It’s always darkest before the dawn
Others tell me that I am brave, that my story is inspiring, but I’ll let you be the judge.
There’s a saying, “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and I’ve come to believe it.
My darkness fell early on Boxing Day morning (December 26, 2012) when a devastating fire reduced my little farmhouse on the Canadian prairies to ash and rubble. The dogs, horses and I were safe. Unfortunately, the cats perished and everything else was destroyed. Not one to wallow, I temporarily rehomed the animals with friends and settled into a hotel to continue living life with as much normalcy as possible while tackling the humongous task of rebuilding my home.
A few weeks after the fire, I experienced a detached retina in my right eye that required several rounds of surgery to resolve. (Apparently my retinas are flimsier than most!) The procedures themselves weren’t too bad (if you don’t mind having Freon gas injected into your eyeball or intensely bright laser beams shot into the back of your eye). But each round of surgery was followed by weeks of strict “face down” bed rest, followed by months of extremely restricted exercise to ensure the retina would heal properly. When a person’s retina detaches, it is not uncommon for the second one to detach soon thereafter. I followed the pattern, and the retina in my left eye detached a few months later.
My vision deteriorated to such an extent that I was deemed “unfit to work” in my role as a project manager with a large healthcare organization and put on long-term disability.
Homeless, unemployed, and disabled
Homeless, unemployed and disabled – not exactly the life I dreamed of living.
Fortunately, with the help of incredibly kind and generous friends, family, colleagues, insurance adjusters, more than a few strangers, and the amazing talents of my retinal surgeon and optometrist, I was able to survive (most of) these challenges and started planning the next phase of my life, which I refer to as my “new life”.
The solution I came up with is NOT for everyone, and many people (including my parents who worry for my safety) think I’m a little bit crazy, but it works for me.
Less than a year after the fire, I packed all of my belongings into two suitcases and hopped on a plane destined for Turkey to establish Arkadaslik Yachting, a luxury cruise business on the Mediterranean. A few months after arriving in Turkey, I bought 22 meter, classic Turkish Gulet Arkadaslik and now host tours along the Turquoise coast. It’s been an epic adventure filled with highs, lows and everything in between.
Has it been easy? Not at all. Navigating through the world with severely impaired vision is difficult. Life for a single woman in Turkey is difficult. Establishing a foreign business in a male-dominated industry is especially difficult. (In retrospect, I lived a “charmed life” in Canada and never experienced blatant discrimination until coming to Turkey! ) Simply put, life is not easy.
Do I regret my decision? Not at all. I wake up each day eager to tackle the challenges ahead, and fall into bed each night, exhausted from the day’s adventures. I certainly miss some aspects of my “old life” (especially my pets and my awesome shoe collection), but I don’t regret taking this new path.
Here comes the sun!
It may be true that “it’s always darkest before the dawn”, but dawn has broken, here comes the sun!
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This article was published on Quora in response to the question “What are some inspirational stories about people that bounced back from adversity?” If you enjoyed reading it, please consider sharing on social media using the buttons below. Thanks!