Last week was my birthday. Some birthdays pass by as just another day; others have been major times of reflection. This past birthday has been the later.
About a year ago, after spending almost a decade living and working in Europe, I returned to the States. My book, “Rules For Republican Radicals” was a hit and I was asked to write for many fine publications and speak to conservative groups around the country. After being a guest on many great radio shows, on Valentine’s Day 2011, I started my own BTR show. The experience was amazing and while some shows were only heard live by a handful of people, I was thrilled to find hundreds of people downloading shows, connecting with me about the shows, and sending me tips and news that they want me to investigate and discuss.
And then I hit a bump in the road. In mid March, I was “hired” by guy to help him build a political consultancy and event planning business. This fellow had all the patter, seemed to have all the connections, and was a frequent guest on news and radio shows. I was thrilled. Having a Masters Degree in television production, this seemed like a perfect blend of my political career and my education. Lots of excuses, lots of stalls, but when “pay day” came and went….well lets just say that you couldn’t actually call it “pay day.”
Then I got sick. Between the stress of being scammed and the high pollen count, I came down with Bronchitis. With no voice, I had to take a break from both my speaking engagements and my radio show. Generally healthy with a (perhaps unhealthy) fear of medication, I figured that a bit of honey, orange juice, and extra sleep and I would be good as gold. But as sick days turned into sick weeks, I broke down on my birthday and finally went to see the doctor.
Happy Birthday to me! Blood sugar 508….I have diabetes! Now if you think that finding out that you have diabetes on your birthday after being scammed out of $2,000.00 AND having no voice thanks to bronchitis is bad…the medication that I was given for the diabetes made me almost completely blind. I could see shapes and movement, but everything else (tv computer screen, etc) a total blur. So I borrowed some coke-bottle thick reading glasses and stumbled onward.
A few days after my blind, cakeless birthday, I woke up with a really sore jaw. I figured it was just another great side effect of the medication, but since my dentist is just down the road, I popped in and…low and behold….TWO teeth need pulled.
Now you may think as I sit here sipping on a diabetic milk shake, dribble escaping through the gap in my numb, swollen lips, hopped up on pain meds, while trying see the little numbers in the ledger in order to balance my severely lightened checkbook through coke-bottle thick glasses that I might be bitter, that I might bemoan my bad, bad birthday luck. But you would be wrong.
Now this may be the pain meds talking….but I feel pretty good….actually I feel almost euphoric…. See I found out a few things.
First, people actually like me. I know that sounds very “Sally Field’s Oscar speech-y”….but when you are an author you lead a rather solitary existence and have little save book sales numbers to tell you that people know that you exist and appreciate what you do. Plus, when you’re feeling poorly and life takes a bad turn, it’s easy to start to feel sorry for yourself. BUT, people missed my radio show. They missed my Oped pieces and my occasional rants. I was really overwhelmed at the emails and calls that I received from people across the country asking just where the h-e-double hockey sticks I was and why wasn’t I on the air.
This got me thinking about my life. I realized that for several years now I have lived a life without reflection. I have gotten so used to the day to day grind that I stopped “living” and simply existed. I think that that is a pretty common; maybe some people do that for their whole lives. But I had been a pretty happy, out going girl who had become, well…a prisoner in my own life. Being unwell, hearing about the deadly possibilities of untreated diabetes, etc was the impetus I needed to peel away the apathy and become present in my own life.
And of course, being the victim of a scam, it is easy to become “victimized” and retreat into your own self pity. I had started to do just that. I felt sorry for myself. I felt angry at the cause and I became pretty pitiful for a day or two. And then I reached out. I contacted people who I thought might also be victims and with each person’s story of abuse and victimization, I become stronger and more focused. This wasn’t about “poor Alex,” this was about people standing up and refusing to be ignored. Refusing to accept being cheated and treated poorly. And I found my passion again. That passion to help people understand their political rights that had inspired me to write the first book, had inspired me to talk on people’s radio shows and eventually to start my own, neglected show..that passion had returned.
Now, despite my diabetic milk shake and damp chin, despite my swollen jaw and coke bottle glasses, and despite my depleted wallet, I have a birthday present that I never knew I wanted….never knew I needed….I got MYSELF back for my birthday and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift.