As a child, I was abused physically, sexually, and mentally, and this shaped my life for many years to come. I started off in the wrong direction as a young child, causing trouble, and allowing others to abuse me, as that is the only way I knew how to behave.
It took many years of more abuse, drowning myself with alcoholism, and sinking into the abyss of mental illness. I was hospitalized, jailed, and put myself into relationships where the abuse continued. When I wasn’t in a relationship, except for the last, I subconsciously sought out people who would sexually abuse me. The relationships I had, were all abusive in one way or another, except for the last one.
After years of living alone, and staying by myself, I was diagnosed with a disease that was incurable, that would gradually debilitate me throughout the rest of my life. This changed my whole perception of what I was doing and where I was going.
I no longer put myself into the hands of others, but into the hands of the Lord. I stopped abusing myself, and letting others abuse me. I wanted to obtain goodness and a different direction in which I wanted to walk, and eventually roll, in a wheelchair. I thought that everything was about this disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and where it would take me, and decided that there had to be more to life than just sitting in a chair.
I started going to a biker church, which is quite different from the church your grandma went to, to quote my pastor. The majority of people who were going to this church at that time were, of course, were motorcycle riders. And they did not act like what most people would think. They lead decent lives, try to raise good families, and try to be quite faithful to God and to the Bible. They also ride motorcycles, and even I got a chance to ride along with someone on three separate occasions, during a church retreat for bikers and anyone else who wanted to come along.
My behavior at home changed. I started to treat others with respect and kindness, and was shown the same in return. I started learning about God, and the Bible. I started to live my life, as best I could, according to the Bible. I no longer look at the disease I have as ‘my MS’, but just plain MS. And I want more out of my life than being a recliner potato. I learned how to play the guitar, which I seem to have an affinity for, to play the piano, and a host of computer abilities, where I took courses in programming, and in accounting.
I was also introduced during that ensuing year, to wheelchair sports, adaptive sports that were designed for veterans from all over the country, and Puerto Rico and Great Britain, that use wheelchairs to participate in adaptive sports. I started going to the National Veterans Wheelchair Games every year, each year in a different city, all around the country, including Denver, Dallas, and Tampa, to name a few.
I had found my niche. I started to spend more time out of that recliner, and started seeking out different venues for adaptive sports, and become involved with the Valor Games, which are held in the Southeast, which is in North Carolina somewhere, Chicago, which is the Midwest, the Southwest, which is held in San Antonio, and the Farwest, held in San Diego.
I am also discovering other events held for veterans, all around the country. There are the Golden Age Games, for 55+, the Endeavor Games, and the Wounded Warriors games, which are held in Quantico, I believe.
Starting this past year, I have tried playing different events, pushing myself to become active in different sports, such as Track and Field, Hand cycling, Kayaking, and even wheelchair basketball.
To this date, I have won medals in almost every sport I have participated in, including two silver medals in Kayaking, a silver medal in basketball, a bronze in hand cycling, and numerous gold medals in everything from 9-Ball and Table Tennis, 100-meter track, and both the motorized Slalom, and the manual slalom, which are obstacle courses, with the difficulty varying, to accommodate different levels of ability, to name a few.
I have started living a whole new life, with sporting activities, doing volunteer work at the VA Hospital Clinic, in the next city, and going to church. I am meeting new people, and making a lot of long-term friends, both locally, and from around the country.
I have found a life where I don’t put myself in abusive environments, except for the physical abuse upon myself playing wheelchair basketball. I have also discovered that I have the ability to write, both prose and poetry, which sort of just started on its own, when I started writing a blog. I found great satisfaction in photography, specifically things that are in patterns, things of beauty, and pictures from cities all around the country.
I have learned that I am not a bad person, that I can live a positive life, that I have a plethora of abilities, and that I can help others obtain what I have obtained, not just sports or writing, but in living in the way of the Lord, by what is written in the Bible.
I turned from a life of self-abuse, and abuse from others, to a life filled with many different types of activities. I am not going to sit here and let myself decline both physically and mentally, but push myself to be a better person, to take part in new activities, and most importantly live as godly a life as I possibly can. My life no longer revolves around ‘my MS’, but in positive activities and adventures, that have become available to me, both as a Navy veteran, and as a good person; I have learned to love my God and myself, and to live a life free from abuse. I am living a life filled with as much as I can find available to me. And I love every minute of it.