My answers to some of the questions from Cee’s Share Your World
Fond childhood places? My childhood places that I liked the most, were the woods up behind our house, and the caves we would dig in the snowbanks around the driveway.
Thing(s) you are most proud of? I think what I am most proud of was going back to school at the age of 28, and getting my degree five years later.
Have you been through any official rites of passage? My one and only official rite of passage, I believe, was when I was baptized in early 2008. Another was when I was sworn into the US Military. How about unofficial? I cannot think of any unofficial ones. My life has been pretty boring, I guess.
What is your role in your family? I am the oldest of three children, the only girl. I was also the one to get into more trouble than my brothers.
Define family. I believe family is not what I was born into, but rather those around me, who love me and share life with me.
Do you get on with your siblings? One of my brothers, I have not heard from since the day after our mother’s funeral. That was more than four years ago. I am in contact with my youngest brother and text with his wife. Our plan, is for me to move in with them in Texas, when the MS has gotten to a point where I can no longer live by myself. The only problem with that, is that I’m heat sensitive, and it can get pretty darn warm in Texas during the summer.
What small things have you seen or taken note of today? I noticed the spaghetti sauce that had run down the front of my cabinet beneath the microwave. I had a small disaster incident last night while trying to put my ravioli into the microwave to heat the sauce. Due to my wonderful lack of coordination, there were ravioli here and ravioli there, and on the floor, with sauce everywhere from here to next week.
What makes you happy? Being out in (is that an oxymoron?) the spring and fall weather, with a breeze blowing and the leaves rustling.
Do you have good self-control? It depends on the situation. If I feel I’m being treated inappropriately, or that no one is listening to me, then no, I don’t. I can’t seem to keep my mouth closed and my opinions to myself. But I have good self-control when it comes to not picking up that first drink (I am an alcoholic, sober 17 years now.), and when I’m trying to teach someone something, I have good self-control.
Are you good at making decisions? I am good at making bad decisions . . . and then when I do make good decisions, I’m always second guessing myself.
How often do you cry? I rarely cry. The one thing that will make me cry is when I get extremely angry, usually over something I have no control over.
Have you ever had any altercations with the police? I think there have been three, maybe four. There were three, due to my drinking and driving, resulting in spending the night in jail. The other was when I sideswiped a police car that was sitting in the middle of a 4-lane road, right on the yellow line.
How do your relieve stress? Sitting down with my laptop, and playing Sudoku until I reach the point where I can’t make any sense of the puzzle.
What did you once love, but now hate?
Is doing nothing a waste of time? Not at all. Sometimes I need to just sit here, and fall asleep in my recliner with the cat asleep in my lap.
What is cluttering your life? All the stuff I have in my apartment, that doesn’t have a permanent home. I like the living room tables, and the dining table to be completely cleared off except for lamps, the phone, and the wooden napkin holder in the center of my dining table.
How do you help people, in small ways, in large ways, however? I help people by carefully explaining or even showing them how to do something which is confusing them to no end.
When’s the last time you did something nice for a stranger? Being a single woman, in a wheelchair, I try to avoid strangers. But when waiting in line at the grocery store, letting someone in line ahead of me because I have a lot of time to do nothing anyway.
Who inspires you the most? I think the person who inspires me the most is the pastor of my church. He does not go up to a pulpit, and preach at us, but stands in front of us, teaching us about the Bible.
Do Apps help or waste your time? I think, for the most part, Apps waste my time. Usually when I get caught up in an app and can’t stop, and put it to the side.
Does Facebook make you feel bad? I enjoy Facebook. It gives me the opportunity to showcase some of my photography, serves as a place where people have access to my writing.
What music are you listening to right now? Absolutely nothing. Except for the cat complaining in the background, and the leaves blowing around outside my open window, it is quiet in here. If I do listen to music, it would be Contemporary Christian of music from the 60’s and 70’s.
First of all, and most importantly, I am a survivor of incest – father. My first blog post started out in limbo, but gravitated to poetry, written to express feelings as they arose.
But I also had an ongoing fear relationship with my mother, whose moods were unpredictable, often changing at the drop of a hat. These moods were almost always negative, and I lived my life in fear of her. She was also a mean person, to us kids (3), towards my dad, grandmother, and even to her boyfriend, whom she lived with after my dad died.
I have MS and sometimes write about struggles that I sometimes experience. I also do adaptive sports from my wheelchair. I’ve played table tennis, 9-ball, archery, air rifles, bowling, softball, kayaking, basketball, Pickle ball, and more things that don’t come to mind now.
My goal is to stay active, continue to travel, and take pictures along the way, as I carry my camera everywhere I go.
I remember, even as a small child, being told constantly what she wanted me to do, and what she didn’t want me to do. It never seemed that I could do anything right, and I couldn’t seem to please them. This carried on into elementary school, junior high, and high school. I was constantly causing trouble while I was in school, since I couldn’t do anything fun at home. I got myself a reputation for being a brat, sassy, and refusing to behave. This behavior was the result of physical, mental and sexual abuse at home.
I started learning to play the clarinet, when I was ten. I kept this up. I got involved with the Music programs at school, and I finally found a direction. I thought. I stopped causing trouble and concentrated on my music, teaching myself some piano, learning how to play both the alto, and tenor saxophones, and this filled up all my free time. My plans were to major in Music at a college, and become a music teacher. Good intentions. I applied at schools and was accepted at a 2-year school two hours away from home. I was on my way. I thought.
I moved away home and found a new freedom that I’d never experienced before. I became a full-time cigarette smoker, and started drinking mixed drinks. After about a year, alcohol became more important than school, and by my fourth semester, I dropped out. I soon ran out of money and had to move back home.
After all that freedom, I was right back where I started from. To me this was intolerable. I applied to join the US Navy, and within two weeks, found myself on an airplane, headed for Boot Camp in Orlando, FL.
I do not remember much of that night before I raised my right hand and committed myself to serving my country. I was back to having someone telling me what to do, what to wear, when to wear it, when to eat, when to sleep, and pretty much everything else they wanted me to do.
Somehow, I made it through Boot Camp and was transferred to the Great Lakes Naval Station, in Great Lakes, IL. Once again, I found that freedom, just not as much of it, and I was on my way. I thought. After 9 months of Naval service, I was discharged for unsuitability due to alcohol abuse, and not recommended for re-enlistment. I had failed again.
After my discharge, I wandered aimlessly from one abusive relationship to another, seeking out those who would be abusive, because that was all I knew. I eventually stopped drinking enough to get myself through a 4-year school, and graduate with honors. I started working almost immediately, in a position that suited what I had just finished school for. This was it! I was on the right track. I thought. Trouble was, that track was going in more than one direction. I left that job that I was very good at, to start work at a new company. This was it. They sent me to another company to learn a new software program, that was to be used to keep track of inventory. I learned it well, and I came back to my job, armed with a purpose, a task, and a direction. I thought.
Unfortunately, due to stress from this job, which I was not performing in the way I should have been, and a family history of mental illness, I caved in to my own mental illness. I lost that job, and spent the next couple years, jumping from job to job, and psych unit to psych unit. I was lost and I feared I was never coming back from that abyss. I spent a lot of time in therapy sessions, both group and individually, went through several medications, therapists, and even doctors, before they seemed to find the proper mix of all the above, and I started to find myself.
I learned that if I kept my mouth shut, I would stay out of trouble, just like in Boot Camp. This time I was not going to give up. About three years later, I was diagnosed with MS, and that brought me to a halt. I had a disease, though not terminal, would eventually wear me down to become bed-ridden, and then die. This time, though, I was not going to give up. I decided I was not going to give up on me.
I had learned that I needed to find a direction to go, and to go there. I needed to diligently follow this direction, and stay active in the process. While I was still in the hospital, I learned about their adaptive sports wheelchair team. This simply amazed me.
Every year, I would prepare for the upcoming trip to a new city, honing my skills in one sport or another. I found I liked being in competition with other veterans who were in wheelchairs, in a multitude of sporting events. I was also in competition with myself, to do the best I possibly could.
Something else happened after I got out of the hospital. I needed an aide three times a week to help me with the household chores and such. My second aide was a Pastor’s wife. She liked to ask me a lot of questions about my past experiences with religion, until I told her that I didn’t want her asking me these things, as this made me uncomfortable.
But something changed, and I started asking her questions about her church, which was a biker church! I asked her if she would pick me up for church. She did, and continued to do so. I had found God, and I found my direction.
I made it my goal to become a better person all together. I started being nice to people, and was treated so in return. I learned what was expected of me due to my religious beliefs, and I started living my life this way.
Day by day, I roll on, doing the things I need to do, to please God and live the life He wants for me. Now, when I get up in the morning, I know what the day is going to be like, even if I don’t know what is actually going to happen.
Today, I don’t walk with intention, but I roll with intention, with goals and a new-found reason for living. Now, I live that life as best I can. I sometimes fall, but I just pick myself back up, and keep on going. People who know me have seen the change in me that has occurred during the past few years, and they like what they see. I like what I see in others, and want others to have the life like the one I was living.
I strive for improvement, and knowledge, and a life filled with opportunities for so much more than I never dreamed of. Now I roll with intention. I have found out who I am, and who I can be. And I never thought that was going to happen.
As a child, I was abused physically, sexually, and mentally, and this shaped my life for many years to come. I started off in the wrong direction as a young child, causing trouble, and allowing others to abuse me, as that is the only way I knew how to behave.
It took many years of more abuse, drowning myself with alcoholism, and sinking into the abyss of mental illness. I was hospitalized, jailed, and put myself into relationships where the abuse continued. When I wasn’t in a relationship, except for the last, I subconsciously sought out people who would sexually abuse me. The relationships I had, were all abusive in one way or another, except for the last one.
After years of living alone, and staying by myself, I was diagnosed with a disease that was incurable, that would gradually debilitate me throughout the rest of my life. This changed my whole perception of what I was doing and where I was going.
I no longer put myself into the hands of others, but into the hands of the Lord. I stopped abusing myself, and letting others abuse me. I wanted to obtain goodness and a different direction in which I wanted to walk, and eventually roll, in a wheelchair. I thought that everything was about this disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and where it would take me, and decided that there had to be more to life than just sitting in a chair.
I started going to a biker church, which is quite different from the church your grandma went to, to quote my pastor. The majority of people who were going to this church at that time were, of course, were motorcycle riders. And they did not act like what most people would think. They lead decent lives, try to raise good families, and try to be quite faithful to God and to the Bible. They also ride motorcycles, and even I got a chance to ride along with someone on three separate occasions, during a church retreat for bikers and anyone else who wanted to come along.
My behavior at home changed. I started to treat others with respect and kindness, and was shown the same in return. I started learning about God, and the Bible. I started to live my life, as best I could, according to the Bible. I no longer look at the disease I have as ‘my MS’, but just plain MS. And I want more out of my life than being a recliner potato. I learned how to play the guitar, which I seem to have an affinity for, to play the piano, and a host of computer abilities, where I took courses in programming, and in accounting.
I was also introduced during that ensuing year, to wheelchair sports, adaptive sports that were designed for veterans from all over the country, and Puerto Rico and Great Britain, that use wheelchairs to participate in adaptive sports. I started going to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games every year, each year in a different city, all around the country, including Denver, Dallas, and Tampa, to name a few.
I had found my niche. I started to spend more time out of that recliner, and started seeking out different venues for adaptive sports, and become involved with the Valor Games, which are held in the Southeast, which is in North Carolina somewhere, Chicago, which is the Midwest, the Southwest, which is held in San Antonio, and the Farwest, held in San Diego.
I am also discovering other events held for veterans, all around the country. There are the Golden Age Games, for 55+, the Endeavor Games, and the Wounded Warriors games, which are held in Quantico, I believe.
Starting this past year, I have tried playing different events, pushing myself to become active in different sports, such as Track and Field, Hand cycling, Kayaking, and even wheelchair basketball.
To this date, I have won medals in almost every sport I have participated in, including two silver medals in Kayaking, a silver medal in basketball, a bronze in hand cycling, and numerous gold medals in everything from 9-Ball and Table Tennis, 100-meter track, and both the motorized Slalom, and the manual slalom, which are obstacle courses, with the difficulty varying, to accommodate different levels of ability, to name a few.
I have started living a whole new life, with sporting activities, doing volunteer work at the VA Hospital Clinic, in the next city, and going to church. I am meeting new people, and making a lot of long-term friends, both locally, and from around the country.
I have found a life where I don’t put myself in abusive environments, except for the physical abuse upon myself playing wheelchair basketball. I have also discovered that I have the ability to write, both prose and poetry, which sort of just started on its own, when I started writing a blog. I found great satisfaction in photography, specifically things that are in patterns, things of beauty, and pictures from cities all around the country.
I have learned that I am not a bad person, that I can live a positive life, that I have a plethora of abilities, and that I can help others obtain what I have obtained, not just sports or writing, but in living in the way of the Lord, by what is written in the Bible.
I turned from a life of self-abuse, and abuse from others, to a life filled with many different types of activities. I am not going to sit here and let myself decline both physically and mentally, but push myself to be a better person, to take part in new activities, and most importantly live as godly a life as I possibly can. My life no longer revolves around ‘my MS’, but in positive activities and adventures, that have become available to me, both as a Navy veteran, and as a good person; I have learned to love my God and myself, and to live a life free from abuse. I am living a life filled with as much as I can find available to me. And I love every minute of it.
Growing up as a sexually abused child, as well as other abuses, I felt humiliated by what I thought that made me be. As a child I was humiliated by my clothing, my glasses, my teeth (very crooked then), and just my appearance and bearing, even though then I didn’t know what bearing meant.
It took years of abuse, and then years of what I thought of as failure, and what I thought that years of alcoholism, to make me feel very humiliated. I did not know about humility.
Many years of psycho-therapy did not change how I felt about myself down deep.
Then, when stories of abuse started coming out, I finally felt that I belonged somewhere, that I was somebody. I was wrong.
After being diagnosed with MS and eventually needing an aide to do some things for me, in order to continue to live by myself, I finally got an aide who was the wife of a pastor. I didn’t want to hear about anything relating to religion, God, or churches. I didn’t need that. Again, I was wrong.
One day I asked my aide if I could try going to her church, and she gladly picked me up every week so that I could go. I got better emotionally, and started feeling proud of myself, my past, and getting to where I then was. I thought that was where it ended. Again, I was wrong.
More than once, I was knocked off my high horse, as my mother used to say, and discover that what my past had been like, and what I thought of as overcoming it made me I started to feel pride. Going to church, accepting Jesus as my savior, and confessing my sins, made me feel proud to be where I was, to sing on the Worship Team, to make new friends, I was right up there beside God.
Uh oh. When I started skipping church, because I no longer needed it, I fell back into old habits, bad habits. I had to humble myself, and confess again and again and again, that I had fallen like I had, that I first felt the stirrings of humility.
Now, I’m a gold medalist in several wheelchair adaptive sports, coming home, proud of what I had accomplished. Every time I get to this point, I realize that it wasn’t me. It was God in me, that allowed me to get to where I was.
Now, in order to humble myself, I have to remember that if it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t even be here. Without God, I wouldn’t have made the changes in my life that I’ve made, or make the accomplishments that I have made.
I have to talk with someone more knowledgeable than myself, and also get down on my knees, and confess again, that I have gone astray, that I have sinned, and that I’m nothing without God. I make myself accountable through others, and to God.
I usually have to do this every day or two, praying for God to forgive me and ‘knock me off my high horse.”