How to eat a shitty sandwich: and keep smiling tell readers your story about dealing with bad things that happen and how you managed to get over them and move on with your life. Why was it important that I wrote this book?
I have been a writer since I could hold a pen. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by people’s stories; especially the stories of people the world considers ‘normal’. I find these to be the most compelling stories, the ones that show true courage and determination; not for attention, but out of necessity and survival. I want those who have lived extraordinary lives in silence and humility to know that their stories matter and that no matter what happened to them, there is an opportunity to help others heal. Writing my book was a cathartic experience: I got rid of the pain of a lifetime by letting it flow from my head onto the screen/paper. I wanted to finally heal myself of the baggage of my life. I also wanted to share that our stories do not define us. Yes, they do get in shape, but you can have a life that has been so difficult, but still go deep to heal and move on to bigger and better things.
I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the most difficult for you to write?
Writing about my childhood was hard; realizing how many times I have been abandoned and abused by people who were meant to love and protect me. It was also difficult to write about the sexual abuse I experienced. There was a chapter that just flowed out of me… I had forgotten what happened until I put my fingers on the keyboard. I was only 13 years old when it happened and it changed the way I viewed my body and sexuality…and I think it left me vulnerable to further abuse. I got to the end of that chapter and sobbed. How can people be so cruel and horrible to each other?
What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?
Whether people love me or hate me has nothing to do with me. It took me a while to get this because all my life I’ve worked hard to make people like me. I have longed for the approval of one and all. However, it did not improve my life. When I realized how people see me, whether they like me or not, is not something I can control, because people make judgments about others based on THEIR life experiences. Our beliefs, life experiences, and inner thoughts shape how we see the world…and it’s not always based on reality. So if someone doesn’t like me, it could be because I remind them of someone who was horrible to them. How do you control that? You can’t. So I stopped bothering. I’ll just be the best I can be, and as long as I show up with no intention of hurting others, those who want to be in my space will and those who don’t won’t.
What do you hope is one thing that readers take away from your story?
I want people to see that everyday people can have an impact in the world. There is nothing special about me beyond the fact that I survived my childhood. I found a way to go deeper and heal through my pain. It’s possible. Bad things happen to good people, and while we can’t control how those bad people impact our lives, we can control how we deal with them. I chose to live my life, despite the terrible things that have happened to me, with joy, expectation, and determination. You can eat a shitty sandwich, you can eat a buffet of them, but you control how you let it impact you. I want readers to see that there is a silver lining, that good can come from bad, and that there is always a path to a happier life. Start with what happens between your ears. You control your thoughts, feelings, and how you present yourself to the world. Take the control. Don’t let those who hurt you win, but by being a victim.
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