When Life Deals You A Difficult Hand

4 Minutes Read

Inspiration Comes In Many Forms

Jolyn FishingI want to introduce you to Jolyn. She is one of my inspirations (without even knowing it). She is a reminder of what it means to never give up, even when life seems impossible. I have known Jolyn for many years now. She knows all too well that she is perfectly imperfect. Some days she is OK with imperfection and some days she rages against it. I admire her process, her willingness to learn and her effort to embrace imperfection. I hope she is as inspirational to you as she is to me.

Jolyn's Story

“I am 42 years old, I am Gay, a recovering addict and I have HSP (Hereditary Spastic Paraplegic Disorder) – a neurological disorder that affects my lower mobility. I grew up in Reading, PA, have a big Italian catholic family and loved playing sports. On the outside my life probably looked ideal, but on the inside, it was ugly.


A Difficult Hand

My father died on my 9th birthday. His death may have been related to mental health, addiction or the hereditary disease that he too carried. My mother was actively alcoholic at the time and my only sibling was not someone I could rely on. I was grateful to feel the love and support of my grandmother, except I had a secret that I held from her and everyone else for many years. I was gay, I knew it and I couldn't bear losing anyone else for any other reason...especially something I felt guilt and shame about.Jolyn poker

I found an escape route in my late 20’s that allowed me to travel the world and make friends. I became a talented travelling poker dealer and even more talented drug addict. I've done many TV final tables on ESPN as well as TV final tables in Europe on the European Poker Tour. It was a lot of fun and I made good money doing it.

In my mid 20's I started to feel the effects of HSP (Hereditary Spastic Paraplegic Disorder).
My father, brother and several paternal aunts and uncles have it as well. This is how It was explained to me: think of the signal from your brain to your lower limbs as an electrical cord. The disease eats away at the rubber covering the wires so the wires are exposed so the signal gets lost in translation. Its starts out very slow with just a dragging of the toes here and there.

Jolyn with mom as a childI spent my childhood on the playground playing any sport I could get my hands on, I was good at them all. I played football with the boys at the playground and then in school I played basketball and softball and always was a starting player. I was even all state catcher one year in softball. For the last 8 years, I have been using a cane and today I am relegated to a wheelchair when going further than to and from my car. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that even walking is slipping away at a very slow pace.

A Message of Hope

Today, I have been sober for 6 years. I am out as a gay woman. I am attending college, and I work. I am passionate about my sobriety, stand up comedy and my loved ones. I have found faith and refuse to let any of the roadblocks that I experience knock me down…even though I do fall (literally).[bctt tweet=" I hold onto hope that I am worthy of love despite my many imperfections. " username="dawn_wiggins"]Mine is a story of overcoming adversity, inspiration and vulnerability. I have not gotten here alone.  I have had so much support along the way. I have a message of hope for those who may be suffering or scared and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share it.”

If you can relate to Jolyn's story or if something she said spoke to you, please comment or share. I believe that no suffering has to be in vain. Jolyn has suffered yet she has found purpose in her life. She has given myself and many others hope. If you are grateful for her courage to share her story, pass it on so that it can inspire someone else!

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15 thoughts on “When Life Deals You A Difficult Hand”

  1. I love this girl/woman thank you Dawn for all you do for her she is a remarkable woman so greatful she is in my life

  2. Jolyn,
    I remember the day you were born. Your Dad couldn’t have been more happy to have his little girl.
    We DID have a big Italian Catholic Family. I have many fond memories of holidays spent together. Although our paths haven’t crossed for many years, I have goose bumps reading your story and it makes me very proud to call you my cousin. Your Aunt Annie would have been proud of you too! Love, Your cousin Deb xoxo

  3. Donna Garipoli

    You are an amazing young woman with so much courage! Tony & I both felt emotional reading your story. I know how proud your mom & John are of you & so are we all! Love you ❤️

  4. AlkeishaJackson

    I don’t know she’s awesome, she’s my inspiration, I love her even though she called me an idiot lol. I have such great respect for this women who doesn’t let anything stand in her way she’s just amazing to me always no matter what. love you Jolyn

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