Like most of America, I was moved by Lupita Nyong’o's Oscar acceptance speech. It was emotional and inspiring and one thing she said really struck me and got me thinking. Ms. Nyong’o said “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s”. Besides the obvious connotation in her work on the Oscar winning film on slavery, this applies so readily to our own lives, for many different reasons.
Think about the things and people you love, the relationships and belongings you treasure. What price did you pay for them? I don’t mean money, not exactly anyways. How many hours of overtime did you work to buy a new car? What sacrifices had to be made so your child could join that sports team, have the proper equipment and get to all the games? In terms of a different price, how many nights did you miss tucking your children in because you were at work or taking night classes? That great guy you are dating- how many times were hearts broken before you two met? The corner office came at a price- was it having a family?
It’s not about being a martyr or being materialistic, it’s about recognizing how things came to be. This doesn’t mean being depressed over what you have, but rather recognizing their true worth. Appreciating the journey – how hard you worked, how long you held on, how much sleep you lost, how many tears were shed- can be eye opening and help you realize how blessed you really are.
My own life is full of these blessings brought about by pain or sacrifice. Seeking help for my mental illness was something I did for myself, as my own great grandmother didn’t have that chance. During that era, mental illness was not talked about, so she suffered in silence for years. I am very fortunate to have so many resources for finding help that she did not and my life is improving as a result of getting help. My mother continues to make sacrifices for me even now that I am an adult. Despite working a full time job and keeping her own house, she reminds me to take my medicines, lets me know when it seems I am cycling, goes out for coffee dates with me and just pretty much helps me keep my crap together. In a million years, I’d never be able to even come close to giving her what she has given me.
Are there things or relationships in your own life that mean more to you simply because of how they came to be? Please share them in the comments!
I was going through some boxes the other day and I found some old pictures. It was great to take a walk down memory lane and my reaction to my old pictures was interesting. My appearance has always been a sore subject for me, something I have in common with millions of people. In middle school and junior high, I was teased mercilessly. I had stringy hair, braces, coke bottle glasses and also developed early. My self esteem was sent reeling and I don’t know that I’ve ever felt confident with my appearance since then. My insecurity about my appearance continued into high school and young adulthood, especially after I gained a lot of weight in my early 20′s and after being cheated on by romantic partners. I always felt not pretty enough or downright ugly. My parents always assured me I was pretty but I felt like they had to say that, I never really took it to heart.
As I was looking through the pictures, I found some of myself from that tumultuous time in junior high, and also of myself a good 40 pounds heavier than I currently am. I was surprised by my reaction. Instead of thinking I was ugly in the junior high pictures, I was actually taken aback by how pretty I was. My big blue eyes and dark hair, my china doll complexion. I have never felt that way before, not sure if it’s the antidepressants or just that I am finally at a place where I can see myself honestly, with no filter of the bullying clouding my perception. When I saw the pictures of myself so overweight, I was stunned and filled with pride at how far I’ve come with my weight and taking care of myself more. It was definitely an ego boost.
I wish I could say that I did this or that to accept myself and be at peace with my appearance. It’s honestly been a long road and not an easy journey. I know there will be days I feel less secure in my appearance and I will always notice people I feel are more attractive than I am. But I’ve come a long way in accepting my own looks, in finding things I like rather than focusing on faults. I have started 2014 by being kinder to myself and it’s been eye opening and inspiring.
I was going to write a flowery post full of recollections of time spent with my ex boyfriend and wishing him well. Then I read this post by Sarah at yesandyes.org and it really hit home as this has been on my mind for months. I need closure and I’m not sure how to get it. I’m at a weird point of feeling guilty and relieved. I was not cruel during our breakup, but I know my bipolar made it harder than it needed to be. But most of my guilt stems from the fact that I fell in love with someone else while I was dating him. Having been betrayed by partners in the past, I knew ending our relationship was better than resentment, lies and deception.
I’ve always been very hard on myself, my own worst enemy, and I really need to give myself a break. I am only human and the heart is a tricky thing.Yet I don’t know that I would have changed how anything went. Did I know that on the day The Paramour introduced himself and shook my hand I’d feel the way I still do for him? That I was going to walk away from my boyfriend? No. But that was all it took. No cheating, no epic fighting. Just a hello and I was gone, head over heels.
I have always done my best to accept the path God has set me on and learn what I can from my travels. Hurting my ex was certainly never in my plans, but I am sorry for the hurt I did cause. I’m not proud of how things turned out, but I had to make the decision to honor this feeling in my heart…and my soul.
My absolute best guy friend at work is taking a new job. In other words, we won’t be able to talk all the time, quote StepBrothers or share all the goings on of our daily non-work lives. I’m surprised by just how much this is upsetting me. My friend (I will call him Doc) and I hit it off immediately. Our friendship began by us reciting, word-for-word, the “did we just become best friends?” sequence from StepBrothers. We’ve grown closer since then, talking about everything from the military (Doc is in the Navy) to gross hospital humor to my bipolar disorder. I can’t help but smile as soon as I see Doc and there were plenty of rumors going around about our friendship. Doc is ridiculously attractive, but I can honestly say I’m not attracted to him in that sense. He is a kindred soul to me, someone I feel incredibly comfortable with. Doc can tell when I’m not feeling right, bipolar-wise and effortlessly calms me down or lifts me up, depending on what I’m feeling. He mentioned a few weeks back that he was looking into getting a different job. I can understand why he wants to go, he works long hours for less than stellar pay. As much as I want my friends to succeed in their endeavors, that selfish part of me that loves having him there stewed. Doc advised me today he got a great job he interviewed for and while I’m thrilled for him, I keep hearing Morgan Freeman in my head, saying this line from the movie The Shawshank Redemption :”Some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend”.
As I was thinking about just why Doc’s eminent departure is so upsetting to me, I keep thinking about how some people come into our lives, make an impact and leave while other people never leave. With my emotional history, I’ve made and lost many friends. I recognize that some people just aren’t meant to stay in my life. God gives us people in our lives to be a blessing or a lesson, and when someone is no longer a part of my life, I try to figure out what lesson God wants me to learn from having had that person in my life. I also wonder if they miss me as much as I miss them, if I made as much of an impact on their lives as they did mine. We are never really whole after a relationship or friendship ends, I think we leave little pieces of ourselves with them and we take pieces of them with us. Doc is most certainly a blessing to me, encouraging me to see myself as capable, smart and strong.
I’m truly going to miss Doc and I know it will take a lot of strength to not cry on his last day at the hospital. I’ll miss feeling still and calm while sitting next to him, our ridiculous and juvenile inside jokes, the way we work together seamlessly on a trauma, his professionalism tempered with such compassion. But the thing I will miss the most is his complete acceptance of me, warts and all. There are so many more things I could say about what a great person and friend he is, but his own words speak volumes. I told him about my having bipolar (something I haven’t shared with too many people I work with) and this was what he said:” I can tell when you’re down. You don’t shine as bright then. But I will say that even when you’re down, you are a wonderful friend to me.”
Love ya, Doc.
The past week has found me busy with work, getting some exercise (Shamrock Shuffle is coming up soon!) and taking care of myself. I’m really amazed at the progress I have made simply by following a routine. Of course routines get boring and you start to feel like you’re living a half life, but when you have bipolar disorder, routine is your friend. My friends and family have noticed I seem a lot more stable and even on my new medicines and I know my new job, with it’s set schedule, is a huge factor into that. I get enough sleep most nights, eat and take my medicines at the same time and overall have some type of stability. This is a huge improvement over my rapid cycling. Not to say I’m out of the woods, but I’m definitely taking time to enjoy feeling quite good right now.
One thing I still have trouble with is pain left over from my break up with my ex fiancee. Time and distance and individual growth have all helped me to see we were always doomed. But logic never removes emotion from memories. I was feeling especially sad about it recently and decided I needed to stop beating myself up, to stop replaying the memories and to just breathe. I decided to be kind to myself and I’m happy to say I had a wonderful day as a result. I got a lot done around the house, but still managed to relax. I did a little decorating, a little cleaning and a lot of acknowledging just how far I’ve come. I’m not curing cancer or finding an alternative to fossil fuels, but I’m living my little life pretty well right now. When you’re in the throes of bipolar (or any mental illness) daily life is a sometimes insurmountable struggle. My depressive state would find me unable to take care of the house, myself or be effective at work. But in the last few weeks I’ve been able to stabilize my finances, make progress on certifications necessary for my job, start running again and spend time with my family. These are all things I’ve previously never been able to do simultaneously in my entire life. So yeah, pretty big deal to me.
I suppose that is what my message with this post is- to take time to be kind to yourself. Instead of looking at everything you haven’t done, or all the things you aren’t salvage your mood and focus on all the things you have done and all the things you are, which I’m sure are all quite awesome.