The Next Year

We went on for a year like that.  Very, very gradually he started easing up on the check-ins and monitoring where I went.  We endured the funeral of his grandmother during this time.  I obsessed less and less—all it took was remembering how hurt Bob was over it to stop them in their tracks now.  I continued therapy and worked even harder on my issues.  Bob simply had to have time to heal from it all; we had long discussions about where our relationship was going and what we could do to make it better. Thankfully, we survived the entire ordeal and celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary in 2013.

Sadly, obsessions of this nature are part and parcel of bipolar disorder.  Sexual adventuring is a hallmark symptom of the disease.  I knew what I was feeling wasn’t real in the sense that it wasn’t love or any other sane emotion. It was simply an obsession—a trick of my mind.  Being aware of this truth saved my marriage in that I fought the obsessions with all I had even though I did slip that one time.  I know that in God’s eyes I was committing adultery against Bob by obsessing like this.  But I’ve been forgiven and was finally saved from it by the grace of God.

To forestall it happening again, I’ve started being very careful at how I interact with men.  I try not to be in conversation with a man without Bob being around as well.  I don’t want to give something a chance to start, and I don’t want to give anyone a reason to be suspicious at how I interacted with people. I do have a very few long-term male friends I stay in contact with, mostly over Facebook–a few from college and one from my writing days.  Bob knows them and trusts me with them. I’m also very careful with students, making sure that I don’t interact with the guys in my class in anything resembling an inappropriate way. And I keep a watch on my mind, making sure it’s Bob I’m thinking about and caring for with all my heart.

I don’t know if the pastor from my church that resigned has any of these deep-seated psychological issues   But his situation led me to share my story in hopes that other bipolar people who struggle with these kinds of issues know that they can fight them and not give in to acting on them in any irreversible way.  The feelings can be a threat to a marriage, but with proper treatment, the obsessions can be controlled to a degree.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 4gazpacho
    Dec 12, 2014 @ 23:39:19

    Obsessive thoughts and feelings are not exclusively a bipolar trait, unfortunately. The Bible makes it clear that we are to “take captive” our thoughts, implying that this is a universal human problem, and that it takes hard work and effort (taking captive implies planning, strategy, discipline, supreme effort, even struggle) proactively. But we are not taught this at home or in church anymore. I learned early on in my marriage that no one is immune to stray thoughts and feelings. The last paragraph you wrote here is so true. I’m glad you are sharing this wisdom!

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  2. jdlwhitehead
    Dec 13, 2014 @ 00:05:39

    Obsessions are not exclusive to bipolar disorder, but in my reading I’ve read a great deal about the sexual risk-taking that almost always accompanies this disorder. Obsessions is how it manifests in my life. The most important idea I wanted people to get from this story is that you do not have to act on these feelings because they are likely rooted in your disorder, not in reality. I wasn’t “in love” with this other guy or wanting to leave Bob for him–I just couldn’t stop thinking about him. That’s more what I wanted to get across.

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  3. 4gazpacho
    Dec 14, 2014 @ 02:44:24

    I’m so glad you are writing about this. I should have added to my thoughts above that while obsessing is not unique to bipolar, we tend to feel everything more deeply, which heightens the struggle, and keeps us farther from overcoming these feelings. I admit that I have had a couple of obsessions over the past 35 years or so. It didn’t get past the thought stage, fortunately. Keep writing. I love everything you’re doing.

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