Dear New Shrink,
I am at a loss. My friend and I have known each other 20 years. He moved away four years ago, but we talked regularly. I must mention he is bipolar and bisexual. We had an ongoing affair after his first divorce, and we both enjoyed that aspect of our lives. Before Christmas we talked and he never mentioned anything to me about remarrying. I found out New Year’s Day via Facebook. I was shocked, but I thought he needed a new person in his life. I congratulated him, tried calling him, but he shut me out just like that, no warning. I feel bad that I found out since he is off meds, back to drinking and his new wife is 17 years his junior. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. I feel for him but I don’t know how to handle this. I’m so disappointed. He lives 3,000 miles away now, so I could not see all of this. I hope he is going to be OK.
At a Loss
Dear At a Loss,
I am sorry for your pain. It is clear that you are not only shocked but grief stricken. Twenty years is a long time and you were intimate. Your pain is understandable and you might want to look into some kind of group therapy support or counseling to help you get through this and also to better understand your involvement with someone so split off, hidden and unpredictable.
Clearly, he is not a stable man or picture of mental health. It sounds like he is very confused about who he is and what he wants and is also quite secretive. Bipolar and bisexual and apparently has an alcohol problem because you say he is back to drinking.
I don’t think bisexual is necessarily unusual or a sign of sickness, but the overall picture is one, as you describe it, of somebody who is not ready for an honest, steady, healthy relationship, friendship or otherwise.
How long ago were you intimate? Was it before he moved away four years ago? Were you in love with him or was it simply an enjoyable bisexual experience for you?
It feels like the intimacy created a sense of closeness for you that apparently may not have been there for him. Or maybe you were so intimate that he could not tell you of his hidden self. There is also a good chance that he does not want to hear your warnings and words of wisdom and most likely, that he does not want his new wife to know anything about you. I can’t think of another reason to cut you off unless you were expecting more from the intimate relationship and he simply did not know how to tell you.
It does sounds like he is headed for a crash, being off his meds and drinking again, but it also sounds like you really cannot do anything about it.
It’s time for you to take care of yourself and maybe to do some inventory on what this relationship was about for you.
Al-Anon family groups could be a great idea for you. They are all over the city. They have meetings for gays and lesbians, just men, just women, co-ed for straight or gay. The philosophy and steps are truly miraculous. I honestly suggest that you find yourself a group that works for you and attend it on a regular basis. There is no question that this will help you and provide the support you need so badly right now.
There are no dues or fees and members are anonymous. If you don’t like one group, try another. You can find them online or by calling information. They have a central office or online you get general information about how they can help and by putting in your city or zip code, you will get a list of local meetings.
The other option is to find a group therapy or a therapist, which can also help a lot but will cost you money, usually well spent. But finally, they are not mutually exclusive. A good therapist would probably suggest that you give Al-Anon a try as a compliment to the therapy work.
Loss of a relative, lover or friend is very painful. It is always best to get some help for yourself. If your friendship is meant to be, he will be back around one day. But for now, let go and get help for you.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and marriage/family therapist. She is also APA certified in the treatment of alcoholism and other substance use disorders. Dr. Barge has offices in Brentwood and can be contacted at www.drbarge.com. Send your anonymous questions and replies to firstname.lastname@example.org. Got something on your mind? Let us help you with your life matters.