The first signs I can remember about my life and being bipolar.
5. The Beginning of "Why?"
They say you can never know what another man feels until you've walked a mile in his shoes. There's a lot of wisdom in old Indian sayings.
I grew up an only child, attended Catholic school through fifth grade, and lived in a middle-class neighborhood in a middle-sized city. I remember when they built the fifth high school in town--population growth in teens. There are a lot of members of the Baby Boom Generation, born between 1945-1963 in the United States--74.1 million according to 2017 census estimates. Those Boomers lived thru Kennedy's death during elementary school. After high school meant the draft for many of my male friends. We had only three television channels, and all telephones had wires that were attached to walls. People didn't have a computer. Life growing up was unique for my generation. I admit to being over 50, and further details you can glean from between the lines of my essay writing. I am a female. Miss means female, unmarried. Mrs. means female, married. Ms. means female, and the rest is none of your business. That's how I used to explain it to my students.
During third grade, I experienced a playground incident. I was bullied by a mean little, short, younger girl. She picked on me for being the tallest girl on the playground. I wouldn't fight back. All the advice I got from everybody was to fight back, but I wouldn't. It had something to do with my concept of myself being so much bigger, that if I let her have a beating, it would really hurt her. If I got started, I didn't know what would happen, but nobody would like it. That's a tendency I've had all my life. I hold my temper for awhile, and then I explode over the entire situation from some little something that's become the last straw.
The boys called me "the Jolly Green Giant" then. The girls wore green uniforms. I transferred to public school from Catholic school in sixth grade. Private school competitive pressure had affected my life attitude. The doctor gave me a prescription for some little red pills. I took my pills and went to public school in sixth grade.
I had a circle of friends at school, in the neighborhood, and at the skating rink. I took skating lessons, and won award medals. I studied hard, watched television with my dad, and made good grades. I got braces in sixth grade, and the boys called me "electromouth".
I thought I was fat, but in actuality, I was very long and lean. I was 5' 2" in fourth grade and could play the song of the same title on the ukulele in fourth grade. Then I got in trouble for riding my bike too far from home, and my mom didn't let me see my best friend, who lived across the street, anymore. I rolled my long brown hair in a pony tail on top of my head with rollers the size of an orange juice can. I watched Dr. Kildare on television. I lived in a pink room that had a window looking out on young orange trees my dad had planted in the back yard.
I was 5' 8" and still growing as I entered high school. You can't be that tall and not attract attention. Luckily, I always had a top locker.
I wasn't the cheerleader type, but president of Future Homemakers of America in Corpus Christi, Texas my junior year, and president of the Office Education Association my senior year in Houston. My father worked for an oil company as a cartographer, and we were transferred the summer before my senior year. My high school graduation ring wasn't from the school I graduated from in Houston. I made myself moderately unhappy my senior year. I got the flu and missed the prom. I dreamed about basketball players.
I wasn't extremely sociable, besides being club president, and working at the Greater Houston Builders Association my senior year. I graduated in the top 10% of my class, and attended college as a freshman at the University of Houston, with a declared major of business. After dropping my calculus course, I I was living at home with my parents, and driving across town to classes. My father died of lung cancer in February of my second semester. His passing changed my life. I was no longer Daddy's girl. Didn't get along with my mother very well. I changed my major to History, and later to English my senior semester in college. He was diagnosed with cancer only the November before. Life was different a after Daddy died, and I still miss his love. 1974 was a lifetime ago.
I fell in love in the spring of my freshman year. After dating for three months, and me having sex for the first time, we got engaged. He broke it off just before Christmas of 1974. He said he couldn't marry me because he was gay. My sexuality was devastated, and I still wouldn't say I'm over it. My reality was not like the sitcom "Will and Grace".
I transferred to the University of Texas at Austin for my junior and senior year. All my 60 credits transferred. I joined a service sorority, and fell in love again. I wanted to have a baby with John's beautiful blue eyes, and curly brown hair. When he broke up with me for a younger girl with bigger tits, I came unglued. I tried to overdose on some little red pills I had on hand one fall evening in 1976.
One of my girlfriends, a service sorority sister, gave me a hug when I came out of the bathroom, and the pills mostly spilled out of my mouth. I remember that next morning's psychopharmacology class I was in one hung-over daze. It was the first time I attempted suicide. I was 22.
I finished my major in English and history, with a minor in education in December of 1977. The last semester of the four and a half years was the longest. I was ready to not be in school anymore. In earlier scenarios, I had planned to study for a law degree at one of my alma maters. I attended college both sessions every summer. Four and a half years had elapsed since I had a "brain break." I was tired of learning, and ready to be a salaried adult.
In January of 1978 I was hired by a Houston area school district as a high school English teacher. Teachers made even less money then, but I managed to afford a little apartment, and carpooled to work with coworkers in my part of town. I joined the Houston area Tall Club, and met my future husband. Frank was 6' 8". My height is 5' 10 1/2". We met in March and married in August. We lived together fifty weeks as husband and wife--just short of a year.
In February of 1979, Frank came home and found me drunk and crying, and he took me to a mental unit in a Houston hospital. The three of us, Frank, myself, and my stepdaughter, went though family counseling for a short time. The stepdaughter had come to live with us about six weeks after we were married. Her new stepfather, a merchant marine, was beating her. In July of 1979,
I packed my bag and put it in the trunk. We went to a Tall Club party that evening. I woke up early the next morning, wrote a good-bye, it's over note, and drove away.
It wasn't so easy. I moved from Houston to Dallas, and was ready to rebel from my life, and do some living. It wasn't just living. It was living on.