I have been wanting to write for some time now…and I have not been able to and it’s ANNOYING! It was irritating to know that I was able to document all the struggles, but unable to write about my new challenges and blessings. I know people are thinking…..challenges….what challenges? I would laugh in the faces of those that believe that just because I have been blessed with SO Much in such a small time frame that I am “exempt” from challenges. Granted, I have a new way of thinking…I have more responsibilities that requires for me to think and act differently…and most importantly, I have grown, but that does not mean that I am anywhere near perfect.
For those who have followed my journey…know that I was on a plight of finding happiness and to find myself. Throughout my many ponder sessions, vent sessions, bipolar ups and downs over the years there has been a yearning within me. Something in me that craves growth. In the year of 2015, things simply came together. Because I was able to truly fall in love with myself, I accepted my failures and was able to strive to be greater in my past that I was molded into the women who became all that I prayed for.
I first became a mother…that’s right a mommy! After all that time of beating myself up for being a single mother(yes I did this), I actually was only a single mommy for the first 6 months of my Panda bears life. For that all I can think is “Aint God Good?”
The early stages of being a mommy were filled with anxiety riddled nights, and also loneliness that seemed to swallow me up at times. I was angry because I was in it “alone” or so I thought. What happened is that this Lioness that I always knew I had in me decided to show herself. During that time of deep depression coupled with post-partum depression, I started to feel this strength radiate within me. I was broke….I mean broke! My job at the time did not want to warrant any PTO even though I was on maternity leave. My short term disability was taking forever to get approved. So, I consulted God, and he whispered to me go to DC. So, I called my aunt and told her to “come get me” because I was drowning without water. I was battling all these issues and on top of that this small little chinky eyed baby was depending solely on me. I couldn’t take the thought. Alas, she drove to get me…..and I was there at her home for maybe 2 days before her scheduled vacation. I was “alone” again….or so I thought. I then began to just hop into mommy mode with incisions and all. Though this mode was robotic; Erilyn was cared for. I was unable to hug my baby, smell her hair and little feet, and this drove me insane. I was unable to eat, intake fluids, and/or sleep. I did not have any of my bipolar medications….all I had was the word of God. During this transition phase, I had every thought to NOT return to GA. I simply didn’t think I could do this all alone. It wasn’t until my baby needed diapers. My family was out of the country and I only had 6 dollars. But somehow that doubled by an unexpected source. In that moment, I thought, “God didn’t whisper to me for no reason.” I picked up that phone and didn’t take no for an answer, and got my disability started. When that burden lifted off me, I decided that I could in fact do this. I prepared for myself to go back to GA. I knew if I followed his words that things would change. So, I changed my mindset, and it was the best decision I ever made. See, if I stayed in DC, I would have been great. I have family there who would do anything for me, but that’s NOT me. I had my daughter so that I could care for her. I wanted to be responsible for my choice and for my blessing.
I always knew that when God decided it was my harvest time that there would be no denying it. I mean things happened FAST. Once I returned back to my itty bitty apartment with my newborn in tow; things looked bleak. My entire apartment was flooded and my lease was up. Mind you, my job would not pay me. I started back work and was informed that the timekeeper had mutilated my time, and that they believed that I owed THEM. So, it was decided I’d only get a $600 check on the first and 15th till I “paid them back for time they weren’t sure I was supposed to have.” I was a social work intake supervisor so this was considered pennies by the way the $600 was taxed of course Ha!. Not only was I expected to work for pennies literally, but I was still expected to work 12-15 shifts afterhours with no overtime pay. I immediately began countering the decision, and began looking for work. I had no luck with my measly Bachelors of Social Work. I figured well I might as well go to grad school because I cannot raise a child with only a social work salary with zero assistance from the man who helped me create her. So despite all the craziness, I enrolled into a Master of HR program and took on the responsibility to care for my disabled father. The peace began in that moment. We did not have food so I trucked to the nearest food bank, got a utility or two paid for, and I waited. I volunteered at Hospice a place I felt peace and empathy. I attended church for learning purposes. I worked out and took myself out to lunch. I read and I prayed from the balcony of new apartment.
I didn’t have to wait long. I got a call from an organization about a job that I did not apply for. There was a substantial increase and flexibility to care for my father and newborn. I readily accepted and told the state of GA a thing or two. School began and I put my all into it. I still felt empty….I felt numb and I felt the spirit while sitting in a hot tub with a glass of wine and journal. I felt this feeling wash over me and I got my answer….I needed to wash away the pain. It was imperative that I wash the old Erika away. I needed to wash away the Erika that carried deep rooted hurt from my childhood, regret, fear, depression, and feeling of abandonment and heartbreak. I signed up for the next opportunity to get baptized. I had been baptized SEVERAL times as a child and teen, but this was now my choice for MY reasons. And when I tell you, I emerged from the water a new woman. I felt renewed…..born again. My shoulders had never felt so light.
Within weeks of my baptism, I met my husband as friends and we became one within a year. It’s like I was able and willing to let someone love me for who I was. So, I didn’t hide a thing from him aka I had diarrhea of the mouth. I told Gabriel (I call him Captain America), all the good and bad about me, and he didn’t deter. He became even more determined. I never knew I was capable of having someone love me unconditionally. I have changed so much because of that unconditional love. I feel the strongest in my life. And we prayed….for everything we have now. Our beautiful home, new love baby, and our happy and healthy toddler. When I decided to shed the layers of the old, I gained a new family, a new outlook, and a new level of faith. It seems I rarely worry about things. I simply pray and move on. I also see myself praying it forward for others. I have some answers that have plagued me, and I still struggle with some, but that’s simply life.
Though I do not have the answers at this I am ready to document the journey so that I can once contribute to the world what it feels to not only be Bipolar, but that you can also have it “all” and still stay afloat.
At this moment, I am desperately trying to find that delicate balance between all the roles and hats I wear. To be honest, I believe that is unfortunately one of the reasons why I was unable to write. In my mind, I didn’t have the answers. How do you manage being wife, mommy, student, social worker, friend, daughter, confidant, etc.? Then I realized I never readily had the answers. In my past blogs I had theories, and that’s it. Usually the journey is what helped me to come up with my random Erie conclusions. And now I am with child again. This journey has been different, but a journey nonetheless. Not a day goes by that I do not reflect on where I came from, and ponder where I am going. I am constantly in reflection as I always am. Life is cyclic, and right now though this territory is uncharted from me, and at times feels like I am blindly walking; the journey is so rich in love, forgiveness and understanding. Processing forgiveness of those who caused trauma to me to still struggling to forgive myself. Loving everyone even when they do not righteously return the favor, and understanding that what God has for me is for me……After all, not a day goes by.
*sips tea, rubs belly, and listens to music with Eriane via belly buds*