You Are Not Alone!

It’s hard for most of us to wake up in 2020 and not have something to worry about. The current world we live in is a chaotic and unpredictable one; dominated by social media, forced opinions, incessant filtering, an abundance of “fake news,” constant sensory overload, and an unlimited all access pass into Pandora’s box. Unfortunately, I do not think that any of us are ever fully prepared for how challenging life can get. Just recently in fact, the entire world as we once knew it was forever changed in a matter of days—leaving so many of us feeling anxious and on edge. On the surface, it would appear as though most people have everything under control, going about life as usual. We look around and can easily start to feel very isolated in our issues, and even times envious of others due to the façade that’s built up all around us. Everyone’s “mask” is a seemingly happy one, when in fact, so many of us are suffering in silence behind it, trying our very best just to hold it all together. You really never know when something will potentially come along to shatter reality as you know it. Life has an interesting sense of humor, but the important thing to remember is that so many of us are in this together!

Above all it is so important not to live in insolation, but rather to recognize that everyone has things dealing with, and that none of us are immune to life’s obstacles. You will get nowhere fast, trying to fight your battles by yourself. We all have things going on in our lives, we all have demons to face, and challenges we must OVERCOME. Social, personal, serious, trivial, and everything in between from loss, illness, substance abuse, divorce, sexual confusion, racism, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, infidelity, and the list goes on. I promise you there is no need to be embarrassed of your issues, because guaranteed there is someone out there who knows the depths of the pain which you feel. Life has a way of doing its best to keep us on our toes, the important thing however, is not to lose your balance! As the years go by, we are all met with our own personal challenges of varying degree. Things happen. Existence is no fairytale! Everybody faces struggle of some kind at one point or another. Some of us are just better equipped to deal (or hide it), than others. Ultimately, getting by is difficult, and getting past the ugly can be so overwhelming. But in coming together and being open about your hardships, you will find your journey to be much more manageable.

I want you to know that you are not alone! Over the course of my life, I’ve been scared, I’ve been let down, I’ve been betrayed, I’ve been confused, I’ve been lost, and I’ve been hopeless. I’ve been in pain, I’ve been hurt, I’ve been depressed, and I’ve been absolutely derailed. Ive been “beaten,” broken down, and put back together, only to be broken back down again and again. My entire life since the age of six has consisted of just “trying to feel better” in all senses of the word. I have no idea what it really means to just “be OK.” I have managed to conquer numerous surgeries, drug addiction, sexuality issues, anxiety, depression, and so much more. Every hurdle I mange to overcome seems to be met by another, anxiously awaiting its turn to attack.

Growing up, I did my best to hide all things I was going through. I failed to communicate my hardships, and that was a very scary and lonely space to be in. It didn’t have to be that way. I have since learned that it is the support of those around me that has always been the main source of strength to get me through. I have learned to be more open about what I’m going through because there is so much to learn from the experiences of others! If only I had known then, that I was not the only one dealing with my perceived issues. I believe coping would have been much easier for me had I not been so secretive. As I have said in previous posts, there is great power in sharing. I now know definitively that I am not alone in my feelings. Almost everything that I have been through, someone, somewhere can relate. Strangely, there is peace in knowing that. While I never wish my pain on anyone else, having someone to relate to is incredibly comforting. Last night, I had such a refreshing conversation with a young woman fighting her own battle with MFM (the disease which I currently live with). It felt so great to have someone really and truly understand this battle. Sharing our fears and frustrations left me feeling not only relieved, but secure in knowing that we are strangely in this fight together. I was happy to exchange advice as well as words of encouragement. It felt good to lean on someone else who truly “ gets it”. The truth is, people can try to empathize all they want, but you never really understand unless you live it. This can be applied to many things. Better than any therapy session, I left the conversation feeling so much lighter and motivated!

As human beings, we are constantly looking to one another for any sign of hope that we can somehow overcome. Seeking someone who has “been through it,” themselves and can show us that it doesn’t have to be that way. Someone whom you can look to in order to find reasons to smile through the pain. Hence where the word inspiration is cultivated. This is not to say that people must live in our shoes in order to be of support. Sometimes even just a listening ear can be so helpful. Even just one person can make all the difference on a bad day. Venting to someone is everything! Whether it be family, a friend, your therapist, or even a complete stranger.

The number one reason behind sharing my story was to help others who may be going through tough times as well, and to let them know that they aren’t alone in their struggles. My hope is that in reading my book, “1 Man, 3 Hearts, 9 Lives,” you can see the light beyond your own personal cloud of darkness—happiness still exists. Whether you may be living with a chronic illness, battling drug addiction, conflicted about your sexuality, struggling to forgive those who have hurt you deeply, or losing a dear loved one…I can relate to you, and I am not the only one. I can show you that somewhere in there, life is still worth living, life is still worth appreciating. You just have to change your mental perspective! You have to decide that you want to fight and that you’ll do whatever necessary to get passed the tough times. As also I mention in my memoir,

“In life, no matter how ugly things get, you can always find the beauty. You simply have to know where to look.”

I have learned to appreciate so much in my life, because so much has been taken away from me. I am grateful to still be alive and to be surrounded by people who love and support me. I am still working however, to find true happiness within myself, which is a mission I can’t do alone. For example, MFM is attempting to rob me of the belief that I am capable of being loved by a life partner. Who would ever knowingly take on such a burden? As my condition progresses, so does my feeling that I will just never be good enough. Fortunately, I am blessed to have people in my life that remind me how unrealistic that is and of how special I am everyday. And because of that, I AM NOT ALONE, EVER!

NJ 5K Transplant Walk!

It really doesn’t hurt to pay someone a compliment. Be kind and courteous, maybe find it somewhere inside you to share a smile–you never know what someone else is going through and how much that can help. Even just a simple head nod could be a reminder that “Hey, I see you, and you are NOT ALONE,” and if anything “I’ve got you.” Talk to people! Share your pain! Lean on your loved ones! Join support groups! Communicate!!! So many of my friends and family make me feel safe when there are a million reasons for me not to. We balance each other out, and when I’m with them, I forget about all the madness. At the end of it all, we have each other. I don’t consider these moments as an escape, but rather I look at them as a reminder that there are certain things that make life worth loving and enjoying! Ultimately in a world of 7.5 billion people, there really is no reason to ever feel alone!

If even ONE life is affected positively in knowing they have me on their side after reading my book, then I have certainly done my job. 💙💙💙

I’ve got your back!

About 1 Man, 3 Hearts

After collapsing in my NJ home one night at the age of six, due to heart failure, doctors were convinced that I would not live to see my seventh birthday. Three decades later, I have defied all the odds that were placed against me. I will be turning thirty-seven this summer. Upon discovery that I was in complete heart failure (age 6), I was rushed to the NIH research hospital in Maryland. At this time, I had an emergency dual chamber pacemaker implanted. Since then I have survived two heart transplants, a kidney transplant, gall bladder removal, lung collapse, pain medication drug overdose, and a tracheotomy. Unfortunately my transplanted kidney failed two years ago placing me back on dialysis three times per week. At the age of twenty-seven, I was diagnosed with a rare muscular disease known as Myofibrillar Myopathy. This disease progressively attacks the various muscle groups of a person’s body over time. In my case, it was discovered that this disease was also responsible for initially attacking my heart muscle at age 6. In the last two years, I have lost usage of about eighty percent of my bodily function to my illness. I am currently wheelchair bound, sleep with a ventilator every single night, and require the assistance of a full time (24/7) personal aide who resides with me. My life is full of challenges, it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve had my share of dark moments. However, I refuse to allow this to keep me from enjoying life and living everyday to the fullest. I have gained a great deal of perspective and learned many valuable lessons over the course of my life. My goal is to be able to give back and share my story in a way that can help others who may be facing difficult circumstances and encourage them to keep fighting. I also believe it is important to raise awareness for rare diseases as well as the importance of organ donation. I have chronicled my life in a book, “1 Man, 3 Hearts, 9 Lives,” available for purchase on Amazon. I truly appreciate all your support, thank you! 💙
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1 Response to You Are Not Alone!

  1. Dee says:

    Thanks for sharing your amazing journey💙

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