Tag Archive: family


Scars of Who We Are. Intermission Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me and my brother at my grandma's

Me and my brother at my grandma’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joshua A. Cooper

And finally...me asleep.

And finally me fast asleep.

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XI

Chapter 11

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

stars

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

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

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

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

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

Me at 16

Me at 16

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            I fell for it…..

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

Scars of Who We Are: Chapter X

Scars of who were are, memories chapter 10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Step-mother.

My Step-mother.

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

Me at fourteen

Me at fourteen

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

The Scars of Who We Are Chapter VIII

The Scars of Who We Are Part VIII

Dreams become shattered memories,|
The earth crumbles beneath my feet,
My heart creaks and cracks,
As my knees grow weak,
And the words assault me.

Boy Standing Along a Fence

 I used to cry alone in my room, so that no one would see or hear me, I was the kid with a story that no one would believe, praying every night for God to please send me someone who would just love me and  often wondered what love really meant, because my parents’ divorce was a nightmare and I speak from experience when I say it’s never easy on a kid. Ideally I believe parents should always try very hard to work things out before calling a marriage quits. But I understand, sometimes things just fall apart and you can if you’re not careful fall out of love. In this case if divorce is inevitable, they need to find some common ground and put the hurt feelings aside, out of respect for the children who by no fault of their own are also involved. Be civil and fair to each other, don’t worry about what you think you deserve, or what you want, because it’s the children who suffer, it is us who you end up hurting. We hear all the nasty things you say to each other and about one another, we understand more than you think and we’ll always listening, even when you think we’re not.

When it comes to any kind of separation  it’s important not  to get caught up in a whirlwind of hate, no matter how much you feel like you may be justified. Try to remember your spouse and the good times you shared, try to become something more than bitter words, arguments over who gets what and who deserves the most in the divorce. Because in the end, it’s the kids who have to cross the battlefield and it’s unfair to force, or manipulate them into choosing a side.  Both my parents tried painting the other as a horrible person, never taking into account what it does to those who are caught in the middle and feeling like a weapon one would use to try and hurt the other as much as possible.

The worse thing about my parents splitting up was how the divorce had pitted me against my father and his side of the family against my mother and hers. My mother’s side often had the tendency of treating me with borderline neglect and more often than not had looked upon me as if I was an incredibly dim witted fool, who had on more than one occasion would ask me to do something (In one particular case it was getting my grandma some ice water, and wouldn’t let me go, until I heard her explain, precisely what ice water was, what it consisted of,  how to get the ice from the freezer, etc.…I was eleven) Suffice to say, I knew how to prepare a glass of ice water. Which lead to me on more than one occasion informing my mother’s side that I wasn’t an idiot, nor was I mentally handicapped, (although forgive me, I actually said, “retarded” no offense, I was eleven)  Granted I was incredibly backwards and shy, with a bit of a speech impediment, but that didn’t mean I was stupid or least not in my opinion. (also in my defense I had buckteeth, which sometimes made things a little difficult to enunciate certain words.)

Dinning on my favorite food. French Fries!

Dinning on my favorite food. French Fries!

Then there was my dad and his side of the family, who always did their best to win my favor, always incredibly outgoing, supportive, loving and caring. (Which I took somewhat for granted, because over the years I saw that I already had their love and respect, I didn’t have to work for it. So I devoted much of my time, too much of my time, trying to win the favor of my mother and her side of the family. And now there’s a subtle divide between my father’s family and me, we don’t talk much anymore and not from lack of trying on my part. I don’t blame them though. I often chose my spend most of my time with my mother’s family, making them feel like second best, or that I didn’t love them as much, which is untrue. I only wanted my mother’s love and to become a part of something bigger, with a big family. A lot of it came from how much I seen how they spoiled my brother, always showering him with praise and gifts, something that was always in short supply whenever it came to me. I don’t know if that makes me selfish, or a bad person or what. But I longed to hear a few kind words from them, words that sadly never came)

              But I digress, the battle between my mother and father continually broke my heart, it wouldn’t stop, every week was the same thing; my mom would always be so quick to tell me how my own father didn’t love me. Insisting that he was only good to me so that I would make the choice to live with him once I came of age to choose and he only wanted me so that he would no longer have to pay child support. She often described my father as being selfish, cold and greedy. Telling me that despite how he never so much as raise his voice to me, that he was really masking his cruel and abusive nature. She often told me, he wouldn’t put up with my shyness, my struggling grades, my being a picky eater or really just me in general, swearing that he would put me up in military school the first chance he got just so that he wouldn’t have to put up with me.

She could easily turn anything kind or good thing my father did for me and paint it as some elaborate facade, which often left me wondering if I would ever learn to the truth. I can’t tell you how many times I questioned everything my dad had done for me, wondering if she was right, if he really didn’t love or care about me, questions that no kid should ever have to concern himself with.

          Then there was my dad, as great as he was, he was far from perfect. Every other weekend I would have to sit and listen to him bad mouth my mother, telling me that she was a manipulative sadist and how she didn’t really love me. (Beginning to see a pattern here?) My whole life growing up all I ever heard was how the only reason she wanted me was to collect her precious support. So here I was, stuck in the middle of this war and well intention as my father may have been, it was something no child should here. I can’t tell you how much it hurts always hearing how the other parent doesn’t love you, or care about you. Unfortunately for me, my dad’s words rang true, for as soon as I graduated High-school, my mother did exactly what he had warned me about. I was told to leave, having my belongings thrown carelessly into trash bags and sat outside as I frantically called my dad looking for a place to stay. Meanwhile my mother was robbing me blind, closing my savings account and making sure to take every penny my family had given me for graduation, leaving me with nothing but with what little cash I had in my pocket at the time. If it wasn’t for my dad, I would have been left broken, penniless and homeless. But I doubt I would have lasted too long without throwing myself off a bridge, or into traffic. But that’s a story for another day.

           Regardless of however true my father’s words may have been, it still wasn’t something I should have heard; no child should ever hear how one parent loves him/her more than the other, or isn’t loved at all by one parent.

However, I must give my dad some credit, because by the time I was fifteen I finally asked him to stop talking so negatively about my mother, explaining how I just couldn’t take it anymore and how much it was hurting me, I explained in as few words as possible that she often did the same and it was making things just that much harder on me. My father was taken aback, not realizing what his words had been doing to me for all these years and from that day rarely if ever spoke poorly about her again, at least in my presence he did  his best to curve his tongue.

Disney

Me, Pluto and my brother at Disney

A lot of my struggles also came from my brother and how much I loved and looked at him. It was heart wrenching for me to watch my brother grow to hate and despise my father, who never did stop caring or worrying about him. It didn’t help that I was all too aware how my relationship with my dad was driving my brother and I farther apart, so I grew up barely knowing anything about my brother. And I can’t tell you how many times I tried convincing him that my dad and his family still cared about him, but he wouldn’t have it. Which only added to my festering guilt, making me feel a pang of guilt whenever I did something fun or cool with  my dad and as much as I would have loved to have shared it with my brother, I knew I couldn’t, I knew just by telling him I would inadvertently hurt him, driving an even larger wedge between us. But sometimes it bothered me, seeing how my brother was so quick to forget everything our, my dad had done for and with him.

But I remember, I always remember, that’s always really been my thing, I remember, I remember everything. For some having a memory like mine would be a blessing, for me, it has which has been both a blessing and a curse. Even now as I write this, I wish I could forget some of my childhood, I wish I could forget, the pain, hardships, I wish I could forget how my mother didn’t love me and probably never had.

It’s my hope that by writing this and sharing my story it’ll touch someone, help them get help and not to be afraid. I know how it is being in an abusive situation, especially when you’re young and may think the behavior is normal because you have nothing else to compare it too. I also know the fear of what might happen, or what they may do if you tell someone, if you seek help. I know what it’s like loving someone who, for the lack of a better term is simply poison. The question you have to ask whenever you’re in an abusive relationship, with family, or a boy or girlfriend, spouse, is “Are you happy?” If the answer is no, you have to get out, you may be taken out of your home, you may go to child services, or have to strike out on your own in a terrifying, dark and scary world, which is only as scary as we make it out to be. Then once you’re free from that abuse, you’ll slowly begin finding a strength in you that you never knew was there and you’ll realize that you did the right thing, you made the right choice and no matter what you may tell yourself, or what they, or others may say, you’re stronger then you think and you, you can accomplish anything. Just don’t be afraid, never be afraid.

Life can and will knock us down and it may seem like the whole damn world is crashing down around you, but you have to hold on. Don’t lose hope, never lose hope and you will persevere. Don’t stress about your troubles in school, so what if you’re struggling to make the grade, just work a little harder, find your focus, if you’re being bullied seek help, start working out, learn self-defense and stand up! I’ve been bullied in school myself and if shy, quiet, little ole me can stand up to them so can you. Life isn’t always easy, we all struggle and we all have our demons we have to overcome and the private battles we rage will be the hardest, tougher than anyone else’s, because they’re yours. One thing I learned is life eventually balances out, God does balance the scales eventually, granted it may sometimes take awhile, but I’ve seen him work and seen those who used to make me feel miserable and now I have nothing but pity for them.

        This is why I started this series, why I pour my heart and soul into every word and paragraph of this blog. Forcing myself to relive these moments, reminding myself of my own struggles and the private battles I fought, sharing with you some of the pictures I managed to save in an old shoe-box and I’m right their with you as you read my words, sharing my journey, as I watch it all play out all over again.

To be honest however, I sometimes do hate writing this series, but when a friend told me I should blog about my life and to be honest I never meant to write down or share any of this. I was just sitting down and all of it started pouring it out and sometimes I feel like I’m just a vacuum bag, that holds all that old dirt, wondering if I’ll ever get it, if I’ll ever figure it out, if I’ll ever understand.

I never really got to know my mother and I never found her, she was buried beneath too many lies and deceitful ways for me to ever find. a day doesn’t go by when I don’t wish she could have showed me what a mother’s love, or secretly hope she’d find me and at the very least attempt to make amends, but as the years go by, I know that day will never come. But I often dreamed and fantasized about having one of those mothers you see on t.v, or in the movies, or the ones I’ve read about in books. I can’t tell you how many times I longed for, begged and pleaded to have similar relationship with the woman who gave birth to me, but instead I’m left wondering what happened and why.

If I could, I’d give just about anything to tell her that I loved her, I loved her even though she treated me like a cancer and caused me to hate myself for so long. I wish she could tell me why I was never good enough, why she hated me so much. I would like to ask her what I did so wrong besides being my father’s son.

For my birthday this year, I visited a friend and his wife, I’m always taken aback when I visit, I’m amazed simply by watching a real family interact. It reminds me a little of what I missed growing up and when I watched their kids. being around them and watching their kids play and how they interacted, I was overcome with such wonder and amazement. I saw how much they’ve changed and grew since when I saw them last and was reminded how my dad must have felt, only being allowed to see me every other weekend, or for weeks on in throughout the summer. I found myself imagining their futures and thinking about the challenges they may face as they grow older, I found myself worried, hoping only the best. I even prayed for God to always keep his hand on each and every one of them. That’s when it hit me, I understood then that I’d never understand how anyone can turn their back on their child, or want to make them hurt. Because life is amazing and just how two people and get together and create life. I thought about how small and humble our beginnings are. By then end, I was left wondering how my mother could make my life so difficult, without ever giving me so much as a kind word. I realize now that my mother never got to know me, I was her son and yet, we never even met.

                I know I had problems growing up, I know I wasn’t the perfect son, I wasn’t especially athletic, or brilliant, handsome, nor was I very funny, if anything I was more of an observer and dreamer than anything.  I was a picky eater, incredibly backwards and shy, I had buckteeth, speech problems, bad eyes, and to top it off I was also sensitive. So I know it couldn’t have been easy to raise me, or to always put up with me. But I couldn’t help it I was how God made me, and I loved me me, I still do. I’ve made some best friends you could hope for and I’ve seen the beauty of a sunrise, watched the brilliant setting of the sun and found salvation.

Me

Me

Take it from me,|
Speak slowly,
Forgive quickly,
Be slow to anger,
and love…always.