REAL CHATS with Laurie Maalul

Laurie Maalul is a single mom with two beautiful daughters. She is a survivor of incest, rape and domestic violence. She works as a Music Therapist and Occupational Thereapist and has done extensive work in the world of self-awareness.

PROJECT 375: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Laurie: I would go back to the Cayman Islands and go Scuba diving. Time, gravity, sound, everything was suspended, and I had the opportunity to take in every glorious and peaceful moment without distraction or stressors. Well, except for the sharks, maybe… 😉

PROJECT 375: What is your proudest accomplishment?

Laurie: My children are by far my proudest accomplishment-in-progress. With all of the education I’ve had, with all of the people that I’ve helped and had the honor to work with, no experience has been so amazing as watching my children grow into the amazing human beings that they are becoming day by day.

PROJECT 375: What is the most daring thing you have ever done?

Laurie: I left my abusive (now ex-) husband, then reconnected with my family who I’d been estranged from because of that abusive relationship for 8+ years.

PROJECT 375: What is your favorite childhood memory?

Laurie: Every Sunday night, we used to sit around the radio and listen to “The Dr. Demento Show”, where they would play parodies and satires of some popular songs, and just some original goofy songs. I believe that’s where Weird Al Yankovic got his start. One day, My Dad and I got inspired to write our own parody to Stevie Nicks’ “Leather and Lace”. I can still sing it to you. I was 9.

PROJECT 375: What has been your biggest challenge?

Laurie: My biggest challenge has definitely been negotiating the world as a single mom while having 2 kids with issues. Trying to work enough to pay the bills, while negotiating insurance issues, medical and educational professionals, and even friends and family who didn’t believe that there was anything wrong that a good behavior plan couldn’t fix. Until nobody else could fix it with a behavior plan either. My younger daughter, after having a list of diagnoses a mile long, has finally at age 11 been diagnosed with a hypo-functional pituitary gland, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and a math based learning disability. 11 years wasted of fighting the system that just “passed her off” as having behavior problems, oppositional defiant disorder, and attachment disorders. I was unwilling to relent, I knew it was not just behavior. Had they listened to me, we could have addressed her endocrine problems 2 years earlier, and she would have less severe disabilities at this point. My older daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD, and severe depression and anxiety within the last 2 years. She was also passed off as oppositional behavior and “school refusal”. She missed 3 months of school due to inability to function, ended up testing positive for having had Epstein Barr after the fact, and is now being followed by a rheumatologist because of chronic pain and potential autoimmune issues. Dealing with their medical needs, their emotional needs, and still trying to meet my own needs and keep a roof over our heads and food on the table has been an ongoing struggle.

PROJECT 375: What do you define as family?

Laurie: Family, to me, are the people who love you unconditionally, have got your back no matter what, and accept you for who you are despite whatever strengths or weaknesses you have. They are the ones that jump in to help without needing to be asked, they are the ones that are there to listen and let you cry on their shoulder without trying to fix everything for you. I have a very small family. 😉

PROJECT 375: What’s your philosophy in life?

Laurie: Do the best that you can do at any given time. Treat people the way you want to be treated, always with kindness and respect. Be true to yourself, and be honest, especially when nobody is looking. And always, always find something to be grateful for. As ugly as the world can get at times, there is always something beautiful to be grateful for.

PROJECT 375: What is your diagnosis?

Laurie: PTSD, ADHD, depression and anxiety.

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