I was talking to a friend the other day, when I mentioned something to them about my first few months in town, and they were flabbergasted. I realized I hadn’t shared my “Nashville Story” with them before. My “Nashville Story” is not a smooth one, it is crazy, bumpy, scary, and unreal, but it’s part of my story. For a while, I shared my experience with any new friends I made out here, just not publicly. Talking to my friend the other day, I realized that I have been so focused on my future and where I need to be in the present, that I haven’t thought about it in a long time. I also realized I was ready to share my story with all of you, as it no longer has any emotion attached to it for me. It has become a stepping stone, and not a challenge.
I decided to move to Nashville on a whim. A whim mind you that I had done a lot of praying about. I’d asked God for guidance. I knew I needed to move for my music but didn’t know where, or when. Then one day, my answer came, in the form of a fellow musician telling me to move to Nashville. He said “Move, move tomorrow if you have to! You can’t get where you need to be here.” That was it for me; three days later I decided I was moving. Three months later, I had my pontiac vibe packed as full as I could get it, and I drove cross country for 4 days. The craziest part is that I had never been to Nashville in my life, I knew no one except the musician who’d told me to move, but he was always on the road, so it hardly counted. I was completely by myself.
I had done my research before I came and decided that living in an apartment by myself wasn’t a good way to start, partially because of the cost of living alone, and partially because I didn’t want to get hooked into a long lease in a place I’d never been. So, I found a roommate on craigslist. I was supposed to have the 2nd bedroom in his 2 bedroom apartment, but when I arrived, someone else was still living in “my room” and hadn’t been asked to leave yet. I had no where else to go, so I slept awkwardly on the couch until I met 2 really nice girls at swing dancing that allowed me to stay with them while I looked for other living arrangements. I wrote “Somewhere In Between” in those first two weeks in town. I was literally in between everything! The unfortunate part is, I couldn’t find another living situation in a reasonable amount of time, so I ended up moving back into the original apartment once “my room” had been vacated. This was against my better judgement, and the better judgement of my friends. However, I felt I had no other option. I also thought the main problem was that the guy who was to be my roommate was a pushover and passive. I figured that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for me to have to deal with.
After my first month or so in town, it became clear that what I initially thought was passive, was actually passive aggressive. The guy that I shared that apartment with hated women. And he was constantly saying very strange passive aggressive things to me. Meanwhile, I was working double shifts almost every day at a restaurant, and doing music. I had no energy for the passive aggressive behavior. One night, I got home late after work, and the guy was waiting for me with a complaint about the fact that I had left my dishes from dinner in the sink when I left for my second shift. I told him I had every intention of cleaning them when I got home, and that’s exactly what I was going to do, but that I wouldn’t do his dishes also. When I told him I wouldn’t do his dishes, he lost it. He lost his mind. It was like something in him just snapped the way an animal loses control when it kills someone. The way someone snaps when they stab a person 30 times. His veins were popping out of his neck, he was pounding his fists on the counter, he was throwing things, and he was threatening me. He told me he would throw me and all of my belonging onto the street right then (1 am), among other threats. It’s like my heart stopped in that moment, and I knew if I said a word, and didn’t stay calm, he’d pull a knife out of the dishwasher and that would be it. I got very, very calm, and when he went back to the other side of the counter I told him I was already looking at other places to live, because I knew it wasn’t working for us to be roommates. He then lost it again. He raged at me for abandoning him to find another roommate and screwing him over financially by not giving him notice. Mind you, I hadn’t found a place yet. When he shut himself in his room, I locked myself in mine, and called a friend. I realized I wasn’t safe, and in the middle of the night, a friend and her boyfriend snuck me, my bunny, and as many of my belongings as we could out of the apartment.
I filed a police report so it would be on record, and only went back with two guys for protection to move the rest of my belongings. The entire time I moved, he raged at me, followed me, and even threatened to kill me, in front of the two guys. It was the most horrendous hour I have ever been through. I had to calmly ignore him and keep moving, while he said, “Don’t you know you’re only about 80 pounds, I would have no problem getting rid of you. You’ll never make it in this town, you are weak and pitiful and can’t deal with anything, and I’ll make sure everyone here knows how crazy and insane you are and that they should never work with you. I’ll make sure you’ll never make it. You might as well go crying home now, cause you’ll never survive out here….” It went on, and on, and on. He tried to get me to clean the floorboards on my hands and knees before I left. The guys with me couldn’t do anything to stop this without causing an actual physical altercation. It was terrible.
I stayed in my friends spare room until I could find an emergency place to live, and I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with him again. Until he continued to send me nasty threatening messages telling me I owed him money for utilities (he actually owed me money), and that if I didn’t give it to him, he would come and get it from me at work. I had to get a restraining order. Except, he didn’t let it stop their. For the next few months, he appealed the restraining order 2 times! I had to go to court 5 times total to keep the restraining order in place. By the time the nightmare was over, I had only been in town for about 6 months. I had recorded my first CD, and had my song aired on the radio for the first time, thanks to Billy Block. He was my first radio interview. I swore to myself that i would make sure to prove him wrong. Music is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Whether or not I’m going to make it has never been a question for me, it was always “when?” The only thing that got me through those months, and the 2 ½ years since is knowing without a doubt that THIS is my calling. This is where God wants me. This is where God planted me, and I would fulfill that calling. Music is beauty to me, it is life, it is love; it gives. It gives to me, and it allows me to give to others, which blesses me daily. Some of you are just getting to know me now, and some of you have been on this journey with me for a few years now. Some of you met me in the middle of that crisis. I am grateful to each and every one of you, every single day. You have sent me messages on the worst days of my life that made them brighter, and reminded me of why I do what I do. You are a daily beautiful reminder that everything I’ve done, everything I’ve worked for, and all that I’ve been through have a purpose, and it is being fulfilled by giving to you, and sharing this journey with you. Thank you for being on this ride with me!
And as a final thought, life happens, pain happens, loss happens; but so do dreams, so does growth. No matter what has happened in your life, no matter what you are dealing with and going through, know that you have a purpose. Do not let circumstances take your joy. You can have joy even through tears and pain. But most importantly, do not let circumstances take your dreams. Your dreams are part of your purpose, they are who you are, and the world needs you.