Hi, I’m Lance Merrick (also known as “BbqDad”) and I have Bipolar Type I and PTSD.
I’m over six decades old and live in a senior community apartment in a little town in Alaska. I am actually the youngest one here as everyone is my elder. I met one such lady named Sharon, and she has some memory issues.
There is a bus that takes us to a senior center where they serve a great lunch for free. I go twice a week on my days off and that is how I know Sharon.
We eat lunch together and every time she asks me if I want cream and sugar for my coffee. I always reply that I only drink my coffee black, unless someone buys me a coffee (then get me a Carmel Macchiato!)
Sharon just doesn’t have a very good short-term memory. She lives by herself in an apartment with no internet, no phone, and no TV. Her only social contact is talking to people at the smoking area (she doesn’t smoke) or going to lunch.
Today, I was feeling a little sad because I haven’t been able to talk to my daughters in a month. Mostly because I had a manic episode recently and that scares them. They don’t want to hear my racing thoughts or agitation in my voice when I get that way.
Sharon asked me how was I doing. I thought, “What could it hurt?”
So I told her my story.
I told her all about how I had bipolar and twenty years ago, I left Connecticut for Oregon to work in a high paying consultant gig. I wanted to be a big shot. What I lost was contact with my children and eventually a divorce from my wife since I had separated myself over 3000 miles away.
I went on to say how I got involved with drugs and started drinking heavily to drown out my guilt and pain over what I had done. It didn’t help that I had severe mania and depression and both would last several months in length. The alcohol especially would extend and make my mania worse. I couldn’t sit still and couldn’t focus on doing my job. I bounced around from consulting gig to consulting gig, trying to hide my symptoms all the way.
I missed going to soccer practices, Halloween birthday parties, proms, helping with math homework and all the things that happened to my kids while I wasn’t there. What I had done killed my spirit.
It wasn’t until I was attending a self-growth entrepreneur weekend seminar that I had a breakthrough. You see, the speaker was chatting me up during a break and found out that I had not talked to my daughter in over 10 years.
At once, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “We are not going to leave this hotel until you call and talk to one of your daughters”.
He was listening to my heart and what I desired most. Calling my kids is what I wanted to do.
It took a little effort but I texted my ex, and she graciously sent me the number to my daughter’s cell phone.
I prayed and called the number.
After two rings, she answered. I told her that I was sorry and didn’t feel like I had a right to even call myself her dad. She explained that she saw the number and area code and almost didn’t answer, but that she decided instead if it was me she would try to forgive.
Then she said something that rocked my world and set me on a straight path.
“Dad it’s been so long, but I forgive you and you are still my hero.”
I looked over at Sharon to see if she was still listening and I saw tears well up in her eyes. I started to tear up myself when I asked what was wrong.
She said, “You have been through a lot, and I know you are a good person. I am so glad that you get to talk to your kids and visit with them again.”
Then we both cried tears of joy. I was grateful for the seminar speaker that gave me a kick in the pants to pick up the phone. (By the way, If there is someone you need to talk to, give them a call)
I told Sharon, “You have been through a lot too. You lost your dad, You lost your son, and are living alone in Alaska.”
She said, “I know but I have you.”
I had listened to her story too.
We both were listening to each other and able to give each other a touch of human kindness and sometimes that is the thing that will cure a pain in one’s heart. To be heard.
Sharon can’t remember our conversation. She doesn’t remember seeing me at lunch. She can’t remember if I take cream and sugar with my coffee, but she can do one thing well.
I hope that if you have some pain in your heart that hasn’t gone away in years, let me offer you this:
I will listen.
I will listen because someone listened to me.
This post was recently published on bpswingsets.org check it out and comment. Thanks.
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