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It's Better If You're Broken

Have you ever had your life drastically change overnight? I mean, one day the world is one way, and the next it’s never going to be the same? Or better yet, have you ever had vertigo? Not seasick. Not dizzy, like when I was little and rode the Gravitron at the fair back to back five times.

I’m talking real vertigo, where the world swims like everything in your vision is now the ocean, and waves are throwing your body around.

Up is down.

Left is right.

You’re scrambling to grab hold of something because suddenly the entire universe is in tumult. I drop to my knees and close my eyes praying it’ll pass, hoping it’s not real and wishing the nightmare would end.

Have you ever woken up and realized your entire world is a case of vertigo, some nightmare you wish would end?

The Lindy Johnson series started at the beginning of my diagnosis for multiple sclerosis. While it isn’t my story, parts of me bled onto the page. Happens to most writers, we can’t help it. Like a horcrux, we leave parts of our soul in the words.

In the beginning, as with most people, I was angry, furious that my life would never be the same. I went from being healthy, active, fitness instructor with stamina close to superhero, to a person I didn’t recognize. And it happened overnight. If you’ve never experienced that kind of heartbreak, confusion and frustration, Lindy might not be a good book for you.

People say all the time, she’s too mean. I don’t like her. She pushes people away and makes terrible decisions.

Newly diagnosed, that’s what I did. That’s what a lot of us do. I didn’t recognize myself. I lost myself behind the monster that took over my life. I pushed everyone away because if I hated myself, why would they love me? I became bitter and mean for months after diagnosis . Of all the trials I’d faced, I hated this one the most. If not for a miracle, I would’ve stayed bitter and mean. Caskets & Conspiracies represents those early months of denial and anger, grieving the future that is gone forever now that your life will never be the same.

Saddles & Sabotage took on a new life for me. In a church class I remember the teacher asked, “If you had one wish to be granted, what would it be?”

Normal.

That’s all I wanted.

Life to be normal again.

No painful injections.

No numbness.

No fatigue.

No chest crushing MS hugs that are less than friendly.

No falling.

No vertigo.

Normal.

It’s a simple wish, but one I’ll never have.When I started accepting my new ms roommate, I spent all my time day dreaming about normal. That’s what takes over Lindy in the second book. She wants normal and she’ll risk everything to have it.I get ragged on because the book doesn’t end well. Maybe I’m a jerk, but that’s the reality. That’s what I’ve learned: you don’t get your normal back and any amount of trying to get there is going to end in heartache and regret. I felt by minimizing that, I'd be lying, or lessening what so many people face on this path with invisible illness.

You can't have your old life back. But you can build a new future, rise up from the ashes and make something greater. That’s the goal of the series, to show the struggle, the journey, the transformation of someone as broken as Lindy into something greater than she ever could have been without this adversity. You’re watching a rock get smoothed by the river current. It sounds pretty, but rivers are violent, unrelenting and that rock’s world is going to get messy for a bit.

Book 3 teaches her about love, and what love means: sacrificing everything you want for the one you care about with no expectations of reciprocation. Four introduces Jack Stone. I had my own Jack, a guy who with one question, forced me to pick up my sword and fight. Lindy never had a mentor for her disease and Jack leads her down a path she never would have found on her own. (He’s like 60 guys, don’t think he’s some new hottie. More like Obi Wan Kanobi with a cane).

Five brings it all together, the whole story comes full circle. Old enemies surface and life has never been this hard for Lindy. An old friend even shows just how much she’s changed, because by 5, I promise, she’s nothing like the Lindy from book 1.

And yes, it’s been an arduous journey, but that’s where transformation happens, in the trials and tribulations, with bad decisions, both ours and everyone else's. I promise satisfaction if you stick it out with me. I promise you’ll understand MS better than you ever could alone. But, the series is better if you’re a little bit broken.

If you understand anxiety, or depression. If you’ve ever decided taking a shower is too exhausting, even if it’s only 9 am. If you ever washed the dishes and needed a nap. If a chronic disease ever changed the course of your life forever. If you have ever thought that getting through the next hour is too hard, but you can take the next ten minutes, and that’s how you survive the day- ten minutes at a time. If you’ve ever hidden your tears from everyone you love to try to pretend you’re strong. If you feel like your entire being is shattered and the slightest breeze is going to leave you a pile of broken shards on the ground, and yet you still keep going, this might be a good book for you.

Or, if you're the kind of person who wants to understand what a little bit broken feels like, you might fall in love with this series.

It’s a hot and cold series. People either love it or hate it. It’s not light. It’s not a beach read, and its really not a hallmark movie. It’s serious content because I don’t want to lighten the struggle I see from people in my community.

People tell me they hate Lindy Johnson, and I die inside. Not because she’s me, I still maintain she’s not, just a good fictional friend of mine. But parts of me wither because of the people she represents. The people I see posting to support pages who say after ten years of marriage a spouse left because MS was too much. Or after the third date, when a guy tells his new girl his big secret, she ghosts him. Or worse, the ones who leave mid-relapse, when we're weakest and need them the most, because there are new stories every week. It happens all the time.

Lindy represents the people who write “give me a reason to live!” And they mean it because this disease has stolen their very will. The people who struggle to find direction because this monster stole their dreams, and ate their compass.

I wrote this series, not for me, but to give a voice to those no one hears. I speak up for those who wish someone understood how it feels to be them, to suffer, to hope, to fight only to lose over and over and stand up again knowing they’ll likely lose every time.

I wrote it for them because at the end, when this finally has the showdown that’s building, when Lindy finally meets the ‘big boss’ and realizes who she’s been up against all along, what I want those voiceless to feel is hope.

Hope for tomorrow.

Hope for new strength.

Hope for someone who stays by us even when we are horrible.

Hope that this is not what defines us, but this is what transforms us.

If I have to take the beating from a thousand bad reviews in order to give hope to that one drifting, flailing Warrior, so be it. I’ll fight to the end for you. Because when I penned the final THE END on this series, I knew I’d become more than I’d set out to be in the beginning. And my wish is that you will too, and that you’ll feel the same truth I felt:

I’m just getting started.

It's Better If You're Broken
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