Ask for Help – It’s not as easy as it sounds

This seems to be the new theme I’m being lead toward. You know when you’ve spent most of your life doing things yourself, asking for help is really very hard. My guides are basically smacking me upside the head with “GIRL, you better get a move on and ask for help.”

If I think back to the earlier stages of my life to when I was a little girl of about 7 years old, I can identify where this independent streak started. I have some very clear, scattered memories from earlier on my in life, however, the memories from age 7 going forward have the most impact.

I distinctly remember being in 2nd grade getting myself ready for school. Alone. My mother and father were divorced leaving my mother single with 3 children to raise alone: Rinaldo age 14, Constantine age 12 and me age 7. My father lived on the other side of town and worked either 2nd or 3rd shift so we never saw him for visitation. Mother had to work to support us, put a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Yes, she got child support, but it didn’t cover everything and her salary was not as much as she would have liked. If memory serves me correctly, she was a secretary for the maintenance department in a local hospital. In 1976 the minimum wage was just that… minimum.

Rinaldo was in 9th grade and Constantine was in 7th grade when I was in the 2nd grade. It was Constantine’s first year in the junior high and Rinaldo’s first year at the high school. They had different start times than I did for school. Constantine used to walk me to and from school every day making sure I was safe when we were in the same school. He wouldn’t hold my hand because that wasn’t cool, but he walked next to me or put me on the handlebars of his bike and let me ride so I didn’t have to walk. Constantine was truly my protector in my early years.

I remember being scared to be alone in the morning and my mom would tell me “You’re a big girl, Maria. You can do this and you don’t need help.” I would get up, make myself breakfast (two bowls of cereal because no one was there to tell me no), pack my lunch (an extra Twinkie if I found it. Who would know?), get dressed and walk to school. My mom could have made my lunch and left it out for me, but I honestly don’t remember that part. I remember being happy I could eat what I wanted without hearing about how fat I was (that’s a whole different post).

My mom did what she had to do, I understand this. I also know the words she spoke to me repeatedly “You’re a big girl, Maria. You can do this and you don’t need help.” These have played like a stuck record in my head for years (A record is this little black thing we used to listen to on a record player and if the needle got stuck the song would skip. It’s kind of like a song on repeat on your MP3 player). She also told me women have a hard time making it in the workplace and if I wanted to make something of myself, I’d have to prove I could do it without the help of a man. “Men only respect a woman who isn’t helpless.” Again, I understand she meant well and that last piece of advice has served me well in the business industry. I am not angry with her for teaching me these things. It just left me believing I could not ask for help. For anything.

This advice hasn’t worked out so well in my personal life. I’ve been married 4 times. I am not ashamed of this, although I am tremendously sorry for the pain I caused my previous husbands. (BTW, If any of you are reading this, I truly am sorry. You had no idea what you were getting into, but if you keep reading, you’ll understand it now. And there are a few select ex-boyfriends I send that apology out to as well. Contacting you directly would likely drudge up too much shit, but hey if you’re reading, I’m taking the opportunity.) Why have I been married 4 times you ask? GREAT QUESTION. Here’s the answer, I was emotionally hosed and had an attitude of “I don’t need you, I can do this without you.” How does one learn to form a good foundation of a relationship with a spouse if you don’t allow them to help? If you yourself have no idea how to communicate or how to actually love your partner in a healthy way, how do you form healthy attachments? You don’t.

Today, at the age of 48 I am finally learning to ask for help. My husband Tyler has been my rock through this entire learning process. He does more for me than I feel I deserve sometimes. However, when  I start to feel that way, I will ask him. “Why do you do so much for me now?” His answer is plain and simple. “You allow me to.” No hesitation in the answer.  The implied explanation is “If you had allowed me to do this for you years ago, I would have. However you were stubborn and insisted on doing it yourself.” He loves being able to help me and truly gets pleasure from helping others. By my not allowing him to help me which is the very basis of his nature, I stopped him from being himself and it affected him tremendously. I didn’t even realize it.

If you’re anything like me, please start to ask for help. The universe loves us enough to put the right people in our path when we need it. Reach out. Ask. If I can do it, so can you.

(I am searching for a catchy phrase as a parting before my name…I will find one eventually, but until then…)

Shelley

Be the Duck

Some days are better than others. When I’m having a bad day, I remember something I was taught by a previous co-worker of mine named Jim. He was in human resources at the time and I was taking some classes from him on how to handle stress in the workplace.

Be the Duck.

Simple phrase, huge impact. When you look at a duck floating along the water, all you see from the outside is how graceful and beautiful they look as they leave simple ripples in the water behind them. However, if you were able to view under the water and see their tiny feet, you’d see feet moving quickly to get the duck to its end destination.

Graceful on the outside, frantic and crazy on the inside.

Not everyone needs to see every emotion you are feeling in the moment. Sometimes things we are feeling are private and should stay that way. With social media being so “out there” these days, it’s easy to post something about how pissed off we are at your co-worker (I just did this), your sibling, your friend, you get the idea. However, once it’s there… it’s been seen. People don’t often forget the words we hurl into the three dimensional space where they live. If your Facebook page isn’t private, it’s a public post for anyone to see. If the person you’re talking about is your Facebook friend, then they’ve seen it and while you didn’t care in the moment, 2 minutes or 2 days later you may regret it. If you’re applying for a job and you’ve posted a photo of yourself in a not-so-nice manner, it may be visible to the prospective employer. Be conscious of how you present yourself.

The flip side of this coin is that for hundreds of years there have been families who live by the creed “We don’t talk about that this in family.” Pain and anguish get swept under a rug because no one wants to deal with the reality of what’s happened. There are productive and non-productive ways of dealing with such trauma. For we as survivors to be heard and understood, it’s better if we come at these situations in a more productive manner. And by productive, I just mean we don’t need to get drunk or high and start throwing a bunch of angry, accusatory statements around because we’re finally brave enough to do so. That’s more on the non-productive side and boy howdy it might feel damn good at the time, 24 hours later, not-so-much. Not that I have any experience with this or anything, I’m just sayin’. When that happens regularly, our audience starts looking at us like the little boy who cried wolf. Eventually, no one pays attention.

I’ve waited a very long time to start telling my story because my family is absolutely the “we don’t talk about that” kind of family. I’ve been so worried about who would stop talking to me or who I would hurt. I’m sure at some point some of them will likely read this blog. Guess what? They all fight anyway over just about anything. In my 48 years not once have I seen my family all get along. Someone is always mad at someone else. When does it ever stop? Maybe if they pay attention to what I’m writing, they’ll stop bitching at each other. For now, it’s time for me to heal me and help myself.

I am not the only female in my family to be molested by a male family member. Someone before me was far more brave than I and got her information out there. She is my role model and “biologically” my aunt. I use the quotes because she and her best friend are more like mothers to me and deserve the title. I love them more than words could ever express. I admire my aunt’s bravery for being the first person in our family to put it out there. Incest exists. The lasting pain from such an experience will kill you if you do not find a way to deal with the pain. Committing suicide was an option more than once for me. By the grace of God there go I.

Now is the time. My soul’s purpose for being on this planet in this lifetime to provide support and help for others who have walked down the same road I walked. I thought I was alone. I was not. I thought no one else had ever been through this. They had. I didn’t know. Why didn’t I know? No one talked about it.

If you have been molested as a child please hear me loud and clear when I say this:
1. It was NOT your fault.
2. You did nothing wrong.
3. You are lovable. I love you. No, I may not have a clue as to who you are, but I love you and your soul.
4. You are worthy.

Peace is yours, it’s time to reach out and grab it and hold onto it like I hold onto a piece of cake. I am using a productive way to talk about it. Writing it. I am discovering more about myself the more I write. Please follow my blog and keep in touch with me on my progress to finding more about me and perhaps you’ll learn something about yourself as well.

(I am searching for a catchy phrase as a parting before my name…I will find one eventually, but until then…)

Shelley

I have Bi-Polar II Disorder… I am not BiPolar.

Honesty is important to me. I want to be as honest with all of you as possible. To hide any part of me would not be honest with myself either. I can handle anything, but don’t lie to me. Trust should be the foundation of every relationship. In my life, I’ve had many people who I thought were close friends and family take that thing called trust and not only did they stomp on it, they spit on that bitch, threw it in the garbage and lit the garbage on fire. (Did you see the visual there?) I mean seriously, I’m an intelligent person and if you’re going to lie to me, at least make it something I won’t be able to figure out. If I do find out… all you’ve done is really piss me off to a point you’ve left me with no choice but to confront you with the lie. I’m sure you’re all familiar with this scenario. It doesn’t end well for anyone involved. Hurt feelings, pants on fire, blah blah blah. Who needs it? Besides, it takes too damn much brain power to remember the lies.  Who the hell has that much brain power? Not me. And if you do have the brain power, for Goddess’s sake, use it for good reasons. If you can’t remember the lies, just give it up. There’s nothing to remember if you just tell the truth.

I have bipolar II disorder, but let me state this as loud and clear as possible: IT DOES NOT DEFINE WHO I AM. *I* define who I am. Bipolar II is a condition I have, it doesn’t have me. This is a very serious condition which can cause a living, breathing, valuable human being to be suicidal or to actually commit suicide. It completely wreaks havoc on your daily thought process and changes how you view the world. There are days you wish you hadn’t been born because you’re just so damn tired of feeling <insert any negative word you want here because I usually did>. Using the word bipolar as an adjective for the weather or for your boss you don’t like is insulting to those of us who struggle minute by minute or day by day with this condition. Rather than mocking it, why don’t you try to educate yourself. And don’t give me this “Oh you’re just one of those politically correct people.” Wrong. Words are not just words. They are a manifestation of what you really think and feel. Intention is everything.

For many years I was on a high dose of Seroquel. It helped me to maintain a sense of being on an even keel. I didn’t want to haul off and knock someone’s head off because I was in a fit of rage and I also was no longer suicidal. That was the good news. The bad news is that my creativity was G O N E. I was just a blur of who I knew I should be. MANY of us diagnosed with bipolar II disorder are highly creative and taking the very foundation of who we are away from us changes how we see ourselves. It’s one of the biggest reasons we absolutely do not like to take meds. My poor husband… he watched me like a hawk for months even a few years after being diagnosed. He had to walk on egg shells with me and I don’t know how he did it, but he did. He was careful in how he asked me if I was taking my meds. I mean looking back at it, it was pretty obvious. If I told you to go fuck yourself when you asked me how my day was, that was a pretty good sign I hadn’t been taking my meds.

I am not embarrassed or ashamed to have this condition. It is a fact about me. Here are some other facts: my name is Maria, I prefer to be called Shelley. I have gray hair, a kick ass personality and bipolar II disorder. See? Just a fact.  I am learning to embrace every single facet of my being, including what I used to see as weaknesses.

I am far from weak. I am a survivor and so are you. If you are reading this you have survived life thus far and I’m proud of you. If no one else has told you that today, I will. I am proud of you. If you found this blog, it wasn’t by accident. Something led you here and that means you’ve survived some shit, too. We can do this thing called life.

(I am searching for a catchy phrase as a parting before my name…I will find one eventually, but until then…)

Shelley