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I was cut adrift from a lifelong dream, the sure anchor that had carried me through long years of study.
As a teen, I realized that I could very easily have been aborted. I would never have known what it meant to build a sandcastle or smell a flower or listen to great music or have a good friend. I'd never have fallen in love. I started to rethink what my birth mother had done.
I thought my parents would stay together until they died — you know, just like they promised in their vows.
Alcohol never forced itself into my hand. It never pushed its way down my throat. And it never asked to be abused by me. Those choices were all mine.
In grade three a friend told me, "I can't sleep over because my parents say your mom and dad are drunks." That was the moment it hit me: my family isn't normal.
When I lost my leg, my whole world was turned upside down. This is my story…
I began to equate love with being thin. Still, on the outside, I worked hard to make it look like I had it all together.
In my imagination, I’ve been diagnosed, incarcerated, fired, divorced, and buried. My mind is a scary place to be sometimes.
It wasn’t like my body crumbled at once. I didn’t suddenly lose movement in my fingers, toes, shoulders, elbows, spine, jaw, and knees. For me, it was a slow, painful progression of immobility.
I’ve always felt different from other people. I didn’t always know why I was different, or what I did that made me different — I still don’t realize it sometimes.
There’s been such a huge loss. A large part of their soul was gutted when their family was ripped apart. It took me too long to truly understand the pain they had been through.
Good things come to those who wait. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. But I’ve been waiting a long time. I don’t know when, or even if, I’ll find love. That’s the hardest part of being single.
“You know, mom, blood is thicker than water.” The words were biting, hard to receive. The undertone of my son's comment was clear: "you should have prioritized me above your new husband."
I found myself in the E.R. with a brain aneurysm. It took a huge toll on me physically and mentally. My family went through their own trauma as they watched me suffer.
How can a boy expect to fill Dad’s shoes when he leaves?
I learned the language of silence. Keep your head down. Don’t say a word. Try to be invisible. Maybe if they forget you’re here it will stop. It didn’t stop.
I know that taking care of myself – body, mind, soul and spirit - needs to be my first priority. I’m still on a journey to find balance in life.
Shortly after having my blood tested, a nurse called and said, "You have to come to Emergency right now." I soon learned I only had 3 to 6 months left.
Going through the agony of chemo is horrid. But what happens when the cancer comes back, right when you thought you’d beat it for good?
I never know when it will hit me, nor why. Some days, I can do everything I have planned. I can even enjoy biking, hiking, or snowshoeing. But then, it hits me yet again.
I’ve always been ambitious, motivated, and focused on success. Because of multiple head injuries I spent three years in bed.
Indefinite quarantine meant that now, not only did I have the virus that was igniting fear worldwide, but I couldn’t go back to work and I didn’t know when I could.
News that would normally be cause for relief and joy was just another twist and turn on my emotional roller coaster.
I felt truly pretty for the first time in my life. Sunshine covered my world. Being with him made me feel great. But then things changed.
I was constantly spending more on things than I needed to. I felt trapped and unable to control my money. It was controlling me.
I get trapped in this dark place where there’s nothing to do but sleep or cry until my head pounds. On those days, just getting out of bed is a triumph that I need to acknowledge.
Life is hard in general, but for those of us who are perceived as different, it can be especially hard.
The American dream was lining up for us. We were living the life. But there was still this unhappiness, like a buzz in the background that never went away.
I became a very quiet child, no longer the happy kid I used to be. I wanted answers. “Why did my mom leave me?” was all I could think about.
He used to lock me outside our house with no shoes or coat, rage at me for an hour or more, and make me doubt my sanity. When he hit me, it was the last straw.
I was always counting down the days until I could get my prescription refilled. Eventually it came to the point where pills became the most important thing in my life.
I needed him to listen and show that he cared about how I felt – to look me in the eyes and be present so I’d know he had my back. But this wasn't something he knew how to do.
Whole days can pass by without any heart-felt communication with my kids whatsoever.
Alone with my thoughts in solitary confinement, my worst fear was never seeing my daughter again. I didn’t want to be the father that my father was to me.
At 63, I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, caused by a rare case of pneumonia that I never knew I had. My lungs were completely black. The situation was dire.
I didn’t even want to try taking a risk; defeat was unacceptable, shameful, and had consequences that affected everyone around you.
For many dark nights over the course of many months, I tossed and turned, consumed with anxiety by the state of our financial situation.
Anytime life got to be more than I could bear, I found comfort knowing food was available to me when I wanted it. I would eat even when I wasn’t hungry.
My life spun out of control. I lost two homes and nearly lost my marriage because of my addiction.
I was different from most girls I knew. I wanted to be a boy.
Everything happened so fast, I didn’t know what to do. I was only eight years old, and had the childlike faith that he would come back to me soon.
This is one of the most painful realities of being the one left behind. From now on, they’re going to miss every birthday, every anniversary, every Christmas morning.
It was as if I did not fit in any of the categories offered by society.
I would daydream about someone seeing my flaws and loving me anyway. It took me a long time to find my identity in something that goes beyond my skills or appearance.
Our son Samuel was diagnosed with Trisomy 18 at twenty weeks gestation. We were told that this made him incompatible with life. We were given the option, but chose not to terminate.
Our New Year’s resolution for 2015 was to get pregnant. That might sound like a simple thing to some, but for us it was a huge and intimidating goal. It would take a miracle.
I felt just about everything: anger, sadness, confusion, embarrassment. I remember saying it out loud: I just lost my job.
There are people all around me, interacting with each other, having fun together: but I’m sitting here alone.
“Your baby has not developed further.” This can’t be. It must be a mix-up. When would I wake up from this nightmare?
With a pandemic raging, what can be done in the face of fear?
It seemed like getting an abortion was the right thing to do at the time. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional whirlwind that came soon after.
Even though I knew she would never be like everyone else her age, I still hoped she would be happy.
When he was late for work, when checks bounced, when he was caught in a lie, I blamed everything but the pills.
The one person who I assumed considered me unique, irreplaceable, and desirable was choosing to channel his sexual energy towards a screen instead of me.
I craved to feel valued and accepted by women. I thought online dating was the solution. I was wrong.
For the entire two years I was trapped in my destructive addiction, I didn't know even one female who also struggled with it.
The intimacy porn promised was proving to be an illusion. I was trapped, wanting the fix without the consequences – the pleasure without feeling ashamed.
I lived in fear of myself, and when I looked at my son, I thought it was sad and strange that I had to include myself in the list of people he needed to be protected from.
At first it was a game to us, a kind of joke. We made a lot of money, got drunk, did drugs. We thought it was fun. But it all escalated really quickly.
I dealt with a lot as a child. Stability and security were foreign concepts to me. I thought I beat the odds and survived. Unfortunately, the cost of that survival was high. My PTSD laid dormant until a new event brought it back to life.
After a few years of policing, I began to crack. I was no longer easy-going and fun. I became an angry guy capable of hurting those that I loved the most.
As the years went on, the fight for purity in our relationship only got more and more difficult.
After swimming in a motel pool, a man followed up alongside me. "Just wanna walk you to your room, make sure everything's all safe for you." When it was over, he ran a bath for me. I was still in that cold water when they found me in the morning.
I couldn’t give her the life she wanted. Maybe I wasn’t such a great catch for her after all; my broken past and messy life were smothering her.
I had been very careful on the plane, in the airports, and in my hotel, but because of the increased risk, I was stuck at home for two weeks.
It was the need for sex that prompted my reckless drinking. That way I wouldn’t remember the deplorable things I had done to gain the attention of a guy.
The few times we were intimate it was mechanical and void of emotion on his part. Then it stopped all together. In a bizarre way, his distancing made facing his death a lot easier. He inadvertently prepared me for widowhood.
Soon after I turned 15, one night on the swings at the park, he kissed me for the first time. Then everything escalated.
My past kept haunting me. I had to face the secret that was hidden deep inside my heart.
All I wanted was to be a dad and to give my daughter the love and fatherly attention I never received from my own.
Sometimes my reality was working two jobs to make ends meet while I was raising my girls. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, and my ex told me he didn’t think I would.
There are days when I have a pity party for myself, when I mourn because I can’t have just one normal day.
Little by little, I became the player I had always dreamed of becoming. A sudden injury changed everything.
I felt like a failure as a mother. How could I have let my son become so depressed that he wanted to take his own life?
I felt totally alone and completely misunderstood. I thought the only way to numb the pain was to kill myself.
The constant stress and ridicule by a manager, who didn't want me to look better than her, made me physically ill.
A few years into our marriage, I discovered that my husband had been sending sexually explicit emails to women he had met on the Internet. That was just the beginning.
The day I saw those two lines indicating a positive result on my pregnancy test, my whole world completely turned upside down.