I don’t generally follow trends, but seeing as how a lot of my friends have shared their life story and it has been an encouragement to others, I think I’ll give it a whirl. It terrifies me to think about digging so deep into my past, it’s not very pretty, (I’ve tried it before and just couldn’t get through it) but I think it might be helpful for me, and who knows who else it might help, so here goes. (Warning: it’s going to be long… There’s a lot to write about…)
My story begins in a seemingly typical fundamental Baptist family. 2 parents, male and female, married, church members, and pretty much middle class. I was a long-awaited first child, and my mom was so overjoyed when she found out she was carrying me that she spilled orange juice all over herself (do I think that was a foreshadowing of how clumsy I was destined to be? Absolutely). The first 9 years of my life went pretty smoothly; I almost always had a best friend, my music talent was discovered and I did a lot of singing in church, I learned to read at age 4, I came to Christ at age 5, and school was pretty much a breeze for me. My brother Christopher developed autism during that time, but honestly, (up until recently, when he got much worse) I loved him that way and wouldn’t have changed him for anything. My only major woes were 1), I had only brothers and LONGED for a little sister, and 2) I developed acid reflux when I was 7-8 years old, which has been a plague all my life. Unfortunately the second woe never got resolved, but I love telling about the way the first one did.
Up until I was 9, I prayed with my mom for babies to be added to the family. Every time I prayed, I got a sibling… and EVERY TIME it was a boy. THREE TIMES I got a boy instead of a girl, and by the time I was the oldest sibling in a house with 3 little boys, I’d had enough. I finally prayed for a SISTER, and lo and behold, I got my wish. Ariel Joy Singleton was born when I was 9 years and 9 days old and that was the day I learned about praying specifically. God wants you to pray what you mean and mean what you pray!
So I had a great life, in spite of some difficulties. Things could only go up from there, right?
Around the time when I was 9-10 we started noticing something was wrong with the family dynamic, specifically with my dad. He was so angry all the time and just brought a feeling of general not-okayness to the household. My mom suspected something was up, but never was able to bring it to light until my dad confessed it. When I was 11-12, my parents began the long and agonizing process of splitting up, due to my dad’s adultery.
I will not go into gross details out of respect for my family, but I will tell you that this event was one of the most defining things about my life so far. To this day, I have trouble dealing with stress, trusting men, trusting people in general, opening up, believing in myself, and much more because of it. But I also feel like without this event in my life, I would not be who I am today. My feelings would not be as deep, my thought processes would not be as enlightened, and in general I would be a much more shallow person, incapable of understanding the traumas that other people face in their own lives. I would not trade my circumstances for anything in the world.
Because of my position as the oldest child in a single-parent home, I had to grow up really fast. Too fast, really, and I lost a portion of my childhood that I feel I can never recover. However, life did go on after the separation, and I had a couple of semi-happy years after my dad left. It was like a weight was lifted from the household and we could breathe again… but yet, at times, the grief from what I had just been through was overwhelming. I often felt a pull to the knife drawer, as if someone was telling me that killing myself would make it all better. I never attempted suicide, but it was a thought in my mind for quite a while after the separation and one that would come back to haunt me later in life when another “man” didn’t treat me very well.
Tragedy struck again 2 years after the separation. My grandfather on my mom’s side, Raymond Hayes, came down with pancreatic cancer when I was 14. That year was very hard for the entire Hayes family as we watched Granddaddy’s health decline, praying for a miracle but knowing deep down inside that there wasn’t much to be done. He was such a special person. Some people couldn’t understand why I was so devastated about his death, but there was just something about the way he treated all his children and grandchildren that made you feel like you were someone TRULY special. He loved it when I played the piano and always said he wanted to see me playing the organ in a church someday. Truth is, I hated the organ, but I wish I’d had the chance to learn it and play it for him now. I think he’d be proud of me for going into Music Ed. Sometimes I hate cancer for taking him away.
Granddaddy died while I was gone on a mission trip to New York City, and I hate to admit it, but I was bitter about that at the time. I thought God had failed me. After all, I was gone serving God and I begged God not to let him die while I was gone, but He did anyway. I spent about 2 weeks being angry at God for that, but then wised up and realized I NEEDED God right then. I missed Him, and it was in preparation for, during, and after that mission trip that I really made my salvation and my relationship with Him a surety. I know we have a relationship, because when something comes between us or I run away, I FEEL it. My mind, body, and spirit cry out in pain until I return to Him, and I can recognize when He’s calling to me.
4 weeks after Granddaddy died, I went to Music Camp at Northland Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin. It was the best camp week of my life, and it was there that I surrendered to God’s calling on my life to be a music teacher (I wandered from that for about 5 years, and have finally come back to it now because God just won’t let anything else work out until I obey Him… heh). I also learned while I was there from my counselor, Stephanie, that I wasn’t just a “victim” of God’s will for other people’s lives. Everything that had happened to me up to that point was for ME, so I could grow as a person in the specific situation that I was placed in. That has made such a difference in my life.
The next couple of years were full of friends, fun, and laughter. My high school years were not perfect, but I have tons of great memories with great people. I discovered in high school that I have talents in composing music and in writing, and it was a very exciting experience to feel like I could create something that other people could really enjoy. My first attempts at writing were… well to be frank, embarrassing… but it was obvious to everyone that there was both an aptitude and an interest there and ever since then, I’ve just had this feeling that I’m going to accomplish something big someday. The way my writing started was actually as a coping strategy for the traumas I had gone through in my Jr. High years. When I was overwhelmed with the sadness and the depression around and inside me, I would go off on wild flights of fancy in my head; usually about my favorite characters from my favorite TV shows. One idea from that time period has stuck with me up to the present day: Siranai. It was not called that at the time (and I have to give my friend, Danae, props for a lot of the original ideas) but the idea was born in that era and has grown ever since.
My life took on a dramatic twist when I met my first boyfriend online at age 17. It was a whirlwind cyber-romance, and 5 days after meeting each other we were boyfriend and girlfriend… and stayed that way, foolishly, for over 2 years. I alienated a LOT of people during that time in my life, and I can’t ever say how much I regret it. It was during that time that some of my depressive/suicidal thoughts came back and I wasn’t a very fun person to be around for a while, plus I refused to listen to a lot of smart people that told me to get away from him. However, I did break up with him about a year ago, and since then I’ve begun to pick up the pieces and I’m chasing the stars once again. I have to say this is another one of those events that in a way, I wish had never happened, but yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The experience I gained from being in a failed relationship has helped me to understand other people even more and I know it will be used greatly in my future.
Now, at age 20, I am so glad that my coping method for my depression and suicidal thoughts 8 years ago was my imagination. I am not ashamed at all to say I have never smoked, drunk alcohol, done drugs, or had sex (not that I think all of those things are inherently evil, but people in traumatic situations can easily become trapped by such things). God has been very gracious in preserving me from the addictive power of all of those, although I still have my own struggles. Things like overeating, severe anxiety, and a cutting/complaining tongue are HUGE problems for me, and while that may sound minor to some people, to me those are enough to keep me out of heaven had Jesus Christ not taken the punishment for my sins. I still struggle to believe sometimes that such an amazing story could be true, but I see the evidence of God’s existence all around me and cannot deny His love for me. He is real, He is involved with us, and He loves ALL of us enough to send His own Son. I pray that my life will become better and better at proclaiming that through the years.
My plans right now (subject to change) are to keep writing and composing as I simultaneously pursue a degree in Music Education, with voice as my principal. My writing will mostly be focused on a pilot episode of my TV-series-in-progress, Siranai, which I hope to actually sell within the next 5-7 years. What really happens in my life is all up to God. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
If you made it this far, congrats, and thanks for reading this novel 😉