Most of my upbringing was rough and most of my time was spent protecting my mother and sisters—I tried to keep them safe. When I was 11 years old, I was hit by a car. This was the first accident that I feel led to things changing for me. My parents and teachers thought there was nothing wrong with me, but I had lost my eyesight and went through many different tests for an 8-month period of time. I struggled with learning from 5th to 7th grade. After that, I was able to make it on the honor roll and graduate from high school. I did go to about a year and a half of college but then went into the military (the Army).
While serving in the military, I was married, and we had two children. Even though the marriage was rocky, and I felt like I was being pushed towards violent actions, I had seen enough growing up that I would not be a part of domestic violence. We held the marriage together for about 6 years, but I could feel the anger building inside myself. I was able to maintain a job and stayed involved in my children’s lives until they graduated from high school. For several years following that time, I felt like everything was falling apart and I eventually had a meltdown.
The circumstances were turned back on me, and I was made out to be the bad guy. Things continued to spiral down for me, and I found myself with the wrong crowd and landed in jail. I felt like I was abandoned, betrayed, and overwhelmed with hopelessness. I had spent my life helping and protecting others while receiving negative feedback in various forms in return for the sacrifices I made.
The world seemed cruel and unforgiving, but I was encouraged with the help of counseling and small group of individuals I had met in a support group. I have gained coping skills to help me through my anger, and I have learned the importance of paying it forward—without expecting in return. I spend time connecting with horses through horse therapy, and I am working on my own self-care. If I am not willing to work to make changes in myself, I cannot expect others to change.
I am now back on my feet and moving forward, there are still challenges and I know life will continue to throw a wrench in my plans at times, but I have the skills and determination to keep moving forward. I am glad I have learned how to embrace the challenges of my brain injury and realize that what I went through has made me who I am today, a proud veteran and supporter of those who are in need.