I Want to Reinvent Myself

Self esteem has been one of my life long challenges, I say this to begin because it really does influence all that I do and who I am. The other piece of me that has much to do with this story is about mental health. I am the oldest child of 3, one of my brothers was not a typical "kid" with the knowledge that I have now I realize that he was probably Bipolar with some attachment issues. Growing up with sibling with an undiagnosed mental illness really created a strain in family life. My parents spent so much time and energy trying to help him and all of us constantly "fixing things". As a teenager he quickly found wrong groups of friends and then the substance abuse and legal problems began. My brother died of a drug overdose at age 35. Little did I know that my experience growing up in this environment learning a set of skills would be such a necessary tool for my journey up to now. When I fell in love with my ex husband, I now think I understand much more clearly why I made the choice I did. He too has an undiagnosed mental illness. I understand anyone reading this story could assume that I am making some big assumptions but later in my story it should become clear. He is bipolar or as his sister was diagnosed manic depressive. He also has substance abuse issues. I now thing that our attraction to each other began because of growing up with my brother, and his personality was something I was familiar with and I excepted him for who he is. I also think that my lack of self esteem  thought that he needed me and if he needed me he would love me. WOW that sounds terrible, but I didn't know what I didn't know. After my Son was born I began noticing little things that were bothering me. When I would bring my concerns to the Dr. I would get the age old answer, I was just an overly concerned Mom and all children develop differently which is true but this was more than this. As he got older more and more red flags were popping up, along with this more and more red flags were popping up in my marriage.  By the time my son turned 4 the marriage had crumbled and I was at my wits end to find answer to questions and concerns. I finally began to have answers after head start had reported me to Child Protective Services twice because of my son's behaviors, thinking there could be abuse going on. It was a very special caseworker that just happen to know about this small pilot project going on involving early childhood behaviors. This was the beginning of many years of looking for answers , medications, therapists, Dr's., constant challenges with education. I became a very strong advocate for my son and my family. During these years I lived in Seattle, when my kids were teenagers I chose to move back to Nebraska where I had grown up. Unfortunately this create more challenges for my son, the stigma seemed greater, not to mention my kids were very "urban" moving into a small farming community. I right away began looking for resources. a couple of years later, a regional organization that advocated for families of children with behavioral health challenges invited me to be on their board. I was so excited about doing this, it was my opportunity to give back to all of those who helped me and my family in our journey. I am a very passionate caring person, that really values people. This has lead me to my current career as the Director of a statewide organization family run advocacy for families of children and youth with behavioral health challenges. I feel so proud and honored to have been chosen for this role and also that I have a career that I can make a difference and I feel passionately about. The personal growth I have experienced is remarkable as well.  I work for a non profit organization that the challenges never end. I am very proud to say that we have made remarkable growth and strength since I have been in my role. The flip side of this coin is the work seems to be 24 - 7 and the money very little. I have attempted to set good boundaries to allow for a personal life many many times but there always seems to be new issues that if I had not been willing to address it would not allow us to keep growing and develop those key connections with leadership. Sooo here I sit exhausted physically, mentally and financially. Along this journey, I met the love of my life. Unfortunately he passed away suddenly about 15 years ago. I have been in several relationship since but never works out. The last several years I simply have made my career a priority and the gentlemen always sees that as I don't care enough. I have always been a physically healthy person, I didn't say fit I have always been "pleasantly plump":) but I had a medical emergency. They found a football sized tumor that had taken over my kidney. Fortunately it was removed and all signs lead to the cancer being gone! As you may guess, I had no health insurance, and the day I was released from the hospital I jumped right back into my work. I have not been taking care of myself. I always plan to, but a new day- a new crisis. Plus I think it is my way of not dealing with the reality of the cancer and the financial crisis. I am now at a place that I want to take care of myself, I want to repair my personal life and experience personal joys again. I want to reinvent myself, rediscover myself. I want to take the time to meditate, learn to love me, play in the garden, be creative. I want to find my soul mate to share my life with. To be honest I have no clue how to do this? Maybe it is the strength and energy to do this, but I don't want to let my cause fall down because of my choices either. Do I need to walk away? If I did this could I find a new career I am turning 50 this year, and the economy is not in great shape. I am not even sure what goals I could create to begin the work I need to do?

gentlystirred gentlystirred
2 Responses Mar 8, 2009

Wow, that is amazing. Thank you for posting. I have had similar experiences, and it is so helpful to know others are like me. I think the answers will come to you--especially if you continue to listen to the part if you that wants growth and learning. But sometimes it seems you have to be patient and be appreciative of your life in the meantime--enjoy the little things, see how you can do special things in the present, as your direction unfolds slowly before you. Thus life us for learning so wrong turns are only going to bring good growth. (so is it really a wrong turn?)

hello there - <br />
<br />
You are not alone - there are many people feeling like that including me <br />
<br />
But I guess we just have to hang on - I read something recently - somebody made of set of rules to live by for herself - everyday<br />
<br />
1.Do something for others<br />
2. Do something for yourself<br />
3. Do some physical exercise<br />
4.Do some mental exercise<br />
5.Do something you do not want to do<br />
6. Pray and count your blessings<br />
<br />
Its difficult to follow - but somehow I believe if we can stick on to this - there might be some change in our life or in ourselves