Beginning of A New Journey

“You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien

As far back as my memory stretches, I have been enamored with the joy, love, adventure, losses, and words contained between the covers of books. Stories provided a welcomed sense of escape, allowing far-off travels to an all too provincial life. At 12-years-old, I soared to the castle tucked away and hidden with magic often enough to become my home. I endured the drama, love, friendship, and life lessons with Kristy and the Babysitter’s Club. My love so deep, I foolishly endeavored to create my own version, Monica’s Petsitter’s Club. Membership numbers equaling one, I was hired one time, and failed in a magnificent blaze, learning along the way, perhaps 8-years-old is not the proper age to embark upon a business adventure. Diving deep into the supernatural and paranormal inner workings of ordinary seeming things, opening my mind to things I may not have been seeing around me with Goosebumps. To this day, I still get chills when facing down ventriloquy dummies.

Later in life, much to my mother’s consternation, I discovered dark deeds could be found everywhere, vampires, aliens, and death and dying could still be an adventure if you were a part of the right group. I learned the illusionary nature of first impressions, owning your mistakes, and second chances to open to love with the indominable Jane Austen. Losing myself in a world in which science and the supernatural danced within Zoey Redbird, I witnessed with new vision the burden we all carry when we are told what we are meant to do in this world. Through her story, the seeds were planted in my mind of perseverance and faith in one’s self outweighs the burden, the people, and forces seeking to defeat me.

Alongside Clary, relief was found through viewing angels and man as equally fallible as demons are; life is about the choices we make. As I embarked upon many adventures in the present and the past with the gifted Shadowhunters, I gained a view never before considered, intentions made in Love are of the purest form, yet there will always be those who attempt to manipulate under the guise of “for the greater good.” I learned about overcoming loss and fear in the bleakest of times, found a sister in sorrow, and developed a deep abiding love for a land I have yet to traverse with MacKayla Lane.

Arriving in unexpectedly painful manners were the rock bottom moments. Moments in which the steady whirling of negative thoughts, emotional pains, and constant fight or flight going hand in hand with the traumatic life I was, in my opinion at the time, stuck in for better or worse, could no longer be silenced through escapism into novels. Losing my lifelong coping strategy ushered in an inner darkness I had never before known. Music, songs, lyrics, began to wind their way to into my heart. Songs encompassing emotional depth, singing directly to my soul, words required for survival.

I discovered expertise on who Monica is, what she has learned, found through the gift of hindsight. Hindsight is where my vision tends to be the most accurate, and well, we all know the saying right? Come on, say it with me, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Wonderful life lesson, it ranks right up there with “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” which every time I allowed consideration of a cover in concert with the desire to be an author, hours would be spent, stuck in my head, planning cover designs of a book not yet written. Journeying through parenthood, I learned one thing with clarity, whenever you tell someone not to do something, BOOM! it is exactly what happens. As my children are continual perpetrators of this action, admittedly I too am guilty.

Musical preferences had once been narrowly focused for me, until recently. Through much of my life, enjoyment in the beauty of instrumental music was an impossibility. The lack of adequate distraction for the wicked voice in my head seemed directly connected to the lack of song lyrics. Discovering the voice enjoyed singing, transformed me into a superhero for a short time. Finding the right song awarded me the role of internal snake charmer. The correct song would appease, forcing my inner and outer voices to join together and get lost in the music. Suddenly, I would be able to breathe freely, even if only for the duration of the song.

 Classical music has now shifted to being a gateway for inner silence. Falling deeper in love with Ireland, I have found myself drawn to Celtic music. I continually have stated, and will say until it becomes reality, someday I am going to move to the Irish wilderness. There I fully intend to lose myself in the mystical forests, only the music streaming out from wherever I am to provide a beacon to be found. As you can clearly see, I am still steeped in escapism and duality.

In finding and losing myself within the musical world, there have been moments, akin to coming across the exact book, poem, or blog, when kismet works its extraordinary chemistry with my soul bringing a message, one I desperately required. Synchronistic songs have now been carried with me throughout the years, as much a part of me as my beating heart. They brought something into my life, my heart, and my soul. What they brought me was simply pieces of myself I needed at a specific moment in time, a truly kismet situation. Music danced on the sound waves like fairy nymphs, beckoning me to focus, hear, and know, always correlating to situations and emotions flooding out of me at the time. These songs, the bands, singers, musicians, artists, have all brushed my soul with the colors of their creativity.

When the darkness descended in my life, I came to terms with some more concrete, everyday inspirations in my life. My brother who defied odds, spoke his truth, and changed my views and helped me along my spiritual journey for no reason other than love in his heart. Within gathering of friends, in the most broken part of my love life, I met the man who would stand beside me, shining faith and love upon the shards of my broken heart, as he waited patiently beside me to glue them back together, and marrying me in the process. I found the impact of an action taken by my mother when I was a child, aided me in being the advocate for my children’s mental health and safety. Through this realization, I found the opening for true, honest communication about all the things I had been too afraid to talk to her about since I was a child, and healing of lifelong struggle could finally begin.

In being a parent, I found my inspiration, my creativity, my strength, my advocate, and true unconditional love and joy. Learning, many times the hard way, about the family you choose, the family who chooses you, and family present from second you are conceived by privy of blood. I faced reality of friendship in this world, who is true and who is there because at a given moment in time it served one or both of you. Finding at times you must let go of friends, while gaining firm foundational knowledge, some people are destined to come into your life, and remain fixed, regardless of time, place, distance, and frequency of conversations held.

Ultimately throughout all of life’s ups and downs, I learned to stand firm in who I am, against those who do harm to others, and advocating for those who harm themselves. I learned to use my voice to speak the truth for those who are being hurt, scared to use their voices as I once was, and to know, love and truth are powerful forces. Through my own denial of those lessons, the cost was the destruction of my physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

At several points in my life, I experienced things I couldn’t explain. Learning through college about different psychological concepts and schools of study. Upon amplification of unexplainable experiences throughout my adult life, I easily would have given myself the diagnosis of schizophrenia. Except, I could have a clear and concise conversation within the right environment about everything I was seeing, hearing, feeling, and thinking. The clarity of what was occurring, coupled with a therapist who understood what I was struggling with as she watched me grow and change, and sought to assist me in my quest for understanding and growth, may well have provided equal amounts of a true shattering of all remaining self-doubt alongside long sought-after freedom.

Experiences I lacked the strength to discuss, started for me at a very young age. I grew up in a place, in a life, in which these kind of things weren’t discussed, and to do so would mean either psychological illness, damnation, or a combination of the two. Due to these childhood “life lessons,” fear became a driving force, leading me to shut everything out. I relegated intuitive notions to the darkness of the land of repression. Living my life pretending to not see the things seen, acting as though I have not spent a lifetime being different. Understanding, feeling, and knowing things about other people or about what may happen while maintaining the mentality I must act as though I wasn’t experiencing these things. Maintaining secrecy to the inner depths of the mind, I felt driven to pretend to think and feel only what would be expected. In order for fear to have its perceived rightful place within the hierarchy of human existence, and as a means of self-preservation from those who aren’t capable or willing to open themselves up to other explanations beyond damnation and insanity, I denied myself accurate identity.

Finding myself wondering in recent days: Was this the right manner of dealing with life? At the time, in the moment, I truly believed it was the only manner of dealing. I refused allowance of myself to open up to the path of life and understanding I had been drawn to since childhood. Shortly before my thirty-third birthday, I was suddenly faced with having to embark upon the most difficult battles of my life. Tiring quickly of continually experiencing the same thought process, I found myself constrained by the inability to understand why the answer everyone came to was so easy for them yet impossible for me.

Throughout the fall of 2019, and solidified late spring of 2020, I found myself in the midst of an ugly custody battle. Battling with a man who had chosen to use the court system to assert control over two amazingly beautiful souls he failed to listen to, to provide the kind of unconditional love and devotion all children deserve. His actions served me with the final catalyst necessary for my personal journey of transformation, starting with an ouroboros thought process: “I just don’t understand why he would do these things to them. I don’t understand why he doesn’t care. I don’t understand why he let these things happen to them, why he did these things to them. I don’t understand why he can’t just love them and listen to them. It is not a hard thing to do, loving your children. It is not a hard thing to put them before yourself, because that is what a parent does.”

Positing these questions continually over the following months, vainly attempting to find an answer to any of them, and always being told by my husband, my mother, my therapist, my children’s therapist, my lawyer, and my friends the same thing: “You will never know.” It was not my answer, it was not what I was looking for. As the articulately wise man, Carl G. Jung said in his memoir, “I early arrived at the insight that when no answer comes from within to the problems and complexities of life, they ultimately mean very little.” Somehow I knew I would be able to figure it out, and I had to see it in front of me to heal, to let go, and to help my kids heal and let go. I started to dig, and naturally the first place I looked was at Narcissists and their interactions with Empaths. Leading me next to my psychology textbook from my college Personality Theories course.

 From there it was like teleporting from one thought to another, one theory to another, one professional, one author, one religion, one era, all the way to the stars. I delved deep, jumping from one source to another like a person possessed. It was no holds barred. The entire time, I thought I had a brain tumor, even my doctors were concerned. I had zero desire to do the things I used to, I couldn’t stand to have the television on, to watch all the same shows I watched over and over again. Lyrical music lost all appeal to me. I would sit in a silent house, on the internet, on my phone, researching for hours. I didn’t text anyone. I rarely checked my social media accounts. I couldn’t have a coherent conversation most of the time because the words in my head were stuck there, circling around the merry-go-round of unanswered questions, leaving any words attempting to pass fruitlessly out of my mouth garbled, or half formed. Needless to say, I was beginning to worry more and more about the status of my master computer, the indomitable brain, seemingly turned to mush. My physical experiences began to worsen. I began experiencing moments of spatial distortion and time distortion, even my eyesight changed. The right side of my head, my eye, my entire body was, for lack of a better manner of describing it, killing me, day in and day out.

My pain threshold increased to Herculean levels, reaching points on the scales no longer in existence. I was convinced, by some twisted act of fate, a clown (which, just for full scope of how tremendously terrifying the thought is for me, IT terrified me as a child, I have been horrified of clowns since) had somehow managed to crawl into my head, and maliciously decided to repeatedly fill the top of my head with helium. If you have ever sailed on a boat or better yet, ridden on a ferry in windy weather, once disembarking back to blissfully solid ground, you understand Earth’s solidity is no longer what it was. Suddenly the world is moving in ways it shouldn’t.

This was my daily life, in my kitchen or bedroom, asking continually for clarity on whether my body was swaying or if it was the room. Sometimes it was actually me, though that usually occurred when I was sitting versus standing, and I didn’t realize it. I would have muscle cramps from my feet up into my calves. One morning, I awoke to severe, painful cramps. Panicking and tearful, I awoke my husband begging him to go get me an icepack. Left with no other option, I reluctantly took a muscle relaxant, and he had to sit there and remind me to keep breathing through the pain. All I could say was, “It feels like I just broke my leg.” It sure felt like I had broken my leg. I didn’t want to eat; I woke up every night around 3-4 am like clockwork for about three solid weeks.

I was sleep deprived, nutrition deprived, at the end of my physical rope, and I had zero emotions. Cold and numb, no matter how hard I attempted, I just couldn’t care. It was apathy to a level completely anathema to who I truly am. I wasn’t a part of anything. Adrift in the sea of life, I was convinced nothing, and no one could possibly understand. Suddenly, clarity started to come to me. In increasing frequency, the books and articles I was reading, the thoughts in my head, or the songs I would suddenly wake up hearing began taking on meaning. As though the universe had been flipped upside down and was suddenly repolarized and the cloudy skies were clearing, everything began falling into place for me.

It was then I began painting. I painted our family room walls, fervently needing to bring a sense of the desert in Arizona into my house. And let me tell you this, I don’t know what the desert in Arizona is like, I just know I needed to do something to made me feel how I imagined the Arizona desert would, and I did. I planned out my bedroom walls, and my husband did something he normally doesn’t, he asked to be included in the decision, asked for his personality to be put in there, asked to be a part of it. I was completely hesitant. I can’t lie, this was my catharsis, this was my healing process, and I needed to heal, I needed to feel. There was something wrong with me because I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t talk about it lacking the intuition or insight of even where to begin. I was changing internally.

This was a very similar road I had been nudged down once before, and the first experience was horrifying. I changed my repetitive thought process due to dawning realization of similarity, now I continually reminded myself: This isn’t then, I am not the same person. I am living a significantly different life, in a home and a relationship that nurtures and accepts everything about who I am. I had run scared from my entire life before, and I have no reason for fear any longer. I gained another sense of freedom upon changing my thoughts.

I still yet, hesitantly, sat down with my husband and we chose colors. I was hesitant until the walls were three quarters of the way painted. All I could do was cry. I cried about everything, my childhood losses, the abuses I suffered, the suffering of my children, the fathers who couldn’t love them, the pain and anguish of a dream I had walked away from and kept trying to find my way back to it. It was an outpouring of my entire soul lasting days. My husband, David, looked at me midway through the crying phase with love in his eyes and a smile on his face and he said very simply, “Welcome back,” and the best part about it is he truly meant it.

I started opening up all the secret things, all the moments I couldn’t face, I poured out words, emotions, thoughts, feelings onto page after page of notebooks and journals. I listened to the songs popping into my head. I read about all the things continually nagging at me. Charting my stars, I delved into astrology attempting to understand the healing I was doing, understand what my great karmic debt truly is, and understand what my big, damn holdup in life was so I could finally sit down, and write. Just write.

Write the stories of my life, what my heart knew I needed to pour out, and share with the world. Write it all, and damn the repercussions of the truth, just write it already. Yet fear and doubt are the hardest bedfellows to part ways with, and I continued warring within myself, trying to sort out what it was I was meant to write. Despite the overwhelming sense it was time, I am a fiction fiend, perpetually believing this was where my journey as an author should start.

It isn’t where I was meant to start, and it was not until I had endured three months of progressive neurological symptoms, three weeks of a dual spiritual awakening and spiritual emergency, and one week of full on embracing of everything in front of me without fighting it anymore, did the final two pieces fall into place for this to be my final farewell to the past part of me traumatized by all of these things, and close the book on that chapter of my being.

I have learnt much throughout my life, most of the lessons are from people who have crossed my path in one way or another, in full knowledge of the role they are playing or in complete darkness about the magnitude of the impact in which they have changed something for someone else. This book, the stories, the long overdue letters, are the gratuitous moments of kismet I hold dear to my heart. They are the lanterns illuminating my way to inspirational moments, whether through positivity and love or via pain and anguish. I learned about myself, the world, and my place in it from these people. I am grateful to them for the lessons they have taught me about love and joy, about sorrow and courage, about inspiration and humanity, but above all, about the person I needed to embrace and let go of within myself before becoming who I am meant to be.

Through creative minds weaving tales and adventure, teaching life lessons, singing songs woven into my soul, through my own writing, past and present, through the people around me both living and the ghosts of those who I carry with me, I have embarked upon a journey of discovery and purpose. Growing as a human being, mother, wife, sister, or whatever label placed upon me, I have grown as a soul. The time has now arrived. I stand at the pinnacle of an internal mountain climbed to return the borrowed moments and give gratitude to you who did not know, understand, nor witness changes and growth elicited through their words and actions, with all the love I can muster, to those people who have provided me with the missing, broken, and lost pieces of the whole.

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