It has taken me 45 years of living to finally figure out who I am. As a troubled teenager I had no dreams other than to leave my mother’s home. Teenage pregnancy and marriage at 17 achieved that goal. At that point all my own dreams had to take a back seat to motherhood, and surviving the situations brought on by my choices. Years of domestic abuse and self-abuse coupled with a car accident in 1995 have taken their toll on my body. Qualifying for disability in 2009 was the beginning of getting my life on track. Finally having a stable income and home allowed me the time I needed to get a handle on my health and my dreams.
As a mother of four girls and a boy with special needs, life has been especially difficult in my particular socio-economic status. As a thrice divorced mother, my choices have further complicated my situation. When I first attempted to return to school in 1999, colored with these choices and hampered by these circumstances I still did not know who I was as an individual. I majored in accounting because working in taxes was the first thing to which I had applied myself of any importance outside my family and I seemed to excel in my client relationships. Little did I know at the time that what I excelled in was not the love of numbers; but of helping people. During my time at Pulaski Technical College I excelled academically, and came to terms with myself as a writer for the first time. My Professor; recognizing my talent, tried, unsuccessfully to get me to change my major to creative writing. But I was still going through so much abuse from my current husband at home, I felt that I needed to simply get training to make an income and that my personal dreams were not important. I didn’t have the time to waste on myself. I graduated with honors, Phi Theta Kappa but after graduation, my life finally spiraled completely out of control.
As my health deteriorated, and my family life nose-dived, I survived a complete mental breakdown and subsequent homelessness. I struggled to keep my children and lost half the battle. My dedication to God and my children were the only things I had to hang onto. When I went on Social Security and Section 8 my life finally began to level out and as the years progressed and my children grew I still followed their dreams, not mine. I spent a couple years as an autism advocate and was elected Vice President of the Arkansas chapter of the National Autism Association. My daughter became a singer-songwriter and as her co-songwriter and manager I finally began to dream dreams of my own. I discovered a talent for songwriting and music management and marketing that I had no idea about. When she left our partnership it devastated me to lose my daughter and best-friend but I found that the loss of the music was just as devastating.
I have since written a book of poems based on my life as a survivor of domestic abuse, I have performed my poetry in front of audiences in Hot Springs with great success. I have also built a reputation in this town and a strong network of friends and colleagues as a music promoter, and I volunteer my time with several music festivals and galleries. I have been told that my help with website development, and social media marketing is unique and invaluable. I want to continue to dream, to make my dreams come true and others as well. I plan to study the arts and add this to my prior business education to help other artists to realize their dreams. I envision one day opening an artist co-op here in Hot Springs to promote the arts and dreams among young and old alike. The arts have opened up my world to possibilities I never imagined and I hope that many other people can be inspired as I have.
After 45 years I finally know who I am. I am a woman, a mother, a special needs-parent, an advocate, an activist, a dreamer, a poet, a song-writer, a social media coach, an artist and I am a survivor.