I guess deep down inside I always knew this day would come. I didn’t expect it all to play out like this, but that’s the thing about life. We never really know what’s coming. You see, I have a secret that’s been buried deep inside me. So deep that even I couldn’t see it until recently.
I am mentally ill. And you know what? It’s okay!
Woah, right? Growing up, I always felt different. Off-beat if you will. I understood conversations differently than other people and I never quite fit in anywhere. I always thought there was something wrong with my brain. My parents must have agreed because I started going through therapy and taking anti-depressants at the ripe age of 10.
In 6th grade I thought I finally found my group of besties. That only lasted until my dad was arrested for defrauding investors and evading taxes. With his name and face slapped across the papers and local news, no one wanted to be friends with the criminals daughter.
A few months later I learned about my mom and her addictions. As if watching the FBI surround our home, threaten to shoot our dog if I didn’t calm it down, and whisk my dad off to jail wasn’t enough, you know?
Ready for some quick comedic irony?
Years later I found out that the FBI had been following us around for months before they arrested my dad. They learned his schedule – which included driving my brother and I to school in the morning and then heading home to have a cigarette and a cup of coffee out front before getting to work. The FBI was kind enough to wait until after my dad drove us to school to arrest him. Only problem was that they didn’t know I got to sleep in that day because I had a therapy appointment. Sooo after all that I was home to watch the arrest anyways. In case you were wondering – I totally had to increase my therapy sessions and up my Zoloft after that morning.
Back to the story – by ‘I learned about my mom and her addictions’, I mean I woke up one day and my mom was gone. My dad wouldn’t tell me where she was so I did what every other irrational and angry 12 year old would have done. I beat his Bentley with a golf club and tried to run over our body guards with a golf cart. Okay, most 12 year olds probably wouldn’t do either of those because they are so not normal buttt I guess that partially explains my lack of normalcy.
My dad called the cops on me for the first time that day but it definitely wasn’t the last. They said I was a spoiled brat and that he should whip me around but to take care not leaving any marks. But I wasn’t a brat. Filled with fear and worry, I was just a scared 12 year old girl looking for my mom. For some reason I just didn’t find comfort in my dad saying ‘You’ll find out where she is when you get to school’.
I should probably give a little backstory as to why this was so scary for me.
My mom has always struggled with drugs and alcohol but up until that time in my life I never knew. She also was mentally ill. Convinced that my dad was was living a double life with a whole different family and trying to steal me and my siblings from her, my mom would hide us in hotels for weeks at a time until my dad found us or her brain finally cleared up and she realized he in fact was not trying to steal us and he didn’t have a double life.
We’d go back home and wait for the next time she’d wake us up in the middle of the night in a panic, tell us to pack our bags, and quietly wait in the car because we had to run away from our dad. So I’m sure you can only imagine what I thought when my dad wouldn’t tell me where my mom was.
Anyways, when I finally got to school that day I was immediately called into the school’s psychologist office. That’s where I learned my mom was put on a private plane in the middle of the night and sent to Arizona to work through her addictions.
“What addictions?” I innocently asked.
And that’s when my school’s therapist taught me all about my mom, her struggles, and her disease. Try going back to pre-Algebra after that conversation.
On the Run
To be blunt, these past few months have been the darkest and ugliest I’ve seen. Why? Even though I’ve escaped the chaos it feels like the life has been sucked out of me. I’m just so tired. I’ve been fighting for so long.
As you may know, last year I moved across the country to live with my boyfriend. However, I’ve never really told the story of what prompted me to pack up my life in a matter of days and drive across the country.
Around January-ish of 2016 my dad and I started to argue about his Sugar Babies. He is literally signed up to a dating website where he is the ‘Sugar Daddy’ and goes on expensive dates and overly gifts his ‘Sugar Babies’ who are my age with Chanel handbags and Christian Louboutin shoes (I couldn’t make this sh*t up if I tried). Had there been money saved for my sisters to go to college or to put a roof over their heads God forbid he drops dead or goes back to jail, I wouldn’t have care so much. As fast as money came in, it went right back out on strangers and it made me sick to my stomach.
Due to a subpoena, around March of last year my dad told me he needed to start keeping all of his money in a bank account in my name. His fancy lawyers and accountants supposedly said it was okay. I believed it too until a U.S. District Attorney started coming after me. I spent $20,000 retaining attorneys who advised me to financially cut my dad and family off to save myself. I did it and then
moved ran across the country immediately out of fear.
My Not So Divine Revelation
For some reason after finally finding some peace and quiet out here in Colorado I felt more numb pain and emptiness than ever before. All the feelings I’ve avoided my entire adolescence were finally being woke but I’m unable to actually identify what those feelings are. After about a month or so of not leaving my bed for anything and losing over 25 pounds from depression and an inability to eat anything, my boyfriend got me to the Aspen Hope Center. Which as cliche as it sounds, has actually given me hope.
I think deep down I’ve known that I struggle with mental illnesses for a while but never wanted to admit it. Liiikeeee I know it’s not normal spending 10 minutes deciding which sock belongs on which foot. I guess I never wanted to admit it because then I’d have to actually face my past. Also, I didn’t want to be looked at as a downer for being depressed. I thought if I was having such a hard time finding friends while pretending to be ‘normal’ how the heck would I find any if the world knows I’m depressed?
I am learning that my problem isn’t depression, anxiety, or OCD.
It’s me pretending to be someone I’m not. It’s me not giving myself the chance to mourn the loss of an entire family. So that’s my Not So Divine Revelation. I have to accept me if I want the Universe and the people in it to accept me too. There’s absolutely nothing divine about being depressed but openly accepting it instead of suppressing and hiding it is a hell of a revelation. So that’s what I’m doing here. Accepting myself for the good, bad, and ugly.There's absolutely nothing divine about being depressed but openly accepting it instead of suppressing it is a hell of a revelation.Click To Tweet
Aside from not being able to get out of bed, I’ve barely been able to open my closet. Let alone wear most of my clothes. I have a connection to my clothes that most people can’t understand but I’d like to try to explain.
My clothes have been the only thing tying me to my family for years. They’ve helped me stay strong, fight through pain, and feel some kind of confidence in my weakest moments. Within my clothes lie a lot of feelings, issues, and suppressed memories.
They’ve been a definition of my worth.
For a long time my dad and I were the only ones in the family who knew about my mom’s addiction. When my siblings finally did learn about it, they still could never identify when she was sober or using. I on the other hand always knew just by seeing her face. When I knew my mom was drinking I wouldn’t let my siblings get in the car with her. In response, she’d take my clothes away and tell me I didn’t deserve them. This went on until she sobered up, crashed a car, or got sent back to rehab. Thank God I went to a school with uniforms.
Flash forward to my adult years as a profitable business owner. I started to prove my worth to myself by the amount of money I spent on my clothes and the amount of the items I could stuff into my closet.
Related: Unexpected Mother’s Day Post
They’ve been the only tangible connection to my past.
I started living on my own when I was 17. Since then I have lived in 11 different apartments (and I’m only 26). Today, I don’t have contact with either of my parents. My mom because of her disease, and my dad because he tried to get me to take the fall for his legal problems, which are still ongoing.
I have blocked out so much pain and so many memories that my clothes are the only connection to my past that I’ve been able to pack up and bring with me from apartment to apartment. Sometimes when I put certain pieces on I can feel the memories in my body but my brain won’t let me remember them. As a result this has caused a lot of frustration and anger.
I don’t have pictures of my childhood. I don’t remember what my mom looks like anymore. I’m afraid to return to the place I grew up. All that I have left are these clothes that give me weird tingly body memories of a life and family that I lost.
They’ve given me confidence to fight for my life and end up where I am today.
Even though my clothes are hurting my heart right now, I am more thankful for them than ever before. The clothes that I wore on the outside gave me the strength and confidence I needed on the inside to get to where I am today. That’s why I swear that our clothes are our armor.
In some really hard times when I thought there was no possible way to make it through the day, let alone the next 60ish years of my life, my clothes would pull me through. I’d put on a bold outfit that would make me feel good enough and strong enough to keep fighting.
I do not doubt that style and fashion have been an important coping mechanism for me. However more than ever, I am so tired of quick fixes. I just want to genuinely feel good and be happy.
I am letting go of my clothes.
I am going to sell/auction all of my clothes with the exception of a few pieces. All of the proceeds will go to the Aspen Hope Center. Details of the sale will come soon. My clothes have served a wonderful purpose in my life. However, I think it is time to pass them onto someone else who needs them to more than I do. Whomever gets these pieces, I truly hope they serve you and bring you the confidence, self love, comfort, and worth that I have found in them. Even if it is just a temporary way of coping.
Although I am letting go of my clothes, this blog will still primarily be about the strength, power, and freedom you can find through style. Fashion and style have played a huge part in who I am today and I will never let that go. As I make this journey through finding myself and making peace with my life I need to write about more than just style. I’m going to also create content full of honest feelings, self love, how to cope, and finding yourself/purpose. All of which are obstacles I am fighting through every single day.
And with allllll of that being said, I feel like we need an awkward GIF to lighten the mood a bit…
But seriously, thank you guys so much for reading. I know that was a long one. I really hope you join me on this self love finding journey that I am calling life!
Side note, have you started a Daily Mantra Wall yet?
Jump on this self love train! Download my list of mantras to help get started!
I’m Michelle, the founder of life & style blog, She’s Not So Basic. On the blog I write about all things related to style advice, self-love, finding happiness, and so much more while wearing both my heart and my scars on my sleeve. My path through life has been anything but basic and it’s left me feeling lost, lonely, and insecure. Every day is a journey towards feeling confident and finding freedom one not-so-basic outfit at a time. Connect with me to see how we can work together, to tell me your #NotSoBasic story, or just to say hi!