First Fall when we are together


first fallThis story is a story of Christian marriage and lovemaking. One that navigates what this means when a spouse has bipolar disorder. It changes things.

True disclosure – there are times where I am tired, exhausted and long for a simpler married life, but God has brought us together, and I honor that.

It was a few months ago that I saw contemporary dancer Wendy Whelan in a performance of dance duets called Restless Creature. In the final duet called, “First Fall,” the dance featured a prolonged segment of one dancer carrying another. They explored this nature of carrying and supporting in every way possible. I have to tell you it was one of the more emotional expressions I have seen.

The emotion in the audience was notable. Many people were moved. I think anyone who has supported or been supported in a relationship felt the expression profoundly. For this one moment, I saw the beauty in what it means to be in a relationship where we are called on to support and carry each other.

I think we know what this means and feels like, but to see it so beautifully expressed, was to see the staggering beauty and arresting grace of such an act.

This story of the dance serves as the backdrop for what I’ve decided to share with this community. How does it play out when we are called to continue to love and make love through challenges? What does it mean to carry a spouse and relationship forward?

I need to do this because I can’t and don’t want to keep it only to myself anymore. I need to write, to get this out.

Riding White Horses has been a metaphor for me through this journey. Imagine the sea – vast, fluid, sometimes glistening, beautiful, dancing with sunlight, lively and playful. At other times dark, restless, unrelenting, punishing, overwhelming and perilously undulating. Riding white horses is a metaphor for riding the high crests; the white tipped waves. Over and over and trying to stay upright, bright and not succumb to emotional exhaustion.

In this first expression, I’ll start with where things are today October of 2015.

My wife has had a long summer of depression. I’ve seen her go from pretty deeply depressed to moderate depression and for those of you wondering right now, yes, she does see a doctor and take medication. In a sad postscript to that fact, however, she does not think she has bipolar disorder, rather she sees it as a spiritual affliction. This fact can make it difficult to have a simple pragmatic conversation.

Depression is a bit of a new thing for her. When she was younger, she was much more on the manic side of the spectrum. In living with the two sides and how they express through her, manic is not so bad, depression is tough.

Depression is like a giant energy void or vacuum. As if there is a perimeter of the energy of the person that you can still see and interface with, but at the center is a void. A void that their thoughts and feelings and seemingly their self falls into and just disappears, especially when it’s unyielding. In another way, think of it like a whirlpool in the ocean. It is powerful and just pulls energy into itself.

I can see why so many people who live with depressive or psychotic people can get pulled into the thought vortex and sometimes blinded by it. This feeling is why you have to stay grounded and clear, even though the person you are with is not.

To love a depressed person is difficult. Difficult because you just can’t connect. It helps me see how so much of love is the connection, giving/receiving, receiving/giving, fusing, sharing. When that can’t happen, it’s as if the flow of love – at least in how we most often recognize it – is disrupted.

You can’t seem to reach them, and they sometimes cannot raise up enough energy to give back to you. It is just like a constant pull of energy into this void.

It’s the dance of love that I miss. The ascension of spirit and passion, to linger at that precipice of oneness, to touch, feel, play, kiss. How foreplay lingers on that edge. How we come close, pull away, come close again as if both of us tempt, tease and dare the other to finally break through that thin veil to become one. Then it happens, the flight of unity, the pleasure of love.

The sometimes cosmic energy of lovemaking is breathtaking. Not to be minimized, trivialized or made purely physical.

Depression, however, is a thief that breathes all that energy in and in doing so pulls the warmth and tenderness with it. We’ve had sex, not made love, had sex twice in October. Both times her back was turned to me.

Honestly, I can barely stand it. It feels like everything I would never want lovemaking to be. I have been mad, resigned, sad – not for myself, just sad at the departure of something beautiful.

Deep down I wonder if something is getting through. It’s as if she is in a dark room and hears the sound of a singing voice from a distance; the sound of a melody in a world that has none to give her.

I think of this and feel ashamed sometimes of my anger and frustration. I feel selfish. I think that if I were in the dark the sound of the beautiful melody would mean so much to my heart. Am I the bird that can sing into the darkness and choose not to do so?

I can think too much about this, I know.

My hands miss you, dear love. I am weary as I surely know you must be too.

For those of you who read this. Treasure the beauty of your love. Treasure lovemaking that is alive and free.

Thank you for letting me share this, please feel no sorrow for me for just as in the dance “First Fall” there is beauty here. A dimension of love that asks me to ride white horses until the sea calms.

Again, treasure the love you have, dear ones.

First Fall

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