Monday Memoir: Silence

 

Will start a new series (plan to post on each Monday) called Memoir Monday.

 

Silence

 

I was a 70s child, and spent the entire preteen and teen-aged years during the 80s.   There are some things to be said having grown up in the heart of Adirondack mountains during this period.

One, you only got four channels on the television, if you were lucky.  So, I didn’t experience MTV until much later in life.

Two, really good doctors were few and far between.

I was born seemingly healthy, in all appearance-wise that is. By the time I was about two years old, it became apparent to my parents that I wasn’t developing normally.

I startled easily.

I wasn’t responding to stimuli like a “normal” child would.

I got frustrated over the simplest things and threw frequent temper tantrums.

My speech development was on par, for an one-year old.

For the next few years, they took me to see various specialists across New York and Vermont, but no one could tell them what was really wrong with me.  One particular specialist blatantly told my parents that I had serious behavioral issues and should see a shrink.

On I went to Kindergarten.

It was probably a few months into the school year when the teacher, Mrs. Siglin, pulled my Mom aside and said that I was practically unteachable.   I wasn’t listening to anything she was saying during class.  I was abruptive, and rude to the other kids.

Mom, in tears, had to pull me from school.

As a last resort, my parents took me to see an audiologist, Ms. Audrey.

She put me through a series of tests, and then had me sit in a sound-proof room, with a headphone on. She then amplified the sound of my voice.

Something happened that hadn’t happened before.

I began to jabber incoherently at first, and then my words grew clearer and concise.

Ms. Audrey turned to my bewildered parents and explained that I had moderate hearing loss in both ears.

Nerve deafness. 

I was almost six years old, and for the first time in my life, I heard the sound of my own voice.

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WEP – The Crossroad

Click on image to go to WEP original site

 

Here’s my entry for this Challenge:

 

The Crossroad

 

 

I believe each of us come to a crossroad at some point in life, And at that junction, each must make a decision as to which road to take.

The chosen path would set the tone for how well you’ll live your life.

Or, how poorly.

I came to such crossroad at the age of twenty-five as I sat on the bathroom floor, leaning against the toilet, with an opened medicinal bottle in hand, its content mostly emptied.

How did I get to this point?

I experienced death time and time again.  Not personally, but through people whom I cared a great deal about.

A cousin whom I considered a best friend, one who truly understood me for me.  We were born a month apart. He never treated me differently even with my hearing impairment as he was dealing with a far greater condition. Over time his body atrophied, and death paid a visit just before our fourteenth birthdays.

A grandmother, also a surrogate mother, whom I spent much of childhood with, her lungs were too weak, as my last memories were of her sitting in a chair, next to an oxygen tank, fighting for every breath.   She left this world just as I turned seventeen.

Then came the man whom I married.  His face was like an angel whose sweet disposition drew people to him.  Instead of being his help-mate, I offered only cruelty.

I could blame my behavior to recently receiving a diagnosis that I was going blind.

Also to resentment.  Anger.  Even immaturity.

But, those were just excuses.  Cop outs.

When on that fateful day, an unmarked car pulled in to the driveway, something within me sunk, and a dark void entered.

And I knew he’d gone on, and was now truly an angel.

Remorse and regrets raged as they tore my heart to pieces.  Pieces I felt could never be put back together again.

So, there I was, sitting on the floor, staring into the toilet bowl.

I was at my crossroad. 

The house was quiet.  Everyone’s asleep.  I dared not wake them.  They’ve already suffered enough.

Such stupidity!  The ultimate act of selfishness on my part.

I stood up, set the now closed bottle on the back of the toilet, and went up to our… my bed.

And lied down.

If I should wake in the morning, I promised to be a different person.

 

*Author’s Note:  Although this Challenge was geared more towards fictional pieces, I felt I had to write my story since its title spoke to me.  I’ve never shared this particular incidence in public before, and it was difficult to find the right words.  Perhaps in time the words will flow more freely.

 

 

Detours

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

“The road had detours, stop signs, missed turns, hills and valleys, deep, deep tangled forests, ruts and potholes, icy patches, and spin-outs along the way.” -Jazz Feylynn

 

I notice that the older I get, the more reflective and contemplative I become.

Not necessarily a bad thing; but, it tends to be painful at times.

Regrets.  So many of them.

It’s amazing how one’s past can ruin the future if you dwell on it for too long.

My fear is ending up a bitter old woman like my grandmother.   Her own family (parents) were unfair to her and she allowed that to poison her.  In turn, she lashed out on her own family (husband and children), and ended up alone and miserable in a nursing home.  Her last days were tormentous I’ve been told.

No, I do NOT want to end up like her.  Allowing regrets to poison my heart and soul.  To end up dying all alone when I’m not truly alone.

As a child, you have such dreams and hopes for the future; only to have them tainted or crushed by various circumstances of which many were out of your control.

In life, there are many roads; almost limitless.  Each road you choose to follow takes you through various types of terrains.  And on occasions, you’ll come across a detour that takes you well out-of-the-way.  Some detours bring unexpected joy and amazing experiences; while others only result in pain and heartache.

In the end, it is up to us to choose how we’ll react to these detours.

For many years, between the age of 21 and 44, I chose anger, resentment, and anxiousness.  These served me poorly.  I found no peace in them; just this growing misery that slowly ate away my heart and soul.

I got so tired of feeling negative about everything.  I longed for peace, and calmness.  I desired to use the various experiences in my life to help others.  To let them know that there is more to life than misery.  That there is beauty, and hope.  All that’s required is faith, and never stop believing in dreams.

“Embrace the detours for they are the keys to discovering yourself.” -unknown author

 

Even After All These Years (a day of remembrance)

Photo credit: Midwest Living

 

Even after 22 years, today’s date still affects me.

The day my first husband died.

Even though I’ve gone on with my life…

with a family of my own…

You are still with me.

In memory.

And in spirit.

Even after all these years

I’m still filled with regrets and pain

mainly for the way I acted, and treated you.

There are days when I still wished I could go back

and change those things

even just to say I’m sorry

but…

here I am still in mourning and missing you

and regretting how I’ve treated you

and wishing I could take it all back.

Even today, after all these years.

The Idea of a Memoir (Part One)

Photo Credit: Princeton Public Library

 

The idea of writing a memoir keeps coming to mind time and time again.  Why should I write one?  Who would want to hear my story anyway? And, what the heck the difference between a memoir and autobiography?

I found this that proved quite helpful:

Photo Credit: Susan Calder

And to break it down to the actual characteristics of a memoir:

Photo Credit: Linkedin Slideshare (Click on image for original source)

 

My next challenge is what to write about.   So much has happened over the course of my life, I don’t even know where to begin.  I went to my Twitter and started to browse through my tweets for the last year or so and I discovered two tweets where I managed to condense my life down to six words:

Unraveled by losses; rebuilt by love.

———————————–

Life. Just tears in the rain.

 

The word “losses” is definitely one of the main themes of my life.  But, who would want to read about them?

The losses weren’t just about death though that covered a good portion; there were anger and self-hatred, anxiety and depression, abuses of different kinds, setbacks, and on and on.  I don’t want to write this memoir as a pity-party for myself or to show how I was a victim and somehow beat the odds…

No, no, no!

I suppose I want to write the memoir, detailing certain events and losses, and telling a reader who may need to “hear” that yes, I survived these, and so can YOU.

The bottom line is never giving up.

No matter what.

*Sigh*

 

 

 

 

Story Sunday: The Ocean

The oceans” was the prompt for this week’s #StorySaturday (Twitter).  I wrote this micro-story kind of as a memoir of my personal experiences with water, and how it impacted me.

The Ocean

 

Photo Credit: Stephanie Vincent Lawrence

I grew up around water

in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks

the river ran wild

its’ roars beat within me like a hammer

 

Then came the ocean of the Outer Banks

its rolling waves on the sandy shore

calm the racing of that heart

and created a sense of peace

I’ve never experienced

 

Now I live in the open expanse of the plains

where the ocean is only a memory

but a memory that I can revisit

for as long as this heart beats

 

“Water is the driving force of all nature.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

 

 

The Dawning (Day One) Part One

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(*Note: In continuation to the Dusk (Arrival at the School for the Blind) post)

 

Day One

The first full day is done.  It was a good one, I think. Had three one-hour classes in the morning; and three one-hour classes in the afternoon.  My schedule will be the same for the rest of the week. One of the Vision Specialists made sure we were awake by 7:15am by knocking on each of our doors.  Breakfast was held in the kitchen/small dining area on the other side of the building from 8 till 8:30.  Since each one of the residents have varying degrees of visual loss and this was our first day,  Amy (one of the Visual Specialists) led us down a few different hallways to the kitchen/dining room area (also labeled as Daily Living Skills Center). Here we ate cereals and toasts.  It was a fairly quiet meal as we didn’t know each other.  I could sense that I wasn’t the only one feeling anxious about being here at the School.

My first class began at 8:30 with Ken (Daily Living Skills Specialist) so I stayed in the kitchen/dining area.  We just went over tidbits in regards to kitchen skills (which areas I like to work on throughout the week.  Guess I’ll be getting some cooking in too).  At 9:30 I met with Margo (Mobility Specialist).  She took me into an office and we discussed various aspects of mobility and the cane (I brought my own but have never used).  She took me out to a particular (long and wide) hallway and went over the basics of holding on the cane, and tips on how to use it.

parts of walking cane

 

For about 1/2 hour, I walked up and down this corridor, swinging the cane side to side (tip must always stay in contact to the surface), while Margo watched.  Every once in a while she’ll correct my form.

Today I didn’t have a 10:30 class (Specialist had a previous appointed event to attend) so I went to my room, and rested.

At 11:30 I headed back to the kitchen/dining area for lunch.  Again, we were quiet as we ate.

12:30 was a group meeting in a conference room.  From there I went to my 1pm class with the Technology Specialist, Tracey.  She showed me a little about various accessibility functions on a desktop computer (mainly Windows).  2pm I headed back to the kitchen/dining area for my second Daily Living Skills class with Amy.  I had the joy of preparing sliced potatoes and ham for supper.  Nah, it wasn’t that bad at all 🙂  At 3pm, I met with Candy at the Braille Center.  I learned what the alphabets A and B look like.  Oh man, this is like learning a totally new language!  The entire Braille language is based on these 6 dots.  See below:

braille letter z

 

“The braille alphabet is based upon a “cell” that is composed of 6 dots, arranged in two columns of 3 dots each. Each braille letter of the alphabet or other symbol, such as a comma, is formed by using one or more of the 6 dots that are contained in the braille cell. The chart below provides a good example of the design of the braille alphabet.”

braille dots

 

(Courtesy of Vision Aware)

 

Whew…am feeling exhausted after my first full day here; but, in a good way.  Margo told me that I am to be using the cane the entire time I’m here; meaning it has to stay “attached” to me no matter what.  I told her that I would.  Using the cane still makes me quite nervous (self-conscious is probably a better word); but, I think I’m getting a little more comfortable with it (better than earlier today anyway).

The others are a good group of people: Tara, Rosalinda (aka Linda), Marlene, David and Sarnoe.  Several of the Vision Specialists are vision impaired themselves.  I’m quite impressed.

There’s a level of comfort being here. I don’t have to constantly feel like I have to make an excuse for my “clumsiness;” or wonder what the others think of me as a “blind” person.  The other residents know. They understand and can completely relate.  I don’t feel so alone anymore.

Yet…I still feel quite a bit of hesitancy and uncertainty.  Not 100% sure why.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to bake banana bread.  Oh, boy…

 

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

Dusk (Arrival at the School for the Blind)

dusk in nd

 

“The pale stars were sliding into their places. The whispering of the leaves was almost hushed. All about them it was still and shadowy and sweet. It was that wonderful moment when, for lack of a visible horizon, the not yet darkened world seems infinitely greater—a moment when anything can happen, anything be believed in.”-Olivia Howard Dunbar, The Shell of Sense

(*The following is an excerpt from the journal I wrote during my week at the School for the Blind)

I decided I would journal about my week here at the School for the Blind.  Originally, I postponed the one I should have gone to back in March; but, because of anxiety issues, I opted out.  What finally enabled me to attend this particular week in June?  One, a passionate pep talk from my husband (if I don’t do this now, my anxiety would only get worse); and two, Pam’s-my Vision Specialist here at the School, gentle encouragements.

So, here I am.  Arrived at the School around 6pm.  Hubby and son left soon after I found my room.  Felt a little apprehensive so I busied myself by unpacking everything.  I was then summoned by one of the other Visual Specialists, Amy.  We sat at one of the round tables in the Common Area where she peppered me with various questions such as what are some of my goals for the coming week.  This session lasted for about 1/2 hour.   I was invited stay to have sandwiches with the others.

I couldn’t.

I’m back in my room now, in my jammies.  Have my tablet (no television in my room) so I think I’ll catch a few episodes of Bones.

I think there will be at least five other residents here with me for the week.  I’m sure I’ll be meeting them tomorrow.  I have no idea of what to expect here and that has me feeling quite nervous.  Hope I can get some sleep tonight.   I know I should have stayed to meet the others…this will keep nagging at me tonight.  Story of my life.

Should haves.  Regrets. Missed chances and opportunities.  Constantly self-sabotaging as punishment.  But, for what?

Okay, need to stop dwelling on the past.  Can’t change any of that now.

Time for Bones.

Fighting the Darkness

bare land

 

For a long time, I viewed my disabilities as weaknesses; and considered myself to be inferior to other able-bodied individuals.  I felt that by “accepting” my disabilities meant I was giving in to them.

So, anger settled in.

Instead of feeling propelled to do great things, I opted to feel sorry for myself and gave up on my dreams.

Years passed.  Regrets mounted.  Misery and loneliness hung on me like thick furs on a hot, muggy summer day.

Suffocating me ever so slowly.

Anxiety and depression visited intermittently until they decided to move in on a more permanent basis.  It got so bad I couldn’t step outside of my own home without having an episode.

I realized that I couldn’t go on living like this.

Something had to change.

It wasn’t too long after we moved to North Dakota when I learned there was a School for the Blind in Grand Forks (a short 45-minute drive from home); and that they offered Adult Weeks just about every quarter.  Pam, my Vision Services Specialist, encouraged me to come in March.  I had every intention of attending, but “chickened” out at the last moment.   She then encouraged me to attend one during the first week of June.

I actually went.

Finally.

 

*Will talk about my week at the School for the Blind in my next post.