Suck it up, buttercup!

It’s only January 7th and I’m already seeing people discouraged about their New Years resolutions. Y’all, it has been a week. One week. One week does not define your whole year. The new year is seen as a fresh start, blank page, clean slate, whatever you want to call it. Most change does not happen in a week. Life altering changes are the ones that happen immediately. Pregnancy, getting fired, getting promoted, death, car accidents, winning the lottery, etc.. Those are the changes that are immediate. If you’re wanting to make changes this year you have to work at it EVERYDAY. Did you know it takes four weeks of doing something, consistently, for it to become a habit? My cardiologist gave me that bit of knowledge after I got my pacemaker and had to alter which ear I used to talk on my cell phone. A whole month for something to become a habit.

Instead of discouraging yourself after a week, why don’t you give yourself a break and continue trying? My new year certainly did not start the way I intended. I made some decisions that were out of character for me and I am trying to navigate my feelings toward that since it is not something that is normal for me. However, that is kind of what I wanted for this year in a really roundabout way. I ended 2018 with the intentions of taking 2019 to expand my horizons. To take chances, try new things, and to continue to better me.

2018 taught me a lot. It was a strange year and the last 8 weeks of it were incredibly difficult. I had multiple life-altering changes occur and I am bringing one of them with me into this clean slate. I have a lot of unknowns ahead of me. I will be dealing with who knows how many new diagnoses and whatever else my heart throws my way. I am going into this year fully aware this is happening and I am not getting discouraged. So why are you getting discouraged after a week?!

Continue to push through. Life gets hard and positive change does not come easy. I constantly have people telling me that I am strong, a badass, or they don’t know how I handle things. Want to know how? I refuse to give up. I continue to push through. I am still terrified to go to sleep and well, do anything for that matter. At any moment I could just flatline again, but I push through. I focus on what I can do and control. When things get tough and I get discouraged, because I do get discouraged, I think about it in the most literal way. There is nothing I can not do about what has already happened. It is what is and you have to accept it, even if you don’t want to. I can only focus on how I handle it and how I can change what I can.

I’m lucky because I got a second chance and most people do not. That is why I am embracing 2019 and growing at my own pace. I’ve set big goals for myself this year as I enter the last year of my twenties. I plan to travel as much as I can, to continue to work on my education, to move out of Destin(finally), to continue to recognize my toxic traits and work on changing them, maybe actually let another person in, and most of all to make something of this writing. I’m pretty sure my blog is awful, but all the support I get really means a lot as I push myself to improve. My biggest goal this year is to self publish my first book. I honestly don’t care if it sells. As long as I can say that I worked my ass off and accomplished it will be enough.

Your goals for this New Year aren’t going to happen with the snap of a finger. Don’t beat yourself up because you’ve already slipped up. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start over. You’ve got 51 more weeks. Take it from someone who constantly is getting knocked on their ass. I get 5 steps ahead only to be knocked back 3. It will be okay. You still have time to accomplish what matters most to you. My point here is DON’T GIVE UP AFTER ONE SET BACK!

Oh what a year…

As the year comes to an end and I’m getting ready for Christmas, I keep finding myself reflecting on how much happened this year. Did anyone else feel like January lasted 3 months and the rest of the year flew by in a matter of minutes? I know there are still a few weeks left until we enter 2019, but I plan on being busy. So now is my time to write.

As I entered 2018 I was in a strange place, personally not physically. I was living at home. Starting over and trying to heal and find me. My only intentions going into the new year were to fall back in love with myself and my life. I had been bitter, cynical and in an unhappy situation for far too long. No big “new year new me” bullshit. Just the realistic hope of moving on with my life.

2018 started for me in Port St Joe, Florida in a house that is no longer there. Golf cart rides, lots of champagne, sparklers on the beach, bonfires and me learning how to play poker with friends that helped make 2017 an interesting year. Hanging with these guys was the only way to ring in the new year. As this year closes it is safe to say I still have not mastered my poker face. I also still think that a New Years bonfire is the best way to spend NYE!

A whole hell of a lot happened in January. It felt like the longest damn month of the whole year. I found myself already getting angry because I was making the same mistakes as before. I kept thinking to myself, “What in the hell are you doing Madelyn?!” Maybe it was my Wednesday, Crestview lunch dates with Laurie that helped push me to realize that I didn’t need to lose sight of what I wanted this year to be or maybe it was the news that my Grandma Anne was taking a turn for the worst. Something happened at the end of January that put my ass in check and pushed me in the right direction, but I’m not exactly sure what. I also was told the news that my sweet sweet bestie, Lilly, was pregnant after years of trying. I had just had an appointment that delivered the news that 100% sealed my fate of never having my own children and hearing her tell me she was pregnant was one of the best things that could have happened.

Entering into February I had the chance to get out of town to celebrate my cousin and her fiancé. I gladly said, ”See ya, Destin.” That was some of the first one on one time I got to spend with my new brother Kyle. It was nice to talk about music, Star Wars, life and of course Devon’s driving 😂. While in Tampa my urge to ditch Destin started to get stronger. The restlessness that filled me on the ride back was almost unbearable. Coming home to find my grandmother had been told that there wasn’t much time left was almost too much for me to face. I found myself watching one of the most important people in my life welcoming my biggest fear and leave this earth as we entered March. The year was off to a terrible start and her death made me re-evaluate a lot in my life. I let go of the people and things that were holding me down and started to make plans to move forward the way I wanted.

March and April were filled with traveling. A bachelorette party in Orlando with tons of laughter. A road trip to DC and Virginia to celebrate two of my favorites getting married. All of the traveling, job switching, and new experiences made my restlessness grow, yet again. My urge to leave getting stronger and stronger each day. I finally registered for classes and decided to push myself to go back to school. To figure out a new path since nursing was a no go. I was working out again and beginning to feel like myself, finally. I had lost myself for someone else and I was still healing. I was becoming a better version of myself. I spent a lot of time with friends and my mom. I still wasn’t completely content with being alone. I celebrated my little sister turning 21, which made me feel incredibly old and helped her get over a breakup. There were some strong drinks, chocolate, chick flicks, nights in bed crying and laughing. As May started my stepdad and little sister were home for the summer and living at home was becoming harder and harder. My stress was at an all-time high. I was feeling suffocated. Summer was starting and my desire to be outside and never home was getting out of control. My cousin’s wedding and bachelorette trip came just in time. I was able to get away, relax and clear my head. I got to spend time in my favorite city and then spend a weekend with my dads family. Once again getting out of town only pushed me farther into restlessness. I was finally comfortable being alone and with my singledom. Over the past couple of months, I started writing more and putting myself out there. The words of encouragement were relieving. I finally felt like I found a new niche and felt determined to continue to see where it takes me. My decision to move was made and I started saving money.

I ended May driving through a tropical storm to spend Memorial Day in Tampa with my Jules. Ever since we met Memorial Day weekend in 2011 we have spent the holiday in the sun together. I was not about to let the tradition die. I received the best news when I got there, baby Fern would be arriving in December. My 7th memorial day spent with Julie was exactly what I needed. Sometimes you come across people that feed your soul in such a positive way and she is one of these people. Any time I get to spend with her I jump at the opportunity because she has a way of saying the right things when I need to hear them. Once again, getting out of town and clearing my head only made my desire to expand my horizons strengthen.

I welcomed my birth month with open arms. I was ready to say goodbye to 27 and dive into 28. Living at home was starting to get more and more stressful. There were too many people, personalities, and animals in a small space. My patience was nonexistent and my temper got the best of me. I am the kind of person that celebrates my birthday ALL month. Do some people find that annoying? Yes! Do I care? Ha, no! After one of my many celebrations, I came home and the littlest thing was the catalyst. I found myself at my breaking point. I’m not proud of it, but I screamed at my sister and stepdad. Lost my temper and called Devon. Devon is usually my voice of reason when I let my emotions get the best of me. She agreed that I needed to remove myself from the situation and environment I was in. So I made the move to get out of my moms and move in with a friend. I completely derailed my plans of moving at the end of the year. I had my 80s celebration and said goodbye Dani and Cj all the while being incredibly angry at myself. I found it hard to actually enjoy my birthday celebration and found myself reaching out to someone who only made things worse for me. My actual birthday weekend arrived and it wasn’t a weekend I was looking forward to at all. We finally had the service for my grandmother. I welcomed 28 and said my final goodbye. I was finally forced to face all of the emotions I swept under the rug when dealing with her death. Not being in the best place personally, I spent my entire birthday weekend crying myself to sleep. One of the most positive things to happen in June was Haley graduating nursing school. She had what can be considered the HARDEST 14 months of her life. She suffered significant losses and didn’t let them stop her. She studied hard and even in her most emotional moments kept her head up. Her strength, determination, and perseverance are definitely something to be admired. I’m beyond lucky to be able to call her my friend and being able to see her graduate brought me great joy in a time where I was feeling sorry for myself.

July and August flew by. I’m not sure anything productive even happened in those 8 weeks. I know I celebrated birthdays and pretty much-avoided responsibilities until school started. I did partake in a short 24-hour getaway to mobile with Haley. She took her nursing boards and passed like I knew she would. I signed a lease with Ashley. Committing myself to at least one more year here. It was a tough decision to make and I’m still not sure I made the right one. I promised myself I wouldn’t ring in 29 here, but I’m here until at least August 31st of 2019 now. I do have to give a huge shout out to all of those who helped us move. Also to Kim and Chris for letting me crash with them while I got moved in. I hope y’all are still laughing at me having to pee on the side of the house because I couldn’t get one of y’all to open the door 😂. I certainly am! By the way, I still need to get the dog apartment from you. The family did manage to pull off a surprise party for my grandmas 80th birthday. Spending time with them was definitely a highlight. I wish I remembered more from July and August. You would think it was me that got the concussion on the 4th of July not Alex 😂! Sorry Alex I had to, love ya mean it.

September was definitely eventful. I got moved into my place. School was in full swing. We had Lilly’s baby shower. With her due date approaching fast I sat down and wrote my first deeply emotional and vulnerable blog. I finally organized my feelings and wrote about my infertility. It was extremely humbling to have so many people share it, message me and thank me. I had no idea it would reach as many people as it did and it helped me see things in a new light. I finally was at peace with a future of not being a mom. Being a mom was something I had wanted to be my whole life. Now, after learning about my diagnosis, coping and healing from it, I can say that I am content with my infertility. Sometimes I still get sad but I understand that my life is meant to be different. I was still having a hard time with my commitment to stay another year here and I had not been out of town in a while. I was unfocused and feeling hopeless. I needed to get out and clear my head. I packed up for a weekend getaway to the Forgotten Coast in search of some mental clarity. I came back feeling refreshed and centered. September also brought a new opportunity on the job front. After a lot of delibertating, I decided to take it. 

It was now October, my FAVORITE month of the whole year! It was filled with celebrating Devon’s 35th birthday. Tiffany and Andrew got engaged, FINALLY! Lilly gave birth to Ellie and it was quite the event. Ellie and Lilly gave us all a scare and I am ever so grateful that they both are happy and healthy. Hurricane Michael hit, caused devastation and put school on hold for me. I had a much-needed break that would come back later to bite me in the ass. I spent the month being a complete basic pumpkin and Halloween loving white girl. Family football weekend was a blast despite losing the game. We left at half time and went to a bar. Devon and Kyle celebrated their first anniversary that weekend and were true sports. I spent Halloween with my best friend and her munchkins. We were a bat family. Her 4 year old told me my butt looked nice in my leggings and completely made my month. It was honestly a wonderful month. I was the happiest I had been in a while. I let my guard down and November reminded why I don’t relax. 

Then came November. Life was finally feeling right. I finally stopped holding my breath and relaxed. Then it happened. I didn’t derail my plans this time my health did. Every time I get 4 steps forward my heart knocks me 3 steps back. I spent the whole month feeling defeated. November was hard. I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without my family. I’ve been scared and confused. All the doctors appointments, everyone driving me around, letting me vent and being an emotional crutch. I couldn’t be more thankful for my family. November was definitely the most challenging month of the year. I still don’t think I’ve completely wrapped my head around everything that happened. It wasn’t all awful. I got to celebrate baby boys. I had baby Bennett and baby Coles baby showers. Sweet Ophelia turned 1. Thanksgiving was great. I worked a solid 12 hours on Black Friday and the only reason I committed was because of Madison. My Herschey turned 7. I discovered my love for a night in with a onesie and face mask. I drank more water than I think I ever have and my dear friend Taylor asked me to be a part of her special day!

And now it’s December. Getting out of town, after I thought I was going to have to cancel my trip, was exactly what I needed. My time in New York was not long enough. Honestly, being in New York was the first time I’ve ever felt that comfortable in my own skin. Something about the City just felt right. I am so thankful for my hosts and being pointed in the right direction food wise and literally. Jesica is directionally challenged so having someone tell me to go left or straight was a HUGE help. I am so thankful Jes came with me. Her gypsy soul is undeniably similar to mine. Going to New York has definitely not helped my feeling of restlessness. My desire to get out of the worlds luckiest fishing village is at an all-time high. Half of me is tempted to sell everything I own and be irrational and move. The other half is rational and knows my life is filled with unknowns right now and I need to be responsible. I won’t pack my bags just yet. I’m going to finish these finals and papers. I’m going to shop for Christmas, way to wait until the last minute huh?! I’m going to welcome 2019 and hope that it’s a year of as much personal growth as 2018 has been.

So far December has been great. I’m slowly getting back into working out. I ran a mile and a half yesterday. I’m slowly accomplishing my mountain of homework. I finally am caught up on laundry. And I’m realizing just how much I’ve grown this year.

I owe a lot of my growth to my best friend Madison. I’m so proud of her. She works her butt off. She moms hard and she’s accepting help from her parents even when it hurts her pride. Being a single mom in school and working 40 hours is not easy. She’s grown so much this year and has pushed me to see qualities in myself I couldn’t see. Devon and Kyle who have made a point to include me in their big moments this first year of marriage. When I felt alone they both knew exactly what to say and do. My mom has been my rock. My safe place. She’s driven me crazy with her worrying. She’s made me laugh uncontrollably. My dad and stepmom have supported me without question and made sure I knew I would be okay when I thought I wouldn’t be. My aunts have all provided me with support and encouragement. My whole family has been a huge part of my personal growth.

I was asked to describe myself at the beginning of the year. As I answered the person stopped me. She told me I was describing myself based off of what I thought people wanted to hear. I couldn’t describe myself in the way I saw myself. It took me all year to finally be able to answer her question.

I, Madelyn, am first off a crier. I compartmentalize my emotions. It was something I mastered at a young age. I have an extremely hard time vocalizing and expressing my emotions to others. I cry when I’m happy, sad, anxious, angry, stressed, the list goes on. It’s one of the only ways I can let out my emotions. I am a music junkie. Not musically inclined at all, just obsessed with music. I’m constantly listening to music. Searching for new artists and songs. I listen to a little bit of EVERYTHING. I am the type of person that cries during certain songs. I am stubborn. I have a hard time believing in myself. I love hard. That doesn’t mean just in relationships. I love hard when it comes to friends and family. I will put others first and neglect to take care of myself because of this. I’m still learning how to say no. I stay alarmingly calm in stressful situations and this can be contributed to my health. I want to be every animals mom. I love animals and if I could I would rescue as many as I could. I now know what I will and will not put up within a relationship. I’ve had too much of my time wasted and I have too much to offer to be considered an afterthought. I believe in monogamy and casual dating is not for me. I am incredibly awkward. I rarely say the right thing at the right time. I constantly am putting my foot in my mouth. I’m working on holding myself accountable. If I want change then I have to be the change. I don’t think I will ever be a morning person. I am not healthy. I may never be. I am different medically and I’m learning to accept it. I laugh at my own jokes and use humor as a coping mechanism. I hate my body and I’m trying to learn to love it. I always want to eat, even if I just ate. And I finally love myself as a person again.

All year I’ve worked on figuring out who I am. 2018 has been a HUGE year for me. Being able to sit here and write about it has been a big step for me. To actually hit publish will be even bigger. Opening up and being vulnerable isn’t easy for me. I’m going into 2019 with the hope that I expand my horizons even more. I hope to welcome 29 and leave this town for my thirties. I hope to continue writing and finding my groove. I hope to keep an open mind and continue to grow into the best version of myself. I hope to finally tame these damn eyebrows and continue to feel comfortable in my own skin. I hope to learn how to say no and work on the right balance of selfish and selfless. I hope for more chances to travel. But most of all I hope for answers, that my heart will not throw me curveballs, and some stability medically.

After shock…

It has been exactly one month since my defibrillator went off and life has certainly changed. I have yet to feel 100% like myself, physically and mentally. Life is getting back to normal, but it is a new normal. It is filled with unknowns, upcoming doctors visits, medications and lots of restrictions.

When I wrote about the experience of my defibrillator going off I had yet to see my Electrophysiologist and Cardiologist. I had an idea of what had happened and I had expectations of what I was going to hear. I figured I had experienced some form of arrhythmia and my heart was beating too fast for too long, because this is something that happens often. I did not expect to hear that I was in a normal, healthy, regular rhythm and then I wasn’t. I went straight into ventricular fibrillation. No arrhythmia leading up to it. No intense physical activity. No medicine to cause it. My heart just decided to stop working correctly. To stop actually beating.

I always knew that this was a possibility. I’ve listened to the doctors intensely, I’ve done proper research, and I’ve paid attention to my body. It’s always been there in the back of my mind. This could happen, but you never think it will actually happen to you. I’ve been unlucky with my health, but I’ve also been lucky. Things could be much worse. I tell myself this all the time. When the doctor told me I went in v-fib for no particular rhyme or reason, I couldn’t wrap my head around. That experience I’ve previously described, where everything disappears around you. You can’t process any new information because your mind is still trying to comprehend that information you were told. Yeah, that happened upon hearing that.

I want answers. I want to know the reasons why. I want to know how to completely avoid getting brought back to life again because I don’t want my heart to just stop working. I am having a hard time accepting that my diagnosis does not have a cure, yet. It may never have a cure. I don’t want to “maintain” it. I want to fix it. It’s unbelievably frustrating. Next month I will be doing genetic testing to get more in-depth answers as to which specific form of Long QT syndrome I have. I’ll see a new specialist for a 2nd opinion. I’ll get a new pair of eyes to review everything and see if they have anything different to say. I’ll see if this new medicine is the right one. So far it’s worked better than anything else. It’s insanely expensive and breaks my face out. It is better than my heart not working right, so I can’t complain too much.

I’m trying to deal with the unknown, the frustration, and the seriousness of my situation with a light attitude. I keep cracking, what some may consider inappropriate, jokes about being in a dead sleep. Or how I can’t say yolo anymore. I have to find humor in this in order for me to cope. I’m still struggling to accept that I had a sudden cardiac death event and my defibrillator did its job. I have no words that can describe how glad I am that this machine, that I never wanted in my body, worked. The nightmares that I have had about me not waking up have been hard to shake. I try not to focus on all of this and continue to live life semi-normally. It’s hard. It’s hard to not be anxiety-ridden and terrified that at any moment it could happen again. It’s hard to not dwell on it. Sometimes I want to talk about it to process it and sometimes I don’t want it brought up at all. I want just a few hours where I can pretend that I’m normal, health-wise. We all know I’m not normal, I’m a bit peculiar. Haha!

The psychical stress this caused only lasted a few days. However, the emotional and mental stress is seeming to last indefinitely. I know some people may think, “So what you got shocked. People get shocked by defibrillators all the time.” To some, it may not be a big deal, but to me it is. I convinced myself that I was doing better and that I was fine. Nothing had happened and it probably never would. I convinced myself I was healthy and normal. I’m having to accept that I’m not. It’s a struggle for me. I’ve struggled my whole adult life with it. All I’ve ever wanted was to be healthy and normal. I don’t want to face the fact that I’m far from it.

Getting back into a routine has been difficult. I’ve had to rely on others for so much and I had to base my life off of someone else’s schedule. I’m finally able to drive myself around town again. I’m still supposed to take it easy on exercise. I’ve re-evaluated how I approach life now. I have a different outlook. I didn’t completely realize how precious our time on earth really was. Time is fleeting and I have now rearranged my priorities. Working my butt off and being successful will always be a goal but I will no longer let it consume me. I don’t care if others don’t understand why I choose to do something. Making memories and actually enjoying my life is now more important. All the stress doesn’t help me. I have far too much unknown with my health to not make the best of my time on earth. That is why I didn’t cancel my trip to New York despite all that’s happened in the last month. I may not have this opportunity present itself for me again. I do not know what is in store for me next month.

Life after the shock has been pretty much what I expected. It’s been a rude awakening and it’s caused my life to do a 180. I’ve grown in ways I didn’t expect. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last month. For me, it’s been the true definition of an aftershock. A smaller earthquake following the main shock of a large earthquake. My life is in disarray after working so hard to get my shit together.

When the other shoe drops…

November 1st is always a strange day for me. It’s the day after my favorite day of the entire year, Halloween. It’s usually a melancholy day. I have to take down all my decorations and all the spooky movies aren’t playing 24/7. This year it was different.

Thursday, November 1st, was an exceptional day for me. I finally had a night of restful sleep. I woke up not feeling tired. I had a half day at work. I came home took down my Halloween decor and cleaned the house. I felt great, actually the best I had felt in a long time. My roomie and I were actually home at the same time, so I invited our friend Kati over and made dinner.

I hadn’t seen Kati in awhile. She sat in the kitchen while I worked my magic and we caught up. She complimented me on how well I looked and how it was the first time, in as long as she’s known me, that I’ve been this together. She was referencing the fact that I was finally putting myself first and was being myself. This compliment meant a lot to me. As this is exactly what I’ve been striving for the past year and a half. This is what happens to me though. Every time I have things together and I’m moving in a positive direction, the other shoe drops. I live my life in fear of the other shoe dropping. I’ve learned that it always drops.

After Kati left and Ashley went to bed, I decided to lay on the couch and watch the new Sabrina. I fell asleep on the couch because I did the whole, “one more episode” thing. I was woken up at 3:30 am. 3:30 am my defibrillator went off. What actually happened I am not sure I can describe accurately. To say that it was single-handedly the most terrifying thing that has happened to me would be an understatement. All I can really remember is feeling as if a 1000 pound anvil landed on my chest while getting struck by lightning. I legitimately flew up and forward off the couch, while clutching my chest. I couldn’t breathe. I was gasping for air. I couldn’t think. I had no idea what was happening as I sat in the floor hyperventilating. Finally, I calmed down and could form thoughts. I realized that I must have been shocked.

See in the 3 years and 2 months that I’ve had the defibrillator it hasn’t ever shocked me. It’s charged to shock me but my pacemaker managed to pace my heart into a normal rhythm. There was a time or two I thought I might have been shocked, but boy was I wrong. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like if I was awake. Nor do I ever want to experience it.

I wasn’t really sure what I should do after being shocked and I wasn’t in the right state of mind to make any decisions. Naturally, I called my mom. Why? Because Karen knows what to do 97% of the time. My mother came over and I sent a transmission from my pacemaker to my EP specialist. I wasn’t sure if I should go to the ER or not. My doctors have told me previously that I don’t need to go to the ER unless I get repeatedly shocked. I decided to wait it out and see what my doctor had to say.

I don’t get to see my doctor until Friday. However, whatever he saw from my transmission made him take my driving privileges away and tell me that I am at a high risk of getting shocked again. He informed me that if I feel off or bad in any way that I need to go to the ER immediately. He also put me on a medicine I had been on previously and had issues with, but despite the side effects it does its job. He put me on the max dose 3x a day. Whatever he would rather discuss in person vs over the phone, has me freaking out. My anxiety is at an all-time high and part of me is too scared to go to sleep. I have barely slept since it happened. I know it’s silly that I’m not sleeping and sleeping didn’t cause me to get shocked, but I can’t help it.

The reality of what happened to me is slowly setting in. I have mixed feelings and in a way don’t know how I feel about it. I went to the ER on Friday because I didn’t feel right. I’ve felt off since it happened. I still don’t feel like my normal self. I spent a few hours with needles, IVs, heart monitors, and EKGs to be sent home to rest. I realize that had I not had this device that I likely wouldn’t have woken up. That my life could have been only 28 years long. That realization freaks me out. I’m so thankful that my defibrillator did its job, but I can say that this has been the worst experience of my life. The mental and emotional trauma as well as the physical. My left side is incredibly sore. Moving my arm, neck, or laying on my side is painful. My chest is sore to the touch. I’m slightly bruised from my neck to ribs.

Saturday morning I stood in front of my bathroom mirror staring at my reflection. I stood there and looked at my bruises and realized my left breast was slightly swollen. All I could do was tremble and cry. I cried while I ripped off my leads from the ER the night before. I cried as I slipped into a hot bath to wash the sticky residue of tape and monitors off of me. I cried because I’m scared. I cried because I’m overwhelmed. I cried because the reality of it all hit me. I am not normal.

I have got comfortable with my device. If anyone asked me about my heart then I would break it down as simply as I could. I tell them, “Yeah, I have it but it’s never gone off. I live a seemingly normal life. I’m good for now.” Well, that good for now is over. I have a feeling my “seemingly normal” life is about to be completely derailed. My life is going to do a 180 yet again. This experience has already changed me. I have been wanting to write a series of blogs breaking down the nitty gritty details of growing up and living with a legitimate broken heart. I had started writing the first one after I wrote about some of my experience with infertility. The feedback I received from that blog was unexpected and humbling. It was amazing the messages I received, the shares it got and I’m still hearing from strangers about it. So I figured why not really break this heart down? Why not put my story out there? Maybe just maybe my story can help someone. I didn’t really want to write to sort out my feelings for this scenario. Actually, I hoped I never would.

Yet, here I am writing to sort it all out. To get it out of my head. I sit here typing while feeling defeated. I’m trying to sort out how I actually feel and how I am physically doing. I’m trying to not stress or worry. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s okay, I’ll be okay. The other shoe always drops. For all of you asking how I am doing the answer is I don’t know. I’m sore, tired, confused and a little discouraged. I still don’t feel good and every little PVC, skipped beat, muscle cramp or shallow breath has me on edge. I just want to be normal. I want to not have to deal with this. I really want to get out of the house and not talk about it. I want to go for a run to let my frustrations out but I’m too damn scared. November 1st was a great day and it was normal. November 2nd, however, was not.

Be kind and rewind…

I AM TIRED OF PEOPLE TELLING ME I AM TOO NICE!!!

Listen folks, I am well aware that I am too nice. I do not need everyone else to tell me that I am, like it is some sort of insult. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and do not judge someone based off of their past. I know people change because I have changed so much in the last few years. Everyone grows at a different pace.

I choose to be a nice person. I choose to be kind. I choose to treat people better than they treat me. To me that is not a sign of weakness. I feel as if it is one of my greatest strengths, to see the best in everyone. I shouldn’t be belittled by others for doing so. If you do not understand why I choose to be nice, despite others actions, then maybe you need to reflect on yourself.

I am nice to people that have hurt me so deeply emotionally, that it made me physically ill. I am nice to people that view my kindness as a weakness and try to walk all over me. I am nice to strangers. I am even nice to someone when they’re a dick. I take pride in being the nice person. Being the bigger person. I do not stoop to someone else’s level. That is the easy way out. Sometimes being nice is HARD WORK. Do you know how hard it is to bite your tongue and not lash out when someone looks you in your face and tells you, “You’re never going to be good enough”? Or when someone is being a complete dick for no reason? Sometimes I want scream at people. Sometimes I want to be a royal bitch right back, but I don’t. I feel like being nice to someone when they don’t deserve it, speaks volumes about the kind of character I have.

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt isn’t making excuses for someones behavior. When I give someone the benefit of the doubt it is because I do not know what personal battle they’re struggling with. Those battles we all fight internally have a tendency to make us change our behavior.  Sometimes all you need is for one person to be kind to you for you to change your behavior for the better. I have repeatedly been told to stop giving others the benefit of the doubt, but it is just not who I am.

I will continue to be “too nice.” Why? Because we live in a world where everyone is cold to one another. Everyone is so damn selfish. I get that sometimes you have to be selfish. Hell, I can be selfish, but never to the extent that it hurts someone else. If I am ever mean to you or lash out at you, then you need to know that your behavior was absolutely awful for me to behave that way. I have aimed to hurt others but only after being personally attacked. I know that I have unintentionally hurt others as well and I am genuinely sorry if I hurt you.

Being nice does not make me weak. It does not mean that I am an easy target. I can stand up for myself. I know my value, my worth, and who I am. I will not let someone walk all over me. I won’t be mean to someone for trying either. Friends, family, acquaintances, whomever reads this… STOP TELLING PEOPLE THEY’RE TOO NICE!!!  There is a difference in being nice and being weak. There is a difference in being honest and being a jackass. I am a honest, forward, and kind person. Learning to recognize that all fights are not worth fighting was a huge step for me. Being the bigger person isn’t always easy, but it is oddly satisfying. If you view me as too nice then shame on you.

The forgotten coast…

There is a special place in my heart for Franklin Country, Florida. It is in my blood, literally. My Grandfather, on my mother’s side, was born and raised in Carra Belle/ East Point. We had our, Hall family, family reunions at the East Point fire station for the majority of my life. For the better part of my life, my dad’s side of the family vacationed every summer in St. George Island. We would rent a beach house for a week. Spend our days in the sand and our nights playing cards. We would go into East point and Apalachicola for dinner out. Steal the salad dressing bottles after a little too much wine. Cough cough Aunt Kathy cough cough. My time spent in Franklin County as a child is among some of my fondest memories.

My dad’s side of the family is still trying to keep the memory alive. We spent Christmas in a beach house on St. George Island 3 years ago and this year we will be spending New Years there. Honestly, there is no place I would rather be for New Years than in Franklin County with my family.

This area is stuck in time, for the most part. Mom and pop businesses, small-town feel and some of the best damn seafood you will ever ingest. I instantly feel relaxed when I’m here. So recently, when I found myself off-kilter I chose to come here. I needed a reset.

It is officially Fall but Florida hasn’t picked up on that yet. By this time of year, I am itching for cold weather and to go camping. Since it has been 90-degree weather for weeks, I was a little hesitant to commit to camping. I am glad I committed. There is just something about waking up in a tent, having breakfast cooked over a campfire, throwing on your bathing suit and going swimming.

Camping is usually relaxing and a fairly smooth experience, but I wasn’t camping with the most prepared of company. In the words of my sister, ”Madelyn, I am a survivalist. I’m bringing my tent, stuff for smores and my pillow.” I called to ask her what I needed to bring 🙄🤦🏻‍♀️. I had to get all the small details in order, apparently. You know like food, bug spray, toilet paper, flashlights, etc.. which can be a little stressful last minute. Setting up my tent in the dark was also a challenge. My little sister isn’t the best flashlight holder. Once everything was said and done and we went to bed Friday night, it hit me. As I laid in my tent, listening to fires crack and crickets chirp, I felt relaxation wash over me. My shoulders released, my jaw unclenched, and stress lifted away. This was exactly what I needed.

We stayed at T.H. Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula state park. While it is in Cape San Blas and technically bay county, it was still close enough for us to bounce back and forth between Franklin and Bay county all day. We started our day out with me making breakfast burritos over a fire. They were damn good by the way. We ate and freshened ourselves up to set out on a hunt for coffee and to explore.

We hung out bayside while drinking our coffee and then decided to go all the way to the tip of the peninsula, to beach it on the gulf side. The path to the beach was gorgeous. White sand with big dunes. Seagrass and driftwood all about. Once you stepped off the path there was no one around. Just the gulf and the beach stretched out as far as you could see. The seclusion made it a million times better. I got in the water, reluctantly because I know the red tide is creeping its way up the coast. I’m not trying to add another medical ailment to my list. The water wasn’t emerald like I’m used to but it didn’t matter. I was still in the Gulf of Mexico and that is one of my happy places. On our way to the beach, we found where the nature trail started. We headed back to the campsite and switched out our flip flops for our tennis shoes then set off. We got 3/4 of the way through the nature trail and found it flooded out from recent rain. I certainly was not treading through a mosquito haven. So, we turned our butts around and walked back to the car to get ready to head to Apalachicola. Please keep in mind I don’t usually take this many damn photos, but I brought along my friend who dabbles in photography, when she’s not going to school, working full time and momming. I also had my little sister who said and I quote, ”Do it for the gram”, right before she used a bike rack as a ladder to climb a tree 😂. Needless to say, there are tons of pictures and we laughed a lot. I guess if I continue with this blogging thing I am going to have to get used to taking photos for documentation.

Driving into Apalachicola my second wave of relaxation of the weekend hit. We approached historic downtown and I got a little giddy. The trees with moss all around, the historic buildings mixed with old Florida bungalow style homes, and the view of the water. It’s gorgeous. I was grinning from ear to ear. This place makes me incredibly happy. Maybe it’s because time slows down here, people are nicer, and I experience a sense of calm. We spent the afternoon at Oyster City Brewery, eating at a cafe and in and out of shops.

It was early evening when we headed back to Cape San Blas. The sun was still shining but you could feel it shifting. I had the windows down and sunroof open. My friend Madison was asleep in the front seat, mouth open 😂, must’ve been a good nap. Since she was asleep I knew I could play the music I like that bores her(not everyone can have good taste in music😂). So my tunes were shuffling from Mumford & Sons, The Revivalists, Lord Huron and etc.. All was right in my world. With the Gulf on my left and St Joesph bay on my right, Hello my old heart by the Oh Hellos came on. As far as favorite songs go, this one definitely makes my top ten. Something about this song gives me all the feels. A good song will make you feel something and this one always hits me deep. At that moment as I sang along there it was. My moment of clarity. I came here this weekend to center myself, to regain personal balance, to relax and enjoy nature. Salt air circulating through my car and me singing along with conviction, I found my balance.

Have you ever felt like you’re on the cusp of something? You just know that things are changing and something is about to happen to or for you? Well, I have and I feel it now. I don’t know what it is or when it will happen, but something is brewing.

I do realize I need to slow down. I will not be taking as many classes next semester. I need to relish life’s little moments more. Continue to do more of what makes me happy and less of what makes others happy. I need to keep being vulnerable because it is humbling and a truly beautiful thing. Keep putting myself first. My nurturing nature is a great quality but I have to stop letting it harm my well being. I need to welcome the judgments of others but let them roll right off my back. I also realized with a real reflection, not personal reflection, that I need to get my eyebrows done. What kind of friends do I have? How could y’all not tell me they were looking such a mess?!

When you find yourself feeling off it is important you take the time to step back and reanalyze things. Removing yourself helps you look at things from a different perspective. I am so thankful that I had my little sister who is always down for an adventure, ready to pack up her tent and join me. As well as my best friend of 14 years able and willing to try something new and out of the ordinary for her. They were more than willing to help me and be a part of whatever it was I needed to do for myself. I have the best friends and family. The support I receive daily from you all means so much. Especially all the support when it comes to my writing. I’ve finally found my groove, my flow, with this blog. Please be prepared for much more to come as we enter my favorite month and time of year.

Babies, pregnancy and infertility…

**Warning!! This post is an extremely personal post.**

Here I sit with one of the best friends anyone could ever have. Through out the years this sasshole here has been one of my rocks. I love her more than words could ever express. As you can see Lilly is about to pop. I’m impatiently waiting on Miss Ellie to make her arrival. I keep trying to get Lilly to try anything to make herself go into labor. By the time I post this she could have had her, but more on that later.

Okay, why am I posting about Lilly being pregnant? Well, Lilly tried for around 3 years to get pregnant. She tried everything. One day, last year, we were on the phone playing catch up. Sometimes we will go a while without having a real conversation. She told me that her doctor had informed her she was not ovulating. If you don’t ovulate then you’re not getting knocked up. It’s that simple. Her doctor had pretty much given up hope. Lilly was feeling defeated. I had stopped asking about how “trying” was going by this point, because I knew if she wanted to talk about it she would. Lilly needed to talk to someone about everything. About the “you may want to consider adoption” recommendations and the “you’re probably not going to get pregnant” conversations with the doctor. During that catch up call I knew Lilly understood.

I was 20 when I decided to see a new gynecologist. I had been having a lot of issues with my period and went an entire year without one. Clearly I wasn’t pregnant and I knew something wasn’t right. I did blood work and had exams done. At my follow up I was told I either had poly-cystic ovarian syndrome or premature ovarian failure. I had just taken my entrance exam for nursing school and knew enough medical jargon to have an idea of what was being thrown my way. My doctor told me she wanted me to see an endocrinologist for further testing to determine what exactly was going on with me. I constantly have crazy diagnosis’ being added to my list of ailments. I am no stranger to being the difficult patient. In my appointment with the endocrinologist I was told, “You’re the youngest person I have ever seen with Ovarian failure.” Not premature ovarian failure, but ovarian failure. These bad boys had stopped working fast! When I heard those words it was as if all the air went out of that exam room. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying and kept telling myself, “Keep it together damn it! DO NOT CRY! Not here and not in front of him.” From there I was told children were “unlikely” and I needed to see a fertility specialist to determine further. I remember in the elevator ride my mom put her arm around me and asked if I was okay. It took everything in me to choke down the tears and sobs I was stifling. I forced out the words, ” I don’t know.”

I had to wait weeks to see the fertility specialist. I had to have a ridiculous amount of blood drawn beforehand. I had weeks to try and prepare myself for the worst. My sister, Devon, went with me. The experience I had with that fertility specialist was AWFUL!!!!! Keep in mind, I am 20 years old and in the last 10 weeks I had found out all my hopes and dreams of  having children were quickly fading away. That doctor was insensitive, rude, and nonchalant. He told me in his office, ” All of your levels are low or non-existent. You aren’t producing eggs. Your ovaries are small. The chances of you ever getting pregnant are less than 0.1%.” Just like that. No cushion for the blow. Devon started in asking all kinds of questions. Attempting to get more information and detailed answers. I didn’t hear a word they were saying. I was repeating to myself, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.”

The whole way home I stared out the window. Devon tried talking to me and I can not even remember what about or if I was responding. That news, that diagnosis, those words still echo in my mind. They haunt me. The depth of the wound those words created is not something I can explain. It is not something you can truly understand until it is you. The kind of pain that comes along with it. Gut wrenching doesn’t even begin cover it. Possibly it’s soul crushing? It changes you. It isn’t something you ever get past. You accept it over time. You learn to live with it. I have to explain it to people more than you would think. “Oh no I can’t have kids.” They tell you oh you can try invitro or hormone injections. NO BOBBY SUE I CAN NOT! People don’t know how to react and always want to give you advice. I know it is a natural response. I get told how sorry someone is for me. Having someones pity is equally upsetting. Then there is the factor of dating. I feel obligated to immediately tell someone if they start showing interest. I know that for some it can be a deal breaker. They want to have their own kids. Hell it was a huge deal breaker in my last relationship. He was fine with adopting when we first started dating, but over time he decided he wanted to have his own children. After 4 years he told me that even if we would’ve worked past all our other issues, “It would never work because you can’t have kids. I thought I could get past it, but I want my own flesh and blood.” In that moment I may have thought about murder or crawling into a hole and dying.

I have slowly come to terms with the possibility that I may never be a mother. Do I want kids and a family? HELL YES!  I would give ANYTHING to be able to grow a child inside me, experience birth and raise kids. Kids that have my eyes or my laugh. Be able to make my sisters an aunt. Letting go of that dream has been one of the HARDEST things I have ever had to do and I have overcome a lot.

So, Lilly calls me and is talking to me about her journey with infertility, because I understand. I know what she is feeling. You feel as if you have failed as a woman because you can not do the ONE thing women are supposed to do. I realized while talking to her that someone, I love and who loves me, finally understood what I was/am going through. Finally! Now, I never wanted for anyone to be able to understand. I do not wish infertility on any woman. It was comforting to be able to have a conversation with Lilly and not have to try to explain myself. We sat on the phone and had a lengthy conversation. I listened while she vented and I tried to give her the best possible advice I could.

Fast forward to February of this year. I am at work and Lilly calls me. Lilly knows I am at work and wouldn’t call unless it was important. I dip away to answer, a little concerned, and Lilly asks me to sit down. “Madelyn,  I am pregnant!” Hearing those words and the immediate wave of shock mixed with happiness. I cried tears of joy. Once we hung up it hit me. Lilly was no longer in the boat with me. I felt sad in a way. I sat in the bathroom and cried for myself. Every time a friend or loved one tells me they’re pregnant, I am overwhelmed with joy. Of course I am happy for them. Its later that the envy sets it. There is a slight tinge of jealousy and then self pity. I let the tears flow when I am alone. I don’t mean to be envious, jealous, or have self pity. I don’t want to, but sometimes you just can’t help it. Once I “cry it out” I am fine. I watch them experience pregnancy. The gender reveal, the nesting, and the birth. It is such a beautiful thing. Lilly’s pregnancy has been different for me than my other friends. It has been a little more personal because of what we shared and what she went through to get here.

And now she’s just waiting to hold Ellie in her arms.

Infertility is devastating. To all those women whom are struggling to get pregnant, whom have had miscarriages, whom are going through hormone therapy, and whom are coping with the diagnosis of infertility….YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It’s okay to feel defeated, to feel like you failed, to feel sorry for yourself. It is okay. Take it one day at a time. Process it in your own way and at your own pace. Just remember that while it hurts, you will be okay. You’re stronger than you know.