Tag Archive: anxiety


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.

 

 

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.