I lost most of 2 years of my life between being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and getting stabilized. I can remember bits and pieces, but there are gaps. My parents will still mention and talk about events which I cannot recall.
I can recall a number of things, though. I can still remember pulling back from most of my friends. I can still remember trying to protect the people I cared about because I was afraid that I would hurt them. I remember failing classes. I remember my room. I remember pain.
I don’t remember the notes. I don’t remember being a threat to myself. I don’t remember what happened in all of those classes. But I remember the pain.
The last few years have been filled with a slow transformation. In all of the pain and suffering, I somehow lost myself and became something. I became my own suffering. I forgot Brandon and became a story of sadness and grace. I forgot how to smile and laugh, and learned to tell the story of grief and loss. I learned to see the years fly by, and I learned to see the story in it all, but I forgot myself.
Recently, I have been thinking, plodding and trying to remember so many things. How do I smile? How do I step into who I am? How do I learn to feel alive again? How am I me?
Then it hit me. I am me. I am not a story of a guy with bipolar. I am not a conglomerate of experiences. I am a human being with all of those things. I am something completely other. I am me.
But what does this mean? It means that sometimes I have to let go in order to allow something bigger, something better, and something truer in. It means that as much as my story is true, I am not my story. It happened, yes, but it is not all of me. Now it is time to let that definition go.
Michael Hidalgo has told me on numerous occasions that we know we are in a good place when we stop talking about our wounds and start talking about the God who healed them. I used to think that he meant that I needed to see and address the healing that I had experienced. I was wrong.
Identities are issues of singularities. There is something, some one thing, that undergirds everything. In my case, feelings of pain, disappointment, isolation, unmet expectation, and hopelessness built a foundation in my soul that I desperately wanted to avoid. I tried to learn to tell my story so I could be known, and even find approval. But trying to avoid my self-given identity, I forgot who I was.
In order to discover the truth about myself, I had to let go of that pain. I had to allow healing to take place, then allow something bigger, greater, and truer to supersede the pain that had dictated my identity.
Now I think I understand what Michael was saying far more deeply. Being in a good place is not about understanding the healing that we have experienced. It is about being something bigger, greater, and truer than I ever could have thought before because I am not defined by my wounds, but by the one who healed them.
Letting go of the pain means asking what I am holding on to that I cannot let go of. I means asking why I feel such pain in the core of my soul. It means letting go. It means surrendering. It means being transformed. It means being free.