My #BeReal guest today is Dori Owen.
I am a storyteller. This is the way I transform my thoughts into #BeingReal.
I came off the assembly line a little bit broken, a little bit funny, and with a love of all things creative. Art and writing are how I express my real. This is one of my favorite stories about me. And it’s about as #BeingReal as it gets.
It’s a little story called Bipolar Dinosaur that I hope will entertain you and show you my reality.
Having a bipolar disorder is like keeping a pet dinosaur.
You live your life everyday doing everyday things, while out of the corner of your eye, you keep an eye on your dinosaur. Let me give you an example. In the car, you buckle up your dinosaur into the back seat. Driving along, it’s as if he isn’t even there. I say he because my dinosaur is a boy. There are plenty of girl dinosaurs as well, I just happen to have a boy. I refuse to name him though. I do this as a power play. It is unfortunate, however, that he does know my name.
Most of the time I don’t even know he’s in the car. When I look in the rear view window, I don’t see him. He’s rather short. Yesterday, I was driving to my brother Danny’s house and had to make a quick freeway change. Even after all of my years of living in Los Angeles, I’ve recently become a reluctant freeway driver. It’s too far out of my comfort zone. As I made the final lane change to ease onto the 202 freeway, a small car moved into the lane at the same time I did, with no signal or warning, in a quick cut off move. The driver never even looked. My dinosaur flew into the front seat. “Honk your horn! Are you going to let him get away with that? He’s crazy. He could have caused a huge accident. You could have been killed!”
Settle down, little dinosaur. It happens. Everyone’s safe, I’m a defensive driver. I’d reacted in enough time. But this little guy holds the key to my bipolar rage. He looks so sweet and innocent on the outside, but I know the trouble he can cause. I ordered him to return to the back seat. I have to constantly remind him of who’s in charge.
I’m the only one who can see him. It could become very troublesome explaining why I walk alongside a dinosaur. He’s quite invisible. Last night I had to make a stop at Walmart, one of his favorite stores. I tried to think of any way I could avoid this errand. I was willing to go to two different stores. But, no, I feed abandoned cats in the neighborhood and it’s really the only place with affordable bulk cat food. Sigh, it’s 4:00 pm. I can just imagine the chaos inside. Surprisingly, it goes smoothly. I have the dinosaur seated safely in the cart and we careen through the aisles. I threw ice cream in the cart for a treat along with the cat food. I remembered I needed a birthday card. On a whim, I went into the hair salon and had three inches of hair cut off for the unbelievably low price of $12.88, to fix the mess I’d made earlier hacking away at my hair. Sidebar: Why do all prices end in 88 cents at Walmart? Has extensive marketing research been done to prove this is the most appealing price point? Another Walmart annoyance.
But nonetheless, I was looking good now, had gathered all my items, and my dinosaur had fallen asleep in the cart.
Self-checkout is the greatest new grocery innovation for controllers like me. I can check prices, bag my things properly, and take as long as I please. I feel like I’m playing a store cashier game and I find small joy in this role play. So I’m waiting for my turn. Half of the stations are for cash, half are for electronic payment. Most Walmart shoppers pay cash, I’ve noticed, so I rarely wait long because I use my debit card. I quickly climb to first in line. Happy happy happy at Walmart. Take my picture.
Out of freaking nowhere, Tall Blonde Young Man flies by me and runs for the electronic payment station that’s just been vacated. Dinosaur stirs. I’m still reeling from the wave of his wind tunnel in disbelief. I’m a person of order. Wait, what? I turn to the woman behind me and mutter that I suppose I must have moved too slowly for him. He had come up from at least three carts behind me. Dinosaur is now wide awake and watching me. Girl behind me says, well, that’s for credit cards. I respond yes, I know. I can’t even make eye contact with the dinosaur because I know he’s seething over this vagrant display of queue bad manners.
In a few minutes, another station opens, fortuitously right next to Rude Boy. My dinosaur has now climbed out of the cart and is jumping up and down next to me. “C’mon. SAY something. Tell him he cut in front of you. Cuts. He took cuts. No cuts!” I’m already well into the cashier game, separating my food and nonfood items, double bagging the ice cream. I’m still a little annoyed, too. But, shit. Is it really worth giving in to the dinosaur? If I give in to this tantrum, he’s just going to think it’s acceptable behavior. I really do need him to learn who has the power here. It doesn’t help that Rude Boy is kind of cute. I’m going to rag on that stuff? I think not. Get in the cart, dinosaur, we’re done here. It wasn’t perfect, but it is our nemesis Walmart. It’s as good as it gets.
So this is life with a dinosaur. And this was only yesterday. Just one day. It is a constant battle of wills. A never ending power struggle that I must always work to win. If I don’t, the consequences can be disastrous with immense collateral damage. He survives on pills that I feed him every morning and every night. Without this fuel, he becomes unmanageable. It’s very difficult for me sometimes because of the fact that he’s invisible. His foibles and follies appear to be my own. I’ve tried to explain to people—no, it’s not me, it’s my dinosaur who does these terrible things, who wants to stay home alone, who stays quiet for long periods of time and gets sad for no reason. And sometimes he spends my money on things I can’t afford and has not so great judgement in men. But no, all they see is me. Not my dinosaur.
In a funny kind of way, I do love my dinosaur and we’ve become quite attached over the years of a sometimes tumultuous marriage. We have known each other for such a long, long time. He makes me brave, creative, and so different from everyone else. Quirky. Sometimes we laugh at how ridiculous the world is and how they’d never understand our crazy relationship. Deep down, I think he knows I have the power and over the years we’ve come to a truce of sorts.
Having a dinosaur is actually rather amusing. Just remember who’s the boss.
Dori Owen blogs on arizonagirldiary.tumblr.com, is a columnist on FeminineCollective.com, a contributor/editor for The Lithium Chronicles, created the Facebook page Diary of an Arizona Girl, is an author on AskABipolar, was featured in the books FeminineCollective RAW&UNFILTERED VOL I and StigmaFighters Vol II, and is a zealous tweeter as @doriowen. She’s a former LA wild child who settled into grownup life as a project manager, collecting an MBA and a few husbands along the way. Dori spent her adult years in Southern California, with a brief stay in Reno, and has now returned to where she ran away from in Arizona. She is a shown artist, writer, and her favorite pastime is upcycling old furniture she finds from thrift stores. She lives with her beloved rescued terrier, Olivia Twist, and the cat who came to visit but stayed. The love of her life is her grown son in Portland, Oregon who very much resents being introduced after her pets. But she she does love him the most.