Tag Archive: God


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.

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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.

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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.

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.

59179_470766786295648_1878157165_n

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

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 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.

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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.

CIMG0020

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.

 

The Scars of Who We Are part IV

Part IV Be careful what you wish for, because you may just get your hearts, just to discover it’s not really what you wanted at all.

 

At best my life has been plagued with turmoil, impossible obstacles, forcing me to learn how to overcome incredible adversity and accept change. No matter how how hard life got for me, no matter how dark the skies became, I survived and lived another day and despite all the darkness and pain I endured, there were quite a few sunny days, day I’ll never take back for anything. Yes, although thinking back over the rough patches of my life are painful, I’m proud of the life I lived.

 

Yes, I stumbled here and there, I struggled with an uphill battle with depression which I nearly lost as it threatened to consume my very being, but I fought on and refused to ever give up. Because I’ve always believed in something being out there, looking over me, something so much bigger than me. Because I believed in God, and I’m incredibly stubborn. That said I’ve also been a survivor. My mother tried having a miscarriage before I was born, fought to get an abortion, making it a miracle I’m even here today, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not depressed, or jaded or anything well not anymore. I had my issues which I managed to work through, sometimes I had a little help from my friends, others were family.

 

Now I can say with the utmost confidence that I love my life and I’m happy. (Granted I think I’m in love with one of my best friends and would be significantly happier if she ever sees me how I see her, but I doubt she will, but I’ll still be  happy with whatever happiness she does find with me, or whoever) But I digress, I’m happy with life and where I’m at. I’ve seen and done some pretty incredible and amazing things. I believe this may be the same with you as it was with me, I didn’t realize how spectacular my life had been, until long after the fact and I looked back and finally saw the many blessings that the Lord has granted me with.

 

Which is why I’m telling you my story. Because life…it does get better and it can hit pretty hard sometimes and some blows will knock you down pretty hard and sometimes it’ll feel like you may never be able to pick yourself back up, or even be you again. But hang in there, we’re all pulling for you, even if you never met me, or you have and we spoke briefly in person. I love you and I’m here for you, always. Because sometimes we go through these struggles and believe me, they make us stronger and define us as human beings. These struggles will give you a far greater appreciation for the good things life has to offer. Even if you can’t see it, the struggles we face now, the pain, humiliation, they don’t really last. Even though it seems like it may never end, but it will, just give it time and have a little faith. Besides if you give up now, you’ll never know how close you’ll come to victory and falling in love with the life now, or discovering something truly amazing. Because things will get better, they always do, and sometimes you just have to push through and survive High-School and step out into the world for the first time on your own and don’t be afraid if you stumble, or fall and lose your way. Because we all do, I did and we all eventually find our way back home.

 

 

Now, the last we left off, my mother had abandoned me while I was a baby, leaving me for my father to discover sitting at the top of the stairs of our home. He then took me to my grandmothers where I stayed for a week before she even tried to contact him to see if he had me. Then she arranged a meeting where she stole me from my father’s loving care and ran off with me and with my dad in hot pursuit, only to eventually be forced to give up the chase.

 

My parents separated shortly thereafter and my father felt the very foundations of his whole world crumbling beneath his feet. He knew he’d end up losing me in the divorce and my mother would win soul custody, partly because she was better at lying and squeezing out a few tears. Whereas my father has always been more honest and straightforward and more often than not too much so for his own good. So the thought of losing me along with his wife who he still loved became almost too much for him to bare. So one day he’s driving to his mom’s after a hard day’s work he loses it, he begins cursing God, accusing him of being the cause of all of this pain and strife, telling the Lord, he should just kill him since Debbie, (my mother) was going to take me. He challenged God’s hand and God listened and responded.

 Picture 3

                A semi-truck ran a red light and t-boned my father’s car.

 

                              Picture 5.

 

The damage was catastrophic and resulted in my father’s death. He challenged God to kill him and so he did, even when you think God isn’t listening, he is and when you think he doesn’t care, he does.

 

 

 Picture 2.

 

I came very close to losing my father that day and I would forever miss out on the one man who’d be my saving grace growing up and who would later teach me to be a parent, who wouldn’t simply be a good father, but one of my best friends. Words cannot express how much I admire and love this man, he’s my hero and he’s also my father and I thank God every day for him. Two things saved his life this day. The first being that he wasn’t wearing his seat-belt (I know right? nothing makes a kid more terrified of wearing a seat-belt) But because he wasn’t wearing his seat-belt he was able to jump into the passenger seat which saved him from being fatally crushed to death.

 Picture 4.

                The second thing that saved my father’s life was a woman who appeared and pictured below, who got of her car and checked on him, discovering that despite his narrow escape from being crushed to death, he had died. Paramedics were still far from the scene. But there was this woman who leaned into his vehicle and laid her hands on him and she began to pray. It was then, only then that my father came back and started breathing. Once he described this feeling to me, about what it was like to die. He didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, instead all he saw was darkness, but in that darkness he felt an incredible sense of peace and love. He was ready to pass on, but was told it wasn’t his time and he needed to come back and take care of me. To have a little faith, this story isn’t so much about me, but my incredible father who saved my life, my heart and my soul, simply by being there for me and teaching me about the all-encompassing love of God.

 

My dad visiting the wreckage.

 

My father as a young man, revisting the wreckage that nearly took his his life.

My father as a young man, revisiting the wreckage that nearly took his his life.