Tag Archive: Abuse


Scars of Who We Are. Intermission Part 3

For my mother, I have this to say, I wish you never gone away,
and I would have preferred that you would have stayed.

My brother wondering when he'll finally be able to play with me.

My brother wondering when he’ll finally be able to play with me.

I wasn’t ever the perfect son and more often than not, I was a coward who struggled with finding ways to express myself. More often than not, this usually resulted in me writing how much I hated my mom or the phrase “I have no mom,” on my belongings, because well for the most part it she didn’t feel like much a mother to me. And occasionally she would find something that I had written in a fit of anger, which I’m sure had to hurt, then she would give me the third degree, making me feel two inches tall.

In truth and more than anything I think all I really wanted was to have the courage, the strength of character to simply open up a dialog with her and just ask her why, why was she always so hard on me? And wasn’t I ever good enough? Because I always tried to be a good kid. I never gave in to peer pressure, never smoked, or drank alcohol, kept my nose clean and my head down.  Unlike my older brother who fell into a bad crowd, got detentions and suspensions from school and more than once he even managed to get himself expelled. But no matter what he did my mother was always there for him, always believed and saw only the best in him. She was there having his back, helping him fight some of the hardest battles he had to fight. Even when my brother dropped out of school, fell into the drug scene, got arrested, sent to jail, she was there for him. Even when my step-father had enough and kicked him out of the house, my mother was still on my brother’s side, so much so that her and my step-father almost got a divorce over it.

I still remember that day that my brother had probably forgotten when he came by the house late at night, knocked on my window and asked to come inside. He looked like he aged ten years and was thinner than I remembered,  telling me how he hadn’t eaten in days and asks if I can make him a sandwich since he didn’t want to risk going upstairs himself and risk being caught by our step-father. So I crept upstairs, made him some food and brought him a bag of chips, because I loved him. I barely knew the person he had become, but I loved him all the same and I remember how we talked for bit, which felt really good, it felt like I finally getting to know him a little bit. Then before he left, I stopped him and dug into my wallet, giving him all the money I had, which was about fifty bucks and told him to take care of himself. I knew it wasn’t much, but I figured it’d be enough to  at least get him a place to stay for a night maybe, or enough to afford him a hot meal until he got back on his feet. It’s amazing how quickly some people forget the little things and quick he was able to turn his back and forget about me. But as I said before, I don’t blame him, he saw only the best in our mother and that’s what she gave him, he hadn’t been singled out like I me, and it was something he never would see. Also for those who are curious my brother did eventually clean himself up and left the drug scene behind, he eventually went on to get his GED, got a good job and has started a family of his own. Although we still don’t talk much. But he knows I write this blog and I pray one day he’ll read it from beginning to end and maybe then we’ll be able to reconcile our differences and remember what it means to be brothers again.

Me and my brother at my grandma's

Me and my brother at my grandma’s

At seventeen, I was given my brother’s room in the basement, which I actually preferred; it was bigger than my old room and always cold in the summer. Then one night at seventeen I woke up in the middle of the night starving, so I decided to slip out of my bed and sneak upstairs for a little late night snack. I was tired and still half asleep, so my senses were dull and I wasn’t fully alert so I thought the house was silent and everyone was fast asleep. Still I crept silently up the stairs, daring not to make a noise out fear of waking my mother or step-father, partially out of fear of the inquisition that had to tendency to occur in the past whenever I was caught sneaking a snack this late at night. But when I reached the top of the stairs and eased open the door, I could hear my mother talking to someone and so I froze with my hand still on the door, afraid to move, to make a sound, or to even breathe.

Holding my breath I listened intently to the sound of her voice in floating down the hall to me from the kitchen, weighing my options and curious as to why she was in the kitchen and not in her room, believing at first she had to have been speaking to my step-father. Because now I believed I had gotten lucky up until then, that no one had heard me climbing the stairs or opening the door, believing that if I retreated now I would most certainly be heard, and accused for sneaking around and for being where I wasn’t suppose to be.  My heart was pounding in my breast as I slowly began to ease the door shut and began slipping back the stairs wince I came. Realizing then as I descended the stairs, that no other voices came from the kitchen, telling me she was alone and simply believed she was on the phone. Which for me was great, because it meant she was less likely to hear me, but as I retreated back to my room I heard her sob.

Again I stood frozen there on the steps, with my heart hammering in my chest, still holding my breath as I quietly debated what I should do. A part of me told me to retreat and go to bed, because nothing good would come of this, because nothing good ever had.

Then I was moving before I even realized what I was doing, climbing silently back up the stairs, easing the door to the upstairs back open and set my foot on the smooth, cool hardwood floor.  Stepping carefully I crept up into the hall and poked my head around the corner and peered into the kitchen, where I saw my mother sitting at the kitchen table in her faded pink bathroom, her face buried in her hands and  she’s crying.

“Are…are you okay?” I asked, my voice barely above a whisper and to my surprise she’s not startled by the sound of my voice or my sudden appearance, instead she looks up at me with red puffy eyes and waves me to come close to her..
Reminding myself to breathe, I let out a breath and slowly cross the kitchen to her place at the table, not really knowing what to expect, but when I make it within arm’s reach, I’m startled by the feeling of her arms wrapping around me, pulling me close, hugging me.

I’m seventeen and I don’t know how to react, I stand there with her holding me and sobbing against my chest and I had forgotten how to return affection, or show it to my mother. It takes several minutes for my arms to pull around her and return her embrace. She’s telling me she’s sorry, she’s tells me she doesn’t know why she’s so hard on me, or why she mistreats me as often as she does. I tell her it’s okay and that I love her. Which was true, or so I think and if it wasn’t I wanted it to be.

A once happy family with me, my mother, brother and father.

A once happy family with me, my mother, brother and father.

She pulls away and messes with my hair, before grabbing me and pulling me back against her hugging me tighter than before, telling me how sweet I am, that I have a good heart and always been a good kid. I’m taken aback, not really knowing how one such as I should react, with a part of me believing that this was all some dream and I didn’t want to wake up. Because here in this place, in this moment in time, my mother was talking to me, actually talking to me like a human being and she was hugging me, making me feel this indescribable sense of love that she had for me.

After a while I slowly pull back and sit in a chair beside her, I never talk, I just look at her and she begins talking. She tells me about her childhood, how hard her father was on her, how he would beat her and her sister. She tells me this whole history of phyiscal and verbal abuse she suffered at the hands of her father; she even professes her drug use and how she never meant to drive my father away like she did, telling me how sorry she was for how she treated him and me. I listen to every word, weighing each one carefully in my mind and when she’s finished I tell her it’s okay and I understand, I tell her I love her, then I make a joke and make her laugh.

My father and mother beneath the missletoe & My older brother.

My father and mother beneath the missletoe & My older brother.

We talk for another hour or two and I discover that I like talking to her, I like making her laugh, so by the time we hug and say goodnight, I go to bed believing things would be alright from now on. I only wish I had been right, but even though I wasn’t, I still had this moment and other moments like it, whenever I would stay up late and she was still up, I would find that would be the time that we would connect the most. It was in those late twilight hours, when sleep was at the forefront of our minds. And It was in those moments we would share and talk openly, about anything, everything and nothing, it was then it felt like we were the most real with eachtother.  Perhaps that is what caused my insomnia to become so deeply ingrained into my very being, where even when I’m exhausted and on the verge of sleep, I fight it and try to stay awake for just a little longer. Finding that people in general, not just my mother are the most real in that late hour, when you’re too tired to be angry, to lie or be false and you can only speak in simple truths. A lesson my mother had taught me early on, one that I won’t soon forget.

Thanks Debbie, wherever you are, near or far,
Thank you for being a mother to me, even if was just briefly for mere moments at a time.
I still love you forever and always.

Joshua A. Cooper

And finally...me asleep.

And finally me fast asleep.

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XI

Chapter 11

~The truth is every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, and some not. Some things change, while some never do and life goes on and on. And it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and my life in particular is a testament to that little fact. Yes the world can be a very mean and nasty place and no matter how strong or tough you think you are, it will beat you down to your knees and keep you there if you let it. No one will ever hit you as hard as life can and will, but its not about how hard you get hit, or how many times life knocks you down, it’s about how many times you keep getting back up, keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving and pressing ever forward on this journey called life, yeah my head may be bloody, but its unbowed and you can either press on to something more, or call it quits and simply give up, never knowing how close you came to getting past those hurdles, to finding solace in a moment, when find peace while walking barefoot through the grass with a pretty girl.
The battles you fight will be hard, but the reward will be all the sweeter once your journey finally winds down and you look back at a life well lived, because you didn’t give up. Yes you may lose your heart’s desire along the way, but you can also find it and there is no greater joy in life than that, yes accidents happen, sometimes you may lose your way, which can be tragic, but only if you let it, or you can embark on an all new journey of discovery until you find your way back home, to the place you’re meant to be. You just can’t ever let it keep you down, because this world is filled with its crazy mazes, obscene obstacles, and flashing lights all meant to test us, strengthen us and sometimes even distract us from what’s important…and I…I just want to write, to change the world with my words and get people to read again, to discover the magic in the written word, that magic that has been buried in the hidden depths of your soul. Remember your life is a story, and some chapters end, while others are just beginning, so if you ever think of ending your story prematurely, you’re robbing yourself and of those around you of the story of you and you’ll never see how things were truly meant to be, even the saddest of stories can have a happy ending. Plus, the beginning of most stories are often the hardest, but if you hang in there, you’ll soon discover you weathered the storm and have become a little stronger, a little wiser and just better for having lived through it. Don’ think of yourself as a victim, but a survivor, because that’s what you are, you’re stronger and better than you know.

stars

After the debacle of my sixteenth, birthday party, I kind of became two people. At home I would withdraw into myself, spending most of time hiding out alone in my room, transfixed by some video game, engrossed in a television program, or lost in a book. Gradually I was becoming a hermit whenever I was home. I hated socializing with the rest of my mom’s family because now everything they said to me just felt false, every compliment was a lie. often I found myself entertaining thoughts of suicide, hearing that little voice in the back of my head confirming all my worst fears, telling me my friends weren’t really my friends, that everyone was really just laughing at me behind my back, that I was a joke, a burden on everyone I loved and cared for. These words always spoke to me in the voice of my mother, telling me I had no future, I was stupid and ugly, along with all the horrible things we sometimes tell ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about killing myself, or how close I came. I grew up a Christian and still am, so my beliefs and my relationship with my father, my step-brother, my grandmother were all that kept me strong despite everything else that was going wrong in my life.

            The other person I found myself becoming was in thanks to my friends, who pulled me from the edge and held me there. To this day I still don’t know what it was they saw in me, I was an overly shy, backwards, introverted dork. But they saved me from myself and accepted me for who i was, they started a  change me. Slowly and gradually, I noticed how being around them made me better, more confident and not so afraid to have a little fun every now and again. Because I was as straight-laced as they came. I never smoked, drank, did any drugs, never did anything really, so much so  that most of my friend’s parents wanted to adopt me. In the end, I think that’s why I really chose to stay with my mother during all that time, with a little of it being afraid of what she would do if I left to live with my father.

           A week after my sixteenth birthday, when I was sitting alone in my room vegging out  in front of my t.v when I hear my mother yelling for me. My mom’s sister, Terry was there whose presence I simply endured and hadn’t been much of a fan of, (It was no illusion that she liked my older brother better than me, often treating me like a second class citizen), but still I tolerated her and she was standing in the living room, with my mom standing at the edge of the kitchen, upon seeing me, she asks me to take out the trash.

 (Now this part is the hardest for me talk about, let alone write, so I’m probably not going to edit any of it, just going to try and get through it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, typos be damned.)

 I walked past my mother, opening the cabinet which held our trashcan, which was overflowing, and started liberating the bag from the can, when behind me my mom asks me to check on our cat’s litter-box, responded by saying, 

Me at 16

Me at 16

   “Alright, as soon as I finish with this,” and I stand up and begin to carry the bag out of the kitchen when I’m shoved into our fridge which sat next to the entryway of our kitchen. At first I cracked a bit of a smile, believing my mother was just goofing off with me, or was trying to be cute or something, so I laugh and roll my eyes and pick myself back up and begin to step away, when my mother grabs my head and slams the side of my head into the fridge.

 

I whirled my head around in confusion, no longer thinking this was some harmless fun and wondering what I did wrong, but before I can ask she throws me up against the fridge, then hits me. My face stinging from the blow, I can already feel the red hand print throbbing, with my cheek feeling like it was on fire, I open my mouth to protest, when she shoves me again, followed by a second blow to the other side of my face. 

Then I do something I had never done before, I shove off of me, which also proves to be a mistake. She leaps at me again, her hands going to my face and she slams the back of my skull against the side of our fridge, before hitting me across the face again, harder this time. I manage a brief glance over at my aunt, expecting that she would have enough sense to stop whatever this was and I watch her smile and and give me an exaggerated shrug and my blood begins to boil. I barely have time to register her apathy, I feel my mother’s nails digging into my neck as she grabs the collar of my shirt, pulling me towards her, before shoving me back against the fridge once more. 


Pain lances up through my shoulder blades, with a part of me believing that this was it, she was going to murder me, because I can feel is her jumping on me, reigning blow after blow on me, hitting me everywhere and anywhere as I tried to shrink back into the fridge, raising my arms to protect my face, all the while still holding the bag containing the kitchen’s garbage. 

Finally having enough I snap, shoving her off of me as hard as I can and into the counter at her back. I’m screaming “Stop,” at the top of my lungs, maybe a part of me was hoping a neighbor or someone would hear and call the cops. But I was so angry, I could barely think clearly, with my whole body trembling with rage, wanting nothing more than to finally hit her back and not stop until I could no longer raise my fists.

My heart was racing and feeling as though it would beat right out of my chest. Then she hits me again and I slam her harder into the counter and throw the bag of trash at her and scream,

“That’s it, I had enough, I’m packing my bags tonight and moving in with my dad, I don’t care what you do to me, I’m done!”

With my heart still beating like a jackhammer, I storm out of the kitchen, pausing momentarily to glower at my aunt, who’s still just standing there.

       “Are you really going to do nothing and let her beat the hell out of me?” I ask, and she responds by turning her back to me.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I turn and storm down the hall to my room, already thinking of how I was going to explain this to my friends, hoping that I’d still be able to see them from to time and wondering how difficult it’d be to make new friends in a new school, to be the new kid all over again. Realizing I hated my mother then, I hated her for doing this to me, for forcing me to leave behind my friends. 


         I make it to my room where I try slamming the door behind me, (because when you’re angry slamming things usually feel pretty good,) But my mother catches the door just before it slams shut and throws it open, and shoves me from behind. I stumble, catch my balance, but by the time I recover, she’s on top of me again, beating me, clawing at my face and neck, pulling and tearing at my shirt, going absolutely berserk. I’m terrified, believing this was where I’m going to die.But my anger fuels me, drives me and I let her hit me three or four more times before I explode, shoving her out of my room and pin her arms at her side, bringing my face inches from hers as I scream. No words, I just scream, feeling every part of my body wanted to hit her repeatedly, I wanted to show her how to hurt and teach her how to bleed. I wanted her to know, to feel every blow, ever pain and every hurt she ever made me feel. In that moment I wanted to kill her. But I manage to reign in my anger just enough to shout, 

  

            “Stop! Just stop and leave me alone! I’m done with this, I’m done with you! It’s over.”

            Shaking I let her go and turn to head back to my room  and begin packing my beds, when she shoves me from behind and again I stumble, recover and turn to face her as she shoves me again harder. I stagger back, plant my feet and shove in return, in what erupts into a brief shoving match between us. Realizing she’s losing ground, she launches herself at me and begins wailing away on me, hitting me, scratching me in what felt like an endless barrage of blows to every exposed square inch of my body, while the whole time I’m seeing red and all I can think about is breaking her neck.  That’s when I see it, I see her pulling her hand back in a fist and I clench my fist in return, making the conscious decision I was done letting her hit me, I bring my arm up to block the blow when she smiles.

            The blow never comes; instead she’s smiling ear to ear and begins taunting me, presenting her face to me saying,

            “Oh you going to hit me, come on, hit me,”

            “I don’t want to hit you; but I want you to stop hitting me!” I snap, but she doesn’t stop, nor do I think she hears a single word I said, because she’s shoving me now with her palms, presenting her chin to me, saying,
“No, I saw you, you want to hit me, so c’mon and hit me,”

Shaking my head with my heart still racing, I slowly back away wondering if this is what she wanted all along and I try rationalizing with her, telling her how I wasn’t going to hit her, albeit I wanted to, but I wasn’t about to let her beat me to death, I was done being the victim.


But she won’t have it; instead she shoves me again and I almost fall against my bed as she saying,

            “No I want you to hit me, it’s what I’ve always wanted you to do, so come on hit me, It’s what I want you to do, c’mon hit me,” She taunts, presenting her face to me and outstretching her arms, to give me a free open shot at her. When I refuse, she continues,
“Oh, come on, I want you to hit me, it’s what I’ve always wanted you to do, what I’ve always been wanting you to do.”

            Those words hit me harder than any blow I ever received from her and panic begins setting in as I start to realize what all this is.

            “Hit me!” She screams over and over again, “C’mon hit me,” She demands, “Hit me so I can have your step dad (who’s a cop) Come home and haul your ass to juvie, and your uncle Skip (who’s rich)  knows judges so I can make sure you never see the light of day, your dad, or anyone you love ever again, I’ll make sure you stay locked away in the system from juvie to prison, it’s where I want you to spend the rest of your life, what I’ve always wanted you to do.”  She professes, sounding like she’s already won and had beaten me. She smiles and shoves me once more for good measure, then smacks me again, hoping I’ll snap and  hit her back. But I don’t. I’m too much in shock.

            The horror of what she was saying kept me rooted and I saw my whole life flash before my eyes, remembered every beating, every nasty thing she’s done, or said to me, knowing then in that moment she wanted to ruin my life. My mother, the woman who brought me into this world, had gotten off on the idea of making my life miserable.

Me as a newborn.I look at this photograph sometimes wondering...

Me as a newborn.I look at this photograph sometimes wondering…

 I know people sometimes say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment, but the way she looked at me and how she recanted her plan to ruin my life, I couldn’t and still can’t help but think she had given this some real thought. But now I refused to play into her little game, I stood my ground and an idea came to me, to turn this whole ordeal against her, to let the whole world see her for the monster she was.

            “You know what?” I asked breathlessly, shaking my head as I started for my phone, “I think I’ll go ahead and call the police myself and let them see the marks you left on me, then I’ll testify against you and we’ll see where all your connections get you when all this is done.”        

            My mother didn’t move, she was stunned and I could feel her eyes following me as I moved to my phone and my hands were still trembling as I began to dial 911.

            By the time I picked up the phone, she started crying, which had always been my Achilles Heel. (I never could stand seeing a girl cry, let alone my own mother) and I could feel myself beginning to lose my resolve and my the time I dialed 9, she was began begging me to stop, asking me, pleading me to think of my Brothers and how it’ll affect them and I told her how I didn’t care, not anymore. So I pressed 1 and she sobbed harder, begging me to stop, asking for my forgiveness, telling me how sorry she was, how much she loved me, how she didn’t mean any of the things she said.

            I fell for it…..

Dropping the phone I turned to her, she was practically on the floor sobbing defeated and was still pleading for me to stop and not do this to her, so I say,


           “Fine, but if you ever and I mean ever touch me again, I won’t hesitate to make this call and there’s nothing you can do, or ever say that’ll stop me.”

            She crawled back to her feet then, all tears and apologies, wrapping her arms around me, telling me how good I was and how much she loved me and all I could say to her was,
“Never again.”

      My mom and her sister then blamed all this on me, because they claimed I said something, or smarted off after I was asked to clean the litter-box, however neither one could tell me what it was they thought I said. But after that day, I stopped trusting my mother and began spending more and more time with my friends, too afraid to go home…. But I’m still here, I survived and if I can make through all that, there’s no limit to what you can do. 

Me and my grandma, the woman was more of a mother to me then she'll ever know. I miss her dearly.

Me and my grandma, the woman was more of a mother to me then she’ll ever know. I miss her dearly.

 

Scars of Who We Are: Chapter X

Scars of who were are, memories chapter 10.

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My little cousin, me, Dominic my older brother and his now ex-girlfriend, five years ago.

~These memories of who I was and where I’ve been are important to me. Just as your memories should be to you, even when they’re painful, or mired in regret, they still make up a large part of who we are, who I am, and the person I’m going to be once my journey finally winds down. I need to remember the essence of magic and hope that I once knew and held so dear, if I’m ever to capture it again. Because life isn’t a journey, for every journey ends and when it ends, we go on. There are no do-overs and second chances come as rare as a flower blooming in the dead of winter, but we learn and carry on. Sometimes we’re heavier from the burdens we take on and carry with us; sometimes we become lighter by sharing our burdens with those closest to us. The world turns and turns and we with it, plans fall apart, things change, scars fade, but the memory, the memories always remain and sometimes there’s a moment in our lives that hovers and settles for but a moment, leaving us forever and inexplicably changed in the most unexpected of ways, ways we never thought or felt before. And it’s then that our dreams take over and it’s there I see you and it seems that wherever I go, I find you, you’re there, my luck, my fate, my fortune, my life, my blessing and my curse. But it’s not all about you, or where in the stars your destiny lies, it’s about the here and now and what you find in the hidden depths of your soul, it’s where we go from here, as the ashes of what was and what might have been finally settle down around us, leaving us forever transformed, this is it, this is the now and it’s when you finally decide where you’re going to go from here.

      Patrick and I became inseparable, we were best friends and brothers all the same.  His eyes were also open, he wasn’t afraid to speak up and stand up to his mother for me. It was something about him I always admired, he never cared that

My step-brother and me at King's Island....Sorry Patrick this is the only picture I could find of you.

My step-brother and me at King’s Island….Sorry Patrick this is the only picture I could find of you.

by jumping to my defense whenever she was jumping on my case, making fun, or bullying me and how it would get often get him grounded, or chewed out, he was someone who always stood up for what was right, no matter what it had cost him.  Eventually Patrick would be the one to go to my dad about how I was being treated and I would begrudgingly confirm that Patrick was telling the truth. Often I had held my tongue Because I didn’t want to cause any ripples in my father’s new marriage. He loved her and she made him happy and I couldn’t bear to bear to be the the reason why he couldn’t hold onto this family he had found. He loved her kids and still does as if they were his own and maybe I was a little selfish myself, because I also didn’t want to jeopardize my relationship with my brother, I didn’t want to lose to him, or any of my extended family. So I was willing to go through that mental abuse and more if it meant my father’s happiness and the continued bond that forms between brothers. Sadly, I would eventually see this marriage fall apart and once more I got to relive all the ugliest therein. With a part of me always wishing they would get back together and mend the fences, so that we could all once again be a family.   

My Step-mother.

My Step-mother.

To my step-mother’s credit, she did eventually find me on face-book years later. To be honest I didn’t know what to make of the friend request that found its way to my inbox, or the message she sent with. In it, she wrote me a very heartfelt apology for how she treated me. Telling me how sorry she was and asking if I could ever find it in my heart to forgive her. So I accepted her friend request, and wrote her back, telling her I had forgiven her a very long time ago, because truth was I saw why she resented me so much even back then, I knew why. Even though she had two kids from a previous marriage whom of which my father had accepted as his own, she couldn’t bring herself to accept me.  I was a constant reminder to her of father’s previous marriage and how committed. I would be the one thing that would always keep him tied to her

       But now I’m happy to report that her and I still stay in touch and I do still have love for her. I even told her as much the last we talked and that she was often more of a mother to me, than my real one, because Trisha did  occasionally put forth at least a little  effort in trying to get to know me and she did spend a little bit of time with me here and there. Yeah, it may have been mostly because she didn’t want to watch a particular scary movie alone, or  maybe she was just lonely when my father wasn’t there and just wanted a movie buddy. But those memories of her asking me to sit with her and watch a movie together are some of greatest memories I have and still carry with me to this day. Movies had become her and mine thing that we would share and do together, further illustrating how the magic of a story, in a cinema, a movie can capture the essence of magic and bring unlikely people together. I remember how she would make me popcorn and how we would talk about the movie later, about what we thought of the story and how it should have ended. And to be honest if we shared more of those moments, I would have elected left home and would have moved in with them, adopting a new family all my own. 

My step-sister and no I'm not ashamed to admit I did used to have a bit of a crush on her.

My step-sister and no I’m not ashamed to admit I did used to have a bit of a crush on her.

 

 

But at fourteen, I had fallen into the habit of spending most of my summers with my father and when I stayed with him, I never wanted to come home, partially because I know I would be left alone and because I was afraid of my mother, who had the habit of making me miserable, so naturally I loathed the idea of coming home. Home was a place that never felt really real and always left me feeling a bit out of place, like I really didn’t belong, even though my mother had went from physically beating me, to full scale psychological abuse which started a year prior. I had also grown to dislike my step father, but the blunt of that came earlier in the year when he nearly broke my arm because I complained of having a migraine and wanted to lay down. Then I was threatened into lying about how I had a bruise the size of a grown man’s hand around my bicep, a angry black and yellow band around my arm, that everyone had wondered how I got, but to each one I told a different story.

Then of course was my older brother who often tormented me by either having fun at my expense or by treating me like a second class citizen, who was his dork little brother. I hated him so much at times and my mother too, for she would laugh with him as he poked fun at me and my speech problems, then whenever I would get bad and try to say something hurtful in turn, I would be the one whipped and punished. I hated my life, I hated my home more, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to love it. I wanted to be happy in my home and I wanted to have the kind of life you read about, or see on t.v. I wanted to believe in the stars.

Me at fourteen

Me at fourteen

 

But this one summer, I came home to an unexpected surprise; I went to my room to unpack my things and to discover that my room had been redecorated. The bunk beds that once took up residence in my room were replaced by a very nice queen sized bed and my walls had been painted to my favorite color, which at the time was red. (Now it’s blue, things change) It was then my mom popped into my room and I was taken aback by how excited and happy she was to see me. Then I saw her brow crease with worry when she thought I didn’t like it, when truth was I was in shock, I was speechless. It took me a moment for my wits to return and for me tell her how much I loved it. But that was two years before I would learn the unspeakable truth that would forever weigh on my soul. But sometimes, I also wonder if she could love me on this day how come she couldn’t always, why did her love sometimes wash over me like a wave, to so quickly ebb and dissipate, why was it that the waves were so few and far between, leaving me stranded alone on this island, with no place to call my home.

 

At sixteen, I came home from a hard day at school to yet another surprise, this time to discover that  my mother had thrown me a surprised birthday party. To be honest, it had been something I mentioned from to time growing up, I’ve always wanted one, but as I grew older I began to believe less and less in it actually happening, so needless to say I was overjoyed.

For all of ten minutes I couldn’t stop smiling, believing this was one of the greatest days of my life and for ten minutes I had forgotten about all the hurt feelings, the nasty words and all the beatings. I opened the door to the smell of steaks frying on the grill out back, mac and cheese cooking on the stove, the smell of freshly baked cookies and chocolate fudge brownies, all my favorites.

I laughed, not knowing what to think, believing that the Lord had finally granted my one request, which was to have my mother love me as much as she did my bother. Because this was it, this was the turning point I had been waiting for and I was so tired of struggling and fighting just to stay afloat and now, now I was happy. I had the attention I had always wanted, the sense of belonging I had craved for so long and now it was finally mine, or so I thought.

 

Then the pictures started the first few were of me, then I posed with a few family members, than my brother Dominic and I was still feeling euphoric, until I heard my aunt Terry remark on how handsome my brother was and right in front of me, she began insisting that he should go into modeling because he was so unbelievably photogenic and handsome. To my brother’s credit, he was being modest and tried brushing the comments aside, but they kept coming. My grandma on my mother’s side jumped in, as well telling my brother how it was true and that girls were always inquiring about him because he was so  handsome, then of course my mother had her say, trying to convince him of all the good money that could be had if he went into modeling, while I stood there, completely forgotten.

For awhile I did my best to pretend not to be a little hurt, so I wore my false smile and eventually having enough, I threw am arm around my brother and saying,

                “Hey, how about we go into modeling together, you know as brothers?” My brother quickly brushed me off and laughed, while the rest of the room looked at me as if looks could kill and as I tried figuring out what it was that I said that got everyone looking so peeved at me,I feel my Aunt Terry’s hand closing around my arm as she pulls me aside saying,

“Hey, you’re not like your brother, he’s really handsome and you shouldn’t be acting all jealous because you’re not and he’s your brother.”

                  At sixteen, I didn’t know rather to laugh or to cry, I wanted to believe she was just joking around with me, even if it was a little mean. But before I could formulate any kind of response my grandmother (on my mother’s side) Pulls me around, telling me it’s okay to be average and I shouldn’t be acting this way just because he’s really special and and very handsome.

I couldn’t believe my ears, heck I couldn’t even believe this was really happening and I had thought this was suppose to my day, and all could feel was m heart sinking along with whatever positive self image I still possessed.

 

Then of course my mom chimed in, I don’t know why when she first interrupted my aunt and grandma that I allowed myself to believe she was jumping to my defense, instead she launched into telling me about everything that was wrong with me. How my nose was too big and that I needed plastic surgery to get it fixed, then piece by piece she tore me apart, telling me how my hair was too greasy and unkempt, that I was too weakly, scrawny, my clothes didn’t fit me right, I had poor posture, bad skin, I couldn’t stand or walk right, my teeth weren’t white enough, my gums weren’t pink enough, etc. By then end of it I just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and die, but of course she didn’t stop there, she went as far as pointing out my speech problems, the grades I was making in school and so forth.

That day my favorite foods had lost their taste, I had lost my appetite, lost in my own depression, thinking how sorry they’ll all be once I’m gone, but I played my part, I smiled falsely, pretended that everything okay; even though I was dying inside and when I finally got to blow out my candles, I wished for a new life and I hoped for love to come into my life and make sense of all of this.

 

Later I would grow to suspect everything that happened was some veiled attempt to breed resentment between my brother and me, but it never took. Even when he was making my life miserable I still loved him, he was my brother and he always will be. brothers are suppose to be a pain, suppose to torment you and get on your nerves. Even my step-brother and me for as well as we did get along we often got on each others nerves, would tease one another and annoy the ever loving crap out of each other. So no, I never really blamed Dominic for anything that’s happened, because he was my brother.

                But, Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had spoken out and made myself heard, to admit how I wasn’t perfect but to ask who of us really was, I could have pointed out the faults of everyone in that room if I had wanted to. But I didn’t, instead I retreated into my room, having always preferred losing myself in a book, a movie, a video game, or hanging out with my own friends than try and pretend I was a part of something that I wasn’t. But it was okay, I had my friends, I had an amazing step brother and sister and it was they who always found me and pulled me back from that ledge that my depression had often brought me. They were my strongest supporters, my biggest fans, the people who I’ll always love and never forget, remembering always there words which will stay with me until the very end of my days. I may have been just days from learning the truth. But one thing I learned from writing this blog, which is this, appreciate your family for what it can be, not what it should be, step parents, step brothers and sisters can be just as good, or sometimes even better than the real thing, family is what you make of it, not what it should be, anyone can family, friends, co-workers, even your bosses, all you have to do is let it.

 

Okay, this has nothing to do with what I'm writing, but over the weekend I did finally get to meet my two favorite actors Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery and even in my severely sleep deprived state I can tell you, these guys are awesome and are remarkably down to earth.

Okay, this has nothing to do with what I’m writing, but over the weekend I did finally get to meet my two favorite actors Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery and even in my severely sleep deprived state I can tell you, these guys are awesome and are remarkably down to earth.

 

 

 

 

Scars of Who We Are: Intermission:

Life is not all sunshine and rainbows,
It’s in constant flux, a pendulum swinging,
wildly through the many shades of human emotion,
And it’s important to remember that sometimes,
That the greatest inspiration comes from moments of,
Deep despair and in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in
moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in
times of challenge and controversy.”
And sometimes, great darkness can give birth to an even greater light.                 

 

During the course of sharing my story with all of you, I sometimes get asked why I didn’t leave when I had the chance. Which I did have once I was finally old enough to make the decision myself, about who I wanted to live with. I still sometimes even wonder what my life would have been like if I would have made the decision to live with my father. But a few things stopped me, with the first being my older brother, even though I always felt like he resented me for being able to see my/our father every other weekend.  A part of my decision to stay came from the fear, what if my mother was right and I would only worsen my situation and another part of me knew I would miss my older brother. Granted, we didn’t hang out very much growing up, for the most part he often preferred hanging out with his friends and I was always the dorky little brother. We didn’t always get along, he often teased me about my speech, because back then I had a lot of speech problems and even though he drove me nuts, I still loved him. I still love him even to this day, despite the bad blood between us and the harsh words we’ve exchanged. Although after our last conversation, things seemed to become a little more civil between us. But he was always my family and despite our problems he was my brother and the times he included me in something he did, or played with me, were some of the best times of my life. He could always make me laugh, or feel better whenever he saw I was really down and out. Also, despite everything that’s happened, I always looked up to him, he was the coolest brother in the world and more than anything I wanted to be just like him in every way. He was funny, smart, creative and artistic. In fact it was him who got me interested in drawing and helped me evolve as an artist, giving me pointers here and there, telling me what was good and what I needed to work on. Eventually it got to where I would draw just for him, to show him whatever thing or creature I managed to come up with, just to hear his opinion.

My brother on me on vacation with my grandpa

My brother on me on vacation with my grandpa

 

I never had the chance to tell my brother that I owed most of who I am today, to him. My creativity and imagination was something he helped nurture, not just with drawing.  But he taught me how to really use my imagination to create whole new worlds. He did this by sheer virtue of introducing me to role-playing games. There’s something to be said about sitting around a table, with pen, paper and a variety of dice, using not just your own, but the imagination of the person or persons you’re playing with. It may sound weird, or juvenile, but hey we were kids and it was something I kept up with till my late teens and was something that always stuck with me. I took to it like a moth to the flame and my brother was always the game master, planning adventures for me to take a character that I created and walk him through this world my brother created. It was his story, but I could make the choices and and change and affect it as it was being told. Of course, I was always slave to the dice and my luck to delegate my successes or failures, often forcing me to improvise and at times accept my enviable defeat, waiting for an opening to turn the tables later on in the story.

A part of my decision to stay came from the fear, what if my mother was right and I would only worsen my situation and another part of me knew I would miss my older brother. Granted, we didn’t hang out very much growing up, for the most part he often preferred hanging out with his friends and I was always the dorky little brother. We didn’t always get along, he often teased me about my speech, because back then I had a lot of speech problems and even though he drove me nuts, I still loved him. I still love him even to this day, despite the bad blood between us and the harsh words we’ve exchanged. Although after our last conversation, things seemed to become a little more civil between us. But he was always my family and despite our problems he was my brother and the times he included me in something he did, or played with me, were some of the best times of my life. He could always make me laugh, or feel better whenever he saw I was really down and out. Also, despite everything that’s happened, I always looked up to him, he was the coolest brother in the world and more than anything I wanted to be just like him in every way. He was funny, smart, creative and artistic. In fact it was him who got me interested in drawing and helped me evolve as an artist, giving me pointers here and there, telling me what was good and what I needed to work on. Eventually it got to where I would draw just for him, to show him whatever thing or creature I managed to come up with, just to hear his opinion.

I never had the chance to tell my brother that I owed most of who I am today, to him. My creativity and imagination was something he helped nurture, not just with drawing.  But he taught me how to really use my imagination to create whole new worlds. He did this by sheer virtue of introducing me to role-playing games. There’s something to be said about sitting around a table, with pen, paper and a variety of dice, using not just your own, but the imagination of the person or persons you’re playing with. It may sound weird, or juvenile, but hey we were kids and it was something I kept up with till my late teens and was something that always stuck with me. I took to it like a moth to the flame and my brother was always the game master, planning adventures for me to take a character that I created and walk him through this world my brother created. It was his story, but I could make the choices and and change and affect it as it was being told. Of course, I was always slave to the dice and my luck to delegate my successes or failures, often forcing me to improvise and at times accept my enviable defeat, waiting for an opening to turn the tables later on in the story.

Mutants Down Under. The teenage mutant ninja Turtle RPG

Mutants Down Under. The teenage mutant ninja Turtle RPG

 My brother was often tough, but a fair as a gaming master, not afraid to make me squirm or fret over fear of losing the character who I created and grow to know, making him real to me. Because my brother always made it a requirement I make whatever character I created unlike myself, then he’d kindly have me write my characters back story and formulating his origin, along with motives, what he believed in and why. Which usually meant I had to do some required reading, which meant I would have to read about the world that the game took place in. My brother was always quick to give me a little homework, as well as ask me before every gaming session what my character had been up too, forcing me to always make it plausible. (So I couldn’t just give my character new abilities, talents, weapons, or resources) I had to choose more mundane tasks, such as where he lived and whatever he did in his downtime.

Playing these games with my brother are some of the fondness memories I have of him and I was addicted. My brother was an excellent story teller and I loved being a part of it. It was playing these games with him that helped nourish my imagination and challenge my creativity, because I learned I would often have to out think, out wit and in a sense out play him in order to survive his story, so that my character would then be able go on to live another adventure. The first Role-playing game he introduced me to, if you haven’t already guessed was “Mutants Down Under” And to this day I still remember the very first character I created, because even though I didn’t want to be him at first, because I wanted to be a mutant turtle, but as chance would have it, I rolled a mutant Kangaroo, who I named, “Jack.” A character who survived numerous adventures, acquiring weapons, equipment and eventually I even managed to procure an airship. All despite my brother’s eventual attempt to kill off this character I had grown to love, because he had grown bored writing stories for my character and of me being the same character all the time. I also think it was because it was growing harder to give me a suitable challenge with all the weapons and various other equipment and crew I managed to pull together. So he eventually forced me to retire Jack and I later created a few other characters who didn’t have Jack’s luck or his longevity.

The Marvel Super-heroes Role-Playing Game

The Marvel Super-heroes Role-Playing Game

 

  Later when my brother got me into comic books, he got me involved with another role-playing game, “Marvel Superheroes” where I was able to create my own hero. Again I wanted a character like Wolverine or one of my other two favorites Spider-man or Iron-Man, which he did let me play for awhile, before he forced me to create my own crime fighter. Who’s story was he got transformed into a super-powered being when a device he created to bring vegetation to the deserts exploded giving him powers to control and manipulate the earth around him. So I called me, “Earth Avenger” Who was almost as rich as Tony Stark but not quite and this was the game my brother had the most fun out of traumatizing and torturing my character. (Seriously unbeknownst to be, he turned my best in game friend into a monster and this monster attacked me, I kinda accidentally killed him and when I did that, he turned human again. Also my character at the time was engaged to his sister….twisted right?) But I still had fun and in time I managed to create a few other short lived heroes and from there I always in some hero kick, making up my own heroes and villains and imagining I was them .

 

 

Werewolf The Apocalypse Role-Playing Game by the "World Of Darkness"

Werewolf The Apocalypse Role-Playing Game by the “World Of Darkness”

 

But one of my favorite games, Dominic introduced me to, was “Werewolf the Apocalypse” An amazing game. Which he eventually handed down to me, which was a godsend. Because in school I never had very many friends, until the day I heard my now best-friend Matt, talking about the companion book to this, called “Vampire the Masquerade” So I jumped in and telling him how I had the other book, which won me some of the best friends anyone can ask for. That night I was invited over to their house to play and try our hand at role-playing and it was the first time anyone had ever asked me to come over to their house, (I was in the seventh grade) So it was a huge deal for me. Then because of my brother’s tutelage, I soon became the premiere game-master and we ended up playing “Werewolf” instead of their vampire and it was because of my brother that I was able to run my own game and how I became so good at it they couldn’t get enough. It wasn’t long either that our group swelled from just the four of us gathered around the table, throwing the dice, that soon it we grew to a group of 8 all sitting around playing in a world that we created together. Eventually I even developed and we would play Role-playing games that I created myself and we play long into the night, laughing, fighting, joking and it was in that we grew incredibly close, becoming in every sense of the word a family and all because of my brother. 

         Our potential was limitless and our imaginations were our playgrounds, we never let our creativity burn away, we weren’t rotting our minds with mindless television (And I love TV and movies as much as anyone, but I’m not ashamed to admit that it makes our minds lazy and robs us of imagination and creativity, making our minds dull and blunt, when we need books to keep our minds sharp and quick) But because of these games, we were able to sharpen our minds and explore whole worlds together, for many of us and myself in particular it was my escape. It was also some of the most fun I ever had and can’t think of any other time where I, or any of would laugh so hard and so consecutively have such a good time together. Our late night gaming sessions contributed to my finally over coming my shyness and I can’t tell you how many times our gaming lead to us having deep and meaningfully conversations, where we would talk about anything, everything, our lives, our hopes, dreams and our aspirations. We shared everything together and in so doing, they’ve became my brothers. 
If you never played a role-playing game before, I can’t recommend it enough, it’s story-telling at its finest, only everyone gets to contribute, making it a live action and interactive story, with everyone having their own specific rolls to play, with one person acting as the game-master, leading them ever further down the rabbit hole.

But I have fallen far from my point. Another reason why I chose to stay, was yes, because of my brother and my friends, but also because I loved my mother and more than anything I wanted her love. A few times I thought I was incredibly close to winning her affection, longing for her to look at me and to speak to me, to fight for me and defend just half as much as she had my brother. I wanted her love more than anything and I can never explain why I loved her, even when she usually went out of her way to make me miserable, which made me hate her. But still for reasons I can’t describe and if for no other reason except she was my mother and I loved her, for maybe that reason and that reason alone. Although, I am sentimental and desperately clung  to those memories of when I was younger, when she used to read to my brother and myself.

Growing up, was so weird, I never knew one could grow to hate, fear and love someone so much and at the same time. Despite all the beatings, the put-downs and all the horrible things my mother said to me, she wasn’t always so bad. She had moments when she could be incredibly sweet and kind, even on rare occasions was able to goof off with me and I think actually enjoy my company. I lived for the moments, believing I could win her love, praying every day that God would open her eyes and she’d see for the first time what she was doing to me, what she’s done and apologize.
But there was one time, one time in all my years that she made me feel just as loved as she did when she used to read to my brother and me. I was fourteen and I awoke in the dead of night, shivering, realizing that at some point during the night I had managed to kick my covers off.  So I started fumbling around in the dark for them, when I heard someone at my door and instinctively laid my head back on pillow and laid perfectly still. Then my door slowly eased open and I closed my eyes feigning sleep, out of fear that it was either my mother or step-dad.  
Laying there with my heart hammering painfully against my ribs, realizing that the person at my door 
wasn’t going away and after counting to ten, I slowly peeked out through the slits of my eyes and saw the silhouette of my mother standing there in the doorway, watching me sleep., (or in this case pretending to be asleep) I immediately began praying that she’d just close my door and leave, believing she was about to haul me out of bed and start accusing me, or hitting me. Then as I watched her slip silently into my room, I could feel my body tense and I closed my eyes out of fear she’d noticed I was watching her, then I just laid there, pretending to be asleep, almost too afraid to breathe, when the unexpected happened.

I felt my covers being pulled up around me and I went from frightened to speechless, making me too afraid to move out of fear it would break whatever magic, or grace of God that came into my room that night. Then as she hugged me and softly whispered,
“I’m sorry, for everything, I love you,” Then she kissed the top of my head and more than anything I wanted to open my eyes and throw my arms around her, I wanted to tell her I loved her too, that she’ll always be my mother. But I didn’t, I was afraid I would ruin the moment and I opened my eyes just enough to watch her quietly slip back out of my room, closing my door lightly behind her as she went. I don’t think I ever slept better than I did that night and never felt better as I slept off into dreamland.

        That moment stayed with me for a very long time and for several nights there after I would purposely kick off my blankets in the middle of the night and sometimes would even leave my door cracked out of hope it’d happened again. Even though it never did, I sometimes wondered if this was the first time she slipped into my my room, or if she had done it on numerous nights. Even today I catch myself wondering almost absentmindedly about what prompted her to this, even if it was just the one time, often telling myself it was something God meant for me to experience and to hear. Sometimes, I wonder if it was my mother at all, or the Lord who came into my room that night and sometimes I will swear it had to be her. Believing maybe never wanted to treat me the way that she had, that maybe she hated herself for mistreating me and that maybe, there was a reason for it. Like, maybe it’s all been a part of the Lord’s plan and she was playing her role, so that I could later help others and know their pain and loneliness for having known their darkness. Or maybe it was to help prepare me for something bigger, something yet to come.

Al I really know, is that in that moment, even if it was just for a moment, I had all doubt erased from my mind and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, my mother loved me, even if it was just for a moment, because sometimes, a moment is all you really ever need.

Maybe I’ll never get it,
Because the lights are out,
And I’m just typing in the dark
Knowing you’ll never know what happened to me,
 And I’m just sitting here by myself, It’s just one of those things,
I never spoke about,
When the words just started pouring out,
And here we are,
Just playing our parts.

 

                       Until recently I hadn’t spoken to my brother for a few years. The little contact we had usually resulted in accusations and bitter words, because he blames me for some things, which I don’t blame in the least, because he never seen what really went on and I never told him, not for years and all he ever got to see was the best of our mother. However this time when we conversed I refused to get worked up, angry or frustrated. Instead I met him with understanding and listened to him, which I think got him to listen a little to me. Part of our differences stems from his recent claims to me that my father abused him. Something I can’t say what he says is true or not. I can only talk about my own accounts and what I’ve been told my step brother and step sister, who even after that divorce still love and adore my father, with both telling me how good of a man he was. That said, I don’t know about my brother’s past with him and I told him as much, stating that I never told him what was going on, or what happened to me, for the same reasons he never said anything to me. It could have happened and I still love my brother and if my dad did beat him, I’m deeply sorry, it shouldn’t have happened. 

 

 

 

            ~ It’s not that any one person doesn’t have the capacity to accept the truth, sometimes they just don’t want to, or they cannot, for what the truth would mean. So they hide behind their own logic and intelligence while the truth marches by, instead of stepping out and joining it.

Boy Playing in Public Square.

 

 

Scars of Who We Are Chapter IX

Scars of Who We Are Part IX
Young boy sitting on an old porch swing,
Waiting for his father to come and rescue him,
His tears dried and stained on his cheeks,
Wishing his life was more like his dreams,
Where nothing was ever as bad as it seems.

scan0002

Me on Easter Sunday

After the divorce it wasn’t long until my relationship with my mother began to change for the worse… But for a brief moment, I was somewhat okay with it, even though I longed and hoped my dad would one day return home, I did somewhat look forward to having two birthdays and Christmas’s every year, which for me was something and my dad always went above and beyond to give me a great Christmas, along with birthday celebrations I won’t soon forget.

It never did occur to me that my mother may have been better to me in those days just to keep me quiet about Chris who moved in with us just months after the divorce and to be honest I did like him for awhile there in the beginning, I think for the most part he did try to be a good fatherly figure to both me and my brother, so I didn’t have any real issue, plus he was a cop which back then was very cool, because who didn’t play cops and robbers when they were a kid?

His family was pretty cool too, and his dad Lewis was the best, always with a story to tell and with him being an actor, he always managed to keep me captivated with his emoting and his many voices. Not to mention the guy was awesome, always giving me pennies which back then could always win my favor, (Because I was always collecting and saving up change) Even to this day I will say no one can ask for a cooler step grandparent.

My favorite crime fighting Heroes.

My favorite crime fighting Heroes.

But I digress, because the day when everything changed for me was maybe a couple of months after Chris had started living with us and I was playing with my toys at the top of the steps, (which back then were mostly Teenage mutant Ninja turtles, which were my favorite. I can’t tell you why, but to me, you couldn’t get much better than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I loved everything about them, the toys, the cartoons, the movies, games, you name it I loved it.
tank
So there I was, playing on the top of the stairs, with my Turtles tank, and sub-marine, along with my various other Turtle related figures and (playing on the top of the stairs, was something both my brother and I were notorious for; partially because we’d be in our own little world and still be somewhat near the rest of the family and not closed off. Not to mention it made the best battlefield, the stairs in my mind would become treacherous mountain region, or become the the deep and unfathomable depths the ocean, with its perilous  underwater trenches. So, yeah I had a pretty spectacular imagination and still do.

 

It wasn’t too out of the ordinary for my mother to yell for one of us, which usually meant we made a mess somewhere, or didn’t put something away, or other typical kid stuff, that we do when we’re kids. So when I heard my mom yelling for me to get my butt into the kitchen, I honestly didn’t think anything of it, besides being a curious/nosy child I was pretty good and usually behaved myself, so I went knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong, so didn’t expect what happened to actually happen…

I stepped into the kitchen, expecting to be asked what I wanted for lunch, or to hear I had to get cleaned up to go out, but instead I was asked about a carton of grape juice that someone had left out on the kitchen table. Immediately I knew it wasn’t me, because back then I was the pickiest child in the world and I refused to drink anything other than orange, or apple juice, or well soda of course.

The Turtle Sub, man I loved this thing.

The Turtle Sub, man I loved this thing.

 

But I was extremely pick with both food and with what beverages I would drink, which may have been my downfall, because I smiled, knowing it hadn’t been me and believed my older brother would finally get into trouble instead of me. Because to be honest I had grown a little tired of him always getting me in trouble and this time I figured I was being the first questioned and with my being innocent, that all blame would fall on him.

 

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because when she asked if I did it and I honestly told her no, she grabbed my arm, wrenching it painfully up over my head with her nails biting painfully into my arm, which startled me enough as it were, then she began screaming into my face, accusing me of lying.

 

Shaking me and swearing to me that she already knew it was me and she was sick of my lying, even as tears began racing down my cheeks, with me frantically telling her how it wasn’t me, trying to blurt out the words that I didn’t even like that kind of juice and that I hadn’t drank anything that day other than water. But she wouldn’t have it and smacked me hard across the face, leaving what felt like a burning imprint of her hand across my cheek, as she struck me again and again, ordering me now to stop crying.

 

I tried once more to to profess my innocence, but that only earned me several hard smacks to my rear, each one hard enough to lift me up off my feet, causing her nails to cut even deeper into my arm and as blood began to well up where her nails had bit into my arm, it was only then she released my arm and stopped hitting me enough to tell me how it was my fault for trying to throw myself to the floor when she held me by the arm. Then she proceeded to question me again and in a tearful display I tried once again to plead my innocence, but she grabbed me hard by the face, painfully squeezing my cheeks as she told me she already asked Dominic (My brother) and told me he had said he hadn’t done it, then I tried suggesting it was Chris (My soon to be step dad) When she told me he wouldn’t forget to return the juice and when I tried telling her it wasn’t me, she smacked me again, hauling me up off the floor and began beating me again, telling me every few swats that she would stop once I confessed and stop lying, insisting I was only making it worse for myself.

 

So… seeing no end in sight, I did what any frighted and scared boy my age would do, I confessed. I would have confessed to anything at that point and my reward was a whipping with the paddle, eight swats, (As if the beating I had been receiving hadn’t been punishment enough) Then I was grounded on top of it and ordered not to make a noise or she would give me something more to cry about.

old-child-swing-1358169948Fsn

 I was seven years old, the first time I felt any kind hate, seven and I was already beginning to learn real fear and began my back and forth battle with myself, trying to figure out if my mother truly hated me or not. I was seven years old, when I made the biggest mistake of my life, because I was never allowed to forget this day. I was reminded every time I ever gotten into trouble, innocent or not my mother would bring this instance up, would remind me of my confession and that confession would forever mark me a liar. So I was never found innocent, even though 9 out of 10 times when I did do wrong, I would readily admit it once question and when I wasn’t guilty, I would get beaten and reminded of how big of a liar I was and how I had brought every punishment onto myself. Because if I lied once, in my mom’s world, I was a liar forever and always, allowing no room for innocence, ever. This would follow me up through my mid-twenties, when I was believe it or not, still being judged and weighed by things she had accused me of since I was seven. Making me wonder sometimes if I would have been better off if I would have just let her beaten me to death…..

 

Eventually, over the years I began to withdraw, keeping more and more to myself. Something I still struggle with today, because back in those days, I slowly learned the less of a presence I made of myself, the less I would be notice and the less i would be beaten.

 

I still remember, sitting in my room that day, wanting to destroy or break something in order to let out at least some of what I felt inside. So after beating my pillow flat, and punching my mattress into oblivion, I sat fuming in my room until my brother finally came home. It took him all of two seconds to realize something was wrong and I was upset and when he asked me what was wrong, I exploded, with my first words being “Mom hates me,” And he was quick to assure me that she didn’t. So I explained what happened and he was just like,

“Oh….” Then he smiled sheepishly and when I asked him about his smile, he said,

“I think I did leave the juice out.” And he was so cavalier about it I wanted to kill him, probably would have too if I didn’t also idolize him. Instead I told him I got punished for it and that he should tell our mom, which he claimed he would, but I doubt he ever did, but never before did I feel so alone.

 

It wasn’t until I was 15 that I learned it was all a game to her. I know this, because she all but told me it was. I was in my room and someone had broken a vase and when she came to my room and asked if it was me, I sighed, already knowing I hadn’t even touched the vase, or even knew one was broken in the first place. But, as she went on about how someone tried hiding it in the trash, underneath a bunch of stuff, which she was already claiming to be my usual M.O, I figured, “What the heck, what I can I really lose a this point?”

So with a sigh, I made my final false confession and I swear I could have knocked her over with a feather. She simply just stared at me, dumbstruck, before finally throwing her arms up in the air and saying and I quote,

“It’s not even fun anymore, if you’re not even trying to defend yourself!” And then just like that, she turned and stormed off, never punishing me, or bringing up the case of the broken vase ever again.

 

That said, she never did stop bringing up the first instance in my life with the juice, anytime my character was brought into question, she would bring my childhood back up and throw it back into my face. But adding how devious and sneaky I “always” was, because apprently kids arn’t suppose to ever explore, like I used to whenever I went somewhere new, like my aunt’s mansion. I would explore, look in all the drawers, explore every closet, etc. I was a kid, kid’s explore. I tried telling her this once, but she wouldn’t have it, sticking to her opnion that I was a sneaky little devil and would always be thus. This she kept up until just four years ago, when I had tried mending fences and when I thought everythign was going well and began, or thought I was forging a brand new relationship with her, until things fell apart and I was accused of something I would never do and that’s when I finally had enough.

I

                “Enough,” I shouted, exhausted and just tired of the whole ugly situation, (which I will talk about later in more detail)

“Just enough already,” I begged her, “you can’t keep judging me by how I was when I was seven. I was seven years old and I was a kid, but you use that to hold me accountable for things I never did and the worse part of it is, unlike my older brother, I never got into any trouble at school, or with the law, I was a good kid, I never gave you any problems, I never rebelled, I never broke curfew, I never been in any kind of trouble whatsoever, but you still hold me accountable for everything I did since I was seven, as if I’m incapable of ever changing or growing as a person. I’m so tired of you being so quick to call me liar and all these horrible things all because you believe I always lied as a kid. But truth is…truth is, I remember everything and the reasons you have for thinking I’m such a horrible person and liar, is because you wouldn’t ever let anything go, you would beat me until i confessed and not once did you ever question it. You never once realized that I always admitted to the things I did do wrong and if I ever said no to anything you would beaten me until I said yes. Whatever you have against me, let it go, please just let it go, I’m not a bad person I never was, all I wanted was a relationship with you and not because I had some grand ulterior motive, that makes you think I was just trying to get back at you for past wrongs. Which begs the question why, why would you think I would want to get back at you, unless in your heart of hearts you know you’ve done me wrong and this is your guilt, you want to believe I’m just like you, when I’m not.”

She responded by hanging up on me and we hadn’t spoken since and the crazy thing is, if she would find me and ask me for forgiveness, making just an attempt to amend past wrongs, I would forgive her, I would talk to her and never bring up the past ever again. I would start a fresh new relationship with her,  But that’s just who I am and the weight I carry and unfortunately as time goes by I know that will never happen. Even though every time the phone rings, or I check the mail, I pray to find something from her, at least telling he she’s out there thinking about me somewhere, at the very least an apology….And maybe an explanation other than the one I tell myself, which is that she’s sick and needs help, or medication, or something to help unburden this weight I carry.

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The Scars of Who We Are Chapter VII

Chapter VII: Scars will always fade,
But they will never go away,
I try throwing it all away,
But I remember everything,
Because the memory always remains…

Young boy looking through window

The year was 1989 when my parents finally got a divorce, admittedly I didn’t really understand what was going on and like most kids I had hoped it would be only temporary. But it wasn’t  My mother had cheated on my dad, with someone she had told my brother and I was just a friend. Admittedly I was somewhat suspicious when asked my brother and I to be quiet about it. Personally at the time I liked the guy, but I was six and he seemed nice enough to me, so I didn’t have a problem with him. But again I was six, below should be a recording that I accidently made, when I was trying to get my older brother in trouble, by recording him cursing on a tape recorder…..Yeah it may have been black mail, but I had grown tired of him picking on me, making fun of me and always blaming me, or getting me into trouble. What can I say, I was resourceful and I suppose I was a lot smarter

than I gave myself credit for in those days.
Believe it or not, my mom wasn’t always as nice as she sounds in this recording, remember the woman had brought another man to our house and was afraid of my dad finding out in fear that it would give him ammunition for their looming divorce.  You can listen to through here, (sorry I coudn’t find any other way to upload it to my blog.
https://sites.google.com/site/jcooperaudio/mp3/confession_.wav?attredirects=0&d=1

 

(I believe the first voice you hear is my older brother, followed by my less intelligible voice. I edited the recording down as much as I could and cut out all the blips and squeals, since most of the cassette tape had eroded somewhat. If you want to fast forward to the 3 minute mark I think is when my mother finally enters our room.)

 

 


I don’t think I’ll ever forget when I was told that I would only be able to see my dad every other weekend. Because my father was always very involved in the lives of both my brother and me, he loved, taking us to the movies and taking us to see the movies we wanted to see. Once even after our parents divorced he picked up both my brother and me and took us to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then afterward he took us to Toys R’us and bought us some Ninja Turtle toys. Something he didn’t have to do, but he that’s the kind of man my father was. He was always the kind of father he didn’t have to be and treated the kids that weren’t even his as if they were his own.  And it was my father who spent time with my brother and me; he didn’t hesitate taking us to parks, fairs, or amusement parks.  He always made time for us and was rarely ever too tired, or busy to spend time with us. If I ever get married and have kids I hope I’ll be half the father and the man that was and still is.

 

This is my mom way back when, it's the only good picture I have of her anymore.

This is my mom way back when, it’s the only good picture I have of her anymore.

 

My father was and still is my hero, the strongest man I’ll ever know and I’ll never forget the day when I saw him cry. He had come to pick me up the weekend after the divorce, because my mother had lied and manipulated the court to judge in her favor and won the custody battle over me. I didn’t have any say, I wasn’t allowed to speak up and because of that I only got to see my father every other weekend, or for weeks at a time once summer began. But the day I saw him dad cry, I have no words for it.  I was there at my grandma’s with him and I was playing contently on the couch across from him with my toys; he was talking to my grandmother about everything. I distinctly remembered the very words he spoke as I heard his voice crack for the very first time.

 

 

       “I don’t know what I’m going to do…and I miss her,” He spoke, choking back a sob. I knew the sound well, from all the times I tried holding back my tears and always failed so miserably. So I froze at first, not really knowing what to do, but I doped my toys and turned to my father, feeling my own heart shatter as I saw the tears streaming down his cheeks. A part of me knew this was an adult situation and was well beyond my understanding at the time. But I stood up all the same and walked solemnly over to him, wrapping my around his neck and I hugged him. I told him that everything would be okay and I loved him. He pulled his arms around me, clutching my little shoulders as he assured me that he knew and that he loved me too. We stayed there for a while, as he apologized and I could feel him shaking as he told me how sorry he was, that he tried his best to get me and failed. I did my best try and comfort him as he had comforted me so many countless times in the past. I never did stop missing him.

 

 

When I got home that weekend, I felt as if I had aged by ten years, I had so many things now rattling around inside my head, most of which I didn’t fully understand and at the time I still didn’t get how two people could fall out of love and how they could hurt each other so much. I was thinking about that and a dozen other things a child of six had no business thinking, or wondering about.  I did want to live with my dad, but at the same time I knew I would miss my brother, then there were my friends who I knew I’d never see again if I moved. I also believed that my mother could still love me, or so that’s what I wanted so desperately to believe. Even now I kick myself for not seeing things for how they were and it was strange to think that just a year prior I was with both my parents in my aunt’s car, driving to see my uncle Skip so he could show off his new boat.

 

We had spent most of the day driving around, so by the time we pulled up into the parking lot to meet him, my dad had popped out to get a coke because he was thirsty and I started to with him, when I was ordered to stay where I was. So naturally I protested, insisting I was thirsty all the while I was watching my dad on the off the chance my mother and her sister (my aunt Terry) would permit me to go. Instead Terry produced a clear glass bottle from under her seat and offered it to me.

 

I don’t know why the sight of the bottle made me immediately suspicious, or why I had that sickly feeling that something about it was wrong and I shouldn’t partake in its contents of whatever liquid that bottle held.

 

“No thanks, I don’t like it.” I said almost immediately, (mistake #1)

 

“How do you know you don’t like it?” My aunt asked.

 

“I just don’t….Please let me go with dad and get something to drink, I’m really thirsty.” I pleaded (mistake #2 for thinking they’d show me the slightest of mercies)

 

“Then you can’t be that thirsty,” My mother challenged and I looked at the bottle again, debating.

 

 “It’s either this or you have to wait till we meet up with Skip and see if he has any drinks on his boat,” My aunt said with mock sympathy. I knew what it was even then, for I had grown accustom to having an older brother who often got me in trouble or got me to do something I didn’t want to by speaking in the same tone.

 

“What is it?”  I asked, distrustfully trying to read the bottle and my aunt’s face, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was some sort of trick. (Which it was)

 

 

“Water,” My aunt (lied) as she held the bottle out to me again and I stared at it suspiciously, half expecting at any moment that one of them would laugh, or give something away to tell me this was all some sort of a joke they were playing on me.

 

          “It doesn’t look like water,” I commented, smiling and almost certain my they would tell me this was a joke now and they were just teasing me. (Mistake number 3) I should have known better and shouldn’t under estimate my mom or my aunt’s depravity.

 

 

         “It’s flavored water,” my mom answered.  (It wasn’t.)

 

Her answer gave me pause,  because I did see her and my aunt drinking flavored water on numerous occasions, however I knew those bottles were different, clear plastic with colored labels, and this one was in a glass bottle with a label I didn’t recognize. (Yeah, I couldn’t really read it, but give me a break I was five.)

 

“No thanks, can I please go with dad and get something?”  I pleaded, hoping I’d get permission before he returns, in which I knew would make the answer an definitive and resounding “No,” but I saw the anger flash across my mom’s face as she accused me of lying telling me if I was really thirsty I would drink what was being offered and wouldn’t be so picky.

 

 

“No, no, I’m not lying!” I protested, panic rising in my throat, with a strong suspicion that I was about to be smacked, (Because my mother had a penchant for hauling off and hitting us, my brother or me across the face, whenever we made her upset, often this would come without warning or provocation, such as at the dinner table whenever we sat our elbows on the table, or complained of being hot whenever we sat in the backseat of the car, or accidently bothered her on the wrong day.)

 

 

        “You’re getting the paddle when we get home,” She threatened and I paled,


 

       Long ago, my mother believed her hand was ineffective in beating us kids, so she commissioned my father to craft a wooden paddle, with the holes drilled into it to reduce wind resistance, and the electrical taped handle “for her comfort” she naturally didn’t want to risk getting splinters and for whatever the reason I recalled her beating me with that paddle quit frequently. (I feared the beatings from my mother way more than my father. For the few times I warranted a beating from my father, he would only do so with the greatest of reluctance and would only give me one or two swats to my backside and be done with it. My mother however was much more severe. She would deliver so many that I would lose count, hitting me as hard as she could with each swat, which often times left large and sometimes bleeding welts against my buttocks, my lower back, or the back of my legs whenever she missed. She didn’t much care for accuracy, she prided herself more on bending over her knee and hitting as wildly and as ferociously as she could and to this day I still remember the searing pain that would flair up whenever she struck my lower back, and/or the back of my legs. If I cried, or screamed out during any of this, she would beat me more until I didn’t make a noise, then God help me if later I retreated to my room and she heard me crying. Because she explode into my room, with a belt, or tear me out of my bed with her nails biting painfully into my arms and beat me until I promised to be quiet.

 

 

So now, when I find myself sitting in a car, listening to my mom tell me how she’s going to beat me when we get home for lying about how thirsty I was, I had little choice, but to prove my honesty by taking the bottle of whiskey from my aunt. I vaguely remember squeezing my noise as I brought the bottle to my lips, partly from the noxious smell of it and to help me not taste it, then I threw back my head, gulping down the contents. Almost immediately I heard my aunt squealing with delight,

 

 

 “Oh my god, he’s drinking it, he’s really drinking it,” She squealed excitedly.

 

 

  Then I heard my mother guffaw as the two laughed and it was then the taste hit me and I could feel my mouth and throat burning as if I was drinking liquid fire. My eyes bulge out as I threw the bottle away from me and immediately got sick all over my aunt’s new car.

 

 

         My father returned shortly thereafter, right as my mother was dragging me out of the car, so that I could finish throwing up outside the car, oppose to further ruining my the interior of my aunt’s car, with the last thing I remembered from that day being my dad going ballistic as he found out what happened and how he took care of me afterwards.

 

 

 Now, more than a year later, I finished spending that first weekend with my dad and I come into the house and overhear my older brother, Dominic asking my mother why Robert, (My dad) didn’t take him away for the weekend too. I too was curious so I ease dropped and heard her explain that my father wasn’t his real father and that he was from her previous marriage and that he wasn’t Robert’s son, only I was (meaning me)

 

 

“Why?” He asked pitifully, adding how much he had loved and cared for my father. What I heard next chilled me to my core and left me feeling overwhelming pity for my older brother, as my mother said,

 

 

“Because he doesn’t love you, he never loved you, just like how your real father didn’t want you. I’m the only one who loves you, I’m the only who cares about you and wants you.”

 I slipped away after that, I felt ashamed, guilty and confused. My heart went out to my older brother with the only thing I knew for certain was that what she said to him was wrong.  I didn’t say for certain, but I knew she was being a liar, because I remembered my father and he treated my brother no different than me.  But I still searched and long for the truth. Often I would ask my dad, I saw my dad if he reason why he never picked my brother up along with me was because he didn’t love or want him and every time he had told me that he couldn’t gain custody of Dominic because he wasn’t his son and the lawyers wouldn’t allow it, but he still tried. Truthfully, my dad did care for my brother and for years would ask me about him, wanting to know what he was up too and what how he’d been. A few times he did try to see him as well as me, but my mother would never allow it. It still pains my heart to this day knowing that my brother’s opinion of my father is based solely on lies. 

Part VI

Intermission: Our scars aren’t who we are, nor do they tell us who we were, our scars represent our perseverance, for all scars fade with time. 

 

That's me with my dad's family, ruining this family photo :P

That’s me with my dad’s family, ruining this family photo 😛

As hard as things were for me growing up, I still remained a pretty happy and go-lucky kid. Granted, I did eventually get pretty beaten down and my depression, anxiety all came much, much later, affecting me in my early teens.

But I digress, for my mother wasn’t always so horrible, she had some, if not few and far between moments where she was remarkably human and like most kids in my situation I clung to those moments, cherished them and clung stubbornly on to. Because it was those moments that made me think there was hope, a flickering possibility that my mother may have actually loved me. Which is one of the reasons I put up with what I did and why I until recently I chose to suffer in silence. No one knew the battles I fought, or why despite my worse days, I still had love for my mother, love that wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I tried convincing myself that I hated her.
I portray this same sort of Stockholm syndrome involving abusive parents in my upcoming book, “Losers” Where Kyle Reese clings to the moments where his parents had been decent towards him and despite everything his parents do to him and no matter how badly they mistreat him, he still loves and cares for them, even when he can’t possibly fathom the why of it all, even when they make his life dreadfully miserable and causing him to spend most of this days just trying to avoid his parents.

Cover design for my upcoming book. "Losers."

Cover design for my upcoming book. “Losers.”

My mom, despite whatever sickness or disorder she had, or has, did have her motherly moments which were few and far between. But all the same, they would make me feel such warmth, I would then cling so desperately to those memories, with a part of me doubting the fact she hated me, with the other part of me believing I could win her affection, thus letting her see me as her son. So for every kindness she ever shown me, I tried like hell to make those moments repeat themselves and more often than not, I was met with complete and utter failure.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still cherish those times when I felt like my mother and I were finally connecting and even though they never lasted, I carry them still.  They were the moments when it felt that there was some sort of clarity in the air and she realized I was her son and was accepting me as such.

One of these moments came when I was very young and we were living in our house on Tando way, in Taylor Mill Kentucky. It was long after the ordeal when my mother had abandoned me and later stole me back and it was a few years before my parents got their inevitable divorce, back when my older brother and I still shared a bedroom with bunk beds. I remember it was here, that on most nights, our mother would come to tuck us in at night and she would pick a story or let us choose one that’ll she’ll read to us. Sometimes, she’d read a few pages, and some nights she would read whole chapters, or until we fell asleep. Usually she would read the Hardy boys, or from a book of fables such as Puss and Boots, the emperor and his new clothes, Jack and the Beanstalk, all of which would grow to become my favorites. But every now and then she would read something different, forcing us to familiarize ourselves with stories we hadn’t grown accustom too. I think it also helped introduce change, so we could grow to like more, or other stories, that wasn’t Hardy Boy related.

But even still I remember laying there in my bottom bunk as she pulled the book E.T the extraterrestrial from our little cabinet and I remember the book cover was a generic yellow, with a crudely drawn picture of E.T on the cover. I also remember how she would carefully read aloud every word, exercising perfect pronunciation, as if each word held a particular significance.

 

These were the moments I cherished the most, moments I’ll always carry with me, my mother may not have been that great, or good towards me, but she had moments, when she would look at me and I swear I could feel that maybe she didn’t hate, or despise me, that just maybe she actually liked me, at least a little. Granted it was rare and far between, often leaving me to wonder what I could do to make her love me at least half as much as she seemed to care for my older brother, believing if I were to accomplish some amazing feat, if I would somehow win her affection and I would finally feel what it was like to have a real and true mother, like the ones I’ve read about in books, seen on TV or act something more akin to mothers of my friends. It’s so strange to me now, I haven’t spoken with her, or seen her in years, but I can see her still sitting beside our bed as she read to us. I can see it so clearly, it’s as if I can look through this window in time and see the past.

 

Gerbil number 2, my older brother and me.

Gerbil number 2, my older brother and me.

My mother would read to us, not in a hurry, or a rush to finish. She would perfectly pronounce and shape each word, reading aloud to us with enthusiasm, and grace. She did all the voices, and would pause periodically to ask my brother and me what we thought, or felt about a certain situation in the story. She would want to know and ask what we thought would happen next and would actually have a conversation with us about the book and the events unfolding within the story itself. Which now looking back, I believe it was this and these moments with her that planted the very seeds of story-telling into my very heart and instilled in me my unparalleled loved for books. Because now whenever I finish a book, I look around and realize that everyone around me is just carrying on with their lives, as though I didn’t just experience the emotional trauma at the hands of paper, or hardback book. Because those moments with my mother, hearing her tell us stories left me forever changed and sparked within me an incomparable imagination, a sense of wonder and a deeply rooted love for the magic in the written word and the stories locked away in one’s imagination.

Man looking out office window at night

I didn’t start this series, to simply talk about how bad my childhood was, or to paint my mother as this horrible person which she was. I started it to help others, to let people know that abuse isn’t ever okay and sometimes for explainable reasons a parent or parents will pick one child to be the target of all their abuse. I can never explain it, but as a child, I did see the parallels between how we were treated and unfortunately my older brother never witnessed any of what I had to endure and I never told him either, not until it was too late….And it wasn’t always so bad, so periodically from this point on, I will inject a little intermission here to describe a positive memory involving my mother and maybe somewhere along the way, we’ll discover why I kept quiet for so long and endured the quiet torment of a young boy, sitting on an old porch swing, wishing his life was more like  his dreams, where nothing was ever as bad as they seemed and why I had so much love for a woman who showed me so very little in return. Because I do miss her in some, strange and unexplainable way and I long and pray for a day that she finds me, apologizes for all past wrongs and at least attempts to make amends for past wrongs, because I would need that assurance to know that her words weren’t hollow as they had been in the past.

The Scars of who we are Part V

The Scars of who we are. 
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Part V
From the night which covers me, as dark as shadow of the darkest abyss, with only a blanket of stars to guide my way, I thank God for my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of chance and circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Bludgeoned by both chance and circumstance my head is bloody, yet unbowed and beyond this place, past the tears and brokenness and all my despair, is my rebirth and beginning life anew. The past is behind me and if that or other demons shall menace me, they’ll find me unafraid.

 It’s never as bad you think, so many things we all take for granted, such as life. It’s like when I was nearly drowned when I was just a little over four and my mscan0016other had taken me to her sister’s to swim. Her sister had married into money and lived in a mansion with her husband Skip. The pool was immense, with an indoor pool that connected to a much larger outdoor pool. Usually my mother would leave me to my own devices and I would jump in with my little floaties and swim around having a ball and sometimes I would bring toys with me and have epic battles at sea. Usually with my old he-man, GI-Joes, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys.  However this one day, this one day, I had taken off my floaties to go the bathroom and to then wanted to lay down on one of the benches to bake in the sun. Mostly because I was tired and had after after a few hours in the pool by myself I had grown a bit bored, so I wanted to relax in the sun for a bit. My mother however had other plans, when I returned from the bathroom; she scooped me up in her arms and tossed me into the deep end of the pool.

                At the time I still didn’t know how to swim and still required my swimming floaties , but she had thought it’d be fun to toss me into the deep end of the pool. I still remember the laughing that ensued as hit the water screaming. Then how I thrashed and gasped for air, until I eventually began to sink, all the while envisioning her diving in after me, but help never came. Every time my head broke the surface of the water, I cried out and every time I saw her and my aunt laughing hysterically, neither one making any kind of move to me, in fact, they weren’t even looking at me. The memory of that will always stick with me, no matter how hard I try to forget. I know I was just a child, but I think we always remember the time when we’re almost killed. Although I must admit I’ve always had a extraordinary memory, not photographic, but I remember a lot and sometimes I feel like I remember too much.
                But did you know that when you’re drowning you don’t actually inhale until right before you black out? It’s called voluntary apnea. It’s like no matter how much you’re freaking out; the instinct not breathe in any water is so strong that you won’t open your mouth until you feel like your head’s exploding. Then when you finally do let the water in, it stops and it stops being scary. In a way it’s… almost kind of peaceful, giving up and just letting the water in. But, sometimes, if you can endure that excruciating pain, making you feel as if your heart and lungs are about to explode, with your head feeling as though it’s fit to burst, if you hold on just for just a few more precious seconds of life, you slowly sink and hit the bottom. It’s then once you hit the bottom that you can find the strength to fight the shadows that are encroaching on your vision and as you cling so desperately those last few seconds of precious life, you can find the strength within yourself to fight your way back to the surface.  (And life is always worth holding onto in my opinion) So no matter how dark your world becomes, if you hold on, you may be surprised by what you find and by the courage that’s been lying dormant within you and the strength to persevere.
                Once I felt my bottom touch the bottom of the pool, I summoned what little strength I had and kicked off from the bottom, then clawed my way back to surface. I don’t know if it was really me, or the grace of God, or simple good luck, but I believe it was God who guided me to the pool’s ladder. But what I can tell you with absolute certainty, that when my head finally broke the surface of the water, and as I coughed and gasped for breath, I saw the ladder was right there in easy reach. Frantically I reached for it, hugging it tightly against me as I pulled myself against it as I coughed up a lungful for water, hearing my aunt teasing me, warning me not to drink all the water in her pool, as I climbed furiously up the ladder.

Looking up at them at that moment, I don’t think I ever before or since felt such anger towards anyone in my life. My mother and aunt just standing there, laughing like nothing had ever happened, as if I’ve done this stupid thing to myself, ignoring the fact I nearly drowned. So I took a breath and summoned up the most hurtful words I could string together.

“I hate you and wish you both were dead!” (That got her attention)
Before I knew it she had stormed over to me and I tensed up, half expecting her to toss me back into the pool, instead she gripped the underside of my arm, digging her nails painfully into my flesh as she wrenched my arm up and proceeded to beat the living crap out of me, spanking my backside as hard as she could, with the first swat knocking me off my feet, but she held me firmly by the arm, preventing me from going anywhere. I can still remember how her nails bit deeper into my arm as she continued to hit me, enough times that I eventually lost count and once she was done she tossed me the ground as if I was some little annoying plaything, that disgusted her and ordered me to be quite, otherwise a second beating would follow.
                I never did understand how I warranted the beating I received that day, or the grounding that followed. To me it seemed a bit extreme, being as I was the one who nearly died and granted my words may have been a bit spiteful, but I was still a kid and I had every right to be angry with her. It was also the first time I really began to wonder if she hated me, for she showed no remorse and never gave me so much as an apology.
                Now I know if you’re reading this, you’re thinking I didn’t have very many sunny days. But not every day was dark and stormy. Yes I know my life hadn’t always been all sunshine and rainbows either. But it’s the bad days that make us appreciate the sunny ones and for me, my sunny days were the greatest. I got to have an involved father who loved spending time with me, taking me out to movies, parks, who taught me how to play and always had something planned for us to do whenever I got to see him. I had the best grandmother in the world, who later took me in and showed me how a true mother should be and I’ll forever love and miss her dearly. I also had some pretty incredible friends who took me in, dusted me off and became like family to me. In a weird and roundabout way, it was like God saw how broken and lonely I was, so he helped me make the right kind of friends, those who would help fill the hollowness in my chest, left by mother and her family. So take it from me, the next time you’re feeling all alone in the world, take time to really think about all the people in your life, the ones you may sometimes try to push away, but always come back anyway, or the ones who simply wait till you’re ready to return to them. Someone does love and care for you and you’re special in your own way and incredibly unique and an amazing person to boot. Think about everything you’ve endured and you’re still here! You’re not just a survivor, you’re a warrior! You’re tougher than anything this life or the other throws your way. And you are, so yes life will kick you around sometimes. It scares you and beats you up, but there’s a day when you realize you’re not just a survivor, you’re a warrior and you’re a fighter. You’re tougher than anything it throws your way. You are.
                Before I get too far away from the time I almost drowned, I need to tell you I have social anxiety, which many often confused for mere shyness. This anxiety often feels like you’re drowning and you can’t breathe and I know there’s medication for anxiety, but there’s usually so many side effects you’re usually better off learning to deal with it like I have and for the most part I’ve overcame most of it and came a very long way. But like most people I have my good days and bad days and there are numerous factors, such as if I’m alone, or in a familiar environment etc. Then again I have my days when I walk into a room full of strangers and within minutes be the center of attention and charming everyone around me. But sometimes, I struggle and I feel like I’m drowning and these are the times I usually need a friend to help me out. So I decided to write this for this purpose, since I’ve experienced friends or family who has told me to simply get over it, or talk. But it’s hard sometimes and for any of us who suffer any kind of anxiety, we need a little time and patience, understanding. We will get through it, just be patient with us, believe it or not I think most are like me and slowly working through it, may never be as fast as you would like, but we can’t be rushed.
                But Like I said, I’ve made great strides in overcoming my anxiety by first getting a job where I’m forced to deal with the general public on a regular basis and whenever I’m out and feeling particular confident I try to strike up a conversation with a stranger, which is always scary and a bit nerve wrecking at times, but hey, I’m a writer and it’s my job to meet and get to know people. Also I found working out has helped me a lot, it took me about two years of working out at home until I eventually got the confidence to join a gym which I did and began making it a point to go about four or fives times a week. Becoming physically fit has helped my confidence a great deal and I found that the better you feel about yourself the easier it is to deal with social situations. So these are just my tips and I’m always trying to better myself, more so now than I have in my previous years, because I’ve learned that everyone has a story to tell and their stories can only add to your own.

The Scars of who we are, part 2

The scars of who we are Part 2
Part 2. Where are you when you can’t be found?

For what it’s worth, I think I was a pretty happy kid and no matter how dark the world around me grew, I couldn’t shake this feeling I had, that I was special, unique in some way I couldn’t quite described. I had always felt as if I was meant for something more, something greater than myself. Now this could be, that when I was born I was born both upside down and backwards, forcing the doctors to perform an emergency C-section in order to save my life. Something I don’t think my mother had ever really forgiven me for, because before then she was one of those models you’d see on T.V or magazines.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Because my first struggles had started before I was even born. This I know, I know from the stories my farther had often shared with me while I was growing up, stories I’ve always kept to myself until the day I graduated High school and my mother confirmed everything he told me was true. By telling me, how useless and pathetic I was and how she tried having a miscarriage and get an abortion.

I know not exactly something you want to tell your son, or a kid, but I grew up with both parents telling me how much the other didn’t love me. In truth, I secretly hoped that they were both wrong.

Now my dad tells me, that my mother wasn’t particularly an easy person to live with, nor was she exactly thrilled with having another kid, because she had already had a son from a previous marriage, my older brother Dominic. But my dad can be quite insistent and managed to convince her try, because he wanted a kid of his own. He wanted someone to carry on his legacy and if you ever seen my dad, you’ll see that he’s really good with kids, because he sincerely loves them. (Partially because he’s really a big kid at heart)

But for a while it would seem that fate was against them, for after a whole year of trying, they had failed to ever conceive. It wasn’t until they gave up trying which was when I was finally conceived. During which time my dad tells me my mother was becoming increasingly hard to live with, always wanting to start a fight with him whenever he came home from work, which lead to him working double and triple shifts just to stay away from her. But during this time, my dad tells me that when they would fight, she would get angry and sometimes throw herself down on our steps and slide down on her belly in attempt to get even with him and to cause some irreparable harm to myself while I was still in her womb. Once she even got so angry amidst an augment she would begin beating on her stomach, in attempt to kill or harm me while I was still in the womb, something that would always break my dad’s heart and drive him to tears and sometimes unparalleled fits of anger. Causing him to throw her down, straddle her chest and began slapping her face with fingers all the while asking her how it felt and if she liked that, then threatened of she ever did anything like that again, he’d kill her. (I can’t say I condone his actions, I don’t think a man should ever strike a woman, but in truth I don’t know how I feel about it in this kind of situation)
But on this peculiar situation, her brother, my uncle Mike who had just gotten out of prison had decided to show up at house and see my mom. (I know what you’re thinking, how much more dysfunctional can we get, but it’s true) My dad sees the marks he had left on my mother’s face and tells her not to answer the door, knowing that if her brother took one good look at her face, he would do what my father would do and try to kill the guy who did it. However my mom insists on answering the door, because it is her brother after all. So my father responds with getting a baseball bat and stands at the top of the stairs, telling my mom that if he came in and tried to attack him, he would beat him away with the bat. They were at an impasse, as nuts as my mother may have and still is, she didn’t want to see any harm come to her brother, so she agreed to send him away, which she does. The stalemate resulted in my protection and my eventual birth. (Thank God right? And see, life is a miracle within itself. I mean the mere fact I managed to make it to term is miracle within itself. My mom was also a bit into drugs and had told me once she smoked pot a few times while pregnant with me and she hinted to doing a few other drugs while carrying me. So the fact that I’m even alive and I don’t look like Sloth from “The Goonies,” I’m not eating paste, or sitting in a room gluing macaroni to paper plates is nothing short of amazing. Every day I’m surprised that I am who I am, I’m healthy, fairly intelligent and physically fit. Although I can’t help but wonder how smart I would have been if my mother wasn’t my mother, you know what I mean?)

 “We are the fallen,
Who tear down the world,
We are the broken,
Who are lost,
We are the weary,
Who lost our way,
Yet we’re looking forward to a better day.”

I was a little more fifteen months old the day my mother abandoned me. Her and my dad were on the outs, fighting all the time and so my dad often worked double shifts. Because that way, he’d be too tired to fight and could go right to sleep whenever he got home. Making what my mother did, all the more horrific. My mother had taken my older brother, packed up both her and his things and left me. She left me sleeping in my carrier, at the top of the stairs, apparently she hadn’t even bothered to strap me in.

My dad was on his way home from working a double, dreading going home. It was late in the day and he knew my mother would be up and would most likely start in on him as soon as he walked in the door. So he was debating rather he should go home, or go his mothers. On his way to his mom’s, my dad heard a voice speaking to him. (Now I can’t vouch for this, but part is every bit my father’s story. I’m a Christian, like my father before me and most of my family. I wasn’t around for this part of the story, believe it or not, it’s up to you)

The voice told my father to go home. My father, without question believes it was God and is every bit as stubborn as me, so I’m not surprised when he told me he said “No,”

“I said go home,” God ordered,

“No,” My dad snaps, “If I go home she’s going to be there and I can’t take it anymore!” My dad shouts to his windshield.

“I don’t care, I said go home,” countered God.

“Alright fine, I’ll go home,” My dad relented, “but I’m just going there to take a shower and grab some clothes, does that make you happy?” My dad asked, hearing nothing but his radio and silence. Afraid to disobey and risk the voice returning my dad turned around and headed back home.

Once home he discovers that my mom is gone. At first he Believes that she took my older brother and me somewhere and left. Yet further investigation would prove otherwise, for it doesn’t take him long to discover me asleep atop the stairs. My dad couldn’t describe all the emotions that went through him as he discovered my mother had left the house, abandoning me to my own devises. He was angry, heartbroken, astounded, he couldn’t believe she really left there. So he gathers my few belongings along with his and takes me to my grandmothers.
(Sorry folks, I’m going to wrap this up here, in part III, my mother devises a plan to kidnap me from my father, which leads to a car chase as my dad races to catch up with her in hopes of rescuing me)