My Story-Just the Bones

I was born to a young mother who was alone, beside herself, and scared. My biological father chose drugs and alcohol over me. My mother did the very best with the circumstances she was given. She married a physically and emotionally abusive man who spent years hurting both of us. He was a military man and we moved around frequently. We lived in Bamberg, Germany for a few years before coming back to the states. I don’t recall much from those years and those things I do recall were not nice memories.

I was fortunate enough to be able to live with my grandparents for a time and they taught instilled into me a passion for reading and writing at the tender age of three. I remember reading from small, fat comic books about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck and his three nephews, and putting words together with flashcards. I recall staring into my grandmother’s gigantic dollhouse and dreaming up the perfect life for myself. Though I couldn’t touch the pieces, I imagined the little dolls moving around, talking, and being the perfect family.

I was five years old when I told a sixteen year old girl, my mother’s friend’s daughter, about the sexual abuse. I was five years old when I showed the therapist with dolls the things that had happened to me. I was five years old when everything changed. My mother took my little brother and moved into a safehouse for women and children. I was too old, in school, and lived with my other grandparents.

My mother, with community resources, moved us to another city, and together, we began our new family. Starting a new school at six years old was very scary. Throughout the coming years I made friends but continued to carry a big secret. One which I never fully processed through. So I learned how to process events in my life by playing Barbie dolls and writing stories. My first story was written when I was eight. It was a combination of Curious George and Shirley Temple.

Following years, moving into teen years, I experienced more trauma. I turned to inappropriate coping mechanisms, but continued writing. When I was in sixth grade, I wrote a story about a brother who’d gotten AIDS and how his sister was handling the news. This won me an award at Western Kentucky University. It was the moment I knew that writing was a talent, a gift, and an appropriate manner to share my feelings and still being safe.

When I was fifteen, I found myself in a very toxic relationship which propelled me down many dark paths. Paths that would follow me for decades. While I found richness, goodness, and happiness in my life, still, the darkness, the secrets, were very much there under the surface. I continued with my writing however I was stuck in a ‘start a story’ mode and for the life of me, I could never see the words, ‘the end’ to anything.

I attempted NaNoWriMo so many times only to fail. By this time, I was married, had children, and was going to college. College was the one thing I felt I could do right. I was able to get my BA in Interdisciplinary Humanities and Psychology and into my MA in Professional Counseling courses. Still I’d never fully processed my past traumas and was very critical and negative towards myself. Working towards my MA made me really learn a lot and it helped me immensely. So much that I finally opened the drawers that were locked deep inside the mind, hidden in the chained, locked, impenetrable doors of the mind.

I suffered a mental breakdown.

I made it through. Stronger. Surrounded by loved ones, I paced myself and learned to love myself. I found out that my writing could be better. I found my stories could be bigger. I found out that I could write, ‘the end’. I had finished my first novel. And then with NaNoWriMo, I finished three more novels. I pitched one of my stories to an editor and they loved it. (It fell through when the editor left for personal reasons, so I had to start back at the beginning.) At the point, I was fueled with love and admiration for myself, for what I’d overcome that I didn’t let it get me down.

My best friend and writing partner passed away. I was lost again. And I left my writing. I put it aside, mourning the death of my friend and partner. I raced into my new career as a professional counselor, put my all into it, helping families learn communication skills, de-escalation skills, emotion regulation and coping skills. I helped bring families together, stronger, and I love doing so. Unfortunately, the life of a counselor, I found I had so much documentation to focus on. So much time spent in front of the computer, and it zapped all motivation to write creatively.

Then Covid hit. You’d think I’d have so much more time to be creative, but instead, I focused on being gentle towards myself, focus on my family, and self-healing. It’s been a year now since Covid became a thing and I am only now finding in me a place to want, a desire to write. My characters are talking again. My stories are calling out to me.

I no longer write to heal myself. I write to help others heal.

Milestones

My baby girl, who recently turned 18 has been going through the whirlwind of applying to colleges. I told her it was best to focus on just five due to her being prone to anxiety. It was tough for her. Applications, parchments, transcripts, essays, and recommendation letters for high schoolers is a very exhilarating and yet frustrating time. Because Emily also attends college she had to do more. She’s graduating with almost sixty credits. She is anxious even with that because she really wanted to graduate high school with her associates degree. It’s possible, even doable. But it’s still a lot for any 18 year old to attempt.

Last week she began receiving acceptance letters. Here are her five choices in order of importance:

1. Baldwin Wallace University

2. Western Kentucky University

3. Perdue University

4. University of Tennessee

5. University of Tennessee

6. (I made her apply to Spalding University because it’s where I graduated.)

First, she heard from U of T-accepted! She was ecstatic! Her first acceptance letter. Then she heard from WKU! Second choice!!! $5,000!a year in scholarships. Then Spalding’s came in with an offer of $10,000 a year in scholarships! She was all set to calling herself a Hilltopper and we even announced it. WKU was after all not too far from home AND her second choice.

This week, yesterday in fact, she received a large envelope from BW. Yes… they accepted her. She hadn’t been expecting it because it was of course her first choice. Who gets their first choice? Not only did they accept her, they are giving her a full scholarship (almost). We will like have to pay for dorms…but wowza!!!

She is through the moon excited and at the same time nervous because it’s like five hours away from home and family. It took a while but she finally accepted cane around and is now getting used to the idea and looking forward to the experience.

Wait until time gets closer…she’s definitely gonna start feeling the fear and anxiety all over again but I know that she is going to do great! She’s going to excel in her goals to become a speech pathologist and she’s going to have wonderful journeys and adventures.

I’m always so proud of my kiddos, but yesterday was one of the top moments, to be a part of this huge milestone for my baby girl.