Tag Archive: Healing


The Broken Road of Recovery.

After I wrote “I’m not okay,” I got messages and comments from many of you who are fighting the same battles. So for anyone’s who’s struggling, I want to tell you once more that you’re not alone and I’m here for you all. I try my best to reply to every private message, or comment, I’m here for you.

My hope here is that by chronically my journey with Complex-post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the healing process I’m beginning to walk down, I can keep myself from falling into any of the old pitfalls of the past. Such as my innate desire to look for a savior, it was something I was doing without ever realizing it. But what’s my therapist brought it up, I knew she was right. I remember that it started at a very young age, where I started fantasying about meeting someone, falling in love and for that love to fix that brokenness within me. I often imagined, falling in love and having someone fall in love with me, would make all the pain and suffering worth it, that once I attained happiness, everything would suddenly make sense. I often imagined what it would be like to start my own family without the pain or the burdens of the past. This is something I carried with me into every romantic relationship and I would devote myself completely to that girl. Being with that girl often made me happy and that relationship would often heal me to the point where I wouldn’t think about suicide anymore, my outlook would become happier, more positive. However, once that relationship failed for whatever reason, I would be completely devastated. Even though I always made an effort to mature about the breakup and just walk away. Because I never saw the point of being ugly, or nasty to someone you loved and cared about. Because in my mind, being petty, or mean only serves to make the other person believe they might decision. Although, I get it when people do lash out, it sucks being hurt, let down and feeling like you failed. It’s always an emotional time when you’re in love with someone and they tell you they don’t love you anymore, or maybe they never did. So I get it, I understand people sometimes say things they do, because they’re hurting, they’re scared, they’re confused. So shit happens, I don’t know why most of my relationships didn’t work, I know sometimes it was me and sometimes it wasn’t, sometimes I think we just meet the right person, but the timing is off, or the other person, or I need time to grow and mature. Sometimes the other person just gets scared, become afraid of getting hurt and doubt that they’re even good enough.

Regardless though of the reasons why a relationship fails, I would always take it hard, I would fall apart. I would find myself reliving all my past traumas, all the time my mother hit me, every time she would call me weak, stupid, pathetic, I would relive all my greatest failures and disappointments. I couldn’t stop it, the memories of the past would often slam into me, over and over again like waves and I stranded out in a deep and endless sea, feeling like I was unable to even breathe. Often times, I wouldn’t be able to escape and I would be pulled down into the suffocating darkness, where a part of me liked the hurt and pain, because it was familiar to me and I felt like I didn’t deserve happiness. I would become distant, pushing people away and I would want to die. Something that has gotten only harder the older I get. I couldn’t control it, I couldn’t stop the pain, or the flashbacks, it all just kept coming, over and over again like a bad movie stuck on repeat.

 

 

So I’m learning to cope and to heal. I now find myself putting my guard up whenever a girl expresses romantic interests in me and makes it known she wants to heal me. It’s hard telling someone in that situation, “No, you can’t be my hero, I have to learn to heal myself and be my own hero, I need to grow and can’t rely on you, or anyone else to be my hero. I’m sorry, I know you mean well, but you can’t save me. But you can help me save myself, you can help me by being there, encouraging me, being patient with me and listening to me when I talk, when I want to talk. But you can’t force me to talk or open up if I’m not ready, or if I don’t feel like it.”

I think I speak everyone with a mental illness and a traumatic past, it really sucks when someone doesn’t really know what you’ve been through and want to compare your life to theirs, as a means of telling you to stop dwelling in the past, to get over it. Because we all deal with tragedies differently, if you been abused or broken and came out of it with no scars, no psychological damage, you’re the minority and you have a strength I truly admire, or you’re not being honest with yourself. I hid my pain for the longest time, I often hid behind a smile while I was dying inside. Granted growing up a part of my logic was, if I pretend I’m happy, I won’t bring anyone down with my unhappiness and no one will feel compelled to stop me if I decide to kill myself. Because no one would suspect I would do something like that. I was hurting and if I was going to take my own life, I didn’t want anyone to stop me. So I learned to lie and put up a false front, telling everyone I was okay, that I was doing alright and how happy I was to be me, how happy I was being alive. It was the mask I wore every day and very few people ever saw through my façade. The first was one of my good friends, her name’s Dawn and one day she was bragging about how easily she could read people. So I asked her to read me and she said, “You always act like you’re happy, but you’re very clearly hurting and you seem afraid to talk about it. But I’m here for you if you ever need someone who’ll listen and I’ll do my best to help if I can.”
I never did take Dawn up on that offer, but it did stun me to know that someone saw through my carefully crafted façade and how I thought I had everyone fooled into thinking that I was okay. But I was wrong. It didn’t take long for my friends to figure out something was wrong, for they became my second family. They always made time for me, invited me out to their family gatherings and outings. They always went out of their way to make me feel accepted, to encourage me and they were always the first ones to be there when I needed them.

It was through my friends that I realized that how my mother and her family were treating me wasn’t normal. You see, my mom would often tell me that because she catered to my picky appetite that she loved me. Or convince me that what she was doing and how she was treating me was for my own good. Whenever I would question her behavior, she would say “Josh I often make a separate meal just for you because you’re so picky, that’s how you know I love you!” But then I would get hit for eating with my mouth full, back handed if my elbows touched the table, or if I slurped instead of sip my beverage. Or the many times she made fun of me, mocked me, or laughed as my older brother made fun of me. Not counting the numerous times she had beaten me without mercy and because my brother denied having done something wrong, which would always make me guilty by default.

 

With my mother it never mattered if I was innocent or not, she would beat me until I confessed. 8 out of 10 times I would be telling the truth, or even know for a fact my older brother had done the very thing I was being accused of. In her mind, everyone else was totally incapable of lying, everyone except for me. Then after every confession she beat out of me, she would use that confession as more of a reason not to believe me. Sometimes, I often tried to hold out, taking the beating she was laying on me, doing my best to push through the pain, in hopes she would see reason and that I was telling the truth. But she never did stop, not until I confessed to whatever it was she wanted me to admit I had done. She never believed me, because she didn’t want to. For her, it was easier to show me cruelty then love. For her it was more fun to break me and broke me she did. It eventually got to the point where if something happened, I would admit it was me rather I did it or not. I didn’t see the point in fighting when I knew what was coming. Sometimes she would attack me, or put me down, sometimes she would walk away saying how it wasn’t even fun anymore if I wasn’t resisting.

 

Growing up the way I had, afraid to cross paths with my mother, the bullies who often harassed me in school, I soon began enjoying the night, which is why I think I struggle so bad with insomnia now. Because the nighttime often became my time. No one bothered me, harassed me, I didn’t have to hide or avoid anyone, because everyone was already asleep. At night I felt free and relaxed, because the world becomes quiet at 1 am. A part of me also feared the next day, so I would stay up as late as possible, to delay the coming day. But I then enjoyed sleep, because I’ve always dreamed vividly and in color, my dreams were often my escape. Because I would often dream about living a better life, where I was a hero, or I was loved, or a famous explorer, adventurer. In my dreams, I was often at my happiest.

 

To this day, I still feel more comfortable at night when everyone else is fast asleep and everything is quiet and peaceful. I’ve also come to find that people are their most real when you stay up late into the morning just talking about anything, everything or just nothing. Strangely enough I found myself reliving this a bit with my Friday night D&D game I have with my friends, where many of us just relax afterwards, just talking. Its night like those and ones like it that I find myself truly healing. In a strange way the friends I play dungeons and dragons with, are feeling more and more like family to me.

Speaking of family. I know many of my dad’s family often get upset with me, because of how little I come around and visit. I’ve been working on trying to work up the courage to tell the truth. You see I used to try and see them all the time, even took off work early so I could meet up with them for dinner every Thursday. But my dad’s family has a bad habit of wanting to tease someone in the group, usually I’m the target. Then they all like take their turns at making jokes at my expense, or just screwing or messing with me. Which I can usually handle, but they don’t know when to quit, or what lines to cross, or which ones not to. Whenever I had mentioned I didn’t appreciate it, they would often laugh and tell me how they were all just teasing, before continuing again. Sometimes they’ve pointed out that my friends often tease me too. In which I have to say they’re right, but my close friends actually really know me. They figured out I was broken and damaged before anyone else did, before I even knew what was really wrong with me. My friends had been there for me, even when it was hard, when I pushed them away, even when I tried making them hate me. They never turned their backs on me, they never gave up on me, they supported me, encouraged me, they were there. No one had to spell it out for them, no one had to tell them, “Josh is suffering from depression.” They listened to me when I needed to talk, they didn’t judge me, or tell me bad things happen and I should get over it. They accepted me, got together and came over to my house just to drag me out of my funk, or just to check up on me. They showed me love, they became my family. When we tease each other, we all know what lines to cross and which ones to avoid, we also know when to stop. When they any of us goes too far, we apologize and begin making fun of ourselves to take attention away from whoever is beginning to feel hurt or attacked.

I have c-ptsd, so sometimes if I’m sitting there with everyone around me teasing, mocking, or making fun of me, I feel like I’m six, eight, twelve years old all over again and I’m reliving everything I had ever endured, reliving every insult, every time my mother or someone told me I wasn’t good enough, every time I was called weak, pathetic and that no one would ever love me. I relive the moment when my mother told me I should just kill myself, because no one would ever love me, because I was just a joke and a burden to everyone around me.

Those words haunt me, as much as most of my past. I remember it all, I relive it all the time. Every day is a battle for me and every day it’s the hardest battle of my life. Because every day, I have to give myself reasons to go home, to get up in the morning and to not go out and kill myself. I’m struggling all the time, wrestling with these demons that haunt me. The battles I and those like me fight are hard and they’re never ending. It helps whenever someone tells me they love me, that they care, or appreciate me. Those things help and they cost nothing to give, a few words of encouragement, or show of friendship really does go long a way. Because I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t always like to talk about what’s bothering me. I don’t always show it on my face, or in my mannerisms, I often pretend I’m okay and everything is alright, because I don’t want anyone to worry, I don’t want to be a burden and I don’t any false sympathy.  So I keep moving forward, placing one foot in front of the other, trying to be better myself and not be the person I was yesterday, or the day before. I throw myself into writing, playing dungeons and dragons, reading, cosplaying, video games, working out and forcing myself to talk to people and practice opening up to those around me. But it’s not easy, I still get bad, I still have my bad days and there are nights where I can’t sleep and all I can do is think, tormented by my own thoughts and memories. But like all of you, I know I’m not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

No, I’m not okay.

“Sometimes I think tolerance can be void of compassion and sometimes we can forget that in the end we’re all only human.”

This is for everyone suffering from any mental disorder. Because I believe if you have C-ptsd, ptsd, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, or bi/tri-polar disorder, people often don’t understand the battle we fight every everyday. Because I noticed how fleeting everyone’s memories are, when I’ve told them I have c-ptsd, anxiety and depression. I have come to realize how quickly people tend to forget I’m fighting this battle everyday and how many of them think I’m fine, that I’m cured because I finally opened up and said, “This is me, I’m broken, but I’m working on becoming better.”

Even when my dad found out, his first response to me was,
“Why don’t you just let go of the past and live your life?” And I responded with a sigh,
“It’s not that easy. It’s like you asking me not breathe, I can’t help it, it’s both biological and psychological and its beyond my control. I don’t like being the way I am. I wish I wasn’t this way, I wish I was normal. But I’m a long way from being okay and I’ve come to terms with that, I’ve accepted it. I’m getting help now yes, but there’s no easy cure. There’s no pill I can take, or advice I can receive that will suddenly be okay. It’ll take time.”

Then he asked if they told me how long I will be the way I am. And I had to inform him, that no one knows and I doubt I’ll ever be completely cured. I can only get better by a matter of degrees and that’s the best I can ever do. Then he told me his solution for these problems and issues of mine, which was me going to church and finding a nice Christian girl.
I can’t expect anyone to save me, I used to look at those I’ve become romantically involved with as a solution to a problem I didn’t know I had. Looking back and knowing what I know now, I know a part of me had looked at every relationship as a chance to heal, to have them fix this broken part of me and fill this hollowness I often feel deep within my heart, my soul, me. I also grew up Christian and loved God with all my heart, but after praying everyday for years for my mother to love me, my faith became shaken. With every bad situation, or cruel act I had to endure, I often found myself asking God why. Gradually my prayers shifted, I stopped praying for God to let my mother love me, but began praying for God to kill me. It’s what I wanted at a very young age, because I was tired of hurting. I was tired of being abused at home, of going to school where I often got harassed and ridiculed, often trying to tell myself that old nursery rhyme about sticks and stones, but truth is, words do hurt more than a broken bone. As far as bad names go, I was called them all. Then I would go home, get beaten, or my older brother would mock and make fun of me and my mother would often be in the room and just laugh at his insults to me. When I asked him to stop, he would ignore me and make fun of me even more, when I asked my mother to make him stop, she ignored me. But the moment I insulted him in return, I would get beaten and grounded.  This was my life for years, if you want to know what it was like for me growing up go back and read my Scars of who we are series. It explains a lot. But I never told anyone about the abuse for several reasons. One I was afraid, I was afraid people would judge me, or think less of me, or worse they would think I was lying and making it all up. Second, she often threatened me with what she would do to me if Told anyone, if she didn’t think that was working she would blackmail me. By telling me my dad wouldn’t put up with my struggling grades and how he would think so much less of me. She would also fill my head with thoughts, that he didn’t really love me and was just pretending just so I would go and live with him, saying if I did, he had told her he would send me off to military school. Also, I was always afraid if I said anything I would hurt my older brother. Because he biological dad didn’t want anything to do with him after he divorced our mom, then when my dad and mom got a divorce she had told my brother that my dad didn’t want him. Which my dad says is untrue and I believe him.

When my dad remarried, his 2nd wife was a woman named Patricia. In the beginning she was super cool and kind to me. She had two kids from a previous marriage who I got along with and my step-brother would grow to become more of a brother to me then my own brother ever was to me. So when my dad got married to Patricia I found myself giving some serious thought about leaving my abusive home and taking the chance at this new family. I wanted Patricia to  be my mother, because I was growing to think of her as such. But then things started to change, Patricia began making subtle and not so subtle jokes at my expense, calling me stupid, lazy, queer, etc. Anytime someone broke something, or didn’t clean up a spilled drink she blamed me. Then she began making me do all the house chores, while telling me how pathetic I am. This eventually made me afraid of her and I would always try to avoid her. My dad knew that she was often a bit hard on me, but I don’t think he knew how bad it was whenever he wasn’t around. But I never said anything to him about it, because I believed she made my dad happy and that was all that mattered to me. So if I had to put up with my step-mother being awful towards me, I felt like it was the least I could do for my father. I wanted to see him happy. Also I loved having a step-brother and step sister, I thought of them both as blood related family and Patrick was my brother as far as I was concerned. It was Patrick though who taught me how a real brother should act and should be. Whenever he saw or heard his mother treating me poorly or unfairly he would always stand up for me, even though standing up to his mother on my behalf often resulted in him getting grounded, he never did stop defending me.

Years after my dad and step-mother’s divorce Patricia did eventually look me up and apologized for how she had treated me, telling me she knew it was wrong and explained to me her mindset way back then. She even apologized for hurting my dad and wanted me to tell him that she was genuinely sorry. Her and I did have a good relationship after that and I was moved when I heard her referring to me as her son and bragging about me. I don’t think I ever had anyone really brag about me before, so it was nice and I find myself missing her after she passed away.

  In a few years after I finally broke free from the toxic relationship with my mother, I ran into my older brother and things were different between us, because we got along pretty well. We started hanging out on a regular basis, talking and I was feeling like I was finally getting to know him, he was finally feeling like a real brother to me. I didn’t have a car at the time, so he would often have to pick me up and I would repay him by treating him out to dinner, even got him an air conditioner for his place when I discovered he didn’t have air at his place. When he couldn’t pay his rent, I helped him pay it. We began training in martial arts together, hiked the Red River Gorge, saw movies as he advised me on girls and tried helping me build up my confidence. He even told me he knew our mother, had a falling out and he began begging me to give her another chance. I had tried once before but things blew up in my face, when she let her family talk down to me and I overheard her and her sister trying to talk the first girl I ever brought over into breaking up with me and dating my older brother because they believed he would be a trade up from me. So when he first brought up the issue I didn’t want anything do with her, I even tried telling him the mother he knew, wasn’t the mother I knew. But he eventually talked me into it. Then when she and my step-dad accused me of stealing a large sum of money, they stole my laptop and I had to go the police to have my belongings returned to me. My brother turned his back on me almost immediately. It hurt seeing someone who I loved and greatly respected turn his back on me and forget everything I had ever done for him as if it was for nothing and like I was nothing.

I’ve had a cousin whom I saw as a best-friend and a brother who betrayed me for a girl and I got to see how he really thought of me, as I read him trash talking to me to a girl I was seeing and didn’t even know he was interested in. Also it bares saying my cousin has always been a player and never very interested in having a meaningful romantic relationship with anyone. Worse was he knew a lot about what I had been through, how I’ve always struggled with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. So seeing how easy someone who I had grown up with, whom I always defended and how quickly and easily he’d unapologetically betray me and throw me under a bus, without any hesitation, really, really hurt.

Most of my personal, romantic relationships managed to further the damage already done to me. Because usually, whenever I entered a relationship I was all in. I wanted me and the girl I was with to go the distance. But I was almost always, used, taken advantage of, cheated on, or left for a better model. My second to last relationship was with a girl named Olivia. That one had hurt the worse until my most recent breakup. Because Olivia and I had both been hurt before and we had both wanted to take things slow. We were together for eight months and we talked every day. She would even come by my place to see me throughout the week, wanting to just spend time with me. Three days before my birthday, she had asked me if I would be willing to move in with her down the road. I said yes, then on my birthday, she asked me over to her house and told me she wanted to see other people. For a moment I didn’t believe this was happening, because we had never had a fight, or so much as a disagreement, up until that day, she would tell me how I was the greatest guy she ever dated, the best boyfriend she ever had. So I was more than a little devastated.

Worse was we had tickets to a comic con the following weekend, I had originally told her she could just have my ticket and take anyone she wants. But a day before the convention, she talked me into going with her as friends. I agreed, but when we got there we and into some of her friends who just gotten engaged and after congratulating them, Olivia began complaining how she was forever alone, how she wished she could find a good guy while I was standing right there.

Later after the second time she had blown me off to hang out with her friends who were also there, I had enough and finally decided to leave and let her get a ride home with her friends. But she ran into me as I was leaving and asked what I was doing and I told her I was going home. She was upset and more than a little angry that I was going to leave her there. Then she spend the next 20 minutes in the car telling me about things she thought I would do to her and how she would screw up my life. (Usually when I’m hurt, I just walk away. I don’t ever beg someone to take me back and I don’t resort to acting petty, because I believe all that does is tell that other person they might the right decision by leaving you.

It took me a long time to pull myself back together after Olivia, which is how I ended up meeting my most recent ex. In the beginning she wanted to date me and I insisted I didn’t want a relationship. All I wanted was to be friends, I was kind of done with love. I did everything I could to make Star disinterested in me. (not her real name, but I don’t want to put her on blast.) I told Star I was broken, she told me she was too. I told her I wanted my next relationship to my last and she told me she was also ready to settle down. I told her I was a geek, a cosplayer and a dork. She laughed and told me she was too. Two months later, she finally broke down my defenses and we started dating, that’s how without ever intending to do so, I fell in love. We were amazing together, or we were for about eleven months when she started cheating on me with her ex-boyfriend and I found out. We broke up and she kept sending me messages telling me how it was not what I thought, that she wished she could explain it to me, telling me that she loved and wanted to be with me. About two months later, she asked me to take her back and I foolishly did. I’m not sure why, or why I worked so hard to forgive and try to forget what she had done to me. Why I doubled my efforts to make her happy, but I guess I really did fall helplessly in love with the girl. I had believed we were working and that I was making her happy, then the lies and excuses started all over again, once more I discovered she was talking and seeing someone on the side. Which made me feel like a failure and like I was inadequate, broken, a mess of a human being. It also caused me to have an emotional breakdown, Star destroyed something in me when she hurt me a second time. I believe a part of me was so affected, because when I told her how I’m a child abuse survivor, she told me she was too and told me stories about things she’s endured, which lowered my defenses and made me see someone I could relate with, someone who understood things I’ve suffered ad endured. I can’t help but feel manipulated, lied to and used. Which doesn’t help me with my C-ptsd, anxiety and depression. I hate having these issues and problems, most days I hate just being me. More than anything I wish I could just get over it, forget it. But for people like me, please stop telling people to just get over it. It’s something we can’t control, or help and it makes me pull away and withdraw from whoever tries telling me those three little words, even though I know you mean well when you say them. I have an illness, when I talk about my past, I’m talking to you to work through them. What people like me need when we talk about it, is support and love. Tell us you’re sorry, hold us and remember we’re trying. I’m trying to heal.

I can’t help it when I push anyone away, or when I withdraw. I have been hurt by numerous people, numerous times who were varying degrees of closeness to me.

I look at scars on my body and think about how they healed in such an understandable process. Like, I could see it healing. I saw the bleeding stop. I saw the scab form. I saw the scab fall off into something else. I saw the car tissue form and watched as the scars healed and faded. But emotional healing doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t get lighter every month. You can work so hard, you can come so far and still fall back down without any warning. It doesn’t nullify what you’ve done. It doesn’t erase your progress. It’s just a reminder that healing doesn’t work in any linear way. It takes time.

 

I wish I could forget, I wish I could wake up with amnesia and not remember any of the pain of my past. I wish I could start over, with a clean slate, without these memories I sometimes feel as though I can’t escape. Because I’m not fine, I’m not okay. I have my demons, I have issues and problems I can’t even begin to describe. I have C-ptsd, anxiety, depression and that’s not going away anytime soon. They say for however long you were abused, or suffered, its going to take at least half that time to undo some of the damage done. So I’m looking at sentence of at least 15 years, but even then there’s no promises. I will still bad and have bad days. I may never be completely cured of my c-ptsd and I’m certain my depression and anxiety is going to be a life sentence for me. But I’m working on becoming better, but it will take time.

It hurts being me with these memories that I have, I wish I could forget the cruel things people I loved and who were suppose to love me. Sometimes the memories creep inside of me and I get angry, a part of me wants payback. But it mostly just hurts, somedays I go without sleep, because my anxiety kicks off at such a high gear, my resting heartbeat goes from 52 beats per minute to 140 and I don’t sleep. I lay there at night alone and in pain. Pain I wish I could shutout, I wish I could ignore.

It’s hard for me to trust or let people in because so many people who said they loved me, had hurt me and hurt me bad. So I sometimes lash out, say things I don’t mean, but mostly I just push people away and withdraw into myself. Because a part of me doesn’t trust people, I no longer see the best in people like I once did.

here are a few things that, if said to a person with C-PTSD anxiety, or depression, are more upsetting than anything. Here are some of them:

  1. “Get over it.”

This is one thing that someone with C-PTSD hates to hear. We want to move on; we don’t want to be haunted by our past. If it were a switch we could flip we would, but we can’t. Please don’t tell us this.

  1. “That was so long ago.”

The events we experienced may no longer be happening, but we relive them most days. The flashbacks, nightmares and daily reminders make us feel like it wasn’t long ago. It may have happened a long time ago for the person who says this, but for us, it’s still so real.

  1. “Change your ways; stop thinking that way.”

When people tell us to change our ways, the things we do because of C-PTSD, they don’t realize that this thought process or way of doing something has been drilled into our heads. We are scared of changing; we are scared this will bring back the abuse and fear.

  1. “I don’t remember it that badly.”

You did not live my fears and worries. I never asked what you remember. You were not there all the time; there were closed doors. I have reasons I have C-PTSD and I don’t want to argue about what you remember.

With PTSD or C-PTSD, even just the tone used and word choices can make the brain feel like it’s being attacked. Try and be there for the person, allow them to gain trust in you. Let them talk to you and cry on your shoulder. Ask how they are and if they need anything. Trust can be the hardest thing for many people with PTSD and things like those above can make us even less trusting in others. Think before you speak; it can save lives, confidence and friendships.

 

 

Please educate yourself before you try telling me or others like me, that we need to let go of the past and move on with our lives. It isn’t that easy. I’m not okay, I’m broken and I’m going to be broken for a long time. But I’m working on it, I’m trying my best. But you have to be patient with me and give me some grace. Going to church isn’t a cure all. I dedicated myself to a small church for two years. I volunteered, woke up early just to help then set up, stayed late just to help them break everything down. I met some friends, some who also ended up hurting me in the end. And every time I was struggling my fellow Christians told me the same thing. “You’re not giving your pain to God!” or, “You have to trust in God more!” “Let God move you” “God wants your brokenness! Give more!” I’ve heard it all. I’ve been prayed for, prayed at, lectured, preached to and at. No one knew how much pain I was really in. Or what was really wrong with me and their words were band aids on a wound that needed a real doctor and professional to mend back together.  This post was longer then I intended, I hope you were able to stick it out with me.

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/ptsd-overview/complex-ptsd.asp

You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”-Robin Williams

I’ve always been very candid abrobin-williams7878out my bouts with depression, which I believe is something that never really goes away, at least not completely. For me, it has always been an ongoing battle, where like everything else there are good days, bad days, then the really bad days and the even worse days, which are the ones you have to really look out for. Because when you’ve battled depression and suicidal thoughts as much as I have, you become all too aware just how easy one can off themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about it, or been tempted.

I don’t take any medication for my depression, simply because I don’t like the person it makes me, and it just feels like my head is a fog and I find myself becoming less imaginative more restless and lethargic, numb.

I battle my depression by staying active, working out helps a lot; it’s hard to think about killing yourself when you’re feeling sore and tired along with that natural high that comes with a good workout. Having good friends to lean on or to share a few good laughs with also helps, but you have to be sure that they’re the right friends, not the ones who want you around just when it’s convenient, or for what you can do for them, but the ones who just want to hang out for the pleasure of your company.  Family can help too, but most of all I just find solace and peace in keeping myself busy, because it’s only when my mind has a chance to wonder do those dark thoughts come creeping in. So I read, I write, I play video games, or if it’s nice I go hiking or out for a run and sometimes I just dust off my old bike, and then go out for a spin. As you may or may not know, it’s the quiet moments, when you’re alone and with nothing to do but think that causes problems. I’m a little self-critical, I think too much and over analyze, which I’m sure may one day be the death of me, but I’m working on it, I’m a work in progress and this is my progress report.   

But what happens when I have a particular rough day, one that leaves me feeling beat up, abused, left out and alone?  What happens when each day becomes worse than the last and it becomes increasingly harder to pick myself back up from the spot where I lay? My method is simple; I just close my eyes and whisper,

“You just have to make it until the day after next, because the day after next will be better.” Then I convince myself that it has to get better and I’ll be honest sometimes it does. But it also helps to remind myself of all the things I have to do that no one else can, even if there’s a chance that no one else will care. Such as finishing my book, and telling the stories of all the characters who have taken up residence up there inside my head, living in the pool of imagination, needing me to breathe life into them by telling their stories through a collection of words, demanding I share their stories with as many people as possible and with the world. Because if I don’t, I know I’ll look up and see all of them gathered around me on my death bed, with some of them sobbing, with some pacing, all asking me the same thing.

“Why didn’t you give us life? We came to you and you let us die and now we’ll be forgotten without ever having lived, why couldn’t you give a chance to live and breathe? We came to you and no one else, we trusted you with our stories, our lives and with our dreams.”
I remind myself I can’t disappoint my characters.
Having faith also helps when it comes to battling depression. Even if you don’t believe in anything, that’s cool (I don’t judge) but it does help, even when it doesn’t. There’s something about talking to God, praying, or seeking communion that I found comforting. For me, the church and a pastor was the first place I could think of going to seek counseling, and that too helped. Then sometimes the only thing that keeps me holding on when all I want to do is let go, is my faith and the fear that I would condemn myself to an eternity in hell. Yet even still there had been times when I thought that God owed me one after everything I had to endure. Losing a family to lies and greed, growing up in a broken home, being forsaken by very own brother that I was just beginning to get to know and who was becoming my best friend and someone I could confide in.

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I hate it when people compare their lives to mine, especially when they’ve always got to go home to two loving parents and compare having a bad day to a broken life. In truth, no one really knows your battles but you, same with how no one knows what it was like but me. But honestly I don’t really like talking about it, but I know I should and probably need to, so open my mouth and begin to speak. So I try not to judge when someone begins telling me about their problems, or struggles, I just do my best to sit there and listen, sometimes lending a comforting hug, and maybe just say,

“I can relate,” So that they don’t feel so alone and I hear them out, letting them talk, sometimes it helps just having someone there to listen and not judge their pain or suffering, or compare it to my own. For each battle is a little different from someone else’s. Each struggle is personal, and we deal with it in our little ways.

Never tell a person with depression to just get over it.

If you really want to help, just be there for them. That’s all it really takes really. Make them feel loved and appreciated and whatever you do, don’t try and force them to talk about it, it’s never easy. It always makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable, like we’re trying to get yours or someone else’s pity, or we think you’re sitting there judging us. It’s always hard to put into words, or to properly articulate what it is we’re going through, what’s on our minds and how difficult the fight is.

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So when we do talk and open up about what it is, don’t trivialize what we’re been through and tell us to get over it, like the contents of a first-aid kid somehow holds the cure for depression. Because it’s hard enough just talking about it and an ingrown life isn’t something surgeons can just cut away with a scalpel and a knife.

Just being there for us is enough and what we really need are reasons to smile and to laugh until it hurts, we don’t need some inspirational quote you’ve read from the back of a cereal box one Sunday morning, and we don’t need to quote passages from the bible, or verses to us. All that ever does is infuriate and frustrate us, more so that you think a few deep or clever words would somehow be a magical string of words that would forever bring us out of our depression and despair that we’ve spent most of our lives fighting. So believe me when I say, it’s not that easy to make go away and if it were that simple we would have found the cure long before you came along, no offense. Sometimes all we really need is a friend, a hug, or something as little as companionship, just being around is usually enough. You don’t have to be clever, or preachy, just be thoughtful.

Robin-Williams

If you’re in a relationship and your significant other is struggling, just remind them how much you love and appreciate them. Leave them little love notes, make them dinner, or buy them something meaningful, flowers, chocolates, whatever it is they like, or hobby they’re into. Because it’s the little things we remember and it’s up to you to be the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s you that has to be the one to remember to always shine bright. Because sometimes, we just need to be reminded to remember and it falls to you to make them remember. Love is really all you need.

Robin Williams was a beloved actor and comedian, one my childhood heroes and I never dreamt of him having this struggle with depression, which had driven him to take his own life on August 11th 2014. Which also prompted me into writing this particular entry, so maybe we’ll be able to avoid this kind of tragedy from happening again and to just raise some general awareness on the subject at hand, since many of us struggle and fight this disease privately. Like Robin Williams who once made the world laugh and just listening to or watching his stand-up had pulled me through many a dark day. I honestly feel for him and relate with his struggle that he ended up losing in the end. The problem is that suicide isn’t really all that selfish,(now hear me out before you ready your torches and pitchforks) When someone gives up, they just opt out. They grow tired and weary of feeling like a burden, or like a joke, as though everyone is laughing at us, as opposed to laughing with us. We feel alone and lost, a lot of times we don’t to talk about it, because we feel like we’ll just be a bother. It’s nobody’s fault, you just have to understand how scared we are to talk about it, how weak it makes us feel. So we tend to shutout the rest of the world because we don’t want to be that burden, or to be perceived as if we’re crying out for attention, like all those on twitter or facebook who often moan and whine about being depressed because maybe they’re going through a breakup, or quite literally just want attention.
The real tragedy in suicide, is when it happens, these people will never know how many people loved and cared for them, for you. You matter and people do care…People do love you even if it’s hard to see, or even feel. Depression is the real enemy, it likes to lie to us and has the tendency to blind us to that fact and more often than not it convinces us that we’re unloved, uncared for, forgotten children of God’s grace. Depression wins by convincing us that we’re burdens when we’re not. Even I, after all this time, knowing this, still struggle with this one little fact.GkOeeLU

But every set back, disappointment and heartbreak has the tendency of pushing me slightly closer to the edge or back to where I was. So sometimes I feel myself struggling at the oars to fight and push my darkness my back. But it’s still there even when things are going well, however the better things are going the quieter that little voice in the back of my head becomes and it gets easier to push it back. So I keep trying to pick up the broken pieces of myself and like Humpty Dumpty I attempt to put myself back together again. It’s a long, arduous task and I’ve grown to except that some pieces of myself will never fit, or have gotten lost, or stolen during a very long and unforgiving life. This is because, I still wonder why my mother never loved or accepted me, and I find myself missing the three brothers I never get to see again, none of which will ever see or understand the truth. I never got to see my younger brothers grow up, or to be the older brother I always wanted to be, but I was around them enough to love them with all my heart. I hate the fact I didn’t spend more time with them when I had the chance, I really dug being an older brother.

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Being single doesn’t help much either and after a while seeing and hearing about all these happy couples being together tends to sometime wear on my soul, leaving me wonder if I’ll ever find that one person who makes me feel like the sun was something she made for me in a toolshed.

So at nights, when I can’t sleep and I’m alone with my thoughts, I find myself walking a tightrope, wondering what it’s all for and why it is I’m still here.

I don’t own a gun, because sometimes the fight and the struggle becomes too hard even for someone like me, who’s aware of what it is I’m suffering from. It’s the days when I’m beaten down, or when a sad song strikes a particular cord with me, or I watch a warming and touching movie about family like in the movie, “Impossible” knowing I’d never know that feeling of a warm loving family unless I meet someone and start one of my own. Then there are times when I find myself looking through old photographs, or when old memories just hit me out of the blue, like a knockout punch at the beginning of the first round.

It scares me knowing if I had a gun and what I would do with it on of these bad days. The temptation of a quick and relatively pain free way out would be too much of a temptation for me to use. So I stay away from the variables that may bring me to my end sooner than expected and I remind myself that I’ve always been a survivor and how I may be that one person in a million who somehow survives, but with serious traumatic injury which would only add to more complications and struggle to my little life.

So yeah, sometimes it’s easier to stay silent then speak the truth. But there are three things that can’t remain long hidden, the sun, the moon and the truth. And the truth was created for the people who want to be a better person. Our strong faith and love will us down the right path.images

Sorrow, despair, loneliness, suicide, these are the words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss, though 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 or frailties as someone once said, “Acceptance is the first step toward happiness.”  Don’t fight the flow, but don’t let it drag you under and hold you down either.

A young man sitting alone by the water

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Sometimes we need some time alone in order grow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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