Tag Archive: faith


Many complex trauma survivors walk away from their religious beliefs. For example, to believe in a good and loving God who allows suffering and heinous abuse to occur can feel like the ultimate betrayal. This is something needing considerable compassion. – https://themighty.com/2017/08/life-impacting-symptoms-of-complex-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

It’ strange for me think about how when I was a kid and first heard about God and Christianity I was fascinated, I fell in love with the faith and felt safe knowing there was this God up there watching over not just me, but everyone. I listened to the bible stories and the heroes who God chose, protected, saved and rewarded for their efforts and sacrifices. I wanted to be a champion of God like none other, I wanted to believe that everything had its purpose. Even as a kid, I was determined to discover my purpose, I grew up hearing how I was almost never even born, how my mother abandoned me when I was just a few months old, just to be saved by my father, who claimed God told him to go home, when he didn’t want to and only wanted to go to his mom’s to avoid having to put up with my mother, which would lead to yet another argument.
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So I believed there was a reason why I was such a freak, why I was so unwanted. I grew up with warts on my left hand, buck teeth, speech problems, I wasn’t particularly coordinated, good at sports, I had no talents that I knew of. My hair never did look right until I grew older and started spiking it. I suffered horrible abuse from my mother, was often teased and made fun my older brother, some of my family members and I faced bullies every day in school. More than anything I wanted to believe there was a purpose to it all, a reason behind it all. Because it’s what Christians often told me, that I would need to give my pain to God and he would deliver me from it. But he never did. Since I was six years old, I prayed to God every day, begging him to allow my mother to love me and treat me like a son. Of course, I’ve prayed for a variety of things and for people, I prayed to God to take away my warts, to fix my speech, my teeth and when I noticed my vision was beginning to deteriorate, I prayed for God to restore my vision. I’ve already had enough issues with my appearance and didn’t want to give the bullies any more ammunition against me. As I’ve said once in an earlier post, I’ve been called names and I’ve been called them all. I heard time and again of adults and people older than me how they were bullied too and how it’s so bad. But every year, bullying gets worse I know this from experience. I never got good advice or help in any way. The schools always say you should talk to a teacher, go the principle, or even your parents, doing so however only makes things 10 times worse. Kids are often ostracized by their peers it, called and viewed as a narc. Even worse, it’s never an easy thing to talk about when you’re a victim.
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I often would pray to God to move for me and those bullies who targeted me, I asked him to make them my friends, I prayed for my parents to get back together because I missed my dad, I prayed to be accepted, to feel loved. I prayed these things every day until I was thirteen years old. Then I changed, I began praying for God just to end it, to take my life, I didn’t care how. I just wanted to die. This I kept up, praying every day until I was fifteen. That’s when I finally gave on God. I gave up on Christians never wanting to listen to me, always saying the same diatribe over and over again, while I was very clearly crying out for help. I got tired of hearing Christians telling me, “God is trying to break you, he wants you to be more broken, so that he can heal you!” And a part of me always wondered,

“How much more broken do I have to be? I’m a kid, I shouldn’t have to deal with what I’ve been dealt with. I shouldn’t have heard my mother tell me that she wanted me to snap and hit her, so that she could pull some strings and have me locked up, just because she wanted to ruin my life. I shouldn’t have spent countless nights crying myself to sleep because I was so broken, so lonely and tired of feeling like I didn’t belong.”

Oh I would hear that it was God testing me, which I believed for years and after a while I began to wonder, why? What was he testing my faith for? I was a child, a kid, no kid should think the world would be better off if they died.

Other times they would blame Satan, telling me everything I was dealing with was the devil and he was trying to beat me down and I couldn’t help but wonder, why God wasn’t protecting me. I was a good kid, I always tried to be kind, generous, giving, supportive and forgiving. Granted I had a few small selfish moments as all kids do, but I was a pretty good kid. All I ever wanted was to be happy, to feel loved, wanted and needed. So, I started cutting myself, I started doing it just to give myself something else to focus on. But in truth, I was really just practicing to kill myself.

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During this period of dark inflection, I adapted a mode of thinking, that maybe God was an absentee father, that he created us in a bit of a rush and once he was finished with his little science project he abandoned his creation. Thinking this, I began rebelling against God, believing if I could make him angry, make him hate me, he would finally stop and take notice, then maybe he would care. So I tore apart my bibles, tossing them in a fire. I began cussing like a sailor, mocking Christian teachings and beliefs. Then I began to study other religions and briefly practicing the other faiths I’ve read about. I became a Wiccan, for about a year, then I began reading about Pagan beliefs, I soon found myself reading more and more about philosophy and religions around the world, where I found something quite odd. They were all mostly the same, even Satanism. Compare any religion you want, don’t just go off what you think, or heard, but actually get their bible and read the tenants of other faiths, with an open mind and you’ll begin seeing similarities. Yet we build these factions, mock and make fun of, or even harass anyone who believes in something else, we wage war, kill one another over petty differences that don’t matter.

I have found many Christians (again not all) to be a very toxic people and I’m not saying anything against the bible or anything, granted I really don’t know what I myself believe in these days, but I do believe that the bible has some really worthwhile tenants and values. Most Christians however seem to suffer from old bigotry that pastors and leaders had used the bible to enforce their beliefs and force them on others. By this I mean when I read the bible, I read about a very loving and forgiving God, one who gave his only begotten son to die on a cross for our sins. It always felt wrong to me when I heard religious leaders speak out against homosexuals, or anyone in the LGBT community, even being an heterosexual man myself, but I know what it’s like to be an outcast, to be treated less of a human being just for being who you are. Then they always want to say “Well in the bible it says…”And I always counter with, the bible also says we shouldn’t pass judgment on others, or force our personal views, religious or otherwise on anyone else. Also the bible speaks out against gossiping. Worse is some the non-sensible things the bible also says.

Here are but a few.

Don’t have a variety of crops on the same field. (Leviticus 19:19)
Don’t wear clothes made of more than one fabric. (Leviticus 19:19)
Don’t cut your hair nor shave. (Leviticus 19:27)
Any person who curseth his mother or father, must be killed. (Leviticus 20:9)
If a priest’s daughter is a whore, she is to be burnt at the stake. (Leviticus 21:9)
People who have flat noses, or are blind or lame, cannot go to an altar of God. (Leviticus 21:17-18)
From the book of Deuteronomy:
If anyone, even your own family, suggests worshipping another God, kill them. (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)
Women are not allowed to wear the clothing of men and men are not allowed to wear the clothing of women (Deuteronomy 22:5)
From the New Testament:
Slaves must be submissive and obedient to their masters. (Ephesians 6:5)
Women must be submissive to their husbands. (1 Peter 3:1 and 3:5)
Women should not style or braid their hair or wear any adornments (jewelry) or fancy clothing. (I would also presume that wording to include the wearing of make-up and coloring of hair in that context. – 1 Peter 3:3, 1 Timothy 2:9)
Women should be generally submissive and should be quiet, never teach or hold any authority over men. They should just be silent. (1 Timothy 2:12)
Women must wear head coverings in any place of worship. (1 Corinthians 11:4-7)

When I attended Sunday school and I was brought up with the belief that God was supposed to be good, who wanted us to love on another. The bible in my opinion often contradicts itself, which often made me wonder, if someone didn’t add or tweak things here and there. Because the message I got from the Bible was how we should be compassionate to others, accept them for who they are, because they are created by God, love or hate them, they were created by the same God who made you, to argue against a person’s sexual preference or ideals is to say God has no idea what he’s doing.

self-hate-depression.jpg I know my struggle with faith and religion is in part because I suffer from c-ptsd, but it’s also because when I was crying out for help. The Christian church let me down, instead of trying to dive deeper and getting me help, I got lectured, prayed to, prayed out, given quotes from the bible, or reasons and excuses about why my life is the way it is. Others felt the need to compare their lives, and problems to my own and tell me they know how I feel, or want to tell me everything Jesus went through before he died and tell me to suck it up.

But I’m broken and have been broken for a very long time. I searched for God, I worshiped him, loved him despite how much my life was falling apart. It’s hard to believe in something when you’ve felt abandoned for so long. When you’ve prayed for small, simple miracle over and over again, just be denied that small amount of love. I wasn’t even supposed to be born, I was an unwanted child, an accident, an abortion survivor and for what, why?
More than anything I wish I was normal and wasn’t such a mess and I know if I ever come face to face with my mother again, I would like to look her in the eye and just say, “You can’t just make someone and throw them away, it’s not right.”

If you’re still reading this. I’m sorry for the downer of a post, which I’m still probably made some of you very angry at me. But, if you could do me a quick favor, and go over to my friend’s pateron and donate just a dollar to her goal of becoming a writer, I would greatly appreciate it and you’d be able to make someone’s day. She’s incredibly talented, a warm and loving person and in all honesty someone who’s kept me from giving up.

https://patreon.com/ARStuff?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=tyshare2

Confession.

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

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

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we need less of this

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

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

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

no more of this.

no more of this.

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

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We need more of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saving me from…me.

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”

― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

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Have you ever just felt like you don’t know what’s going on anymore? Like you don’t care about anything anymore, like you’ve lost your motivations to do just about anything and you’re confused about your feelings and you can’t explain how you feel. You have that feeling of emptiness and the feeling that no one is there for you. That feeling that no one understands you anymore. And it seems like there’s nothing to look forward to anymore?
Yeah I get those feelings too.

I recently suffered a bit of a breakdown, where everything just suddenly got to me. Normally I can maintain a pretty good hold on my depression, almost to the point where I half convince myself that I’m cured. However recently, I found myself on a downward spiral. Unable to pick myself up, feeling lost, broken, betrayed and like a burden on my friends and family. Added with the special topping of stress at work, bills, getting in a car wreck on 10/02/14 which really kind a ruined my weekend. Then of course there’s that hurt, those missing pieces in my heart in the form of my mother as I wonder why she did all the things she’s done. I won’t lie, I don’t miss many of my mom’s family, but I do miss my brothers, even my older brother, in fact I miss them every day.

 

So I fell and it was out of desperation that I reached out via facebook asking for prayers, for support. Because in truth, I was a hair’s breadth away from taking my own life, to me, living just felt too painful. I felt like I was trapped in a burning building, with the flames slowly encroaching on me, making it unbearable, and driving me ever closer to that moment where I was honestly thinking that my best option was to jump, because at least then it’d be over.
It took me awhile to read over all the messages and comments people had sent me, offering me their shoulders to cry on and a friendly ear to listen to whatever it was weighing on my soul so heavily. IT helped. Talking with my dad helped a bit more. Going to church and being prayed for by the entire congregation as they all took turns embracing me helped even more. But I’m still trying to build myself back up, so I’m hoping that writing and telling you about it will help. Because truth is life can be a little hard sometimes.large
Truth is, sorrow, despair, loneliness, suicide, are all words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss. …Though their currents run through us all, in varying ebbs and flows throughout the course of one’s life. Just as hope, passion, happiness and love all run together as well. I believe it doesn’t make us weaker to admit these lulls. As someone once said,
“Acceptance is the first step towards happiness.” Once you’ve leapt off that metaphorical
bridge, when you’ve reached the darkest depths of your inner ocean, just remember to keep kicking for the light at the surface and that’s what I’m trying to do. But sometimes we don’t’ have to jump at all; we just need to learn how to swim.

So if you want to know what depression is like, it’s like feeling like something inside of you if missing, or broken, you feel alone. My chest feels tighter and constricts, like a huge weight is pressing down oppressively on me, making it harder and harder for me to breathe. It’s like I’m trying to swim and keep my head above water while an anchor is tired to my feet and I just can’t catch my breath and I’m slowly losing strength. I don’t feel real, I don’t feel like I matter, that I’m not really living, like I’m just going through the motions.

I hate depression.
I hate those pity parties people throw whenever they have a dry spell, or go through a breakup, or experience one minor hiccup in an otherwise blessed life and then go on facebook, or twitter, or lamenting to their friends how “They’re so depressed.” When they’re not, they’re really not and it always comes off as “Hey look at me! Give me attention, I’m a little sad,” And this sucks for those of us who are really struggling, which causes people to tell us to nut up, man up, shut up and get over it. I admit, some people do want to throw a pity party for themselves, while the rest of us…we’re barely holding on and just want to crumble at someone’s feet as curl into a ball and just cry.

The pity parties make it harder for those of us who are really suffering to speak out. Because we fear those pity parties, we’re afraid you’ll think we’re just attention starved and we’ll get the same frustrated and annoyed responses those people sometimes get. So I kept my mouth shut, my head down, and I kept doing my best to just limp along. Sometimes, we withdraw and pull away from others, because we’re so consumed with the struggle, which often leads to suicidal thoughts or tendencies, which build and build, often leaving it to our friends and loved ones to pull us kicking and screaming back out into the light.

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I hate when people joke about depression or suicide, it’s not really something to be taken lightly or to joke about and makes it harder to notice those who are crying out for help, the ones who need it the most.
Yeah having your heart broken sucks, but it’s hardly as debilitating as constantly thinking, or wanting you life to end, because you just feel miserable and alone. It’s more like you’ve forgotten your smile somewhere and no matter what you do, you just can’t find it, so you wear a false one and tell everyone you’re fine, when you’re really not.
Many of my long time readers and friends may remember when I spoke about trying to take my own life. But I survived and I half convinced myself that I survived for a reason, there had to be reason didn’t there? Doesn’t there have to be a reason? And in a strange way these questions I ask myself help keep me going. Maybe I’ll write something world changing that’ll spark that positive change we so desperately need into today’s world. Because I’ve always been a survivor and it helps to sometimes think that there is a plan for me, that I wasn’t this monumental, cosmic accident my mother and my depression lead me to believe. But still, it doesn’t make living any easier. I struggle and strain against the ores every day, searching for a reason to smile, looking for that connection, to feel loved and accepted. I do this every day and it does help whenever I’m in a relationship and find little texts on my phone letting me know she was thinking about me, or just to say hello.
So this is my voice and there may be many like it, but this one is mine and these are my words, and this time it’s for the mothers and daughters, the fathers, sons and friend and the sons of sons. We all have our own private battles we’re raging against, currents we’re struggling with, and loss we’re trying to come to terms with. Believe me, we’re trying to heal, but the healing leaves scars, scars on our hearts, minds and souls, wounds you’ll never see and we’re always too terrified to show.
The bullies and those like them have spent their life telling me I was and am a failure.
So time and again I wrapped my heart in a cast and I sign it, “They were wrong! Because they had to be wrong,”

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My name is Joshua Cooper. I suffer from depression. It’s an ongoing process until I find peace. There are days when I think I’ll be okay, that everything will be alright, when I busy myself with my writing, or reading to help pass the time, when I’m surrounded by loving friends and family, when we’re all together and having fun. I find the secret to staying alive is staying busy. Going to the gym and doing my best to stay healthy, going on long runs to help clear my head. Having faith also helps and gives me someone to talk to for when it all feels to be crashing down around me. But still what works best is having good friends and family around, having good times, sharing in the laughter, the celebration and love of those closest to us. You see, love, laughter and good company are all enemies of depression.
One of the things I hate the most about depression, is how eventually most everybody at one point or another says, “I’ve had bad things happen to me too, get over it.”
Get over it.
Seriously, get over it? Like I somehow could just let go of all that pain, the fear, the rejection, the doubt, and just forget about it. Because believe me, if it were that easy, I would. I would open my hands and just let go. There is no just getting over it and we need something more than some advice you read one time off the back of a cereal box. What we need is to not feel alone, to be validated and have someone just hug us, to hold and say “Yeah, that sucks, I’m so sorry, but I still love and care about you.”
I hate when people think the thought of letting go and forgetting hadn’t occurred to me before, or realize I’ve been fighting tooth and nail just keep my heads above water. You just can’t compare your life to mine and say, “get over it,” or “stop it,” like the cure for depression can be found in the contents of a first aid kit, because trust me, I’ve looked, it’s not there.
Depression
I hate when others feel the need to compare their lives to mine and attempt to tell me how they were depressed, or sometimes get depressed and tell you how they pushed on, like it’s somehow meant to make me feel better. You can’t compare one life to another, you will never know the injustices I or anyone else has suffered, every situation is different, every battle personal, we are not legion, we are one. I am one, I am an individual, and my pain is real, not made up and not in my head. It’s mine, there’s so much I didn’t tell, so much I’ve never told. Things I struggle to tell people, because what happened to me feels unbelievable and I still hurt because of it. This loss, this pain, can’t be compartmentalized or filed away and when I sit down and tell you these things you’ll only ever be the outsider looking in. It’s like breaking a bone and having someone who’s never had a broken bone in their life telling you to just breathe and telling you it can’t hurt as badly as you’re making it out to be and comparing it to the time when they stubbed their toe. It’s not all relative, it’s not trying to recover from a broken heart, which I admit, that alone cuts deep and becomes a soul hurt. But having your heartbroken is more like a beautiful sadness that inspires poetry, growth, music and teaches us compassion. Everyone suffers from broken heart at least once and it should make you feel more alive because there was something in this life that actually made you feel this hurt.
For me, my depression began when I was still just a kid, it was shortly after my parents got a divorce and it didn’t take long for the hurt to begin. My mom would always go on and on, telling me that my dad didn’t really love or even want me, that he was just trying to win my affection so when I grew of age, I would choose to live with him instead of with her. All so that he could get out child support, and then he would always tell me the same thing about her. As a child, it wore on me, and in the end, it was my mother who was proven wrong, as it it was my father’s words which rang true, which still hurt. (To my dad’s credit, he did stop telling me these things about my mother when I told him how it was tearing me apart and explained she was always saying the same about him)
Worse I grew up with buckteeth, greasy, messy hair, warts, failing eyesight and a bad speech impediment. So school was bad enough and almost every day I would get teased and made fun of. But worse was coming home and having my older brother teasing me even more about my teeth, my speech and the warts on my left hand while mom would sit and laugh, while forbidding me to ever say anything in return, daring me to get upset. I would always try to ignore him at first, but he would never stop and I would eventually feel like a stick of TNT lit from both ends, so I would explode. I would say every hurtful thing that came to my lips, in attempt to show him just how much words could hurt. Of course I would always get in trouble, beaten and then grounded. I hated growing up in that house.
I hated family gatherings too, because like clockwork they too would always find something to tease me over, usually it was my speech, other times it would be looks, or how my eye would sometimes twitch whenever I ate, unless I really focused and concentrated on not doing it, (The result of one of my numerous beatings I received, sometimes by the hot wheels racetrack which forever altered my Christmas list, making me ask for more Nerf Toys) but some members of my family made my life a living hell with all their teasing. Of course whenever I would get visibly hurt, or upset, they would say that old stupid rhyme about sticks and stones, as if a broken bone would hurt more than names I was being called, unaware that I would be called them all, all the time, every day. . At home, at school, around and with them.

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So I grew up believing that no one would ever fall in love with me, that I’d be alone forever, and would never feel like the sun was something someone had built for me in a tool shed. An ingrown life it seems is something that even the best surgeons can’t cutaway. Of course it never mattered how mad or upset I would get, they would all just laugh and tell me how I was being too sensitive, that it was all out of good fun, that they were only teasing. But there’s a fine line between harmless teasing and being just toxic and making me ganged up on.
One of the worst feelings in the world is that of everyone ganging up on you, watching you, laughing at you and feeling like you’re on your own. My own family made me feel like a broken branch grafted on a different family tree and would often wonder why I was struggling with depression and why so often I never felt like I belonged.
So I withdrew, I spoke less and less. I disappeared into books, my toys and video games and words, creating my own stories, because there, no one could make fun of me and I couldn’t see everyone smirking as they all sat and stared, trying to make me say, or do something they could all laugh at. I was eight years old, and I felt like a joke. But back then, I never knew what depression was, or that was something I had, but that’s when it started to fester and grow, when I started praying for death.
I would often wonder if anyone really loved or cared about me, since they would all treat me so poorly and always tell me how they loved me. . How can you believe in love when those who are always claiming to love you are always tearing you down and making you feel worthless, like you’re less than nothing and that your feelings don’t matter?
I hated my life, I hated my bad eyesight, the nose they mocked and ridiculed, I hated all the words I couldn’t say, wondering why no one could just let it go and leave me be, to let me be and let my words be just words and not another opportunity to make me practice and repeat until I got the pronunciation right. Which would be fine one on one, or in private, but having everyone crowd around you mocking you as you try and fail is a bit stress inducing. I mean didn’t they see I was struggling, spending years in speech therapy and spending hours and hours practicing how to roll my Rs and curl my tongue. It wasn’t my fault my mouth garbled all the words I was trying to say.

Public school, taught me that kids could be cruel. I’m not really sure about what grade I was in when the school halls became a battleground, where I found myself outnumbered day after retched day. practicing being invisible, giving no clues I was ever there, becoming like a ghost who roamed the school halls with my head down and doing my best to just shrink away and not be seen, staying inside for recess, because outside was worse. All I wanted was to fit in and to be accepted, to make everyone my friend, but only a few accepted.

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No one understood I was juggling loneliness and depression while walking a tightrope with a noose around my neck, trying to dodge every cruel jibe and School soon became a game of just trying to get out alive….
For those of you who don’t know what it’s like living with depression, let me just say it’s like having this demon, this thing on your back that’s always there whispering things like,
“No one really likes you,”
“You’ll be alone and lonely forever,”
“Why are you even wasting your time talking to this girl, you know she’ll never like you,”
“You’re ugly,”
“You’re dumb,”

“You’re weak!”
“Everyone’s laughing at you,”
Sometimes it’s soft, and almost like a whisper in the back of your mind, and sometimes it shouting and screaming,
“You’ll always be weak and never accomplish anything, so why bother?”
“Hey listen, you’re a burden on everyone around you, you should just kill yourself.”
“Do you know no one will care if you die?”
“Your own mother didn’t even love you, so why would anyone else?”
“You’re just a big joke and everyone is making fun of you behind your back, you’d be better off dead.”
“You’re a loser, you’re stupid, and you’re nothing.” These are all the things that go through the head of someone with depression.

depression

But I fight it and you have to fight it too, you have to believe that things will get better. Because depression….it’s a lie and that’s all it does, it lies to you and it will try its damnedest to make you feel like it’s the truth.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this, I’m still here, fighting the good fight, for these memories and others like them stem from giving away my todays and having no tomorrows. I love fully, forgive completely, speak softly, I’m slow to anger and above all else, I’m myself. Sometimes it does get hard for me, the bills, friendships, relationships, loneliness, the loss, pain, betrayal’s disappointments and the despair. With the worse knowing that most of my friends or family will never understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and support you just the way you are, because you’re wonderful just the way you are. Most people don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I can be so demanding and difficult for my friends because sometimes I just want to crumble and fall apart before them. Wanting them to love and want to be around me, even though I am no fun, lying in bed, feeling broken and alone, not moving.

traffic_light
My flags are traffic lights, and at night it glows red, amber and green, and I’ve seen them everywhere. So I guess in that sense, the road really is my home. And I’ve got story after story of what it’s like to miss a home-cooked meal, of what it’s like to wake up and feel that absence in your life.
Some days collapse on me like the night. I can tell I haven’t slept when a light peaks through the blinds and finds me with my eyes wide open, hoping I can take all these poems and stories I printed on post-it notes, fold them into tiny boats then launch them towards the shores past your defenses, taking root in your sea of your emotions, and to colonize in the chambers of your heart.
Because the days are getting better.
It helps to talk about it. To get it out, it’s like a pressure release but inside you.
I’m still looking for that person, whose kisses make me feel like I’m home and who’s there for me even when the days get bad and who’ll give me the sun that lives in their smile. I’m a hopeful, wistful, depressed, romantic, geeky, but athletic insomniac, that’s optimistic about tomorrow, looking for whatever reason to smile, even if it means I have to walk another mile. So listen to me when I say, you’re not alone, and remember it pays to talk about it and it’s okay to cry.

“Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”
― Dan Millman

Our lights can leave scars upon the surface of the sun So let no one say we'll be undone by time's passing For the memories we are amassing will stand as testament That somehow we bend minds around the concept that we see others within ourselves. That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves So who we are has no bearing on how we appear Look directly into every mirror Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story And our story begins here.

Our lights can leave scars upon the surface of the sun. So let no one say we’ll be undone by time’s passing, for the memories we are amassing will stand as testament
That somehow we bend minds around the concept that we see others within ourselves.
That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves. So who we are has no bearing on how we appear. Look directly into every mirror. Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story
And our story begins here.

 

We are here and our stories are being written now, so don’t be discouraged when things fall apart and don’t go your way, sometimes life just takes a little while to come together. So don’t end your story prematurely because happiness seems so far off, like a distant memory that feels more like an illusion that isn’t there, or as far out of reach as we are from touching the nearest star. Trust me; I know it’s hard; I’ve been single now for about a year, having a hell of a time to find that one for me. But I’m not letting my failures get me down, because it took a year of being on my own to decide and to finally realize what it is I want and need. I spent a lifetime chasing after love, romanticizing it, putting every girl I chased up on a pedestal, believing they could never do any wrong. I would rush every relationships as if it were a race and wanted nothing more than to be the first to cross that finishing line.Just to find out that the girl had only meant to be out on a stroll and I would find myself standing alone at what I perceived to be the finishing line.

I longed so desperately for love, I would fall quickly and easily, even when I barely knew the person I was falling for, or become so blinded by my infatuations I would always fail to see all the many reasons we were wrong for each other and I would never see it until it was too late, because one, or both of us would have already grown emotionally invested with the other, which would always made breaking up all that much harder, because I would still like them as a person, while she would be head over heals in love with me, or vice versa.

So what do I want? Well, the same thing I think we all essentially want. I want that best friend, who’s also my lover, someone who makes me feel alone even when we’re together. To be perfectly content sitting in a room without talking, content with knowing that she is there. To be reading, while she’s watching tv, drawing, or writing. Someone who I catch staring at me sometimes, and hear her say,
“God, I love you.”

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Sometimes we need some time alone in order grow.

If I’ve learned anything from my past relationships its this, you can’t rush love. You can’t make it happen just because you want it too. Much like a flower, it needs time to grow and it’ll never happen with you hovering and over watering it, trying to will it grow. Because love is something that you both choose and something that just happens and it happens in its own time. So I know what it’s like, to see the finish line and wanting to break into a dead sprint until you’ve reached your destination, but life is a stroll and this how God does things, to teach us and to give us time to grow as human beings, to discover ourselves and what it is we want, need.

Take my ex-girlfriend (In case any of you may be wondering, I did tell her what I wanted to write about and asked for her permission, she’s kinda awesome for agreeing to it) for example who since we had broken up, had become a good and trusted friend. But it took a while for us to realize we made better friends then we did lovers.

I first met Abby on face-book through a mutual friend and at the time she had no clear pictures of herself online, so I was already living dangerously in that regard. But we talked and stalked each other’s facebook, for a long time before deciding that we should meet in person by going to a haunted house.

And I dug her; I dug her as soon as I laid eyes on her. To me she represented (at the time) my perfect woman, she was short, athletic, bold, feisty and a red haired goddess. (I always had a bit of an weakness when it comes to redheads and short girls, so she was two for two) Naturally I found her to be absolutely drop dead gorgeous and the fact she wasn’t a man, didn’t have a mustache, a beard, or weigh as much as my car, I was at the same time relieved. But the best thing about her was that she dug me too, in fact her first words to me were,

Our first date, how was I not suppose to fall in love with her.

Our first date, how was I not suppose to fall in love with her.

“Your pictures do you no justice; you’re much better looking in person.” And for someone who’s always been a little self-conscious of his appearance, (thanks to every girl who turned me down in High School) this made me feel like I was on top of the world. (You see ladies; it’s a huge turn on when you help us out with making the first move, because the best kind of guy will always be a little shy) Better yet, she could barely keep her eyes off me and throughout the night I saw her stealing repeated glances in my direction, which would make my smile widen every time. (Which yeah could have been bad since she was the one driving but at the same time it always feels good to feel attracted to.)

As the night progressed we found ourselves clicking and there were no awkward silences between us, with every lull in conversation leading to us simply enjoying the other’s company. She was fun, goofy, smart, coy, honest and flirtatious. (which only caused my heart to swell all the more with the feelings I already felt for her)

Some part of me could sensed that I was as different for her as she was to me. Because before then I never met anyone so bold, who said whatever she felt without holding anything back. But what I sensed about her is hard to explain, I don’t know if it’s just me being a writer, or me being intuitive, or something else entirely, but I sensed in her a kindred spirit, I knew she had been hurt numerous times before, used, lied too, objectified, betrayed and broken.

So by the end of the night, when neither one of us wanted to part ways just yet, I suggested we go to a park near my house, where we played on the swings and the jungle gm like children, laughing all the while as we rejoiced and danced beneath a sea of stars, forgetting our matching scars, and it was then, as I was helping her up from the slide, that I looked into her eyes and saw a purity, a joy and the girl who she thought she lost. There was an innocence about her then, her inner child finally being allowed to come out and play. At the same time I understood this was the first time she ever truly let go, and relished in the moment as it was.

Later I learn she had a bit of a sordid past. She had a bit of a history that she wasn’t too proud of. Many of us has made mistakes, and had done things when we were younger that we’re not so proud of later on after we’ve grown a little bit older and wiser. I know this, because she insisted on telling me everything before we started dating out of fear I would discover her past and would leave her prematurely, without letting the person she was now shine through, thus breaking her heart. But I come from a place where I believe the past is in the past, while the present is now. We all make mistakes, missteps and do or have done things we’ve later grown to regret, it’s a part of life. No one really knows what dark corners, or avenues our lives may lead us, but what’s important is we find our way out. Also, as a Christian, I believe it’s hypocritical to judge someone for their past, since after all, Jesus Christ had died for our sins and not one of us today can say we live without sin, which is why we pray and ask for forgiveness. (Besides, I don’t think couples should hold one’s past against them. There’s nothing you or they can do about it. Besides if you can’t get over a person’s past, I believe you really need to ask why you’re involved with the person that are with.) Because you’re not the same person you were two years ago, and you weren’t even the person you are now then you were two days ago. Because we’re all changing, every day we learn something new and have experiences that change us forever. (Myself I used to by a child of hate, I was brought up to hate and despise homosexuality. I was prejudice, using words such as gay and fag with negative connotations to them. But I later grew to see that people are just people, I trained myself to stop using those words of bigotry and hatred, apologizing for my previous behavior. But I was young, stupid, naive, and grew up in a house where I was told I needed to hate these groups of people. But I changed and grew to accept and love everyone I meet. Greeting them as friends.)

Abby and me rejoicing in our love for the our favorite Holiday.

Abby and me rejoicing in our love for the our favorite Holiday.

But I digress and with Abby and regardless of her many attempts to test me and push me away out of fear I would hurt inevitably hurt her, we eventually began dating “officially” And for a while our relationship was perfect, but every new relationship is typically great and smooth sailing as you’re still getting to know each other. Consumed with the idea that the other is perfect, and wanting to impress them by showing them only the best version of yourself. So if you’re having problems at the beginning of a relationship, you should probably bail out while you can.

For me it took about four months for the cracks to begin to show. When we first met, she didn’t like me spending money on her, but as time progressed, she began demanding I spend more and more of my money on her, eventually demanding I take her to a restaurants that were hundred dollars a plate, which was the point where I had to finally put my foot down and tell her I couldn’t afford that kind of lifestyle. Plus, the relationship became less about us and more about her, I was suddenly expected to take her out all the time, pay for all the dinners, entertainment, as well as buying her new clothes, movies, etc. Which again lead to more conflict as I began standing my ground and say no to all frivolous spending and explain that she was making me feel more like I was her own personal piggy bank than a boyfriend, and I was sinking more and more into debt. Which I was.

The longer I stayed in the relationship, the more I saw how different and our values were so vastly apart from each others. But still I clung to this image I had of her when we first met, this sweet, funny, clever and sexy girl, who had never been appreciated or treated like a person. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle to this other person who I never knew was there. Yet I had faith that there was this better person beneath it all. Nowadays I’m happy to report she had proved me right, but back then I had blinded myself to all the signs telling me she wasn’t the for me, I was too busy putting her up on a pedestal, giving her excuses and overlooking everything I didn’t like about her, giving myself excuses for her behavior. Even though being with her was making me more and more miserable.

One of our major issues was my faith, and she was somewhere in-between being spiritual/agnostic and atheism, she believed my faith was a joke, a crutch. And this was accompanied with her wanting us to be swingers,and to have threesomes, (Yes with another girl, her and me) But both issues were something I couldn’t get behind, which lead to more arguing, and her believing my faith had emotionally and sexually stunted me to the point where I couldn’t see how meaningful the experience could be for the both of us. . (Call me a romantic….or an idiot if you want, but I’ve always been a one woman guy and I can’t share these intimacies with more than one person, despite knowing that most guys would kill to have the opportunity, but it’s just something I can’t see myself going through with, my heart rally’s against the very thought, telling me it’s wrong.)
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But this story isn’t all about me, or how bad she was back then, (And trust me it wasn’t all her fault) this is a story about how God works. So if that makes you upset, I apologize, it was never my intention to preach at anyone. But I wanted to take a moment to point out something. Despite how wrong we were for each-other, or how unhappy she was making me, I still clung to this relationship as though it was a life line, and letting go meant only certain death. I made myself think and believe I loved her, when in truth every day it felt like I was falling more out of love with her. But it wasn’t all her fault, she had suffered from bi-polar disorder, as well as depression. And I should have stood my ground earlier and not let things get out of hand as they did. I should have sat her down and had a calm and rational conversation with her about our relationship and our needs and what we wanted. Maybe we would have worked things out, or maybe parted more amicably and wouldn’t have exploded in as many shouting matches, and would have resulted in less hurt feelings.

You see, many people jump into relationships and like many of us do begin to run, and race to that ultimate goal of marriage before we even know if that person is right for us or not. Maybe, that person is just a stepping stone, a guiding light, taking you one step closer to the person you’re suppose to be with. You see, this is what I believe, I believe it’s all a journey and it teaches us and we carry something with us out of every failed relationship, which helps to shape and mold us into better people. Sometimes we need be schooled and hurt in love, so that when it really does come for real, we can appreciate it even more, because we’ve learned from past mistakes and grew as individuals. Which is probably why I remained good friends and have managed to maintain friendships with many of my Exes. Of course, don’t try to savage a friendship right away, we all need time to heal and recover. For me this usually takes about six moths.

And if you can rekindle or even start a friendship it’s amazing, I’ve witnessed this incredible change in Abby, who was once selfish, arrogant, greedy, a gold digger and incredibly vain, (to the extent whenever I was driving she had to keep my vanity mirror down so she could keep checking herself out) And had grown addicted to her computer, phone and facebook, to the extent she couldn’t have a conversation with you without posting about it, or looking at her phone.

Abby and her boyfriend Evan, I haven't met him yet, but they look like an absolutely couple. I couldn't be happier for her.

Abby and her boyfriend Evan,
I haven’t met him yet,
but they look like an absolutely
couple. I couldn’t be happier for her.

But now, this girl who I never expected to find meaning, or God, has found just that. She’s been saved, and regularly attends church, she went from someone who only thought about herself, to this amazing girl who now goes out of her way to help someone in need. It’s like this shadow has been lifted from her eyes and a weight from her shoulders and I can tell you, she’s finally free, she’s happy and a joy to be around. She’s even met a good Christian Guy and now dreams and prays for the day where he proposes to her and they get married. (Back when I was with her, she was opposed to marriage with every fiber of her being)
And I’m extremely happy for her and proud, as well as blessed for having witness her incredible transformation, for being able to call her my friend. I never expecting to see God work in such a way. Which makes me sit back and with a smile as I think back on the day when we first met in what feels like so very long ago and having the honor of being the witness to it all.

We never could get it to work her and I, and back then, it felt like I was walking through a life sucking mine field of psychological barbwire, day after day,until there was nothing left of me but a dried up human husk of the person I used to be.

But we’ve all done it, got involved with someone we shouldn’t who was just all wrong for us and stayed too long. Even worse is when we stay in horrible, life draining, enjoyment killing relationships for the worse reasons, and even worse excuses.
being miserable in relationships we know are going nowhere. Some stay out of habit, or fear that they might have to go out of it alone for awhile. I’ve done it too, I’ve ignored, or excused all the red flags and signs telling me I should really reconsider the relationship I was in.

But either out of fear, or some perverse sense of loyalty we stay, and blindly trudge ever forward, no matter how bad or trying the relationship gets. It doesn’t matter how many times that person drags you down, leaving you feeling frayed, as you cling ever tighter these bad relationships, that only drag us further down into this sea of regret, all the while believing this other person is our life preserver.

The worse part of it is this; it’s us who cling and hold on so tightly. When all we have to do is let go. It took me awhile to let go of Abby, fighting the urge to call or text her just to see how she was doing, to hear her voice. But I knew we both needed time apart, time to grow and learn. So I know it’s hard, but I think sometimes we all need to stop making excuses and just walk away. Maybe you’re right for each other, but you’re not right for each other right now, maybe you’re just meant to be friends, or simply serve as a lesson in the school of life. I always tell my friends if they’re unhappy in their relationship they should take a step back, take a break, or break up. Life is too short to waste time being unhappy with someone who’s just wrong for you, or who just drags you down. Yeah it’s going to be hard, yeah they’ll be tears, begging for another chance and promises of change. But none of it will ever be enough unless the both of you take some time apart and grow.

I began writing this after a long conversation I had with a friend, whom I asked if she was really in love with this person, or if she was in love with the idea of them, the idea of love and the prospect of a wedding? these are questions we all have to ask ourselves at some point in our lives.

Look at Abby and myself, once upon a time we were head over heels in love, and we were that annoying lovey-dovey couple who could never take our lives off each other and couldn’t stop flirting and touching, making everyone think we’d end up married. But we kinda fell apart, I couldn’t be the guy she wanted, and she couldn’t be the girl I wanted. Because we both wanted and needed something else, something more. If we would have stayed together, we probably would have ended up killing each-other, or just making each-other miserable for the rest of our lives.

But thankfully, we’ve both changed and because of that, she’s became an awesome person, an amazing friend and I wouldn’t trade the memories, good or bad for the world. Because she taught me a lot without ever realizing it. She taught me that I should really get to know someone before getting into a relationship with them and she taught me that I should and how to stand my ground, how to say no, as well as how to have confidence.

You see, they say people change, but they never say how much, how much have you changed during the course of your life?

Sometimes we get lonely, and desperate for love, we look for it in all the wrong places. We make poor choices and relationship mistakes, because we’re trying to run, instead of taking the time to walk with that person and getting to know them, letting the love we feel flow through us naturally and grow on its own time.

Sometimes we get lonely, and desperate for love, we look for it in all the wrong places. We make poor choices and relationship mistakes, because we’re trying to run, instead of taking the time to walk with that person and getting to know them, letting the love we feel flow through us naturally and grow on its own time.

How do you put into words?

Putting it into words          
“There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, and silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her
-Donald Miller Blue like Jazz

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

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

I’d like to begin with a confession, which is. I still think about her sometimes, I try not to, I mean, everyone tells me I shouldn’t, but some days I can’t really help myself. She seeps into my brain like a fog, spreading out, covering my brain like morning dew. She was after all a huge part of my life for such a long time. It’s hard to forget and harder still not to think about her and the memories we shared. There were moments when I felt we were finally growing close and understanding each other. She was my mother, and it’s been over six years since I’ve last seen or spoke to her, five years of wondering if she ever thinks of me and wondering if the few kindnesses she showed me were ever real, or just a simple charade. I wonder if she ever loved me, or hated me from the very beginning. I wonder if she started out hating me and would have periods where she genuinely cared and loved me, but for some reason chose to continually shove those feelings aside. Leaving me wondering the more important question which is why and just how much of it was a lie and what moments were real, genuine.

My father, the greatest man I have ever known. Showing me endless support and love. Even though We don't always see eye to eye, words can't express how much I love and admire this man.

My father, the greatest man I have ever known. Showing me endless support and love. Even though We don’t always see eye to eye, words can’t express how much I love and admire this man.

I was introduced to God at a fairly young age and fell in love with the notion, of this being who a father of us all, who watched us from up above. I listened to all the stories, prayed all the time and would often speak to God as I would a friend. Of course many adults had always assumed I was speaking to an imaginary friend and any atheist would say that they weren’t wrong. But in many ways I believed and at times I believed I was raised in a broken home, with a mother who rarely ever made me feel love was because I was being tested. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for my mother’s love, or when I stopped praying for her love, but for an end of my misery. It wasn’t just my mom, but having to go school and face the bullies, then suffering the scrutiny of bad teachers. (A few of my teachers would actually participate and laugh as my bullies mocked, ridiculed and shoved me around) But I never really told anyone until I started writing this blog, because I always felt like it would make me more of a victim, it would make me less of a person and I somehow would just bring about more ridicule.

 

 

Despite our differences now, my older brother Dominic really helped pull me edge of the abyss I found myself teetering on the precipice of. But that was before our bond was broken my lies and deceit. But I still love him all the same.

Despite our differences now, my older brother Dominic
really helped pull me edge of the abyss I found myself
teetering on the precipice of. But that was before our
bond was broken my lies and deceit. But I still love him all the same.

I was born imperfect, I had warts, bad eyes, bucked teeth, a speech impediment and I was born painfully shy. I wasn’t particularly talented like my brother who could draw and created amazing works of art, nor did I have his charm and charisma. I often tried to be funny, tried to be artistic, brilliant and athletic. But none of it really stuck, I was simply me and I had a short attention span and a wild imagination, along with very deep introspective nature. So if anyone had a reason not to believe or to hate God it was me. I lived with an abusive mother, was bullied in school, had only a small handful of friends, but I still felt alone, like I had no place to turn, nowhere to go. My mother had fed into my social anxiety and depression by telling me things like just because my father enjoyed doing things with me, it didn’t mean he loved me. She told me it was all just for show, an act so I would choose to live with him once I became of age. Telling me everyone was always talking about me behind my back, laughing at me, etc.

So it’s not surprising that I eventually lost my faith. I couldn’t fathom why God, or any God would put so much on one person at such an early age. My whole life felt like a never ending uphill battle, with no end in sight and I felt like every time I made it over one hurdle, I instantly got beaten over the head with it, until I got over two more. I eventually grew tired of it all, tired of being a nice guy, tired of loving a God who showed me so precious little, tired of my prayers going unanswered, of being afraid of going to school and living in terror of going home.

 

My grandmother, was simply the best and greatest person I have ever known, as well as being the strongest.  She was in all honesty was the closest thing I ever really had to a real mother. A day doesn't go by that I don't miss her.

My grandmother, was simply the best and greatest person I have ever known, as well as being the strongest. She was in all honesty was the closest thing I ever really had to a real mother. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss her.

Then I had questions, questions every child of faith has; I wondered if God made everything, who or what made him? It took me a couple of years but I think I finally have it figured out.
You see, I’ve come full circle and I’ve become a born again Christian and I have proof that God is alive, well for me at least and here it is.

There are on average 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year. 900,000 to one million of those pregnancies end in miscarriages. 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage. So my proof is this, I’m still here. Both my mother and father confirmed that my mother had on numerous occasions tried having a miscarriage. Doing everything from binge smoking, to throwing herself down a flight of steps on her stomach, to punching and beating her gut and doing everything she could to terminate me while I was unborn and still in the womb. On top of that, I was an ‘accident’ both my parents had given up on having another child, a year later she became pregnant with me. Later, when I was just a few months old, my mother took my older brother and abandoned me, leaving me sleeping at the top of a flight of stairs as she locked up the house and left me there. During this time my mother and father’s marriage was on the rocks and he had been staying at my grandmothers, but God had spoken to him, demanding that he return home. That’s where my father found me, still asleep at the top of the stairs. Even if you don’t believe in God, it’s a small miracle within itself that my father showed up at the house at all. Because if he hadn’t, I highly doubt I would be there today, since it took about a week for my mother to call my father and ask him if he had me.

I was saved by her And despite our Differences she was one of the best friends I ever had.

I was saved by her And despite our
Differences she was one of the
best friends I ever had.

I survived all this, including my own suicide attempt. I lost my faith in everything and struggled with my faith time and again, sometimes I simply gave up and surrendered my faith, and there were times when I felt forgotten by him and raged a war, I sinned, cut myself, challenged others in their faith, alljust to get his notice, because even if I made him angry, or hate me he wouldn’t be able to ignore me, believing at least then he’d have no other choice but to take notice of me. All the while I was just drowning in a sea of sorrow, loneliness and despair.

I was eventually saved however. But for a long time I overlooked the positives in my life, and only focused on the negatives, the truth is, sorrow, despair, loneliness, and suicide are words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss, through their currents run through all of us in varying ebbs and flows throughout the course of life. Just as hope, passion, happiness and love all run together as well. I believe it doesn’t make us weaker to admit these lulls. As someone once said “Acceptance is the first step towards happiness.” Don’t fight the flow, but at the same time don’t let it drag you down either because it’ll hold you there if you let it.

So when you leap off that metaphorical bridge, when you’ve hit bottom and feel like you’ve reached the darkest depths of your inner ocean, just remember to keep kicking for the light at the surface. Or better yet don’t jump at all, just learn to swim.

Then there's my dear friend Hannah with her rich heart, sweet nature who shares my affinity for the outdoors.

Then there’s my dear friend Hannah
with her rich heart, sweet nature
who shares my affinity for the
outdoors.

Because we all have problems and we all get knocked down sometimes, it happens. But here’s my opinion, we’re all given these hardships, these trials and tribulations, in order to build us up, to make us stronger and to have empathy for our fellows. Because 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 is important to remember that sometimes the greatest inspiration comes from the moments of deep despair. Even Martin Luther King Jr. Once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I was saved by a few kinds words, random acts of kindness and love, I found grace and solace in a moment, I was even saved from my own selfish suicidal attempts, which by all rights should have killed me. But I was given another chance at life; I was given a chance at this random, chaotic thing called life. This is how God works, it may not always be how you wanted and you may never really understand it, just like how I’ll probably never understand my mother, but I’m okay with that. So you should be okay with you.

Matt, my best-friend since High-School, who suspected something was wrong in my home life and always welcomed me to be a part of his family, treating me like a brother. A true friend.

Matt, my best-friend since High-School, who suspected something was wrong in my home life and always welcomed me to be a part of his family, treating me like a brother. A true friend.

And when people feel the need to challenge my faith, I tell them to look at life. There’s nothing more spectacular than it. Imagine all the circumstances that had to occur that resulted in your birth, thus creating the perfect storm that is you. But not only was it you that was born into this life. Think about it, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Now multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive, meeting, siring this precise son, that exact daughter and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold. Then there’s this planet, placed exactly here in this place, allowing the perfect climate to sustain intelligent life and if people can’t see how this is a miracle within itself, created by an expert craftsman, how can you not believe in something greater than yourself? Why doubt the existence of God? Other than believing that the earth wasn’t made, believing that perhaps nothing is made. Like A clock without a craftsman.

My faith will never be a struggle of intellect. I don’t really waiver in my beliefs as I had once had. I don’t care if your Bill Nye, I long since figured out there are some people who don’t believe in God and will always go through great lengths to prove He doesn’t exist, and there are some, like myself who do believe in God and can prove He exists, the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care. I know what I know, my experiences are purely my own and no one can take those things away from me. That being said, yes I am a Christian and I do believe many of fellows have forsaken themselves lost the meaning in all their preaching.

And there's this guy, my cousin and good friend, who pulled me back from the brink more than I can say.

And there’s this guy, my cousin and good friend, who pulled me back from the brink more than I can say.

I for one stand for equality and don’t believe anyone has the right to infringe on someone else’s pursuit of happiness. Being against same sex marriage to me, is like going to a restaurant and getting upset because someone else is ordering something different than yours. It’s long been my opinion that if something offends you pay it no mind, don’t waste time or energy getting upset about it. No one’s asking you to come to their wedding, or telling you that you need to marry someone of the same sex

Secondly I don’t homosexuality is a choice and I still love those who are among my friends and family who are gay, in fact it’s hard for me to even put labels on who they are, because all I see is friends, and family. I don’t really care about their sexual orientation, or how their beliefs differ from my own. I simply see good people. But still I admire their strength, because I know a little of the hardships and the prejudices they have to face and come to terms with when they come out.

Then there's Hodge. When we first met we couldn't stand each other. But in time we became good friends, and he became one of my biggest supporters, going as far as going out of his way to pull my bacon out of the fire once or twice. Good dude.

Then there’s Hodge. When we first met we couldn’t stand each other. But in time we became good friends, and he became one of my biggest supporters, going as far as going out of his way to pull my bacon out of the fire once or twice. Good dude.

Leviticus 19:18 you shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 19:34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

Love is the key, and believing in something, believing in God, having conviction is to falling falling is love, as to making a decision. Love is both something that just happens and something you decide upon.

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Last but certainly not least, my other best friend from HS. Steven was the first real friend I met when I started going to school in Grant County, taking me under his wing, looked out for me, introduced me to his friends and one my biggest fans. Always telling me, “Don’t dream it, be it!” He and Matt helped teach me how to have confidence and to believe in myself. This guy has million dollar heart

Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.” ― Nora Roberts

So come with me and take my hand and hold it tight, lets allow the stars to be our guides tonight,  taking us through all the things we’ve lost along the way before tonight. Where we’ll walk with me through starlit libraries and catch fireflies in big glass jars and dance like fools beneath the pale moonlight, in a meadow full of wild flowers where no two blooms are ever alike, let go of your worries, your discontent, instead remember what it was like to really laugh, to smile until it hurts, just let go and just enjoy the now. Let’s reignite that fires and the passions we lost we were kids and truer to ourselves. Back when we chased each other in the night, playing hide and seek with our friends in the dark.

So let’s denounce all the lies we’ve told ourselves and let’s rejoice and share secrets in the dark, let’s tell stories that will create a spark and let our imaginations run rampant and wild without constraints.

 Let’s take a moment to slow down, unplug and unwind, turn off the T.V. Put away the phone and lock it away in your nightstand and get up from the computer and go outside. Sit around a campfire with family or friends and share your stories and all the laughter and tears that live there as you connect. Let’s forgive past wrongs, let the past die and just forgive and let live.
Take a long bike ride, and let the wind whip against your skin and through your hair as you pedal and race faster than you ever before dared, feeling your pulse quicken with exhilaration as you live, really live, remember what it was like being a kid and not be so weighed down by all the burdens and past sins.Let’s forgive ourselves and start life anew. Ask yourself what eight year old you would think of you, the twelve year old you and you at sixteen, would advice would that younger you tell you? Let’s speak honestly, with strength, conviction, love and understanding. Let’s change everything and change ourselves and just disconnect from all the computer screens and cellphones and let’s talk to people like all the adults did when we were kids, when everyone in the neighborhood were their friends.
Remember how our bicycle’s warm golden eye would  protect us from the world of responsibilities and hostilities. Remember that feeling of the cool crisp wind blowing through your hair as you rode like the wind, believing your childhood would never end, feeling free, with limitless possibilities and dreams whirling around inside your head, before you were told to grow up and act your age? Let’s write stories of princesses living in white marble castles and of the heroes who come and save them from the old and mundane before we all go insane, and let’s remember the magic we once had and held oh so dear and always believed in with all our heart and souls before we’ve been showed and told all of the magician’s tricks, forever robbing us of that sense of wonder and disbelief we held so dear.
Remember the magic we were born into, even me despite all the struggles I had growing up in a broken home, with an abusive mother and the bullies that waited for me every day at school, who never let me escape their sight. Despite how many times I was knocked down, or how often I felt like I was just losing the fight, I always kept getting back up and I always kept my hope alive. I let my light burn and never hid it from sight. I still lived in fear that one day I would wake up and find that my friends were no longer there, a thought that was almost too much for me to bear. But even with all this and having only a small handful of friends that got me through high school, I can still tell you that I grew up in a magic time and was raised in a magic towns, amongst sorcerers, wizards, wicked witches and genies eager to grant my every wish. I saw this world that no one else could see and I thought it was funny how no one but me could see it or how we were all connected, ensnared and captured into in the silver filaments of this magic web. Weaved by the dueling spiders of chance and circumstance, knowing that everything and everyone mattered, it was my biggest secret, one that I’ve always known, one that I kept all to myself until now.
 I was seven when the world revealed itself to me, I saw magic in all things, I was five when I was sitting in my living room, with the tacky golden couches when I first tried touching magic for the very first time, attempting to make a quarter vanish and disappear from my tiny closed hand. I was certain if I concentrated hard enough, focused enough, I would open my hand to discover I had somehow manged to make it vanish I saw many magicians do. It didn’t matter how many times I would open my fist to find the quarter still there, because I could feel it, I knew the magic was around me and in the air and I could see all new beginnings, the present and the future and this story’s ending. I saw myself in ways I can never describe and I saw the simple truth in all things. You probably did once too; but you just don’t remember, or maybe you do, but you just forgotten.
See, this is my opinion; we all start out knowing magic, believing a blanket tied around our shoulders can make us fly and by night our blankets would protect us from the monsters that lurked in our closest,  under our beds and in the dark. We had this world inside of us, where a stranger could become one of our best friends, we believed and had faith in people and we all lived and understood  what it meant when the floor was lava and kiss could heal any hurt and we lived with no fear and we looked at people and just saw people, we didn’t discriminate, or hate someone because they were different than us, we accepted them, as they were and we eager to talk and get to know them. But we get the magic, the love and the wonder educated right out of our souls, we get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get told what to believe and even how to pray and when I was a kid, I would talk to God all the time and I would speak to him as I would a friend, like I would speak to you now. But we get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age, to grow up and to take off our magic capes and to stop stomping through the yard like we’re dinosaurs on parade and to put all our childish things away.

 And do you know why we’re told all this? Because the people doing the telling are afraid of our wildness and our youth, and because the magic we grow up knowing makes them feel scared, ashamed and a little sad of what they’d allowed to wither and die within themselves. Because after you get so far from it, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it, moments of knowing and remembering. Whenever you watch children at play and marvel at their imagination, when you’re outside and hear their laughter and remember when you used to laugh so hard while sitting in class and the more you tried to quiet yourself the harder you would laugh and even though you got in trouble you wouldn’t want it to have happened in any other way.

You feel it when you‘re watching a movie and find tears welling up in your eyes and it’s because in that darken theater, when the lights are down, that your disbelief is suspended for a few minutes or hours, you find yourself immersed once again in that golden pool of magic that dwells and swirls around in your heart, when you feel like anything is possible and when you touch it, you become filled with that same sense of wonder and mystery that you’ve always known, then you’re young again, with your imagination filling up and you find you still have hope an you still believe. When we were kids, we dreamed of changing the world, or saving it from all the wrong we’ve seen. Like the times you’ve witnessed someone being singled out, harassed, or discriminated against and you wanted to do something, but instead you hesitate too long, you over analyze, it’s like when you leave a darken theater after watching a good movie and your imagination runs wild and you’re still carrying those feelings it stirred up within your soul, until the lights come on and you step out into the hard sun and you fall back into a world of logic and reason all over again. Which further dries up that pool of magic within our souls. So when you see or witness adversity you shove your hands in your pockets and walk away, wondering what you could have done, believing it would work itself out in the end, telling yourself all the things you wished you would have said or done, as you walk further and further away to never see them again.

Which always leaves you wanting and a little heart sad, for you can never fully understand why this is. It happens all the time, when a song stirs the distant memory of young love and the future you thought was so certain, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a distant train passing in the night and you wonder where it might be going and what it would be like to ride its rails at least one time. It happens when you hear a piano playing softly and you become lost in the endless depths remembering what was lost and forgotten. It’s that time when you step up and beyond who you are and away from where you had been, it’s then that for the briefest of moments that you find yourself back in that magic realm, feeling like you did back when you were ten.

I know it’s hard and there are days when you feel like you’re miles away, spending a whole December hoping things will go your way and I stand here today, wearing my heart on my sleeve, telling you all the things that I believe and 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. Things happen to us all the time, with hurdles we think we’ll never get over, or get by and for me it was my mother, High school, and then came the real trials of stepping out into real world, getting my first job, losing what was once my home, saying good my to good friends, wondering if I’ll ever see some of them again. But no matter where they went, to Afghanistan to fight in a war, or to warm beaches to relax under the sun, or suffering behind a desk in a day job that they hate, a part of me will always be with them, just as I will always carry a part of them with me. Some went on to become heroes while others just became lost.

But things change all the time, while some never do. And the truth is, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, even when you fall in love honestly, for the world can still be a very mean, dark and nasty place and no matter how strong or tough you think you are, it will beat you to your knees just like it had me, the first time I fell in love and lost on the battlefield of love. Then when I found love again and once more I found I was one of two choices, but then I chose another path and simply walked away without word or argument. Believing if was meant for me, she would find me again, or chase after me.

My head was left bloody but unbowed. Yet I still loved her, didn’t want to see her hurt, didn’t want to cause her any pain or drama, I simply walked away.

I was broken and on my knees, knowing life would keep me there if I let it and that was a guarantee. So no matter what happens, take it from me, you can’t ever quit and you have to fight like hell to keep that light within you alive even when the whole world feels like it’s against you, you must always strive to press on to something more and never quit, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how sore. Learn to love what you got and not the things that you’re not. You can choose life and look up, or continue being a victim or whatever else it is you want to be. Or you can press on to something more, because if you call it quits and simply give up on live, you’ll never knowing how close you came to getting past those hurdles, to finding solace in a moment, when peace finds you while you’re walking barefoot through the grass with a pretty girl

And me…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 in the soul of my readers. To remind them that 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 would turn out, or how it was meant to be. Remember that no matter where you are in the story, that the best ones have the hardest beginnings, and the happiest of endings. , because no one will ever hit you as hard as life can and will, but it isn’t about how hard you get hit, or how many times life keeps knocking you down, it’s about how many times you keep getting back up, keep moving forward; how much you take and keep placing one foot in front of the other, knowing the battles you’ll fight will be hard and that no one ever said it’ll be easy, but no matter what happens, or how many times you keep getting knocked down, never stop getting back up. And don’t forget that person you set out to be. Don’t get lost in stark and the mundane, instead look up and keep moving forward unto the dawn. Until you discover that the reward is a life well lived and realize it’s been made all the sweeter because you experienced the sour. So when your journey finally winds down and you look back, you’ll remember the lessons you’ve learned and finally see how far you come.  Discover that by weathering the storm, you have become a little stronger, wiser and just better for having just lived through it. You’re a survivor, a fighter and you’re everything you wanted to be and more.

So yes you may lose your heart’s desire along the way, which can be most tragic, but you can also find it and there is no greater joy than rediscovering who you are and you’ll be surprised where you go and just how far you’re capable of going. Yes, accidents will happen along the course, you may lose your way, which can be frightening if you let it, or you can embark on an all new journey of discovery until you find your way back home, and home is wherever there is someone who thinks and cares about you.So no matter where life takes you, always stay true and always be you, because this world is filled with its crazy mazes, obscene obstacles, and flashing lights all meant to confuse you, to test us, distract us and derail us from the very thing we set out to do.

 

Life and the adults of this world always seem to be in such hurry to grow up, to be professional, and successful, they forget to take time for themselves, to stop and smell the roses, to indulge their lost inner child. So they do their best to take our innocence and the essence of magic away from us, to make us just like every one of them, a person who never looks up, but always down, and always with that sad frown. Of course you never know it, until one day you realize you’ve lost something and you’re not sure what it is. It’s like being in a grocery store and smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” for the first time. It just happens.

These memories of who I was and where I’ve been are important to me, just as yours should be to you. They make up a large part of who you’re going to be once your journey winds down. I don’t want to be the person my parents wanted me to be. I want to write, inspire and be free. I love my father but he’s not the kind of person I want to be, because I just want to me. So I know I’ll need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic and get people to pick up a book and read again. So I need to know and remember who I was, where I’ve been and I want to tell you its okay to be a little afraid sometimes, it’s okay to explore the unknown, to think and live with wonder. Question the world around you, question everything, and remember today’s yesterdays, crack open a book and read under a tree on a lazy afternoon and howl and dance under the moon.

It’s okay to laugh and to be inspired, to live and marvel at this incredible thing called life, to see what we’ve been given. So the next time you hear a piano playing softly, close your eyes and think of me and consider my words and remember the magic you felt during your first kiss, remember the exhilaration of jumping in puddles and laughing in the rain. Remember how it felt playing in the fall leaves and take the time to walk barefoot through your yard and feel the soft grass between your toes and gaze up at the clouds and tell me what you see, for world is filled with magic and it’s all around us, all the time, it’s with you and me, within all of us.

                                       “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl

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. Sometimes we complain and feel that our burdens are too much, but the weight isn’t what matters, what matters is that we carry it. Because 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 that hovers and settles for but a moment, leaving us forever and in-explicitly 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.

You see we’re born with this light burning brightly within us all and sometimes the light flickers and goes out and we have to rage against the dying of the light, doing all we can to keep it aglow, fanning the soft, warm embers to make the those internal fires grow. So I’m writing to those who haven’t yet lost that irreplaceable spark, whose life may have, or is being made miserable because they think no one wants, loves or believes in them. They don’t know that those people always doing the telling are wrong, because they lost their way and forgotten about the light which burns so brightly against the night showing them the way and that makes them jealous of the light we still have casting away the shadows of despair, regret, and bitterness that would otherwise ruin our perfectly good and happy little lives. And I want to help those people find what makes them special and if you can’t see that, then you’re also wrong, just like my mother. So why don’t you go ahead and write this down and let me show you what one person in a million can really do, let me prove that they’re wrong and your dreams are worth fighting for, you’re worth fighting for and you’re good enough, even when you believe you’ll never be. Because you already are, you’re already good enough; you’re perfect because you’re you and you’re here now.

I spent a lifetime trying to be someone else’s idea of perfect, bending myself to the will of others, molding myself like soft clay found in a riverbank, with no one but me to thank. I use to try so hard to be what someone else wanted me to be, even though it was slowly killing me, with everyone always looking at m and believing they knew me, seeing whatever they wanted to see. I was the geek who never had the courage to talk to you, the loser who never could get a break, the wannabe trying so hard just to be notice and be one of you, the jerk who kept pushing you away out of fear you’ll get too close, the coward who pretended I didn’t like you because “the cool” kids didn’t and I didn’t want to risk being associated with the likes of you, I was the creep who wanted so desperately for you to notice me, but whenever I would speak the words would come out all wrong, twisted and forever lost upon my tongue. but always hoping it’ll be enough to get you see through my charade and see through to the real me, wanting, needing you to just give me a chance or just push me in the right direction. Because I was the nerd who was always lost in a book and I was never one of the herds, because I never wanted to think about going home, I was the one who everyone always left alone. I was the introvert, wishing I could just convert and not be so afraid to show you that part of me that only a few ever got to see, I wanted to be an extrovert. But I wasn’t, I was the dweeb all the bullies would seek, perceiving me as being nothing more than weak, when in reality I was just unique.

I was all these things and more, never telling anyone how I would smile and joke, while inside I was always mess, fighting a private war in the confines of my own adolescent mind, struggling just to get by. Spending countless days sitting in class, quietly debating suicide or wishing I could just turn from all of this and run away. With all my words never being enough and feeling so frustrated all I wanted to do was scream and cuss.

But that was before, before I found my way, before I rediscovered my faith and found God, or he found me and without ever realizing it, he had become guide. He led me to a girl who eyes were like the sunrise, who saved my wretched life and helped me rediscover my lost faith. She affected me more profoundly and in more ways than my words could ever say. But since that day we met in the library, I know I’ve been left forever changed and I’ll always carry a part of her in my heart, my shooting star, my best friend, when went away and had went so very far away.

So I know what you’re thinking, you think you already know me, you think I’ll stand up here today and just tell you my name, then I’ll share with you my story, a story you probably won’t believe, because you believe you know the truth and you believe that there is none, because to you it’s been forgotten and you may even believe that the truth is even a lie. But you’d be wrong, because the truth is real and the truth is still absolute, even when it’s cold and cruel and more painful than any lie.

So take it from me, no matter where life takes you, too big cities, to small towns, you’ll inevitably come across small minds. There will be people who think that they’re better than you. People who think that material things, physical beauty and popularity automatically make them better, and a more worthwhile human being. But they’re wrong and I’d like to tell you that none of these things really matter unless you have the strength of character, integrity and a sense of pride about yourself. To fight the hardest battles, to make the greater sacrifice, like walking away from your truest love, knowing she’ll never see you the same as you do her, no matter how badly you wished you could. It means being her friend to the very end and ignoring how much it hurts, because she makes you a better human being, challenging your imagination and intellect.

So if you are ever so lucky to have any one of these things, don’t ever give them up, don’t ever change and don’t ever sell out. Because beauty fades and popularity never lasts and not even gold can stay, it’s like the changing of the seasons, leaves will always change and fall away all the time. Life ebbs and flows, changing all the time, inexplicitly, in the most amazing and unexpected ways, ways you never thought, imagined or believed possible.


So when you meet a person for the first time, please don’t judge them by their station in life, or the situation they’re in, give them a chance to show you who they really are, because who knows… that person just might end up saving your life, and becoming your very best friend…But that’s my story and what is now a part of me. For my friends come from different walks of life, each and every one of us were as different from each other as night is from day, I grew up the outcast with no real friends, but I met a jock, a goth, a genius, a band geek, a choir boy and a real rock-N-roller. We were all from different social circles and clicks, who found ourselves converging on this random path called life, becoming the closest of friends, becoming brothers and closer than family. Of course we didn’t always get along, most of us started out, hating, despising, or disliking each other for one reason or another, but somehow we found a commonality and it ensnared us so completely and enigmatically, pulling us together despite the fascist tides of discrimination and hatred a friendship like ours can sometimes breed. We came together on a random day in the middle of spring and discovered we had more in common than we had first believed. The result made us all a little stronger and wiser in ways we never thought possible. I still remember the day when I felt it, a unique sense of magic blossoming that day on the bus as he spoke excitedly about meeting up and hanging out later that day at Steven’s after school, when true friendship blossomed from the most unlikely of people who formed an even more unlikely bond, one that survived long distance and the ever changing tides of time.

 Life is filled with change and people change all the time, but they never say how much. So I could stand up here today and tell you my name is Joshua A. Cooper, I can tell you I’m a dreamer, an avid reader and a speaker who struggles to say the words that he means and this is me, finally coming clean and telling you that I love, even as I wonder what it means, I have days where I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams and days that are more incredible than anything I could possibly hope for or dream. So you may or may not believe the words I have to say, because you don’t know me, but still life goes on and on, filled with endless possibilities, with its various risks, pleasures and consequences, making us question our time here and what we do with the time we are given and how precious little of it we have left. It’s how we let our circumstances shape and mold us into who we are, making me who I am, making me the person the Lord has always meant for me to be, which is just me and it’s incredibly freeing to simply be yourself and not what everyone else wants you to be.

 

“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”
― Nora Roberts

Chapter 17-Part 2.

~Maybe things don’t happen for a reason. Maybe we’re just grasping for ways to make sense of the chaos around us. Maybe we’re giving meaning to things that have no meaning. Maybe we’re clinging to hope so hard that we forget about reality. What if we’re wrong and nothing is meant to be? We’re just lost souls wandering endlessly, desperately, seeking comfort from the notion that things will work out in the end no matter what. What if we’ve tricked ourselves into believing that everything will be okay in the end just so we don’t have to face the reality that maybe it won’t?”-Unknown

Man goes through the morning mist

I was filled with such rage and anger as I exited my mother’s car, pulling my bag of clothes up higher on my shoulder, I was so angry I couldn’t even see straight and as I made it to the door, I realized that I was crying. Tears had blurred my vision as I fumbled for the door, I was falling apart. Everything compounded into itself in that moment, I realized it all been a lie. The family, the love, the change I had been hoping for…had been all for naught. All the fights and battles I had with my father who disapproved of me trying to have a relationship with my mother and everything I had said and done to put the past behind me had all become undone and with it I was unraveling at the seams.

I don’t remember even walking into my house and I found myself just sitting at the kitchen table in tears with my grandmother doing her best to console me. I was broken, my heart feeling as though it were dashed against the rocks, my very soul ached. In one fell swoop, I had lost so much. My mother, my younger brothers and the older brother who had become my best friend, I even lost my computer with a lifetime’s worth of work saved away on the memory banks. My whole life seemed to be wrapped up in the day and torn apart in the most unexpected of ways. I was wounded.

I told her and my father everything and then I tried my one last life line, I contacted Dominic in hopes he could help me, be the voice of reason and to at the very least try to get my computer returned to me. At the time he acted like he had no idea of what was going on, insisting that I try to at least try and talk to Chris one last time. But he wasn’t taking my calls.

A card I got from my neighbor after she heard about what happened.

A card I got from my neighbor after she heard about what happened.

Later my brother’s then girlfriend called me, upset just as much, if not more than me. She told me, that my brother knew of what was happening before I even did, because Chris had called him and not once did Dominic defend me. Leaving me feel even more hurt and betrayed. Then she told me as he was screaming in the background and banging on the door for her not to tell me, but she does. She tells me his plan was to play dumb if I contacted him. Then she told me something else that I should be aware of, while I could hear my brother banging more fiercely on the door where she was, telling her to shut-up and how I, (his brother) Had no business hearing about other family matters. But she presses on, assuring me that at least believes in me and saw how I was being picked on and bullied and pushed further into a corner. Because she had met me on numerous occasions and got a sense of who I was. Plus she had seen and heard me helping him out on numerous occasions. She knew of the times I loaned him money so he could pay his bills, she knew that I often gave him gas money which he never asked for whenever we hang out and she saw the window Air-conditioning unit I had given him when I found out his apartment didn’t have air.

Then she told me that a month or two prior Chris had went behind my mother’s back and secretly asked her sister to borrow five hundred bucks, which she declined and then told my mother. The secrecy of his actions and how he refused to tell her why he needed the money nearly resulted in their divorce. But they had somehow managed to patch things up. This was why she was leaving my brother and why she was calling me now, because she believed this to be the reason why this was happening to me now and how disappointed she was in my brother for turning his back on me now.

I found this card when I was going through a old shoe-box. She was in tears when she heard about what happened.

I found this card when I was going through a old shoe-box. She was in tears when she heard about what happened.

By Christmas day I fighting a losing a battle and more than once I had made calls to my brother, my mother and step-father. My last conversation with my mother was her telling me how careful Chris was with his money and how he had cashed his check and was going to put into the bank when he discovered he was missing the money. So naturally I called her out, telling her how that didn’t make any sense, because if I were to cash my check at a bank, I would deposit whatever money I needed to while I was there. I wouldn’t wait two or three days just because. But my mother ignored my words, instead she resorted back to her old ways, telling me about the things I had done wrong or lied about back when I was a kid. Then I told her she was leaving with little choice, but to file a police report against them. The last thing my mother told me before I hung up, was,

“Do whatever you have to do,” and I hung up on her and it was the last I had ever spoken to her.

That night, I got a message from my brother, telling me that Chris was talking about destroying my computer; he then told me I needed to call and talk to him. But Chris was screening my calls and when my younger brother picked up the phone and gave it to Chris; he hung up without ever hearing a word I had to say. So that night my father took me to the state-trooper’s office.

Where I met Sergeant Scott Davenport, when I first met Mr. Davenport and I started telling him my story, he cut me off and told me this was something I would have to take up with my mother. So with a heavy sigh, I shook my head, feeling defeated and believing Chris had been truthful about the whole domestic dispute thing and feeling frustrated, I told the sergeant that I had been trying, but they weren’t taking my calls. I even demonstrated this by attempting to call him then and there, handing him the phone so he could hear them picking up the phone and hanging it up.
It was then the Sergeant asked me to tell my story again and this time he listened intently, and when I told him my step-father was Chris Hankins recognition let his eyes, as he said,

On numerous occasions I babysat her kids, dog-sat for her and even house sat.

On numerous occasions I babysat her kids, dog-sat for her and even house sat on more than one occasion.

“Chris, yeah I know,” and his hopes immediately dashed my hopes as I thought,

(Oh of course you do)

But the Sergeant motioned me to continue and when I got to the part where I offered to get Chris 300 hundred dollars from my own checking account, he stopped me, and asked me to repeat what I had just said, so I did.

“Wait a minute,” He asks, “You accused you of stealing 300 hundred dollars, and you offered to get him that same amount and he refused?”

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“Hmm, well that changes everything now,” He exclaimed, shaking his head, “So why do you think he declined your offer?”

“Well because my computer is worth a lot more than three hundred bucks,” I told him.

The Sergeant who I think had to have seen and experience all manner of things, seemed genuinely taken aback by the revelation, telling me that I was a better man than him and he wouldn’t have offered him shit. He then tells me to sit tight and he was going to get a hold of Chris. But before he could go I stopped him and pulled my receipt for my computer out of my pocket and said,

“Hey, you may need this, in case he tries to claims it his.”

Mr. Davenport smiles and giving me a nod of approval he says,

“Wow, you keep good records and you’re right, this will help,” and with that he turns to return to his desk when I hear him making a few calls in order to get a hold of my step-father. It takes about ten minutes, and when he does I hear the following.
“Hello Chris, I have your step-son here and he says you stole something of his,”

A brief pause when I hear him say,

“Chris is an HP laptop?”

“Well then, I’m pretty sure it isn’t yours…..because your son has the receipt and I’m holding it right here and I’m looking right at it.”

“No, I don’t care what you THINK he did and you know the law, even if you had saw him did, took photos or even caught it on video, you can’t take someone’s else’s property and you know it’s illegal to do so.

(This apparently made Chris very angry, because then the officer’s next response was, )

“Well if you smash it, or damage it in any way, you’re liable for whatever happens and you’ll have to pay for whatever you break on that laptop and if that means you have buy him a brand new computer of equal cost you will and I’ll make sure of it.”

There was another brief pause, until I heard the Sergeant say,

“No, you’re half right, you will return it, but you’ll bring it here and I’ll give it to him, I don’t you want you to go anywhere near this kid,“ Then sarcastically he adds, “Oh and thank you for being so mature about this.”

Mr. Davenport returns to me shaking his head,

“Wow, your step-dad is a piece of work, but he will be dropping your computer off in the morning, but on the off chance he doesn’t call me,” He says handing me his card, “And I will personally go down and get your computer back.”

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

He then asked if I’d be willing to file an official report when I return to retrieve my property, which I agree to. I was tired of the all the childish games and wanted Chris to answer for at least a little of what he’s done.

The next day, I return with my father to state-troopers office and I discover that Chris is yet again refusing to return my property. Which infuriates and baffles me beyond belief, he had already been caught in a few lies, admitted to have stolen my computer, but was still acting like a child by refusing to do what he had been told to do. So I’m all too happy to oblige when the officers ask to take me for my statement. At this point I’m beginning to feel like a broken record as I go over my story again. They ask me the same questions as the Sergeant and they seem just as taken aback as he was and they seem just as annoyed with my step-fathers prepubescent childlike behavior as I was. So they go over his head, to the chief of Williams Town police to force Chris to return my computer or risk his job.
About fifteen minutes later Chris finally relents and comes in to speak to the officers, as well as to return my laptop, finally!

The officers are quick to escort me out and around the building afraid of what would happen if Chris saw me, or I him. My father is still in the waiting room as one of the officers leads me back to my dad’s car. He tells me they’re going to take his statement and that he’ll return with my computer.

Almost as soon as he disappears, I see my dad returning to the car with my computer in hand and relief washes over me. But I see he’s also angry and he opens the car door to hand me my laptop back, and tells me to make sure everything is there, heading back into the station.

The cop who had taken my statement returns then and climbs into the car with me, he tells me both Chris and Sergeant Davenport from the night before had confirmed everything I said, but Chris had no excuse as to why he refused my three hundred dollars when I had offered to him. The cop then asks me to turn on my computer and he sits with me as it boots up and as I check everything. Fortunately no damage had been done and everything was still in full working order. Then paranoid, I search through all the bags and compartments of my computer, making sure all my items were there and to be sure he hadn’t planted anything in my belongings, fortunately he hadn’t.

The officer then tells me that Chris wants me to take a lie detector test and I don’t think twice before answering, I agree because I had nothing to hide. Plus I figured it’d be more ammunition for the investigators to use against my step-father. The officer looks conflicted and tries telling me that I don’t have to, that if I decline it wouldn’t be by any means an admission of guilt. He tries to talking me out of my decision, but I stand firm. Because I’m angry and because I’m tired of always being made out to be the bad guy. I wanted to pull my mother’s and step-father’s truth out into the light and let everyone see the kind of people they really were.

Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken

Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken

Yet, my desire for to be vindicated and to have some sense of validation, would lead to more pain and discourse. I know now in hindsight that I had acted impulsively and without thinking.  I had even called my brother to update him on what happened, telling him I had agreed to the lie-detector, but all he could do was blame me for causing so much pain and turmoil in the family. It broke my heart hearing how he already made up his mind about me and he had forgotten everything he had known or had learned about me. He had me judged since the beginning, from before any of this even started. It’s true what they say, a lie will travel twice around the world, while the truth, is still putting on its shoes.

I found it odd how everyone could see the truth, everyone but my mother, my brother and the family who used to tell me how much they loved me growing up, their words I discovered had been hollow.

It took them weeks to finally get them around to giving me the polygraph, time that only caused all my negative thoughts and feeling to fester. Nightmares haunted me on most nights, while on others I dreamt of revenge, of making them regret everything they had done to me and put me through. I wanted my mother’s and step-father’s lives to fall apart, for my brothers to see the truth.

I suppose they had hoped the time between everything would cause me to calm down, but it did everything but. I was angry all the time, hurt, depressed and consumed by all these negative thoughts and feelings.

But when it rains it pours, the night before my polygraph was the beginning of the end for my grandmother who lived with my father and myself. She had fallen on her way to bed in the middle of the night and couldn’t get up. Fortunately my cousin Derek was there to hear her, who after failing to help her up, came and woke me. Together both he and I tried helping her back to her feet, but my grandmother God rest her spirit was obese and neither of us could get her up and I was afraid to pull too hard up on her in fear that I would tear her skin, because she was also a bit frail.

My proof that despite your struggles, you will find your smile again and with friends.

My proof that despite your struggles, you will find your smile again and with friends.

Out of options, I had to wake my father and then the three tried to get her up. Even with the three of us working together all we could do was get up, but just barely and but the strength had left my grandmother’s legs so even after we stood her up, she couldn’t stand or walk under her own.

Out of options, with my grandmother crying, we had no other choice but lay her back down, but on her back, instead of on her knees. Then much to my grandmother’s disapproval we had to call an ambulance, which only made her cry even more. She hated feeling so helpless.

Yet, I found myself overwhelmed by the outpouring of love our neighbors showed us, showed to me when they saw the ambulance loading my grandmother up into the back of their truck.

People I barely even knew were coming up to me, asking me if she was okay, hugging me and crying in my arms, while the paramedics took my grandmother to the hospital for observation,  leaving me wondering if she’ll be okay, or if she’ll ever be able to walk again.

Later that morning, I had to go in for my polygraph and on a whim; I asked the officer taking me what he thought my chances were of getting an apology if or when I pass. He shook his head and told me I shouldn’t hold my breath, then told me that no matter the outcome I should simply stay away, because a family shouldn’t ever do or put a son through everything they were putting me through. His words gave me something to consider….Realizing that he was right, all of this was wrong and never should have happened.

Now for those of who you never had a polygraph before, it’s not quite like what you see on TV. You get lead into a small room; they have a specialized chair for the polygraph against the wall, a pad on the floor to make sure you don’t move your feet in attempt to fool the polygraph. (Apparently shifting your feet while you’re hooked up to one of these can be an admission for guilt, so I was already getting nervous, by feeling like I’d have to be perfectly still or this thing would think I was lying.)

But before you’re hooked up into this chair, you’re briefly interviewed; my technician was an older gentleman, with an air of arrogance about him. When he asked if I had any questions or concerns about a polygraph, I told him my fear, which I think everyone has, which is telling the truth and have it think you’re lying. However the Technician was quick to explain all the technical stuff as if to assure me. When I along with everyone else knows that these machines aren’t admissible in court for a reason, we’ve heard it all our lives, or at least I had.  But according this gentleman the reason was just a technicality.

That's me in the Assassins Garb. Sometimes you just have to step outside yourself, lose yourself, have fun, even if think you'll a little foolish.

That’s me in the Assassins Garb. Sometimes you just have to step outside and focus more on the present and say to hell with anyone who may think you look a little foolish, happiness is found in the moment and memories last forever.

(It wasn’t until much later that I decided to do some homework, discovering the reason why polygraphs weren’t admissible in court. Which is they can give false positives and false negatives, especially when an even in question is emotionally stressful.

Then comes the interview.

Technician: “Have you ever taken a polygraph before?”

Me: “No.”
Tech: “Have you ever been arrested?”
Me: “Nope”

Tech “You ever gotten a ticket for speeding, parking or anything?”

Me: “Believe it or not, no, I tend to stay of trouble.”

Tech: “Well what about school, have you ever been in trouble at school, detention, or anything?”

Me: “Nope, I always kept my head down in school as well.
Tech: So, how honest of a person are you? One being you’re a compulsive liar, you can’t help but lie, with ten being you never told a lie.

Me: Well, I’m not perfect or anything, but I’m a pretty bad liar so I kind of got in the habit of telling the truth, so I’d say about a seven, or an eight?

Tech: “Oh? So I guess you’re just Mr. Perfect huh?” he says throwing his arms up in the air, “I guess you don’t even need to be here because you’re honest Abe, you never told a lie in your life. You’re just Mr. Honestly now aren’t you?”

Immediately I realize I’m in trouble, and that this guy was a royal douche. I realize I should have got up and left then, but I figured I had come this far, and it would make no sense for me to back out now. Plus I had promised my brother I would do this and I was determent to see this through to the bitter end.

So I immediately jump on the defensive explaining and reiterating what I had said and that I had occasionally lied to spare someone’s feelings, or to get out of work so I could hang out with my best friend who was on leave from the Marine Core, etc. (Just imagine that scene from Goonies when Chunk is confessing everything he did wrong to the Fratellis when they were threatening to put his hand in a blender. Because for a minute there I was channeling Chunk, confessing to every white lie I ever told and the reason I had.”the_fratellis-300x185

After the tech manages to shut me up, he asks me to sit in the chair and begins strapping in and I immediately begin freaking out. I know because he tells me as he looks at his instruments. He takes a few minutes telling me to relax and seems irritated by how long it takes for me to calm my frayed nerves.

Once calmed, he asks me a few practice questions and instructs me to intentionally lie at least once to calibrate his instruments. After a few more moments, he asks if I’m ready. I’m not, but I say yes anyway just to get this over with.

He proceeds asking me yes or no questions about that night and I find myself reliving it in my mind all over again, it’s like watching a bad movie on repeat. I feel my blood beginning to boil as he walks me through the night asking me yes or no questions about the day in question. My heart is pounding in my chest like a jackhammer. The tech asks me about the money and all I hear are Chris’s threats, his finger poking me in the chest, the force of him shoving me, throwing me against the wall. My voice is trembling as I answer.

The tech tells me to calm down, but I can’t and again he asks about the money and my thoughts race. I’m recalling every instance when I was a kid and had to take money from his wallet for lunch at school, or when I was younger how I would take a few pennies, (because I collected pennies) Then my thoughts were all over the place, I was psyching myself out, worse I couldn’t stop. My thoughts were everywhere, as my mind replayed the events over and over in my mind, making me feel sick and angry all at once.

Then it’s over and he’s unhooking me and he tells me he’s going to return with my results.

When he returns, he’s acting all cocky as he tells me I’ve failed the test and how he believes I was guilty. He tries making me confess, but I refuse insisting on my innocence, but he laughs and shakes his head, telling me how his machine says otherwise.

To help keep things light, here's me and my best friend & fellow writer on the catwalk.

To help keep things light, here’s me and my best friend & fellow writer on the catwalk.

My heart sinks, I don’t know what to think and I feel numb and that’s where I’ll end this story. I’ll leave it up to you to decide and choose what you believe or don’t. I will tell you that years later my brother and I briefly spoke and after he got done with his accusations and I informed him that I was innocent he asked me to take another test and prove it. Which to be honest I had thought about, but then I realized it was too late. I told him it would change or fix anything, even if I passed, you or them would insist I take it again, and again, because if the first one was wrong, so could be the second, or the third. Even if they accepted the results of a second or third test, it wouldn’t fix anything. It’s been six years, six years since I had any contact with any of them. (except for my brief heated exchanges with Dominic, or the one time little Christian contacted me to tell me how much he missed me and how much he wanted me to call to make peace with the family. But I couldn’t, not after all that’s happened. Not after I lost a family. I would forever be marked as the black sheep; I would never have their trust just as they will never have mine.

My mother and her family would only see the worst in me, judging me for everything I done wrong since the very day I was born. Truth is, I’ll never know if she really changed, if she had anything to do with what happened or not. Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever know, but I do sometimes wonder if I’ll ever hear from her again, if the truth about that day will ever come out and if I would hear about it if does.

I know my mother wasn’t perfect, and the situation sucked. But walking away was still one of the hardest choices I ever had to make. I lost my family days before Christmas and to this day the pain of losing everyone like that still hurts. That being said, I know my older brother was adamantly against me sharing this story, my story with the world. Nothing against him, he can be protective and loyal to a fault. But this needed to be shared and I needed to talk about it, to get the truth as I know it out. But it was C. Joybell, who said,
               “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
Even when it was over, I was still miserable, drowning in a sea of depression, hearing everyone tell me,

“Hey, bad things happen,” or, “Hey, you’ll get over it.”

And Man, have I grown to hate that phrase, “You’ll get over it,” is a cliché that only causes trouble.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

When you’re hurt, suffering from that pain of losing someone, or something that meant so much to you, there’s never any getting over it. Losing someone you love is to alter your life forever and you never get over it, because “it” is the person or persons you loved. Yeah, the hurt eventually stops, but it’s a long and hard road that cannot be rushed, or quickly forgotten. It takes time to heal, time to decide when to pick up the pieces and try to putting those pieces of your life back together. To regain some semblance of self, it takes time and patience.

I know you and others may have suffered worse loss, or pain, but that was your battle, for me, my battle and my loss had hit the hardest, because it was happening to me. When you become as broken as I was back then, it takes a long time stop feeling miserable, betrayed and depressed, time to stop thinking about killing yourself, and to finally stop being so angry all the time. And Eventually, I decided to stop being the victim and overcome my past and this horrible thing that happened just before Christmas.

At the park with another friend I've met along the way

At the park with another friend I’ve met along the way

But since then I’ve learned you have to let go. You have to release the hurt. Otherwise it will own you forever and you’ll never escape. You need to have the strength to fight back and take your life back. Dare, dare to take that first big step. Dare to take chances and to have hope, to dream, to be brave enough to live your life and remember the human heart can be disheartened by the most unreasonable self-judgments, because even when we take on giants, we too often confuse failure with fault, which I know all too well. The only way back from such a bleak despondency is to shape humiliation into humility, to strive always to triumph over the darkness while never forgetting that the honor and the beauty are more in the striving than in the winning. So when triumph comes at last, our efforts alone could not have won the day without that grace which surpasses all understanding and which will, if we allow it, imbue our lives with meaning. I’ve experience true darkness and the pain of suffering in despair, which lead me down a path beyond my own moral ambiguity, where hatred and anger threatened to consume everything that I was. It took a long time for me to put the anger and my pain to rest. But the scars will always be there, reminding me of what was and what might have been, thinking back about my family I know it wasn’t always so bad, things happen, people change, some lie to themselves or accept half-truths because they fear what they will otherwise see, or find hidden there in their reflection. Becoming afraid of the avenues the truth would lead them and what it would mean when the truth is finally uncovered.

The rest of my new family

The rest of my new family

Matt and his lovely wife, who have become my family.

Matt and his lovely wife, who have become my family.

But yes new people had since come into my life, friends and other loved ones who refused to let me just drift away, which for a while, was something I tried to do. I couldn’t bring myself to grow close with anyone, out of fear of the hurt they may bring. Because the gap never closes, how could it? The particularness of having someone who matters enough to grieve over is not erased by anyone, or anything but death. I can tell you that this hole in my heart is in the shape of the family whom I lost but will never forget. Those I’ve opened my heart too and forgave time and again. Just so they could dig a little deeper, making the betrayal hurt all the more. To be honest, these holes, no one else will ever fill. Not Matt, his loving and adoring wife and not their three unbelievable and magnificent children who’ve grown to call me Uncle Josh. Who have their own place in my heart and as much as I love them, they will never fill the holes left by the family that once was. Why would I want them, or anyone else too? Because there is never getting over it, not really, of course, the wounds can and may eventually close and scab over becoming the very scars that make up who were are, reminding us of our journey on this crazy path called life.

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

My scars will always be there. Sometimes I lay awake at night, thinking about those I’ve lost, the ones who went away, who I’ll never see again, the ones I still love and wonder how they’re doing. I feel robbed of the chance to see my younger brothers grow up into men, and of being there for my older brother when he met the woman of his dreams. I’ve lost half my family in less than a day and for the longest time I did whatever it took to distract me from the pain of losing them.

But now, I try and live as much for tomorrow as I can and on some nights I still pray that someday my name will be cleared and I’ll receive that call and hear that heartfelt apology that follows. Imagining how we’ll talk, cry and catch up on all the things we missed in each other’s lives. I pray for the truth to finally come out. But all I really know for certain is what I’ve shared with you here. Which is all the truth I know and as well as I know it. But that was then, that was me looking to the past and now I’m tired of looking back, so from here on now and every day, I look back and think “look how far I’ve come.”And that’s what keeps me going.
-J Cooper.alone in the woods

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XVI

Chapter 16.  You don’t expect these things to happen. No one asks to be alone. Some get used to it, some pretend to be used to it, and others are a walking work of destruction. They never saw it coming, and neither did I, but I won’t tell you that…

FudPuckers

FudPuckers

To his credit my older brother, Dominic never gave up on trying to heal the rift between me, my mother and her family. Frequently talking to both sides, or talking me down whenever I had enough of being used, or spoken down to, causing me to throw my hands up and walk away. Usually this would come whenever I realized that speaking to my mother somehow always made me depressed and making any victory I had feel like defeat. When I got my first promotion at the library and my pay jumped from 6:50-8:50 an hour, which included benefits, paid time off etc. But she expressed only disappointment, telling me I shouldn’t be proud of the meager wage I was pulling down and that should aim higher, by finding a place where I could work 80 hours a week and make 17 dollars an hour, as oppose to being paid my 8.50 and hour, for thirty hours a week.May not sound like much, but the library was the only place I could find who would hire me and I had went everywhere, everyday looking for a job, putting in resume’s and filling out applications. I was immensely proud of myself and the recognition I had received for being a hard and diligent worker.

Dominic my older brother

Dominic my older brother

Worse was when she would try to dash my dreams. Telling me how my writing was a joke and that no one ever gets rich by writing. Instead she insisted I find other and find more worthwhile pursuits. Often insisting I follow in my Dominic’s footsteps and be more like him. But despite all we had in common, Dominic and I had different interest and viewpoints of the world, so despite my mother’s insistence I couldn’t bring myself to be anyone else, but myself and I always preferred forging my own path and not following someone else’s, I wanted my failure or success in this life to be my own and no one else, my victories would be my own, as well as the loses.

So all in all my brother had his work cut out for him, but he never gave up on the idea that we could all still be family, so I know it wasn’t easy and as much as I found myself clashing with my mother, or her sister, I also did my best to make things work, which my father strongly disapproved of, he didn’t see why I would risk and give so much of myself to someone who had showed me so much pain. He never did understand why I wanted to reconnect with my mother and this part of my family, despite all the numerous times that I’ve told him that hate was just baggage and if you don’t let it go, it’ll only weigh you down. Plus I saw my father and the all the anger he carried around with him over the past and often he seemed to still live there in the past, bringing up how my mother ruined his life, or how horrible of a person she was, without ever just letting it go, the pain, the hurt and all the anger. And I refused to live my life with such bitterness over the past, I saw a chance to heal the wrongs, believing that everyone has the potential to change and they change all the time.

I wanted to believe in my mother’s change, I wanted to believe she was different and was trying, and that things were getting better. But the clouds of time seems to rain on all the innocence left behind and the past, the past never goes away.

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

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

  Despite all my reservations and the snags we had along the road I did my best to wear a brave face, swallowing more than I should have. But my brother had warmed me to the idea of healing our family and the fantasy of finally coming together a family and as one should. So I did my best to ignore all the little things that bothered me, instead I chose to be ever the optimist, because what I wanted was a family.

It wasn’t until late July of 2007 when the cracks began to show. It started with my mother talking me into taking a family vacation with them, because they were planning to head down to Destin Florida. At the time money was a bit tight and I was hesitant to go and was leaning towards saving up and paying off some debt so I could look into the possibility of getting my own car. I don’t know how she did it, but she eventually talked me into joining them.

In hindsight, probably should have backed out when she added the stipulation that I needed to pay my share of the overall cost, rounding up to about a hundred and fifty bucks. But when I raised the issue that money was a little tight as it were, she gilded me into couching up the money anyway, which left me wondering how much money I would have for the actual trip itself.

To add to my reservations, my mom’s sister decided to tag along at the last minute and I for couldn’t stand being around her as it was. She was always on my case more than my mother was, complaining to me about my style, my hair, job and no matter what I said or did, she always ready to tell me how I never did enough for the family. But nothing I ever did was ever good enough for her and saw only the worse in everything I did. It didn’t matter to her how many times I dropped everything to babysit my little brothers, or how many times I helped clean her pool, nothing I did wasn’t ever enough. So the addition of her coming along on our trip didn’t exactly thrill me.

From left to right. Christian, Caleb, My mother, Chris, and my Aunt.

From left to right. Christian, Caleb, My mother, Chris, and my Aunt.

If not for the quality time I got to spend with Dominic and my little brothers, the trip would have been one of the worse experiences of my life. Not only did I get spoken down to for the majority of the trip, I also got treated like a servant. Which I know I could have put my foot down and flat out refused, but my mother and my aunt wouldn’t let anything go. They’d scream and scream, tell me how ungrateful I was and put me on the biggest guilt trip of the likes I never seen. Things came to a head by the end of the trip, when my Aunt asked to see a souvenir cup I had picked up for my father, calling it stupid before letting it fall and shatter on the pavement. Then to my shock both her and my mother laughed at it and harder at me when I finally got angry and told her she’d had to pay me back. But she refused, telling me I shouldn’t have wasted my money on something so fragile and cheap. Then at my Brother’s insistence I begrudgingly dropped it and let the matter go.

About a week after we came back, I started getting calls and text, telling me how I owed them another hundred and fifty bucks, even though I personally handed my step-father the money before we even left for Florida and when I told him to ask Dominic about it, because he was there, Chris, my step-father finally let it go, telling me then that it may have been Dominic who hadn’t yet paid him and for a time after swearing to never go on another family vacation, things started to finally settle back down. My mother even apologized for the trip, telling me she never meant to invite her sister, but felt bad for her when she asked, because her marriage was becoming rocky. Then she attributed  her bad attitude to me on her sister’s influence, apologizing that as well and even tried to convince me that my Aunt and brother rarely ever got along either. I wanted to believe her, so I did, little did I know the storm was already brewing on the horizon and I had no idea of the chaos it would bring with it.

~”Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”   ~Haruki Murakami

By November of that year, things finally started looking up for me, I finally got the promotion at the Library, which I finally got on my third attempt and even still it came quite unexpectedly, being that it was down to me and a girl who had been there three years longer than me, who even I thought deserved it more, from experience alone and the fact she was and still is more knowledgeable than me. (But when another position in the department opened up, I went to bat for her and now her and I work together in the same position.)

The library where I work

The library where I work

So with Christmas being right around the corner, I thought what better way to celebrate, than to give everyone in my family a good Christmas. To say I merely got into the Christmas spirit would be an understatement. In my joy, I dragged out all of my father’s and grandmother’s Christmas decorations, (something we hadn’t done in two years) I wanted to surprise them since they were both away at some Christmas Play. I still remember how it was freezing rain as I decorated the outside of our house and once finished, I came inside to put up our Christmas tree. I even managed to talk my dad’s family into having Christmas at our house. Then, I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas buying nice gifts for a change. Because I always hated having only been able to buy small, and cheaply priced presents for my family. But this year was different, this year I got a raise and more hours, so I made sure to buy everyone in my family nice presents, I would leave no one out.

For my mother had gotten really into Pandora beads, I went out hunting at four different stores, picking out the perfect Pandora bead, choosing six, one to represent each of us four boys and two that resembled her two standard poodles. For my step-father who loved all things John Deere, I found a limited edition John Deere pocket watch; my little brothers got a collection of Star-wars toys and books. And because my older brother wanted a tiki mask I got him that. I got presents for everyone on both sides of my family, which did put me a little in the hole, but I didn’t care. I figured I’d be able to pay off my debt soon enough and besides it’d be worth it, worth to finally be able to step-up and give my whole family a good Christmas, leaving no one out, for I had learned that often it’s been the thought that counts.

My younger brother Christian

My younger brother Christian

Then came the hard part, dividing my time so that I could spend an equal amount of time with both families, so neither would feel like I was choosing one over the other and since I had a lot of time off saved up, I was able to take two weeks off work.  The plan was to spend the first week of my vacation at my mom’s and with her family, allowing me to spend some quality time with her and my little brothers, then I planned to return home in the evening of Christmas Eve, since both sides of my family celebrated Christmas on same day.

Since I still didn’t have a car, I still had to rely on my mother to give me a ride, since I couldn’t exactly take my grandmother’s car for a week, (I often had to work around her schedule in such things) So my mother agreed to come get me that day after work and as she pulled into the driveway I was beaming. I couldn’t help but feel like Santa Clause with huge bag of gifts I had for everyone, feeling like I finally was able to contribute to the festivities of Christmas gift giving. With me I brought my bag of clothes, along with my laptop and a few books, being that I was a night-owl and needed something to do besides watch TV after everyone else had went to sleep. And I had hated trying to use my mother’s computer since it was always bogged down with malware, from my older brother constantly using it to download music from LimeWire, thus making the computer incredibly difficult to use.

Plus with my laptop I could always get a little writing done and had managed to transfer everything I had ever written onto it, so it was a great resource for me to use and go through whenever I was kicking around ideas for something to write about, or for the times when I wanted to revisit and old story of mine. Also, I enjoyed being able to stay connected with my friends via messenger.

Strangely though, instead of a sense of excitement, I felt a strange sense of apprehension as I neared my mother’s car. I didn’t know it, but I couldn’t help but feel as though something was wrong, off in a way I couldn’t quite describe. However, I was still excited to see everyone and to watch the look on their faces for when they unwrapped what I had gotten them. So I pushed the feeling of apprehension aside, loaded up my mom’s car and hopped in.

My Youngest brother Caleb.

My Youngest brother Caleb.

My mother in the past use to take this time when we were driving together to catch up and to talk about me, the family and what’s been going on. Occasionally she would try to talk me into moving back home and even though our relationship had improved from what it once was, I couldn’t bring myself to it. But today however was different, for we she spoke very little and after repeatedly failing to initiate a flowing conversation with her, she eventually got on her phone to speak with my step-father. So I rode the rest of the way in silence, just staring out the window, never knowing I would never come this again and I did I wouldn’t be the same person I was. I was happy, full of hope and excitement over all the presents I had brought with me.

Pulling into the garage, dread crept steadily into my heart and this place that I once called home, felt strangely alien to me, like I didn’t belong. But then my little brother’s and my mother’s dogs, came pouring into the garage, all excited to see me, so again I squelched the feeling of foreboding as I exited the cars to meet my younger brothers and to pet my mother’s dogs.  Even as I got my things, my mother didn’t seem to want much to do with me as she immediately went upstairs, while I stayed downstairs to be with my little brother’s the dogs, playing with all of them.

In the days that followed, I kept trying to spend time and converse with my mother and step-father, but found myself practically stone-walled on every attempt, with them acting like they didn’t really want, or like having me around, but they didn’t exactly treat me unkindly either, nor were they really welcoming either. It was more borderline if anything and my gut kept trying to tell me something was wrong and I should leave. But I couldn’t think of a suitable excuse to go home, other than I felt like I should. So I stayed.

Four days before Christmas, things got even weirder. I awoke to a call my grandmother checking up on me and asking if I was okay, expressing concern for me and that Lord had told her to call. I did my best to assure her I was okay and would be okay until Christmas, but I did express how I felt strangely homesick and my desire to leave and she offered to come and get me I declined. Still I believed it was all in my head and that it was nothing I should concern myself with.

Later that day, I was hanging out downstairs, typing away at my computer, waiting for my brothers go get home from school, when my step-father came inside from the garage talking on his phone,

“Oh yeah, it’s really nice, I think he spent 1,800 dollars on it,” I heard him say, as he walked over to me and glanced down at my computer.
“You spent about 1,800 on your computer right?” He asked.

I remember thinking it was a bit weird that he was suddenly taking an interest in the cost of my laptop and why it seemed important enough to tell the person on the phone exactly how much it was worth, but I shrugged it off, thinking maybe he was wanting to get my mother one for Christmas, so I corrected him without question, telling him that it only set me back about 1,300, he walked away before I had the chance to tell him that mine was a little cheaper since it was the floor model, but shrugged it off and went back to work as he told the person on the phone the corrected amount and how nice it was, that I took really good care of it, etc. Which had all struck me as a bit odd, but I had yet to begin piecing everything together, for I didn’t yet see the storm that was brewing on around me.

The pending storm.

The pending storm.

That night I was up late, working on an article I was asked to write by an acquaintance who was working to publish a book of short stories by unknown authors. It wasn’t until 3 am, that I finally went to bed.

By seven I was being woken up by my Chris, asking me about some money he had lost. I grumbled that I hadn’t seen it and that I was sorry and attempted to go back to sleep. Minutes later, he returned, flipping the bedroom light, forcing me to shield my eyes with the back of my arm.

“Hey, I’m missing about three hundred dollars,” he says, and half-asleep, I can think of nothing else, but tell him again that I was sorry and that I seen it, suggesting that maybe my mother had taken it.

He assured me she hadn’t and proceeded to ask for my wallet. Grumbling I roll over and pull my wallet from behind a picture on the nightstand and hand it to him, in uniform, (He’s a cop) and I see he’s on the phone and it takes me a few minutes to realize he’s talking to my mother.

Snatching my wallet out of my hands, he asks how much I have and I shrug with my brain feeling half-asleep, I tell him, that I have around thirty four bucks

He rips open my wallet and begins going through it, pulling out my cash and cards, searching every pocket and compartment, as he confirms to my mother that I have in fact only thirty four dollars in my wallet.

“What’s going on?” I ask, waking up.

“I told you, I’m missing some money, I had three hundred dollars in my wallet and now it’s gone, and you’ve been the only other one here.”

All of us together just two years prior.

All of us together just two years prior.

“Wait,” I say, in disbelief, “You don’t think I took it do you?”

He pauses, and tells my mom that I’m claiming to not have it and he tells her that she better come home. Turning off the phone he looks at me, and says,

“I don’t think, I know you took it.”

At this point, I start getting a little scared as well as infuriated, I was once again being accused of something I hadn’t done.

“I didn’t take your money and I never touched your wallet,” I tell him, “But if you want to accuse me, fine, but I’m done, I don’t deserve this kind of crap.”

“Oh you’ll be done when I say your done!” He yells, grabbing me by the front of my t-shirt and pulling me up towards his face,

“Because I saw you take it and I already found your little hiding spot, I just want you to confess!” He barks and I feel my body tense, with my heart now beating like a jackhammer within my chest.

“You’re crazy and I know you’re lying, because I never took anything!” I shot back, already playing through every scenario of what he could do to me through my head. The fact he was in uniform, a cop and had friends in high places wasn’t exactly lost on me.

“Where’s my money?” He demands pulling me up off the bed and throwing me down to the floor.

My instincts are war with my brain, with them telling me I should fight back while my sense of reason, told me not too, because that’s exactly what he wanted. So I shrink back a little as I pull up to my feet and he’s already on me, throwing me up against the wall, holding me there.

“I want you to give me my money!” He commands, jabbing me in the chest with his finger.

“I can’t give you what I never had,” I tell him, my voice shaking with emotion.

He then shoves me back up against the wall and proceeds to frisking me and all I’m wearing is my boxers and a t-shirt. It was here, the storm had finally come…

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XV-Home

And two chapters remain.

Chapter 15 ~For years I have ached to go back home, when there was nobody there to whom I could return.

 CIMG0250

Shortly after I introduced Rebekah to my mom’s family, I ended up cutting ties once more with my mother and began distancing myself from her and the rest of the family. In truth I just couldn’t take all the lies anymore and I was done with feeling like a belittled second class member of the family. I was done with the whole thing. I tried my best to make things work, but no matter how hard I would try, nothing ever worked, I would always leave feeling worse about myself than I did before I visited. Also sadly for reasons beyond my control, Rebekah and I ended up going our separate ways. I admit now that it had been stupid of me to break up with her, but there was drama that entered our lives from a most trusted friend who through jealously managed to create a rift between her and myself. For me the wound festered in paranoia, fear and crippling doubt, which forced me to break things off before the drama got any worse than it already had. All because a friend, a cousin who I loved as a brother, who’s betrayal had come unexpected, cutting me deeper than he’ll ever know. Torn, I ended my relationship with Rebekah and needless to say the New Year wasn’t that great for me.

My older brother and his dog Dozer

My older brother and his dog Dozer

Roughly, a year later I was beginning to feel alright again about my life and where it was heading. Slowly I began rebuilding my relationship with my cousin which wasn’t easy, knowing I’d never fully be able to trust him again, but we had been close since we were six and it was from this sentiment I decided not to let our relationship fall to the wayside, to be lost and scattered on the winds of time.  He made a mistake and I couldn’t exactly fault him for it, he had liked Rebekah for the same reasons that caused me fallen head over heels in love with her. Then as fate would have it, I ran into my older brother while working at the Kenton County Library in Newport. To my surprise we struck up a good rapport with each other, better than any we had ever had in the past. We ended up exchanging numbers for I had lost his and he mine and after a couple of days he and I began hanging out. It felt good to reconnect to his brother I barely knew. Growing up I barely even knew him, for he rarely ever wanted anything to do with me, other than tormenting or teasing me in some way. Then when he did finally want to get to know me, I didn’t really want to get close to him, because I knew a little of his involvement with drugs, drinking and his run ins with the police. All the things I didn’t care much for, or want any part of, also, I didn’t trust his friends and knew the kind of crowd he liked to runaround with. But during this time, he started going back to church and he left most of his old friends behind for the purpose of carving out a new life for himself. To my surprise I discovered he and I had a lot in common and shared similar interest in movies, the outdoors, martial arts and philosophical views. We were also both born again Christians, starting down a new path and it felt good to find myself going down the same path with my brother. In a few months I had the kind of relationship with my older brother that I used to always dream about having when I was a kid. We were as brothers should be. I trusted him without question, confided in him as you would your closest friend. After years of never knowing my brother, I had found him, just as he had with me. It only took us two decades to finally get there and to form that brotherly bond that all siblings should have.

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

In time, I grew to almost forget how he used to tease and make fun of me, making the past that once was feel not so much like a distant memory, but as something that had happened to someone else.  But after a time, he began asking me about my relationship with our mother and pushing for me to talk to her, to take the first steps in forgiveness and to forget about whatever differences we had in the past. Something I couldn’t bring myself to do, time and again I kept trying to explain to him without telling him exactly why I couldn’t do as he asked, I couldn’t go back down the road,because I knew all that would be waiting for me would be more pain and disappointment. I spent months, and a year building back up that wall around my heart and guarding myself from her. I was terrified of the prospect of letting my mother back into my heart just so that she could wreck it all over again. But no matter what I said, or how hard I tried to ignore and change the subject, he wouldn’t stop, insisting that I just talk to her and bury the hatchet, to make amends and forget the past to start anew. The more he talked, the more I found myself wanting to tell him everything and how weary it became keeping the truth locked up within the confines of my heart. But I feared the truth and what it would do to him. Maybe I was a little selfish in doing so, fearing that if I told him, it would cause the relationship we had been building to unravel completely,

My brother and me on the beach

My brother and me on the beach

because I doubted he would believe anything negative I had to say about his mother. I was also afraid of what would happen if he did believe me and what that it would cost him. Our mother was always good to him, bordering on spoiling him even, she had always been there for him, looked out for him and supported him when no one else did. How could I take that away from him and I did it wouldn’t make me any better than her. If my brother listened to me and took my side it would take away yet another pillar of support that he had and he didn’t have many since his real father had been a deadbeat. But no matter what I said, or how hard I tried to ignore and change the subject, he wouldn’t stop, insisting that I just talk to her and bury the hatchet, to make amends and forget the past to start anew. The more he talked, the more I found myself wanting to tell him everything and how weary it became keeping the truth locked up within the confines of my heart. But I feared the truth and what it would do to him. Maybe I was a little selfish in doing so, fearing that if I told him, it would cause the relationship we had been building to unravel completely, because I doubted he would believe anything negative I had to say about his mother. I was also afraid of what would happen if he did believe me and what that it would cost him. Our mother was always good to him, bordering on spoiling him even, she had always been there for him, looked out for him and supported him when no one else did. How could I take that away from him and I did it wouldn’t make me any better than her. If my brother listened to me and took my side it would take away yet another pillar of support that he had and he didn’t have many since his real father had been a deadbeat.

100_0193

Of course it didn’t help matters much that I also kinda figured that my my mother had already told and convinced my brother of her side of things and anything that I would say would be but lies in his eyes. Because I long since saw the power of a lie and how quickly it can travel around the world, while the truth is still at home putting on its shoes. People in my experience always seem to believe the first story they hear and it doesn’t that the lie can often be easier to digest than the truth, because the truth can often be far more painful to accept because of what it means. Many are all too eager to accept and believe in the lie, than see the logic behind the truth. So I feared I would lose my brother forever, or wound him beyond measure if my truth ended up costing him his relationship with his mother and it was in this I was willing to just leave things be. His relationship with our mother was his and his alone, it wasn’t mine. Plus I didn’t want to put him in that kind of situation that would put him between her and me, I respected and accepted the circumstances that his mother wasn’t mine, the woman I knew as our mother was completely different from the one he knew. That being said, no one deserves being put in a situation where they have to choose between family and I would never envy anyone in that position. Like myself, my brother can be infinitely stubborn and for whatever reason he wouldn’t give up on trying to get me to work with him on reestablishing this relationship with our mother, whenever we were out and there was any lull in the conversation, he’d start telling me how I had only one mother and how the bible says we should honor our mother and father. Once, I even came close to telling him the truth, by asking,

“But what if your mother or father doesn’t exactly honor or respect you?”

“She’s your mother and she gave you life,” He argued,

“Listen…I never told you this, but do you know what she told me when I was sixteen?” I asked, turning in my seat to look at him, not wanting to tell him that story, but at the same time felt so tired feeling like I was living a lie by not telling him the true nature of my relationship with our mother.

“Look, I know you two had your issues in the past, but it’s over and done with, you can say one thing, and she’ll say another, it’s time to get over it and remember you’re both family, forget the past, live for tomorrow instead.”

“Its not so easy,” I told him, knowing from his tone and the look he gave me that he didn’t want to hear my story about when I was sixteen. So I dropped the subject and for the moment so did he.

Once during this time I even dreamt about it, I dreamed I gave my mother another chance and once again it ended in pain and discord. In my dream I was back home. My mother was screaming at me, accusing me of something and telling me how I was this huge disappointment, an accident she wished that would have died in the womb. Having heard enough, I turned and went into into the room that used to be mine, but now it was mine again, filled with relics throughout my childhood. My old nightlight, my Batman doll, my spider-man action figures, my story time clock and in this dream I pulled this old burlap sack from my closet and began collecting these relics of my childhood, stuffing them down into this burlap sack, because I planned on taking it all with me, everything. All the while, my mother and step father screaming profanities at me, pulling and tearing at my clothes, shoving me as I ignored them and continued collecting everything from my childhood, before I finally turned on her shouting,

“I’ve had it, I’m done with you and all these games, I’m leaving and never coming back, you have wish and I’m never coming back!”

I awoke as my mother screamed and shoved me down the stairs, leaving me grasping at empty air as I fell still gripping my burlap sack. I awoke in a cold sweat and call Rebekah, who despite everything that happened between us, was still a good friend.

Me goofing off behind my sleeping step-father on the last vacation I'll ever share with them.

Me goofing off behind my sleeping step-father on the last vacation I’ll ever have with them.

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

I told her about my older brother and my dream, how I was struggling to find the right thing to do and her advice was for me to stand my ground. She believe the Lord was trying to warn me what would happen if I returned home, if I let my mother back into my life she would only break me again, she advised me told me to have a sit down with Dominic and just tell him everything.

Sadly I never had the chance, (I’m also a victim of always trying to find the right moment for such things) Because before I could, Dominic had asked me to a movie and when we pulled into the parking lot of the Danbury Theater, his phone rang as he parked his jeep he tossed me the phone saying,

“They want to talk to you,” and he jumped out of his jeep before I could ask who it was, but I should have guessed.

He shut the door and began pacing around the front of his jeep as I tentatively brought the phone to my ear and whispered, “Hello?”

The voice on the other ended mirrored my tone as they greeted me; my mother spoke as if she wasn’t sure how to proceed, asking me how I was, about my work and what I have been up to.

I answer, keeping my responses as short as possible, fearing my voice would betray me and hating how I still loved her even after everything that’s happened.

Like my brother, a part of me still wanted and longed for this family. Which I didn’t know until right then as I spoke with her that day on the phone, just hearing her voice made me realized how much I missed her, missed all of them  my little brothers I missed the most.

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She asked about my grievances, and then gave me apologies and excuses/explanations as I spoke. We ended our conversation with her telling me how much she missed and loved me; reluctantly I told her how I loved her too.

I wasn’t angry about what my brother did, at the time I actually felt a little better having talked with her. So in the weeks and months that followed I gradually allowed my brother to bring me around our mother. Naturally I was suspicious and wary at first, but gradually she managed to coax me out from behind my walls and for a while everything seemed fine. The past seemed good and gone and I began believing my mother had truly changed for the better. Yeah we still had our bumps in the road, but the ride wasn’t as rocky as it once was and I was happy to finally have my family back, even though my father had strongly disapproved of me trying to reestablished this relationship with my mother and her side of the family, but this was something I myself wanted and I wanted more than anything for it work, to be real, I needed it so that I could finally heal and maybe even forget about the past. Little did I know I was setting myself up to learn why it is they say you can never go home again.

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