Posted in Overcoming Adversity, The Billy Blogs

Dear Billy, (Three Months Post Break Up)

Dear Billy,

I wanted to check in and let you know how things are going lately. I’m sure beyond that tough facade of yours, you’re most likely wondering about what is going on with me. Believe me, I’ve been thinking the same way as you are. 

When I finally got closure from you last month, I was finally able to move forward with my life, although doing so meant burning a lot of the stuff you gave me. Surprisingly I don’t have any regrets, but I sure do miss Sunshine Bear. I guess you could jokingly say I’m horrible bear parent, but I digress. I was angry at the way things worked out with us, and as much as I tried to make things work, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Yeah, I spent weeks crying myself to sleep over this to the point where I had nothing to cry about. Although you’re too manly to admit it, I have seen you break down before and I worry about you doing so again. You have always had such a strong will about yourself and I hate to see that will be broken.

Anyway life so far has been hard, but I’m getting back to the way things used to be with my career. Work picked up at the survey place because of pilot season, meaning all the new TV shows are out and ready for previews. There are some pretty awesome shows coming out. I recommend you watch the show “Rise” since it’s very much like “Glee: and it also chronicles the story of a teacher I know for my hometown. The character named Lou is actually based on a real person. Pretty cool, huh?

I have been working on my training as a vacation planner at the new park, that job that basically ruined our relationship and prevented me from moving in with you. Although I lost you, I have finally gained confidence knowing I can return to my roots as a vacation planner and be something with my life again. My bosses are really nice and let me use my magnifier without any hassles. The people I met so far are really nice. Everything about this place has been nothing but wonderful to me. It may have seemed like a gamble, but so far I’m winning. 

You should see this place, Bill. It is as if you stepped into Hawaii. There’s a big giant volcano that’s also an aqua coaster, there are two lazy rivers, about 13 slides, a wave pool, and a water splash area. I know you’re probably thinking that none of these rides would be accessible to you, but a good majority of them are. They have elevators that take you to the top for some of the slides, a lot of the pools are Zero Entry, meaning you could take your wheelchair in for a little bit and dangle your toes, and some of the pools have little chairs that will drop you in so you could transfer in and out of your wheelchair easily. Even the kids play area is handicapped accessible. There are basically no limits to what you can do here. My God, you would love this place! Hopefully one day, you’ll be able to come and visit me.

Everything else in my life is going okay. Me and RJ are still good friends and are kind of debating whether or not we want to go back with each other, but for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t look like it’s happening. But I’m far from crushed about it. We are perfectly good as friends.

Working both jobs has been keeping me busy and my mind occupied. Every once in awhile when something new happens, I so want to call you and tell you about my day, but since you’ve basically written me out of your life, I know the odds of you answering are slim. 

I have been on a lot of adventures lately aside from work. I got to shoot real life zombies at RJ’s work, explore an insanely huge McDonald’s, help in the production of a Jimmy Fallon skit, attend both a Blake Shelton and a Flo Rida concert in the same week, go to Spooky Empire, and babysit Amanda’s cat. I have so many stories to tell, and not enough time to jot them down. 

Although I try not to, I still think about you a lot. I wonder how you’re doing through all this, how your bowling league is going, all the cool trips you made with Shayna, even what’s going on with your job. So many questions, I’m pretty sure I won’t get the answers to. But nevertheless I hope everything goes well with you and you are living a wonderful life that’s far from boring.

Just be sure to know that even though things went bad between us, I still consider you as a mentor and great friend of mine. That love I had for you will never die, even though now it seems like it. You have been a major part in my life and I will forever be grateful for the time we were able to spend with each other the last year. I’m hoping sometime down the line we will cross paths again, but only when you’re ready. I know I can’t make you change your mind,  that is all on you. But rest assured when time comes and you are ready to talk to me, I will be here for you.

Never stop being the amazing fun person you are. Keep being the amazing self-advocate who never stops fighting for their dreams. Whatever life takes you, know that you can handle anything that comes your way. I want you to be happy, and never to be sad. 

I’m always a phone call away if you need me. 

Love you still, always will.

Mandy

PS- Enjoy this picture of me hanging out with a Zombie at Spooky Empire last weekend. Don’t worry, he isn’t real. 

Posted in Lights, Camera, Universal!, Overcoming Adversity, Pondering about PTSD, The Billy Blogs

Mandy’s Inferno

“Remind me that the most fertile lands were built by the fires of volcanoes.”

-Andrea Gibson

I spent most of my writing and blogging career chronicling the trials and tribulations of me and Bill, star crossed lovers from age, disability, and location standpoints. I told our stories, both good and bad, in hopes that one day, we could of paved the way for other disabled folks to get married and live that fairy tale life. 

But as of last month, I feel like a fraud. 

I had a few really bad months under my belt due to job loss and financial hardship, having my friend RJ help me out in exchange for a place to stay on nights he would work late. Not a choice I wanted to make, but it was that or risk homelessness.

Of course, Bill was never able financially to help me, only to be my cheerleader in my time of great crisis. His disabilities meant he wouldn’t be able to move down to Florida for me, and he encouraged me to move in with him.

As magical as it would of been to be with the one I love, I couldn’t do it. The idea of living off benefits and having the potential of being cared for by staff, although ideal, would of been the death of me. It was a life he knew all too well, and the only life he has known, but for me, it wasn’t enough unless it was a last resort before moving back in with mom and dad. 

I wrote about us constantly, and now without him, I feel lost. For every share of an old story, I feel like a liar. For the presenting I have done and will be doing, I feel like life with him was just a figment of my imagination, a folk tale as big as Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

Without him, life erupted, and everything I thought we had was destroyed.

I often wondered what he must be going through right now, how hurt he must be, or if he even misses me. Or am I just that annoying phone call in the middle of a Titanfall marathon? Who knows?

A friend from my Disney Days now works as a staff person for a house up north not too far from Bill, and she was able to update me on what’s going on.

Apparently to Bill, I “cheated on him with RJ,” a far cry from the truth since RJ knows I’m still head over heels for the guy and wants me to figure things out on my own. 

No matter what I do for Bill, whether it be an email, text, Skype, or voicemail, it just doesn’t seem like enough to convince him to forgive me, or at least give me the closure I need so I can focus on other things. 

It makes me look like the bad guy. It also makes me feel like one too.

As Mardi Gras season comes to a close tomorrow for me, the anxiety of going to a whole new park grows more and more each day. Watching that Volcano manifest from the side of the highway gives me both comfort and sadness, fear that I did this whole thing for my own gain and not his, and joy that I will finally be able to get my life back together again.

Volcano Bay from the highway.

If only Bill could give me that one chance to prove that this was all worth it and forgive me. If only he could be proud of me and not ashamed. If only he knew the amount of courage it takes to keep going amongst all the hardships I outnumbered the last few months. If only he could understand.

But the question remains, does he understand? Is he able to? Or are my pleas for his acceptance just falling into the lava? 

If only I could find that acceptance in myself as this new journey beckons instead of relying on him. I want to be excited for this new opportunity, but I feel already burned out.Not that the job is bad or anything of the sort, but for everything else going on in my life. 

I guess it’s me versus the Volcano. Let the battle for acceptance begin. 

Posted in Overcoming Adversity, Pondering about PTSD, Relationship Ramblings, The Billy Blogs

Finding (Self) Forgiveness 

Usually, we find it difficult to control our mind. It seems as if our mind is like a balloon in the wind – blown here and there by external circumstances.
                    -Kelsang Gyatso

I have been struggling a lot lately with forgiveness, mostly due to losing Bill and trying to patch up whatever friendship we have left. Losing him has been the ultimate nightmare of mine. Like a balloon, I feel free, but yet I feel lost in the wind, wanting so desperately to be tied down.

Forgiveness has been a hard concept for me to grasp.Trust has always been something I have had issues with since I have dealt with some bad people in my life who would take advantage of my kindness, only for me to be tossed to the curb in the end. How can I forgive others if they hurt me? I am the queen of holding grudges, you do me wrong, ain’t no turning back. 

Bill has fallen through the cracks in the situation, which has tested my patience as well as my self worth. In a normal relationship, he would be the last thing on my mind. But we were never classified as normal in any aspect of being together. Disability was never a “get out of jail free” card for him, but what is?

Maybe it is my attitude that caused all this, expecting way more than what he could deliver. Expecting higher standards for myself while forgetting I am allowed to make my choices and not be punished for it. Why should I go through a second party for approval? 

Because it’s Bill and I have no freaking clue why.

I want to forgive him for the situation with his little friend as well as my choice to take this new job because me being the egotistical whacko I am, I never thought once about his feelings in all this.

But are his feelings worth changing my whole life around? Where do I draw the line in all this?

What if the person I need to forgive is myself? 

Silly concept, but it’s much needed, given the new park is opening soon and my training is mere weeks away. I want to be positively focused on something that could make my life better. I made the choices I did to propel myself forward. I shouldn’t feel guilty for making that decision, even if I broke his heart. 

The guilt has resulted in a few bad nights of sleep, weird dreams that just don’t make any sense, and a desire to cuss people out just because I can. Never have I felt so irritable in my life. Most of this anger is brought upon myself since it was me who decided to end it on impulse, who had issues with his lady friend, who picked up a job away from him. I’m the one who did all this. Me.

I want to forgive myself for the choices I made, looking at the bigger picture has shown me the way to a better future for myself. I hope in due time, he will be proud of me for doing this and will forgive me. Knowing Bill, he can be really stubborn. Like a brick wall, he’s tough to break. Let’s just say it’s going to be a while, if anything, for him to open up again.

But I can’t wait for that to happen. Time is precious especially in transition like I’m in now. Somehow I need to find that in myself. My fate depends on it.

Things can only go up from here, right?

Posted in Cast Member Chronicles, Lights, Camera, Universal!, Overcoming Adversity, The Billy Blogs

Why I Didn’t Give In To The System…or Him

My biggest critic turned out to be the person I devoted my whole life to. And because of a tough choice I made in finding a stable career, I lost him.

After about a decade of trying to make things work between us, me and Bill decided to part ways. There was more involved than what I want to share, but the gist is that I decided to fight the odds against me and work hard to make my life one where I don’t have to settle for less.

Back in August, I lost my job with Disney, and with my fate being undetermined with Universal for the longest time with me not finding anything beyond seasonal or temp work, all signs pointed to me moving in to Bill’s supportive living community in a last ditch effort to not resort to moving back in with my parents, a fate many of my friends with disabilities, and some without, have faced.

To Bill, this meant we could live out our lives where he would be taken care of and have me at the same time. And as magical as it would of been to be with the person I loved, it would of torn me apart inside.

Although being born with the challenges I have faced, my family made every single attempt to raise me as if I were a normal child. My dad, being the conservative kind of guy he is, always told me to work for my goals and not ask for a handout. Even my mother worked every single job she could find so we could move out of living in poverty and be happy, ever since I could remember. I wanted to be like my parents and fight for what I wanted even if the odds are stacked against me. I saw them grow from minimum wage retail workers to being a corrections officer and a teaching assistant. If they could do it, so can I.

Bill, on the other hand, had different plans for me, and although they seemed wonderful, they weren’t for me. His idea of a perfect life involved having me and him move in together, live off the system and food stamps, and essentially have no control over my money while his staff take care of our bills, our meals, everything.

As cushy as that sounds, I didn’t buy into it.

Now I’m not trashing that lifestyle by any means, but what he was used to given his disability and what I was used to as a person who got denied for most government benefits just never added up to me. Where would I have fit in in all of this? What purpose would I have aside from being a live-in girlfriend? So many questions, not enough answers.

A few weeks ago I got the news that I was able to transfer into Universal’s newest theme park, going back to my roots as a vacation planner and finally having stable employment. Bill judged me for making the choice of career over him, and who can’t blame him?

I worked hard for last eight months to prove myself worthy of getting back in the workforce, and sadly, it came at a price of losing the person I love the most.

Whether I lost him for good or not remains uncertain, but my love for him will never die even though things didn’t work out the way he planned. I can only hope one day he will forgive me for making the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make.

Nevertheless, I persisted. Having the disabilities I have will never stop me from living my dreams. 

If only he could see that this decision is worthwhile.

Here goes nothing.

Me in one of my many uniforms, this is my resting Market Research face for the NBC Media Center
Posted in Relationship Ramblings, The Billy Blogs

The Rebound Effect

It seems to me that I always tend to fall into this rut upon leaving a relationship where I tend to go back to an ex after shit hits the fan. Most of my adult life circulated around Billy and RJ. And I honestly don’t know why.

Both men, although they had their annoying quirks and baggage attached to them, being troubled pasts or caregiving issues, were my most successful relationships. With Bill, it was one where we defied all odds like some sort of fairy tale, while RJ brought me a sense of adventure in our three states worth of living together. Bill originally brrought on the romance up until I left Rhode Island, while RJ, let’s just say, brought on the rest…winky face.

I’ve had other men in my life since my college days, and a few Tinder hook ups that never made it past meeting in person. I know my options aren’t limited, but why do I insist on bouncing back between the two?

Honestly, I don’t know. 

I think it has something to do with the way both men treated me in various points of my life, how their impacts have made me the woman I am today. Bill brought out my self advocacy skills and having me admit my disability, while RJ embraced my inner nerd and helped me take risks and be adventurous. I just don’t want to lose that feeling they both have given me. That feeling to be myself. Kind of odd I feel like I need them to continue that.

If only there was some way to find that feeling in myself again. With Bill still undecided as to the extent of our relationship or friendship and RJ and I not willing to take that step to go back to the way things were, I need to find that sense of self worth again without them. 

Only question is, how? How does one find worth when life has given them a bad hand? After countless men turned me away, there must be something wrong with me, whether it is disability, looks, or God knows what. What did these two men see in me that I don’t? Or am I some sort of weirdo magnet? What value did they find in me to put up with my bullshit for so long?

Guess I’ll have to find that out myself. 

Posted in The Billy Blogs

Making Sense of it all

It’s been a few weeks since me and Bill were our cheerful selves, talking about marriage and chatting amongst ourselves on Skype, the only way we can date while I’m down here waiting for my next chapter of my career to begin. 

It’s all just a memory after the infamous Valentine’s Day Fiasco of 2017, which has sent me off on the edge and him “grounding” me for having issues with his little friend who hates me. I have since come to realize that stressing over stuff like this will destroy me in the long run.

So after trying to warn him about how ignoring me and not talking things through would ruin our relationship, and after a rant he did on his Facebook via Live video about me making a wrong choice about living in Florida, it had to come down to what I was dreading for awhile.

I decided to call it quits. Made it Facebook official and everything.

Our mutural friend who lives in his building has been checking in on him for me to see how he is dealing with things, and he said he wants to have a chance to patch things up. But the funny thing about this is that he doesn’t want to talk to me. How can we fix things if talking isn’t on the table? Am I grounded still? Does he not give a crap? The world may never know.

I have been bending over backwards trying to make him happy because he deserves to be. But the way he acts when things don’t get his way always irked me. To tell me he wants to hang out with “Her” and not let me see RJ, as well as quit this Volcano Bay job so I can be with him were both deal breakers for me. I understand he can’t do much to help me, and I was accepting of it despite it’s suckage compared to other people’s relationships where you don’t have to deal with caregivers or physical limitations. But to tell me I have to give up something I worked so hard to get after dealing with the worst six months of my life, that’s worth a one way ticket to move on, no matter who you are. 

He seems to either not want to try to fix what we have or maybe he just doesn’t understand what he did wrong despite our friend trying to break it down to him. Either way, this whole things has been a clusterfuck of drama and mixed emotions. None of which I want to deal with now. 

I can only hope he can come to and show me that he can stick with me in this new journey, but whether or not he chooses to won’t stop me from rebuilding the career I once had and moving forward with life.

One things for sure, it’s not the same without him. 

Posted in The Billy Blogs

Career or Love? Pick Your Poison

Never have I thought in a million years Bill would do something so ignorant and wrong, that would put me on the edge of possibly quitting this new job I got yesterday. 

What worries me the most about being down here is that Bill forgets that I exist. Dating long distance is hard for anybody, but it seems to be setting him off more. It’s like he’s stuck in his own little world and I’m just not part of it anymore.

Last night, on all nights Valentine’s Day, Bill invited a lady friend over to his apartment, one that doesn’t get along with me too much. She has been slowly getting him to disconnect from me, and I feel her presence is what’s pushing me over the edge. 

Now keep in mind, his lady friend has a boyfriend, and yet she prefers to talk to Bill 24/7 as if they’re some kind of couple. 

I was willing the reserve judgment on her for the longest time. But after hearing some of the messages and voicemail she leaves him makes me wonder whether or not this whole thing is worth it. You could tell she has jealousy in her voice. Her attitude towards me has always been a negative vibe. And knowing how impressionable Bill can be, she has him where she wants him.

What makes matters worse is that this girl has connections with the people who take care of them, almost like some kind of hierarchy that can’t be broken. Even Bill told me he doesn’t have the balls to stand up to her. And to me I feel it kind of sad that subconsciously, he feels as though he might be retaliated against. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but that’s my best guess.

Being caught in this weird love triangle has made me second-guess being on the opening team for Volcano Bay, even though doing so would risk my chance of ever growing a successful career. I feel like I’m doing something wrong by being down here in Florida. I feel like my choices of bettering myself and not settling down has sent me and Bill onto a path of destruction. 

I hate the fact that I left Rhode Island to begin with. And after the stunt Bill pulled off tonight makes me second-guess everything that I’ve done from that point on. From RJ and our relationship, the school jobs I picked up in Pennsylvania, this silly little dream called Disney, and my newest journey with Universal. All of it seems to be in vain because it seems as though it hurt the only person I loved the most.

I’m not so sure if this is a breakup or not but I feel as though it might be. And me trying to chase my goals of a successful career killed it. Apparently I’m the bad guy for not packing up and moving in with him. Maybe my high school friends are right this whole time, I’m wasting my time chasing these dreams.

God, what have I done?