backyard swing or a visit to my friend’s house next door.
I was a teenager before I could escape and leave the area until dinnertime. By then most eruptions had subsided and, due to my increased absence, I became less of a target. I was “peace and love”-inclined before it was a movement, and didn’t get why the rest of my family wasn’t on that page as well.
Back then you didn’t see a shrink, and if you or a family member did, you NEVER told anybody. Shrinks were for people not in this world mentally. You stayed away from those people if they weren’t in an institution somewhere.
You never considered that mental health issues might be why your family didn’t function right, or why you seemed not to fit in with your family. ‘Bipolar’ was not something even on the horizon as an explanation back then.
Thank God for the Carol Burnett Show! Once I saw Eunice and her family, the light bulb went on. My home life suddenly had an explanation – my family life was not ‘normal’. It was a relief in a way because I knew then it wasn’t me. I also knew it wasn’t going to get fixed because I couldn’t tell anybody, least of all the family members causing the dysfunction. Not that I didn’t have issues myself but they weren’t the kind that others had to wear.
With the times not yet being TMI-friendly, if you drew the short emotional straw within your family, it was yours to deal with – silently – till you could opt out after high school graduation. I lasted a little longer than that but ultimately moved on before I had finished college.
Now we live in the era of ‘dirty laundry’ overwhelm. In society back then, we had a lot of emotional laundry that didn’t get washed in public. And if you could keep it at home, why wash it at all? It was called ‘family’ and you honored that no matter what. Because of all you’d been through together, and because there were good days and good intentions that at least tried to make up for the dark days and moments that couldn’t be helped because societally it just wasn’t time yet for therapy to happen.
All I could do back then was leave for a few hours and hope that a closer version of ‘normal’ would be waiting when I got home. Even now it feels disloyal to write about these ancient family issues.
Yet, the toe tapping gotta-get-out-of-here still happens, and I gotta get out of here. Somewhere between then and now, I raised a daughter who is grateful for the childhood she had, and tells everyone how happy it was. I am grateful that she can say that. I am grateful I had very few dark moods or moments along the way, and when they showed up, that I didn’t make them her burden. It’s called ‘family’ too – without the shame and pain, and with the freedom to run free and come back ready to be family again. All of us – from the generation before mine to the newest ones. We’re all still together, bipolar and all, oh yeah! Family.
Now, where are those car keys?