In the words of Viktor Frankl, “What is to give light must endure burning.”
Over the years, I have come to learn that the adversity I have experienced is a gift to me. Without it, I would be able to help no one. Without it, I would not know what it means to be thirsty due to adversity. I would not know my own strength. To pass through life without an opponent is the real tragedy.
On February 2, 1993, my teenage mother was being notified that I had had three strokes and would be deaf dumb, and blind. I spent three months in the NICU before she could even take me home. I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy shortly after I was born. Yet, even as an infant, I was blessed with a fighting spirit. Today, I can hear, speak and see. Although I cannot walk, a wheelchair is not enough to defeat me. It is easier to bring giants to their knees when you are sitting down. I consider my beginning quite fitting for the life that I would eventually lead. In a sense, I was born with boxing gloves.
My mother was a beautiful woman who taught me altruism, compassion, and is the reason I have never met a stranger. She passed away when I was 10 years old. I still remember the day my relatives sat me down to tell me the news. My grandmother put my hair up in a ponytail, while my dad seemed to be searching for a way to say the unthinkable. I remember looking at the lamp that was near me as my dad said, “Your mom went to sleep on her birthday, and she never woke up.” I said, “You’re kidding, right?” My grandmother told me that they would never joke about something like that. The last thing I remember was hearing myself wail for about two seconds before I wiped my tears and watched cartoons.
I was given a day to decide if I wanted to go to her funeral, as I was still very young and my family was unsure if I could handle it. At the tender age of 10, I remember thinking that I would instead remember my mother the way she was; I knew she was not the body in that casket. Fearing that I would regret it later in life if I did not go, I went. The funeral is a blur; I remember not wanting to sit near the casket. I remember being afraid to say goodbye. I remember being afraid of her lifeless body. It was odd to feel afraid of your mother.
People have always said that when someone dies, it looks as if they are sleeping. It did not look as if she was sleeping. She looked more like a painting that evoked a surge of emotion, too much emotion. Still, I could not look away. Oddly enough, I think the thing that bothered me the most was that I could not see her feet. The top of the casket was open while the bottom was closed. So, I just kept asking, “Where are her feet?” I suppose, in order to make sense of the reality, I had to correct the picture. I did not cry that day. I have spent many years questioning whether or not I was a good person because I did not shed a tear in my mother’s funeral. Some have thought ill of me for it, while others have said, “You did not cry because she didn’t want you to cry.”
It rained that night. My family told me of how in some traditions, that when it rains at a funeral. The person is there with you. Today, I am still comforted by the sound of rain.
After my mom’s death, I spent a lot of time in foster homes. I also spent a lot of time thinking I deserved to be there. I realize that I can go into more detail. I could tell you all the horrible stories of what happens to children in foster care, but I do not wish to allow anyone or anything to steal any more of my life from me. They no longer have the power to do that.
The bright side of being in foster care was that it taught me to see people as human, always. One girl had cut up and down her arms but helped me to get dressed in the morning for school. She was an artist. I met a little boy who had fetal alcohol syndrome. He had been left on the steps of the building after his adoptive parents found out they were pregnant. He would often ask me, “Carla, do you love me so much?”
I met another little boy who was mute and had not spoken a word in the three years he’d been alive. I would often ride in the backseat of the car with him. To this day, I still remember him blowing me a kiss. This was the first time he’d ever done that.
When I recall these people and these memories, I often wonder where they are today. They are part of the reason I would like to be a therapist that specializes in trauma. With the right tools, I plan to do that. I know that those children are thirsty for love in the same way that I was once. I wish to be water for them, though I would never fully extinguish their fire. I know that it would also help them give light to others.
As of right now, I work as a volunteer Crisis Counselor. It is because of the past pain that I was able to calmly talk with multiple people who are on the brink of ending their life. A few have even thanked me for helping them live through the night. I wish to use my education to give back. With the help of others, we can all live to see another day.
Most of us who are full-time artists are go-getters.
We’re ambitious. We’re talented. Some of us are perfectionists, and some of us are fueled by tangible results. We should be. It’s wise to pay attention to what propels us and to take note of what knocks us back a few spaces.
What about when we see nothing?
How do we respond when there’s little harvest yielded from the seeds we’ve sewn?
Perhaps it’s hard to remember that you don’t need to automatically measure your capacity and strengths by how many lives you’ve touched, or how many hearts you have (or seemingly have not) mended solely by the numbers you are presented with.
For entrepreneurs, self-starters, coaches, trainers, surgeons, volunteers, anyone who is driven by positive results, it can be hard to realize that numbers are only half the battle. Sometimes, we unconsciously wrap up our worth into the results given back to us.
The loud, the proud, the bold, all of us who will not be silent, can accidentally forget that because we are the voice of the voiceless, our audience, our dear friends, our readers, our students, are the quiet ones.
They matter most. We are fighting for them. We raise our voice for them, and they will, of course, not be the first in the room to clap, speak up, or reciprocate the verbal praise that we’ve extended to them.
But, their silence does not measure their level of gratitude.
God is also silent.
No amount of SEO, analytics, or traffic, can measure the gratitude someone feels in their heart when they feel truly heard, valued and recognized.
So, when you think about giving up your counseling career, your podcast, your book (for the umpteenth time) gently bring your attention to the quiet souls in your life. They are cheering you on. They need you, and their value can never be measured in numbers.
If not for you, for them.
I love you. You’ve got this.
Making the decision to lose everything or live in ridicule is never a choice a human should have to make, even if they are ‘queer’.
I’m in a situation that I realize is far better than half of the universe. I’m not sleeping under a bridge, I’ve been able to pay my water and light bill, and I’m not starving.
To keep a long story short, I’ve applied to at least fifty or so jobs in the last 2 weeks, and I’ve heard nothing back.
My wife and I are basically left with nothing after years of anxiety-ridden days of having no choice but to coexist (interact?) with people who admittedly said they would never accept us.
Money was at stake, but eventually, it became blood money, and there was no way we could hide anymore.
I realize what we gave up. I realize that money leads to open doors, but I also will not sacrifice my soul for it. That’s essentially what we were asked to do. Hide, or be hidden.
Finding a job with a disability is excruciating. It is painful. If entrepreneurship were not a thing, I don’t know where we would be.
My wife took on three courier jobs, delivering food. She’s made thirteen dollars so far.
I am a volunteer for a crisis line, and I was hoping to find a job from home. I haven’t found anything yet.
So, I got a little bit creative and started this blog up again, which has proven to be emotionally fulfilling, and I’m genuinely happy to be here. I’m also hoping to start a podcast under the same name (welcomehomehealing).
I’ve got some school money to carry us through, but I can’t lie and say I’m not apprehensive about the future. But the funny thing is, I’m not scared even though I’m staring poverty in the face.
I’m no stranger to it. I’ve been here before. I’m only hurt because my wife deserves better. Helplessness (not being able to help those you love most) is far worse than empty pockets or the sting of betrayal.
At the same time, I’m at peace with where we are. We are free, though it came at a large price. I’ve made the decision to put my all into this blog; into all of my art, and not looking back. I’ve decided to grow wings from this time in our life, and I’m doing my best to be grateful for it.
I’m excited to tell you, the reader, stories about where we are, where we hope to be and walk with you on this journey. I am not afraid. I have spent far too long in fear.
***If you are transgender, gay, a person of color, or disabled, or if you face discrimination in any way, please know that your qualities that differentiate you from others are also the ones that make you beautiful, even though you don’t feel that way at this moment. If you suffer or have suffered at the hands of a loved one, my heart is forever with you.***
I love you. There is a place for you. If nothing else, please feel free to take comfort and find a home in this blog. This is why I affectionately named it “Welcome Home” or “welcomehomehealing”.
Please, if you are reading this, no matter who you are or where you are, don’t lose sight of who you are. Don’t ever give up. Life has so much in store for both of us.
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Getting started is the hardest part of anything.
If you struggle with getting started, this post is dedicated to you. If you are a creative soul with billions of ideas, and you get excited to have a new idea, but then find yourself suddenly discouraged at the thought of executing those ideas: you are not alone.
I, too, struggle with getting started. I’ve struggled with it since childhood. I started writing poetry when I was seven years old. I have no good excuse as to why I haven’t yet written and published a book yet, other than the simple truth that I get stuck in my head. The ideas keep playing on loop. The possibilities often remain possibilities.
I can empathize with the thought of pouring my heart into a work of art, and then breaking my own heart as I imagine it going unopened or unread. Every artist knows this internal struggle. I know you do, too.
Tonight, this will change; for you and for me.
Let’s jump together. Let’s try together.
I’d like to ask you to get started on whatever it is that you want to do. Forget that you don’t know all the technicalities yet, set aside the need to retain more, and start to do more.
The world already has enough experts. There is only one you.
Give yourself permission to begin. You are beautiful. You are talented. You deserve to end the war within yourself. You are worthy of the purpose you seek. You can create whatever it is that you want.
Maybe you’re a helper who longs to help. Perhaps you’re a painter, a poet, a musician, a mother whose dreams were put on hold, a hardworking father worn out by the daily grind.
This is your permission, friend. Go after what your soul is hungry for. I shoulder the highs and lows with you. I’m more than happy to do so.
What are you going to do now?
If you need someone to share your ideas with, feel free to E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s nothing we can’t do together.
Thank you for being here with me.
My name is Esmeralda, and my goal is to guide you from victimhood to empowerment.
My goal is to get you out of your head and guide you to where you want to be.
This blog is not about me. It is about you. I believe in you.
I’m interested in your results.
I’ll be happy for you even if you fail.
I’ll be cheering you on when you succeed.
My goal is to be a source of light for you.
I’m not a mental health guru. I’m not an expert on anxiety. In fact, I’m still working on my degree, and I’m starting at community college.
I know nothing, except that up to this point, I’ve wasted the gifts that I’ve been given by sitting in cycles of shame and guilt. It is only now that I have realized shame and guilt are only useful if the feelings themselves can turn into action. I’m here to share with you how I’ve come to that realization.
I didn’t get here overnight, and it’ll take time to believe in yourself the way I believe in you. The important thing is that you’re here. You’ve realized you’re stuck, or unhappy, or uneasy. This is a great starting point.
I’m currently trying to put a podcast together, and I’ve got a few topics in mind.
I hope you’ll stick around as we progress together.