Five Questions with Criss Sole

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic

An interview with the writer: Criss Sole.

Submitted: July 16, 2018

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Submitted: July 16, 2018




Criss has an amazing story, she is a true survivor. She is the bravest person I know. I started reading The Things He Shattered, and was hooked by the time she got to the war between Canada and Russia. She’s been my best fan since my early days of writing. Also, she likes cats, is an expert at knitting, and has gotten very good at Words With Friends. - Serge Wlodarski



Prologue: Curiosity : Who inspires you, where do you draw your inspiration from ? 


I am strongly inspired by individuals who do not let their disabilities get in the way of living life to the fullest. When I was still in the hospital I began to watch television as there was nothing else to do. A movie that was often on was "Frida". It is about the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Even though she had a disability she was still able to make a name for herself and did not let it stop her from doing what she loved. She was my first inspiration.

Now I have watched countless stories about people who have disabilities that are much much worse than mine, and are able to find happiness and achieve what they want. I tell myself that if they are able to do it, i have no excuse.


Question 1: I have always been, not only a fan of your writing, but a fan of your soul, ever since reading your book " The Things He Shattered." 

Lets work backwards, here. What is your life like today ? Tell me about your "typical" day.
(emotionally, physically spiritually ,etc)




Answer 1:

That is so kind of you. Thank you. I am honored that people were touched by my story. I spend my days in bed sadly. I no longer have the ability to go outside on my own. Thankfully I am able to walk, but it causes me quite a bit of pain because of my damaged legs, so if i do go outside I need someone to push my wheelchair. Soon after I became disabled, my father was fired from his job that he had for almost 2 decades. His boss was very annoyed that he was taking too many sick days and had had enough. Shorty after that, we got an eviction notice because we could no longer afford to rent the apartment I had grown up in. The little disability money I was receiving would not come close to paying the apartment rent we owed, not to mention basic living expenses. We had no choice. We had to move. I now live in an area where I do not know a single person. I have no friends here, so if i ever want to go outside I have to rely on my parents. It was very hard at first, and i felt very broken and alone, but as time went on I began to get used to my new living situation. After this tragedy happened to me, I was sure i had hit rock bottom and things would get better. Sadly I was mistaken. In time the great majority of my friends began to distance themselves from me, breaking off all contact and moving on with their lives. Only one former friend was kind enough to explain to me why. She told me her life was going very well and she did not want to remember the horrible past. I cannot even begin to explain how hurt I was by their actions. It has been an incredibly hard 8 years after my fall, but I try to stay optimistic. It was a bit of a surprise for me, but my pain has gotten worse. My back gives me a lot of trouble now. It was broken very badly, so i try to make myself as comfortable as possible and not do a lot of moving. I do feel lucky because initially doctors had predicted that I had a 200% chance of being blind, because of the damage to my eyes and the severe brain damage I experienced. I think about this every day and thank God I am still able to see. It gives me the opportunity to do some reading, writing, and I love to crochet. I consider myself very blessed, because through my writing I have been able to meet some amazing people who have now become my friends. A fellow writer on Booksie read my story and wanted to help in any way he could. He gave me an amazing present. A laptop! So I can now stay in bed and do things like watch youtube, do some online reading or chat with some amazing people I have met online who have read my autobiography. Even though we live far apart, thanks to modern day technology, I am able to keep in touch with them every day, so I never really feel alone.



Question 2 : What made you start writing " The Things He Shattered" ?
And, as you first started putting your thoughts into the written word, opening yourself up to others, do you now find yourself in a better place than from when you originally began, sharing this part of you ?





Answer 2 :
I started writing "The Things He Shattered" while i was in the hospital, soon after I had the cast taken off my left hand and arm. I am left handed and was told that the injury was so bad I would no longer have feeling or be able to move my thumb and index finger. Thankfully the doctors were wrong and i had no trouble holding a pen and writing. I felt that from the very beginning I had to tell my story. A part of me believed that the more I talked about it, the better chance I would have at seeing justice. I would expose the evildoer and prevent him from ever doing something like this to anyone again. That was my main goal. I began writing my autobiography while I was still being treated, so I had no idea how it would end. Basically it was like a journal for me.
Do I find myself in a better place then when I originally started writing? Well yes and no. Physically I am better of course. When I began writing, parts of my body were still healing up and I had no ability to get out of bed, or even move my right leg. Mentally and emotionally I think I was in a better place when I began writing. You know what they say. Ignorance is bliss. This was 100% true for me. I had no doubt that I would heal up and go back to the way I was. Not even for one second. My main worry was finding a job as soon as I could, so I hoped I would not be kept in the hospital for too long. I had broken my arm 2 times before my fall from the 7th floor. After it healed it caused no problems, so I assumed this situation would be the same. If doctors raised any concerns I would dismiss them. They were very wrong about my left arm injury, they were probably wrong and being over dramatic about all of my other injuries. I just needed to heal, have my casts removed, and I would go back to the way I was before. This was my frame of mind when I began writing. It simply felt like my life was on hold for a few months, and I'd go back to the way I was before falling form the 7th floor and move on with my life. 8 years later I have now come to terms with the fact that I will be disabled for the rest of my life. Some days are harder than others. I greatly miss having the ability to just go outside and walk over to a local store. I would go out every day before my injury. Now I am taken outside maybe once every 3 months. So when this reality finally sank in I was very heart broken. I am now 33 and I am a lot less independent now then I was when I was a child.


"To Survive"

Trust betrayed so viciously,
to leave you beaten, broken;
an action so outrageous
of which you’ve bravely spoken.
You’ve battled on, not given in,
you’re very much alive;
you’ve found it deep within yourself,

the power to survive.







Question 3: Before, all this happened, what was your life like, growing up?


Answer 3:
I was born in Russia in 1984, so back then it was the Soviet Union. At the time my father and mother both had very good jobs. Mom was a store manager and dad was a mechanic. He was making a good living and mom was able to quit working and take care of me. When I was about 4 years old this changed drastically. The Soviet Union got a new president and soon after, the company my father worked for was closed. We began to see food disappearing from store shelves. I remember that time very well. I was hungry almost always, and when we would go to the store the only thing they would be selling was baby food, so I was constantly eating that. Everyone's dream was to escape to the West where life was perfect. When my parents found an opportunity to move to Canada they grabbed it.
Sadly the Cold War had just ended and we soon realized we were seen an an enemy. I was almost 6 years old when I first started school. I knew no English of course and this is where all the trouble began. Soon after the other kids would find out I was from Russia they would begin to avoid me. As a small child this was very confusing for me, but I understood there was something wrong with where I was born. I began to lie about where I came from. Thankfully I learned English pretty fast, and since I learned it at such a young age I have no accent. I was eventually able to fit in with no problems. The same could not be said for my parents.
They struggled greatly to find any kind of work. I was always one of the poorest kids in class and often would not be able to afford to go on school trips with everyone else. Thankfully I was able to make very good friends and tended to get along with everyone. I have very good memories of high school.
When it was coming to an end and it was time to apply for a post secondary education my parents made it very clear. I would be going to University. End of discussion. I greatly wanted to go to college and become a counsellor, but that was out of the question. My parents were both college grads and had great difficulty finding any kind of job in Canada. They feared I would have the same problem and had the misguided belief that if I attend University, all doors would be open to me and I will be able to get any job I want. I am their only child, so a lot of pressure was put on me to succeed. I would be reminded that my parents gave up everything to move to a new country and give me a good future. So I did what was expected and was more than miserable for the entire 4 years i was in University.
Just as expected, when I finally graduated, finding any kind of work was next to impossible. I had no job experience and many companies now a days look for that. My parents did not let me work when I was in school saying that my main focus should be my education.
Thankfully, through a google search, I was eventually able to find a job selling fitness. equipment. It was nearby, and since I never learned how to drive I thought it was great because I only needed to take one bus to get to work. No one in my family learned how to drive. We could not afford a vehicle anyways so we never bothered with that
The manager took a liking to me and gave me a chance. No experience was needed. I was a 'sales associate' but my co workers and I would take the title of "fitness consultant" just because it sounded a lot nicer. Of course there was always a lot of pressure to sell sell sell!!! Not at all a job I would have wanted after putting in so much hard work and effort into my education, but i took what I could get.
To make a long story short, I worked there for about 1 and a half years. Sadly the store was closed and I was ' let go'. I was very optimistic however, because this time around I now had job experience so I knew I would find work with no problems.
I was unable to afford to move out when I was 25 so I was still living with my parents. It was only a couple of months after I had lost my job that I went to go visit my friend one evening and was attacked and this led to my disability.


Question 4: What advice would give to a writer that may hesitant to share their story and what have you discovered about yourself, through the process of writing out your own story to share with others?

Answer 4:

I guess the advice I would give to writers is to not be afraid to share your story. I personally have a very hard time dealing with criticism. I have been told that my story is not even realistic or that it was very poorly written. I admit that it is very hard to be your own editor, and even though these comments hurt me, in the end, the experience was very rewarding. It honestly gave me a reason to keep going. You can change someone's life for the better with your writing, so have the courage to take that chance.
What I learned about myself is that I am a lot stronger than i thought i was. When i had finished writing and reread my story I was amazed to see how much I had been through. So now when i am faced with problems, i remind myself that I have been through a lot worse. It gives me motivation to keep going and not give up. I have had several people who have read my story, tell me that it gave them hope, and that, honestly, is an amazing feeling. It allows me feel that all the pain I went through has not been in vain. My wish is to inspire people to be more cautious and to avoid such a tragedy. And if they do fall on hard times, to not lose hope.



Question 5: Which brings us to now, in a round about sort of way. I consider a lot of things when I read your story: 

" What is forgiveness when there is no closure, but just a moment for ourselves, and do we deserve such a moment, when we it changes nothing, except a realization ?"
"How does one let go of the past, when we live it everyday?" 
"How is love and finding peace, such a way to move forward, when suffering is the device for such an awakening?"
These are not questions I am asking you, but the point of this next question:

You have a found a voice in your writing, so what advice would you give to another writer, hoping to share in the same vein, their own voice, heart and soul to make a change, to inspire and impart a sense of not feeling left alone in this world, showing that there is hope for us all; that no one should let feel powerless? "  


Answer 5:

Even though this was a very tragic experience for me, I strongly feel that it happened to me for a reason. Initially when I was still in the hospital I was told that doctors were 100% sure I would no longer have the use of my left hand and I would be blind. They were wrong, and I knew right there and then that it was a sign, and that I had to write and tell my story. Even if my close circle of friends were unable to fully understand what I was going through, I knew that somewhere out there, somebody might be going through a similar situation and I wanted them to know that they were not alone. My main goal was to open peoples' eyes and hopefully prevent another person from suffering like I have. So I encourage all writers to tell their story, no matter how unbelievable it is. There are billions of people in this world and chances are someone might be going through something similar and you are not alone. 
Because of my autobiography I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people from around the world who were touched by my story. I would have never had this chance if i had not been pushed from the 7th floor. 
In all honestly I don't think I will ever be able to forgive the police officer who tried to take my life. His actions were simply unforgivable and it is now something I live with every day. I lost my independence because of what he did, and now deal with pain, anxiety and insomnia on a daily basis. 
It is very heartbreaking to see the impact this has had on my parents. They left the country they grew up in, hoping of giving me a better life. I am their only child and they sacrificed greatly in the hopes of giving me opportunities for a good future. There are countless stories about immigrants who have come to Canada and were able to find happiness and success. Sadly we were not only unable to find it, but we found the complete opposite. Because of this i still have a lot of guilt and ask myself 'what if.' My parents to this day will still say, "If only you didn't go out that night. If only you had come home earlier." At times this is very hard to live with. The past never really goes away, but I remind myself that this situation should have been a lot worse. 
Doctors had predicted that I would be very mentally disabled and blind. They had wanted to amputate my right leg and remove my left eye. I am thankful every single day that none of this happened. I count my blessings. 
I have great hope that even if I never get to see justice, I will one day make my parents proud. I hope to reach as many people as I can with my story and try to give them hope. The police officer may have disabled me physically, but he enabled me to be strong and persuade others to never give up. 
Fame an fortune are great.... but can only take you so far. Words are a powerful thing and can inspire others to do something amazing. Everyone has the ability to change someone's life for the better. 
So i think I will end this with a quote from Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama. "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."


"Beautiful Bruises" 

Meet a true heroine.
My friend. 
A Russian princess with a heart so bold. 
Her story of a fiendish cop.
A hostile night.
A vicious assault.
Wells tears in many an eye. 
What despair.
What sadness.
Day to day,
Ten million knives,
Deep within her,
Scar her skin.
A constant reminder.
A bed her body imprints.
A mouth her care-taker feeds.
A free-fall her brain replays.
Seven-stories off a balcony
Broke more than her bones.
Her being remains in fragments,
Blurs the past,
Love she wishes for.
Joy she prays for.
Dreams echo in her ears
Left blank except for that hostile night
That vicious assault
That fiendish cop
Witnessed by no one.
Believed by no one. 
Not lawyers
Not officers
Not the life she hoped for.
Meet a true-heroine
My friend.
A Russian princess.
Her story burns into the minds of those who read it.

- Joy Shaw


Dear Criss,

Thank you for all the goodness,

you have given.

These tears of joy,

this smile of admiration, and above all,

your courageous heart.

- Doc


© Copyright 2018 Dr. Acula. All rights reserved.

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