The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants: What the Hell Is Up With Mine?

I drank too much. Face-planted in the floor…again. But as I lay there on the cold tile floor, blood pooling around my face from the open wound on my forehead, this time felt different.

I guess I can credit my cat for getting me out of the floor sooner rather than later. She never even walked in my general vicinity that night, but my thoughts kept turning to the fact that I knew she hated my guts, and if I didn’t get up and to high ground, I would undoubtedly make the fifth or sixth page of the local paper. The title of the article would read: “Starving Cat Eats English Teacher’s Face After She Lay in Living Room Floor Dead.”

Yes, the cat was my motivation when I couldn’t get my limbs to remember that their real job in life was to hold me somehow upright.

I knew that I would have to face the people at school tomorrow with a busted face, and I would talk that off like a pro. Kind of like people in an abusive relationship run into doors; alcoholics are in abusive relationships with one and run into lots of fun things too. But again, this time, it just felt different.

I decided to go “turn myself in” to the school nurse and see if she had anything to offer me about my little trip to floor town. And I could immediately tell by the look on her face that something was no bueno in blood pressure land…not to be confused with floor town. They are just neighboring ‘hoods.

Recommendation? You guessed it! Hospital — STAT! On September 11, 2020, my life changed.

I live alone. My children and I don’t have the best relationship…could have something to do with too many trips to floor town. I didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. No other family or friends to speak of. Just me. And I find out nine days before my 46th birthday that I have a birth defect. A rare one. A bad one.

So, let’s take a step back in time. Not too far. Not too in-depth. I want to offer some perspective for where I am.

Married at 19, baby one at 21, college grad at 25, a teacher at 26, baby two at 30, divorced at 39, mom died at 39, engaged at 39, stroke and lost partial vision at 42, custody battle and lost baby two at 42, broke up with finance at 42, all I was was gone. Except being a teacher. And a damn good one.

I decided I had to reinvent myself into being the embodiment of my job to cope with life. It saved me. I loved my students. They loved me. My principal wanted me to die…or, at the very least, lose my career.

21 years into my career and finding out about this birth defect, I had to make some decisions. I missed a TON of school. This was the year of COVID, where my presence was the least needed in the two-plus decades I taught. I had two heart surgeries, and I lost my job.

It was all over but the crying.

Yes, I could have sued. My union attorney said there was no cause for me to be fired or “forced to retire,” which I did. I decided my heart couldn’t take it anymore.

So, at 46, I started over, again, on my own. I thought I’d followed my dream of becoming a teacher. I LOVED every minute of it. But I found MY LOVE in writing.

If my heart hadn’t decided it was done behaving, I would not be doing what I love. I would not be pushing myself to do better every day. I would still be face-planting on the floor.

Instead, I write. I write humor, stuff that NO ONE IN THE WORLD could EVER really want to know about (but I write it), I write adventures, informative things, fun things, and boring things, but I WRITE. And I am happy.

It’s not been quite a year since the discovery of the birth defect. I just had surgery number three about two months shy of that year. And I am home. And I am writing. I am a success because I don’t faceplant anymore. I am a success because I am doing what I have always wanted to do. I am a success because I WRITE.

But, as we all know, the heart wants what the heart wants. But what the hell is up with mine? I hope I am finally giving it just what it wants because I have things to tell before it decides it’s done.

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Tracy Snyder

Tracy Snyder

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While my dream has always been to become a writer, I opted to spend the last two decades in education teaching others the craft. Now is my turn!