Answers From the Universe

When I’m feeling frustrated or small or insignificant, I often find myself reaching out into universe for the answers to life’s biggest questions.  I set my sights skyward and almost put a message in a bottle to float amongst the cosmos.  I eagerly await a sign, even something as seemingly insignificant as a shifting of winds, to guide me to where I’m supposed to be.

In my more cynical moments, I’ve referred to this overwhelming dissatisfaction as being a “Cold War Kid”.  The Cold War mentality was only partially inherited in my generation in only the vague sense that we could be something greater and do something greater with our lives.  As bright eyed children, we were all encouraged to “shoot for the moon” with the promise that “even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.  And with the broken promise, we disinherited greatness.

I’ve had a lot of false starts in my life.  In darker moments, I’ve often regarded this to be attributed to the pop-culture psych phenomenon “Failure to Launch Syndrome”.  My inquisitive mind is always searching for answers, flipping a problem over and about to inspect it from every angle.  It’s too dissatisfying to pawn it off on a generational glitch, especially when I feel as if my personal situation doesn’t quite fit the bill.

I don’t do anything half-assed, in fact quite the opposite.  I’m a classical overachiever, only to encounter the complications of mental health conditions that stymie my own endeavors.

“Why is it not enough to live a good life?  Why must I live a ‘great’ life?”

In the same fashion, I don’t believe in coincidences or luck.  Coincidences and luck are concepts embraced by those who lack the sight when they step out for a moment to take in the grandeur of the rich tapestry of cosmic design.  Common sense and logic are only scientific rules that generate likely predictions, but not necessarily the most accurate outcomes.  We are only human, and therefore we can only rely on our hindsight and foresight to be accurate on only the smallest scale.

At about the same time that Xan and I were completing our initial application for foster parent certification, I completed an application for CNA training with the Generation Pittsburgh program.  The program is designed to offer vocational training opportunities to the youths of Pittsburgh aged 18 – 29.  At the time of my application, I was staring down 30 within 3 months.  Though technically still within the specified age group, I knew there was a good chance that I’d “age out” before I even had a chance.

This past Friday, Xan and I confirmed with our contact at the adoption agency that we were scheduled in for four trainings during the month of December.  I believe that makes us nearly complete, and we can expect to have our homestudy expedited pending our clearances.  I was thrilled by this news!  It was almost as amazing when I first saw our son on a sonogram!

But, the CNA possibility still lingered.  I mentioned to Xan, “The applications close today.  I suppose I’ll find out next week whether I move to the next round.”

I did.  The email arrived this morning.  “Dear Mrs. M., Thank you for your interest, however our program is only offered to the 18 – 29 age group.  Unfortunately, you will soon not meet these qualifications.  Good luck in the future.”  I got my answer.

Rejection, in whatever form, is never well received.  Throughout my entire life, all I wanted to be was “older”.  I just wanted to somehow “grow into myself”, as a tiny puppy grows into her awkwardly large head and paws to be the grand dog she was meant to be.  This analogy doesn’t apply in the physical sense, seeing as how I gained my remaining two inches of my petite height somewhere between the ages of 18 and 21.  My late Pappap used to joke with everyone about his only granddaughter as being, “Five going on thirty-five.”  And I always felt a sense of urgency to somehow get there.

Now I’m here, and I’ve actually aged out of a program.  This is the first time I’ve experienced a discrimination of age because I was actually chronologically too old!  I was a young wife.  I was such a young mother than I often faced a public scorn of being an unwed teenage mother, when that was absolutely false!  Though I often get gasps when people inspect my ID, I realize that I am no longer a young woman.

In that very same breath, I exhaled soothingly.  This is my answer.  What is the grander purpose of my life?  For some people, it’s pretty clear cut.  For me, I’ve had to do over a decade worth of searching before I realized it.  My longest job held was teaching and caring for underprivileged children in a program where their working parents would often drop them off at 6AM and not return again until 6PM.  I dedicated my time to improving the lives of children that no one else had the time or energy to invest in.

Why not be a mother to children who need one?

Of everything I’ve ever wanted in my life, it’s always been clear to me that I wanted to get married and have kids.  I went through so many phases of “what do I want to be when I grow up?”, even as an adult.  Not a doctor, a lawyer, president, or anything of the like.  I wanted to be a wife and a mother, and everything else just came and went.

And with more than a blessing that I received on my pregnancy with my biological son, our family’s intentions to adopt have been extremely well received by both friends and family alike.

So, I leave this with a quote from Silver Linings Playbook:

When life reaches out at a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back, I’m telling you its a sin if you don’t reach back! It’ll haunt you the rest of your days like a curse. You’re facing a big challenge in your life right now at this very moment, right here.

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When We Get Knocked Down

A wealth of time has passed since my last entries. On numerous occasions, I became painfully aware of this fact. I yearned to continue my work, scribbling messages of inspiration for all of my loyal and hopeful readers to take in. Truly, the ambition of my life was to be able to recount my struggles for others who have inhabited those very same deep crevices to relate to. Very deep in my heart, I ached for those engulfed in that darkness and strife.

Honestly, I wanted to save lives. Doctors help to heal ailments of the body and mind. I had been committed to healing the spirit, which is the one thing no class could ever teach.

In the most recent months, I hesitated to write. Just as everyone else who lives with disorder, I am faced with my own challenges. In my darkest hours, I felt like a hypocrite. How could I possibly wax optimistic when I was having such difficulty practicing the very ideas that I had once embodied? The doubt set it when I read, and then reread all of the beautiful and uplifting posts I had written myself.

Was I ultimately a liar?

That very concept when heaped upon the challenges I found myself in the midst of was more than enough to seal my mind. But, that’s the trick of depression – to seal oneself off in the profound silence of isolation. I am upon my five year anniversary of seeking my initial treatment. And I found an even greater sense of shame and failure in my setback.

But that’s just it; it was a setback.

Even with the mental and emotional fortitude I had gained, I still got knocked down. All of the strength and stamina in the world cannot render any of us invincible. We are all susceptible to our own mental health concerns, with or without the coupling of difficult circumstance. We are not superheroes.

We are human.

Plain and simple, we are human, just men and women. Thought we are tempted to draw comparisons between oneself and another, there is truly no sense in it. We are apples, to oranges, to mangos, to pineapples – essentially all fruit, but otherwise dissimilar. We all grow from different trees in our own unique way with the resources that are provided to us.

That’s the point. We are all growing, perpetually and without fail. When we feel stuck and stymied in the singular moments that we inhabit, it can become difficult to grasp that our growth is universal.

For example, for the sake of my family, I had to take a job that was less than ideal. As a matter of fact, I once told my husband, “I’d rather starve and live in a cardboard box than go back to working retail.” (Note: It is not wise to tempt the universe with such statements). However, there I was, once again spending a portion of my life behind a register. But, I was still determined to prioritize it much lower than things in my life that truly mattered. I was set on having it remain as a means of income.

Six months later, I continued to struggle with the adjustment. I stood amongst a mob of people, loathing the very thought of waking up to yet another day of it. I saw myself in the distant future with my disgruntled co-workers mirroring my very fate. Fear and dread invaded the spaces where hope and optimism once inhabited. And the very idea of spinning my wheels indefinitely in the rat race of the workforce sent me reeling.

It was that precise disillusionment that generalized to each and every aspect of my life.

If it was always going to be this way, then why try?

It felt as if I had been running those exact same circles for my entire life, as brief as it has been. And the idea that I would continue to run them, despite my best intentions, led to my surrender. It was that resignation that abandoned all aspiration, hope, and passion I had ever contained.

I willingly gave up my life.

But, as I mentioned before, life goes on. We continue to grow, change, and progress, with or without permission or willingness. When that happens, we basically leave the driver’s seat empty to any entity eager to grab that wheel. In my case, it was depression.

Explaining depression and the resulting actions (or lack thereof) to a party who has been fortunate enough to have never experienced it firsthand is nearly impossible. I’ve often wondered why, but as I was attempting to drive the point home to my husband, I came to a profound realization. It sounds absolutely illogical. In truth, it is. It doesn’t make depression any less real, but it honestly seems nonsensical in a way. There is no why or how when it comes to the onset, thus, there is no why or how for the result. And as he sat there and contradicted many of the points I attempted to make, I came upon the realization I needed to shake this out of me.

This is my life.

Not his. Not my job’s. Not my boss’s. Not my son’s. Not anyone else’s.

And I’m going to take it back.

So when we get knocked down, it’s not enough to get back up again. We have the choice to just stand up and march on, or we can dust ourselves off and dance to the rhythm of our own song.

Regret Nothing : 30 Days of Truth

Day 22 : Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.

I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.
Drew Barrymore

As a woman with Bipolar Disorder, emotions are a quintessential part of my life.  So, naturally, it would be shocking for me to admit that regret is not an emotion that I often experience.  Difficult to believe?  I would certainly believe so, especially in a person where emotions are often extreme and feral!

I experience a certain lack of regret for a number of reasons.

I typically choose my words and actions wisely.  I have often said, “There are just some things in this life that you cannot take back.”  Once certain behaviors are out there in reality, there may be no amount of apology or reparations that can fix the damages.  However, this is not to say that I don’t make my fair share of mistakes.

I do not regret my mistakes.  Mistakes are learning experiences, not irreparable failures.  Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  That is exactly the nature of mistakes.  They are meant to teach us lessons.  It is up to us to derive an appropriate lesson from our mistakes.

There is another saying out there about regret.  “Never regret anything, because at one time, it was exactly what you wanted.”  That is precisely it.  Often, the choices that we make seem like the best choices for us at the time.  I am a stubborn kind of person, and even if there was some kind of time machine where I could go back and warn myself, I would certainly not have heeded my own warning.

I am a firm believer in fate, and I have faith that everything happens from significant purpose to later be determined in hindsight.  You know what they say, hindsight is 20 / 20.  And when we begin to work out the course of the events in our lives, we start to see how the tapestry comes together to weave the people we have become.

I am a stronger person person for having bipolar disorder.  I am a better mother for having a son on the spectrum.  I am a better wife, because I have a husband who loves me.  I am a more determined person for having dropped out of college.  Each struggle provides me with more character and more things to build myself up.

A wealth of evidence exists in my life to prove fate to me.  Xan and I met ten and a half years ago, through my high school sweetheart.  The two of them had become college roommates, and I had grown quite close to Xan.  And throughout the years, we remained close friends, despite any falling outs we may have had.  It was like we were drawn together by some unexplainable force.  I explained a great deal of that in a series of posts entitled, “Possibility and Ascention”, “Seeds of Affection”, and “Mo Anam Cara”. After all we had went through in the five years we weren’t romantically involved, we came together after all.  And as imperfect as my marriage is, it is the most perfect, unconditional love I have ever experienced.  I have certainly found my soulmate.

Every experience has a place in the tapestry of one’s life.  Experience is an essential part of who we are.  Our successes and mistakes come to shape us into the people that we are.  And without those experiences, we might not be the people that we will eventually come to cherish.

Often, I treat everyday as if it were my last day, or potentially the final day for someone I love.  After Xan’s car accident, my eyes were wide open to the fragility of life and the certain mortality we all face.  Each day must have some peaceful conclusion, lest someone passes in the night.  A lesson has to be derived from each event, and work toward the betterment of my myself and those around me.  And each day, I attempt to say or do at least one thing to better another person’s life.  Or at least their day.

I live life to live it.  I regret nothing.  Because in the end, it is my life.