Please welcome my #BeReal guest today, Carol Estrella.
The Biggest Hypocrite
Life was never “normal” as I was growing up. I was the child of an alcoholic and a non-reachable mother. I was the caretaker, the protector, the salvation of the house. The one that hid my mother from my dad in my room, when he had one too many and became abusive. I was my sister’s protector; I was determined to shield this small child from reality.
I became an overachiever. The perfect child, student, friend, sister, girlfriend, and later on a mother and employee, but was I?
I must recognize now that as much as I know about psychology (after all I have a college degree on the subject), I was determined not to repeat the patterns and cycles in which I grew up. I promised myself that I would never be caught in a phase of abuse and neglect. That the mistakes of my parents were forgivable, but never to be forgotten.
Ha! The joke was on me. I was repeating each and all patterns. I was NEVER my most authentic self: always hiding my true feelings, my tears, my resentment towards my neglectful parents, my hate for my mother as she could not see the child in me that died with each passing day, the hate for all of my mother’s “friends” and family members that abused me sexually. How was it possible that they did not see me??
Forward to my adulthood: all the wrong relationships, with all the wrong people. Psychological, mental, verbal, physical abuse, and what was my response? HIDE!! Hide like I always had done so well, make excuses, imagine reasons, and make every slight towards me my fault in some way. My crown jewel was my ex-husband, as he was the embodiment of everything that I never wanted in my life. Well, narcissists are very adept at catching their pray. Let the cycle of abuse repeat with him and my children.
Things are almost never easy for a first generation immigrant, but somewhere along the lines, I learned how to grow a back bone. I finished college while working two jobs and raising two toddlers, against my husband wishes. I graduated from a private college with honors, and the day I took my last exam I kicked out my husband.
Because unknown to all the people in my life I had reached the tipping point. I was ready to make mistakes, make a change for the better, look out for me and my children, rock the proverbial boat, leave my husband, have a male best friend, and leave all the preconceptions of my culture behind. I was never going back!
Was it easy? Not at all. Not for one second, but for the 3 years that I planned and fought for my personal freedom, I never deviated from my goal. The sleepless nights the 60 hour work weeks, the not sleeping because children needed to be taken care of, and assignments and chores needed to be done.
NO, I am no superwoman, I was fighting to survive and live my life my way. I was fighting for my freedom, for love, for stability and the price I paid: being diagnosed at 32 as bipolar.
SHOCKED! There is no history of mental illness in my family on either side. If there is, they have hidden it in an amazing way. Very efficiently and behind many locked and dead bolted doors.
Once my bipolar was onset, there was no place to hide. I searched for the right psychiatrist, was put in any trial of any psych medication known to man, had to see a therapist and I began to unravel…. Fast!
I tried to commit suicide more times than I care to mention. . I have been hospitalized several times. I honestly thought I had failed my children and their lives would be better off without me. I pushed the man I loved out of my life. This illness is no walk in the park and he did not have the skill set to deal with me or my diagnosis. Living with me was and still is a nightmare at times. I am lucky we are still friends and he still is my support, my rock and my best friend.
Why am I the biggest hypocrite? Because I hide behind a pen name, because very few people know I am bipolar; because I speak freely of my other diagnoses, but not this one. Because I maintain a mental health page and advocate for people to feel free to speak about their illness and seek acceptance. Sometimes I look at my Instagram and I feel ashamed.
So here I am coming out of the notorious “closet”. You will see my face and know who I am, and that is ok. I am ready. I have paid all my dues, because I am not ashamed. However I am scared of the small minded individuals that will pass judgment and I hope that it does not ruin my work life. But that is a risk I am willing to take, because since I was 12, all I wanted to do was help others and write. It is time to #BeReal and speak my truth.
Hobbies: read, watch sports, photography, write (mostly things that I never
finish), watch movies, advocate for the ones that need it.
I am a mother of two beautiful children, entering their adulthood. I am single, because who in their right mind would want to date me. I have 2 dogs and 2 cats that keep me sane and I have a great network and support group in the internet.