"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Monday, August 04, 2003
Do You Really Want To Know What Other People Are Thinking?
ta·boo Function: adjective
Etymology: Tongan tabu
1 : forbidden to profane use or contact because of what are held to be dangerous supernatural powers
2 a : banned on grounds of morality or taste b : banned as constituting a risk
3 : Going through other people's stuff.
It's been a month since I last posted, mainly because I have been on a month long hypo-manic phase. This means I was generally happy go lucky, felt like a really nice guy, and had a great time doing it. That type of mood doesn't normally make for good writing material. You tend to sound smug and self centered and rosy eyed, and you can't help it because that is precisely how you are.
Of course, nothing lasts forever, particularly mood swings. Not even this one.
About two weeks ago, my Bipolar illness starting messing around with me again. I was working on a project at work and found myself totally engrossed in it, VERY obsessed with it. MUCH more than normal. And that strongly goal oriented behavior overflowed into other areas of my psyche as well. The next day I knew I had had a manic episode, although not a big one.
Of course I did not think about the fact that EVERY manic episode WILL be followed by a depressive episode of at least twice the severity. That hit me on Wednesday. But let me back up a day.
On Tuesday I called a friend, we'll call her "C", to make arrangements to fix something on her computer Friday, since I was going to be in town anyways for a couple of doctor's appointments. I really hate eating alone in restaurants, and I knew that she usually went to lunch with another young lady at work (We'll call her "A") who was also my friend, so I asked C if it would be OK if I joined them (I usually arrange lunch with someone in that office when I visit since I used to work in that building and am friends with most of the people there.) She said that would be fine. What I did not realize was that "A" was on vacation, and as a result my request must have been horribly misinterpreted. I had no idea at the time.
By Tuesday night the first twinges of my depression were making themselves felt. It was not fun.
By Wednesday a gloom flowed over me but I tried to deal with it. The trip I was making Friday was to repair the Microsoft Messenger connection on C's computer, but Wednesday morning I noticed that A's messenger wasn't connecting either. Thinking something was amiss companywide, I called and asked for A. That's when I found she was on vacation.
By Thursday my depression was a LOT bigger, but it was still under control. I got an email from C saying that she had been told that her work load would be really heavy Friday and she would not be able to do lunch. Now, I know the guy she works for, and he can't think ahead far enough to fall when he is dropped, so I knew this wasn't the case. The problem was that it had ended up as "Cliff and C" going to lunch together, or so I surmised. But that was OK, I understood and was not bothered at all. I wrote her an email apologizing for inadvertently putting her on the spot, if such was the case.
That day after work I was installing an upgrade on a coworker's computer, who just happens to be C's best friend. We'll call her "M". As part of the general maintenance on it I noted that she had opened several of her chat log files that day, which was a really odd occurance. They were mostly logs with C.
So I clicked on one to see why. Never open Pandora's box unless you are ready to face the worst of consequences.
The files had been deleted, every one of them. That sent up a HUGE red flag. There was no good reason to delete log files.
I would not be a good system administrator if I didn't know how to get around that, so I did.
The files that had been deleted contained what I immediately interpreted as some very unfriendly discussions about ME. You know the old science fiction stories that pose the question, "Would you really want to know what other people are thinking?" They always end the same way, with the mind reader finding out the most atrocious and awful things. Some things are never intended to see the light of day. And that's what I was experiencing.
Pandora's box was eating me alive, and at this point it was too late, there was nothing I could do about it. I had only read a few lines, but it was enough. I was floored. The suggestion had been made to delete the program I was coming to work on so I would not come, and other chat accounts had been set up so I could not see when someone was on line or not. Remarks had been made like "Wait, he's in the room right now..."
All I was doing was trying to be a friend, and it seemed that I was being looked on as some creepy guy to shun and make fun of. And that was so far from the truth of it.
Of course, this had to happen while I was ALREADY in my depressed state.
It's hard for me to understand sometimes, I am such an unassuming person. I really have no desire to do the things that other people fall into. Promises to me are laws, morals are the air I breathe, there are many lines I simply can't cross and never will. I never lie or am less than open. I forget that other people aren't like that and I really can't expect them to understand where I am coming from a lot of the time.
I try to be a nice guy and they think I am on the prowl or want something. And that really never crosses my mind. I just want friends so badly.
The good part of Thursday was that I had several friends come over for dinner. They cheered me up immensely, salvaging what would have been a very rough night. I called my daughter and she said it was fine if I dropped by her store for lunch Friday, which I did, so I didn't have to eat by myself, and that was good too.
I went by C's office as planned and worked on the computers, and everything seemed like nothing had happened. But I knew it had.
The weekend led to even deeper depression, both chemically and now this was feeding it. It wasn't until Sunday that I made a decision on how to handle it. Act like it never happened, be me, nice as always, and let God sort it out.
Imagine my surprise shortly after I came to that decision when I got two emails from C. One was a forward of a news article, the other was a picture of her little girl that she had taken.
People don't send pictures of their little girls to creepy guys, do they?
THEN I realized something about myself. I had been able to spot the manic episode, at least after the fact. I had been able to spot the depressive episode too. But my illness has a third partner, paranoia. That had been running rampant and I had never seen it coming.
So I thought back, and sure enough, what I had read was really only conversations between people who did not want to hurt my feelings after things had unintentionally gotten sideways. In a really odd but true way, that's a compliment.
I took the picture of her daughter and transformed her into an angel, adding wings and a blue cloudy sky. C loves her children with every cell of her being, and I knew she would like this. I emailed it back to her.
She calls me this morning and tells me that she likes it so much its her new wallpaper. I am honored.
This afternoon, M comes in and asks me to make a phone call for her that was going to be confrontational. I gladly do so. I am honored to be asked.
If it can indeed be done, I intend to close that Pandora's box again. If I can just convince myself, if I can just believe hard enough...
The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets a discreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.
Henry L. Mencken