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Finding My Freedom                 

                                  Finding Freedom From My Past

What do you think was harder to overcome: the abuse or the airplane crash?
The hardest experience I had was not the airplane crash as a lot of people might think.  The hardest experience I had to deal with was the child abuse I had suffered.  Because of this abuse, I carried a lot of emotional baggage throughout my young adult life and it affected the decisions I've made in the past.  The long term lasting negative emotional effect that I had was due to the physical and psychological abuse I suffered.  And I carried these emotional scars for many years.

Which did you overcome first?
I overcame the airplane crash first because my turning point experience of new awareness helped me to change the direction of the possible risk factors, that I would have encountered, of life long depression and self destructive behavior.  At my turning point, I changed the direction of my life from self destruction to new awakenings.  My experience of child abuse caused me to endure a lot of deep emotional wounds that have lasted for many years.  But the airplane crash was an awakening that opened my eyes to many possibilities and it changed the direction of my life.

Has anyone ever doubted your abilities?
I was so excited about being discharged from the rehabilitation hospital because I had a fresh start in life.  But I was surprised by the negative manner in which people behaved toward me.  When I would express to them the many things that I wanted to do in my new life, as in driving a car, going to college, earning a degree, and starting a new career, I would receive opposition from these people.  They would say to me, 

    "Don't drive a car. Do it like the Greyhound bus. Leave the driving to us." 
That would infuriate me when ever they'd say things like that to me because I have always been very independent.  I was not going to wait around for other people to do things for me.  I'd rather do it myself.  I was not going to give up my personal power.  When I expressed my desire to go back to school and get a job, some people said, 
    *You can't have a career, you're handicapped." 
My immediate assertion to them was, 
 "Oh yeah?!  Well, watch my smoke!"
I've even had this contention with some members of my own family.

What mindset did you use to free yourself and why did you decide to go in this new direction?
With my natural born stubborn streak, I used my determination and persistence as the driving force that helped me to keep things in motion and moving forward toward my own personal goals.  I was determined to prove those people wrong.  I achieved my goals more than they could ever imagine and that gave me satisfaction.  My motivation was based on my knowledge of the fact that classical music saved my life.  Because it gave me purpose, it gave me meaning, it gave me depth, and it gave me passion; passion for life.

What was going through your mind when you decided that this was the turning point?
After being discharged from the spinal cord injury rehabilitation hospital, I was excited about getting on with my life in a new way.  When I was in public, among other people, many of them looked at me in the most bizarre ways.  Children were ushered away from me as if I had an infectious disease.  I was not accustomed to this kind of public mistreatment of me.  It made me feel sad and I withdrew into a protective shell, the shell that protected me when I was a child.  My former music professor hired me to work in the music school and I was able to be around the music that saved my life when I was a child.  I even performed a violin solo on the university performance stage while sitting in my wheelchair.  I felt elated because my professor had that much confidence in me when others didn't.  I started building personal power and I found personal freedom from the emotional shackles that I lived with.  My liberation from the emotions from the past was my turning point.

How do you deal with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after your traumatic airplane crash accident?
The way that I am able to deal with PTSD is that I draw from the strength I built as an abused child.  When I studied violin as a young teenager, I learned about the importance of focus, challenge, integrity, responsibility, confidence dedication, and determination.  I used these qualities to survive in my unstable home.  Although I was not able to change what was going on in my childhood home, I worked very hard with my music studies because I was determined to be in control of something in my life.  I used those same virtues after I survived an airplane crash as a young adult.  When ever I'd have a PTSD episode, I would draw from that strength from my childhood.  This gave me personal strength where I was able to take the power back.  My passion for my violin and classical music was key for my heeling.  My music saved my life and it helped me to heel.

I feel that we all have tools to get us through situations and tragedies that we have in life.  And we can use these tools.  We may have dealt with traumas in life.  But the important thing is that we have to find the inner strength to get ourselves through any situation.  We all have frightening experiences in our lives.  We all have things that we have to deal with.  But at that point, we need to make a choice.  We could choose to let it over power us or we can choose to move forward and beyond our personal struggles. 

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