What can you do when you’re stuck in reverse, trapped in a life that’s so bizarre, no one would believe it?
With humor and honesty, Susan Louise Gabriel takes us on a jaw-dropping journey that reveals how God uses extraordinary experiences and unimaginably painful events to shape our lives into a masterpiece.
A shy misfit with a traditional upbringing, Susan surprisingly grows up to become a notorious crusader and leader against injustice. She later transforms from a woman with a strong moral compass into a promiscuous extrovert who destroys marriages and upends lives.
False accusations, attempted suicide, life-altering medication side effects, depression, and personality changes punctuate Susan’s life and destroy hope. She retraces her steps from a low of total disbelief in God—through calamities, hardships, and weird experiences—to arrive at joy and an unshakable faith in God.
It is within adversity that Susan begins to understand God’s love, the power of faith, and what an intimate relationship with God looks like. She finds that God’s grace is so abundant, He gives us the opportunity to start over again—multiple times, if necessary—and takes care of us every step of the way, even when we don’t feel His presence. Susan ultimately learns how to let go and trust God with her life, hear God’s voice, and trust God’s timing.
Written in a quirky, conversational style, this inspirational autobiography is a message of hope to others who have struggled to conquer depression, find themselves, and turn an upended life the right way around again. Audiences will find that it’s easy to read, hard to put down, and impossible to forget.
A cross between a memoir and an autobiography, the book footnotes specific topics, such as autoimmune diseases, false accusations, genetic mutations, medication side effects, and MBTI personality types, with references to relevant articles and studies that many readers will find helpful.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Many years ago, I received a ten-page handwritten letter from an elderly distant relative. Her spidery handwriting was impossible to read, and I discarded it. I later learned that the letter recorded the story of how God had worked in her life, and she'd sent individual letters to all her relatives. When I learned that, I regretted throwing it away. Now that I’m almost seventy, I understand why she was so determined to share her story that she painstakingly wrote dozens of pages by hand. By recording and publishing my own journey with God, I hope, in some small way, to make up for discarding an inspiring story because it wasn't easy to read.
I struggled through my graduation ceremony with a high fever and remember almost nothing about that day except the cute, shy boy who was my “walking partner” as we all marched two-by-two down the aisle to our seats. I probably gave him pneumonia, which I feel bad about now.
After the ceremony was over, I went home and went to bed. A week later I was still sick, so my mom took me back to the doctor, who prescribed a different antibiotic. A few days into the new medication, I ended up in the hospital with symptoms so wild, I stopped adding that hospitalization to my medical history because I got tired of sounding like a lunatic. When I described my symptoms to medical personnel, they always seemed to doubt my story and my sanity.
I wish I could just shake my head like an Etch-A-Sketch to erase the picture, but the memory is permanent. It was a whole new level of weird.
Here’s the story.
I’ve been lying in bed for a week now doing nothing but coughing. I’m really tired of it and ready to get up and do something. My boyfriend wants to stop by for a visit, so I need to wash my hair and put on some make-up.
When I wrap the towel around my wet hair, I notice that my face feels stiff. I look in the mirror, and smile, but the smile stays on my face, even when I try to stop smiling. What is going on?
I stagger back to bed. Am I delirious? I feel my face and it still feels stiff. I reach toward the desk and drag my purse over by the strap to pull out the small mirror I always keep in it. The smile is still on my face. I try to frown but am unsuccessful. I try to relax my facial muscles, but they remain stiff and tight. Am I losing my mind? Or hallucinating? I don’t know what to do. If I’m not hallucinating and if anyone sees me like this—with a silly smile plastered on my face—they will think I’ve lost my mind! About 20 minutes later, I’m finally able to relax my muscles and stop smiling. I get up and slowly get ready.
When my boyfriend arrives, I greet him at the door, smiling as I open the door. And it happens again! I can’t stop smiling! My muscles feel frozen all the way up to my eyes this time, and even my neck muscles feel tight. I panic and run to the bathroom and look in the mirror. This is horrible! My face is distorted into a frightening grimace like a Halloween mask but worse. I scream for Mom and tell her to have my boyfriend leave—to tell him I feel sick.
She returns to the bathroom to check on me, and I venture out. My mom is going to think I’m insane!
“Mom, I can’t stop smiling!”
She looks at me and says, “Why are you looking like that?”
“Mom, I can’t help it! I can’t stop smiling! I need to see the doctor!” I am horrified at the thought of going out in public looking like this, but I can’t think of another choice.
I’m lucky I don’t have to wait to see the doctor when we arrive. He takes one look at me and asks me what kind of drugs I’m on. I tell him only what he gave me, but he looks at me skeptically. Dear God, he thinks I’m on LSD or something! He asks my mom to come to his office for a consultation without me. He is probably telling my mom he thinks I’m on drugs! Oh my God! How will I convince them that I haven’t taken anything?!
They come back out of his office, and the doctor says he will call the hospital and alert them that we’re coming.
I’m mortified while checking in, and I look forward to lying down in a hospital bed in a room where I can hide from all the people staring at me. An aide hands me a hospital gown and directs me to a bed. In the hall. Yes, a bed in the hall. You read that right. They are full. No room at the inn. And they just keep saying with a smirk, “Remember to vote ‘yes’ on the hospital bond issue when it comes up next month!”
A bed in the hall is bad enough in the best of times, but I am absolutely positive that a crazy Batman villain who can’t stop smiling should not be stuck in the hall where everyone is going to point and stare and laugh and make comments to their companions. The cruelty of this turn of events is crushing. It feels like a fate worse than death. On the other hand, if I’m lucky maybe this peculiar disease or whatever it is will kill me now and I won’t have to watch them staring at me.
Within the next thirty minutes, my wish is almost granted. I don’t die, but at least I don’t have to watch people staring at me anymore because I can’t see them. The stiffness is spreading, causing my neck to be arched backwards and my eyes to roll back inside my head. I can’t see anything. My mother tells me that only the whites of my eyes are showing. My chest feels tight and I’m having difficulty breathing. Now I’m getting terrified! A nurse pointlessly asks how I’m doing. I can’t speak. I feel her jiggling the IV line the tech inserted after I’d climbed into bed. I feel myself finally relaxing, then floating into unconsciousness.
When I regain consciousness, my face feels more relaxed, but my relief is short-lived as another attack starts. The first two days the attacks grow worse, until each time, the nurse injects my IV line, allowing me to breathe freely again and get some rest. The following day, I only have one attack, but I am still unable to relax because now I have developed an itchy rash that encircles my abdomen and quickly spreads. I am restless and can’t lie still. I am so uncomfortable, I ignore all the stares and turn over and over until the nurse injects the IV line again. The following day, I am drenched in sweat and covered with a rash from head to toe, but on the bright side, the Joker seems to have gone back to Gotham City.
I spent a week in the hospital—in the hallway—entertaining staff and visitors with wild-eyed grimaces. I also scared them with my contagious-looking rash. Some people gawked; others tried to look away. Still others, oddly enough, thought I was smiling at them and smiled back. After all that, they charged my parents for a private room.
I wasn’t old enough to vote and I don’t know how my parents voted, but the hospital didn’t win any points with me. They did somehow manage to get their bond money for expansion.
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