Tag Archive: hope


“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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know it’s hard and there are days when you feel like you’re miles away, spending a whole December hoping things will go your way and I stand here today, wearing my heart on my sleeve, telling you all the things that I believe and truth is every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, and some not. Things happen to us all the time, with hurdles we think we’ll never get over, or get by and for me it was my mother, High school, and then came the real trials of stepping out into real world, getting my first job, losing what was once my home, saying good my to good friends, wondering if I’ll ever see some of them again. But no matter where they went, to Afghanistan to fight in a war, or to warm beaches to relax under the sun, or suffering behind a desk in a day job that they hate, a part of me will always be with them, just as I will always carry a part of them with me. Some went on to become heroes while others just became lost.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Chapter 17-Part 2.

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

Man goes through the morning mist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh of course you do)

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

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

“Yes,” I confirmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brief pause when I hear him say,

“Chris is an HP laptop?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Davenport returns to me shaking his head,

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

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then comes the interview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of my new family

The rest of my new family

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

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

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

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

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

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

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XVI

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

FudPuckers

FudPuckers

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

Dominic my older brother

Dominic my older brother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The library where I work

The library where I work

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

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

My younger brother Christian

My younger brother Christian

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

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

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

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

My Youngest brother Caleb.

My Youngest brother Caleb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pending storm.

The pending storm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s going on?” I ask, waking up.

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

All of us together just two years prior.

All of us together just two years prior.

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

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

“I don’t think, I know you took it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XV-Home

And two chapters remain.

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

 CIMG0250

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

My older brother and his dog Dozer

My older brother and his dog Dozer

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

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

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

My brother and me on the beach

My brother and me on the beach

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

100_0193

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIMG0020

Scars of Who We Are part 14

                      “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

Watercolors

It’s amazing how small your life seems once you pack everything you ever own at nineteen and load it into the back of your father’s truck. It took two trips which we had divided up between two days of moving my stuff up to New Port, where I was to live with my father and grandmother. It felt strange saying goodbye to the place that had once been my home and had spent so much time within and finally walking away from everything. It was hard. Even though she wasn’t the best mother in the world, she was still my mother and for better or worse, I still loved her. I only wished that she could love me too and I wish I could tell you why I loved her. But I suppose it was the little things and something to do with all children loving their mothers. Leaving me to often contemplate about all the things that could have been. But I couldn’t let a few good memories anchor to someone who would only drag me down to the bottom of the sea. It was sink or swim and I chose to swim.

Two days after moving my stuff,  we went to Burger King to pick up my last paycheck, followed by a short trip to the Bank of Kentucky to close out my savings accounts, ideally to transfer the funds over to a bank closer to where I was going to be, which was fifth third. However my mother had already beaten me to it, the young woman at the desk politely informed me that my account had already been closed two days prior, by my mother.

All the money I got for graduation, money I had saved doing odd job while growing up, but all money I was going to save for college or put towards a car was gone. Every penny I had saved since I was fourteen. The poor girl must have thought I was insane as I started to laugh, knowing I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t. Because when you’re under 18, you need a co-signer and I agreed to make her mine, figuring if I was ever in a bind she could withdraw some cash for me. Also, I was fool who believed if I had her name on my account it would show that I trusted her and bring us closer together. But I was wrong. She had taken it for herself, or perhaps even given it to my older brother, but I’ll get to that in a minute. But i shouldn’t have been surprised, because a year prior, I wanted to get a high school graduation ring along with the rest of my friends and my mother talked my dad and grandmother into pitching in, they agreed and pooled their money together to send her a few hundred bucks so that I could get a nice ring.

My grandma, I miss her

M grandmother, the closest thing to a real mom I ever had.

My mother had no problem cashing the checks, but the ring however never found its way to me. It didn’t matter how many times I asked about it, she would give me the run around. She always seemed to have multiple excuses at the ready, but eventually she convinced me to have one made at Wal-Mart which would be cheaper, telling me I could put the difference in the bank.…(before you go judging my on my stupidity here, remember hindsight is 20/20.) so as you can guess I never got my ring and the money never found its way to my saving’s account.

Two years prior I had been the proud owner of a dirt bike that I was given a year before and a mini bike the year previous from my grandpa on my mom’s side. Then one day I noticed both my bikes were missing from our garage and when I inquired about them, I was told my step-father had taken them to get serviced. But as time wore on I kept getting excuses as to why it was taking so long to get my bikes back. Until one day, I came home early from a friend’s house and by chance I happened upon  my mom on the phone with my brother, which wasn’t uncommon, they called each other every day, but then I overheard her saying,

“Dominic I can’t afford to give you any more money right now, I already gave you the money for Josh’s bikes…”  Then I froze there on the bottom of the steps, knowing that she didn’t know I was home and that I had just overheard the truth of why it was taking the guy so long to finish tuning up my bikes, because they were gone, sold.

I never confronted her though, I figured if I did she’ll only deny it, or give me some excuse, or sob story, or somehow turn it around on me for ease dropping even though it hadn’t been purposely done so. You can’t help but hear something you overheard. So I let it go and quietly fumed and never thought of it again, until that day at the bank when the young woman was telling me my account had been closed.

Anger soon gave away to depression and I spent the next few days just lying on my grandma’s couch, feigning illness so that my grandmother and father wouldn’t worry. Truth was, I was broken and couldn’t stop thinking about all the things my mother had done, wondering if she ever loved me at all, or if it was all just some ploy to rob me blind and to make my life miserable. Everything I had been working towards was gone and at nineteen my life felt like it was over. The task of starting all over from scratch seemed daunting and I was afraid of failing again. I blamed myself as much as I did my mother, hating myself for not getting out when I had the chance, for not being smarter and not better protecting myself. I hated my naïveté.

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My cousin Nick reminding me to hang in there

I ended up beating myself up for days, before finally finding the strength to pull myself together. My cousin Nick contributed more than he knows to helping me find the strength to pull myself back together again. For after hearing I had moved in with my father and grandmother, he took it upon himself to help me stand back on my own two feet again, reminding me how to have a good time, how to laugh along with helping me rediscover my lost smile. Every week we hung out, went to the movies, biking, or simply sat around and shared a few laughs.

After a while I was finally ready to start all over, walking the streets of Newport everyday going to every business and filling out applications and always following up the next day and the day after. Eventually the Newport Library got tired of seeing me coming in every day and asking for work, so they finally offered me a job as a shelver.

A few months later the calls started, my mother was trying to get a hold of me, wanting to talk. At first I avoided her calls like the plague, refusing to speak to her, always telling my dad or grandma to tell her I wasn’t there or that I had just left. I didn’t want this woman anyway near my life. As far as I was concerned she was poison.

But eventually, my grandma and even my father of all people began telling me that I needed to talk to her and I should see what she wants. So then one day she called and I answered. I could hear the tension and the relief in her voice and the tentative way that she spoke that she was afraid I’ll hang up before she got to say what she wanted to say to me. At first she was asking me questions about how I been, what I’ve been up too and how it was living with my father. I kept my answers as short as possible, afraid of accidentally opening that door that would lead her back into my heart, until she started crying… between sobs she confessed to everything, apologizing profusely for not being a good mother and for never being the kind of mother that I needed. She begged for my forgiveness, and for another chance. Reluctantly I cave and agreed to let her back into my life.

For a while things were okay between us, I started spending time with her and the rest of the family again and as if by some unspoken agreement, none of us mentioned the past or what it was that drove me away from home and all of them. In time, it began to feel like family again. But over time, the cracks began to show and suddenly I wasn’t good enough and my job at the library had become a disappointment. Things slowly escalated from there with little snide comments and the “forgetting of my birthday” and eventually things degraded to the point where I didn’t like the way I was being treated. I couldn’t help but feel like I was becoming the target of ridicule, with nothing I ever did being good enough and I was constantly being treated like I was some little kid and calling me selfish and greedy because I didn’t come around more, ignoring the fact that I was working and also had another family so to speak.. But I bit my tongue and kept trying to make things work, wanting them to work and trying to watch my own behavior to see if they were right. But I was feeling torn again between what felt like to warring factions, my mother’s side and my fathers.

Rebekah my guiding light.

Rebekah my guiding light.

But then I met her, Rebekah Josann Stidham, my lighthouse who guided me from my own darkness and the rocky shores and treacherous shores of my soul. My dealings with my mother and her family was tearing me apart and I was gradually sinking back into my depression, beginning to believe in my own worthlessness and that I was broken, destined to spend the rest of my life alone.

Rebekah changed all that, I me her by chance at the library; she was a volunteer along with her sister Rachel and Rebekah’s smile reminded me of Christmas morning and the sound of her laughter was as soothing as a warm breeze in the fall.. She was the first girl I ever met who made the first move by leaving me at work after we first met. She was…and still is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever laid eyes on, sweet, attentive, understanding and her laugh had an almost musical quality about it and she was always quick to laugh and the ease of which her laughter came always brought a smile a to my lips.

But I never told her about my past, or my mother, instead I pretended to have a good, healthy relationship with her and her family, so that she wouldn’t think I was some guy weighed down with a crippling amount of emotional luggage. Plus someone once told me that I should never tell a love interest about all the things wrong with me, for they can become overwhelming, thus become a turn off. So I let her get to know me in the present, for the person I was and not who I had once been.

Overnight it seemed we had become best friends, even though I had already fallen head over heels in love with her on that  day we first met, losing myself forever in her big doe eyes. I loved her then and ever since, although back then I was afraid to admit it, but still everyone knew it. But I was afraid of what would happen to my heart if my love once again went unrequited as it did with Sherry.

So I remained her friend, for the longest time, longing every day to hold her in my arms and to kiss all of her worries away….But I was fool and I was afraid, so I dragged my heels for the longest time, feeling constantly at war with myself. Then one day another guy came along, who was a singer like her, a real musician, who was well on his way of turning his passions into a career. She grew to where she talked about him all the time even when she was around me. I knew without her saying that she was torn between him and me. But in the end, I decided he could offer her more than I ever could, so I walked away. I didn’t fight for her or try to argue my case, I simply stopped calling/texting her, avoided her if I could, but remained friendly whenever I ran into her.

Eventually, things with her and Caleb fell apart, then somehow she found her way back to me and we became fast friends again. Then before I knew it, she had fallen in love with me, or as she told me, she was always in love with me, but her father had disapproved of me and when I disappeared from her life she thought that maybe she was meant to be with the other guy, (Caleb so she chose to be with him.) But now she was finally distancing herself from her father and wanted to live her own life, one she wanted to share that life with me which she did.

We were together for six months before I finally decided to bring her around my mom’s family. Albeit I was curious if what I perceived as disrespect was real, or was all just in my head. She would be my impartial witness, because I still hadn’t revealed any of the truth about my childhood and I wanted…needed some kind confirmation if what I was seeing was real or not.

So I took her down to my mother’s for thanksgiving and to my surprise my mom and her family fell in love with her almost immediately. They fawned over; she was the daughter my mother always wanted, beautiful, charming, talented, graceful and modest. But for some reason my family also seemed to go out of their way to paint me in a negative light. Harping on me whenever I wasn’t being the perfect boyfriend, (I.E pulling out her chair, or refilling her glass for every three sips she took, all things I kept thinking was odd and even though she kept trying to tell them that she didn’t like that kind of hovering. Insisting that did like doing some things for herself.

Rebekah and me

Rebekah and me

At the end of the night, she and I went for a walk and I asked what she thought of my family and I noticed her hesitation as she told me they were very nice to her. However I had known her long enough to know when something was bothering her and when I asked what it was she said,

“I don’t like how they treat and talk down to you all the time, it’s almost like they don’t think of you as a person….”

“Oh…” I said, knowing she was confirming what I had been feeling this whole time when I’ve been trying to heal the past and mend all the broken fences between me and m family.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it, I know it’s your family and you love them,” She whispers, kissing me, before pulling me closer against her. I could lose myself forever in her warmth; for nothing in this world had ever made me feel better.

“It’s okay,” I assure her, “You’re right, I just needed confirmation.” I confessed, returning her embrace and her kiss, happy to have her as a part of my life and knowing I would have to tell her everything once we got home.

“I just don’t think they’re good for you, I felt like the whole time they kept trying to turn me against you for some reason.”

“You saw that too?” I asked, smiling sheepishly, knowing she had also become my rock. I would have probably married her too and would have if I could go back, but that’s another story for another time.

By the time we made it back to the house, Rebekah already had me feeling better and that night we spent the night at my mother’s. The following day we were having dinner, a follow-up to our thanksgiving day feast and while the food was being prepared my mother had asked me to help my little brother’s put together a Star-wars Lego set, which I eagerly agreed too. But fifteen minutes in, my mother asked Rebekah if she could talk to her upstairs for a moment because she wanted to show her something. I don’t know why, but something in my mother’s tone struck me as a little odd. So I waited several minutes before finally deciding to sneak upstairs and see what she was up too. I heard them talking down the hall in my mother’s room, along with my aunt and they were asking her why she was with me. She explained that she had been in love with me, that I had been the sweetest, most caring and thoughtful guy she’s met and she loved my sense of humor, and my intellect. When I heard my aunt start asking her if she met my older brother and how handsome, smart and funny he was.

My heart started to sink and I realized as I stood out there in the hall, that my mother, along with her sister was trying to convince her to choose my brother over me. I heard my own mother say how Dominic was so much more handsome than I was and how he’d be such a better match for her. My heart broke into a million pieces that day; I stood out in the hall.

Rebekah, me and her younger brother

Rebekah, me and her younger brother

I know I could have made a scene and kicked the door open, confronting my mother, but instead I retreated and went back downstairs to play with my younger brothers, trying to pretend I didn’t hear what I had. The next day I went and saw Rebekah and asked her what happened when my mother was talking to her in private and she told me everything that my mother and aunt were trying to talk her into breaking up with me in order for her to date my brother. Thankfully Rebekah loved me and was loyal to a fault, my heart and my guiding star, my best friend. And in that moment I knew I had to keep my distance from my mother and shield Rebekah from her as well…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watercolors

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XII

Chapter 12

You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” – Anne Lamott

Senior photo

Senior photo

At eighteen I finally broke down and killed myself, for I had enough. I had just graduated High-school and felt like life had thrown everything including the kitchen sink at me. Even graduating high-school hadn’t felt real to me, or like something I really deserved. I kept expecting word to come down that there had been a mistake and I wasn’t meant or supposed to graduate along with my friends. It felt weird saying goodbye and walking away from all I had known, High-school was something I once hated and feared coming to every morning because of bullies, the pressures of just getting by and the unforgiving social hierarchy. But, it was also the place where I made some of the best friends anyone could possibly meet and it was the place where I had fallen in love for the very first time. Sherry Troy had been the sister of one of my good friends and falling for her was something I had never meant to do. For when we first met that day in the cafeteria I had already knew that her social circle would never approve of me. She was popular, gorgeous, funny and sincere; she was also dating one of my friends. But as life happens, things happen and life changes, because the of them ended up breaking up and her I grew closer, exchanged numbers and started talking on the phone almost every day.

About around that time my mother gave me some real motherly advice, which was,

“Listen, when any girl talks to you as much as this one does, calling you almost every day, it means she really likes you.”

But I couldn’t accept that, she didn’t know Sherry, she didn’t me and good things didn’t usually happen to me. But I was young and just beginning to b4d5878dget schooled in love. Sherry gave me a reason to get up every day, seeing her was like Christmas morning and it gave me strength to face each day. For once I had something to look forward to other than the weekends I got to spend with my dad.

Of course I still remember the day when her sister Jane had approached me in class and told me how her sister was falling hard for me. It had been the happiest day of my life and felt like I had finally been thrown a life preserver and according to Jane my eyes lit up and sparked like the fourth of July, robbing her of her breath as she was taken aback by the purity of my reaction of hearing her news. I couldn’t believe it, I was inspired.

I went home that night and wrote Sherry a poem proclaiming my love for her, playing coy all throughout the day, until we were walking to our busses when I slipped my poem into her hand and walked away smiling like an idiot on parade, felt like I could do anything, the world was mine.

The next morning her other sister Terry approached me that morning, excitedly telling me how much her sister had loved my poem and how no one had ever wrote her a poem before, that she was so happy and excited that she was actually and completely overjoyed. So now I couldn’t wait to see her, I couldn’t wait to tell her how much I loved her, I couldn’t wait to feel her arms wrap around me, to hold her tight, imagining what our lives would be like together, picturing what it would be like to one day proposing to her, getting married and growing old together. (What they don’t tell you about being a hopeless romantic) It wasn’t until lunchtime rolled around that I finally had the time to approach and ask her out, surrounded by her sisters and all of our mutual friends. She answered with a disgusted no, and after hearing all day how much she liked me by all of our friends, so I was dumbstruck, managing a feeble, “What?” And when she repeated her answer I could feel my dreams shattering and falling like rain all around me, my heart felt like it was breaking in two.

Sherry and her sister Terry

Sherry and her sister Terry

“But…my poem…” I mumbled numbly, “Was garbage, so I threw it away,” She replied, making me want to just crawl into a hole somewhere and die. But then came Terry and my friends trying to supportive and reminding her how crazy she was for me. She denied them over a dozen times, each one a blow to my heart, hearing her telling not just me, but everyone how she never liked me and never will. I wanted to beg them to stop, to ask them to stop trying to help me because it had hurt too much.

I ended up spending the rest of my high school career in this on again, off again dance with her, trying to win her heart with every song and there were times where I could have sworn she had the same feelings for me, but whenever we would get close, it was like someone or something would always drive us further apart. It drove me crazy and eventually I gave up on chasing her, I walked away from love.

But on graduation day, her sister Jane sees me and pulls me aside and asked me if I still had feelings for her sister.

I couldn’t bear to speak the truth, I was too afraid to so much as think about her out of fear it’d spark that torch I carried for her and be left feeling like a love struck fool all over again, so I shrugged and said, “I don’t know….”

Taking my hand, she pulled me close then and I could feel her eyes exploring the depths of my own and before I could ask what this was all about she says,

“I have to tell you something, my sister did like you and probably still does, the reason she never said yes, was because of me.”

I could feel my brow furrow, because I didn’t understand, it didn’t make sense to me….she had been one of my closest friends and I couldn’t fathom why she would be sorry, or what she could have done to keep Sherry and me apart, then she said something I never expected to hear, because I had known her for years, she was my friend and confidant.

“I’ve been in love with you for a long time and when I saw that look on your face when I told you how Sherry felt about you, I was jealous and I told her nothing but lie about you. I told her this had all been a game to you, because you only wanted her to make some other girl jealous. I told her you only seemed nice but in reality you were really just a player…And I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have gotten in the way.”

I could feel the earth giving away beneath my feat, I never felt or knew such an act of betrayal even existed in this world. I had no words, I couldn’t speak, and all I could do was turn and walked away. It’s wasn’t until writing this that I realized that I still haven’t spoken to Jane since that day. But still every now and then I can’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if she never intervened.

Sherry Troy and smile that was like the sunrise.

Sherry Troy and smile that was like the sunrise.

I turned away from my friend and walked away from her that day without ever looking, feeling a small twinkling of hope that it wasn’t too late, believing I still had a chance to fix things and maybe, just maybe pick up from where we started. That day I couldn’t stop scanning every face in the hall and the crowd of my graduation ceremony, hoping to find her face someone among the countless faces, to see her staring back at me. Imagining what I would do when I saw her and having this little fantasy that I would see her, walk up to her and pull her away from whoever she may have been talking to, pulling her against me as I leaned down to kiss her lips of soft velvet.

I never did find her and I was too distracted to join in the excitement of celebrating of finally graduating from High-school, I was somewhere else while my friends were busy living in the moment. But I was too busy thinking about her, anxious to get home to call her and to just hear the sound of her voice. But when I finally got around to calling her no one was home and so I took off and went to my best friend’s graduation party hoping she’ll be there, but she wasn’t.

Days go by and I can’t seem to ever seem to get a hold of her, or catch anyone to just tell her that I called.  Eventually, one day her mom answers and she tells me that Sherry had moved out a few days ago and was now living with some boy she had just met. I don’t remember hanging up the phone, just the feeling of my heart breaking and the pieces falling down all around my feet.  I feel defeated and numb, I was given hope and it was in was torn away from me in one fell swoop. Shell shocked I wondered out of my room, hoping to find some reason to keep believing….to believe in something, anything, wanting to find some purpose and maybe a little hope. But my mother found me instead and asked why I was moping around. For once, I decided to just talk to her and tell her everything, hoping that I’d receive some of that age old motherly advice, or receive a little of that love that always seemed so out of reach. Instead she interrupted me before I could say but two words and said,

“I don’t care, you’re just stupid, pathetic loser and I can’t stand you, I never could and the worse thing is that I never wanted you. You’re nothing but a stupid mistake and if it wasn’t for your father I would have never birthed you, I wanted an abortion and he’s the only reason you’re still here because he wanted you. You were the accident that was never supposed to be and I think you would have been better off dead, because no one will ever love or want a pathetic, weak loser like yourself. “

She turned and walked away from me then, striding toward her craft room, mumbling about how much she resented me and I hear her tell say with my own ears that the only reason she put up with me for so long was for the child support and the money. I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to. My father had been right all along, it’s exactly what he’d been trying to warn me about for years, but I never listened and now I could feel what remained of my already broken heart shatter into a million little pieces.  Leaving it so broken that they could now pass seamlessly through the eye of a needle, I was broken, in every sense of the word and I couldn’t move. Not at first anyway. All I could do was watch disappear into her little craft room, expecting at any moment for her to pop back out and tell me this was all some sort of twisted and cruel joke, I didn’t want to think she was serious. But after several minutes of just standing there speechless with my mind reeling. I hear every 18 minutes someone commits suicide and ever forty seconds, someone attempts one. And I was about to become another statistic.forsaken

In that moment I lost my faith, I hated God. I couldn’t fathom why he would make this woman my mother and never allow me any real happiness. I had been hopeful my entire life, wanting and trying to believe that things would get better, believing that they had to. But my battles were too numerous, too long and hard and I was tired. Immediately I turned and headed upstairs, grabbing a few prescription pill bottles my mother had kept in our medicine cabinet. I’m not sure what all I took, but I took seven or eight pills from every bottle that read “Only take 1 every 12 hours,” And “Do not mix with other medication” Then not wanting to risk anyone seeing what I was up to, or trying to stop me, I shoved the pills down into my pocket. This was my decision and my choice and I wasn’t going to give anyone a chance to stop or delay me.

With a bottle of Vicodin that I had left over from my wisdom teeth surgery,  along with the various other pills that I had stuffed down into my pockets. Then I took one final look at my reflection in the mirror and waved goodbye to the person I used to be, the person I used to know.

Returning to my room, I closed and locked my door, filled my cd player with my favorite cds and took a bottle of prescription sleeping pills, along with about 3/4

I wrote a single sentence on my desk’s notepad, “This is my goodbye, I’ve waited too long, I’m not worth anything, and tell dad I’m sorry.”

It didn’t take long for the room to start to spin and for the shortness of breath to begin and I fell onto my bed, crawling up onto the sheets feeling so cold as my body went numb, feeling pins and needles all over body, I felt like I was suffocating, struggling to breathe and it was then my world went black.

At first darkness was all I could see and feel. I was relieved, because I was finally free from all the pain and loneliness that plagued me for long. No longer did I feel all the pain that was tearing my heart apart, it was over and death wasn’t so bad I thought, I felt a strange sense of comfort in darkness that coiled and wrapped around me. I was a little disappointed though, I was hoping to find myself before God and demand an explanation, an apology for all that been wrong. But I didn’t and I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, or loved ones who had already passed over. Instead I found myself in a world surrounded by darkness and for a moment it was soothing and a little peaceful. But then I felt this jerk and then I had this sense like I was falling. I was falling faster and faster,  feeling what felt like cool air rushing up to greet me as I plummeted downward, feeling the air grow and become warm, then hot as it rushed over me. The realization of what I have done hit me then. I had committed a cardinal sin, I had committed suicide, I wasn’t going to get my trial, I wasn’t going to able to curse at the God who made me and let me cry so many tears. I wasn’t going to get answers and I would never learn why or the reasons for any of it, I was going straight to hell.

In my fear I cried out to God and it was then I felt descent slow and the heat dispel, until when I was once again just floating there in the inky blackness and I felt like was being watched and I sensed this profound sadness in the air around me, before I felt what I can only describe was warm comforting arms wrapping around me, pulling me close and lifting me up. I have no words for the feelings that washed over me. The love I felt was overpowering and I felt like a child in the warm, loving arms a loved one, of a father who was holding me close. I began to cry as I heard the voice apologizing for the struggles I’ve had, that despite what I had done, he was still proud of me, but telling me not to lose hope and that I had to stay, I had to go back, asking me to stay strong, to have faith and to live, to really live, that I’d go on to do great things in time.

But I didn’t want to, I wanted to stay in this place that I was, I clung to the father, pleading to stay and I saw the faces of my father, my grandmother, my friends and all of those who would miss me. It made me sad, but still I didn’t want to go, I was happy here and now, in this warmth.

So he showed me something else instead, he showed me myself, decades later, living a life where I’m happy, with my dreams finally coming true and I see the world waking up and finally beginning to read again, I see a family, a loving wife.

Without really thinking I feel myself letting go and I’m blinded by this sudden light that seemed to appear out of nowhere and when I look around, I discover I’m outside and I’m flying, miles above the earth, the view is breathtaking. But I’m actually was falling, down through sky, past the clouds, with the world rushing up to greet me, the air is cool against my skin and comforting as it rushes through my hair. I see my house, coming into view and I’m falling faster. I’m not afraid, but I bring my arms up protectively around me as I fall into the roof, passing insubstantiality through the shingles and support beams of my house.  I Falling through the kitchen where my mother had started making dinner and I can smell macaroni and cheese from the pot on the stove, before I pass through the floor to where I saw myself, laying so still and alone on my bed, where I crash with a jolt into my body.

I sat up just as I reunited with my body, taking a sharp intake of breath as I rose up off the bed, it hurts to breathe, yet I’m gasping for breath. I’m cold and my body burns as blood rushes back through my limbs, giving me a feeling pin and needles, that you often get when a part of your body falls asleep. But mine was all over and then I crawled out of bed, where I collapsed on the floor and passed out once more.

I firmly believe that I died this day; but you may have come to your own conclusion. But this is what happened to me and when I woke up, I felt okay, even though I knew my the worse was far from over, instinctively I knew would be leaving Grant County and saying goodbye to all my friends until the day came when we would meet again. But I knew whatever came and no matter how things would turn out, I would survive it. I may have died a coward, a scared and frightened little boy, but I was born again and in so doing became a man.

Closing note: a few years ago thanks to the advent of Facebook, Sherry managed to look me up and send me a friend request. We still talk and she tells me she’s always had strong feelings for me. But she’s currently in a relationship and has a few kids and to me she’s just as beautiful as she was the day I first met her in the High-School cafeteria.

2008 I'm the crow with my cousins

2008 I’m the crow with my cousins

 

 

Part VI

Intermission: Our scars aren’t who we are, nor do they tell us who we were, our scars represent our perseverance, for all scars fade with time. 

 

That's me with my dad's family, ruining this family photo :P

That’s me with my dad’s family, ruining this family photo 😛

As hard as things were for me growing up, I still remained a pretty happy and go-lucky kid. Granted, I did eventually get pretty beaten down and my depression, anxiety all came much, much later, affecting me in my early teens.

But I digress, for my mother wasn’t always so horrible, she had some, if not few and far between moments where she was remarkably human and like most kids in my situation I clung to those moments, cherished them and clung stubbornly on to. Because it was those moments that made me think there was hope, a flickering possibility that my mother may have actually loved me. Which is one of the reasons I put up with what I did and why I until recently I chose to suffer in silence. No one knew the battles I fought, or why despite my worse days, I still had love for my mother, love that wouldn’t go away, no matter how many times I tried convincing myself that I hated her.
I portray this same sort of Stockholm syndrome involving abusive parents in my upcoming book, “Losers” Where Kyle Reese clings to the moments where his parents had been decent towards him and despite everything his parents do to him and no matter how badly they mistreat him, he still loves and cares for them, even when he can’t possibly fathom the why of it all, even when they make his life dreadfully miserable and causing him to spend most of this days just trying to avoid his parents.

Cover design for my upcoming book. "Losers."

Cover design for my upcoming book. “Losers.”

My mom, despite whatever sickness or disorder she had, or has, did have her motherly moments which were few and far between. But all the same, they would make me feel such warmth, I would then cling so desperately to those memories, with a part of me doubting the fact she hated me, with the other part of me believing I could win her affection, thus letting her see me as her son. So for every kindness she ever shown me, I tried like hell to make those moments repeat themselves and more often than not, I was met with complete and utter failure.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I still cherish those times when I felt like my mother and I were finally connecting and even though they never lasted, I carry them still.  They were the moments when it felt that there was some sort of clarity in the air and she realized I was her son and was accepting me as such.

One of these moments came when I was very young and we were living in our house on Tando way, in Taylor Mill Kentucky. It was long after the ordeal when my mother had abandoned me and later stole me back and it was a few years before my parents got their inevitable divorce, back when my older brother and I still shared a bedroom with bunk beds. I remember it was here, that on most nights, our mother would come to tuck us in at night and she would pick a story or let us choose one that’ll she’ll read to us. Sometimes, she’d read a few pages, and some nights she would read whole chapters, or until we fell asleep. Usually she would read the Hardy boys, or from a book of fables such as Puss and Boots, the emperor and his new clothes, Jack and the Beanstalk, all of which would grow to become my favorites. But every now and then she would read something different, forcing us to familiarize ourselves with stories we hadn’t grown accustom too. I think it also helped introduce change, so we could grow to like more, or other stories, that wasn’t Hardy Boy related.

But even still I remember laying there in my bottom bunk as she pulled the book E.T the extraterrestrial from our little cabinet and I remember the book cover was a generic yellow, with a crudely drawn picture of E.T on the cover. I also remember how she would carefully read aloud every word, exercising perfect pronunciation, as if each word held a particular significance.

 

These were the moments I cherished the most, moments I’ll always carry with me, my mother may not have been that great, or good towards me, but she had moments, when she would look at me and I swear I could feel that maybe she didn’t hate, or despise me, that just maybe she actually liked me, at least a little. Granted it was rare and far between, often leaving me to wonder what I could do to make her love me at least half as much as she seemed to care for my older brother, believing if I were to accomplish some amazing feat, if I would somehow win her affection and I would finally feel what it was like to have a real and true mother, like the ones I’ve read about in books, seen on TV or act something more akin to mothers of my friends. It’s so strange to me now, I haven’t spoken with her, or seen her in years, but I can see her still sitting beside our bed as she read to us. I can see it so clearly, it’s as if I can look through this window in time and see the past.

 

Gerbil number 2, my older brother and me.

Gerbil number 2, my older brother and me.

My mother would read to us, not in a hurry, or a rush to finish. She would perfectly pronounce and shape each word, reading aloud to us with enthusiasm, and grace. She did all the voices, and would pause periodically to ask my brother and me what we thought, or felt about a certain situation in the story. She would want to know and ask what we thought would happen next and would actually have a conversation with us about the book and the events unfolding within the story itself. Which now looking back, I believe it was this and these moments with her that planted the very seeds of story-telling into my very heart and instilled in me my unparalleled loved for books. Because now whenever I finish a book, I look around and realize that everyone around me is just carrying on with their lives, as though I didn’t just experience the emotional trauma at the hands of paper, or hardback book. Because those moments with my mother, hearing her tell us stories left me forever changed and sparked within me an incomparable imagination, a sense of wonder and a deeply rooted love for the magic in the written word and the stories locked away in one’s imagination.

Man looking out office window at night

I didn’t start this series, to simply talk about how bad my childhood was, or to paint my mother as this horrible person which she was. I started it to help others, to let people know that abuse isn’t ever okay and sometimes for explainable reasons a parent or parents will pick one child to be the target of all their abuse. I can never explain it, but as a child, I did see the parallels between how we were treated and unfortunately my older brother never witnessed any of what I had to endure and I never told him either, not until it was too late….And it wasn’t always so bad, so periodically from this point on, I will inject a little intermission here to describe a positive memory involving my mother and maybe somewhere along the way, we’ll discover why I kept quiet for so long and endured the quiet torment of a young boy, sitting on an old porch swing, wishing his life was more like  his dreams, where nothing was ever as bad as they seemed and why I had so much love for a woman who showed me so very little in return. Because I do miss her in some, strange and unexplainable way and I long and pray for a day that she finds me, apologizes for all past wrongs and at least attempts to make amends for past wrongs, because I would need that assurance to know that her words weren’t hollow as they had been in the past.

The Scars of who we are Part V

The Scars of who we are. 
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Part V
From the night which covers me, as dark as shadow of the darkest abyss, with only a blanket of stars to guide my way, I thank God for my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of chance and circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Bludgeoned by both chance and circumstance my head is bloody, yet unbowed and beyond this place, past the tears and brokenness and all my despair, is my rebirth and beginning life anew. The past is behind me and if that or other demons shall menace me, they’ll find me unafraid.

 It’s never as bad you think, so many things we all take for granted, such as life. It’s like when I was nearly drowned when I was just a little over four and my mscan0016other had taken me to her sister’s to swim. Her sister had married into money and lived in a mansion with her husband Skip. The pool was immense, with an indoor pool that connected to a much larger outdoor pool. Usually my mother would leave me to my own devices and I would jump in with my little floaties and swim around having a ball and sometimes I would bring toys with me and have epic battles at sea. Usually with my old he-man, GI-Joes, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys.  However this one day, this one day, I had taken off my floaties to go the bathroom and to then wanted to lay down on one of the benches to bake in the sun. Mostly because I was tired and had after after a few hours in the pool by myself I had grown a bit bored, so I wanted to relax in the sun for a bit. My mother however had other plans, when I returned from the bathroom; she scooped me up in her arms and tossed me into the deep end of the pool.

                At the time I still didn’t know how to swim and still required my swimming floaties , but she had thought it’d be fun to toss me into the deep end of the pool. I still remember the laughing that ensued as hit the water screaming. Then how I thrashed and gasped for air, until I eventually began to sink, all the while envisioning her diving in after me, but help never came. Every time my head broke the surface of the water, I cried out and every time I saw her and my aunt laughing hysterically, neither one making any kind of move to me, in fact, they weren’t even looking at me. The memory of that will always stick with me, no matter how hard I try to forget. I know I was just a child, but I think we always remember the time when we’re almost killed. Although I must admit I’ve always had a extraordinary memory, not photographic, but I remember a lot and sometimes I feel like I remember too much.
                But did you know that when you’re drowning you don’t actually inhale until right before you black out? It’s called voluntary apnea. It’s like no matter how much you’re freaking out; the instinct not breathe in any water is so strong that you won’t open your mouth until you feel like your head’s exploding. Then when you finally do let the water in, it stops and it stops being scary. In a way it’s… almost kind of peaceful, giving up and just letting the water in. But, sometimes, if you can endure that excruciating pain, making you feel as if your heart and lungs are about to explode, with your head feeling as though it’s fit to burst, if you hold on just for just a few more precious seconds of life, you slowly sink and hit the bottom. It’s then once you hit the bottom that you can find the strength to fight the shadows that are encroaching on your vision and as you cling so desperately those last few seconds of precious life, you can find the strength within yourself to fight your way back to the surface.  (And life is always worth holding onto in my opinion) So no matter how dark your world becomes, if you hold on, you may be surprised by what you find and by the courage that’s been lying dormant within you and the strength to persevere.
                Once I felt my bottom touch the bottom of the pool, I summoned what little strength I had and kicked off from the bottom, then clawed my way back to surface. I don’t know if it was really me, or the grace of God, or simple good luck, but I believe it was God who guided me to the pool’s ladder. But what I can tell you with absolute certainty, that when my head finally broke the surface of the water, and as I coughed and gasped for breath, I saw the ladder was right there in easy reach. Frantically I reached for it, hugging it tightly against me as I pulled myself against it as I coughed up a lungful for water, hearing my aunt teasing me, warning me not to drink all the water in her pool, as I climbed furiously up the ladder.

Looking up at them at that moment, I don’t think I ever before or since felt such anger towards anyone in my life. My mother and aunt just standing there, laughing like nothing had ever happened, as if I’ve done this stupid thing to myself, ignoring the fact I nearly drowned. So I took a breath and summoned up the most hurtful words I could string together.

“I hate you and wish you both were dead!” (That got her attention)
Before I knew it she had stormed over to me and I tensed up, half expecting her to toss me back into the pool, instead she gripped the underside of my arm, digging her nails painfully into my flesh as she wrenched my arm up and proceeded to beat the living crap out of me, spanking my backside as hard as she could, with the first swat knocking me off my feet, but she held me firmly by the arm, preventing me from going anywhere. I can still remember how her nails bit deeper into my arm as she continued to hit me, enough times that I eventually lost count and once she was done she tossed me the ground as if I was some little annoying plaything, that disgusted her and ordered me to be quite, otherwise a second beating would follow.
                I never did understand how I warranted the beating I received that day, or the grounding that followed. To me it seemed a bit extreme, being as I was the one who nearly died and granted my words may have been a bit spiteful, but I was still a kid and I had every right to be angry with her. It was also the first time I really began to wonder if she hated me, for she showed no remorse and never gave me so much as an apology.
                Now I know if you’re reading this, you’re thinking I didn’t have very many sunny days. But not every day was dark and stormy. Yes I know my life hadn’t always been all sunshine and rainbows either. But it’s the bad days that make us appreciate the sunny ones and for me, my sunny days were the greatest. I got to have an involved father who loved spending time with me, taking me out to movies, parks, who taught me how to play and always had something planned for us to do whenever I got to see him. I had the best grandmother in the world, who later took me in and showed me how a true mother should be and I’ll forever love and miss her dearly. I also had some pretty incredible friends who took me in, dusted me off and became like family to me. In a weird and roundabout way, it was like God saw how broken and lonely I was, so he helped me make the right kind of friends, those who would help fill the hollowness in my chest, left by mother and her family. So take it from me, the next time you’re feeling all alone in the world, take time to really think about all the people in your life, the ones you may sometimes try to push away, but always come back anyway, or the ones who simply wait till you’re ready to return to them. Someone does love and care for you and you’re special in your own way and incredibly unique and an amazing person to boot. Think about everything you’ve endured and you’re still here! You’re not just a survivor, you’re a warrior! You’re tougher than anything this life or the other throws your way. And you are, so yes life will kick you around sometimes. It scares you and beats you up, but there’s a day when you realize you’re not just a survivor, you’re a warrior and you’re a fighter. You’re tougher than anything it throws your way. You are.
                Before I get too far away from the time I almost drowned, I need to tell you I have social anxiety, which many often confused for mere shyness. This anxiety often feels like you’re drowning and you can’t breathe and I know there’s medication for anxiety, but there’s usually so many side effects you’re usually better off learning to deal with it like I have and for the most part I’ve overcame most of it and came a very long way. But like most people I have my good days and bad days and there are numerous factors, such as if I’m alone, or in a familiar environment etc. Then again I have my days when I walk into a room full of strangers and within minutes be the center of attention and charming everyone around me. But sometimes, I struggle and I feel like I’m drowning and these are the times I usually need a friend to help me out. So I decided to write this for this purpose, since I’ve experienced friends or family who has told me to simply get over it, or talk. But it’s hard sometimes and for any of us who suffer any kind of anxiety, we need a little time and patience, understanding. We will get through it, just be patient with us, believe it or not I think most are like me and slowly working through it, may never be as fast as you would like, but we can’t be rushed.
                But Like I said, I’ve made great strides in overcoming my anxiety by first getting a job where I’m forced to deal with the general public on a regular basis and whenever I’m out and feeling particular confident I try to strike up a conversation with a stranger, which is always scary and a bit nerve wrecking at times, but hey, I’m a writer and it’s my job to meet and get to know people. Also I found working out has helped me a lot, it took me about two years of working out at home until I eventually got the confidence to join a gym which I did and began making it a point to go about four or fives times a week. Becoming physically fit has helped my confidence a great deal and I found that the better you feel about yourself the easier it is to deal with social situations. So these are just my tips and I’m always trying to better myself, more so now than I have in my previous years, because I’ve learned that everyone has a story to tell and their stories can only add to your own.