I had managed to survive the miracle of birth. Regrettably, the doctor discovered an abnormality. My birth on March 7th, 1973 the 28th recorded birth of a child to survive a diagnosis of Eagle-Barrett Syndrome (Prune Belly Syndrome). The rare birth defect involves three ‘triads’ of urological complications. My continued survival meant multiple surgeries, painful examinations, involving tubes inserted into the urinary tract while all other surgical procedures healed. The doctor’s frightening revelations, “these children rarely survive the age of two.” Each birthday celebration with an unknown future, “Your chances of survival, reaching the age of sixteen, is rare,” my doctor’s prognosis. My earliest childhood memories were facing consistent thoughts of the possibility of death.

My life with Eagle-Barrett Syndrome resulted in insecurities, social phobias over perceived body image issues, and no instruction manual to process emotional frustrations. I would have no ideas how to interact, socially adapt, or in later years allow myself to love another without loving myself. The result of my experiences were lost relationships leading into the results of an upsetting divorce. Attempts to navigate life were a constant struggle, facing physical abuse and addiction. My development occurred through effort, opportunities, and achievements in focus through overcoming continuing relapses.

I survived a near-death Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) during the emotional loss of a loving mother’s brave determination facing the long-term effects of dementia. Trials and struggles, persistence, and courage led me to inspirational transitions into adulthood. Coming from rock bottom, addiction, suicidal ideation, and hopelessness, to healing and mindfulness turned into the abilities to achieve a bachelor’s, master’s degree, and continue to earning a PhD. in psychology. My imperfections, struggles and achievements as human.