Excerpt from The Double-Delight Rose

My mock amateur cover for inspiration

The following is an excerpt from my memoir draft. I was trying to be funny but I think it came out sad. You should let me know.


Nobody ever told me this, but I had the notion I was a fool child.

My parents both had two hour commutes one-way. I grew up in an industrial oil town and was quite literally born in a hospital overlooking a bayou. As I grew up, I would come to play baseball in swamps, and do other generally dangerous things even by 1990s parents standards. There were even a few times I was stopped by police for playing, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get back to this one point in time, when I was three years old.

Because my parents had two hour commutes one-way, I almost never saw them. I woke up at 3am every day with my father, who I spent the most time with and therefore liked the most. My father had a calm, gentle voice and worked at NASA Mission Control. Sometimes when he worked weekends, which he very often did, he would take me with him. I felt like my own version of a scientist sending rockets to the moon. Now that I’m older, all I remember were the Florida pink walls and the potted palm trees inside the building up the flight of stairs before you made it inside security clearance. It was supposed to make the place look unassuming. 

This morning was not a NASA morning. Today I was going to daycare, and I did not want to spend more than 12 hours alone with a group of kids that hated me.

Ever since I could remember at daycare, the other kids were mean. My three year old brain couldn’t register it, but they didn’t understand me and I didn’t understand them. They came from blue-collar working class backgrounds compared to my highly educated parents. My father had a Master’s degree in Computer Science and my mother graduated second in her engineering class from Louisiana Tech with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. This was almost unheard of in the South at her time, the 1970s. I sensed some sort of class difference the day I proclaimed my family was rich because I could see with my two eyeballs that our house was the biggest house in our neighborhood. The kids responded that if I was, I wouldn’t be at this daycare. I had no comebacks. When I told my mother, she chastised me, saying it was never good to flaunt your wealth. Honestly, I just wanted the kids to finally like me, I explained. Mom said that you get people to like you by talking about things they like, but I wasn’t allowed to like anything they liked.

My classmates liked the Spice Girls. I once faked knowledge and attempted to play along. They sassed me, proclaiming that I was Scary Spice. I had no idea who that was, but it sounded bad. Defensive, I explained I was not Scary Spice. I was Princess Spice (who I would in seconds learn did not exist). The girls explained I was Scary Spice because of my ugly curly hair and my mean personality. No, I said. My hair is not ugly and I am not mean. Yes, you are, they proclaimed. Go away. 

I was not intentionally mean. I did not know what I did wrong. What was mean? Who was Scary Spice? I needed to investigate.

That evening my parents went to Walmart. I begged to go to the toy section, and they obliged. I saw a set of Spice Girl barbie dolls. Scary Spice was the darker skinned, dressed in black, curly haired doll. I was appalled, but I knew I needed these dolls for science. As soon as I picked up the dolls, my mother shrieked, “Put those down! Those dolls are bad girls. If you get those dolls you will become a bad girl!”

“But my friends want them!” I said boldly.

Now my father joined in, bellowing in his former 1980s preacher voice, “Meara, you have bad friends! They will only hurt you with those dolls! We don’t want you to be a girl like the Spice Girls so you must put them down!”

“How do you know that the spice girls will make me bad?” I sassed a little with my tone.

My father turned red and snatched the dolls from my arms while my mother dragged me out of the store. I was promptly spanked in the parking lot.

The next day, my father woke me up at 3am per usual, but I was numb. A strange liquid formed under my newly grown exoskeleton that appeared overnight. I wasn’t sure what it was, but the whole world knew when he dropped me off at daycare. It was an emotional bomb.

As my father walked me inside the window paned doors, I clung to the doorknob and sobbed. “Don’t go,” I wept defeatedly. “Don’t go, please don’t leave me here.” I slumped to the floor and bawled. “DON’T LEAVE ME HERE. I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.”

My shot of negativity into the universe was duly answered when playtime came around that day. 

It was clean-up, and I was sassing the “Everybody do your share” song as was my custom, when four little tykes ambushed me, put me in the toy box, and sat on it. I banged against the top. My meager three-year-old arms were not strong enough for four other toddlers. I screamed and cried. Eventually, the box moved, and in front of me stood another nemesis: a teacher. 

I didn’t like the teachers, but I had to tell on these kids. But I hadn’t seen who they were. It did happen, though.

“What got you crying today Miss Glum?” the teacher queried. She didn’t use my name. I liked my name. And she used that kid voice my parents never used.

“The kids put me in the toy box,” I whined.

“That’s not possible. Quit lying.”

Quit lying. The story of my life already. My daycare teachers thought I was a liar. So did my Sunday School teachers and my parents. I couldn’t gauge my grandparents but I think I had them perplexed.

This is where I began to die a little inside. Where the darkness crept in. The princess wanted to be rescued, but she was mistaken for the dragon.

It’s dramatic, it’s not horrible, but it’s my life.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Give me a rating and a comment below!

Blessings Keep Falling in My Lap

Another experimental cover.

Today I was asked to send in my resume for a writing internship. I listed all of the writing I had done, and I felt a warmth inside me.

While checking my publications at the Mighty, I discovered one article that received over 400 likes. This is a milestone, as only a few before mine broke one hundred.

I haven’t told the husband yet as he watches John Oliver on his iPad, as is his morning ritual, but I am quite excited. Maybe one day I’ll be a thousandaire in the likes.

In addition, yesterday I was told by Offbeat Bride that I had two more articles I was going to be published by them. As a longtime fan of the website (seriously… I was thirteen) I can’t wait to say I’ll have three articles with them and be part of their bride tribe.

Then there is, of course, my experimental poetry book, It’s Okay, Magic Happens.

My book, It’s Okay, Magic Happens written under my old pseudonym and available for $0.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited.

It’s experimental mainly for the fact that it was my coping mechanism for PTSD over 9 years and I only took the good stuff, stuffed it into Scrivener, and wanted to see if I could make a book. I wanted to see if I could learn a new technology. Friends who had read my poetry for years told me to self-publish for about three of the nine years the poems collected static on my computer.

Right now I am working on a bridal book I hope to get traditionally published. Email me for more info.

I am hoping this internship leads me closer to becoming a paid, full-time writer. But I am still blessed even if I don’t get the job.

BIG Project Reveal: The Differently Abled Bride Guide

Those of you that follow this blog closely know that I have been hinting at something big. Something huge that I’ve undertaken, a research project that I hope will change the world.

It’s called The Differently Abled Bride Guide.

I came up with The Differently Abled Bride Guide after mourning my own wedding planning experience and still grieving my diagnoses. What I wanted to do was use these two strange experiences to help other women.

In the media, the female disabled body is never portrayed, and when if it is, it is pitiful or evil. There is a lack of understanding from the outside in, and ultimately a lack of representation. More specifically, there is absolutely ZERO representation of disabled women in the bridal industry.

I decided I would write a book about this phenomenon. I’m almost there. All I’m doing is waiting for permission from the people I need it from and to get in contact with an editor.

This book I intend to go the traditionally published route after I was inspired by friends and professional book people in my circle to do so. I had originally planned a KDP book, but after I shared the idea in real life and was met with high praise, I decided to learn how traditional publishing works. As a result I am now a member of my state’s premier literary society.

It’s been a wild ride, and if you’re interested in learning more or helping out with the research, you can email me.

As always, I designed an amateur book cover using a commissioned watercolor used in the book by redlittleberry who, authors, if you need illustrations is fabulous. My book covers are always meant to be motivational for myself. I think these 4 book covers turned out pretty well. However, I could use a little sensitivity. What do you think? Offensive?
The last thing I want to do is hurt someone, so please give me feedback. Note: this book is an all-inclusive look at people with chronic illnesses and varying abilities.

The Absolute Realness on PTSD and Marriage

Before Bear and I married, we honestly didn’t know how bad my PTSD was. I knew I had it to some degree, but it was vanquished because I didn’t talk about it. It was simply buried like a honey-badger about to attack our tiny baby marriage from beneath the surface. Does anyone remember that meme?

I remembered how bad my PTSD was when it first started. I would scream in the shower and twist my shampoo bottles across the water. I’d cry randomly in everyday places. Eventually I developed chronic pain once I did stop talking about it. I turned online to vent my fears. But the biggest thing was, the medical professionals denied my PTSD because I kept it under control by staying single for 6 years until I decided to date again, at my roommate’s suggestion.

Once I did, my career spiraled out of control. I began to see and hear things that did not exist at work coming from my male coworkers. There was no way I could work in an office. By the time I quit my job was the time I started going steady with my husband, who had no idea what was actually going on. Neither did I – I thought I had developed schizophrenia.

The same thing would happen at three more places of employment before I gave up and went to grad school, which was a lovely experience. But once I had a new permanent male figure in my life, the craziness exploded again – this time at my husband.

We’ve discovered that letting each other be open and vulnerable even over subjects the other thinks is stupid is the key to getting through our current situation. I’m no longer hearing monsters in the night. Tonight we slept in the same bed for the first time in two weeks. Not because he asked me to leave the room, but because I was hiding. That must have felt horrible to him.

I accomplished two sessions of EMDR this past week, and I think it’s responsible for getting my mind to chill out enough to communicate with my husband. I recommend it for anyone needing trauma therapy. Yes, you can do it remotely.

Warm hugs.

My Memoir: The Double-Delight Rose

I recently finished writing my big writing project, and joined a literary society. While at the literary society’s virtual meeting, I asked the question of what to do while waiting on agents to go over the book you’ve finished, and their answer was to start your next project.

I’ve been struggling to write my memoir for years now, but as of today I have a whopping 7 pages and an inspirational amateur designed book cover, which is more than I’ve ever done for something about myself. It’s titled the Double-Delight Rose, which is my favorite rose because of its scent.

The memoir is meant to be funny, and not necessarily about my illnesses, mental or physical, although they will be in there. I’ll keep y’all posted as to how it goes.

My 1/3 Anniversary

Yesterday, on 4/20 (I did that intentionally) I had my third of a year anniversary.

My marriage has been a fairytale. But not the easy Disney kind. More like the Brothers Grimm kind or the Central Europe kind, where people become disfigured or disabled in the quest for true love. What I’m saying is, you get your magical happily ever after, but magic takes manna and happiness requires danger.

Bear and I have been through a lot over the past four months. Most of it has been because of my untreated PTSD that I’m just now getting treated. I sought help throughout my life, but because I had it buried so deep within me it exploded on my wedding night.

Today I performed a literal song and dance number to express to Bear my feelings about our situation. Then I decided he just needed to hear that he was a good husband, to keep trying, as I would keep trying.

On the day of our anniversary I went into our back yard and picked two of our roses. I put them in the cup we painted together on our first valentines day. I hoped the effect was special enough to override any of the bad juju we’d been through.

When I picked the roses, I noticed how soft and velveteen they felt. I grew up in a literal rose garden. My mother’s yellow roses and my grandfather’s red heirloom roses climbed the walls of my childhood home.
Whenever I see a rose, I am reminded of childhood play, happiness, and my mother’s love.

I had quite a garden as a child, and I grew up exploring the plants and little critters that came with it. But there were always the roses climbing the walls and flower beds.

Bear isn’t giving me a rose garden, but he is giving me a pergola covered with climbing roses once the coronapocalypse is over. We’re going on a road trip to the best rose seller in the state, and I will pick out my favorites. I’lll most likely be a kid in a candy store.

Anyways, Bear, life may not be a rose garden, but it will be a rose pergola with you. Happy one third of an anniversary!

How My Relationship With My Husband Changed After Chronic Illness: Assorted Roses, Assorted Feelings

Typically I try to paint as positive a light as possible of my husband and I’s relationship on this blog. This is partially because I try to do my part to build up our fledgling marriage, but I need to talk about something some of the recently diagnosed may be experiencing by their romantic partner:

Infantilization.

Your parter is now the parent and you are now the child in the relationship. The equality you once sought and enjoyed is gone.

At first you may have fell into the parent/child relationship out of need or heaven forbid, preference. But you quickly realize that the unequal power ratio is unhealthy and you seek ways to make your partner value you for who you are despite your meager bringings to the capitalist table.

You may be completely disabled. So you go online for activism, community, and to see if you can make a buck that way. Or perhaps you can work part time. But before, you had a job job. And your partner has a fancy job job and multiple degrees.

Distraught by the bullying, mockery, and name calling, you wonder why they fell in love with you in the first place. In your mind it certainly wasn’t your soul and ability to make a vegan gluten free jambalaya from scratch. Otherwise, they’d treat you better.

But your partner is power tripping, and you don’t know what to do other than leave and find someone in the underworld like you.

If you can relate to this, you aren’t alone, and I’m still figuring it out too. Take heart.

I’m Going to DisneyWorld?

My husband and I promised each other when we got married we would do a vow renewal each year and spend our anniversary on a trip together. I always envisioned us going to a beach, sneaking off to a part of the sand, and whispering our vows into each other’s ears.

Yesterday, my husband declared he had loftier intentions.

As I’ve written in previous posts, my dream since I was a preteen was to get married at DisneyWorld. I wanted to be a princess on my wedding day, and most of all, have a full package at my favorite giant corporation’s dollar. But I developed various autoimmune disorders a month after I got engaged to my husband, and had to stay near home.

Husband told me he wanted to take me to DisneyWorld for a vow renewal.

Excited, we went to disneyweddings.com and tried to get our date basically a year from now (December, not April). I know, silly. We should wait for our 50th. But we’ve had a hard year, starting with my engagement. He wanted to give me what I couldn’t have and we deserved to celebrate.

What’s your miracle of the week?

The Safe Man

I’m going to be writing about trauma therapy and marriage again today, because that’s my life right now. This is not a Whiner McBabypants post where I talk about my specific trauma, rather, these are my reflections on life, love, and marriage as a disabled woman.

You know when you just feel sad, and you just want to be sad? Your husband will cook dinner, do the dishes and watch romcoms with you but you don’t want any of it, you want to feel your own pain?

When I look back on my former life as an able-bodied model, I would call myself ungrateful. This lack of gratitude drug into my life as a disabled person, and later as a disabled married person.

Part of this led to walls-up mode. Most people think I wear my heart on my sleeve, but really this is an act of pushing people away by oversharing. If someone really wanted my honest opinion, they’d probably have to cross Jurassic Antartica with added volcanoes to get it.

I finally revealed this to my husband today, with the caveat that for most of my life, I didn’t think people were safe. But when I put his wedding band on his finger, I marked him as someone who was safe. It was my job to get out of Jurassic Antartica and place him in the sunnier meadows of my mind so I could hear him out, and ultimately communicate with him.

I really don’t have anyone or anything I’m more grateful for than him. He finished building a 4 ft tall aromatherapy garden for me today. It’s that tall so I don’t hurt myself by bending over.

Remember, learning to love is just as hard as accepting it!

On Being Loving and Kind

A few years ago, I came across a slew of articles against teaching kids the importance of self-confidence and self-worth. These articles were on reputable websites such as Huffington Post around 2011.

At the time, I felt something acute pierce my chest, a sort of pallid, sudden sadness for these authors who blamed Disney and participation trophies for their own failures. It was pathetic. Couldn’t they see that pointing fingers at children’s movies was embarrassing and only they were in control of how they reacted to their lives, not a woe-earned participation trophy in fourth grade?

As I grew older, I saw more pointed blame at elementary school gifted and talented programs. Why? Because the child was told they were special, and they didn’t have to earn it.

Let me tell you a few things I have always believed that nobody ever taught me:

  • All individuals are unique, there are no unique individuals or nonconformists because we are all born under different circumstances and think different thoughts. We are all unique nonconformists.
  • Everyone is inherently divine and has a light inside them, which makes them worthy of respect. It doesn’t matter if you’re the lawyer or the janitor in the office. Most of us have flipped a burger at least once and we all fall on hard times.
  • This means you are special, you are worthy, and you don’t have to earn it.

Thing is, I believed this for other people. I didn’t believe it for myself.

This meant these thoughts were inauthentic, because if you don’t hold these three key truths for yourself, you will never go all the way genuinely in your mind and actions for anyone else.

What you’ll end up being is a ditherer – a washout – who is a mouse of a person. People will push you around and you’ll think it’s okay because of the three principles. They are inherently special, so you have to do what they say. But because you don’t hold yourself to be inherently special, your self-esteem suffers, and you begin to think nasty thoughts about these other people. The people who “push you around” may not even be pushing you around, they might be decent, ordinary humans trying to get on with their lives. But your warped point of view has them out to be devils. Or the pushers really could be pushy – your lack of self-esteem has driven you to choose bad friends.

What’s the point here? If you see your loved ones as hecklers, you aren’t going to love them well. You will make yourself out to be a victim. Yes, you might have good reasons – a troubled past, or a Disney movie (Bambi is very traumatic) but at the end of the day, being the loving, kind self you think you are starts with being loving and kind to yourself. Maybe start with Wreck-It-Ralph and work your way up.