From “Fuck You” to “Thank You Cancer”

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Six months sober, and divorced… A few days after my final goodbye to my four year old son, I hit my knees.

the second cocktail of chemo drugs caused a reaction and hair loss

 No, I wasn’t praying.. I was in so much pain that my body collapsed into a ball without much thought.  One minute I was texting “sweet dreams” and by the time she responded I wrote back “I think I’m going to the hospital”.  I felt like I was going to DIE; like a gremlin and the monster from the Alien were doing the monster mash right there in my gut.  I panicked, not only because of the pain but because I lived alone.  What if I got worse before I could alert help? One of my fears of being alone coming to life.  I called my friend asking her if she could please take me to the hospital.  She asked what’s wrong and I told her “please just come quickly.” I debated calling an ambulance but I didn’t want the attention of the street.. My self consciousness still winning, even in an emergency.

  By the time she arrived I had slithered down the 18 stairs from my raised house and was sitting balled up on the bottom step counting the hour long milliseconds that it took for her to arrive.  Once at the hospital, it took 45 minutes to be seen, and another 30 to get any kind of pain relief.  They wanted to do testing first.  I can’t say I blame them, I’d hit every emergency room in the area in pain at one point or another, seeking pain medicine to get high. In the moment tho, I hated every last one of them.  Restraining myself from punching holes in the wall felt impossible.  Laying waiting in our little cubical of the ER, I felt the mess starting to kick in.  The edge of the cliff began to get distant, and the doctor came and asked my friend to step outside.  She returned in tears, the doctor behind her looking somewhat apprehensive.  They told me they had found a tumor… A 19cm tumor wrapped around my left ovary and Fallopian tube.  It was the size of a 5 month pregnancy.  I remember the doctor looking at me like I was crazy.  “You didn’t have any symptoms before now?” He asked.  I thought about it and told him that I did have an increase in pain but I assumed it was because I was sober, and I could actually feel pain now, or maybe because I had started walking and my body was adjusting.

Pictures from the initial surgery

A symptom of PTSD is unmanaged dissociation.  Everyone does it on some level whether it’s entering auto pilot while driving,  and you end up wherever you are going but you don’t remember getting there.  That’s the mild side of the unmanaged dissociation spectrum.  Extreme sides of the spectrum are cases are dissociative identity disorder or DID (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) where the psyche completely splits into separate identities to perform various roles to the host.  There are many stops along the way of that spectrum, and I fall in at about the 60-70 range.  If you want to know more on this feel free to ask!  The point is,  my ability to separate from the feeling of physical pain was so fine tuned that the magnitude of the symptoms weren’t registering.  There was a disconnect.

  So, back to my story.. It’ll be a miracle if this blog actually tells the story I opened it to tell!
  From there I was rushed into surgery, the tumor was removed, along with my ovary and Fallopian tube.  A week later I found out that it was indeed cancerous.  Another fear.. Both my gran and my mother were killed by cancer on my mothers side, and my dads mother was also killed by that monster, and now it had me.  I won’t go into all the specifics.. Maybe another blog piece, but that was where my faith really began.

It wasn’t in a foxhole prayer, “God, please save me… ” it was real faith.. It was where I stopped bartering with the “if there’s a God” and started accepting the current moment exactly as it was.  I had been working on my third step in AA, “we made a decision to turn our will and our life, over to the care of God as we understood him” and I was almost all in.. The only reservation I had about staying sober was “if I lose my son I’m getting fucked up” and then I’d lost my son, and stayed sober.

Truth be told, I was secretly in love with another recovering alcoholic and I wanted to prove how committed I was to sobriety.  She had so many years sober, and I had only months.  I thought if I could tackle these monsters of reasons to drink, without drinking, we could bypass the “sober for a year rule”.

  I fought, every day, well almost every day.  There were some days when I couldn’t fight, and I had to lay in bed and just rest.  I remember feeling so much anxiety and panic when I would try to lay down and rest.  This video pretty much depicts that part of the fight (i record and document everything because my memory isn’t too great, and i lose time a lot… a big part of my recovery has been trying to piece together and accept that these things will happen, but looking for ways that i can take care of myself to make them less intrusive)

I was so scared that while I was resting, the cancer was taking over. No imagined it to be like a black cloud that I’d dispersed with my light of my sun, but crept back over when I wasn’t looking.  If I stopped, my body would get weak and I’d lose the fight.. And that just wasn’t an option.  Most breakdowns actually served their purpose in bouncing me back for the next round…

I spent many manic nights awake.  I began painting.  I didn’t want to watch tv, and so I started painting and found that I could paint! I had no idea.  I was pretty amazing at it too!!

Painted from a photo of Chicago that I found online
My secret love challenged me to try spray painting after seeing a video of the NYC spray paint artist..


Time lapse Video of 48 hours of learning to spray paint… not bad!

I gladly accepted the challenge, and within 24 hours I was spray painting my way to a masterpiece. 🙂 I remember selling some of those to my friends on Facebook, helping to generate some money towards the mounting costs of prescriptions and co pays.  I delivered pizza part time for Papa Johns in the evenings, and worked the back drive thru window of McDonalds with my AA sponsor and good friend in the mornings.
Having fun on the job 😉
  I bounced between photography and painting when I didn’t have the energy to walk.  In finding the gift of artwork, I saw a reason for being sick.  I would’ve never known I could paint if I hadn’t slowed down.  I remember how I felt the first time I realized that.  I’m crying again now just remembering how intense that feeling of trust in the universe was.  I remember telling the universe that it could’ve been a little more subtle than the big C, but then I thought about all of the times that I could’ve slowed down, and should’ve slowed down, and I didn’t.  Always running running running because I didn’t want to feel, and if I slowed down or stopped then the feelings would come flooding thru me at an overwhelming rate and I didn’t know how to adjust the faucet.  It was stuck wide open and I couldn’t handle all of that so I ran, staying busy.  It’s why I got fucked up to begin with. Thank you cancer.
a dresser from my sons room that became a painting project
  Four surgeries, and five chemos into the fight I began researching what could I do to improve my chances.  I asked questions on Facebook, and you guys responded with juice recipes, plant based diets.. And so I tried it.  I remember I couldn’t eat much at the time, but I kept telling myself “if I’m going to force myself to eat something, it’s going to be something that will help kick this bitchs’ ass! And I’d add a spoonful of peanut butter to a very green leafy disgusting  cocktail, blend it up and drink up.  I remember making music videos and joining the happy days fb group where my newsfeed filled up with all of these reasons people were happy that day.  That’s where I met a lot of you guys!  There was something about knowing people were watching, or at least feeling like they were, that grounded me.  I didn’t want you to see the real me.  I didn’t want you to see the crazy me, so I attempted to hide it, failing miserably with those I got close to, but it served its purpose.  I kept striving to improve, to be a better person, to show all of you how amazing I really am.. Because I didn’t feel it.. And you guys would tell me I am, and for a moment I would feel it… And as a true addict, it felt good so I wanted more.

 I began a bucket list which I named the “remember when list” because it was a list of things I would one day sit on my front porch telling stories of “remember when” to what I’d hope to be, my love.. Sitting next to me, saying “yes dear” 🙂 – that fantasy pushed me.  It set a tone inside of me and I wrote that list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime!! As that list grew, I realized that I didn’t have time to have a job.. Not in the traditional sense.  I started thinking of ways I could make money without actually going to work, and reading nomad blogs, learning how to travel as cheap as possible.  Again the faith came in, as I thought about everything I had already survived, and I saw how each individual storm in my life created a piece of evidence that I would be okay, no matter what.  Dealing with mental illness, never actually killing myself despite many years of feeling that was my only safe place to live mentally… Katrina.. Being homeless.. Heartbreaks.. I had survived  many storms, it’s what I do! In that I found strength and courage.  I saved links, and took notes, learning and forming the vague outline of how I could actually start working on some of these bucket list ideas.  Sure.. I couldn’t go backpacking Europe that day, laying in bed feeling sick as a dog, hurting, and generally wanting to die on some level.. But I could start studying.. Figure out what id need to do.. What equipment would I need? I’d only been camping twice.  I started looking on craigslist, and reading more and more.

What could I sell to generate money? I started painting sand dollars, and furniture, and whatever else came my way.  I sat out on Saturdays at the farmers market, hoping to sell a piece.  I went to galleries and talked to the managers, showing my portfolio.. I read blogs on how photographers make money with their pictures.. And the majority of the money is in portrait photography.. It wasn’t something I felt I was good enough for, having seen others work.  I didn’t have the money for the equipment I really needed, but I took my Panasonic LUMIX camera and did the best I could.. Watching YouTube videos on how to edit portrait pictures.  Touch ups etc.  I had the eye, I just didn’t have the knowledge, but I learned!

Adorable little girl and her mother that responded to a FB ad

I posted questions in fb photography groups, and they came back with all the answers to help me improve.  It provided the money to travel some more, but I didn’t care for it enough to pursue it further.

I took on a couple of website gigs, rehashing skills from my earlier years, and hustled flipping a broke down car.

Changing out the brake calipers – gotta trust the Universe to learn this on YouTube!

There’s never an easy answer to “how do you afford to travel” I just do whatever the moment presents itself with, and I am always provided for.  The Universe takes care of me as long as I allow it to.  I never thought I’d be a paid blogger.. $5-$12 a day, but it’s something! Every little something adds up and creates opportunity for more experience, and with more experience comes more opportunity.  It’s an amazing circle of life.

  Now my hope is to use my blog to not only record doing all this with mental illness.. (Which I really want to write about the transition from traveling to home.. I definitely need a better plan for reentry.  The last few days have been rough and I feel very spacey, ungrounded), but not only that and frugal traveling, but I’ve been writing the story of the travels from a first hand perspective as if the reader is the one traveling.  Once the story is written I want to record it and put pictures and videos to it so that the viewer or reader feels as if they are really traveling the world.

Then I want to donate it to everyone fighting a terminal illness, so that they can dissociate into the story and maybe get a little relief from the reality of the pain and treatment that they are going thru.  I hope it inspires them to fight, to really see the world, or whatever their bucket list things are, and if that’s no longer an option, I hope I get to help fulfill at least one of them by having this experience to share.

  Having said that..
I’d like you help me out by clicking on all the ads you see on this page, clicking back to the blog between each one.  I get paid per reader and per ad click.. And that helps fund this adventure.
I’d also like you to shared story if you believe in me and want to be a part of it!
And lastly, there is a box to subscribe to the blog, if you want notifications of new posts to the blog.
With that.. I hope you enjoyed my story.. It’s what got me to where I am today.. This year I have seen 22 states in the USA.. Fallen in love with traveling, seen my nephew for the first time, seen my first concert, mastered camping, backpacked four cities, opened an Airbnb of my own, become a paid blogger, met sooo many amazing new people, and next month I am leaving to backpack Europe! It’s wild!  If this is a dream, I never want to wake up.  Thank you Cancer!
“It’s a perfect day for a perfect day!”
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Terrorist attacks coming to a major city near YOU!

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“Omg did you go to Brussels??? They were attacked!!!!”
Major cities are going to continue to be attacked to bring attention to the shit that’s going on in the world until something is done to stop the suffering and the blatant disregard of human life on our (western world) part.. Which will never happen bc we deny our part in it. We look at them as barbaric for blowing themselves up and taking innocent lives with them.. But these people have spent 14 years being bombed blown up and attacked by us.. They’ve spent months traveling far and wide carrying practically nothing but their children.. Watching loved ones die along the way. Then they reach borders where they are tear gassed and beaten for trying to cross borders out of the former iron curtain .. Soviet Union .. 
We hear nothing about Russia in all of this.. Our country has NO IDEA about the shit going on with Russia .. and won’t care to know until shit hits the fan and it directly effects us.. Then it won’t matter if we are driving a Stationwagon or a Porsche .. It won’t matter how much money is in the bank.. 
But I’m just a conspiracy theorist who researches too much… asks too many questions… And won’t settle for ignorant silence.  
With a bonus of knowing how to live off the grid.
My thoughts and prayers are with EVERYONE that is affected by the ENTIRE situation.. Not just the people that died today and their families .. It’s with the 1/4 million other people that have died and their loved ones .. It’s with the 11 MILLION people that are homeless and displaced trying to find a life where they aren’t being bombed. It’s with the mentally ill that have zero ability to comprehend everything that their life is. It’s with the people that CAN do something about it, but don’t… Because it doesn’t effect them directly so why stop going about their daily lives to do something about it?  
I’m sure there will be Belgium flags covering Facebook profile pictures by the end of the day.. And that’ll make it all better. 
/rant 

 

“but that’s about you” – owning my anger towards cancer

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It doesn’t take much for me to get distracted.. but you can bet your boots that reading a post where someone wishes cancer on someone else.. that will do it everytime.  Not just one person, but this person wished cancer on all the management people at their cable provider because 300GB of data just isn’t enough to keep up with her gaming lifestyle.

  
I debated for a few minutes after reading it, to figure out if I even wanted to respond to that.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  Why would anyone WISH CANCER ON SOMEONE?????  And over bandwidth??? Seriously? I responded.. and responded to the response.. and then decided to walk away.

  
  
  I was so fuming mad that I took screenshots of the post and sent them to a friend.. needing some sort of validation to my anger from some rational thinking person.. to which I got back “but that’s about you”

What?? What the fuck?? I wanted to pour out all the anger that came along with this whole conversation.. but she was right. It was about me.  It was totally about me that I was so entirely pissed off that this person would wish cancer on someone because with that statement, a thousand images of what that one word, “cancer”, brings.

fcancer
  The hours I spent vomiting, long after there was nothing left to vomit.  The longing to go outside and feel the sun on my face, but not having the strength to get out of bed.  The pain. The pain of feeling my cells fight each other inside of me. The pain of radiation killing cells inside of me.  The sores and blisters inside my mouth.  The lockdown to prevent further illness with such a low immune system.  The rooms of other patients, and faces that change, or don’t make it back for the next round.  The fear.  The fear that death was knocking on my door.  That I could die.  The smiles I put on my face so people wouldn’t worry… because I didn’t want them to go through what I went through when my mother was dying of cancer.  

  
I remember watching her fade in and out of sleep.. her breath stopping for longer than it should until she gasped for another breath.  I remember her going thru the stages of grief, knowing that she wasn’t going to beat this thing.  I remember the blood transfusions, and the tests.. each result almost unbearable to wait for.  Every answer weighing down on just how much time we had left together.  I remember watching her favorite movies with her, and putting her in the wheel chair to keep getting out and living to the best of her ability.. even if that was only a 10 minute wheel around the block.  I REMEMBER WATCHING MY MOTHER DIE A SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH .. and do it with SO MUCH dignity.

  

I remember my gran fighting this same beast .. Like a champ! And the other family members that have ALL been taken by this monster.

   
    
   I REMEMBER FIGHTING MY ASS OFF so that I didn’t die that same slow painful death.  Walking miles after surgeries against doctors advice.  Getting out and about when I was supposed to be on bedrest.  Drinking those foul green smoothies and juices, if I could eat or drink anything at all.. because if I was going to force it down me, it was going to work towards the fight.  I remember avoiding tv, and finding things I loved to do.. discovering I could paint.. and write.. and sing.. although I rarely had the breath and energy to get thru a song at that time.

This upcoming week makes 10 years since my mother passed away.  It doesn’t feel like it’s even been 10 months.  She was only 49 when she died… ironically, because she always said “I’ll be lucky if I make it to 50”.  I wish she were still around.  We didn’t have a very close relationship, but in those months that I was able to spend with her before she died, we grew close..  what could’ve been the beginning of the kind of relationship I had always wanted with my mother.

I wish she were still around.  I wish she could see her grandson.. and experience being a grandparent.  I wish she hadn’t been diagnosed with Cancer.  I wish that no one would ever be diagnosed with cancer ever again.  So yes… when I read someone wishing this awful illness on a group of people just carrying out their job descriptions to cap data to 300GB per month.. I take it quite personally.
/rant

From Fuck You to Thank you Cancer for my “Remember When” list

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Six months sober, and divorced… A few days after my final goodbye to my four year old son, I hit my knees.

the second cocktail of chemo drugs caused a reaction and hair loss

 No, I wasn’t praying.. I was in so much pain that my body collapsed into a ball without much thought.  One minute I was texting “sweet dreams” and by the time she responded I wrote back “I think I’m going to the hospital”.  I felt like I was going to DIE; like a gremlin and the monster from the Alien were doing the monster mash right there in my gut.  I panicked, not only because of the pain but because I lived alone.  What if I got worse before I could alert help? One of my fears of being alone coming to life.  I called my friend asking her if she could please take me to the hospital.  She asked what’s wrong and I told her “please just come quickly.” I debated calling an ambulance but I didn’t want the attention of the street.. My self consciousness still winning, even in an emergency.

  By the time she arrived I had slithered down the 18 stairs from my raised house and was sitting balled up on the bottom step counting the hour long milliseconds that it took for her to arrive.  Once at the hospital, it took 45 minutes to be seen, and another 30 to get any kind of pain relief.  They wanted to do testing first.  I can’t say I blame them, I’d hit every emergency room in the area in pain at one point or another, seeking pain medicine to get high. In the moment tho, I hated every last one of them.  Restraining myself from punching holes in the wall felt impossible.  Laying waiting in our little cubical of the ER, I felt the mess starting to kick in.  The edge of the cliff began to get distant, and the doctor came and asked my friend to step outside.  She returned in tears, the doctor behind her looking somewhat apprehensive.  They told me they had found a tumor… A 19cm tumor wrapped around my left ovary and Fallopian tube.  It was the size of a 5 month pregnancy.  I remember the doctor looking at me like I was crazy.  “You didn’t have any symptoms before now?” He asked.  I thought about it and told him that I did have an increase in pain but I assumed it was because I was sober, and I could actually feel pain now, or maybe because I had started walking and my body was adjusting.

Pictures from the initial surgery

A symptom of PTSD is unmanaged dissociation.  Everyone does it on some level whether it’s entering auto pilot while driving,  and you end up wherever you are going but you don’t remember getting there.  That’s the mild side of the unmanaged dissociation spectrum.  Extreme sides of the spectrum are cases are dissociative identity disorder or DID (formerly known as multiple personality disorder) where the psyche completely splits into separate identities to perform various roles to the host.  There are many stops along the way of that spectrum, and I fall in at about the 60-70 range.  If you want to know more on this feel free to ask!  The point is,  my ability to separate from the feeling of physical pain was so fine tuned that the magnitude of the symptoms weren’t registering.  There was a disconnect.

  So, back to my story.. It’ll be a miracle if this blog actually tells the story I opened it to tell!
  From there I was rushed into surgery, the tumor was removed, along with my ovary and Fallopian tube.  A week later I found out that it was indeed cancerous.  Another fear.. Both my gran and my mother were killed by cancer on my mothers side, and my dads mother was also killed by that monster, and now it had me.  I won’t go into all the specifics.. Maybe another blog piece, but that was where my faith really began.

It wasn’t in a foxhole prayer, “God, please save me… ” it was real faith.. It was where I stopped bartering with the “if there’s a God” and started accepting the current moment exactly as it was.  I had been working on my third step in AA, “we made a decision to turn our will and our life, over to the care of God as we understood him” and I was almost all in.. The only reservation I had about staying sober was “if I lose my son I’m getting fucked up” and then I’d lost my son, and stayed sober.

Truth be told, I was secretly in love with another recovering alcoholic and I wanted to prove how committed I was to sobriety.  She had so many years sober, and I had only months.  I thought if I could tackle these monsters of reasons to drink, without drinking, we could bypass the “sober for a year rule”.

  I fought, every day, well almost every day.  There were some days when I couldn’t fight, and I had to lay in bed and just rest.  I remember feeling so much anxiety and panic when I would try to lay down and rest.  This video pretty much depicts that part of the fight (i record and document everything because my memory isn’t too great, and i lose time a lot… a big part of my recovery has been trying to piece together and accept that these things will happen, but looking for ways that i can take care of myself to make them less intrusive)

I was so scared that while I was resting, the cancer was taking over. No imagined it to be like a black cloud that I’d dispersed with my light of my sun, but crept back over when I wasn’t looking.  If I stopped, my body would get weak and I’d lose the fight.. And that just wasn’t an option.  Most breakdowns actually served their purpose in bouncing me back for the next round…

I spent many manic nights awake.  I began painting.  I didn’t want to watch tv, and so I started painting and found that I could paint! I had no idea.  I was pretty amazing at it too!!

Painted from a photo of Chicago that I found online
My secret love challenged me to try spray painting after seeing a video of the NYC spray paint artist..


Time lapse Video of 48 hours of learning to spray paint… not bad!

I gladly accepted the challenge, and within 24 hours I was spray painting my way to a masterpiece. 🙂 I remember selling some of those to my friends on Facebook, helping to generate some money towards the mounting costs of prescriptions and co pays.  I delivered pizza part time for Papa Johns in the evenings, and worked the back drive thru window of McDonalds with my AA sponsor and good friend in the mornings.
Having fun on the job 😉
  I bounced between photography and painting when I didn’t have the energy to walk.  In finding the gift of artwork, I saw a reason for being sick.  I would’ve never known I could paint if I hadn’t slowed down.  I remember how I felt the first time I realized that.  I’m crying again now just remembering how intense that feeling of trust in the universe was.  I remember telling the universe that it could’ve been a little more subtle than the big C, but then I thought about all of the times that I could’ve slowed down, and should’ve slowed down, and I didn’t.  Always running running running because I didn’t want to feel, and if I slowed down or stopped then the feelings would come flooding thru me at an overwhelming rate and I didn’t know how to adjust the faucet.  It was stuck wide open and I couldn’t handle all of that so I ran, staying busy.  It’s why I got fucked up to begin with. Thank you cancer.
a dresser from my sons room that became a painting project
  Four surgeries, and five chemos into the fight I began researching what could I do to improve my chances.  I asked questions on Facebook, and you guys responded with juice recipes, plant based diets.. And so I tried it.  I remember I couldn’t eat much at the time, but I kept telling myself “if I’m going to force myself to eat something, it’s going to be something that will help kick this bitchs’ ass! And I’d add a spoonful of peanut butter to a very green leafy disgusting  cocktail, blend it up and drink up.  I remember making music videos and joining the happy days fb group where my newsfeed filled up with all of these reasons people were happy that day.  That’s where I met a lot of you guys!  There was something about knowing people were watching, or at least feeling like they were, that grounded me.  I didn’t want you to see the real me.  I didn’t want you to see the crazy me, so I attempted to hide it, failing miserably with those I got close to, but it served its purpose.  I kept striving to improve, to be a better person, to show all of you how amazing I really am.. Because I didn’t feel it.. And you guys would tell me I am, and for a moment I would feel it… And as a true addict, it felt good so I wanted more.

 I began a bucket list which I named the “remember when list” because it was a list of things I would one day sit on my front porch telling stories of “remember when” to what I’d hope to be, my love.. Sitting next to me, saying “yes dear” 🙂 – that fantasy pushed me.  It set a tone inside of me and I wrote that list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime!! As that list grew, I realized that I didn’t have time to have a job.. Not in the traditional sense.  I started thinking of ways I could make money without actually going to work, and reading nomad blogs, learning how to travel as cheap as possible.  Again the faith came in, as I thought about everything I had already survived, and I saw how each individual storm in my life created a piece of evidence that I would be okay, no matter what.  Dealing with mental illness, never actually killing myself despite many years of feeling that was my only safe place to live mentally… Katrina.. Being homeless.. Heartbreaks.. I had survived  many storms, it’s what I do! In that I found strength and courage.  I saved links, and took notes, learning and forming the vague outline of how I could actually start working on some of these bucket list ideas.  Sure.. I couldn’t go backpacking Europe that day, laying in bed feeling sick as a dog, hurting, and generally wanting to die on some level.. But I could start studying.. Figure out what id need to do.. What equipment would I need? I’d only been camping twice.  I started looking on craigslist, and reading more and more.

What could I sell to generate money? I started painting sand dollars, and furniture, and whatever else came my way.  I sat out on Saturdays at the farmers market, hoping to sell a piece.  I went to galleries and talked to the managers, showing my portfolio.. I read blogs on how photographers make money with their pictures.. And the majority of the money is in portrait photography.. It wasn’t something I felt I was good enough for, having seen others work.  I didn’t have the money for the equipment I really needed, but I took my Panasonic LUMIX camera and did the best I could.. Watching YouTube videos on how to edit portrait pictures.  Touch ups etc.  I had the eye, I just didn’t have the knowledge, but I learned!

Adorable little girl and her mother that responded to a FB ad

I posted questions in fb photography groups, and they came back with all the answers to help me improve.  It provided the money to travel some more, but I didn’t care for it enough to pursue it further.

I took on a couple of website gigs, rehashing skills from my earlier years, and hustled flipping a broke down car.

Changing out the brake calipers – gotta trust the Universe to learn this on YouTube!

There’s never an easy answer to “how do you afford to travel” I just do whatever the moment presents itself with, and I am always provided for.  The Universe takes care of me as long as I allow it to.  I never thought I’d be a paid blogger.. $5-$12 a day, but it’s something! Every little something adds up and creates opportunity for more experience, and with more experience comes more opportunity.  It’s an amazing circle of life.

  Now my hope is to use my blog to not only record doing all this with mental illness.. (Which I really want to write about the transition from traveling to home.. I definitely need a better plan for reentry.  The last few days have been rough and I feel very spacey, ungrounded), but not only that and frugal traveling, but I’ve been writing the story of the travels from a first hand perspective as if the reader is the one traveling.  Once the story is written I want to record it and put pictures and videos to it so that the viewer or reader feels as if they are really traveling the world.

Then I want to donate it to everyone fighting a terminal illness, so that they can dissociate into the story and maybe get a little relief from the reality of the pain and treatment that they are going thru.  I hope it inspires them to fight, to really see the world, or whatever their bucket list things are, and if that’s no longer an option, I hope I get to help fulfill at least one of them by having this experience to share.

  Having said that..
I’d like you help me out by clicking on all the ads you see on this page, clicking back to the blog between each one.  I get paid per reader and per ad click.. And that helps fund this adventure.
I’d also like you to shared story if you believe in me and want to be a part of it!
And lastly, there is a box to subscribe to the blog, if you want notifications of new posts to the blog.
With that.. I hope you enjoyed my story.. It’s what got me to where I am today.. This year I have seen 22 states in the USA.. Fallen in love with traveling, seen my nephew for the first time, seen my first concert, mastered camping, backpacked four cities, opened an Airbnb of my own, become a paid blogger, met sooo many amazing new people, and next month I am leaving to backpack Europe! It’s wild!  If this is a dream, I never want to wake up.  Thank you Cancer!
“It’s a perfect day for a perfect day!”

Meeting makers make it.. Even if it’s just you!

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Tonight’s meeting was cancelled. I didn’t find out until I got here, and found no one. I called the number of been given at the last meeting and the lady told me that it was cancelled because of the monsoon outside. I almost didn’t come for the same reason, but I know I’ve driven thru this kinda weather to get to dollar general and buy a hoard of candy and chocolate.. and NA taught me that I have to chase my recovery like I chased the drug,.. Which means driving in monsoons to meetings!
  
  I’m so thankful for the peace I feel most of the time. I wasn’t even upset that no one was here. I thought about leaving, but what if another newcomer is on their way here.. Running late because of the rain? I decided to sit and take the quiet room to myself and read my OA book. Step Two. 
  Just as I started, a woman walked in. She thought it was Tuesday and I was here for the support group for Dr Balder. He’s a weight loss surgeon that I actually called and have been contemplating weight loss surgery with. We talked for a few minutes, and I found out that she is the office manager for the clinic. She took my information and invited me back to the support group tomorrow. Win win! 

  
  I’m feeling really motivated and confident today. I was prepared.. I had my dip that I made last night, and snacked on it thru the day while I stayed busy creating my art studio/mancave.. Then I stopped early enough to make chickpea burgers.. So I could eat and be full while out and about to the meeting and back. I don’t even remember seeing McDonald’s! 
  Tomorrow my guests leave so I’ll have the house to myself for a night.. Definitely time to celebrate.  
  Step Two’s first two pages just blow me away.. So I wanted to share them.. Maybe you guys might relate? I know that when I set a goal with others.. I have a greater chance of success because I’m the type of person that hates to admit defeat. Feedback welcome … Comment below .. I love you all! Everyone that reads and gives me feedback or cheers me on.. You guys rock! You keep me going.. And I’m so grateful for that!!! 

   

    
   
  

I can’t stop running…

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So I’ve been home, in my own house, for less than 24 hours.. my guest left about an hour ago, and i feel the panic setting in in my chest.. the quiet becoming so loud that I have to put music on in my headphones to drown it out… nothing with words tho because I can’t concentrate.. i can’t think… some piano ..

now why is it that when I come home, I get that huge wave of emotion and anxiety.. that the walls around me feel like cages… holding me in so I don’t go anywhere again??? I love my home.  I love my house.. all the paintings that I forgot I did.. and get to appreciate all over again.. feeling those feelings of accomplishment that I felt in that moment.  The photos on the walls of places I forgot that I went to… it’s like coming home to my memory… the things that I’ve done, and accomplished, all in one place.  It’s actually really overwhelming to see it all.. it was in this house that I allowed fear to imprison me for over a year… I remember the day I started walking my son three streets down to a friends house, and there was construction workers, so we turned back, went home and tried again another day.  I remember how much I would try to amp my courage up on Sunday evenings.  It was the one hour I left the house.. the last hour that the grocery store was open, so there would be the least amount of people.. and I’d have my list ready so that I could get in, out and back home as quickly as possible.  I was so scared of everything and everyone.  I remember the panic attacks that I have had on these little neighborhood side streets while walking.. and not making it thru that initial panic attack.  The number of hours I have spent, locked inside the bathrooms in this house.  The number of flashbacks I’ve woken from, crouched on the floor naked.. feverishly texting for help, scared to make a noise in case “he” came back.  I remember the days I played with my son in his room.. the train tracks that we built .. the pictures we drew.. the letters numbers and languages we studied.  I remember the fights his mom and I would have.. The people that moved in and out .. the time when it didn’t feel like my home.. just what I could contribute to all these people, so that they would like me.  I remember the cops that I’ve watched climb the front stairs, checking to make sure I hadn’t killed myself.

I remember the good times too.. the transitional phase.. where I started practicing self love and self respect.  The positive affirmations I would write on my bathroom mirrors.. or the messages to myself for the times I couldn’t bring myself back.. “It’s 2013, you are safe” .. the pictures I took down, and the ones I started creating to replace them.. shots from my walks along the beach that I forced myself to do, no matter how bad I panicked.. keeping mindful thru the lens of my iphone… it was then that I learned I had an eye for photography.  I started venturing out a little more, finding new things to take pictures of .. which has now escalated to Europe lol .. i am a true addict in all that i do .. one is too many and a thousand is never enough.. 🙂 I remember the videos that I shot, singing, and dancing.. and the videos I shot all day long, so that when I had a flashback.. or I dissociated, I could go back and check the cameras.. see what triggered it .. if it wasnt a thought.. see what it looked like.. see how I changed, if I changed.. I think that’s why I like traveling too .. I have to stay one foot inside my protector when I am traveling.  There’s nothing familiar about where I go, and my receptors are always alert, keeping me aware of my surroundings.  If there is a silver lining to PTSD, it’s the fact that my psyche is programmed to only have a meltdown when there isn’t a threat near.  That’s the whole point of PTSD.. when trauma occurs, our minds only allow us to comprehend what we are capable of comprehending.. at our tolerance level it splits off.. dissociation occurs and the sensors shut down, pulling in all of their surveillance and hibernating.  Our bodies become a shell, allowing whatever trauma is happening, to go ahead and happen, without infiltrating any more of the mind… when the threat passes.. our sensors begin to thaw out.. we recall bits and pieces of what happened in flashbacks.. because our mind knows that we need to be able to process what happened so that it doesn’t happen again.. we need to process it to get ourselves back to a balanced place .. but while processing it, we feel we are literally there .. experiencing it mentally for the first time.. physically feeling it.. our blood pressure spikes, our pulse beats so hard it hurts my veins.. my emotions come flooding in with uncontrollable crying spells.. I feel like I am being choked.. i can feel the hands around my throat.. I feel the “mark of death” .. that moment when your thought is “i know i am going to die” and the disconnect happens.. That level of fear is crippling, it takes over motor skills, paralyzes my body, or causes a seizure.  I refeel the sensations of being anally raped… Sorry.. I debated for a minute on how graphic I was willing to be,  

 and I decided that to be truly understood, being completely transparent is the only way to do that.  I remember reentering the work world!  I worked the front counter at McDonalds.  I couldn’t handle it.  The faces of the men coming in in the morning, dressed in their jeans and workboots .. it triggered me and I’d end up in the cooler trying to ground myself.  I switched to the back drive thru, and felt safer with that wall between myself and the customers.  I even began having customers that looked for me, and I looked forward to seeing them.

To remember those milestones of each time I pushed my comfort zone a little further out, facing the fears that crippled me.. and repeating the exposure over and over and over until I mastered it, built enough evidence to prove to myself that I don’t have to be afraid.  That I can keep myself safe.  That I can go out there into the world and live a life … I don’t think anyone will truly know just how overwhelming it is to come back home.. and see all the places that I have now been.. road tripping to new states, tent camping, solo backpacking around the country, and now Europe.. me… the girl that’s afraid to unlock the bathroom door at times.  The girl that has been to the mental institution over a dozen times, and felt so insane, and hopeless that there would ever be a day when I didn’t live in that fear.. that I wanted to die.  I didn’t want to live.

On Tuesday, while in Barcelona, my safety felt compromised.  I got back to the apartment I was staying at as quickly as possible.  I stayed locked in my bedroom for the rest of that night, and the following day… trying to ground myself.. trying to convince myself that i was safe .. that i just needed rest .. that Morocco would be a new amazing place to discover and I’d forget all about it.  I didn’t sleep that night, or the next.. and by 4am I was such a mental mess that I ran home.  I blew my budget, didn’t show up for flights I had booked to Morocco.. from there to Paris.. Paris to Norway… I didn’t show up for the camel ride in the Sahara Desert, or the Moroccan Cooking class I’d signed up for.  I booked a flight from Barcelona to Oslo, and a flight from Oslo to New York.  I had to come home.. I felt the pressure of all the noise in my head getting louder and louder.  From Tuesday to Friday I didn’t really sleep.. maybe 45 mins here and there.. I traveled thru 6 airports.. spending 24 hours in one .. I couldn’t think of anything but complete focus on getting home.. inside these 4 walls, where I could feel safe.. but more important than that .. where I could feel unsafe, but had enough evidence around me to show me that I am safe.. and that I will get thru it, and I will go on more amazing adventures.. take more pictures.. inspire more people to travel.. learn more about life.. and wave my middle fingers to all those in my life that have hurt me.. abused their position and role in my life to satisfy their own personal needs… because not only am I still fucking standing… I’m LIVING… I’m fucking LIVING THE LIFE THAT MOST PEOPLE ONLY DREAM OF!!!   No one can take that away from me.  Not from then, now, or in the future.. that truth is mine…

  
 
The next couple of weeks will be a little rocky for me .. it’s just my mind letting go, and allowing all the fear from my travels that I couldn’t process then, process now. ..