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Like most people, I have my own story to tell. Some details are difficult to put into words. Struggle has been my life’s conquest. Nothing comes easy and adversity is the name of the game. If I want something, I work twice as hard to get it. Nothing has ever been handed to me and if it were offered, my pride would never allow me to except it.

I have always been the quiet type, the one who sits in the back of the room, observing everyone and everything. I often study people and judge them by interactions made with one another. I learned at a young age, to guard my heart and to be careful who I let into my world.

In middle school I was a victim of bulling. This caused me to withdraw from “so called” friends and retreat into a world of books, music, or anything I could find, to escape the hurt of not being accepted.  I also had problems with my parents, like most kids do. Mine are the religious type, you know, the judgmental, you’re going to hell if you don’t change your ways, type. They frowned upon all of my outlets, preaching hell and damnation on my soul, for simply being who I was. Which at that time, I wanted to be anyone other than who I was.

So, I got lost in the characters of books and lived someone else’s life, along with their fictitious dreams. I would lock myself in my room and listen to music for hours. Especially if it related to my situation and the way I was feeling at that time, learning every line of every lyric. It was my therapy and the only peace I knew.

Just when I thought life was looking up, in 1987, my sister being my only sibling, who was a year younger than myself, was diagnosed with Leukemia. I watched her suffer and fight for almost 2 years, but eventually her body weakened and she lost her battle on September 21, 1988. The one person who really knew me. My best friend and confidant, was gone forever.  I felt completely lost and alone. I now had no one who understood me and now had no one to talk to. On the outside I looked reserved and unaffected. On the inside I was very sad and angry.

Life after the death of my sister was just learning how to exist. There were no talks from my parents or any form of counciling. It was business as usual. My friends were distant and knew not what to say. Teachers now looked upon me with sympathy. I didn’t want to be seen at all. I cared nothing for school and skipped classes frequently. I was pissed at God and mad as hell. My sister was gone, but yet I was left to deal with this so called life, alone.

I no longer cared about my health and had a fuck me attitude. Smoking, drinking, and drugs were now my favorite pastime. I had become somewhat of a thrill seeker, looking for anything to camouflage my emotions I kept hidden, like some deep dark secret, never to be talked about or discussed.

I graduated high school, barely, and lost myself in work. Throughout the years I often worked two jobs, occupying my time and freeing my mind. Relationships were a no win situation. I found myself searching for someone to fix. Someone much more broken than myself. I settled for someone else’s hopes and dreams, only to be at war with myself, years down the road. I have since learned, I am not the settling kind. My soul will never allow it. I long for something far more than this world can give. A connection deeper than most minds can  comprehend. Unrealistic? Maybe so, but I’ll wait for it or die alone, staying true to myself. Self worth is a powerful thing and a force to be reckoned with.

I did eventually find unconditional love. It was discovered the moment my daughters were born. My life is no longer my own and decisions are now made with their well being in mind. Giving them a stable life and instilling confidence within themselves has become my life’s mission. Not only are they my children, they are my greatest accomplishments, as well as my best friends. I am completely open and more myself with them, then I have ever been with any human being. They are my heart and soul. I have made peace with God and strive everyday to be a better person. Someone my girls can be proud of. A safe haven for them to run to, when things get tough. The world is their oyster and meant to be fiercely sought after, unafraid of others expectations or opinions.

Looking back and viewing who I was, now gives me a greater appreciation for who I am now. I am still broken, but learning to piece myself back together, a little at a time. The scars will always remain, but I am determined to make a happy ending for myself and because I have gone through so much emotionally, I have a deep desire to help others as well.

God has given me this incredible gift of empathy. I am far from perfect and still make mistakes, but I also view the world differently. I long to understand people and to convey the message, you are not alone. I not only focus on being a more positive person for myself, but to be a light for others and to make a difference, no matter how small. To me, this is what life is all about. Our ability to help one another.

Penelope

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