July 7 2020

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Today is the day we’ve all been waiting for. . . Okay maybe it’s just me. It’s my birthday. My twenty-seventh birthday. I know most people say when you hit 30 you begin to have a new outlook on life. You stop caring what other people think and begin focusing more on your own happiness. You realize loving yourself is more important than pleasing others. Well, maybe I’ve hit thirty a little early. . . Probably due to the trauma. Today marks the beginning of a new rotation around the sun and I am so ready for it.

Growing up with congenital heart disease meant my whole life I have been told by adults what my future might look like. I was told not to exercise and not to get fat. I was told I wouldn’t be able to have children. I was told I wouldn’t need open heart surgery until I was in my forties.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during my 27 years on this planet, it’s that people are often wrong. Don’t let anyone ever tell you how your life will turn out or how you should live your life. At the age of three, I was scheduled to have a cardiac procedure done and when the doctor gave me the anesthesia, I refused to go to sleep. I did not want to take a nap. I sat up on the hospital bed and refused in classic 3-year-old fashion. The anesthesia did not work. They had to wait, give me a bit more, and wait even longer. Eventually my stubborn 3-year-old body gave in and the procedure was completed. But I love that story about myself. I love my persistent stubborn nature. I try to carry that same attitude throughout my life. Always standing up for my beliefs, working towards my goals, and never backing down no matter how difficult the journey may become.

I am 27 years old. Still young. Still a full life ahead of me. Still so much to learn and experience. However, I have lost the most important person in my life. I have had open heart surgery. I have seen my brother battle addiction. My sister give birth. My other brother recover from shattering both his legs after falling off a mountain. I have taken control of my mental health. I have pulled myself out of abusive relationships. I have lost friendships I thought would last forever and found friendships in the most unexpected people. I have felt love and hate. I have seen more than one person die. I have said goodbye to multiple animals. I have saved a life and made the decision to end a life. I have made many mistakes and irrational decisions. I have been arrested. I have been to court. I have cried myself to sleep and had panic attacks. I have learned what makes me happy and what is most important to me in life. I have learned to surround myself with those who truly support me and want me to live a fulfilled life. I have protested for equal rights. I have voted. I have had my car break down at two in the morning in the middle of a highway while driving alone. I have been to Europe and Central America, but never to Florida. I have climbed mountains and zip lined through rain forests. I have interacted with wild monkeys and rescued domestic dogs. I have broken up multiple dog fights and volunteered to work with animals everyone else was afraid of. I have become a role model to my niece. And I am so proud of who she is growing up to be. I have such a long journey ahead of me, but am so proud of how far I’ve come.

I am looking forward to the future. I love life and I love love. I am so excited for whatever comes next in my journey. I am strong. I am brave. I am capable. I know whatever happens next, good or bad. I can handle it and I will have my family and friends as my incredible support system. Happy Birthday to Me!

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