Once upon a time, I thought I could have it all. Then reality sucker punched me in the kidney and logic surprised me with a right hook to the jaw that left me seeing stars.

Of course I can go to college and earn a degree. Obviously, the next step will be to get hired at a great company and fulfill my aspirations of developing a career that will make other people drool. And I can do all of this while being a wife and mother. It is not that hard. Duh! Anyone can do it, if they try.

Why didn’t someone slap me in the face and clue me in to real life? Probably because I am stubborn and would not have listened. So real life got to do the slapping instead. Getting married was the easy part, making the marriage work has been a roller coaster of emotions, struggles, fights, depression and misery. After 14 years, we are still trying to find a common middle ground that will result in less stress, less arguments and a better emotional relationship. Being married has been a gut wrenching, pain filled experience that makes think having my teeth pulled would be easier.

Having children has been emotionally and physically draining. Being a parent feels one sided most days. There is just nothing left in me after spending each waking moment being a mom first and a wife second. I am filled with resentment and hurt. I feel that no matter what I do, it is not good enough. Why does he get to work and I have to stay at home? Why does he get to miss IEP meetings, field trips, doctor and dental appointments and I must struggle to coordinate all of these events for three children? The list goes on and on, with the resentment and exhaustion continuously building to volcanic proportions. Some days I ask myself how am I going to just survive the day. My daughters take everything I have each day. More often than not, I do not have anything left for my husband, let alone myself.

College is a bitter dream that has turned to ashes in my mouth. Countless assignments that were never completed, missed classes, poor grades. In the end, I fell short of my degree. My children had to come first, then the miniscule little paycheck I earned each week. School was simmering on the back burner until it finally evaporated and blew up in my face. Now it has been so many years that most of my credits no longer count. If I want to go back to school, I will have to start all over again. Life is telling me that even though I had tried once, it was not good enough and I failed. Dangling the last few glimmers of educational hope I have before my eyes, just far enough away that if I try to reach out, I will fall flat on my face. No college education, no chances for a real career that means something to me. Back to fast food I will go when all three of my children are in school. I want to crawl into a hole when I think of this. Reality is swinging punch after punch at me, and the hits just keep on coming.

Fast food served its purpose in my life when I was younger. I took a mental beating from it when I was continuously told by management that I needed to stop taking my job so seriously and that I should just relax. This advise goes against my beliefs and work ethic. You have a job, take it seriously at all times and do your best. My bruised mind did not recover from that, even as I got older and worked in professional fields. In these more adult work environments, I was still the odd duck. Managers telling me that no matter how well I performed, unless I focused on sales, I would always be a lackluster employee. Smash! Talk about a quick jab to the gut! This has left me breathless and disorientated.

Being labeled with a mental health diagnoses has just been another wallop. A slow, brutal breaking of my spirit. Being ignored, being passed up for promotions, not getting pay raises, all because people are uncomfortable with my depression or my preference to work alone. According to family members, life would be easier without me around because then they would not have to accommodate my sensitive feelings. How in the world do you people accommodate? You tear me to shreds each chance you get! My oldest has autism because I have depression. My second daughter is ADHD because I am moody and sad. All three of my daughters are suffering because I am angry with life and nothing is ever good enough for me. These are the statements hurled at me by family, friends and the occasional mental health provider. Everything is all my fault because I suffer from depression and Bipolar.

My pride is beaten to a pulp, my self-esteem has been beaten to a bloody pool of self loathing, and my self-worth has been curb stomped to death. No funeral services for self-worth were ever held due to popular opinion that it would only feed my ego.