"You'll understand when you're older."
My parents divorced when I was 7 years old. I grew up and spent time mostly with my mom and stepdad. I always thought my dad had simply abandoned me and my sister to start a new family with my stepmom.
In my early 20s, I had drinks with my dad, and the biggest plot twist of my life was revealed. My mom had actually cheated on my dad for a year. My dad knew about it the whole time, but he still loved my mom and he wanted to keep the marriage together, especially for me and my sister.
Eventually they divorced. My dad was heartbroken and alone in his suffering. Then he met my stepmom. She offered him a shoulder to cry on. But she wanted to start a family. So she gave him an ultimatum: "Either I'll leave you now, or you come start a family with me." He chose the latter. Can I really blame him?
I love my mother. She is the best mother I could ever wish for. She did what she thought was best for us. I'm not angry with her. I don't blame her.
I love my father. I understand why he chose to be with my stepmom. It makes sense. He didn't completely abandon us. He was there. We just didn't see him much. But I know he loves us. He shows that in his own way.
As for the ultimatum? Giving a life-changing ultimatum to a person who is completely broken is dubious. A heartbroken person who has hit rock bottom is not able to think rationally. To me, it seems exploitative.
I dreamed a dream.
When I was just 15 years old, I married an 18-year-old boy who was, and 39 years later still remains, the love of my life. On our first wedding anniversary, I conceived our first, and only child, (a beautiful little baby girl).
We dreamed of having a large horse ranch, somewhere, way out West. We also dreamed of all the children we would have to inherit, and carry on the legacy we had begun.
Then, when our daughter was barely a year old, the biggest plot twist this life can throw at you occurred.
My wonderful 21-year-old husband, my soulmate, and my best friend in the world, was diagnosed with the rarest, and fastest growing cancer, known to man, at that time. The killer's name was Burkitt Lymphoma.
I was told Burkitt was a cancer of the lymph glands, and that it was known to spread, throughout the body and grew at such a rapid rate that the tumors themselves doubled in size every 24 hours. I was also told that this was the first time that this particular cancer had ever been seen in the United States.
So when I think of the biggest plot twist in my life, I think of my husband, who lost his young life at just 21 years old, to the rarest form of cancer then (and possibly still) known to humankind.
And, how at just 18 years old, I was suddenly widowed with a 13-month-old child. A child who would never remember the comfort of her father's touch, or even the sound of his soothing voice.
And finally, I remember the dreams that my husband and I shared, and the fact that, without him, we have struggled in poverty, and that none of our dreams ever had the chance to come true.
You can never just assume.
The doctor pulled me aside and asked me if I'd secretly had a vasectomy.
My wife and I weren't succeeding in getting pregnant, so we went to the doctor. She asked about our backgrounds, and decided that there "might be a problem". Since males are biologically simpler in this regard, they started the testing with me. The results came back: I had ZERO sperm. Not a low count. Not poor motility. Absolutely no sperm.
I was referred to the head of urology at a local university medical school, and after a couple of tests he determined that it was genetic. I never had and never would produce sperm.
In six weeks, we went from "there might be a problem" to "you'll never produce biological children." That was quite a plot twist. Most couples assume that they can have kids whenever they want but roughly 20% have fertility problems.
I'll skip over the details, but we eventually adopted two boys. Our oldest is in the US Army, and our youngest starts college this fall.
Sometimes I still wonder what sort of child we might have "produced" but I have no regrets and I wouldn't trade my sons for any number of bio-children.
This happened to a lot of people.
In the years leading up to 2007, I was on top of the world. Three kids, a beautiful house, a high six-figure job, a professional wife. We were doing really well. Living in Texas grilling hot dogs by the pool. Then the economy collapsed.
I lost my company, and therefore my job and my retirement. I couldn't find work for more than a year, and my wife's salary didn't pay the bills, so we burned through our savings and eventually lost our house and cars.
I finally had to move to Europe to find a job. After settling in, my wife found she didn't like living in Germany. She left me with the three kids (she was their stepmom), returned to the States, and filed for divorce.
After one year, the company I worked for shut down its German office so I was laid off again. But this time we were literally stranded in a foreign country where I didn't speak the language and didn't have enough money to move back to the States.
With what little money we had, the kids and I moved into a one-bedroom flat in a house full of Albanian emigres who couldn't speak any English. We lived with them for two years, communicating only through hand-gestures, until the economy recovered enough that I could find work again back in the US.
Now I'm back where I started from, with my kids, with a new German wife who I brought back with me, and a really great job. I hope that plot twist never happens again.
When life kicks you, you kick back.
I sucked at soccer.
Like seriously, I was terrible. But, I _so badly _wanted it to be my sport.
I spent 8 years trying to get good at it.
I was emotionally invested in it, and it really brought my self-confidence down. My first two years of high school were terrible.
Crying was a usual occurrence in my life. I really hated that I couldn't play well. My coach would never put me into games, and the endless hours of practice made things more frustrating than anything.
The whole situation just gutted me.
Then, at the end of my sophomore year, my parents decided to move. It was a new state, a new life, a new me. I realized I had a chance to reinvent myself.
I could be anyone I wanted to be and no one at this new school would know any better. I took full advantage.
I decided to take up running for my new high school's cross country team.
Within the first two months before school started I became one of the best runners on our team.
I was fast.
My coach started placing me in college track meets.
I was part of a team that I could actually contribute to.
My self-confidence started to rise.
Throughout this whole experience, I learned something. Sometimes to really succeed, you have to walk away and try something else. If something doesn't work, it doesn't make you any less, it just makes you human.
It takes a lot to walk away, but sometimes it's worth it to find what actually sticks.
This is a truly happy one.
My life is a series of plot twists. My husband says I'm like Forrest Gump. The latest one is related to my best friend Nargi. We had been best friends since we were 6 - we lived nearby, sat at the same desk in school, and were basically inseparable. One time we even joked that when we grow up, we will have our kids get married and we will all live nearby. 17 years ago, I immigrated to US. My last image of Nargi was her crying at the airport and saying she will never see me again.
We lost touch (partially because she had no internet and no cell phone for years). But I always considered her my best friend, even after years apart. Every once in a while, I would browse a Russian social media site looking for her, but to no avail. I posted as my status: "Has anyone seen Nargi? I'm trying to find her." Crickets.
Two years later, I receive a message from her little brother. He said she's been trying to find me this whole time too. He gives me her phone number. We are super happy. We are both married and have 2 kids each. Life kind of battered us a bit. We start Skyping once in a while and keeping in touch. One time, I suggest she should participate in a green card lottery and move to the US. She says: "I have chickens! Who's going to take care of them?"
Fast forward another couple of years, Nargi mentions that she wants to give her kids a better future. So we try the green card lottery. I fill out the application with her online. And then I forget about it. The chances of winning are 1 in a million. One day, my mom asks me: "You know Nargi has been trying to contact you? She needs to talk to you." I called her by Skype.
Nargi tells me that her and her family won the lottery and get to move to the US. Then we both squeal. Then we both cry. After many, many difficulties, including with bureaucratic issues, medical issues, financial issues, and much nailbiting, I go to the airport to pick them up. At this point we haven't seen each other in 15 years. We pretty much gave up hope that we would. We hug and cry.
Since she didn't speak much English, we decided to open a house cleaning business together. Fast forward two years, our little company is #1 in our city, employing 50 people.
You're stronger than you even know.
When I was 11 years old, I was diagnosed with Aspergers.
The psychologist told me I would never hold a real job, drive a car, or even be capable of basic self-care around the house.
Where I come from, healthcare is incredibly poor because only the lowest-qualifying doctors move to this environmentally contaminated area because nobody in a reputable city will accept them.
Basically, my diagnosis was based almost entirely upon my mother's lies, slander, and manipulation. The rest of my diagnosis was based on the outlandish and outdated belief that it's abnormal for a girl to be extremely quiet, but have very articulate speech and an interest in science and video games.
Yeah, they literally assumed I had a mental disorder because I didn't fit their sexist views. Needless to say, doctors in this area are among the most unprofessional in the entire country.
My childhood consisted of endless bullying and harassment from my mom, brother, stepfather, classmates, and teachers. My mom always told me to "act like a normal kid, you freak." She also belittled me by telling me that I DESERVED the bullying that everyone gave me.
Despite being labeled as autistic, my mom forced me to immediately enter college when I wasn't ready and all I wanted to do was get a job before making such a huge commitment to education.
I psychologically cracked.
My grades were all horrible because I saw no point in doing anything.
A few weeks later, I left my mom's house without any notice and used my meagre savings account to get an apartment. I spent 8 months submitting job applications to every place in town that would hire someone my age.
After 8 months, I was finally hired for a crappy part-time job. But here's the plot twist.
Today, I'm 22 years old and I have a stable job. I'm thriving.
I didn't need a roommate or a partner to help me move up in life. In only two years of working this job, I was able to build my credit and save up money to buy a nice convertible car and a house. I did it on my own with no guidance from anyone. I researched everything carefully and worked hard and because of that, I succeeded. But aside from material things, I also gained something else that my mom and all the other cruel people said I would never have: friends.
The moral of this story is to never lose hope. If you have to use anger from injustice to re-ignite your hope, do it. Do it until you succeed and then find peace.
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
On October 8th, 2015, I got a Facebook message from my brother telling me that he had just started dating a nice girl.
I was pretty sad at the time, sitting alone in my room because I found out that my crush had recently started dating someone. And I was planning on staying in my room. He was a good friend of mine and I liked him for several years, yet he never seemed to notice. It broke my heart to love him knowing that he'd never love me back. But seeing that message from my brother made me so happy for him that I decided to stop looking for love and focus more on loving myself.
After talking to him, I immediately gathered all my studying materials and head over to the Common room to study. There were about three people talking in the corner and a guy sitting on the other table studying. I saw that he looked like he wanted to talk to them, but didn't know how (they were speaking Mandarin).
So I sat down on his table and told him "Hey, check it out. I'm going to draw a devil fish."
He seemed mildly amused, and then took out his own sheet of paper and pencil. "You call that a devil fish? Here's mine!"
We spent the whole afternoon drawing and later went to eat dinner with his friends. That guy ended up becoming one of my best friends and, eventually, my boyfriend.
If I hadn't talked to my brother about his new girlfriend, I wouldn't have been inspired to love myself more and been more motivated to study somewhere outside of my room. I wouldn't have met Ben.
Don't change you; change the world.
Imagine, if you will, a kid. Twelve years old, small even for his age, sitting alone at lunch. He's staring at the table in front of him, as if trying to avoid eye contact with the world itself.
He will walk to class alone. He will try desperately not to answer any questions. He won't attract attention to himself because in this environment he knows the only attention is negative. He'll be tripped in the hallways, he'll flinch as he walks past the next person.
The next time we see him, he will have a black eye, bruised knuckles, and a little less reason to ever look up from that table. When he goes home the questions to answer won't be "how are your friends?" or "what did you learn today?" At best, they will be "so... was it alright?" and at worst "oh Jesus, what happened?"
Now imagine a second kid. A bit older, sixteen, seventeen perhaps. He sits with three different groups on three different days, trying to make sure he doesn't miss out on hanging around with anyone for too long. He walks through the corridors with a spring in his step, saying 'alright' as he walks past people.
As you've most likely gathered, both these kids are me. The biggest plot twist in my life is the fact that I, the awkward, nerdy, shy, bullied kid could gain friends, could gain confidence, and ultimately gain happiness. And, what makes it a plot twist and not a cliché, is I could do it without sacrificing who I am. I refuse to change for anyone, yet still I was able to change my life.
Answers edited for clarity.