Tag Archive: inspiration


You don’t define me. Ch1

No one has the right to just abandon their child, because no matter what happens, that or those kids will always blame themselves, will always feel broken. My mother was not the greatest; she was a manipulator and a monster. Now I’m not saying that she was terrible all the time. She had moments where she could be very cool, kind and motherly. She would often fix me a separate meal because I was a picky eater and on rare occasion she would sit with me and watch T.V, then sometimes, just sometimes, we would talk and even make each other laugh and it would be real. However most of the time my mother was just plain cruel towards me and it often made me wonder why me? Why didn’t she love me? What was wrong with me? And what do I do wrong?

 

I watched as she showed love to my older brother, I watched how much she loved my younger brothers, but not me, no matter how hard I tried, or wanted her to accept and love me, she never did. In the very end, when it was all said and done she let me go, as if she hadn’t begged me to forgive her, to give her a second, third and fourth chance. It almost felt like it was all some weird, twisted and messed up game.

 

Of course I know I’m better off without her in my life, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less, because at the end of the day I still lost my mother. It still hurts whenever I see someone being a good mother and I can’t help but wish I got to experience that myself. Worse is the fact I didn’t just lose a mother, I lost an entire family. Some of whom I loved very much. With this being said, let me just say if you don’t want kids, or if your partner doesn’t want kids, don’t try to talk them into it, don’t force them. Because if both parents don’t love that child, that child will spend their whole life feeling like they did something wrong and they’ll feeling broken for all of their life. This is of course why I often say, I’m morally opposed to abortion, but I support pro-choice. Because I know what it’s like being denied loved, of being abused and broken. I’m well in my thirties and I still feel incomplete and just broken. It still hurts when the wind blows through this brokenness that’s inside of me. I keep hoping someday, I’ll find someone who’ll shake this broken out of me. Of course I’ve heard in a million different ways, a million different times, that I will never find love until I’m able to love myself. I even had a friend once tell me how strange it was to see how much love I had to give and show others when I never seemed to love myself. But I’ve learned that self-love doesn’t always come first, or second, or sometimes not ever. But I’m hopefully that someday, I’ll love someone enough to give them all the love I couldn’t give myself and find a reason to breathe again, to face tomorrow and the day after. .

 

But for as long as I can remember I’ve always been a very imaginative and creative soul. Even to this day, I sometimes play pretend whenever I’m alone, imagining myself being or doing something heroic, imagining what it would be like to be a hero. I’ve dreamed and fantasized this almost every day, with this belief, that if I saved the day, stopped a bad guy, saved someone, that I would be something. I would be talked about and people would open their eyes and see the real me for who I am. That also in doing so I would be loved and accepted, so much so that even my mother would see the value in me.

 

Growing up, I never belonged to a group or a clique; I only ever had a very small group of friends that I could count on one hand. This was mainly because they took a chance on me when everyone else saw an outcast, a loser, a dweeb, or a freak. I had speech problems growing up, buckteeth and warts and I had been made fun of and mocked so many times by both my peers and family, that in time, I gradually began withdrawing from people. I grew shy and backwards because I saw people as cruel and mean.

 

I never really knew why I was the way I was, or at least I didn’t for very long time. It was only recently in my life that I discovered that I have C-PTSD, complex post traumatic stress disorder. Which I spoke about in my previous chapter.

 

Over the years, I’ve struggled. I believed I just had depression and anxiety. It wasn’t until friend suggested I get checked for C-PTSD because she had been diagnosed with the disorder and saw I had many of the similar symptoms as her. At first I was resistant, I had always assumed that PTSD is something reserved only for those who have seen or experienced combat of some kind. But as resistant as I was, I grew to accept that I do have C-PTSD, and it opened up my eyes. I recognized that a lot of my traits that I could never really understand before now made sense. For example, when I break down and cry during an argument, or when I’m stressed. Why I often rationalize taking my own life. Also why I sometimes over-reach out of a desire to be accepted and liked, such as at time times when I have been too nice. Wanting to buy gifts for people I just met, or wanting to do something special for people I meet to win their acceptance, or sometimes just me being overly friendly without seeing how it can seen from an outside perspective. Sometimes I wish I could just wear a sign, or a warning label that just reads.

“I’m a broken individual and emotionally damaged, I want to be accepted and just want everyone to like me.” Or something along those lines, or maybe I should just get business cards made just inform people of my diagnoses that say

“I’m not my depression, I’m not my anxiety, I’m not my C-PTSD, I’m just me and I’m trying my best, I want to be better, I’m trying.”

I have scars; we all do and having scars don’t say or define who we are. Maybe you used to cut yourself, maybe you still do. Maybe you were hurt, been in an accident, seen combat, or maybe you were physically, emotionally or sexually abused. These scars don’t say who we are, or even who we were. They simply tell a story of what we’ve been through. Some scars we’ll carry our entire lives, while others fade in time. But we all heal at different speeds and sometimes we’re cut deeper, which is why the worse thing anyone can say to someone who’s been hurt, is telling them how you dealt with an issue you believe to be similar. Because sometimes, what wounded us, cut us deeper, it doesn’t make those of us who were wounded any less, or weaker than you. Just means the situation was different for us. Which is why some wounds never fully heal and why some scars will always remain. I know most of my scars are hidden and impossible for anyone to really see, I’ve pretended I was okay when I wasn’t. I smiled and laughed on the outside while in reality I was dying inside. I’ve been out with family and friends, pretending I was happy all the while thinking about taking my own life. Because I’ve grown so tired of hurting, of being alone and feeling broken.

 

When I first attempted to talk about my struggles and my past, I admit I was scared. I was afraid no one would believe me, or they would just think less of me and see me as some sort of victim. I was also a little afraid that those who knew my mother would try to defame me in some way. Like when my older brother found my blog and wanted to deny everything I was saying, because he rarely ever saw the mother that I did.

 

I told him as much and I told him that, I think deep down he knows something was off about how she treated me. But he didn’t want to see it, because growing up, my mother always said the same thing to him, “

Your real dad and Robert (my dad) never loved you or wanted you, I’m the only one who wanted you and who loves you.” She also treated my brother very well, always defending him, talking to him when he acted out and always supported him. So I told Dominic, that he couldn’t see the truth because of what it would mean. The truth for him would mean that he ignored me the few times I told him how I believed our mother hated me, or the times he saw me crying, alone in our room. Admitting the truth would mean, he let it happen, he let it go on and he didn’t try to stop it, speak up or protect me. He never saw the correlation between the times he would tease and make fun of me and how our mother would laugh with him, or even join in on making fun of me. But whenever I made fun of him, our mother would beat and ground me.

You see, as anyone would tell you, the most unreliable witness in any circumstance is memory. The human brain is spectacular at playing tricks on itself to help people remember what they want to remember. It’s why some people will swear with all sincerity and zero doubt that a light was green; when it really wasn’t or recall details they couldn’t possibly have known. It’s not that any of these people are really wrong, or less intelligent then those who can remember every detail of a specific event, or moment in their life, it’s just basic neuroscience. Recollections often fade, like photos left in sunlight.
As for me, I’m broken and I’m in pain, I’ve been hurt by someone who should have loved me more than anything, but she broke me instead. I’m not special, I don’t have a photographic memory, I’m terrible with names and I’m just awful with dates. I can’t tell you what I wore two weeks ago. But I do have a knack for remembering events, conversations and the way things felt and how they affected me. I can’t tell you what the love of my life wore the day she broke up with me, I can only tell you the words she said and how I felt my world spiral and fall apart.

More often than sometimes, people ask me how I can remember the things that I do about the way something happened or how I recall past conversations with such clarity. So I tell them it’s not a trick, I just remember details and the way a particular event affected me. I was always a little bit strange in this aspect, because for as far back as I can remember, I would use any and every solitary moment in my life to reflect, contemplate and just think about everything that happened on that particular day. Such as when I surprised my dad recently when he asked if I ever saw him cry and I told him just once. He laughed and asked when and I told him, it was at Grandma’s house, I was playing on the couch with my ninja turtles and giant army tank, when I heard him tell my grandma that it was really over and he broke down crying, saying how much he loved her.  I quietly stopped what I was doing and went over to him, wrapped my arms around his neck and told him I loved him as I climbed up into his lap. I will always remember how he wrapped his arms around me and how my grandma soon joined in on this hug. It was the first time I ever really felt worried and hurt for someone other than myself, for someone who was real. Because yes, I would often cry from watching sad movies, reading sad stories and would often be called names because of this. But back then, I was still too young to really know what a divorce was, or what it meant. But I knew my dad was hurt and I knew he loved my mother despite how bad it was between them or how often they had fought.

Now I don’t know how I’ll turn out in my retelling of these events, victim, hero, villain, or simply a survivor. But I can tell you this is my story and I’m coming clean, I may not always be the hero, I know I didn’t always make the right choices. I don’t know who I am in my story; I’ll leave that to you. I know I’m not the hero, that station I reserve for those who helped me through it all. Some have been family, but the majority had been friends who have become my family.  In the past I’ve always been incredibly reluctant and guarded about my past, something born out of fear of being ostracized, accused of playing the victim, or simply crying out for attention, or worse, not being believed at all. A lot of I’ve come to learn is the result of me being gas lighted by mother. Who always told me I was making things worse than what they were, or tell me how I was brainwashed by my father and his family. She would always bring up how she made my separate meals because of how picky I was, then tell me how my father wouldn’t put with it and that he wanted to send me to military school, etc. Sometimes she would even break down crying, pretending she was hurt that I would even question if she loved me or not.
But I was also often threatened with what would happen if I ever told anyone about what happened when I was at home. Once she told me I would be put up for adoption and would be raped if I told anyone about what was going on at home. She then told me what rape was and I was a child. I was told time again, that family business shouldn’t be talked about or shared with anyone outside that immediate family unit, followed up with the thinly veiled threats, of all the things she would do and would happen to me if I did. This is my story, from beginning to end, told as honestly as I know how.

If you read this far. I could use your help in getting this series published into a book format. It’s my hope that as a book this would reach more people and hopefully help them. But I’m broke, lost my job just before Christmas and slowly getting back on my feet. So if you can help with the publishing cost, I will greatly appreciate it. I thought about trying the kickstarter thing, but I don’t have any rewards I could offer anyone who donated, because at the end of the day all I have are my words.
https://www.gofundme.com/getting-published-quotyou-don039t-define-mequot

“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.

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

Because life isn’t a journey, for every journey ends and when it ends, we go on. There are no do-overs and second chances come as rare as a flower blooming in the dead of winter, but we learn and carry on. Sometimes we’re heavier from the burdens we take on and carry with us; sometimes we become lighter by sharing our burdens with those closest to us. Sometimes we complain and feel that our burdens are too much, but the weight isn’t what matters, what matters is that we carry it. Because the world turns and turns and we with it, plans fall apart, things change, scars fade, but the memory, the memories always remain and sometimes there’s a moment that hovers and settles for but a moment, leaving us forever and in-explicitly changed in the most unexpected of ways, ways we never thought or felt before. And it’s then that our dreams take over and it’s there I see you and it seems that wherever I go, I find you, you’re there, my luck, my fate, my fortune, my life, my blessing and my curse. But it’s not all about you, or where in the stars your destiny lies, it’s about the here and now and what you find in the hidden depths of your soul, it’s where we go from here, as the ashes of what was and what might have been finally settle down around us, leaving us forever transformed, this is it, this is the now and it’s when you finally decide where you’re going to go from here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

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

Chapter 17-Part 2.

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

Man goes through the morning mist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh of course you do)

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

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

“Yes,” I confirmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brief pause when I hear him say,

“Chris is an HP laptop?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Davenport returns to me shaking his head,

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

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then comes the interview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of my new family

The rest of my new family

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

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

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

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

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

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

Scars of Who We Are 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.

IMAGE_026

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 XIII

Chapter 13

We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. The writer’s job is to turn the unspeakable into words – not just into any words, but if we can, into rhythm and blues.

― Anne Lamott

A month after my suicide, I was a patchwork of emotions, still living at home with my mother, although I’m unsure why I didn’t just get up and flee, but I was struggling to pull and hold myself together, sensing that something foreboding was waiting for me somewhere off on the horizon and that every day it was looming ever closer. I was afraid, but I knew that whatever storm was heading my way, I would stand before and weather the storm and I would stand before my biggest fear and let it pass through me. Knowing if I survived, it would make me stronger and I would be better, maybe even a little bit wiser.

The Grant County Fair

The Grant County Fair

I was steadily settling into working  nights at the Burger King at the end of my street and like most first jobs I hated it. But it wasn’t the grease burns, or the nightly rush that bothered me, it was the getting home every morning around two or three a.m and having to wash with lava soap to get the smell of burgers, fries  and grease off of me. I also hated it for all the things it took from me, I couldn’t see my dad because I was often working and I was seeing my friends less and less. The situation was made worse by my mother who would come and bang on my door every morning at ten in the morning and sometimes she would wake me up even earlier, screaming at me for sleeping the day away, oblivious to the fact I had just gotten home, showered and went to bed a few hours prior, which was quickly wearing me down and making me feel as though I was slowly turning into a zombie, just going through the motions. Every day I would wake up tired, shower again, eat a little breakfast and watch my little brothers before going in to work at seven.  I was nineteen and already felt myself falling into a boring and lonely routine. Wondering if God really brought me back from the brink of death for this of all things.

As if sensing my growing frustrations, or noticing my slow decline into depression, my two best friends started visiting me at my work, often waiting hours after we’ve closed just to give me a ride home, since I didn’t have a car.

(Well I did technically get a car from my grandpa for my last birthday, but unbeknownst to me my mother gifted it to my older brother, until he was done with it and got a new car himself, allowing her to sell the car that was meant for me.)

Matt and his lovely family

Matt and his lovely wife

Matt and Steven were like the brothers I never had, they enjoyed having me around and often went out of their way to make me feel accepted and cared for. Often encouraging me in my passions and my writing. They also made me feel loved.  (which I so desperately needed, I didn’t know it then, but looking back now, I know I was looking to fill those holes my family had left within my heart. So they became my family, filling in those holes I so desperately wanted and needed to be filled. Because family to me is what you say it is and you what make it, family doesn’t have to be defined by blood relations or by marriage alone. It’s the connections you make and the bonds you share.)

Then one night after they picked me up from another late night at work, we went to Matt’s and sat around his pool discussing our school year and  the summer that we all knew was drawing to a close and soon we would all be going our separate ways, with him going off to the marine core, Steven pursuing a career in special effects and me the writer, dreaming of a better life for myself. We discussed the possibility of this moment being the one moment in time that would never again come around, that this was it, the days of our youth were winding down and would soon be forever behind us. So it was with that thought, we realized we had to make this summer count for something and we agreed to make it a summer we’ll always remember, our one last hurrah.

We planned to attend the Grant County Fair, and because we lived in a closed minded, back water little town, populated mostly by hillbillies and country bumpkins, we decided to go in goth, to stand out, daring to be different, maybe even ourselves.

Also for me it’s always been easier to act more carefree when I wasn’t dressed as myself, so dressing up in goth felt kinda freeing in a way, by believing I could put on this other persona and be this person that I wasn’t. It gave me person to stop worrying about what others thought of me and what they said, it was liberating. I also learned that I look good in all black, for I actually had more girls flirting with me than I had in my entire life. So that was a nice added plus.

Steven

Steven

Once there Matt decided to have a little fun by staging a fake fight with another one of our other friends, John and being young and stupid we all thought it was a great idea, which almost resulted in us being booted out of the fair. But once everyone figured out it was all staged and we were just goofing around, everything was well and good, with the rest of the night being incredibly memorable, one that made me feel more alive than I thought possible and how we laughed  all night until we cried.   Although I must confess, the whole time I did keep an eye out for Sherry, hoping to see her somewhere in the sea of people there at the Grant County Fair.

It took three days for word of our shenanigans to get around to my mother and My step-father, Chris and believe me, they were not too pleased. I had been asleep for a whole five and a half hours when they came banging on my door, demanding I get up.  I rose, bleary eye and sleep deprived from working even later than usual and opened the door wondering what they wanted to harass me about now and was immediately shoved inside as they forced their way into my room, with the accusations already flying.

Immediately they began questioning me about the fair and I answered as honestly as I could and believing them both to be overreacting and that if they just heard my side of the story, that it would all blow over. (But I obviously forgotten who I was dealing with.)  But I did my best to explain the situation for what it was, our one last hurrah before we risked never seeing each other again. But they weren’t having it, instead I found myself being accused of being in a suicidal cult and how I was tarnishing Chris’s good name as a police officer and for the first time in my life I found the conviction to finally stand up for myself and cry, “Bullshit!” and reminded them how I always stayed out of trouble, and how I never once broke the law, or drank, did any drugs, nor did I ever cause any problems at school.

But my mother wouldn’t listen, instead she stepped to me and began jabbing me in the chest with her finger, ordering me I was to call Matt, Steven and the others and tell them how I could no longer be friends with them. An act I couldn’t find more humiliating, or degrading, especially from all the times they’ve been there for me and so I stood my ground and defiantly told her no.

She hadn’t expected my answer and looked surprised, which quickly gave way to anger and she began screaming at me, telling me how I was going to do it, or she was going to. But I found my courage and my voice and shook my head as I said,

“Look, my friends and I all graduated together,  and none of them have ever been in any kind of trouble, or been arrested, none of them smoke or do drugs, they’re good friends to have and they’ve been good to me and they’ve been there for me than you ever were. They’re my family and have been my family in all the ways you never were and I won’t write them off for you. “

“I don’t care,” She says, “You either call  your friends up right now and tell them you can’t be friends with them-“

“Mom,” I interrupt, “I’m nineteen, I’m not my brother and my friends aren’t his, mine are better.”

(Which was the truth, my brother’s friends have all been, or gone to prison…some still are and almost all of them have either been expelled or dropped out of high-school and more than one had knocked a girl up, or was hooked on drugs, or an alcoholic. Unlike my friends who worked hard, kept their noses clean and help motivate and even tutor me on their own when I was falling behind them in my classes. All the things she’s always known.

“Call them, or we’re kicking you out!” She threatened and I smiled. Because I realized her threats didn’t bother me anymore and I wasn’t afraid. I was free and my eyes were finally opening to all the lies she’s ever told me. This was what my father kept trying to warn me would eventually happen. My mother was going to kick me out because she had no further need of me, no child support and I was no longer a prisoner for her to bully and threaten, I was free to choose and I chose to go.

“Alright…I’m gone.” I rasp and picking up my phone as she asks me where I’m going to go and so I tell her, “I think I’ll go live with my dad for a little while.”

She watches me make the call with venom and revulsion as I dialed my dad’s number and when he answered I told him, that I  needed a place to stay and that I was being kicked out.  He understood and told me he’d be right on his way and we both hung up.

As soon as I got off the phone with my father, my mother started going off on me, rattling off everything that was wrong with me, calling me a little hoodlum, a liar, and how weak and pathetic I was. All the while, I kept trying to ignore her and begun packing up my things as she followed me around telling me that I was nothing but an ugly little coward and worse.

Of course I didn’t expect any less from her, after all this was the person I’ve grown up with, so I bit my tongue and quietly packed up my things and praying that she would just go and leave me alone, which she never did.

She insisted on saying that I was nothing but a little mischievous liar, always sneaking around and how my dad wouldn’t put up with my attitude or behavior, along with every little thing I did wrong since I was seven and how one day my father would end up beating me to death, or forcing me into the military life to make a man out of me, which was when I finally snapped.

“Enough!” I barked, “Just stop it okay, seriously when does it does it end? You won alright? I’m moving out, you can stop blaming me and holding me accountable for things I did when I was seven. I’m sorry I ruined your life so much by being born. But believe it or not and despite whatever you may think, I was a good kid and I don’t know maybe I’ve just been a little misunderstood, but I’m not the same person I was when I was a kid and I admit,  I used to steak candy from people’s candy jars, I snuck around people’s houses and explored,  I looked in cupboards, searched every room, explored every closet, but  I was seven! That’s what kids do, I never stole or took from anyone and I was a kid. I’m sorry I couldn’t always act like and be the adult you wanted me to be, I’m sorry for all the times I didn’t behave, or be the perfect kid, I’m sorry for the lies I used to tell just so that you wouldn’t beat me with the paddle. But that’s what kids too, we’re afraid of getting punished and you made us afraid of the paddle, but I was eight and you still act like it was yesterday. You haven’t noticed that in the past ten years I’ve changed and grew to admit to the things I did wrong and would only deny the things I hadn’t, until you either beat, or blackmailed a false confession out of me, that you would then use to further incriminate me for other things I hadn’t done, forever condemning as a liar, no matter what I ever said or did to prove otherwise.

“Josh you’ve always been a liar and vindictive, trying to get back at me cause you think you’ve been done wrong!” She snapped back.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, “And why would you think, that I would think or do that? For what reason would you think I would want to get back at you  for something you did if you’ve always been the perfect mother? Or do you admit that you’ve always been horrible to me and are afraid to death it’s going to come back to bite you? But you got me all wrong, despite everything you’ve ever done and said to me, I always loved you and prayed for a real mother and son relationship with you, but you took all that away, you made me afraid of you and I never once stood up to you, so whatever it is you think about me is twisted and I seriously think that you’re sick.”

“Josh I can’t believe you would say that,” she shot back.

Shrugging, I shake my head,

“Do you ever stop to wonder about why it is you think I’m such a horrible person? My whole life all you ever done was blame me for everything, no matter what and without fail. Never believing anyone else would lie to you, but me. Even after Dominic (My brother) got arrested for stealing a vending machine from the Wendy’s break room, I was there when he swore up and down he had nothing to do with it, swearing to God, that he was innocent, but when they showed the security footage of him actually stealing it, I’m still somehow always the big liar. It’s always been lose, lose with me, I would plead my innocents and you  wouldn’t stop beating me until I confessed and you would always hold that confession against me, telling me it’s why you couldn’t ever believe me in the future. Do you recall how many times and how long it would take of you beating the hell out of me before you got your confessions? Did you ever once stop to think that I would have comped to anything if it meant  the beating and the groundings, would stop, or just so that I could have dinner?”

“Josh, you’re just trying to be the victim,” She snorted,

“Because that’s what you made me!” I retorted. “No matter what I did or what happened you would judge me as being guilty before even speaking to me and automatically assumed the worse about me when I gave you no grounds to do so.  I’ve always been a good kid, stayed out of trouble, always doing what I was told. Even my friend’s parents believe I’m as straight laced as they come, too afraid of ever doing anything even remotely bad or wrong. But you see only what you want to see in me and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the threats, the accusations and being treated like a second class citizen, so I’m done, you got your wish, and I’m no longer your son.”

Then I shook my head grabbed my bags and shoved my way past her, to wait out in the driveway for my father to pick me up. My heart was still racing, I never spoken to my mother like that before, heck until then I barely even stood up for myself…like ever. It felt good, if not a little scary and hurtful, because I finally admitted what I never had to courage to really face. Which was there was nothing I could do, nothing I could ever say, my mother hated me and would always see me as some stupid delinquent that she could bully and manipulate. Although a part of me was already looking back, thinking about my little brothers and how much I would miss them, imagining there reaction when they discovered that I had gone and how they would ask about me, dreading whatever lies my mother would feed them. But this was something I had to do, I had to cut ties with my mother no matter how much it hurt, otherwise I risked drowning.

But little did I know, my mother wasn’t done, not yet, not by a long shot, dealing me a blow that I never expected or saw coming….

Me, Matt, Dawn and Steven.

Me, Matt, Dawn and Steven.

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 IV

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 Picture 3

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

 

                              Picture 5.

 

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

 

 

 Picture 2.

 

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

 Picture 4.

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

 

My dad visiting the wreckage.

 

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

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

 

I apologize for the length of this post, but I didn’t feel like drawing it out over the next few weeks, partly because I really want to dive back into “The Scars of who we are.” Which I’ll now be able to enhance by adding a few pictures to the tale of my upbringing.

There’s something left here for me to see,
A person I have to be,
And I’m struggling to break free,
From the bonds that tie me to who I used to be,
But I’m stuck in this dream and I can’t break free,
So wake me up from this dream that never ends,
Haunting me, haunting me to my bitter ends…

                I was dreaming, but didn’t know I was and I couldn’t wake up, trapped in a prison of my own mind, living in a world that all my senses told me were real, I was living in a prison of wills.

Opening the door of the mansion, I was assaulted by the freezing winds that whipped against me, chilling my exposed flesh and sapping what little warmth my clothes offered me. Pulling my coat tighter around me and flipping up the collar to help protect as much as my neck as it could, I started down the walkway. Leaning against the freezing and howling wind, I fought to keep moving forward and not to retreat back into the house by fiercely hugging myself in attempt to stay as warm as possible, I can’t recall a time I had ever been colder.

Stepping out onto the driveway and making my way past the numerous snow covered cars that had been a part of our convoy, I spot Nick sitting in a jeep, all the way at the end of the torturously long driveway, I can almost hear him cackling over the wind and I shake my head, muttering, “Jerk,” Under my breath. Lowering my head to keep my face out of the freezing wind, I begin trudging my way down the unnecessary long driveway, towards the jeep, thankful he at least had it running, which meant there would be heat.

With the Jeep’s taillights coming closer in view and thinking of all the lovely ways I could pay my cousin back for making me walk half a mile in this weather, when I hear him screaming.

“Behind you, behind you!”

My eyes open wide as I glance up, seeing him hanging out of the jeep and standing up, with his hands cupped over his mouth as he screams and points to something behind me. My breath catches in my throat and I turn, expecting to find myself staring down a barrel of a gun, instead I’m greeted by a large black form hurdling towards my face. I don’t act, I simply react and bring my fist up, throwing all my weight into it and slammed my fist home into the snarling beast, just missing it’s gnashing teeth as I knock it aside.

Breathing heavily, I look down what I now realize is a large black dog, which was already bearing his teeth and emitting a loud rumbling grown from his chest.

“Get back,” Nick shouts and I glance up to see him pointing a 9mm at the dog.

“Don’t,” I order, signaling for him to hold with my right arm and keeping my arm extended to block whatever shot he had as I crouched down in front of the dog, offering him my other hand. The dog backs away at first and stares warily up at me and then to my cousin.

“What are you doing?” He asks, clearly irritated and worried I’m going to get my hand bit off by this dog.

“Making a friend,” I tell him and the dog sniffs at my hand, his nose is wet and cold against my palm, which he begins to licking my hand and nuzzling my arm.

“You’re insane,” Nick mutters and I do is smile because I know what I’m about to do will drive him nuts.

Standing up I order the dog up as well, grinning as it obediently obeys, so I tell it to sit and he does. Opening the door of the jeep I motion for the dog to climb inside,

“Get in,” I order and the dog excitedly whips past me and leaps up into the jeep and climbs into the back where he settles himself down.

“What are you doing? You can’t be serious?” Nick asks and I smile, waiving his questions aside and turn to climb into the passenger seat when it hits me and the feeling hits me all at once. I suddenly remember going to bed and I can’t remember waking up, or the days that followed the night where I stayed up so late. I could feel my heart beating painfully against my ribs and my breath catch in my throat, because I could feel the blistering cold winds that assaulted me, chilling me to my core.

“Hey, are you okay? You look like you just seen a ghost.” Nick’s words echoed and I turned to see him sitting behind the wheel of the jeep; the concern was evident and plain to see on his face. I tried to work my jaw to speak, but no words came out. Instead, I climbed into the jeep pulling the passenger door shut behind me. Immediately I could feel the change in temperature, the heat blasting out of the vents bringing circulation and feeling back to my face and fingers. I was dreaming, I knew it, but all this felt so real to be and I hadn’t questioned it until now, as I ran my fingers along the rough and cracked dash, before running my hand over the vents, feeling the hot air blowing against my hands.

“Are you okay? I mean are we ready to go?”

“Yeah,” I answered, “It’s just…for a second there; I thought all this was a dream.”

“This is no dream,” He retorts with a laugh and shifting the jeep into drive.  The drive becomes increasingly difficult the further we travel, It seemed the roads were littered with even more wrecked and abandoned cars and despite my insistence we keep to the roads, Nick eventually talks me into letting him take the jeep off road, a decision I would soon come to regret.

Braved the forest, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river

                It didn’t take us long to get completely turned around and lost by taking the jeep off road and seeing my unease, Nick offers me a present that he had stashed behind my seat. Skeptical, I slowly reach behind the seat, feeling the dog’s cold and wet nose nudge my hand, before I find it and pull it up and onto my lap. The rifle was a Sig 552. (I only know because after I woke up I spent an hour online looking for a gun that matched the one I dreamt about.)

“Where’d you get this?” I laugh, examining the rifle in my lap and running my hand along the cool, polymer frame.

“Oh, let’s just say I found it,” he says cryptically, grinning as he watches me handle the weapon, checking the magazine.

“Oh, it’s loaded.” He informs me.

“Do you really think we’ll need something like this?” I ask, testing the reassuring weight of the small assault rifle in my hands. The weight of the weapon did help alleviate some of my unease.

“Who knows, you said it yourself, people are scared and when they’re scared they become stupid.”

I laugh shaking my head, unable to figure out how he possibly managed to his hands on something like this and floored by the fact he actually gave it to me instead of keeping a weapon like this for himself.

Angel, angel what have I done
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

                 It takes us roughly an hour to find some old dirt roads, which we follow, Nick loves it and is having the time of his life by seeing what our jeep can do, while the dog whines behind me and I can’t stop feeling this odd sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong. It isn’t long until I heard gunshots and began noticing people with shallow and harden faces looking out from the tree line at us.

“Stop the jeep,” I bark feeling the dog’s cold nose nudging the back of my neck, before it turned to bark at Nick as if to reinforce my order.

“Stay down boy,” I whisper and the dog immediately obeys and lays down in the backseat, growling.

“Why? We’re fine.” Nick says confidently and trying to reassure me.

“I heard gunshots and I don’t if you notice, but there’s been people watching us from the woods.”

“And do what? Try the main roads again? You remember how bad they were right, besides we’re almost there anyway,” He retorts, and attempts to tell me that he knows what he’s doing and that I should trust him…But I don’t.

“I don’t care; I think we really need to turn around.” I snap back.

Nick disagrees and I reach over to take control of the wheel, when he suddenly breaks and I’m thrown forward into the dash.

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won

It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river

                “What-”I begin, trailing off as I see movement in front of the jeep, there’s roughly a hundred or more people coming out of the woods and in front of our path, behind them I see torches and the outlines of what I can only guess was a large encampment that they had formed to resemble something like that of a fort.

Before Nick can throw the jeep in reverse we’re surrounded on all sides and we notice that several of them are armed. Among them is a young man, with light blue eyes, and long straight blond hair. He looks like he could be movie star with his perfectly sculpted features. He reminds me though of a politician with how he moves towards us through the crowd.

He approaches my door and motions me to roll down the window and after some hesitation, I sigh weighing our options before I reluctantly oblige

“Hello,” he says, his voice sweet like poison and smiling with venomously with his perfectly white teeth.

“We’re just passing through if you don’t mind, or if it’s all the same, we can turn around head back the way we came.” I tell him, keeping my voice level, despite feeling all my senses screaming at me to get as far as I could from this man.

“Oh please by all means you should stay with us,” He offers and I adamantly shake my head in return.

“No dice, we’re in a hurry.”

“But aren’t you tired?” He asks, glancing past me at Nick, who looks to me and shrugs,

“You know, we have been driving for a while and I could use a little break.”

“No, I’m sorry, but we can’t,” I say as much to Nick as the blond haired man.

“Oh, it’s quite alright,” the man says pleasantly enough, “We won’t keep you if you’re in a hurry, but we’re all about to have dinner and we have plenty, why don’t you join us before you head back out on your journey?”

I take one look at the people surrounding us and something about them seems so lost to me and I look back over at the driver seat at Nick, who smiles back at me, giving me a small shrug of his shoulders.

“Hey, I could eat. I am pretty hungry.” He says.

“No!’ I snap, panic rising in my chest and I turn back to the man, whose words I can feel worming around inside my brain, searching for some way into my thoughts, making me feel violated in every sense of the word.

“I’m sorry, we can’t.” I say defiantly, fingering the cross I wore around my neck and silently prayed for my cousin’s and my protection.

“Oh? Are you going to let him make all your decisions for you Nicholas?” He asks, and my heart leaps painfully against my ribs as I turn to my cousin, feeling all the color drain from my face, as I see he’s pulled his gun on me.

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

                “Nick,” I plead, looking him in the eye, I can see he’s struggling with whatever war that was raging on inside of him, his hands were shaking and despite the chill in the air, he was sweating uncontrollably.

“You always win, you always do. You always been better, better looking, thinner, with better friends, I’m sick of you always having to be this Saint all the time, like you don’t know you’re better than me.”

“Nick…” Is all I can bring myself to say to him, because in truth I’ve always thought the opposite and I know he’s always struggled with his weight and seemed almost envious of me because I never had that struggle, even though he’s always had better luck than I ever did whenever it came to girls and with jobs.

“I’m sorry, but I love you. You’ve been like a brother to me and if you have to shoot me, then shoot me.”

“Go ahead,” the man says, “Do what he says, shoot him all he’s doing is holding you back, that’s all he’s ever done isn’t it? Remember that girl and how she liked him so much more than you and how hard you tried making her look at you the same way?” He asks Nick.

“Do it if you must, I’m not afraid,” I tell Nick, and bring the Sig up and turn to the man pointing the barrel of the rifle at his chest, “If he doesn’t shoot me, I’ll kill you if you don’t let us pass.

(Nature, nurture, heaven and home)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Sum of all and by them driven)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(To conquer every mountain shown)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

                The man looks agitated now, at me and at Nick who’s shaking and hesitating to pull the trigger and shoot me.

“Come now, listen to me and hear my words-“

“No,” I shout, cutting off as I pull the trigger on the Sig, feeling the rifle jump in my hands as it fired and I kept the muzzle aimed at the man’s chest. Though I may as well have been shooting him with Nerf bullets for all the effect the rounds had on him. He simply smiled, and his hand snaked forward lightening quick and snatched the weapon out of my hand as if I was no more than a child with a lollypop.

“See!” The man shouts raising his arms out to this sides and turning to address the crowd who was already marveling at how he survived several point blank rounds to the chest, “As I said, I am your true Lord and savior!”

“False prophet,” I growl over the roar of the crowd, but he hears me and turns on me, smiling vindictively as he shouts,

“Take them!”

(Braved the forest, braved the stone)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Braved the icy winds and fire)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(Braved and beat them on my own)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

Before I knew it we were being swarmed and rough hands were dragging me and Nick out of the jeep, the more we struggled the more roughed up we would get, I eventually accepted the inevitable, while I could still hear Nick struggling and fighting them until they eventually beat whatever fight he still had out of him. We’re then dragged and thrown into a small cell, where we’re left to watch the blond haired man move through the crowd and I watch as a young couple offers him their newborn child.
I watch, unable to move as the man carries the child over to a alter, where picks up a bowl and I hear the child’s cries ripping through the night; involuntarily I test the bars of our cell. Our cell door and the bars don’t give and I watch helplessly as the blond haired man pours blood from the bowl onto the child’s head.

“We need to get of here,” Nick whispers behind me.
“I know,” I whisper.

“Hey, about earlier, I…I don’t know what came over me, I don’t think I would have shot you, but-“

“It’s okay,” I assure him; already knowing it wasn’t his fault.

“ It’s just, when he spoke; it was like his voice got inside my head and-“

“It’s okay, I understand.” I interrupt, turning around too look at him and seeing him scared and unsure of himself, a side of him and I don’t think I ever saw in him before.

“Do…do you think the others will come for us?” He asks, looking up at me and I fear the hopefulness in his tone and I know he’s scared.

“Would you want them to if they could?” I ask, gesturing to the blond-haired man as he begins addressing the crowd. I can’t make out his words and I’m surprisingly thankful for that small grace.

“Besides, they could have vanished by now like the others; we could be all that remains of our little group.” I tell him.

“Do you think…do you think that maybe we’ll get poofed out too?” (Poof being Nicks coined term whenever referring to the rapture.)

“I don’t know…” I tell him,

“But why wouldn’t we? I mean we’re good,” he says sounding as though he was trying to convince himself more than me.

“Probably the same reason why some of us vanished and the rest of us were raptured at different times. I think for many of us, we’re either being tested or we have yet to fulfill our purpose.” I explain.

“Well what’s ours? Is it to die here at the hands of these maniacs?”

“I don’t think so,” I tell him, “I think we may be here to give those who haven’t fully bought into this a choice, to show them there’s another way, a better way. So no matter what happens and what they say, refuse them and anything they may offer you.”

“Well, what should we do?” He asks, slumping against the opposite of the wall, defeated.

“Pray,” I tell him.

“Pray?” Nick echoes, “Why pray?”

“Why not?” I ask, feeling a smile tugging at the corners of my lips at the notion of us praying in this cell of ours.

“But what’s prayer going to do?” ” He asks.

“What won’t it do?” I ask him in return.

Shaking his head he stifles a laugh and asks what I’m going to do, so I tell him, I’m going to pray with him. So I get down on my knees in the middle of the cell and I begin praying. Then I hear a sob escape Nick’s throat and I feel his arms wrapping around me as he begins telling me how sorry he is for pulling his gun on me and for bringing us here. I pause in my prayer long enough to console him and tell  him that everything’s okay and I forgive him, then we bow our heads together and we both begin to pray.

Nature, nurture heaven and home
Sum of all, and by them, driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But I’ve never crossed the river
Braved the forests, braved the stone
Braved the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river

Angel, angel, what have I done?
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?
Angel, angel, what have I done?
I’ve faced the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country, crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river?

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won
It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands, my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

(Nature, nurture heaven and home)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Sum of all, and by them, driven)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(To conquer every mountain shown)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

(Braved the forests, braved the stone)
It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
(Braved the icy winds and fire)
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
(Braved and beat them on my own)
The hands of the many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

And together we’ll cross the river
And together we’ll cross the river

Nature, nurture heaven and home
And together we’ll cross the river
And together we’ll cross the river

Nature, nurture heaven and home
And together we’ll cross the river
And together we’ll cross the river
~Pucifer -Humbling River.

I listened to this song as I was working on rewriting what I first written down the morning after I woke up from this dream. Which because of my sleep addled mind needed a lot of work and still does. But if you’re still with me, I would like to discuss this song very briefly. To me, the first four lines are from someone who is looking toward heaven and proclaiming all their might and accomplishments and asking why they cannot enter, and what have they done to not be able to cross the river. The river is a reference to Christ and none may enter heaven except through him. As the person in the first four lines is speaking in past tense they are talking about their life.

Then the angel responds to them in the rest of the song (aside from the chorus in which both are speaking.) The angel explains that one does not cross the river by action alone, which is also based in the bible. Then the angel states that the hands of the many must join as one to cross the river, which is saying that only those united in Christ may cross the river, as anyone who joins in the body of Christ is united as one.

While I know most will likely disagree because this interpretation is of a Christian nature, just remember, I am not forcing you to believe in him, nor does he. He only extended his hand out and asked, “Will you believe and follow me?” No one who tries to judge your fallacies without looking at their own is a true Christ following Christian. Be you an atheist, or whatever. I welcome all, as Christ would have me do, your shortcomings are between you and him, not me; it’s just not my place to say or do anything about it.

The part of the hands of the many must join as one as well. Think about it, we have to look past each other’s shortcomings and join together in his body to cross the river. If you don’t share my opinion, fair enough, this is only what the song says to me, that the river is a reference for Christ, remember he was baptized in a river, and the bible says that blood and water flowed from him, it also calls him the fountain of life, and refers to his blood as the cleansing river, or flood. Which is where I got the River-Christ interpretation..