Just so we’re clear — my ability to communicate effectively isn’t altered due to Bipolar Disorder; you and I just think in fundamentally different ways. I teach, I write, I perform a highly technical and complex job and I interact with friends, colleagues and family with no glitches at all – my cognition isn’t different from anyone else’s, nor is it in any way impaired. (psychosis not withstanding, but you haven’t known me in a psychotic state, or anything even close to a psychotic state) Be careful assigning your failure to properly communicate with me to my having Bipolar Disorder – to make such a ludicrous assumption would be to display your ignorance and bias.
Here’s the issue: I don’t understand how it is – how it can possibly be, that you don’t understand the story, or that you are unable to get it. You wrote the story for the first two decades of my life; you beat me, Ed. You were an asshole – not just one day, but every day. My memories are clear and vivid and real, so please don’t try to exonerate yourself by oh so ignorantly asserting that my memory is impaired, or my cognition faulty, due to Bipolar Disorder. If the fault lies in memory impairment, or cognition, you’re the one with the problem.
I didn’t write the letter about mental illness to give you an excuse for poorly communicating with me, I wrote it to give you some background; if you can say “happiness is a fickle virtue,” of Elizabeth not being able find real happiness, after all I had shared with you, you obviously don’t understand all she deals with because of your reprehensible parenting. If what you got out of that letter was a belief that my responses to you are different than you expect because I have Bipolar Disorder, I can’t help you understand — no one can, you see ONLY what you want to see. You don’t get it because you don’t want to – you cannot face yourself.
The fact is, during the first twenty-two years of my life, you failed Universally; as a father and as a man. That is the story, that is all there is to it. And after the ball game, when you went into the bathroom through the exit – presumably so you didn’t have to wait in line, I was appalled. Where is the kindness and consideration you want me to believe is so much a part of you today? Where is the integrity? That was an asshole move. Now, if there is something I don’t know – if you went in and waited in line, or if you are incontinent due to having had prostate cancer, I will amend my sentiments, but if it is nothing more than it appeared to be, the move speaks to your character and I don’t like what it says.
Regarding the bet YOU made. What I felt when reading your texts was two-fold: one, you had to address something – meaning I could just wait in your opinion, without even the consideration of your telling me you had to end our conversation for the time being, and two; you were attempting to weasel out of your bet. Perhaps I don’t get your sense of humor, I don’t think I ever did, actually, but you came across badly and that is on you, not on me, so it has nothing to do with Bipolar Disorder. I understood exactly what you said, and what you implied.
It should be fairly obvious to you by now I am still angry – I didn’t really think I was, but the bathroom incident at the ballgame, followed by the bet text, followed by your most recent email to me has shown me that I am, and rightfully so. I’ve let a lot go, but not everything and I don’t think I can do that until you get honest with yourself, and with me, about the monster I knew you to be when I was a child.
You want me to detail every beating so you can share my pain — they all look just like the ones you’re willing to recall. There were dozens of them, Ed. I begged you for mercy, which you never gave. You humiliated me time and time again. The self-admitted asshole you were the day of the church picnic IS THE MAN WHO RAISED ME – HE IS THE ONLY FATHER I REMEMBER. I cannot make this anymore clear. You were a miserable bastard, a complete and utter failure, and your failure led to some pretty dire consequences; I’m reminded every single day when I take Risperdal, Wellbutrin and Lithium of the father you were.
But I am not unable to communicate properly because of that man – you are. Read what I write, listen to what I say — and take it as gospel, don’t spin it, don’t see it through your eyes. I am not a hard-headed, stubborn Shockley, I abhor that trait, that kind of person – I am able to see and feel and process the pain of others, even when doing so makes me understand myself to be a miserable human being. Sometimes it’s necessary to see ourselves through another’s eyes to truly know ourselves.
When you can do that, when you’re ready to do that, please let me know. Until then, enjoy your trip, don’t drink too much bourbon, and we’ll see you and Marie for Catch Me If You Can and dinner to follow on June 12th.