Saturday, February 23, 2013

There are only two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein


Although not particularly interested in what Lance Armstrong had to say in his Oprah interview (I am rather indifferent, really), I decided to see what all the fuss was about. What interested me more than his admissions were the commercials for Oprah's upcoming interview with Drew Barrymore. I decided to DVR it and got around to watching it recently.

I am not one to get starstruck. I rarely swoon. Hollywood is an enigma to me, and the all nonsense that goes along with that culture is of little interest for the most part. I'm a realist, you see, and I tend not to believe the hype. Stars are humans like the rest of us. They fight with their husbands and their kiddos make them crazy. They have fat days and struggle with fulfillment. The public just happens to watch them go through it. I love a good movie, and can get lost in it, but I realize it for what it is: fiction. The actors are just acting and even nonfiction has it's embellishments. This is not to say that I do not enjoy the occasional episode of Fashion Police or The Soup. I can also admire a star's talent, hair, makeup, clothing, etc. I'm not a robot.

Drew Barrymore, despite being in that world since infancy, seems to share that sense of realism. I found myself liking her immediately. She is an imperfect soul. She is totally and completely human and I could relate to her in unexpected ways.

I tend not to talk too personally on this blog. But what makes me, well, me is my life. Our pasts shape us and mine is no exception. I have always been of the opinion that more people should talk about life. And by life, I mean real life. One of my issues with the blogosphere is that, like Hollywood, it can be polarizing. That mom with beautifully dressed children, thousands of followers, and a seemingly perfect life? Not perfect. Because perfection isn't real. We only see what others want us to see, and on a bad day it can be really easy to get sucked into that world. To let our perception of another person's life determine how we feel about ourselves. It has taken years of self discovery and introspection to realize that skinny, fashionable, talented, wealthy, and popular are not synonymous with happy.

I may be stalling. I started this post because that interview spoke to me. Her honesty. Her realistic view of life. I decided that it was time for me to do the same. To break down those walls and talk in a realistic and unbiased fashion about what things often look like when the curtains are pulled back.

My mom wasn't at my wedding. In fact, I have not seen nor spoken my mother in almost ten years. And as sad as this may seem, it has been to the benefit of my well being. She has not seen my son since he was a baby. Although I know this is the healthiest situation, and have long since come to terms with it, I still feel a twinge of heartache when I see a movie where a family gathers for Christmas or I read about the amazing influence someone's mother has on their life. My son doesn't visit Grandma. Would it be nice to have that? Yes. But I also know a parental relationship cannot, and would not, ever be fulfilling in my case.

My childhood, which I often refer to here as '"hodge podge", was rather rough. Although I had glimpses into what 'normal' families are like, ours was anything but average. My mom suffers from bipolar disorder, and more importantly, and mean, spiteful spirit. She was unable to celebrate our successes or encourage our talents because she feared they may overshadow her own. She was hurtful and relished our heartache. There will be no family Christmases, and I have a relationship with only one of my three siblings. We all handled the cards we were dealt in different ways, and meaningful relationships are not always possible. There's is no anger...merely acceptance.

Out of the ashes of a troublesome childhood came a fairly well adjusted woman. Eventually. I am a work in progress. I suffer from the same self doubt as everyone else, sure, but I'm also more self-aware than I could ever have hoped to become. Therapy and a whole lot of soul searching certainly got me to where I am at. I struggle with the impossibly high standards I set for myself, and over time learn how to use them to my benefit rather than my detriment. I have also learned that it is not fair to impose those impossible expectations on those close to me. My empathy for others knows no bounds and my patience for giving up is nonexistent. I have made mistakes, big and small, and numerous bad decisions. I have dusted myself off more times than I can count, and it wasn't always pretty, but I always, always got back up. Sometimes I didn't want to.

I love my son with a fierceness I didn't know possible. I take every hard moment and use it as a tool to be the best parent I can be. My son will grow up with a healthy perspective and a cheerleader in his mom. He will never know the foster system or emotional abuse. I will never stop trying to teach him and he will never hear that his talents have limits. Because they do not. He will always have a safe place to come home to and parents who will love him for who exactly who he is. Even if it's a dose of tough love. Mario and I will stop at nothing to see that his dreams are realized.

I appreciate my husband and his kind soul more than he will ever know. He is living proof that there is a perfect match out there for everyone. I'll eat you up, I love you so.

I took away something else from that interview: Revealing personal information should be a choice. Drew had a right to keep her relationship with her mother private, as did I. She had a right to announce (or not) her pregnancy. She has a right to walk down the street and feel that her child is safe. I enjoy the occasional weekly rag in the doctor's office waiting room, but in doing so, I am fueling an unhealthy culture. The voyeuristic society we live in serves only to our detriment.  When I am bored and avoiding homework, Us Weekly should never be my go-to website. Let's be clear: I do not judge those who do. I have plenty of times. I am simply realizing that it is not healthy for me personally. Nor is it congruent with the type of environment I am choosing for myself at this point in my life. The thought of having a stranger put a camera in my son's face while shouting about personal matters in order to get a rise out of me while I walk down the street makes me feel panicky. I don't think we often see it from that perspective, and it is a culture I am removing myself from. Red carpets are one thing, accosting families at Whole Foods because of their pay grade is another.

For me, this is a year of change. Living simply. Reaching the end of an arduous 4+ year journey. Planning our future. Opening up as an individual. Changing the way I see things. This is me stepping out of my comfort zone and discussing something that has shaped me as an individual. Tomorrow I will probably go back to recipes, photography and motherhood. But now, in this moment, I am choosing to reveal something that may or may not speak to others in the way that an unassuming Oprah interview did to me.

*Note: It took four weeks to press the 'publish' button on this post. In that time, I haven't opened a gossip magazine or their website. And I feel better. I have since noticed that I used them as a tool for avoidance rather than tackling that homework assignment, going to bed, etc. For most, it's simply fun, light reading. For me, it was a diversion for an already overworked mind. I'm working to unclutter my brain, my life, and to live a more meaningful existence. This was simply another step in the right direction. As was the honesty contained within this post.*

6 comments:

  1. This post is really inspiring! Good for you for voicing your story! That's great! And for taking the time to find what's become clutter in your life and working to get it out! That is something I work on a little more each day. Good for you! :) You are an inspiration!

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  2. You are so RIGHT ON with this post, thank you so much!

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  3. What an amazing post. It can be hard to post thoughts that are so personal, but I have learned through my own blog that it can also be helpful to myself, and hopefully other people.

    Seriously, your blog inspires and motivates me all the time. You seem like an awesome person! :)

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    1. Thanks, Cole! I hesitated many times before putting that out there, but I'm glad I did. I do hope others can relate. What a lovely comment!

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  4. Great post! I worked as a psychiatric rehabilitation worker for 6.5 years working with individuals who live with numerous mental health diagnosis, Bipolar being one of them. I have to admit, I was at first a little defensive when I first read this post because my first instinct is to fight for those who I worked for. But then I took a deep breath and remembered, if I was going to be honest with myself, how I felt when working with the mental health population. I often remember my consumer's complaining about their families abandoning them and how hurt that made them feel. I would sometimes have to remind them that the mental illness doesn't only effect them but others as well. And I was let down by many of them on several occasions, so I could only imagine how their families felt. Sometimes the label of a diagnosis gives those labeled an excuse to feel victimized, have that "world against me" mentality. When in reality they are, rather they are actually meaning to or not, actually causing their own problems for themselves. I hope this makes sense to you and does not offend you in anyway, because it is not meant to. It truly is eye opening to read a perspective from the other side. Thank you.

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