The First Time

We were at the drive-in, you know those old time outdoor big screen movies where you sit in your car with a little audio box resting on your window to hear the movie.  It was the early 80’s and the drive-in was still a big thing to do for a date.  I will never forget we were watching Arnold Schwarzaneggar  star in Conan the Barbarian when my date whispered “I love you” in my ear.  I was surprised because it was only our second date.  I responded that we really didn’t know each other well enough yet, so therefore it wasn’t possible for him to know if he loved me.  That sparked the very first bipolar episode of thousands that took over my life over the next thirty five years. His whole demeanor changed in an instant to dark, ugly, and thin lipped.  He was really angry and immediately threw the audio box out of the vehicle, slammed it into reverse, the truck jerking and lurching every direction, coming within millimeters of every car in the rows around us,  as he scarily drove out of there.  That was also the first time I calmed him and talked him down from an episode as he drove me home.I was fifteen years old and had no dating experience or even life experience for that matter.  I just didn’t understand what happened.  My parents had a strong loving marriage and I never saw my father angry or even raise his voice.  I was so unprepared and naive to even be aware of mental illness of any kind.  I had never heard the words bipolar or borderline personality disorder. I am from a tiny country town and this was a different time.It’s so hard to answer the whys for people.  Why did you stay? Why did you get married?  Maybe there’s something wrong with me.  I don’t know.  Lack of experience? Maybe.  A thousand reasons.  A thousand apologies believed.  Idealism??  I’m not sure.  I do know that unless you have experienced what I have, you don’t have the knowledge to judge me.   Perhaps I just wanted someone to love and to love me. I suppose he did in his own way, I suppose….

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