Families Coming Back Together

As often happens with the preasures of living with metal illness in a home, my family had been torn apart. After decades of living undiagnosed my wife at the time insisted that I seek assistance. The diagnosis of bipolar was the result of my relenting both to my wife and to the strain of supoorting and raising a family while fighting to maintian control over what I often refered to as my unseen nemesis. That was April, 2002.

About a month later, as the relization began to set in that simply taking a pill doesn't make it all better, the topic of divorce emerged in the house and a tornado of events began to unfold. Division of assets, Family Court Hearings, adjusting to medications, changing of jobs, moving, and so much more all became a chaotic whirlwind threatening to carry me and my twin daughters off to the land of OZ.

Unfortunately in many respects it did. As the preasures grew my strength to maintian "normalicy" dwindled and the effects were apparent to my daughters. Then 12 years old, their own preasures they were feeling as their world was turned upside-down began to take its toll and by 2005 the efforts exerted by their mother to seperate us finally accomplished its mission.

For the next nearly 4 years I would be isolated from my daughters despite having 51% custody. Anger was left to fester in their mother's home and distortions were left unchecked. Stigma and ignorance were the only guiding principles and the result has been devistating.

However, I am overjoyed to be able to tell a continuation of this story that includes a reuniting of a father with his daughters. As of Memorial Day weekend, 2009 I have been blessed with once again being able to talk with and visit with both of my Baby Girls. In fact, one of my daughters has chosen to live me.

There are challenges. Last I knew my daughters they were girls and now have grown into young women. Finding the right ballance of respecting their accomplishments while still being dad is proving to be rather complicated. When adding in the effects of 4 years of not being able to grow and learn together as I have gone through a recovery process, there is the added complication of their having to play "catch-up" in getting to know the new dinamics of who their dad is.

As I go through this new season I will do my best to share what I learn. To date I guess the biggest lesson is that coming to the table with a loving heart, an open mind, and a ballanced desire to forgive and often be forgiven seem to be the cornerstones of a healthy healing process. A process where all parties concerned understand that its nobody's fault the illness has caused pain and that often family members hurt back out of frustration. Where everybody is willing to come back together and try again.

I will close with something that every influencial man in my life has taught me in one way or another; the most valuable relationships in our lives are always the ones we fight the hardest for.

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Placer County Mental Health Collective
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