I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that wont work.-Thomas A. Edison
I’m back after a long break, a sabbatical of some sort–other than the fact that I’m not a teacher and it wasn’t “a period of paid leave granted for study or travel”–practically the same thing.
I had to take a breather and really think about why I blog and what my goal is; plus I’ve been really busy! In previous blogs I’ve written about how far my husband and I have come. Not long ago we were working on getting it together. We were living with my mom, working here and there with practically no bills or obligations. We had my mom as a fall back when we needed anything. I’ve talked about how we went from that cushy lifestyle to venturing out on our own–paying our own way, living in our own place and making our own rules.
What is so special about me that I need to write about myself and share my story? The truth is, nothing is special about me. Anyone can do what I’m doing and many people have done it before me. My goal is to reaffirm, for people who are unsure, that they can make it; I know I was unsure at one point and couldn’t comprehend how great my future would be.
I have talked a lot about my struggle but now it’s time to talk about how my family and I are holding it together. It isn’t always easy but I love my life so much that I can’t see myself going back to the way things were.
I’m 20 days away from two years of sobriety and I have no desire to go back. It’s been a winding road but I no longer consider using negative coping mechanisms when I’m stressed. I’m not going to lie, when I see my favorite beer in the store I do miss the taste. I even ordered some designer alcohol free ‘beer’ for that reason. I can have the taste without the risk.
I use medication to control bipolar and PTSD, but I’m not going to get into that. Only a trained medical professional should advise on the use of medication. I will, however, talk a bit about techniques I use when I feel the pressure of keeping up with an entirely new way of living. Anxiety itself can be used as a negative coping mechanism. We feel like if we beat ourselves up we wont make the same mistakes again or we will try harder to get things right.
I have become a huge believer in positive psychology and the incredible affect it has on attitude, emotional distress and overall thought process. When I’m feeling down or stressed I think about all of the great things in my life. I remind myself that if I’ve done everything I can to improve the situation, that is all I can do. Don’t waste your time with worry, it’s not worth it. Replace those intrusive thoughts with something positive; whether it be a thought or an activity. It may be trite but it works. When I have those nagging thoughts and that feeling of guilt for not being “perfect”, a few of the things that work for me are cleaning, organizing or watching an uplifting t.v. show. If you have ever seen the show Friends and remember Monica’s pedantic, incessant cleaning rituals, it’s good example of how I get when I’m overly stressed. Often times to get some perspective I imagine the person I want to be, or even a person that I know who lives in a way that I would like to emulate–and I think, “what would they do”? Would they waste their time worrying about what ‘could be’? Probably not. It took me a long time to find out what worked for me so don’t expect my tactics to work for you, take some time to find something that fits your personality.
All of those things help with mentality, but what about bills? What about all of the responsibility? I’ve never had to work so hard to use my time wisely and actually make a budget. I have a 9 month old baby who takes time and money! I’m still not the best at using my time wisely, just recently I’ve started writing down tasks, in order of importance, and estimating the amount of time each task will take. I have to factor in taking care of the little one and predicting her schedule as well as possible (not easy). I’m not joking when I say this: I have to assume she will need something at the most inconvenient time. Budgeting and time management are skills many people learned before they graduated high-school. I guess it just didn’t sink in for me because I’m just now catching on.
My husband started his first good, steady, job while we were still living with my mom. We were able to pay some bills and chip in with plenty of expendable cash left over at the end of the month. More expendable cash than we had ever had as a couple. This was the perfect time to put some money away for future bills. We did not do that! We were used to having no cash so we didn’t see the downside in spending all of our money each month. Granted, we did buy some responsible items, but we could(should) have stuck with necessities and prioritize savings. When we got our apartment and had to pay a $1000 deposit on top of rent, power, water/sewer, internet, diapers, wipes, formula, food, etc. we were left with nothing again. Shortly after signing our lease we decided to rent the commercial space directly under our apartment with the left over money we had from paying our car off. It was a great idea to rent the space below; a great opportunity to make extra money and safe space for my support group meetings but it wasn’t going to generate income immediately and we were still scraping by. I almost let that get me down until I reminded myself of what we were spending our money on and everything we had–we weren’t left wanting. None-the-less, I would highly recommend saving money if put in a position where you can! So much stress is lifted when you realize you have money in case of emergency or even a family vacation.
Something that always cheers me up is thinking of how far my family has come. Our problems went from drug/alcohol addiction, homelessness, rarely having money–to working on time management and budgeting. I would say that’s a pretty big improvement. I’m living the life I always fantasized about as a child. I’m making a beautiful home for my family and supporting my husband, who is working hard to pay the bills while we both raise our beautiful baby girl.
For a long time I didn’t see this life as a possibility for me, period. I just didn’t think it was in the cards. It feels like a dream sometimes and that is the best anyone could ask for. If you are wondering if you can have the life you desire, remember that it is absolutely possible. The only way to fail is not trying. Small defeats aren’t failure, they are learning experiences. Take your time and be patient. You get what you give so if you work hard, what you want and what you need will be yours for the taking.