Who am I?
Hello, I’m Sunshine and I am many, many things.
I’m a 29-year-old mother of three,
Like many of my peers, I was raised by a single mother in sunny Orlando, Florida.
Sure, Florida is definitely South if you’re looking on a map but I was not raised in the South.
I realized Florida truly wasn’t “The South” when I moved to Savannah, Georgia in 2009. Gosh, that place will humble you and teach you things like no place I’ve ever
More on that later.
Before I could even remember, my mother strapped me into her bicycle and we went to nursing school.
Of course, I’m joking [a little bit].
My mother went to nursing school, that woman never quit and her perseverance is something I’m not sure I even possess.
My mother and father were never married.
They met in their early twenties at the Marriott Hotel in Tampa, Florida.
At age 23, my mother found out she was pregnant with me.
She also found out she had cervical cancer.
Her doctors advised her to have an abortion so she could begin treatment immediately.
She refused. —
Do you see me? —
Perhaps this is where my conservative roots really got planted.
My mother is a pro-lifer to her core.
Can you blame her?
Maybe you can, but let’s dive into that another day.
She carried me to term and immediately began treatment for cervical cancer and fiercely beat it.
My father came and went for a few years until he eventually disappeared.
For over 10 years, he didn’t play a role in my life.
My mom and I were the dynamic
She finished nursing school and became an RN, we traveled, went to theme parks.
The only child — single mom life was seriously a blast!
Eventually, my mom met a man and they were married just before my eighth birthday.
I was ecstatic, I thought my mom found happiness and I found a dad — Dan.
Less than a year into their marriage, Dan showed his true colors.
I think his favorite colors were black and blue.
He was abusive —
pushing my pregnant mother across the kitchen —
beating me black and blue every chance he could.
When my brother was born, he suddenly had no interest in playing daddy to me anymore, his only interest was using me and my mother as his punching bags.
A few years later, they divorced.
Our house was sold and we moved into a small apartment.
I made the best friends in that apartment complex, I walked to school and made even more friends there.
I was a relatively happy kid.
I don’t usually tell people about those hard years.
I don’t get into how I never even understood what I did wrong to endure this physical pain and how I had no control —
No way to make it stop.
Instead, I wore jeans during the summer in Florida while my friends wore cute dresses and shorts.
I never wanted to sound like a victim —
And I never want anyone to feel sorry for me.
You see, now I realize those bruises only add to my character.
Sure, Dan was an abusive prick but I wasn’t going to change him.
I can either let his awful actions change me for the better or allow me to become a helpless victim.
It took many,
I chose to use that man’s shitty actions to build my character.
I can’t change someone’s mind about abusing women and children.
It took me years to realize that I cannot control other people’s actions —
I cannot control the way they feel about politics —
I cannot control their favorite food or TV show.
However, I can choose to let other people help me grow.
Other people of all —
and even Shitty
will always contribute to my character but it is up to me to decide what kind of contribution I allow them to make.
At the age of seven, Dan gave me my first lesson in this. In a way, I owe him a big “thanks, asshole!”
Of course, this was the first of many opportunities to grow my character.
I went on to live my teenage years like most middle-class American teens.
I drove too fast, made friends, lost friends, drank Smirnoff Ice, made out with boys and had no idea what I was doing in regards to any of it.
Still a teenager, I met Brandon at the age of 18.
And well, I guess I allowed him to contribute to my character too.
Talk more about him next time.
It was really nice meeting you all. Thanks for coming to share a little of my Sunshine. I know it’s now always bright. But it always builds brighter days. Just have to persevere.