During my many amputations, I drew inspiration from all sorts of different places. One such place was from the very circumstances that was making my life a living Hell – my amputations themselves. I took negative events in my life that were dragging me down and used them to improve my life, instead of letting them defeat me. I know it sounds strange, but I actually used my amputations to become whole.
The picture on this page is of my dog Diamond. She’s as precious as she looks in the photograph. She is such a joy and a wonderful force in my life. She provides me with so much love, companionship, and inspiration. Actually, Diamond saved my life many times by inspiring me to live. I adopted Diamond from a rescue organization called Mostly Mutts, but it wasn’t long after I helped rescue Diamond from a life of misery that she was rescuing me. I discuss in the book how God put Diamond in my life at the exact time when I needed her. If it wasn’t for Diamond, I most likely wouldn’t be here today.
Aside from Diamond and the adversities I’ve faced, I draw inspiration from other people. One person that inspired me tremendously during my struggles was Ruby Gettinger, the star of Style Network’s reality show Ruby. Ruby played a major role in my life during my struggles. Even though I have never met her, Ruby inspired me to continue on and to not let my amputations defeat me. I can never tell her enough how much she inspired me when I was going through my struggles. Even though I couldn’t relate to Ruby’s issues with weight, I could relate to her on a personal level. Both Ruby and I are from Georgia and have issues from our past that we have to deal with, but it was how she dealt with her challenges that spoke to me the most. When I was going through all of my amputations I would watch her television series and become so inspired. I knew if she could conquer her challenges and live a good life, then I could to; no matter what stood in my way. It’s a dream of mine to meet Ruby in person one day and tell her just how much she inspired me. Maybe God will bless me with that opportunity one day!
I also get a lot of inspiration from music. There were many songs I looked towards for strength, encouragement, and reassurance during my journey with struggles, hope, and self-discovery. Some of the songs that helped me through my amputations were No Chains on Me by Chris Tomlin, Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia, Second Chance by Shinedown, Closer to the Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars, and I Can by Johanna Stahley (the theme to Ruby’s reality show). All of these songs spoke to me in different ways and for different reasons.
No Chains on Me spoke to me by showing me how God is in control of my life and if I give my battles to him, then there are truly no chains to hold me down. If I let go of my struggles and give them to God, then there is nothing that can hold me back from achieving my dreams. I’m only held down and tethered by chains if I try to fight my battles on my own. Through my many amputations, I learned that I have to allow God to guide me through my adversities and to ask him what it is I need to learn from my adversities.
I first heard the song Titanium after I had come quite a ways out of the deep, dark hole I was buried in from my many amputations. This songs talks about how the singer is bullet proof and that nothing can knock her down. She tells the person/situation she is facing to fire away, but that it won’t do any good because she’s titanium and will not succumb to the negativity thrown at her. I really understood the words to this song when I first heard it because I had survived so much at that time and the song gave me the strength and inspiration to continue on, to move ahead, and to not let anyone shoot me down because I too am titanium.
Second Chance has a line in the song that says “tell my mother, tell my father I’ve done the best I can.” This line means a lot to me because even though my parents disowned me for being gay, I still did the best I could with my life. I wish they knew how hard I’ve tried to be a good son to them, even if I’m unable to be the perfect “straight” son they always wanted. I love my parents dearly and hope one day they will understand just how much I love them and how hard I’ve tried to please them despite my shortcomings.
Closer to the Edge spoke to me in some positive ways, but in some very negative ways as well. When I was dealing with all of the amputations I describe in the book, I heard this song a lot on the radio. There’s a line in the song that always struck a chord with me. The line goes “the birth of a song and the death of a dream.” I used to think the line went “the birth of a son and the death of a dream” and every time I heard – and misinterpreted – the lyrics, I would think to myself “when I was born it was the death of a dream for my parents.” I felt this way because I’m gay and couldn’t give my parents the perfect “Leave it to Beaver” life and family they wanted. This fact caused me great anxiety and guilt over the years. Closer to the Edge also talks about being on the edge, and as my amputations kept multiplying I was getting closer and closer to the edge until I was finally ready to jump off, and that’s just what I did. Fortunately, my life was spared and God gave me another chance to live, to conquer my struggles, and use my adversities to make myself and my life whole. There’s also a line in this song that goes “I will never forget, I will never regret, I will live my life.” This was a very powerful line for me during my many struggles, especially as other parts of this song reminded me of my parents and how I disappointed them. This line is still very powerful for me today, as I will truly never forget or regret what I’ve been through and that I will live my life to my fullest potential.
I Can is the theme song to Ruby’s reality show. It’s just a wonderful, upbeat, positive song that talks about how “I can if I think I can.” Times I was feeling really down and wondering if I would make it or not, I would hear this song and it would help pick me up and lift my spirits. I would dream of how I would eventually have a good life one day if I would just stay focused and grow from my adversities and use them to improve my life and to build my strength and confidence in myself.
I also get a lot of inspiration from gospel hymns, such as Jesus Hold my Hand, Looking for a City, Everybody Will be Happy Over There, and Winging My Way Back Home. Amazing Grace also holds a special place in my heart, especially verse three, which goes “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far, And Grace will lead me home.”
Click on the title to the songs in order to listen to them on YouTube. I hope they speak to you as much as they do me!