An introduction to this series.
Vanessa is my second cousin- and we really had no interaction until the last few years. When I moved to Minnesota, we connected a bit, and we came into each others lives right when we were needed. Through Vanessa's journey, we can all grow and heal in our own ways and overcome any circumstances, situations or setbacks we might experience in our lives.
I hope you enjoy this blog series,
I have had a pretty rough draw as an adult, there is no denying that. My world shattered on April 27th, 2004 when my sister Natalie passed away. From that moment, I basically floated through life, giving up on dreams, not really caring about much, accepting much less than I am worth.
Next, I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Kai, which for many people sounds like a blessing. I was put into a situation where I knew instantly that I would be a single mother, whether I wanted to or not. Abortion was not an option because I could not fathom taking a life, when my sister’s life had been cut so short. Adoption was not an option, because I knew that my baby would essentially save my parents, who had been complete zombies roaming this Earth with seemingly no purpose, and no joy since Natalie passed away.
I knew I was choosing a hard path for myself, however, I knew this was exactly the path I needed to take. Fast forward a few years, and another tremendous blow…My older sister was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and was given only a few short months to live. I was wrecked. I didn’t believe that I would be able to lead a happy life. Is this what life is about?
These events welcomed serious depression and anxiety into my life, and I was far too strong to accept any form of therapy for these stressful and tragic life events, so I chose alcohol to act as my therapy. I believed that I had a pass to drink the way I did, because I was told I had that pass. I cannot tell you how many people in my life have told me that they would do the same thing, that my actions were acceptable, no matter how off the wall they were, because I lost two sisters, and I am a poor single mom.
I learned that I could get away with anything and everything by playing the victim. There was not one single person who tried to correct me. Apparently, if you have enough trauma in your life, you get a free pass to be a complete train wreck, and you are almost expected to be an alcoholic, and that is okay! I truly did not know another way, I didn’t see another way, I believed life was shit, and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
I was never suicidal, however I often questioned what the point of life was. I had lost all hope, positivity, action with intention, drive to do better in life. I was perfectly content with selling pull tabs, serving and bartending. It was so easy, and the money was great! I thought people going to school and getting “real” jobs were idiots! Who would want to work 5 whole days per week, and so early in the morning! I was able to sleep in, party, make insanely good money, and take days off whenever I wanted to. Perfect, right? Why would I need purpose?
Why would I need to strive for something better? Why would I want to live a normal life, doing boring normal people things? Stupid, boring, and oh so cliché! See, I was fine! I didn’t need to deal with the bad events that had taken place in my life, because I was living the absolute dream! I was clouded by my own lies, I had no idea how to peak my head above the clouds that surrounded me. What you don’t know, cant hurt you, right?
I literally had no idea how much my victim mentality defined me. I can’t take back the past, but I wish I would have realized that I definitely am not strong enough to handle those past traumas, and that they did not have to define me. I definitely could have worked through these things in a healthy manner, and I could have saved myself a lot of trouble. But what fun is that? I had to live that way to figure out what is important, how to love life, how to appreciate who and what I have.
I am no longer a victim, and as long as I work through things in my life honestly and in a healthy manner, I will never be a victim again. I lost my younger sister, sure did! I now appreciate the time I had with her, I am thankful that I was able to grow up with a sister so close in age, and to have as close of a relationship as we did.
I still feel her in my soul, I know she is still here with me. I am so fortunate to have that connection with another person. I became a single mom. Hard? Yeah, it is! I no longer have to see my daughter as a burden. I don’t have to see this as a life sentence to another human being. My daughter loves me so much! She is perfect in my eyes, she is hilarious, she is kind, she is very intelligent, and her personality mirrors Natalie’s!
I have never in my life done something worth more than my beautiful Kailyn. We have a bond that will never be broken. She is my absolute soulmate, and I am so blessed to be able to do life with her. Then finally, the third hardship that I manipulated my way through life playing the victim card, my older sister passing away. That was gut wrenching. Her and I were not extremely close, however, she was the person I looked up to.
She just did life right! She didn’t make excuses, she paved her own way, and never took a short cut. I am proud that I am able to call her my sister. She gave birth to my niece and nephew, and also adopted another nephew of mine, not because she wasn’t able to have another child, but because she felt their family was not complete without their son whom they adopted from Guatamala.
Jacki and her husband built a very successful and fulfilling career, starting a company which fosters adults with disabilities. It absolutely is unfair that my sister’s life was cut short, she built her life around helping other people. Even while she was dying, she exhausted absolutely every option possible to fight this cancer, and even traveled to Mexico for holistic treatments. She fought up until she was no longer physically able, and even then, she handled her last few weeks with grace. She was at peace, and she made me feel comforted that it was okay for her to go, that her family would be okay.
I am so blessed to have had her in my life. There is not one person I have ever met that will ever compare to Jacki. She manifested her dreams, and maybe subconsciously she knew her life would be cut short, because I swear, she lived more than most elderly can say in their lifetimes! I am no longer a victim, I have my sister as a guideline on how life is meant to be lived, and that no dream is out of reach as long as I am willing to put in the work to achieve what I deem success in my own life.
We all have our own stories, and while my story has a lot of tragedy, overall I have a damn good life! I am fortunate to know I am loved. I am fortunate to be blessed with the family I have, and to have been touched by the family I have lost. I have a very healthy child, which I no longer take for granted. I am gaining wisdom, and I appreciate every small step forward, and even the steps back that I have to regain. I love the process. I’m actually relieved that I didn’t have these AHA moments sooner, I don’t think I would have appreciated them as much. I had to go through the lowest of lows, I needed that rock bottom, to realize that I deserve whatever I put into my life.
I choose to live a life created by my own design now, and I am choosing to take everything in. I am not a victim, and bad things will no longer define me, only strengthen me to help others, and to broaden the road I am traveling.