Category: Life


  “It is not okay for someone you like to treat you poorly and then pretend it didn’t happen, making you question your own grasp on reality. This dynamic is called gaslighting. It’s a common tactic of abusers to shift the focus of the blame from their bad behavior onto the person they are victimizing. One important side effect of gaslighting is having your memory “black out” after a fight (because your brain is trying to protect you from the cruelty of the abuse), which results in not being able to remember how an argument started. You may start to internalize the idea that there is something wrong with you and that you did something to provoke the situation as you’re increasingly beaten down and confused.”  ― Shannon Weber

I don’t know how to ever really describe what it was like growing up with my mother and being around her family. It’s the question I get asked more often, which is “Why didn’t you ever say anything, or tell anyone? Over the years I gave a few reasons, which were all true. The first being I was afraid, I was afraid of the many threats my mother made to me. She used to also tell me if I told anyone they wouldn’t believe me and would just think less of me. I was also afraid of being believed and being made fun for being abused by my mother, I don’t know why, I guess I would have to blame media who portrayed fathers as being these, imposing and terrifying figures, as oppose to mothers who have often been a victim themselves or at worse a someone who denied the abuse was even occurring at home.

In therapy, I have learned one of the more prime reasons I didn’t say anything sooner, was because I was afraid of being called a liar, as the result of my mother’s gaslighting me for several years. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. All of which my mother was a master at. My mother was so skilled at this, that when she overheard my older brother and I talking about how she used to backhand and beat us at the kitchen table if we chewed with our mouths full, put our elbows on the table, or made too much noise while taking a drink, my mother became livid. She denied ever hitting us at the dinner table, going as far as breaking down into tears for thinking she would have ever done that. She was so effective in her denial, that in two weeks, my older brother came to believe her. Later telling me that she had never hit either of us. When I still distinctly remembered being backhanded and beaten cause she saw me chew with my mouth open, or because my elbows touched the table. He had become so adamant about it not happening, it was unsettling. Thankfully, I knew and still remembered clearly the numerous times I was beaten at the table. Granted not a good memory at all, but in the way my brother and I had talked and joked about it, because we were commenting how my younger brothers would get time out and we would get beaten. Although yes, my older brother occasionally gotten beat, whereas I would get beat all the time.

Still it was strange seeing how quickly my brother not only seemed to forget but would deny ever happened. However, my dad remembered seeing her haul off and beat me or my brother at the dinner table at the slightest infraction. My dad even told me the first time he saw it and asked why she was beating me, she said it was because my elbows were on the table. So my dad had pointed out that I was four and then sat his elbows on the table and dared her to hit him, like she was hitting me. (I don’t remember this particular instance, but I do remember being hit a lot for stupid little things and the one time my dad got so furious over it, he threw his plate in the trash along with all the other food she had cooked, except for what was on mine and my brother’s plate.)

My mother is a narcissist who uses  gaslighting techniques to have power over others. Which is more effective than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique used by abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, the few times I tried calling my mother out on how she was treating me, she would tell me that I was crazy. She would insist that my dad was responsible and that he had brainwashed me into  believing she was this horrible person. Sometimes she would break down and cry, telling me she loved me because she always made me dinner and special meals just for me because of my being a picky eater, which I am. She used the gifts she had gotten me for my birthday, or Christmas to tell me it was proof that she loved me. Ironically she would always bash my father to me, telling me how my father was the one who always beat me, that he used to beat her and my older brother and how selfish he was. However my father never struck me out of anger and when he did used to give me whooping, it was two or three swats then he was done. My dad used to tell me how much he hated having to give me a paddling and it showed. Because when my mother would beat me with the paddle, she would hit me as hard as she could, several times, more if I cried out, or tried to wiggle away. Then she would beat me some more if I ended up crying afterwards. She didn’t just beat my ass, by my hands, lower back, the back of my thighs, etc and this was with a thick, wooden paddle.

The few times I’ve tried calling her out on her treatment of me, she would accuse me of being dramatic, tell me I was being crazy. Say I was exaggerating things, making things out to be worse than what they were. Which often made me wonder if she was right. I can’t tell you how many times I wondered if she was right, if I was really crazy or not. A part of me even acknowledged that she did make me my own little meals every day, she did on rare occasion treat me well.  However she would always use the good things she done as a way to tell me she loved me and that if she didn’t she would have done those nice things for me. Even though it didn’t change the fact that I slowly found myself becoming afraid of her. Because I never knew what she would do, or how she would react, but I did know that she liked to ruin me every chance she got. If I spent a summer with my dad and came home talking about all the things he and I did together, she would say, “Oh he’s not treating you like a son, he’s treating you more like a buddy. He only did those things, so you’d go live with him and stop him from having to pay child support, he doesn’t really love you or care about you. Not like I do. He’s just using you and trying to manipulate you.” And just like that, the euphoria I had over a summer well spent would be suddenly tarnished. I would be hurt and devastated and a part of me always wondered what if she was right?

Such was growing up with her. If I ever questioned her methods or tried calling her out on how she treated me, she would tell me I was crazy, tell me it was all in my head, insist on telling me how much worse things could be. Once she even told me if I ever told anyone about what was going on at home, the police would come and take me and my brother away, she told me my dad wouldn’t be able to get custody of me and I would go to an orphanage, where I would get molested and raped. And explained to me in a rudimentary way of what that entailed, because at the time of her telling me that I was still quite young and didn’t know what those words meant.

My mother even went out of her way telling the rest of her family and my older brother that I was crazy, how I had been brainwashed into disliking her by my father, how I would always overexaggerate, making things worse than what they were and how I always played the victim. So the few times I tried reaching out and asking for help, they would look at me and say “Oh yeah, your mother warned us you would say something like that, you know she doesn’t hate you, she buys you clothes and makes you food.” Which doesn’t prove one way or another that someone loves you. The best manipulators and abusers out there will do some good things for you. Just so they can make you doubt yourself just enough. Luckily for me, I did wonder if everything was in my head, so I got to the point where I wouldn’t say anything negative about my mother or her family. Then I would invite friends over or leave my phone on when she would yell and scream at me, insult me. It got so bad that one of my best friends had told his parents and they offered to adopt me, or to just let me live with them on more than one occasion. I also mentioned before how I once brought a girlfriend for her and her family to meet during the holidays and afterwards she told me how she didn’t like my mom or her family. When I asked why, she said,

“Because they all talk down to you and walk all over you and it was clear they were constantly trying to make you look bad the entire time. It was like they were going out of their way to do it too and it was horrible.” For me this was a revelation. It wasn’t easy for Rebekah to tell me the truth the way she had. Up until then, she didn’t know anything was wrong in my family, or back home. She helped me see that I wasn’t crazy and that the way they were treating me wasn’t just in my head. It let me know if you become suspicious about how you’re being treated. Don’t be afraid of going to a trusted person and asking them for help, or advice. 
It’s just not parents or a parent who can gaslight someone, I’ve seen people do it their boyfriend, girlfriend and spouses. So you have to be ever vigilant.

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

  1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

  1. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

  1. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being. For me, my mother would often attack my identity. She had a problem with everything about me. How I stood, how I walked, my hair, she would tell me horrible things about my father, tell me my friends weren’t really my friends and that they were all using me, or making fun of me behind my back. She would even tell me horrible things about my grandmother, who was more of a mother to me then her, or anyone else I’ve ever known.

  1. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

  1. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are sayingWhat they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

  1. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

  1. They know confusion weakens people.

 

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

 

  1. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

 

  1. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

  1. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

  1. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

 

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.  So be careful out there.

Looking back on my recovery so far.
It only takes one mistake to destroy Everything-Shorty Hoffman

It’s strange for to say, that I think I’m doing okay these days. I still have bad days and occasional setbacks where I start freaking out, fretting about the past, fearing the future. Days where I feel like everything is closing in on me and like I’m being pulled down into this deep dark ocean, where I can’t seem to catch my breath and I feel like I’m drowning. But, for what it’s worth, I feel more grounded these days and less like a bullet that strays into a crowd looking for a home and passing through bone as if it was another big city stop. Because I now say her name in a prayer without feeling hurt.

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the past, the decisions that I’ve made, the regrets that I have. Which brings me to this post.

Before I got in a relationship with my ex, (Star, not her real name obviously) I was doing pretty well for myself. I was recovering from my past trauma, I wasn’t looking to get romantically involved with anyone after my ex Olivia whom I dated before Star. Olivia had been one of my healthiest and positive relationships, up until she decided to breakup, on my birthday. When just three days prior she asked me if I would consider moving in with her, since she just got a new apartment. An apartment she chose because it was only a ten minute drive from me, because she wanted to be closer to me. Needless to say the breakup not only caught me off guard, I really didn’t understand why. Because her and I never had a fight, we talked all the time, every day and the few times we made plans to be apart, she would message me that she missed me. Then either she or I would go see the other, also we were admittedly one of those annoying couples who had our own inside jokes and a shorthand with each other. Even though her and I had only been together for 8 months, I had fallen truly, deeply and madly in love with her. Not only did her and my breakup caught me off guard, it left me completely devastated. It took me a long time recover. To this day I still don’t know what prompted her to break up with me and on my birthday no less. But I would be lying to say it no longer hurts and it’s not that I still have feelings for her, it’s the time her and I had spent together, how well we got along, the memory of how happy I was being with her. I had opened up more to her than I had with any previous person I had dated.

In time, I decided to better myself, I began eating healthier, taking my workouts a little more seriously and reading more. I also made the decision to focus on my cosplaying goals and doing things that made me happy.

During this time, I had promised myself that I would no longer jump into another relationship, nor would I actively pursue a relationship. I wanted my next romantic relationship to happen naturally, after we had taken the time it takes, to take the time to get to know one another. About a year later I met my ex Star. Whom I told at the very beginning that all I wanted was to be friends, while she clearly wanted more than that. So I decided to be honest with her, I told her that I wanted my next relationship to be something real and long lasting, I wanted a relationship where if we had a problem we would talk through it and not immediately pull the rip cord and bail out of the moment things got hard. She had told me she wanted the same. Then I went told her about my past, the abuse I’ve suffered, I did my best to convey that I was broken, messed up and still trying to piece myself back together. I told her all of this so that she’d understand, that I didn’t think I could handle being hurt again, that I wasn’t where I needed to be to be good relationship material.

Star told me she understood, told me she felt herself falling in love with me and knew I wanted to be with her. She then told me how her dad used to beat her when she was a kid. She told me stories how her front tooth got broken was because her dad had quite literally knocked her teeth out from one of the beatings he had given her. She told me how her mother was always verbally abusive and constantly putting her down. Which unfortunately I didn’t question, and I felt myself resolve softening. It was true I did like her and I was telling the truth when I had told her I didn’t think I was ready. But a small part of me thought we could help each other. For most of my life I had felt like no one really understood me and I’ve experienced close friends and family who didn’t understand what I was going through. Because they would always tell me to let go of the past, to get over it and just move on. So with Star I felt like I had found someone who would understand. It endeared me to her. I didn’t see any reason why anyone would lie about being abused, since for most of my life all I’ve ever wanted was to be and to feel normal. It was later that I learned everything she had told me about her parents were lies she told just to get closer to me which worked. Star had also told me most of the guys she had dated ended up being both physically and verbally abusive. That of which may be true.

I’ve since learned to trust my gut instincts and things that strike me as odd. For instance, whenever we would see her parent’s car, or run into them while we were out she would always get super happy and excited to them. Whereas, whenever I would run into my mother or step-father out somewhere, I would secretly hope they wouldn’t see me. Even when I was trying to mend the fences with my mother, I still feared talking to her, because she would always find some way of putting me down and make it sound like she was doing me a favor by doing so. Also her father would send her funny videos and memes every morning before he went to work and tell her how much he loved her. Her mother always praised her and would always brag about her. Even when Star and I broke up the first time, her mother would call me and check up on me, telling me she was praying Star and I would get back together. Star’s mother always defended her and clearly always wanted the best for her. All of which made me think about my situation with my mother, step-mother, step-father and the few friends that I have who grew up in an abusive home. None of our parents ever acted like they really cared about us. Although my step-mother did eventually reach out to me and apologize, then did her best to make up for the past, becoming almost like a mother to me. But that took quite a few years. It took her time to realize how she treated me wasn’t fair, or right, then it took her longer to work up the courage to talk to me about it.

It still took me some time to start putting the pieces together, I knew when I was a kid, whenever friends or people were around my mother would act like mother of the year, but the moment they were gone, her true self would come out. I also hesitated on calling her out on her abuse claims, since one of the major reasons why I never told anyone about my past, was because I was afraid that no one would believe me, as well as afraid people would think less of me, or pity me.

Now I don’t hate Star, I’m not bitter towards her, I really don’t know what I feel for her these days, or if I feel anything for her at all. But she did text me three months after we were officially over and told me she got diagnosed with Bi-polar and borderline personality disorder. I knew when we were together she did suffer from severe anxiety. I do believe she sufferers from both bi-polar and borderline personality disorder just from things I’ve witnessed, and her mom kept wanting Star to get checked because she also believe Star had borderline personality disorder. Which does explain some Star’s actions and no I’m not making excuses for her either. But I wrote all this just to say, despite everything, what issues people have, we are still responsible for our own actions. I know what depression, anxiety and other disorders can cause you to feel and think, I know these things all too well. But the choice is still always ours. I know things I struggled with, what I’ve always struggled with, I know how tempting some behaviors and actions can be. So I don’t put myself in situations that could I know could cause me to lose control. This is why I don’t own a gun and why I stopped going out shooting. Because even when I would go out to a shooting range, I would have those dark thoughts in the back of head, telling me how easy it would be for me to put that firearm to my head and pull the trigger. How quickly it could all end and sometimes I struggle with telling that little voice, that desire to shut up. I don’t want to give in to it, so I distance myself from any situation where it would be easy for me to harm, or kill myself.  I know I have to stay vigilant, keep myself busy and keep finding ways to be happy. To surround myself with good people and amazing friends. I’ve also learned that if someone is willing to cheat on someone who loves them, willing to do anything and everything for them, always doing your best to make them happy, them cheating on you isn’t about you. It’s about them, some people cheat because their selfish, others cheat to make themselves feel better and more confident because they have low self-esteem, sometimes people cheat when they feel like their partner isn’t trying anymore or giving them enough attention. But once they cheat, they’re telling you they chose someone else. If they come back and swear they’ll never do it again, take some time to really think about it, ask them why they did what they did. Because people don’t cheat by accident and it usually takes time for people to change. When it comes to infidelity, it takes a long time. I’m not saying cheaters deserve a second chance. I’m just saying don’t always take them at their word. If you do give them another chance, make sure they understand that your trust, needs to be earned. Let them know it won’t be easy for them and it takes awhile for the heart to forget.

If you’re with someone who loves and thinks the world of you. Willing do anything, give everything for you. You should really think about your actions and ask yourself if its worth risking losing that. Because the grass isn’t always greener and I understand temptation, I know there are people out there who’ll sell you a story just to get you in bed, to have you leave your girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse or partner, these people usually realize too late, that they were sold a false bill of goods and actions can’t ever be taken back, words can’t be unsaid. It’s like squeezing out all the toothpaste from the tube, then trying to shove it all back inside. All actions have consequences and rewards. Be sure it’s worth it. Also, be decent if you want to leave your S.O. for someone else, break up with the person you’re with first. Talk to them, be an adult. They may get hurt, get upset, or angry. But in time they’ll respect you more for it.

 

 

The Broken Road of Recovery.

After I wrote “I’m not okay,” I got messages and comments from many of you who are fighting the same battles. So for anyone’s who’s struggling, I want to tell you once more that you’re not alone and I’m here for you all. I try my best to reply to every private message, or comment, I’m here for you.

My hope here is that by chronically my journey with Complex-post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the healing process I’m beginning to walk down, I can keep myself from falling into any of the old pitfalls of the past. Such as my innate desire to look for a savior, it was something I was doing without ever realizing it. But what’s my therapist brought it up, I knew she was right. I remember that it started at a very young age, where I started fantasying about meeting someone, falling in love and for that love to fix that brokenness within me. I often imagined, falling in love and having someone fall in love with me, would make all the pain and suffering worth it, that once I attained happiness, everything would suddenly make sense. I often imagined what it would be like to start my own family without the pain or the burdens of the past. This is something I carried with me into every romantic relationship and I would devote myself completely to that girl. Being with that girl often made me happy and that relationship would often heal me to the point where I wouldn’t think about suicide anymore, my outlook would become happier, more positive. However, once that relationship failed for whatever reason, I would be completely devastated. Even though I always made an effort to mature about the breakup and just walk away. Because I never saw the point of being ugly, or nasty to someone you loved and cared about. Because in my mind, being petty, or mean only serves to make the other person believe they might decision. Although, I get it when people do lash out, it sucks being hurt, let down and feeling like you failed. It’s always an emotional time when you’re in love with someone and they tell you they don’t love you anymore, or maybe they never did. So I get it, I understand people sometimes say things they do, because they’re hurting, they’re scared, they’re confused. So shit happens, I don’t know why most of my relationships didn’t work, I know sometimes it was me and sometimes it wasn’t, sometimes I think we just meet the right person, but the timing is off, or the other person, or I need time to grow and mature. Sometimes the other person just gets scared, become afraid of getting hurt and doubt that they’re even good enough.

Regardless though of the reasons why a relationship fails, I would always take it hard, I would fall apart. I would find myself reliving all my past traumas, all the time my mother hit me, every time she would call me weak, stupid, pathetic, I would relive all my greatest failures and disappointments. I couldn’t stop it, the memories of the past would often slam into me, over and over again like waves and I stranded out in a deep and endless sea, feeling like I was unable to even breathe. Often times, I wouldn’t be able to escape and I would be pulled down into the suffocating darkness, where a part of me liked the hurt and pain, because it was familiar to me and I felt like I didn’t deserve happiness. I would become distant, pushing people away and I would want to die. Something that has gotten only harder the older I get. I couldn’t control it, I couldn’t stop the pain, or the flashbacks, it all just kept coming, over and over again like a bad movie stuck on repeat.

 

 

So I’m learning to cope and to heal. I now find myself putting my guard up whenever a girl expresses romantic interests in me and makes it known she wants to heal me. It’s hard telling someone in that situation, “No, you can’t be my hero, I have to learn to heal myself and be my own hero, I need to grow and can’t rely on you, or anyone else to be my hero. I’m sorry, I know you mean well, but you can’t save me. But you can help me save myself, you can help me by being there, encouraging me, being patient with me and listening to me when I talk, when I want to talk. But you can’t force me to talk or open up if I’m not ready, or if I don’t feel like it.”

I think I speak everyone with a mental illness and a traumatic past, it really sucks when someone doesn’t really know what you’ve been through and want to compare your life to theirs, as a means of telling you to stop dwelling in the past, to get over it. Because we all deal with tragedies differently, if you been abused or broken and came out of it with no scars, no psychological damage, you’re the minority and you have a strength I truly admire, or you’re not being honest with yourself. I hid my pain for the longest time, I often hid behind a smile while I was dying inside. Granted growing up a part of my logic was, if I pretend I’m happy, I won’t bring anyone down with my unhappiness and no one will feel compelled to stop me if I decide to kill myself. Because no one would suspect I would do something like that. I was hurting and if I was going to take my own life, I didn’t want anyone to stop me. So I learned to lie and put up a false front, telling everyone I was okay, that I was doing alright and how happy I was to be me, how happy I was being alive. It was the mask I wore every day and very few people ever saw through my façade. The first was one of my good friends, her name’s Dawn and one day she was bragging about how easily she could read people. So I asked her to read me and she said, “You always act like you’re happy, but you’re very clearly hurting and you seem afraid to talk about it. But I’m here for you if you ever need someone who’ll listen and I’ll do my best to help if I can.”
I never did take Dawn up on that offer, but it did stun me to know that someone saw through my carefully crafted façade and how I thought I had everyone fooled into thinking that I was okay. But I was wrong. It didn’t take long for my friends to figure out something was wrong, for they became my second family. They always made time for me, invited me out to their family gatherings and outings. They always went out of their way to make me feel accepted, to encourage me and they were always the first ones to be there when I needed them.

It was through my friends that I realized that how my mother and her family were treating me wasn’t normal. You see, my mom would often tell me that because she catered to my picky appetite that she loved me. Or convince me that what she was doing and how she was treating me was for my own good. Whenever I would question her behavior, she would say “Josh I often make a separate meal just for you because you’re so picky, that’s how you know I love you!” But then I would get hit for eating with my mouth full, back handed if my elbows touched the table, or if I slurped instead of sip my beverage. Or the many times she made fun of me, mocked me, or laughed as my older brother made fun of me. Not counting the numerous times she had beaten me without mercy and because my brother denied having done something wrong, which would always make me guilty by default.

 

With my mother it never mattered if I was innocent or not, she would beat me until I confessed. 8 out of 10 times I would be telling the truth, or even know for a fact my older brother had done the very thing I was being accused of. In her mind, everyone else was totally incapable of lying, everyone except for me. Then after every confession she beat out of me, she would use that confession as more of a reason not to believe me. Sometimes, I often tried to hold out, taking the beating she was laying on me, doing my best to push through the pain, in hopes she would see reason and that I was telling the truth. But she never did stop, not until I confessed to whatever it was she wanted me to admit I had done. She never believed me, because she didn’t want to. For her, it was easier to show me cruelty then love. For her it was more fun to break me and broke me she did. It eventually got to the point where if something happened, I would admit it was me rather I did it or not. I didn’t see the point in fighting when I knew what was coming. Sometimes she would attack me, or put me down, sometimes she would walk away saying how it wasn’t even fun anymore if I wasn’t resisting.

 

Growing up the way I had, afraid to cross paths with my mother, the bullies who often harassed me in school, I soon began enjoying the night, which is why I think I struggle so bad with insomnia now. Because the nighttime often became my time. No one bothered me, harassed me, I didn’t have to hide or avoid anyone, because everyone was already asleep. At night I felt free and relaxed, because the world becomes quiet at 1 am. A part of me also feared the next day, so I would stay up as late as possible, to delay the coming day. But I then enjoyed sleep, because I’ve always dreamed vividly and in color, my dreams were often my escape. Because I would often dream about living a better life, where I was a hero, or I was loved, or a famous explorer, adventurer. In my dreams, I was often at my happiest.

 

To this day, I still feel more comfortable at night when everyone else is fast asleep and everything is quiet and peaceful. I’ve also come to find that people are their most real when you stay up late into the morning just talking about anything, everything or just nothing. Strangely enough I found myself reliving this a bit with my Friday night D&D game I have with my friends, where many of us just relax afterwards, just talking. Its night like those and ones like it that I find myself truly healing. In a strange way the friends I play dungeons and dragons with, are feeling more and more like family to me.

Speaking of family. I know many of my dad’s family often get upset with me, because of how little I come around and visit. I’ve been working on trying to work up the courage to tell the truth. You see I used to try and see them all the time, even took off work early so I could meet up with them for dinner every Thursday. But my dad’s family has a bad habit of wanting to tease someone in the group, usually I’m the target. Then they all like take their turns at making jokes at my expense, or just screwing or messing with me. Which I can usually handle, but they don’t know when to quit, or what lines to cross, or which ones not to. Whenever I had mentioned I didn’t appreciate it, they would often laugh and tell me how they were all just teasing, before continuing again. Sometimes they’ve pointed out that my friends often tease me too. In which I have to say they’re right, but my close friends actually really know me. They figured out I was broken and damaged before anyone else did, before I even knew what was really wrong with me. My friends had been there for me, even when it was hard, when I pushed them away, even when I tried making them hate me. They never turned their backs on me, they never gave up on me, they supported me, encouraged me, they were there. No one had to spell it out for them, no one had to tell them, “Josh is suffering from depression.” They listened to me when I needed to talk, they didn’t judge me, or tell me bad things happen and I should get over it. They accepted me, got together and came over to my house just to drag me out of my funk, or just to check up on me. They showed me love, they became my family. When we tease each other, we all know what lines to cross and which ones to avoid, we also know when to stop. When they any of us goes too far, we apologize and begin making fun of ourselves to take attention away from whoever is beginning to feel hurt or attacked.

I have c-ptsd, so sometimes if I’m sitting there with everyone around me teasing, mocking, or making fun of me, I feel like I’m six, eight, twelve years old all over again and I’m reliving everything I had ever endured, reliving every insult, every time my mother or someone told me I wasn’t good enough, every time I was called weak, pathetic and that no one would ever love me. I relive the moment when my mother told me I should just kill myself, because no one would ever love me, because I was just a joke and a burden to everyone around me.

Those words haunt me, as much as most of my past. I remember it all, I relive it all the time. Every day is a battle for me and every day it’s the hardest battle of my life. Because every day, I have to give myself reasons to go home, to get up in the morning and to not go out and kill myself. I’m struggling all the time, wrestling with these demons that haunt me. The battles I and those like me fight are hard and they’re never ending. It helps whenever someone tells me they love me, that they care, or appreciate me. Those things help and they cost nothing to give, a few words of encouragement, or show of friendship really does go long a way. Because I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t always like to talk about what’s bothering me. I don’t always show it on my face, or in my mannerisms, I often pretend I’m okay and everything is alright, because I don’t want anyone to worry, I don’t want to be a burden and I don’t any false sympathy.  So I keep moving forward, placing one foot in front of the other, trying to be better myself and not be the person I was yesterday, or the day before. I throw myself into writing, playing dungeons and dragons, reading, cosplaying, video games, working out and forcing myself to talk to people and practice opening up to those around me. But it’s not easy, I still get bad, I still have my bad days and there are nights where I can’t sleep and all I can do is think, tormented by my own thoughts and memories. But like all of you, I know I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

No, I’m not okay.

“Sometimes I think tolerance can be void of compassion and sometimes we can forget that in the end we’re all only human.”

This is for everyone suffering from any mental disorder. Because I believe if you have C-ptsd, ptsd, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or bi/tri-polar disorder, people often don’t understand the battle we fight every everyday. Because I noticed how fleeting everyone’s memories are, when I’ve told them I have c-ptsd, anxiety and depression. I have come to realize how quickly people tend to forget I’m fighting this battle everyday and how many of them think I’m fine, that I’m cured because I finally opened up and said, “This is me, I’m broken, but I’m working on becoming better.”

Even when my dad found out, his first response to me was,
“Why don’t you just let go of the past and live your life?” And I responded with a sigh,
“It’s not that easy. It’s like you asking me not breathe, I can’t help it, it’s both biological and psychological and its beyond my control. I don’t like being the way I am. I wish I wasn’t this way, I wish I was normal. But I’m a long way from being okay and I’ve come to terms with that, I’ve accepted it. I’m getting help now yes, but there’s no easy cure. There’s no pill I can take, or advice I can receive that will suddenly be okay. It’ll take time.”

Then he asked if they told me how long I will be the way I am. And I had to inform him, that no one knows and I doubt I’ll ever be completely cured. I can only get better by a matter of degrees and that’s the best I can ever do. Then he told me his solution for these problems and issues of mine, which was me going to church and finding a nice Christian girl.
I can’t expect anyone to save me, I used to look at those I’ve become romantically involved with as a solution to a problem I didn’t know I had. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I know a part of me had looked at every relationship as a chance to heal, to have them fix this broken part of me and fill this hollowness I often feel deep within my heart, my soul, me. I also grew up Christian and loved God with all my heart, but after praying everyday for years for my mother to love me, my faith became shaken. With every bad situation, or cruel act I had to endure, I often found myself asking God why. Gradually my prayers shifted, I stopped praying for God to let my mother love me, but began praying for God to kill me. It’s what I wanted at a very young age, because I was tired of hurting. I was tired of being abused at home, of going to school where I often got harassed and ridiculed, often trying to tell myself that old nursery rhyme about sticks and stones, but truth is, words do hurt more than a broken bone. As far as bad names go, I was called them all. Then I would go home, get beaten, or my older brother would mock and make fun of me and my mother would often be in the room and just laugh at his insults to me. When I asked him to stop, he would ignore me and make fun of me even more, when I asked my mother to make him stop, she ignored me. But the moment I insulted him in return, I would get beaten and grounded.  This was my life for years, if you want to know what it was like for me growing up go back and read my Scars of who we are series. It explains a lot. But I never told anyone about the abuse for several reasons. One I was afraid, I was afraid people would judge me, or think less of me, or worse they would think I was lying and making it all up. Second, she often threatened me with what she would do to me if Told anyone, if she didn’t think that was working she would blackmail me. By telling me my dad wouldn’t put up with my struggling grades and how he would think so much less of me. She would also fill my head with thoughts, that he didn’t really love me and was just pretending just so I would go and live with him, saying if I did, he had told her he would send me off to military school. Also, I was always afraid if I said anything I would hurt my older brother. Because he biological dad didn’t want anything to do with him after he divorced our mom, then when my dad and mom got a divorce she had told my brother that my dad didn’t want him. Which my dad says is untrue and I believe him.

When my dad remarried, his 2nd wife was a woman named Patricia. In the beginning she was super cool and kind to me. She had two kids from a previous marriage who I got along with and my step-brother would grow to become more of a brother to me then my own brother ever was to me. So when my dad got married to Patricia I found myself giving some serious thought about leaving my abusive home and taking the chance at this new family. I wanted Patricia to  be my mother, because I was growing to think of her as such. But then things started to change, Patricia began making subtle and not so subtle jokes at my expense, calling me stupid, lazy, queer, etc. Anytime someone broke something, or didn’t clean up a spilled drink she blamed me. Then she began making me do all the house chores, while telling me how pathetic I am. This eventually made me afraid of her and I would always try to avoid her. My dad knew that she was often a bit hard on me, but I don’t think he knew how bad it was whenever he wasn’t around. But I never said anything to him about it, because I believed she made my dad happy and that was all that mattered to me. So if I had to put up with my step-mother being awful towards me, I felt like it was the least I could do for my father. I wanted to see him happy. Also I loved having a step-brother and step sister, I thought of them both as blood related family and Patrick was my brother as far as I was concerned. It was Patrick though who taught me how a real brother should act and should be. Whenever he saw or heard his mother treating me poorly or unfairly he would always stand up for me, even though standing up to his mother on my behalf often resulted in him getting grounded, he never did stop defending me.

Years after my dad and step-mother’s divorce Patricia did eventually look me up and apologized for how she had treated me, telling me she knew it was wrong and explained to me her mindset way back then. She even apologized for hurting my dad and wanted me to tell him that she was genuinely sorry. Her and I did have a good relationship after that and I was moved when I heard her referring to me as her son and bragging about me. I don’t think I ever had anyone really brag about me before, so it was nice and I find myself missing her after she passed away.

  In a few years after I finally broke free from the toxic relationship with my mother, I ran into my older brother and things were different between us, because we got along pretty well. We started hanging out on a regular basis, talking and I was feeling like I was finally getting to know him, he was finally feeling like a real brother to me. I didn’t have a car at the time, so he would often have to pick me up and I would repay him by treating him out to dinner, even got him an air conditioner for his place when I discovered he didn’t have air at his place. When he couldn’t pay his rent, I helped him pay it. We began training in martial arts together, hiked the Red River Gorge, saw movies as he advised me on girls and tried helping me build up my confidence. He even told me he knew our mother, had a falling out and he began begging me to give her another chance. I had tried once before but things blew up in my face, when she let her family talk down to me and I overheard her and her sister trying to talk the first girl I ever brought over into breaking up with me and dating my older brother because they believed he would be a trade up from me. So when he first brought up the issue I didn’t want anything do with her, I even tried telling him the mother he knew, wasn’t the mother I knew. But he eventually talked me into it. Then when she and my step-dad accused me of stealing a large sum of money, they stole my laptop and I had to go the police to have my belongings returned to me. My brother turned his back on me almost immediately. It hurt seeing someone who I loved and greatly respected turn his back on me and forget everything I had ever done for him as if it was for nothing and like I was nothing.

I’ve had a cousin whom I saw as a best-friend and a brother who betrayed me for a girl and I got to see how he really thought of me, as I read him trash talking to me to a girl I was seeing and didn’t even know he was interested in. Also it bares saying my cousin has always been a player and never very interested in having a meaningful romantic relationship with anyone. Worse was he knew a lot about what I had been through, how I’ve always struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. So seeing how easy someone who I had grown up with, whom I always defended and how quickly and easily he’d unapologetically betray me and throw me under a bus, without any hesitation, really, really hurt.

Most of my personal, romantic relationships managed to further the damage already done to me. Because usually, whenever I entered a relationship I was all in. I wanted me and the girl I was with to go the distance. But I was almost always, used, taken advantage of, cheated on, or left for a better model. My second to last relationship was with a girl named Olivia. That one had hurt the worse until my most recent breakup. Because Olivia and I had both been hurt before and we had both wanted to take things slow. We were together for eight months and we talked every day. She would even come by my place to see me throughout the week, wanting to just spend time with me. Three days before my birthday, she had asked me if I would be willing to move in with her down the road. I said yes, then on my birthday, she asked me over to her house and told me she wanted to see other people. For a moment I didn’t believe this was happening, because we had never had a fight, or so much as a disagreement, up until that day, she would tell me how I was the greatest guy she ever dated, the best boyfriend she ever had. So I was more than a little devastated.

Worse was we had tickets to a comic con the following weekend, I had originally told her she could just have my ticket and take anyone she wants. But a day before the convention, she talked me into going with her as friends. I agreed, but when we got there we and into some of her friends who just gotten engaged and after congratulating them, Olivia began complaining how she was forever alone, how she wished she could find a good guy while I was standing right there.

Later after the second time she had blown me off to hang out with her friends who were also there, I had enough and finally decided to leave and let her get a ride home with her friends. But she ran into me as I was leaving and asked what I was doing and I told her I was going home. She was upset and more than a little angry that I was going to leave her there. Then she spend the next 20 minutes in the car telling me about things she thought I would do to her and how she would screw up my life. (Usually when I’m hurt, I just walk away. I don’t ever beg someone to take me back and I don’t resort to acting petty, because I believe all that does is tell that other person they might the right decision by leaving you.

It took me a long time to pull myself back together after Olivia, which is how I ended up meeting my most recent ex. In the beginning she wanted to date me and I insisted I didn’t want a relationship. All I wanted was to be friends, I was kind of done with love. I did everything I could to make Star disinterested in me. (not her real name, but I don’t want to put her on blast.) I told Star I was broken, she told me she was too. I told her I wanted my next relationship to my last and she told me she was also ready to settle down. I told her I was a geek, a cosplayer and a dork. She laughed and told me she was too. Two months later, she finally broke down my defenses and we started dating, that’s how without ever intending to do so, I fell in love. We were amazing together, or we were for about eleven months when she started cheating on me with her ex-boyfriend and I found out. We broke up and she kept sending me messages telling me how it was not what I thought, that she wished she could explain it to me, telling me that she loved and wanted to be with me. About two months later, she asked me to take her back and I foolishly did. I’m not sure why, or why I worked so hard to forgive and try to forget what she had done to me. Why I doubled my efforts to make her happy, but I guess I really did fall helplessly in love with the girl. I had believed we were working and that I was making her happy, then the lies and excuses started all over again, once more I discovered she was talking and seeing someone on the side. Which made me feel like a failure and like I was inadequate, broken, a mess of a human being. It also caused me to have an emotional breakdown, Star destroyed something in me when she hurt me a second time. I believe a part of me was so affected, because when I told her how I’m a child abuse survivor, she told me she was too and told me stories about things she’s endured, which lowered my defenses and made me see someone I could relate with, someone who understood things I’ve suffered ad endured. I can’t help but feel manipulated, lied to and used. Which doesn’t help me with my C-ptsd, anxiety and depression. I hate having these issues and problems, most days I hate just being me. More than anything I wish I could just get over it, forget it. But for people like me, please stop telling people to just get over it. It’s something we can’t control, or help and it makes me pull away and withdraw from whoever tries telling me those three little words, even though I know you mean well when you say them. I have an illness, when I talk about my past, I’m talking to you to work through them. What people like me need when we talk about it, is support and love. Tell us you’re sorry, hold us and remember we’re trying. I’m trying to heal.

I can’t help it when I push anyone away, or when I withdraw. I have been hurt by numerous people, numerous times who were varying degrees of closeness to me.

I look at scars on my body and think about how they healed in such an understandable process. Like, I could see it healing. I saw the bleeding stop. I saw the scab form. I saw the scab fall off into something else. I saw the car tissue form and watched as the scars healed and faded. But emotional healing doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t get lighter every month. You can work so hard, you can come so far and still fall back down without any warning. It doesn’t nullify what you’ve done. It doesn’t erase your progress. It’s just a reminder that healing doesn’t work in any linear way. It takes time.

 

I wish I could forget, I wish I could wake up with amnesia and not remember any of the pain of my past. I wish I could start over, with a clean slate, without these memories I sometimes feel as though I can’t escape. Because I’m not fine, I’m not okay. I have my demons, I have issues and problems I can’t even begin to describe. I have C-ptsd, anxiety, depression and that’s not going away anytime soon. They say for however long you were abused, or suffered, its going to take at least half that time to undo some of the damage done. So I’m looking at sentence of at least 15 years, but even then there’s no promises. I will still bad and have bad days. I may never be completely cured of my c-ptsd and I’m certain my depression and anxiety is going to be a life sentence for me. But I’m working on becoming better, but it will take time.

It hurts being me with these memories that I have, I wish I could forget the cruel things people I loved and who were suppose to love me. Sometimes the memories creep inside of me and I get angry, a part of me wants payback. But it mostly just hurts, somedays I go without sleep, because my anxiety kicks off at such a high gear, my resting heartbeat goes from 52 beats per minute to 140 and I don’t sleep. I lay there at night alone and in pain. Pain I wish I could shutout, I wish I could ignore.

It’s hard for me to trust or let people in because so many people who said they loved me, had hurt me and hurt me bad. So I sometimes lash out, say things I don’t mean, but mostly I just push people away and withdraw into myself. Because a part of me doesn’t trust people, I no longer see the best in people like I once did.

here are a few things that, if said to a person with C-PTSD anxiety, or depression, are more upsetting than anything. Here are some of them:

  1. “Get over it.”

This is one thing that someone with C-PTSD hates to hear. We want to move on; we don’t want to be haunted by our past. If it were a switch we could flip we would, but we can’t. Please don’t tell us this.

  1. “That was so long ago.”

The events we experienced may no longer be happening, but we relive them most days. The flashbacks, nightmares and daily reminders make us feel like it wasn’t long ago. It may have happened a long time ago for the person who says this, but for us, it’s still so real.

  1. “Change your ways; stop thinking that way.”

When people tell us to change our ways, the things we do because of C-PTSD, they don’t realize that this thought process or way of doing something has been drilled into our heads. We are scared of changing; we are scared this will bring back the abuse and fear.

  1. “I don’t remember it that badly.”

You did not live my fears and worries. I never asked what you remember. You were not there all the time; there were closed doors. I have reasons I have C-PTSD and I don’t want to argue about what you remember.

With PTSD or C-PTSD, even just the tone used and word choices can make the brain feel like it’s being attacked. Try and be there for the person, allow them to gain trust in you. Let them talk to you and cry on your shoulder. Ask how they are and if they need anything. Trust can be the hardest thing for many people with PTSD and things like those above can make us even less trusting in others. Think before you speak; it can save lives, confidence and friendships.

 

 

Please educate yourself before you try telling me or others like me, that we need to let go of the past and move on with our lives. It isn’t that easy. I’m not okay, I’m broken and I’m going to be broken for a long time. But I’m working on it, I’m trying my best. But you have to be patient with me and give me some grace. Going to church isn’t a cure all. I dedicated myself to a small church for two years. I volunteered, woke up early just to help then set up, stayed late just to help them break everything down. I met some friends, some who also ended up hurting me in the end. And every time I was struggling my fellow Christians told me the same thing. “You’re not giving your pain to God!” or, “You have to trust in God more!” “Let God move you” “God wants your brokenness! Give more!” I’ve heard it all. I’ve been prayed for, prayed at, lectured, preached to and at. No one knew how much pain I was really in. Or what was really wrong with me and their words were band aids on a wound that needed a real doctor and professional to mend back together.  This post was longer then I intended, I hope you were able to stick it out with me.

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp

A perspective about love and relationships.

I recently heard the Dierks Bentley song, “Different for Girls” Which is essentially a song about how it’s harder for girls to get over a broken heart. Which is all really just a matter of perspective, I know people who never really loved their S.O (Significant other) And when things don’t work out, they move on pretty effortlessly. At the same time, I’ve seen people break up because they didn’t feel that spark or attraction anymore, yet they still suffered, because they had grown attached to the other person, a lot of times they still even like the other person but things just didn’t work out.

As a guy, I’ve had female friends who I tried consoling tell me that I don’t know what it’s like to have a broken heart. They’ve explained girl’s feel things deeper and more profoundly than I ever could, because I’m a guy. But I can speak from experience, everyone feels heartbreak. Men are not immune to these effects; we can’t just turn it off, or rush into someone else’s bed and move on. In truth, we don’t know really know how to handle or deal with a broken heart. Partially because we’ve been told our whole lives that “boys don’t cry.” Or to Man up, whenever we’re feeling down, or depressed. So we don’t express ourselves by crying and eating ice cream, or having a girl’s night. Because a guy doesn’t want to bring down our friends, we really don’t want anyone feeling sorry for us, or looking at us like we’re weak. I’ve seen my guy friends drink themselves into oblivion and crying about the one who got away.

Heartbreak for me though always hits hard and it never gets any easier, it does in fact get harder. Because with every failed relationship, I learn more and more of myself, then I become more reluctant to get involved with anyone again. So when I do fall in love again, it’s never on purpose, it just sort of happens. Then I give that person more of myself than I had with my last relationship, because I’ve learned from past mistakes and I’ve been given the chance to mature more emotionally. But when those relationships fail, I can act childish, petty, sometimes I just break down and cry for days and weeks at a time, but most of the time…I just feel emptied out and hollowed. At my best, I can simply walk away avoiding any drama and the long drawn out breakup. You know when you find yourself both angry that they’re leaving, hurt by it, and depressed all at the same time, where a part of you wants them to hurt as much as you’re hurting, because if they’re hurting too, it must mean they love you too and maybe the two of you can work it out and get back together…But usually that never happens because of you said, it did something that’s unforgivable, or incredibly hurtful.
More recently, I suffered yet another heartbreak, now upon writing this as of now, I have no idea where our relationship stands, I don’t know if we’ll get back together, or not. But I can tell you it hurts. A hurt so profound I’ve been diagnosed with stress-induced cardiomyopathy, in lament terms, it translates to broken heart syndrome. Yeah I didn’t know it was a real thing either and as I sat there in the doctor’s office, I found out people can die from it. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Researchers are just starting to learn the causes, and how to diagnose and treat it.

The bad news: Broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure.

The good news: Broken heart syndrome is usually treatable. Most people who experience it make a full recovery within weeks, and they’re at low risk for it happening again (although in rare cases in can be fatal).

And I will tell you now, it sucks, from the shortness of breath, to the chest pains, and knowing the longer it affects me the more damage it can cause my heart. So the romantic part of me can’t help but think, it’ll be something else to someone who actually dies from a broken heart, not to sound morbid or depressing, but a part of me finds the prospect of dying from broken heart syndrome to be a bit romantic. The writer and creator in me can’t help but imagine what wondrous works of fiction someone might write about me upon hearing my story.


But I digress. Losing someone I care about…hurts, and I can’t help but sink into what feels like a bottomless pit of despair. I feel broken, incomplete and confused about everything that happened and what’s going on right now. Now I know for man being in a relationship with someone for over a year might not seem like much for them, but for me, it’s a lifetime. And it hurts, and all I want is to get her back, granted we’ll have to rebuild some trust to move forward and leave the past behind. I understand the situation, or I think I do. She was/is my best friend, my lover, the best part of me, who made me feel like the king of the world. I still sometimes find myself glancing down at my phone in hopes of seeing a message from her.

I won’t lie, I’m an emotional wreck, and I’m struggling just to hold it together, which I’m managing, just barely. I can barely sleep, I can barely eat, people at work keep complimenting my weight loss, and wanting to know my secret. So to say because I’m a guy, I’m incapable of getting hurt, that as a I guy, I’m impervious to heart break, I want to say bullshit. We’re all capable of feeling a vast array of emotion. I feel like a flower that spent years soaking up the sun and suddenly without warning the sunny skies turned to grey and someone took my sunshine away, depriving me light. I don’t even feel like I’m alive, or that I exist, I’m just going through the motions, pretending to be alive, fake smile, empty laugh, doing just about anything to just be left alone.

9

 

I believe the whole stereotype about guys just hooking up, or going to bars and drinking away their pain comes from how some of us just want the hurting and the emptiness to stop, to go away. So they try to fill the void with whatever they can, booze, women, even drugs. In the past I’ve tried two out of three but it didn’t really help, just made me feel worse afterwards. All any of us can ever do, is try to forget for a little awhile, but no matter what we do, the memory of what we once had and held so dear always comes back to haunt us. We hate ourselves, we might not always admit it, but we do. We blame ourselves for screwing up, believing that if we just did more, or cared less that maybe, just maybe things would have worked out. We regret every hurtful thing we said in a moment of anger, or jealously. I know in the past, I’ve occasionally said or done things that I regretted, and wished I could take back. But you can’t take back a word after it’s been said. You can’t turn a lie into the honest truth.


I guess what I’m trying to say is…everyone falls in love, but sometimes by different degrees and at different times. You may be with someone now who makes you happy but a part of you is scared, or thinks about being with someone else. But I have spoken to several people who told me they had their doubts in a relationship, thought about calling it quits, but for whatever reason they chose not to and realized they did love the person they were with, but didn’t really appreciate or understand the scope of that love. Sometimes it’s when you risk losing something forever that you realize just how much it means to you. Which is why I think we say the phrase, “If you love something let it go, if it comes back it was always meant to be,” but I also believe in fighting for what you want and I believe the moment you stop fighting for love, it can become stale. Which is why I always try to find new and cool things to do together a couple and I why I never stop flirting even after I get the girl, because I learned to appreciate love and I learned how to make sacrifices, as well as compromises.
I don’t care what anyone’s sex is; we’re all still capable of feeling things like joy, sadness, love and heartbreak. My dad is one of the strongest people I know, I can count the times I’ve seen him cry on one hand, using just two fingers. The first time being when he and my mother got a divorced, it didn’t matter that they fought all the time, or that he would sometimes avoid going home just to avoid another fight. He still loved her, as flawed as she was and is, he still loved her, even though he really didn’t even know, or understand why. But that’s how love is, it’s unexplainable, it’s crazy, and it makes morons and fools of us all.

Good M’orrow sirs and ladies.
Sorry for the super long and overdue to post. As per usual, this time of year is generally very busy for me, since this is the time of year for Comic cons and Renaissance Fairs, but I’m still alive and still writing.

Admittedly, I have been debating what to actually write about for a few months, there have been a few subjects I’ve been wanting to touch on, gender equality, the upcoming election, ( Which frightens me more than I care to admit) But I’m still hard at work trying to edit “Losers” As well as jumping back into Scars of who we are and prepare that for a book format, which I’ve had a surprisingly number of people either ask, or have suggested that I do, so I decided to finally oblige those fans. But this time I’ll be taking my time and will be focusing more on my struggles with depression and anxiety in hopes it may help someone on their journey through their struggles. Because I’ll admit, that first time was just me getting everything that happened to me out there, it was my therapy which all of you had helped me get through, because putting all those experiences down on paper, which wasn’t easy for me, but I do feel better because of it.

But what prompted this particular entry was the other day when I received a random facebook message from a girl I used to date.

Girl: You’re pitiful.
Me: What I do? (My interest peaked since I haven’t spoken or thought of her in years.)
Girl: You’ve been befriending my friends to get closer to me.
Me: Lol what? Well I assure you, it wasn’t intentional….also I was the one who broke up with you and don’t get me wrong, you’re very cool, smart and absolutely gorgeous woman, up until recently I had thought we had parted on good terms, I’m sorry it happened, I never meant to hurt you in anyway.

Me: (Continued) I had hoped and tried to make us work, but I quickly realized we were two very different people. Plus you lived over an hour and a half away from me at the time and you didn’t drive, so distance had become a bit of an obstacle. Secondly you didn’t seem to ever want to do anything before midnight, which would be the only time you’d tell me you were free to go out and when we did go out, the only thing you wanted to do was go bar hopping. Now I don’t mind going to a bar every once in a while, but the bar scene isn’t really my scene. I’m a dork, a gamer, writer, and a geek. You struck me more as the partier sort.

Me(conti)But still I am really sorry if I hurt you, more so if you really did like me. But seriously, I’m an insomniac so I’m no stranger to staying up till two or three in the morning, though there was no way I could keep up with you, I mean seriously, I don’t have it in me to stay up till seven or eight in the morning, then spend two hours driving home. I’m sorry if wasn’t that clear when I ended things and I’m sorry if I hurt you. I still wish you the absolute best.

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Now
I really have no idea how she managed to connect the dots she had and then assume it was me trying to have another go at her. I find the though process baffling and even though I don’t really get it myself, but I guess I can understand the feeling a little somewhat. I admit I used to get a little mad when I saw my friends had become friends, or were still friends with someone who I either broke up with, or who shattered my heart into a hundred million pieces. But then I remind myself I’m being an idiot and need to get over myself, then I move on.

It’s important to remember we all been hurt in a relationship before and I think on some level most of us do hope to run into an ex who broke our heart or that person who turned us down and to have them ask us out again, or to realize they made a mistake. Maybe it’s because we’ve never really moved on from that particular someone, or we never really stopped being in love with them. Maybe a part of us wants to get even and feel the same feeling of rejection and inadequacy they made us feel, maybe we can all be a childish and never want to admit it to anyone, not even ourselves.
Now this girl who contacted me, I had and still have nothing against. I wish her the best and to be honest if she lived a bit closer and if we had a bit more in common I don’t think I would have ever broken up with her. I was being honest when I told her she was beautiful, smart and funny, however I hated going to seedy looking bars all the time, I hated becoming sleep deprived and I REALLY hated he drive. But she was cool, and every time went out, she would play keno, then share her winnings with me to compensate for me my gas and the cost of the drinks. She didn’t have to do it, I never asked her to, but she did it anyway because she was both kind and generous. But I had nothing in common with her.
So I broke things off and had assumed we had managed to remain friends, but I was wrong and wish things were more amicable between us, which saddens me a bit… But there’s nothing I can do, so I’ll move on and hope she does too.
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In general, I typically try to remain on good terms with the women I’ve dated, but it wasn’t always and I’m ashamed to admit how childish I would act and the hurtful things that would spew like poison from my mouth and would constantly slander the other person in that after breakup bitch fest that so many of us are guilty of. Where we vent about everything we didn’t like about that person, or make jokes at our ex’s expense, while exclaiming how free we are and how much we’re now better off, awhile missing them terribly and glancing down at our phones in hope we’d see a text from them, saying they were sorry and asking how we were doing. It’s always that weird moment where we find ourselves feeling incredibly hurt, angry, disappointed and yet we cling to those feelings because we were so in love, or become so attached.

I too used to be bitter, childish and spiteful, until one day I had an epiphany. Which was I was being ugly and I didn’t really hate any of the girls I used to date and that me speaking poorly of them, only reflected negatively back on me. Like when you complain and run your mouth about an ex and someone eventually says, “Wow, what did you ever see in them?” Then it slowly hits you and you start thinking about everything good about that relationship and how when you or they decided to end the relationship for whatever reason we’ve handled it poorly. It’s to be expected that the other person involved is going to be a little hurt, upset, wanting to know why and wanting more than anything for it to workout, wanting to know if there’s anything they can do to change to make it work. So it’s very important to be an adult in that situation and be honest, but nice.

I think we’ve all heard “I don’t think we’re going to work…” Or some variation of them saying they don’t feel the same about you anymore, which happens, it sucks, so we try to find out why, beg for a second chance, then we devolve into petty children trying to say some hurtful thing, or doing something out of spite, just to make them regret breaking up with us, for hurting us, while secretly hoping they’d change their mind want to fix things. But usually by then, we’ve already burned that bridge, salted the earth, and dropped an 18 gigaton bomb on what had once been a relationship, then wonder why we never hear from them again.

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Yet, I understand most people think it’s weird to be on friendly terms with an ex and even understand some of the jealously that follows when you finally meet someone new and they find out your friends with an ex. But here’s my two cents, you spend anywhere between a few weeks to a few years getting to know each other, bonding and opening up, so throwing all that away the moment things awry. I think most everyone has had that moment, where we realized we had fallen out of love with the person we’ve been with, it’s no one fault, maybe you moved a little too quickly, or maybe you just got comfortable with someone, or maybe one of you stops trying, which causes the fire to out in a relationship. One of you could even meet someone knew who makes you feel invigorated and live, someone who challenges you, then before you know it you find yourself falling deeply and madly in love. Then again, sometimes two people just grow apart, it happens.

I once dated a girl for a few months and as time wore on, I gradually found myself liking her less and less. Then I panicked when I realized I didn’t have any real feelings for her and I was bored. She didn’t challenge me and I had overheard her more than once complaining about our dates. (She didn’t like it when I took her rock climbing, she thought laser tag was too childish, thought the Renaissance Fair was boring, wouldn’t let me buy a magic wand and play the wizard game at the Great Wolf Lodge, got 2 out of ten questions right about me in the couples game we played, while I had gotten 8 out of 10 questions about her right.
Unfortunately, I realized all of this while on the phone with her and in my ignorance, I let it slip,

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“Hey, I don’t know how to say this, but I don’t think it’s going to work out between us.” And then she hung up on me and wouldn’t answer my phone calls or texts. I don’t blame her for being angry, or upset at me, but breakups are hard, and the suck for all parties. So if I’m dating someone and they tell me they want to break things off, I will naturally try to see if it the relationship can be saved or not, and if not, I don’t see the point at making it an ugly, grisly affair. So the lesson here is be nice, listen to the other person and swallow your pride. Yeah it sucks, it hurts and you want to know and understand why, but sometimes it’s just easier and healthier just to apologize, thank them for their honesty, wish them best and walk away.
Being kind at a relationships end have helped me to remain friends with my ex-girlfriends, who have become some of my best friends and confidants. The people I go to for advice, knowing they’ll give me the truth and won’t be afraid of telling me when I’m in the wrong, or being stupid. I do fall out of love with them and learn to respect them and love them as a friend, who also knows they can trust me and ask me advice knowing I’ll answer them honestly. Because they know as much as I do, I always strive to see and understand both sides of an argument, or a person’s motivations. But most importantly I always make a point of reminding them not to launch into her accusation, to be calm, and say something akin to “Hey Tom, I’d like to talk to you about something, you know how I said I didn’t mind if you wanted to take your brother to a strip club for his birthday? Well ever since I said that, you’ve been going every weekend and that’s making me feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t turn you on anymore and it’s been making me really self-conscious and its really starting to hurt me.” (I find it best to refrain from using the word “you” as often as possible whenever you have a problem with an S.O. Because if you come off too accusatory you’re going to throw them in defense mode, and they’re going to stop listening and beginning telling you everything wrong with you, even if they don’t mean it.)

Seriously though, breakups suck for everyone, even if you think the person who broke up with you is out there right now enjoying themselves. Which isn’t always the case, even the very few times I had to breakup with someone, I’d still be depressed, and would miss them, miss their company even if they made me miserable most of the time. I can’t help it, I become attached to people fairly quickly and hate cutting them out of my life. But I do my best to move on and to make the most of it. So even though breakups may leave you feeling empty, hollowed out, angry and bitter all at the same time, you don’t have to drag it out for so long. No one wants to hear you complain about the person you used to date, but your close friends and family will listen because they love you. (Some may even be toxic and fan the flames) But the best of friends the people who’ve had a chance to grow and mature will all tell you the same thing. Move on, take the high road. If you’re angry, be angry, if you’re sad, be sad, cry all day. But come tomorrow, it’s time to start putting yourself and your house in order. It’s time to get back to living. Being nasty to the person that broke your heart, accomplishes very little, if anything it makes it harder for you to move on and may make them believe they made the right decision, giving them reasons to justify their actions. However if you’re the bigger person, sooner or later they’ll realize how badly they messed things up.letting-go-of-a-relationship-quotes-5

If you follow my advice, you may or may not find yourself one day becoming friends with an ex. Maybe but remember, don’t force it, the key is to leave them alone for a while, (several months-a year or more is the recommended length of time to lost those pesky feelings and jealously issues.) it’s far easier to rekindle a friendship when you end things amicably. And yes, some people may think it’s weird. But the way I look at it, you can spend weeks, months or even years getting to know one another, bonding and it just seems a bit like a waste to throw all that time and effort away. Plus in my experience, being friends with an ex, can be mutually beneficial. Because you have someone who knows you intimately, who can tell you when to just shut up and listen every once in a while, and they say, “Stop being such an ass,” You know it’s coming from a place of love. I still love some of my exes as I know many have love for me. Not romantically I assure you, and I would say like siblings or family, because well that’s just weird, it’s more like loving someone for just being a friend, as being happy for them when they meet that someone who can give them everything we couldn’t, or didn’t feel. Love and respect is the key and always the way to go.

 

 

Lexington Comic CON!!!!

Hello world!

I would to like to apologize for neglecting my little blog once again, but life happens and for the first time in a long time, I’ve been just enjoying it, in all off its ebbs and flows. But I’ll try my best to post more regularly, I have a lot I’d like to talk about and share with you all. I’m still working on editing and doming some rewrites of “Losers” and I started reworking my series “Scars of who we are.” Into book format, going a little more in depth about my battles with depression, anxiety and how to keep yourself living when all you want to do is quit and cash out. I’m still learning how to just let myself be happy and live in the moment, and I’ve been doing pretty okay.1618419_1082606068429011_6597914198783442686_n

So I started off this year right, or as right as any geek like myself can and I went to my first convention of the year, Lexington Comic Con! Accompanying me on this trip was one my very best, and dear friends Rachel and I gotta tell you, it was great going to a Con with a fellow geek for a change. Although we didn’t have time to go to any panels and we did miss out on the VIP party. But truth be told, we had a lot of fun exploring the con, buying things we didn’t need. (Which, let’s be honest is a part of the fun) And meeting a few of our fellow favorite celebrities, for me I was excited to meet James Marsters aka Spike from Buffy, and the guy was awesome, very cool, down to earth and we talked about Buffy and the movie Dude’s and Dragons which I bought and had him sign. He seemed pretty genuine and interested in making sure everyone was having a good time and was kind enough to let me take a quick table photo with him. Which I wish more celebrities at these conventions would let you do. I’m looking at you Eliza Dushku. But I didn’t get anything signed by you, because I forgot to bring you the bluray I wanted you to sign and I was hoping to get a table photo until the helper told me I couldn’t. Which was a bit disappointing, partly because I had a crush on her since she appeared as Faith in Buffy, but maybe next time, live and learn I guess.

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Here we see Harley Quinn trying to adopt a new cat.

But on the flip side, I did stay with Rachel who wanted to meet Jason David Frank, the Green Ranger. I knew who he was before going down, and as a kid, he was always my favorite Power Ranger. But I thought it’d be cool to meet him and even paid for Rachel and I to get a photo with him since it was only like twenty bucks, that and another friend of mine wanted me to get a photo with him for her nephew.  Jason David Frank was surprisingly a class act. You see Rachel paid to get four items signed by him and he saw she had another picture of him as the Green Ranger in her bag, and what followed was this,

JDF: Hey you want me to sign that too?

Rachel: No, its okay I only paid to get the four things signed.

JDF: I know how it works here (Then whispering) If you want me to sign it, after all you
brought it here.

Rachel: Are you sure?

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A new Client for Nelson And Murdock Advocados at law.

JDF: Yeah, you bought that here didn’t you, and you brought it up here, so let me sign it, besides it’s supposed to be all about the fans here.

And so she pulled the picture out of the sleeve and the guy totally signed it free of charge, which I thought was completely awesome, and I never saw a celebrity do anything like that before….Well except for Allen Bellman who insisted on signing my captain America shield, but I think that was partly because I was dressed as Captain America and he claimed that I looked like I just stepped out of the page of one of the books he’s worked on. So for me that was cool, for my friends who never read a comic book in their lives didn’t much care, but it was cool for me. But anyway if you ever get a chance to meet Jason David Frank, go meet him, get something signed and get a photo with the guy because he’s awesome and very loyal to his fan base. Which is always cool to see, especially these days, when some celebrates seem jaded, loathing the movies, or series that so many people fell in love with, instead of just embracing it. I’m a fan of geeky things and comic book movies because of what they meant to me, and sometimes it’s been just what I needed to help pull through or get over a personal trauma or struggle. Heck, I can’t tell you how many times listening to Hollywood babel on with Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman got me to laugh when I was feeling incredibly low, or how binge watching a comedy T.V show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” actually helped me feel human again after a bad breakup where I was struggling just to find a reason not to just give up on everything. If you’re a celebrity of any kind, you offer hope, an escape and wonder to those of us who needs it the most. If I ever strike it big, I will always try to be there for my fans, no matter how tired or worn out I am and like JDF I will always strive to show them respect and my consideration.
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But I digress and just wanted to say, this was my first time at Lexington Comic Con, and I had an absolute blast. Sadly my friend Rachel and I didn’t get to see any of the panels, and I didn’t get my costume finished in time to participate in the costume contest. But I still had a very awesome time, met some incredibly cool people, and seen some very impressive cosplays. So I will most likely be returning to Lexington’s 2017 Comic Con and hopefully I will be able to talk Rachel into flying back down to attend the con with me.

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And can we please stop this?

And can we please stop this?

Sorry in advanced for not being as active as I would like to be on my blog, have been really busy for the past few weeks. I’ve been trying to edit “Losers” so I can begin shopping it around and well, life happened. But I decided to come out and speak on a few subjects of note that have been bugging me lately which is, if you find something offensive, ignore it and go on about your day. Because if you’re easily offended by such things as something you see in the media, or hear someone say you should be thankful. Because it means there is nothing else that concerns you in your life. Because you’re not worrying about anything that actually matters, or means anything to anyone. You’re not hungry, you’re not worried about feeding your family, paying bills on time, you’re not worried about your job, or having to go to way in some foreign country, or land not knowing if you’ll ever make it home. You’re not worried about supporting your family if your spouse goes to war. It also means you’re not one of the ones who are fighting for you life in a hospital bed, you’re not struggling with your health, paying medical bills, or watching someone you care about pass away. If you have time to complain about something as silly as Starbucks cups, your life is fine and everything is okay. The world as you know it will continue to turn and turn, the sun will rise and the sun will set. This is how time passes and while you’re busy trying to find a sound and just cause, desperately trying to join a movement, that you can blindly attach yourself to, and join the bandwagon crying about how someone, somehow, somewhere hurt your feelings, or did something you didn’t like, or approve of. It’s all childish in the end. because you haven’t actually been greatly wronged by anyone, you just want attention, to have someone look at you and say, “Hey, you’re right!” But you’re not, you, really, really aren’t.

61787575So let’s all do something together, let’s all find and so something that can actually give your life some purpose. Because a big brother, or a big sister. Go to work in a soup kitchen, or a charity, join the national guard, invent something, write a book, channel all that rage, angst, and contempt into something creative, something positive! make art, help a neighbor, talk to a stranger, meet someone and strike up a friendship, let’s ignore all the drama and sensationalism in the media, on facebook, twitter and Pinterest, and let’s make the world better and into a more positive place to live in. We only have until now, and until the time we go to really leave this plane of existence to leave something long lasting behind. You only have one voice in the world, and you have to make sure that when you speak out, it’s for something that matters and not for spreading prejudice and hatred. I’m sorry here are the facts, not every cop is racist, or crooked. not all Muslims are terrorist, most of them are just people trying to get by and want to see their children grow up and make something of themselves.  I think we lost our semblance of self, in a world where everyone wants attention and wants to place blame somewhere else on someone else, rather than just being accountable for our actions and believe a harmless gesture is a personal attack against us, when sometimes a red cup, is simply a red cup, and sometimes you’re not really being persecuted, sometimes you’re just being an asshole.  0vNbnsa

 

And on the whole matter of the Syrian refugees, I’m proud to see so many people wanting to help them and wanting the American people to accept them with open arms. However, we’re facing an ever growing deficit in this country and I know we have solders and veterans we need to take proper care of, but keep getting denied certain benefits they were promised because there’s not enough money for it. Also our elderly keep getting denied a cost of living increase from social security because (there isn’t enough money in social security) plus we have a fairly big homeless problem here. And realistically, if we can’t get the money to  help these people, how are we suppose to take care of over twenty thousand refugees? These are questions I believe we need to all ask ourselves, and take a good long look at our underfunded educational system and how college graduates are hundred of thousands of dollars in debt, trying desperately to pay off their student debts, living to pay check, to pay check as the try to find employment in the area they’ve studied, just to find no one is hiring.  I think today everyone is too concerned with being guilt police, and are into the fad of taking on any movement that can gain them facebook likes, retweets, favorites, or just so they can feel as though they’ve taken up some cause to feel better about themselves.

But that’s just me and my thoughts, and this is my voice.

 

This is my voice

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Confession.

So I have a bit of a confession to make. It’s a bit of a doozy. So please bear with me if you can. Because it’s one of those things most people hear and immediately begin rolling their eyes and begin seeing me as some kind of monsters. Sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches. Especially these days, because my confession is that I’m (Okay deep breath) a Christian and I’ve been hiding.tumblr_m7bydoXFLt1rukhkdo1_500

I rarely talk about my faith in public and even more seldom do I admit it. Part of this reason is because I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of how others claim to be Christians but don’t act like it. Unfortunately many of my fellow “Christians” seems to keep missing the point and they’re also the ones who seem to always be the loudest, turning their faith and religion into something bitter and obscene, preaching hate and discrimination over love and acceptance.

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we need less of this

When I read my bible (Which admittedly isn’t as much as I wish it was) but when do sit down and read it, I don’t see condemnation; I read a message of love. I read about a father who loves us, drunk on the love he has for us, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, or had forgotten his name, use his name to preach a gospel of hate, arrogance and bigotry.

If you really sit down and pay attention to the words, you’ll see it’s a story about a God who made us all in his image, making us all equal. It tells of a God who sent his only begotten son to us, who didn’t just die for us, but who had suffered for our sins. Who even cried out the words,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” While they were nailing him to the cross and He still loved them, no matter how much they hurt him, betrayed him, or disappointed him, he loved them still and he preached a gospel of love and compassion. I don’t know about you, but I would have a hard time forgiving and asking my father to love and forgive anyone who was torturing me. I would be wishing nothing but misery upon those who caused me such agony. But I keep trying to walk away from that part of myself; I keep fighting to do more good in the world than bad.

no more of this.

no more of this.

Now I may not be the most elegant of speakers, and they’re many who know the bible better than me, who can quote any scripter, who know the bible backwards and forwards, but I can’t help but think some of these people lost the message a long time ago. The bible tells me that if you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed and that Holy water that you soak in becomes poison.
For me, many Christians lost their way the moment Jesus had gone. Or maybe it was even before then, when they doubted him, challenged him, longing to prove that he wasn’t who he was or claimed to be. Back when he was visiting the leper colonies and ran into woman accused of adultery, where many sought to trap Jesus, because the law then was to stone any woman caught committing adultery and when they told him this, he responded,John 8 Jesus eye level with woman holding her hand
“Let any one of you without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” Then one by one those who heard began to go away. Because this is God’s love, it’s not a hate thing; it’s more of a love thing. It’s not about your beliefs being better than his, or her beliefs, it’s not about who’s right, or wrong. It’s about love, the Bible tells us to love our neighbors and yet almost every time I get on social media, I read, see, or hear something about Christians damning homosexuals, soldiers and the homeless.
But People don’t need division we got Gotta stick it together and love each other. Father, brother, sister, mother, uncles, cousins, aunts, forget about the chance, the cheers, the jokes, the jeers.
After 2000 years, you’d think we’d know by now. My grandma once said, “We will only find equality in the number of our tears.”

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We need more of this.

And she was right, because I don’t know what injustices you have suffer, based size, sex, race, religion,
Or the political pigeon crap on the shoulders of Us versus them. Like in Bethlehem, when a man said, “Hey I could be wrong, but can’t we all just get along?”

No! And we nailed him to the cross. See justice isn’t justice, it just is, and I can’t change it, you can’t change it, so we just have to try and rearrange it.

I’m a Christian and I support same sex marriages. I support it because I’m a heterosexual and I’ve seen people struggling with their sexuality, because they had grown up hearing how it was wrong, a sin, I’ve seen some of these people take their own lives. Thirteen, fourteen year old kids who are driven to kill themselves because of the “Christians” who think they can just pray the gay out. The Bible says, the most important commandment is loving God with all your heart, mind and soul, and the second most important commandment is this, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” Something I feel gets lost on most everyone. I know what the bible says; I know the scriptures and I’ve been preached at and preached to by people telling me I’m not a real Christian, because I believe in loving others as much as I try to love myself. Some insist on telling me how I need to be educated and really read my bible. (Whatever that means) But my bible tells me to love my neighbor, to honor and respect those of other faiths and beliefs, reserving my judgement of God alone to decide. Because only God can be my judge and know what’s in my heart.

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You never hear of a Jewish person declining to let Christians to get married, because they aren’t Jewish, or of anyone getting upset because a Hindu, or a Buddhist wishes to marry. To me it’s just people, people wanting their love to be accepted in the eyes of the law, to each other and their faith. You can choose to accept it, or just ignore it.
I believe Christianity needs to be more of a love, forgiveness and a grace thing, not so much about hate, and using their gospel as ammunition to spread a message of hate and condemnation.

I feel like several times people pick and choose what they want to believe in the Bible and the lessons they wish to follow. When very plainly the bible says “Do not judge or you too will be judged for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, “then it repeats in the bible, in another line, which reinforces the message that God doesn’t want us to pass judgement on anyone else, in a passage that reads,
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
To me this often speaks volumes in itself. To me it says we as human beings can’t hold judgment over others, and yet it’s what I see many Christians doing and they do it all the time. When we’re supposed to greet everyone with open arms, with love, understanding and grace, much like Jesus Christ had done during his time here.

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I also speak as someone who’s spent a lifetime being judged by others, hearing others of my faith tell me I’m a not a real Christian, or tell me how I or someone I care about is going to hell. But none of us knows what battles someone else is going through, or if God already has a plan us or for them.

So that’s my confession. I’m a Christian who believes in a loving God and I also believe in science and evolution. God gave us brains and the potential to grow and learn. Whose say a cosmic creator didn’t instill in us the building blocks to grow, change and adapt, because that’s always more exciting to me. Instilling change in something and sitting back to see what comes of it.

 

“Bullying builds character like nuclear waste creates superheroes. It’s a rare occurrence and often does much more damage than endowment.” ― Zack W. Van

Hello again and once more I regret for neglecting my blog for so long, but I’ve been busy, which is good. I’m still writing, trying to wrap up “Losers” before beginning the long arduous task of editing, proof reading and finding the best route to get everything published.  But I hope everyone reading this, or not reading this is doing well. But I would like to take this moment to talk about a rather big issue plaguing todays’ youth, bullies and those pesky internet trolls, who once upon a time, all their kind lived underneath bridges and now their plaguing us with their anonymity and cruelty.

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It wasn’t until I began this blog that I started opening up about being bullied back in school, where I mastered the art of trying to be invisible and to ghost my way through the halls doing my best to go unnoticed. However try as I might, I always did everything I could to just be ignored and to just ignore those who relished taking pleasure from my pain. Most of the time I managed to just ignore it and disappear into a book, or by surrounding myself with good quality friends, who would always help me forget, or jump to my defense. But more than once I came across a bully whose approach was more hands on. Who didn’t just call me names, or made fun of my speech, or how I looked and sometimes played that ridiculous rhyming game, where they would almost always make fun of me for my last name.
Sometimes I even come across the occasional internet troll, who are always  trying to crush the spirit of others, as if it would make their mirrors cast a better reflection of the one they gave, as if it was the only way to save themselves is to make the ugly so that no one would notice them hiding it. Personally I believe trolls were simply school bullies, who one day looked around and saw how much the world had changed, while they stayed the same. Who then turned their hate into stones and hurled them at beauty, as if they can’t bear to see anything other than ugly, anything Different. So they enjoy the anonymity of the internet where no one else knows who they are and the believing that being a troll somehow makes them better than who they’re trolling. Failing to see that it isn’t cute, it isn’t funny, talking others into death, while they sit back and laugh, as each family learns to graft skin over the wounds they gave them, coaxing the sober back into bars, offering nooses, cliffs, and pills to those who unfortunately found them before they found help. These internet trolls, have praised suffering in others, waltzed in between tragedies, dipping misery as if we would somehow be impressed with the dexterity of their animosity. But once upon a time, they and all their kind lived underneath bridges, but now they live online, in basements and attics, trying project their ugliness unto the world.Monstaa-991x1024

But let’s talk about bullying, I know some say they deserve our pity, our empathy, because they don’t love anything like the way some of us loves math, science, history, or literature. Some say that bullies are born from neglect and abuse themselves, so they take our their pain and frustrations on someone else, creating a never ending circle of prejudice and hate. But I don’t think this is always the case. Sometimes, yes this may ring true, but I think more often than not, and some people are just assholes. There’s no reason, no excuse and to pick on someone else, to make them feel like less of a person.

We see it all the time and everyone always acts surprised when we see or hear about a kid committed suicide because they just couldn’t take it anymore, or decide they have enough and go to school packing heat in the waistband of their jeans, turning their school into a shooting range. The media always seems so quick to blame music, the violence on t.v, religion or videogames, very few ever take that look and ask,

“Did I cause this?” Because a person can only take so much and everyone always wants to compare bullying to when they were a kid, or down play the harassment and ridicule, by saying they never meant anything by their words, or actions, saying they were just playing, or messing with someone. Always quick to laugh it off and say how they treated someone was just a joke, harmless teasing, etc. In reality, that kid they picked on, the person they teased, and harassed in the cafeteria, school halls and locker-rooms soon become a ball of TNT lit from both ends.

You see, I wasn’t the class clown, I was never really much a rebel, and I wasn’t a skater boy, a musician or a band geek. I was just me, I was the weird, awkward Stephen King kid who loved to read, write, watch tv and play videogames.  I never had very many friends, but the ones I had were quality over quantity and I love each of them as family because in my mind they are and have been family to me. But I never really told any of them about my problems with being bullied, because I was terrified it would cause them to think less of me.

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The first real bully I ever faced down, was a guy name Goliath  (Not his real name, but I feel the need to protect his identity.) Anyway, Goliath was one of those kids who failed his freshman year at least two or three times, which mad him older than any of us and Goliath was also much, much bigger than I, he stood at 6’4 and weighed somewhere around 280 lbs. and unfortunately he was the first real bully I ever faced. (Although I did have the occasional bully who stuck to mainly name calling, whom I either ignored, or managed to use my wits to humiliate them with a truly perfect comeback) But then there was Goliath, who harass me, almost daily. He sought me out no matter where I stood or or hid, and it wasn’t just names he hurled at me, it was spitballs, paper wads, etc. And he was always followed around by a pack of hyenas who egged him and would take their shots at me whenever they could. The hyenas were my peers, always cackling, always laughing no matter what they, or Goliath did.

Now I tried all the tricks they tell you to do when face to face with a bully. I tried befriending him, finding some common ground which never really worked, and then I tried ignoring him, which also failed miserably for he would seek me out and get hands on. Twisting my arm, or hand painfully back, shoving me, putting me in a headlock, etc.  Also to me, and to all victims of bullying, we learn very quickly how little going to a parent or a teacher actually works. It often at times makes things worse, and earns you the nickname Narc, crybaby, or tattle-tale, etc.

But as Goliath’s harassment grew more and more frequent and physical, I finally decided I had enough. Now I was much shorter back then, around 5’4 at most and weighed about a hundred pounds soaking wet, so advantage was clearly Goliath. But I didn’t care; I deiced to fight back, but with fist, not a gun or a knife. It was his respect I wanted, not his life. So I waited for him to find me in the school yard. Which he did with remarkable ease and I braced myself for whatever was to come as he lumbered towards me, with his pack of snickering hyenas following close on his heels, but I stood with my head held high.
Goliath knew something was different about me almost immediately and asked if I was afraid of him.overcoming-giants-quote-e1361853718801

“No,” I whispered; as he proceeded to mock me and tell me how he was going hang me up from a nearby tree by my feet. But I didn’t move, I just kept my jaw clenched until he went to grab me. Which was when I punched him as hard as I could into his abdomen (Foolishly believing a shot in the gut would drop almost anyone, but it didn’t, it felt like punching a monster truck tire) But gave him pause and he grunted as he looked at me and I dropped back into a fighting stance.

“C’mon asshole ogre, you might just kill me, but I won’t make it easy and make it cost you!” I shouted, barely noticing his hyenas hoot and practically salivate at the prospect of watching me get my butt kicked, but I didn’t care, I would fight him and I wouldn’t fight fair, I’d do whatever I could to hurt him as much as possible.  But he didn’t do anything, he just stood there, rubbing his stomach and started shaking his head at me, then he said something I’d never forget.

“You have some major balls on you and I can respect that. We’re cool, I’m not going to fight you and if anyone ever gives you trouble, you come and get me and I’ll take care of them for you.”

Goliath and I never really talked much after that, we would pass each other in the hall with a nod to each other. Once we even shared a class together where he would occasionally ask me for help with some of our assignments. He never asked me to do his homework, or asked to copy mine, or any of that nonsense, he just turned out to be the type who was too embarrassed to ask the teacher for help and would ask me to clear up his questions instead. But not all giants I leared are so easily defeated.

 

But I learned my lesson with Goliath, if I was to stand up for myself, I would have to study and I would have to work on myself. So I started working out in secret. Push-ups, sit ups, pull-ups, lifting free weights, running. I would also read and watch everything I could get my hands on about fighting, self-defense all things I would practice alone in my room, or out in the woods around my home. My training would then come play the following year when I ran into yet another bully who’s approach came hands on.

Caleb Tyler Bullying

His name was Smaug and we had gym together. Now Smaug wasn’t much higher on the social ladder than me, but he desperately wanted the approval of the “Cool kids” so he began giving me a hard time in attempt to humiliate me on a daily bases, most of his attempts often failed, but I think he believed if he made me feel inferior, he would somehow manage to elevate his own status. I managed to ignore most of Smaug’s taunts, while occasionally shutting him up with a well-placed comeback of my own.

Then one morning, I arrived to P.E a bit early and Smaugh saw me and immediately broke away from the circle of “Cool kids” and approached me, I immediately knew that no good was going to come of this and I was already having an awful day, so I raised my hand in surrender and said,

“Please don’t start with me, I’ve been having a bad enough day as it is.”
Then he smiled, glanced over his shoulder at our peers whom he desperately wanted the approval of and when he turned back to me, he shoved me, and then he grabbed my backpack and tore it from my shoulder and threw it to the floor.

I blinked, and said, “I’m warning you man, I’m not going to take this from you today.” He laughed, asked me what I was going to do, and then he slapped me. Earning a guffaw from our classmates who had begun gathering around us for the show and then he made his mistake by laughing and turning his head to see the attention he was getting, which was when I did a straight punch to his solar plexus, dropping him to his knees like a sack of bricks. Our classmates all had a good laugh, some cheered me on, wanting me to press my advantage and a part of me really wanted to. A part of me wanted to just let loose and let out all of my pain and frustration on him, to beat him so badly he’d think twice before ever picking on someone else. But When I looked down at him, hugging his chest, with his head down, I knew I didn’t need to, I had already won. So I just picked up my things and stepped over him to go change. It was strange to me how quickly some of the crowd turned against me that day, calling me pussy for not beating the crap out of the kid. I just didn’t see the point.

 

Smaug didn’t come charging into the locker-room for a rematch, in fact he stayed out of the locker-room, and after I changed I saw him sitting at the top of the bleachers, still hugging his chest and just glaring at me. But at this point I felt confident I could handle myself if he came at me again, but just to be safe, I kept a watchful eye on him throughout the rest of the period while he sat in the bleachers. After class, he approached me I was leaving, and asked me why I hit him, so I told him, he was asking for it. Later to my surprise, he actually befriended me and we remained friends for the rest of the year.

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Now I’ve never considered myself a violent guy, considering myself more of a lover than fighter. But sometimes I think you have to fight, because sometimes it’s the only way to make it stop and I know all about the fear that comes with fighting. I honestly believe that no one really loves to fight, I’ve done my fair share of trying to talk myself out of a violent confrontation, but sometimes you do have to make a stand. I went into every fight with the knowledge that I may lose and will probably lose. (thankfully the only fights I lost were on the mat and not in the real world) But to me it’s about going as hard as you can for as long as you can manage, there’s a strength in not retreating, or giving up. It may not always be true, but I’ve always felt that if you make bullying you more hassle than what it’s worth, if you hit back and keep getting up every time you get knocked down, that person or persons will eventually give up. All you ever need is one good punch, kick, knee or arm bar. But study up and don’t go into a situation blind. Watch MMA, watch boxers, read books on martial arts and fighting, if you can take classes, train with friends, workout. Stop thinking a gun, or a knife, or a homemade bomb is your only solution. I know they’re kids at school who don’t make it easy and more often than not you just want to find a way out. But if you survive and come through the other side, it does get better.

I’ve had to deal with one kind of bully in one form or another, but one lesson that always stuck with me, was that no one has to and you don’t have to go at it alone.

I went to School with a guy named Allen Shafer, we weren’t really friends, but he in my opinion was always a very stand-up guy and in High School, that sort of thing is very hard to come by. Admittedly, I never knew Allen well, I only had a few classes with the guy and he was always the coolest in my opinion. Because he was popular, cool, funny and he was jock, but he never acted like it. He always treated me like a person, not a geek, a dork, or a dweeb or like another outcast. He was cool.

I remember we had this cooking class together and him and I got assigned to the same cooking group, and in all honesty it felt like someone was really looking out for me. Because his was the first group I was in that I didn’t feel excluded. On some mornings he would get to class early to make himself and our group (including myself) breakfast, which immediately struck me as odd, because I wasn’t really used to people doing nice things for me. So at first I was suspicious, but in time he proved to be a cool guy, going as far as teaching me how to make different types of eggs, omelettes and etc.

He would also talk to me, ask me how I was doing, wanting to know what I did over the weekend and a few times he even invited me to some of his parties, which I never attended, but always appreciated  that he asked,  and he always promised a good time if I ever ended up going. Which I believe he meant, but as cool and as accepting as he was, I doubted his friends would share the same sentiment. Fact is Allen was one of the few who went out of his way to make High-school a little more tolerable.

Allen Shafer today

Allen Shafer today

We also had a Gym class together. I can’t remember which class it was, (advanced P.E) or regular (P.E)  but I appreciated him being there. Because whenever we played any kind of sport and someone on my team would give me hell because I messed up, missed a shot, or struck out. He would always jump to my defense, calling out all my good plays, or the times I managed to steal the ball from the other team, or prevented the other team from scoring, then he would rattle off all the times the person giving me hell screwed up, or missed a shot. Which really kind made me admire the guy, because he would get in heated arguments with the same guys he played with, and the people who were his friends, defending me.  In all honestly I never seen, or heard of anyone ever doing anything like it before, he owed me nothing, he barely knew me, but to me it just felt like he had my back. Which was cool.

But the one thing I’ll never forget, is how during a game of flag football (which often turned to tackle when you’re a teenager) He made me feel like a hero.  I was on his team. We were tied, with one just enough time for one play and it was our ball. I was expecting for the rest of the game to go as these normally went, which was for me to never get the ball or have a chance to score. Which I was perfectly okay with, because I didn’t want to get blamed for being the reason my team lost. But low and behold, during the huddle, Allen turns to me and says,

“Alright Cooper, during this play I want you to run as far and fast as you can, but count to Ten, one thousand, then get ready because I’m going to pass you the ball.”

Needless to say my team was less than enthused about his plan, but he told everyone to shut-up and to trust him and have faith in me. Then just as we broke the huddle, he grabbed me by the shoulder and whispered,

“Don’t be nervous, remember count to ten, turn around and I’m going to pass you the ball. Don’t worry about anything else, you’ll do great, just score us a touchdown and win this for us, I’m counting on you.”

Then it happened, my heart was hammering almost painfully against my ribs as I ran and turned to see the ball spiraling straight toward me, all the while hearing the mocking laugher and the ridicule of my peers and team-mates once I screwed up, or fumbled. But I didn’t. I caught the ball, tucked it into my chest, turned and ran harder than I’ve ever ran in my life, scoring the game winning touch-down!

I never had so many people cheering for me in my life, everyone was giving my high-fives, patting me on the back and for that day and the rest of the week I felt like a hero. All thanks to one guy who treated me and saw me as a human being. I’ll never forget that. He owed me nothing, but I owe him a lot, he made me a gym-class hero plus, it’s always a nice feeling whenever the cool kid in class or school makes you feel like you’re cool too.

So that’s how you stop bullying in my opinion. Don’t ignore it when you see it, don’t join in thinking its just harmless fun and don’t thing it’s cute. Instead Step-up, stand-up and remind the world there’s more of us then they are dragons, giants and trolls and together we make up a dynasty who can slay anything.

 

 

J-Cooper.