The Long Road to Betterment

As human beings, regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve become conditioned to evaluate our success in life based on the monetary value of our material possessions. The impact of this trending train of thought has become detrimental to our society, and is especially toxic for those of us who already struggle to find our sense of selves, our true value.

This shift in humanity, in my opinion, grew exponentially with the rise of the technological era. While it’s existed within us for several generations, it’s much more prominent in the last few. And while recently there has been a small faction bringing minimalist living to light, currently more than ever we have become obsessed with the idea of owning the best and newest things.

This has been a difficult post to write because of my own current struggles on the topic. Where is the line between valuing possessions over what really matters, and yearning for a sense of security you’ve never known? There’s obviously financial security in the way of assets, and then there’s having a stable life. Who’s to say when we’ve taken it too far, and how do we separate the wants from the true needs?

I was raised as a welfare baby, my mom on social security, section 8, food stamps, and I’ve had government provided health insurance for my entire life. My mom still survives on the programs, and now I’m raising my daughter on food stamps and free health care as well. It’s not a choice, because while my husband works, it’s not enough, and I can’t bring in enough money with my disabilities to make the pain they’d cause worth the while.

I’m sure my mother wasn’t proud to need all that assistance to raise me, and I’m certainly not proud either. We recently began trying to apply for home loans, as we’ve both lived under mostly slum lords for our entire lives and we want better for our daughter. Long and painfully disappointing story short, we got denied this week and it broke me.

This switch has gone off inside of me, making me feel guilt, inferiority, and judgment towards myself. I swore I’d never raise my child on welfare, but this was before I knew of my physical restraints. Despite my lack on control in the matter, there’s a certain self resentment that comes with that, a sense of worthlessness. I thought I’d found the perfect home for us, actually allowed myself to get excited for once, and now someone else’s family will fill the home.

It’s been an incredibly trying week, with tensions always escalating and tensions always rising due to our current crappy living situation, and I haven’t felt this defeated in a really long time. Especially for those of us with mental illness, stability is incredibly imperative to our success, and it’s my firm belief that if I can finally achieve stability, maybe I can finally begin my journey to betterment.

What I thought was one step closer turned out to be two steps back, but I must still press on. I have to believe that there’s more left in life for me than just the current chapter, that the book will have at least a relatively halpy ending. Here’s to everyone else who’s had a disappointing week or felt broken by something outside of your control. Life gave us lemons, so I guess we’re making lemonade, no matter how sweet or sour it tastes.

Retrospective

There are times I find that it’s hard for me to accept how things have turned out in life, being 27 and unable to work due to chronic illnesses such as scoliosis and rheumatoid arthritis, to keep it short, has had a huge impact on who I am as a person. This definitely isn’t the life I envisioned for myself, and sometimes, like most, I feel a little sorry for myself. Before my disabilities took hold, before my daughter, my husband and I were in a relatively successful local band, and before becoming a mother, music was the only thing in life that I always knew was meant to be.

Once you’ve been within reach of your dreams and gotten a taste of what that feels like, it’s incredibly difficult when lost. At one point, I actually allowed myself to believe that all my wildest dreams could come true, that I would get every little thing I deserved for putting everything I have into being the best person that I can be. Once those thoughts take hold, everything else goes unnoticed, including the first signs that what you thought was wild success, may in fact turn into a complete and utter failure of a situation.

It took years for me to get the courage to perform on stage as a lead singer, I mean after all, my only experience had been singing in choir, and singing in the car and shower. But once I let myself show the world my talent, I never wanted it to stop – I wanted to show everyone, not just those who doubted me or worked against me, but to show people who struggle to find the self-esteem and strength to follow their dreams that it could be done, by a nobody nonetheless.

While the band has been dead for a few years now, I still haven’t finished grieving, and while I haven’t completely given up on the dream, the more time passes, it becomes increasingly difficult to manifest any sort of true motivation to pursue it anymore. As sad as that is, it’s a product of my ever persistent lack of confidence, despite the fact that I proved to myself that I’m definitely not lacking the talent to make it happen. Instead, I hate my body and pity myself and find it hard to open up about it, but it’s not something that anyone I know can truly understand.

I never knew until recently just how detrimental a role physical pain can play on your mental state, but it has eaten away so much from who I am, who I know I’m meant to be, and everything I wanted to accomplish in my life, that I completely resent myself and feel weakened not only physically, but spiritually as well. To some people, hobbies are silly and insignificant, and while music has always been so much more than that, I’ve got to allow this transition to take place and find some way to feed my creativity without relishing in the fact that I’ll may not ever be able to share it with the world in the way I always dreamed.

I’m not giving up, but it’s time to switch gears.

Insecure

 

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Insecure, an adjective, is sounded out as insəˈkyo͝or… is defined as:

  • (of a person) not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious…

Not included in the dictionary is a picture of my face alongside the definition of insecure.  A sentence that I would write using the word insecure would be:

  • Michelle McGarvey, due to her lower self-esteem is insecure about her looks, and her abilities.

Those that know me well, know that I have a list of insecurities that are a mile long (or maybe longer).  For those that don’t know me as well, may be a little shocked by my statement.  In years prior, I was a take charge, let no one stand in my way person.  I could lead a full training session without a blink of the eye.  When I walked into a room I commanded the attention of the audience just by my mere presence.   I was incredibly successful in both my career and my studies.  I strived for nothing but perfection.

However, deep down, hidden, inside, I was SOOO incredibly scared of failing.  What if I make a mistake, what if I make the wrong decision, what if I am questioned and I don’t know the answer.  I put on this persona that I was rock solid, but I wasn’t. The insecurities that plagued me did not stop at my career or my studies but flooded into my personal life.  Am I attractive enough?  Do I bring enough to the table?  Simply, am I good enough?

And then here comes 2016, the mental breakdown and the diagnosis of Bipolar 1 with mixed episodes.  If that didn’t make me feel like the most insecure I have ever been, I am not sure what could drop me any lower.  Am I crazy?  Do other people think I am crazy? Will he leave me because I am too much to handle?  Will I still be able to hold down a job?  Can I still be a parent and be Bipolar?  Can I handle life in general?

Over the last two years, I have worked very hard to build me up.  To speak truths, to increase my self-esteem, to try and help me to be less insecure.  Just the other day, I told my partner that I wanted him to know that I knew that he knew that I was a catch.  That I brought a bit to the table and he was lucky to be with me.  And then I was like, “where did that come from?”  And then I was like, “how awesome is this, I am speaking about myself in such a positive way, this is what I have worked for?”

Having a mental illness, although it is more socially accepted than it used to be, there still is a certain stigma that goes along with it.  Some assume that people who have a mental illness are incapable of performing in the capacity that their counterparts do.  Other’s assume that we are unpredictable and need to be treated differently as result of the mental illness.  My favorite, is the thought that we are delicate, like a flower (seriously?)

So, I don’t think that I am the most gorgeous, amazing, best thing since gluten free sliced bread, but I do know that I am awesome.  The fact I have a mental illness (or two) only makes me more special and unique and well, simply put amazing.  Most days I am good at my job.  More often than naught, I am a high performing, well educated student.  I am a mom to my kids that makes me proud.  I can bake a cake that could resuscitate the dead because of how good they taste.  And I support my spouse and love him unconditionally.  I make my mom and my grandma laugh, a lot.  I am still afraid of failing, but not like I used to because you know what, I have failed, and I have made mistakes and I still make mistakes and I live to live another day.

I am who I am.  And that me includes mental illness and chronic pain.  But it’s who I am and the hand I have been dealt and I am going to rock it, some days more than others, and there will be days where I don’t rock it at all, and that’s ok.  I have started to learn to embrace me for me and holy Moses, it’s a pretty out of this world feeling.

Sprinkled Cupcakes and Fairy Dust,

~Michelle

https://bellasbabbles.com/

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez

Lemons and Lemonade

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On a nice, warm, spring day, what is better than enjoying a sweet glass of lemonade?  The only thing that could make that better could be adding a little bit of vodka into it, if you are into that sort of a drink.

Lemonade is known to be a sweet beverage.  It has a certain nostalgia that also goes along with it.  A warm spring day, sweet, soft breeze passing you by as you sit on a red checkered blanket watching the grass sway in the wind, while you sit and bask in the warmth that is being provided by the beaming, happy sun.

Lemons are known to be bitter and sour.  A car that is a lemon is a car that has hidden damages or problems.  You get “suckered” and make that twisted face, in much the same way as if you were to suck on a lemon (unless you are my daughter who loves lemons and limes) when you get stuck with something that is not what you expected to receive.

There has been a saying, “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade!”  Of course, it is not saying to make a glass of lemonade when something bad happens (unless that helps you deal with the situation).  It is metaphorical in that it suggests that when we are given something that is sour, damaged, misleading or not what we expected, to turn it into something that is sweet, enjoyable and that has more of a positive connotation to it, like lemonade.  More or less, add sugar to a sour situation and make the best of it.

Within my life, I have managed to grow an entire Lemon Orchard.  I swear there are days that it seems like if it is not one thing it is another.  One lemon after another.  I’ve tried to just deal with all the lemons, be grateful for the shade that the orchard provides, learn how to make all sorts of recipes that include lemons, like lemon chicken, lemon pepper salmon, lemon cake, lemon poppy seed muffins, and yes, lemonade.

I’ll admit that there are days when lemonade just won’t cut it for me.  I need something stronger, so I add a shot of vodka, sit on my patio and stare at my orchard.  Within the orchard, there’s the Bipolar Tree, the anxiety one, depression is in there, fibromyalgia, PTSD, anorexia, endometriosis, and chronic pain.  I may be missing a few, but that gives a pretty good idea of what I am working with.  It seems like once I get one issue taken care of, another one pops up.  The Bipolar was under control and then the anxiety popped up.  We squash the anxiety and the depression creeps in.  Banish the depression and the mania shows up ready for a party.  Subdue the mania, and bam, the endometriosis is back.  So, what’s a girl to do?

Lemonade, people, lemonade!  I am blessed to have a life where I can handle what I am given, and for the most part, I am dealing with one issue or ailment at a time.  That I, outside of my mental illness, and chronic conditions, have a pretty healthy immune system.  I have learned how to work with the hand that I was dealt and play the cards to win some hands.  I don’t win every hand, but I always end up winning enough to come out slightly above where I started.

I think that some of my drives comes from the way that I was raised.  My mother has lived much of her life dealing with severe chronic pain.  Yet, she forever, has joy and peace in her heart, not just trudging through the discomfort, but gleefully prancing as she’s grateful to still be able to walk after being told that by age 40 she would be wheelchair bound.  I was raised that you take what God gave you and you make the best of it while embracing your life with grace and love.

This weekend I will use my lemons to make some lemonade, lemon pepper salmon and a lemon cake with vanilla glaze.  I will take the sour events that happened this week and embrace them, but not allow them to control my thoughts or feelings.  My mind will stay focused on all the positive things that I have in my life and how incredibly blessed I am, despite my lemon orchard.

 

Sprinkled Cupcakes and Fairy Dust,

~Michelle

www.bellasbabbles.com

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoJ. Kelly Brito