Swim for the music that saves you

“You gotta swim
Swim for your life
Swim for the music that saves you
when you’re not so sure you’ll survive”
 

July 2002

I have no recollection of how many pills I'd swallowed.

It was at least 20--because that's how many I'd counted out for myself "to start with."


“You gotta swim
Swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching
You haven't come this far
To fall off the earth
The currents will pull you
Away from your love
Just keep your head above”

Deep down, I didn’t really want to die. But I couldn’t see a way out

from the Anger. Loneliness. Anxiety. Insecurity. Rejection. Self-Loathing.

My eyelids were heavy. My mouth dry.

With every breath, I willed myself to fall asleep, knowing it might mean I was dead.

at the same time, I feared falling asleep, because it might mean I was dead

“I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
Crack in the armor, yeah
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
Swim”

Memories like bullets...real fucking bullets. Real fucking blood.

The horrific memory of staring out the front window of our old house in the Detroit--the one we didn't even live in anymore--

and seeing my mother's body crumpled in a pool of blood on the sidewalk.

“You gotta swim
For nights that won't end
Swim for your families,
Your lovers, your sisters,
Your brothers, and friends
You gotta swim
For wars without cause
Swim for these lost politicians
Who don't see their greed is a flaw"

Most people don’t know how to talk to others who are contemplating suicide.

They tell us we’re selfish.

They ask if we realize what it’ll do to our family.

They accuse us of doing it for attention.

And I understand--to an extent.

If you’ve never been pulled underwater from the absolute hopelessness of depression, you might think we can snap out of it.

But that’s not how our minds work.

It completely warps our brain, making it impossible to think rationally or logically at times.

At my darkest point, I could rattle off a hundred reasons why my family would be better off without me.

How could taking my own life be for attention if I was alone in my apartment?

I wore the guise of happiness in public, never showing anyone how much I hurt inside.

 

“The currents will pull us
Away from our love
Just keep your head above”

I remember lying on the bathroom floor of my apartment in Charlotte thinking…

I have tickets for a concert next week.

I don't even know what show. 

Because that's not what's important in this story.

 

“I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fire at me from a gun
Crack in the armor, yeah
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I'm not giving in
I'm not giving in
I swim”

I’m jolted by the memory of locking myself away in my bedroom as a kid—eyes closed, headphones on—getting lost in the music.

The lyrics. The bass line. The guitar riffs. The drum beat.

I remember how much I love the feeling of being at a live show.

And how it feels like the singer is belting out the songs just for me.

 

 “You gotta swim
Swim in the dark
There's no shame in drifting
Feel the tide shifting and wait for this spark
Yeah you gotta swim
Don't let yourself sink
Just find the horizon
I promise you it's not as far as you think”

I see the horizon.

I hear the waves against the shore.

I roll on to my stomach, grab the rim of the toilet, and pull myself onto my knees.

Then I shove two fingers down my throat, trying to bring up the pills.

 

“Currents will drag us away from our love
Just keep your head above
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim”

I still swim.

I may falter when the dark thoughts try to seep into my head and pull me under,

but I gasp and choke and spurt, until I regain my stride.

The horizon is constantly changing.

It’s getting my kids back on Friday afternoons. It’s seeing them smile at the most mundane things we do together.

It’s starting a new book. Seeing a concert. Dinner with a friend. A trip to the beach. A drive through the mountains.

It's very hard to retrain your brain. 

But I'm trying to do that every day.

The only person who can make me feel happy – and worthy of being in this world—is ME.

I may not be remembered for anything grand in history books a hundred years from now,

but hopefully I’ll be remembered by the people I touched

with Kindness. Love. Encouragement.

And that’s good enough for me.

 

Thank you to Andrew McMahon for writing this amazing song - the lyrics I used in the post. This song was written well after the events of July 2002,

but I love the message and the strength I get from this song. I hope you do, too. Have a listen.

 

 

 

How #Bekindlovehard Happened

~ Author Unknown ~

~ Author Unknown ~

I chose my tagline for multiple reasons. This post will give you a bit more insight. I'm finally ready to share my story, because I believe vulnerability helps more people than keeping it all inside ever will. And I truly believe my mission in life is to help people through my words and by being an inspirational and motivational person. I'm not famous by any means (hahahaha) but I do have a platform, and I chose to use it for good. :)

I had to confront my past before I could learn to love myself--to love others--to open up and truly empathize with other people. I've done this before, with trusted friends, or people who I connected with. I’ve decided to do it today—on Mother’s Day no less—because I realized you, my dear readers and followers, don't know anything about me except what I make publicly available. I mean, sure, I post on social media often. You’ve seen my humor. You’ve seen my books. Hell, you’ve recently seen me going through a separation.

But I haven’t shared my background yet…and the reasons I write my stories the way I write them. Every single book I write has a journey. And every single book has a bit of me in the heroine. It may be a large part—like Auden in DELAYED PENALTY—or a small part—like Gaby in POWER PLAY. But all of them have tiny bits of my story or personality weaved through. It brings authenticity to my writing. A realism that may be different in the genre I write in.

So here’s a REAL, heavy post for you. I thought that maybe if I shared my story, it might help others—even one person—and opening up would be worth it. Maybe this will help more people connect with my books (and with me) and make others see why I like to keep positive and be kind to people. You never really know what someone else has been through, right?

So here it goes...

I was abandoned by my “father” (sperm donor) before I was four years old. Left. Adios. Never to be heard from again. I had the “normal” questions. Why? What made him leave? What went wrong? I know he went on to have another family--that he stayed with. So why didn't he want to be part of my life? In my head, the only answer was ever ME. It was my fault. Something was wrong with me. I wasn't good enough. Before the age of four, I learned that men will leave me. Without a word, without an explanation.

My mother was shot and killed right in front of me when I was six-years-old. Yes, right in front of me. As a child, unable to fully comprehend death, I learned that relationships are not permanent. I grew up a walking contradiction. A person who desperately wanted to be loved and committed to, but I wouldn't allow anyone to get too close because I believed everyone I loved would leave me someday. Why put myself out there to relationships? Even to friendships?

I was sexually abused by a family member before the age of eight (I honestly don't know the exact age, as my brain has permanently blocked it). I have only ever told four people that in person. I confided in the adult I trusted most right after it happened. The advice was: “Stay away from him.” I don’t know if anything happened after that; if there was even a confrontation or a discussion with my abuser. I consider myself "lucky" as it was only once. My heart bleeds for the people who had to endure that hell multiple times.

What I learned was to be afraid of men after that. I refused to be alone with a man, even my guardian, whom—I want to make perfectly clear—never touched me. I learned that after a few years the whole thing must have “blown over” for anyone who knew, because I was forced to interact with my abuser and his family when he came to town. And I did it, because I was enough of a burden and troublemaker for my guardians, why cause more anxiety?

But what I also learned was that no one was going to protect me--even if I spoke up. No one was going to save me. So I withdrew. And I got angry. And I grew a tough layer that I refused to let people poke through for most of my life. Because trusting people caused humiliation, shame and pain.

People have called me a bitch because I’m quiet when I first meet others. People have said they didn’t think I liked them because I don’t open up easily. People have criticized my parenting. But they don’t know that I don’t have a mom to call and ask for advice. And if they do, well that’s a punch to the gut, isn’t it?

I can’t change what people think, but I wish they wouldn’t be so quick to judge. They don’t know that I've battled anxiety and depression since I was a child. They don’t know that I still weep for the advice of a mother that I never knew. They don't know that I don't think that I'm worthy of being loved. They don't know that I still battle with shitty self-esteem and horrible trust problems.

I’m much older now, but the pain of my past is there, a wound that throbs every once in awhile, like the soccer-related knee injury I complain about on rainy days. 

I’m not sharing this for pity—or attention. I’m sharing because the issues I write about in my heroines are REAL. I know how Auden feels about being a motherless daughter, being abandoned, and being a burden to her caregivers. Like Gaby, I have experienced the shame and humiliation and embarrassment of getting drunk at a college party and being raped.

Some people are quick to judge, but you never know what someone has gone through or is currently going through. The most put-together, seemingly happy person can have a past so dark you wouldn’t believe.

Now, I think I blend in for the most part. If  you ignore the nose piercing and pink hair--I look like any other woman at the local coffee shop. I was married to a good guy. I have two gorgeous kids. I rent a beautiful house in a nice, safe neighborhood. Before I chose to stay home to raise my kids—and write books—I had a managerial position in the corporate world making $50K+ a year--the "breadwinner" of my family at the time.

But by the time I was six, I thought that everyone I loved would abandon me. And by the time I was eight, I thought that anyone I trusted would hurt and humiliate me. Those “truths” shaped my adult persona. As anyone can attest, changing deeply ingrained beliefs is difficult, but not impossible.

But I’m trying—every fucking day. With every day that passes, I continue to grow, learn, and flip those old "truths" into new truths. I’ve finally found friends I can confide in, people who appreciate me for who I really am. I REFUSE to be a victim or use my childhood as an excuse. I choose to be the light. One of my favorite lines I've ever written was in UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT: "I just want to be the light that someone will remember long after I'm gone." That's the mark I want to leave on the world. I hope people enjoy my books—but my true hope is that I help at least one person with my words, my honesty, my kindness. Love isn't hard.

In telling my story, here and through my characters, I hope we all learn to be a little less judgmental. That we should give people a chance. It’s true that “our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for what we become.” (Author Unknown) And that we can become anything, no matter what circumstances defined us in the beginning of our lives.

Have you had to—or wanted to—confront anything from your past? I’m always inspired by stories of bravery. I want to hear your stories. I want to write our stories! Comment below—or send me an e-mail—as I know not everyone wants to be as public.

KEEP FIGHTING! You're not alone.