B.S. Brennan, B.A.

Dear Loyal Readers,

I’m back. Did you miss me? My apologies for the abeyance in entries. Life, not to mention the lack of WiFi, often hinders my time to write. I find a way to blame Bull for everything. (Bull is my husband. When he flew Harriers, Bull was his call sign. His initials are B.S. Brennan. Ironically, there’s not an ounce of bullshit in him, but he is bull-headed. The name fits.) So it’s his fault for taking us on an awesome vacation, not buying us unlimited data on our phones, and inspiring this essay. Thanks a lot, Bull.

(He’s not even here to defend himself. He’s flying hundreds of people all over “the friendly skies.”  Luckily for Bull, I know him so well that I can speak for him. “Don’t blame me. Whatever happened to pen and paper? You could have typed it on a word document and then copied and pasted it onto your blog.  And unlimited data would seal our daughter in her cave. At least now she still comes out for food.” Of course, I must give credit when credit is due, he is right about all of it.

A great deal has happened since my last post. Much of it will probably unfold in this post as well as the next few. My writing has a mind of its own. Literally. I sit down to write about Subject X, but the voice takes over and writes briefly about Subject X and then incorporates Subjects Y and Z to my surprise. I’m sure the voices will get a post of their own soon. This post was supposed to be about my daughter’s missing baby blanket (A.K.A Pink Blankie), but surprise, Bull. Instead it’s about you. You’re welcome. Love you!

My friend Laura has a blog.  (click here to Visit Laura’s Blog) On Father’s Day she posted a well-written, poignant tribute as a gift to her husband, her father, and her father-in-law. The post was genuine, kind, and thoughtful. (So, Bull, blame Laura. That’s how it works. Thanks, Laura. Happy Birthday.) Bull got a card, a trip to the movies, and a dinner all on his dime. So, Bull, consider this your second, more thoughtful, kinder, Father’s Day gift. (And if you think this will be like those nauseating love letters I wrote while you were at Marine boot camps and on Navy ships, then you’re just plain crazy.)

On the real Father’s Day, we saw The Incredibles 2, a Disney cartoon about a family of superheroes. Bull, Baby Genius (A.K.A BG, Snowflake, or our daughter), and I love superhero movies. (When I’m manic, I turn into Super Jen and gain energy from the rays of the sun. Seriously. My special power: I see invisible people. Seriously.) Bull dreams of being a hero. Literally, in his dreams he’s a spy, he’s fighting bad guys, he’s rescuing people (BG, me, strangers, himself), and he’s saving the day.

Two mornings ago, I woke him from what I thought to be a nightmare. On the contrary, he was dreaming he was a ninja. In the dream, he used knives to successfully kill several bad ninjas, but he couldn’t kill the last one because it was made of bone and possessed. I woke him at the point in the dream where he was performing an exorcism. The ugly moans that caused me to wake him weren’t induced by a nightmare. They were song lyrics. He was singing, “Hail Mary,” repetitively in his sleep. He is not Catholic so hail and Mary are the only two words he knows from the rosary prayer. I asked him why he dreams so often of saving the day. His honest, nonchalant, modest answer: “Because I’m a badass.”

As much as I hate to fuel his ego, he’s right. Just not in the traditional, stereotypical sense. He wears no leather vest while riding a Harley. No muscle car sits in our driveway. There’s a gym membership, but there are no rippling muscles or completed triathlons. His hands build or repair nothing. As far as I know, he has never given or taken a beating, and he is definitely not a Don Juan. (He married his second girlfriend, and swears there are no flight attendants in the wings. Bad pun but intended anyway.) The only bragging he does is about his daughter. He doesn’t flaunt his profession, fancy clothes, or a thick wallet.

So what makes BS Brennan a BA?

Urban Dictionary’s [condensed] definition: “A badass does not talk about being a badass; does not try to be a badass or look tough; stays true to [him/herself]; does not give up; will always push [him/herself] for the better; is not a jerk; does not prey on the weak; shows kindness in return to those who are kind; knows his/her limits; does not make enemies or go looking for fights.” (Click here for Urban Dictionary’s complete BA definition)

More importantly, Bull fits my definition: A badass is an individual who intentionally, patiently, and unconditionally loves, cares, and provides for a person with mental illness.

My favorite musical is Phantom of the Opera. Bull took me to see it our senior year in college.  We danced to the Phantom of the Opera song All I Ask of You at our wedding 20 years ago. (Click here to Listen Last week we took Baby Genius to see the Phantom in New York City. During the show, after the song All I Ask of You, I realized I asked him to provide me freedom and a world with no more darkness, fear, or tears. I asked him to be my shelter and my light. I asked him to keep me safe and speak only truths. I became painfully aware of my demanding selfishness, my ridiculously high expectations, and the difficulties of keeping those promises.

Truth: he has kept all those promises. Bipolar Disorder will always have darkness. I will never be free from the disorder or its darkness. But I am no longer afraid of it because I have truth, shelter, and light in my life, even in the darkness, thanks to Bull. Sorry, it’s not Jesus. He and I are on hiatus. Let me explain.

Years ago during an intense bout with mania, I believed God was speaking to me through music lyrics. He told me, (Yes. I actually heard him speak to me. No. I cannot unhear it.) he was sending me clues in lyrics, pieces of a puzzle if you will, to solve a mystery and save the world. In that mania, I was the next Jesus, and that was my reality. (Extreme religious beliefs can be an ingredient in the bipolar recipe.) Thanks to that episode, my relationships with God, religion, and the church are tenuous. I have no desire to discuss this fact. I am lost, and that’s okay for now.  Please pray for my soul. Seriously.

Let me be clear, unfortunately for him, I do not worship Bull. (In fact, I am hardest on the one I need and love the most.) Bull is not my literal or figurative Jesus. He is my husband, my lighthouse in the storm, the rock on my island, the wind beneath my wings, the jelly to my peanut butter, the chocolate to my ice cream, the Bert to my Ernie, the meatball to my spaghetti, etcetera, etcetera.

When I am brutally mean, abjectly sad, superhuman, unable to rouse, unable to sleep, obsessing, ruminating, and/or hallucinating, he loves and cares for me. Basically, he willingly, loyally, without complaint, credit, or compensation handles me and all my surprises while providing for a family and raising a daughter.

So after roughly 20 years of counseling, here is my Freudian analysis of Bull’s dreams:

He’s a badass superhero awake and asleep. And that’s no BS.

If none of the above convinces you that he is indeed a superhero, then this will. His superpower….he can eat ice cream by the pint without getting a brain freeze or gaining a ton of weight. And that’s the just plain crazy truth.






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