My name is Barry and that’s my gorgeous wife, Bonnie.  I know what you’re thinking, “How did that tall lanky dude get that sexy woman to marry him???”  Hey, I’m as clueless as you.  I know that I need the sunglasses to make me look decent, while they hide her beauty.  I just love waking up next to her each morning.  We were married in 2000 and have two kids, Jordan and Samantha.  We’ve had an eventful life.  Not in terms of traveling or having adventurous careers, though that might have been preferred, but rather we have drastically changed from the people we were when we got married, yet remain devoted and resolute in our love.  We both grew up Mormon and married in the Houston Temple.  Well, fast forward 12 years and in 2012 we both left the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), as we decided it wasn’t what it claimed to be and could no longer participate in it.  Also, in 2008 my wife was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  Those two events completely changed our lives.

Two Lives, One Story.  This has multiple meanings for us.  Obviously you have two people who have chosen to spend their lives together and since then, their lives have merged to one story.  Also, we both have two lives within ourselves: Our Mormon and Post-Mormon identities.  Leaving the LDS Church isn’t like leaving most other religions.  I hope to convey that experience through my words.  Lastly, one can place a divider in our life when Bonnie was diagnosed as being Bipolar.  Learning to live with this disorder, as our constant companion, has been the biggest challenge we’ve faced, yet I don’t think anything could have brought us closer.  Most days we feel victorious.  We try to cherish those, as there are days when it seems like the companion might win but we hold onto each other, get through it and live to fight another day.  I call Bipolar Disorder our companion because it’ll always be with us and we’ve learned to embrace it but won’t let it define us.  Maybe this will sum up our view of mental illness (I wrote this earlier this year):

Mental Illness is frightening, heartbreaking, devastating, difficult and REAL. However, with the right help and partner, it can strengthen relationships, increase the capacity for love, discover talents and courage never imagined, intensify devotion and open the heart for immense empathy. The road to achieve those rewards is likely the most treacherous and painful path ever taken, yet worth it for those you truly love. It affects not only the soul inflicted with the illness but those whom have chosen to be a part of the journey. Being grateful for the presence of this disturbance in your life is probably the most challenging goal to achieve. I’m not sure I can ever get there. What I can say is this:

I’ve been married to my incredible wife for over 12 years and our commitment and love increases each year. The challenges we’ve faced, conquered and still continue to conquer are what has made us who we are. Our beautiful kids will be better human beings, friends, spouses and parents because of what they have experienced and learned, as they are on this journey of discovery and triumph with us. Did I just show gratitude for these struggles? I guess I did. I need to remind myself of that from time to time.

This blog will chronicle these events, along with what moves us in terms of spirituality, science, music, faith, family and so much more.  We’ll dig into our past to learn for the future and hopefully be able to connect with a few of you.  We believe in sharing our triumphs, failures and everything in between.  We also want to narrate these life changing landmarks to give background, context and reasoning for our kids, who are only 5 & 7 years old right now.  One day, in the not too distant future, they’ll be able to read these pages and understand why we made each decision, whether right or wrong, and how our love increased with each new year.

We invite you to stay, read and maybe laugh, cry, ponder, console or celebrate with us, as we share our Two Lives, One Story.