Updated: Jun 25, 2020
| This is the 411th story of Our Life Logs |
As a child, you are encouraged to dream. You’re asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As such, I always dreamed of being something extraordinary. I remember at a very young age grabbing paper and tracing what I saw in front of me or writing scribble that looked similar to words. Sometimes, your dream doesn’t line up with how your life is going, and other times, your dream can mold with you. That is what always astounded me about life.
I was born in Vineland, New Jersey, on October 4, 1987, to my parents George and Andrea Bunton, who met in church and fell in love. I grew up in Fairfield Township. My dad became an ordained minister when he was seven. He taught my three older brothers and me how to be kind and hardworking. He also taught me the importance of family. Back then, I didn’t notice the stigmatism in black culture regarding problems. I was told, “Whatever happens in the family stays in the family.” If you were struggling, no one outside needed to know. You shouldn’t show weakness.
Because of these lessons, I set the bar high for myself when I started school. I won awards for art, library, music, and physical education every year from Kindergarten to the fourth grade. I primarily maintained a straight A average, but it soon seemed that perfectionism was my downfall. No matter how well I did, the disappointment I felt on those rare occasions that I received a B was the lowest feeling a child should never have to suffer so early in life.
In fifth grade, my family moved to a new place with a new school, away from the town I’d known and loved. But it wasn’t all bad at first. When my grades transferred over, I was the highest scoring fifth grader and was placed in the school’s Gifted and Talented team. It was almost like nothing had changed.
Then, the following year brought disappointment I wasn’t prepared for. To remain in the gifted track, I had to take a series of tests reviewing my moral code. When the woman interviewing me asked, “If you found an envelope with money in it, what would you do?” I was torn. My mind was insisting I answer one way, but she asked me to be honest and so I responded, “I would try to find the owner and then if I am unsuccessful, I would keep it.” I never thought that one little answer would change the course of my journey. I’m not sure why my answer was considered “wrong” but they thought it was. I felt betrayed by the education system. My perfectionism was what drove me. Without that accolade, I felt incomplete.
Feeling lost without my ranking, I wrestled with a lot of inner turmoil. I became very depressed during this time. Other demons that I had been hiding inside also came out from my fragile state. I didn’t know how to vocalize those feelings, so I started writing them down. The release and calm I received from scrawling words onto paper was therapeutic for me, and it became all that I did. I’d sit at my desk and write away—stories, poems, whatever, but poetry was usually my writing of choice. I enjoyed weaving together metaphors and hyperbole to create the perfect rhythm of words. I loved the way the rhymes would roll off my tongue, how so much power they could hold.
But then, a new demon came. When I was 14, I was raped by a guy in the neighborhood on my way home from basketball practice. Broken and scared, I went to my pastor and my uncle for help, but both took advantage of my vulnerability and began molesting me. Somehow, it got around school that I’d accused a boy of rape and none of the boys my age would talk to me, fearful I’d accuse them too.
My depression returned and so did my hopelessness. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because I’d been taught to keep stuff like this in the family. “If you got diagnosed as depressed and they give you medicine, they classify you,” is what my parents always said. Desperate for help, I started going to a guidance center to deal with my rape and molestation anyway. When the woman there mentioned to my mother that I was depressed and that she wanted to start me on a medicine, that was the last time we saw her.
Once more, writing became my therapy. I wrote about the things I wished I could still discuss with the guidance center. I didn’t know how else to voice my pain, so my words on paper became my voice. When I was 15, I wrote a full-length novel called The Devil Doesn’t Sleep Alone.
My peers responded positively to my book. They encouraged me to write another and I obliged, hence the birth of Never Be the Same Again, in which I combined my poetry with storytelling. I have to say, writing healed me emotionally. All the while, I dreamed, just like when I was little. I had aspirations to become a famous writer and use my words to make an impact.
After high school, I obtained my Associate’s Degree in Accounting in 2009, and went on to get my Bachelor’s in Business Accounting from the University of Phoenix. In between this, I started working, got married and had three kids. Time flew. Juggling college, career, and family, I hardly found any time in the day for writing. I still enjoyed reading immensely and still dreamed of being a writer, but unfortunately writing took a backseat in my life. I had dibbled and dabbled with a few writing pieces over the years but nothing big, not like the old days.
That itch to write, however, was lingering in the background of my mind.
By 2011, my career was heading upwards and onwards as I had just secured management at my place of employment and was looking forward to a rising trajectory. My youngest daughter was just three months old, and life was blissful. But as it goes, when you think your life is on track, God has a funny way of reminding you that He has other plans.
In March of 2011, I fell into an unsecured manhole and sustained injuries that put me on the permanently disabled list. It was a shocking blow to my career and the life I’d come to know. What can I say besides that I was devastated?
I fell into a deep depression following my injuries, as I was unable to walk and was diagnosed with CRPS (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome). Because of this, I had to put a pause on my professional journey. One doctor even said that I would have a better quality of life if I just cut off the portion of my leg that was affected by the condition, but I thought, no way! I was determined to get my life back. The rehabilitation process was grueling, but I was going to prove all those doctors who said I would never walk again wrong.
Long story short, I eventually went from crutches to a knee scooter. In 2014, I had a neuro-stimulation implantation device placed in my spine to help me recover sooner. After that surgery, I could start using a walker. I kept going until I could eventually just use a single forearm crutch.
In between the diagnosis, therapy, and rehabilitation, I started thinking about the books I had written as a 15-year-old. I dug out those papers and like I did all those years ago, I used writing to heal. I decided that if I was going to embark on a writing journey once more, I should start with the two books that started it all for me. In 2013, I typed them up and published them on Amazon. I’ll never forget how it felt to see my name on those books knowing that the work was mine.
Unfortunately, the journey to be a writer wasn’t as smooth as I’d expected at first. Sure, people wanted to read, but no one wanted to have to buy. So, my exhilaration lasted very briefly. Still, I kept going, immersing myself in words to heal from my pain. I began to write my third book, Sistah Friends, in 2014 after a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings with some of my homegirls. I was inspired to begin a four-part series about a group of successful businesswomen who have conquered the business world..but are anything but successful where their personal lives are concerned.
As I got deeper into my writing journey, I realized that although my accident was tragic, it was God’s way of moving me in another direction in life, the path I was meant to follow. I believe writing has always been my destiny and that is why life has led me back to it.
Through rehabilitation, I was able to walk again. In that moment, my faith was renewed. I had been raised in the church but this experience helped lead me back to God. For that, I’m forever grateful. Writing and God came hand in hand as I wrote the prayers each night to get me through. Every day brings new challenges, but if God brings me to it, he will surely see me through it. If you’re meant to pursue something, it will find a way back into your life.
This is the story of Angel Miller
Angel is a 31-year-old mother of three living in Vineland, New Jersey. She has a BS in Business Accounting and is a four-time self-published author. Like many others, she has had her share of good and bad times, including becoming disabled from an accident in 2011 and getting a divorce in 2018, but through writing and her faith, she continues to stay positive. Angel loves to read and spend time with her children and family. She is an active member in her church and serves as a Sunday School teacher. Angel has also published a prayer book, Prayers for Your Lo Debar (Desolate) Place, on Amazon. Writing has helped her get through the hardest times in her life, and she hopes that, through her writing, she can help others overcome the challenging times in their lives.
This story first touched our hearts on August 24, 2019.
| Writer: Angel Miller | Editor: Kristen Petronio |