Monday Memoir: Searching For Happiness

 

After Aaron’s death, I pretty much became a hermit, retreating to my tiny, one-bedroom apartment for the next three years. I slowly withdrew from his family as their daily pain in losing a son and a brother was too painful to witness. The only thing I accomplished during this period was graduate with a B.S. in Physical Education which, as I’ve said earlier, I had no intentions of using.

 

I spent my days watching romance-comedy movies, and cried.  I didn’t give up on my running or biking though.  I bought a mountain bike and rode that all around the town.  Other times I’d ride eight miles to the nearby walking/running trail and ran three miles, and then bike back home.  Exercise was pretty much my only outlet.

At least, it was something.

By the end of the three years, I decided that I had enough of being alone.  I felt ready to return to the “world.”  I’d been living in an apartment complex for the elderly where they accepted me because of my disabilities, charging me only a small percentage of what I received in my monthly social security benefits.  But at the age of 27, I felt that I still had enough of my vision remaining to go back to work, and not rely solely on them.

So, I took a big leap of faith and moved out, and into a regular apartment in the nearby city of Ithaca.  I got two part-time jobs; one as a clerk at a video rental store, and the other as a fitness trainer at the local YMCA.  I struggled financially, but the bills still got paid and I had some food in the pantries.  I slowly weaned myself off of social security.  I regained my independence as I now was in a place where I could either take a bus or walk to pretty much anyplace I needed.

For the first time in a long time,  I felt content.  Happiness still eluded me though.  I still had the gaping hole in my heart, and my chest would ache so, especially at nights as I lied in my bed.  I couldn’t escape the loneliness.  I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was missing something.

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Monday Memoir : The Darkness Continues…

 

Okay, I was partially deaf and going blind.  I’d given up on my athletic dreams.  I hadn’t written in years so why start now.  Life dealt me the bad deal.  How could it get worse than this?

The worse was yet to come.

I was declared “legally blind” by Social Security and began to receive disability benefits.  I did continue to work towards my P.E. degree even though I really had no intentions of using it.

Then, I met Aaron and fell in love.  We were married within a year after our first meeting (through a church’s function).  We had so many things in common.  We loved rock n’ roll especially the 80’s rock and early 90’s alternative music.  We both loved sports.  He was a soccer fanatic.  He not only played in various local leagues, he also coached boys’ soccer teams in the town we’d lived.   His dreams were to not only coach kids, he also wanted to be a teacher.  He began college to pursue both.

I like to say I was the good wife.  I can’t.

I was manipulative.  Verbally abusive to him.  Why?

Jealous because he was able to play soccer?  Resentful because he took me away from my family to live with his own?  Bitter because he knew exactly what he wanted to do, and was able to do them?   Envious because he made friends wherever he went and I couldn’t?

Name it, and I felt it.  Then, I punished him.

I became the psycho-bitch that mothers would warn theirs sons against.  And I hated myself for being that way.

I wanted to change.  For him.

But, it was too late.

One cold day in March, Aaron was killed in a car accident.   He was on his way to pick up our pastor to take to the hospital because he didn’t want to take the ambulance.  I decided not to go at the last-minute.  Aaron was going too fast when he lost control of the car, and crashed into a dumpster truck.   The truck struck the passenger door, and because he wasn’t wearing a seat belt…well, you get the idea.

The heartache I felt that day was unlike I had ever felt before.  It was unbearable.  And the guilt…

That night I attempted to take my life by overdosing on certain pills, but something stopped me.

How could I be this selfish?  To take my life after what Aaron’s and my family have just gone through with his sudden death?   I hated myself for the way I’d treated Aaron, but I could not do this to them.

So, I decided to live with the pain and the guilt.

Monday Memoir: The Darkness Begins (Part One)

 

I thought living with a hearing disability would be difficult enough.

I was wrong.

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By the time I was twenty, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do with my life.  So I pursued a degree in Physical Education with the hopes of going on to earn a masters in Exercise Science.  I wanted to work with college and professional athletes.   Being an athlete myself, I competed in cross-country, softball, as well as soccer.  Sports became my passion, and I’d wanted to make it my life.  Around this time I learned (finally) how to drive, and attained my driver’s license.

I was ready for the world.  To pursue my dreams at full speed.

Then, everything changed.

At first to me, it seemed pretty minor.  Getting around in the dark was growing more difficult.  I kept bumping into things (and people).  Stairs became more of a challenge.  Okay, so I needed glasses.  No big deal, right?

Wrong, again.

I went to see an ophthalmologist and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa; a degenerative retinal disease which could result in complete blindness.

Being devastated was probably an understatement.

The next month my parents took me to Boston to see a RP specialist, Dr. Elliot Berson, at the Eye and Ear Infirmary.  He put me through several intensive tests over the course of two days, and confirmed that I did indeed have Usher’s Syndrome type II which meant that my deteriorating eyesight and hearing loss went together.

Lovely.

My dreams…my career aspirations…

I felt so distraught I gave up on them all.

I did, though, finish college and earned a Bachelor in Physical Education, but that was the extent of it.  I never went on.  Never moved forward.  I allowed my disabilities to destroy my confidence.   I’d withdrew within myself, and allowed everything else to vanish.

Detours

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“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

 

The Road of Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay Free Images

 

At what point in life should you stop dreaming?  Middle-age?  Or, older perhaps?

Ever seen a person who’s given up? The sight is difficult to take in.

Painfully so.

Me, I gave up on my dreams when I was twenty-one.  Today, twenty-six years later, I’m struggling to reclaim those dreams.

As I study the image above, I find myself wishing that life was as straight a road as this, and that the sun shines constantly.  Unfortunately, that’s not how life works.

The road is winding with death-defying curves as it traverses through steep valleys and dark, treacherous mountains.   There is no map available to help us navigate our way safely; and because of that, many of us never reach our intended destination.

Which sucks.

But…

Life also taught me to expect the unexpected.   That if one door closes on a dream, another one opens.   In other words, dreams never die…they just change their shapes.  We just need to learn how to recognize them.

The key?

No matter what life throws at you, never ever give up.

 

 

 

#WritersLife: The Dreamer In the Writer

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As a young child and still today,

I’d stare out a window

and dream

 

Of other realms and ages,

of people and creatures

large, small, but never

inanimate or dull

 

In my mind, they are all

alive and loud

 

Chattering, lots of chattering

which push me to the

edge of insanity

 

I then lose myself

in them as the pen

marks the paper…

 

and the story begins

 

 


 

To see this in video format, click HERE.

My #Publishing Dilemma

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I love writing stories and poetry, and one of my dreams is to be a published author.

However…

I retired from the workforce in January 2015 (five days before my 44th birthday) due to my worsening eyesight (coupled with moderate hearing loss), and now live on Social Security benefits as well as my husband’s salary.

Although I consider myself as a writer, I feel like I’m a faceless woman with no true status or identity of any kind.

Why is that?

I desire to write books and have them traditionally published; but, since I’m on Social Security, I’m not allowed to make any money. So, this puts me in a frustrating dilemma.  How do I go about realizing my dream now?

Writing is NOT a hobby for me.  It’s my passion and my life.  Would not making money off my writing put me in the “hobbyist” realm?  Gosh,  I hope not.

What to do?

I could self-publish but if I put my books on “permafree” would people want to “buy” and read them?  Would my books be considered as “inferior” just because they’re for “free”?

On the other hand, being in this predicament is somewhat liberating as I find I have more range to do things differently than many authors.  So perhaps this really isn’t such a terrible thing after all.

Hmm…

The Power Of One’s Imagination

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I’ve met countless writers and creatives from various artistic backgrounds who hailed how one’s imagination and dreams have enabled them to heal from painful and traumatic experiences.

Can a mind be that powerful?

Personally, my answer to this is Yes!

With the number of violent incidents increasing in our nation, I believe that having art of all kinds (music, drama, writing, etc.) included in all schools and colleges.  To go one step further, we should also have Art Therapy in schools.

With everything being so structured these day (structured play-if any, structured classes, structured lunchtimes, video games are also structured, and on and on), for a kid to utilize his own imagination to create play, a new game, an imaginary place or person, is becoming a lost and untapped ability.  An ability that will become crucial at various events of one’s life.  The ability to transfer oneself out of a stressful circumstance and into a place of magic, safety and love.  Even if only for the briefest of moment this will allow one to reset the mind (and emotions) and be better equipped to deal with the current situation.

Meditation. Strumming on a guitar. Singing.  Journaling.  Doodling or sketching.

Children and adults who’ve been abused, or had a traumatic experience tend to heal better through Art Therapy. There’s also Poetry Therapy.  Music Therapy. Journal Therapy.  The list could go on. These types of therapy enable one to express the pain and abuse in other ways where words may have failed.

For me, journaling and writing poetry have been cathartic and healing as I worked through the various losses I’ve experienced.  Without them, I don’t think I’d feel as emotionally and mentally whole as I do today.

What about you?  Have any of these above helped you through a challenging time?

 

 

#IWSG: Why I Love #Romance

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Question for this month: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

 

 

When I discovered writing as a girl, my first story I ever wrote was horror.  Ever since then, I’ve mostly wrote horror stories, or dark fantasy, or dark poetry.  Nothing truly had a happy ending.

Was this how I really felt about life in general?

Yeah, for a long time, I did.

But, there was always this other side of me that dared to hope, and dream, and wonder about the magical and beautiful aspects of life; and many times these involved this concept called…love.

I’ve always enjoyed reading both fantasy and horror books.

Romance novels?  I devoured them.  I never could get enough.  It was a wonderful feeling when you get to the end of a book, and there’s a happy ending!

Real life doesn’t always have a happy ending.  In fact, for many there’s only sadness and pain and emptiness.  It’s nice to be able to open up a book and get lost in it, in another person’s life, and be able to feel what they feel, and experience what they experience, and leave your own unhappy reality behind for a while.

These are some of the reasons why I love the Romance genre.  And why I’ve decided to write in this genre for my very first book.

What about you?  Which genre do you enjoy most, and why?

Writing: The Zero Moment

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Gabriela Pereira:

The hardest step in your creative development is the “zero moment,” the point where you go from doing nothing to doing something. The distance between the zero moment and being a newbie is far greater than the distance between newbie and pro, yet rarely does anyone celebrate this pivotal, important step.
Today, I want you to celebrate. Think back to your zero moment and do something to celebrate that incredible leap of faith. Maybe your zero moment was ages ago and you’ve forgotten all about it. Maybe you’re in that moment right now. Regardless of where you are on your writing journey, I want you to pause and celebrate that enormous first step that brought you to where you are now.

Photo Credit: Bellarmine Magazine

 

I had a handful of “aha” moments when it came to writing.  The first one came when I was a girl (shared this in my How did I become a writer post) when a friend challenged a group of us to see who could write the scariest story.  That was the moment I realized that there was a safer way to channel my imagination, and that was through writing them down on paper.

Throughout high school and most of my college years, I journaled.  It was your typical teenager’s angst and boy-crazed, and trying to figure out what I truly wanted to do with the rest of my life kinds of stuff.   Journaling was a way of dealing with frustrations and disappointments as well as perusing through all the puzzle pieces of life, and trying to see what fits and where.

When I was looking at colleges, I toyed with the idea of either Journalism or English major; but, I’d felt that I didn’t possess an aggressive enough personality for Journalism, and found the course work for English to be too dry and boring.  So, I ended up majoring in Physical Education instead since I enjoyed sports.

I’d envisioned myself working with either professional or Olympian athletes.  I received an associate degree in Physical Education, and went to an University in Virginia to pursue a B.S. in Exercise Science.  I was well on my way to attaining that particular dream.

Then Life intervened, and everything changed.

Between graduating with my A.S. degree, and heading down to the University, I was diagnosed with a progressive eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa.  Because I also had moderate hearing loss, the specific RP I had was Usher Syndrome.

I was slowly going blind.

This shook everything up.  So much so, I practically gave up on all of my dreams.  I stayed in college though as I didn’t know what else to do. From there, I transferred around at least four different colleges, changed my majors several times, but eventually went back to Physical Education and graduated with my Bachelor degree.

In the midst  of struggling with coming to grip with RP, and confusion about my future, I met and married Aaron.  However, with a year left of college, Aaron was in a car accident, and died.  We were married only nineteen months.

I could have dropped out of college, but didn’t.  I decided that since I was that close to graduating, and needed something to keep me busy, I finished out the last year.

Between the diagnosis, and Aaron’s death, I stopped writing altogether.   Misery became my best friend as I holed myself up in an apartment (by this time, living on social security disability).  Those were dark years.

Three years later, everything changed again.

In come Jay.  Jay and I were good friends back at the very first college I attended. Then we went our separate ways.  But, in late May of 1999, we reconnected.  Something more blossomed between us, and we were married in September (same year).  Days before our wedding day, he gave me a gift.  A beautiful leather-bound (with a picture of a cute cat on front) journal.

It was full of empty pages.  Pages that called out to me.

This was probably my true “zero moment.”  The moment when I realized I must write; not just for the sake of writing itself, but for my mind, spirit, and soul.

And, because the price was too high NOT to.

What about you?  Do you remember your zero moment?