Tag Archive: life


“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.”
― Ned Vizzini

Lately I’ve been struggling a lot and not sure what direction I should go. I feel lost, broken and completely alone. I feel myself withdrawing and pulling away from people and getting lost in my own head more and more. I know this partly because I’m already tired of the therapy and medication that doesn’t really work. My therapist says I need to just be patient, but I’m tired of constantly trying to be okay, it’s exhausting pretending everything is fine. My therapist says, I’m too hard on myself and take on too much responsibility. I blame myself for things I shouldn’t and typically see the worse in myself, whereas I always try to see the best in others. But I can’t help it, I just don’t like myself very much. All I do is think about how badly I screwed things up with my honesty.

I know the so-called ‘psychologically depressed’ person who tries to kill themselves doesn’t do so out of ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life isn’t fair, or out of selfishness and surely not because death seems appealing. Which I’ve come to realize is a major misconception about people who struggle with this invisible agony and when it reaches a certain unendurable level will kill themselves. Think of it like this, you’re in a high-rise building that’s on fire. The flames are slowly encroaching on you, the heat and smoke are becoming nearly unbearable and you jump out the window. The terror of falling to your death is terrifying and very different from you or me, standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames and the smoke: when the flames get close enough and the smoke making it harder and harder to breathe, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ or ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror that’s way beyond that of falling.

When I told my therapist about my suicide attempts, she asked me if I really wanted to die, and I responded,
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?” She asked.
“Because they want to stop the pain,” I explained.
For me, it’s always been this weird back and forth. As I said in an earlier entry, I grew up in a mostly Christian household. I prayed for God’s grace and salvation for years. My faith in God never wavered, it didn’t matter how many times my mom would beat and ridicule me, how often my brother would mock and make fun of me while my mother laughed and laughed, encouraging him to dig at me harder and harder. Punishing me every time I tried make fun of him in return, or to say something hurtful to him. My goal wasn’t to hurt him, but only to show him how it feels. But no one else would see that and I would get beaten and grounded for standing up to him, or for fighting back. While he would parade in front of me, laughing as I got beaten. Even when I would go to school and get harassed and bullied almost daily. I held firm to this faith, that there was this just, loving, compassionate God up there, who knew what he was doing, so I put my trust in my faith.

No matter how hard things had gotten, I believed that it was all according to God’s plan. Sometimes I thought God was preparing me, strengthening me to make me a hero just like the tales of Joshua, or Samson, or Moses. Other times I convinced myself that God was testing my resolve, my faith. So I stayed strong, I endured, until I couldn’t anymore, until I broke.

There’s only so much pain, heartache and loneliness a person can take, and I’ve been lonely most of my life. It’s hard, it hurts and make you feel like you’ve being hollowed out. Several Christians have told me over the years that I need to crave companionship with God first and foremost. But where was God all those nights I spent crying myself to sleep, afraid to go home because it would mean I would have to deal with my mother, afraid of going to school, because I didn’t want to walk the halls and get harassed, ridiculed, or made fun of, or just made to feel like an outcast. Where was god when I was praying night after night for my mother to love me, or when I was begging God to give me just one good day, just one where I didn’t feel beaten down, where I didn’t get attacked just for existing. Where was he when thoughts of suicide slowly began seeping into my thoughts. When I stopped seeing myself in a mirror and only saw everything wrong with me staring back.

I don’t know if there’s a God or not, I don’t know which faith is the correct one, even in Christianity there’s so many other fractions, Catholics, Baptist, Pentecostal. Etc. How does one ever even decide? Who is right or does being right even matter?

The only thing I know for certain, is that people need to just stop being so ugly to each other, because at the end of the day, no one really knows what happens when we go. In all honesty, who really cares about one’s religion, when no one really knows if their faith is right or not. Because that’s faith, believing in something even when you have no proof or evidence to prove it, it’s just believing that there’s out there greater than yourself. Which I understand the importance of, I know it can be a good thing to have faith, especially if having faith, makes you a happier and a better person. Which I think should be of more importance to all faiths, the focus should be on spreading more good will in the world, leaving it a better place for when you go. Because all things die and fade with time, the hate people give, has a lasting negative impact on the world and it spreads like cancer. Being kind to someone though, can change a person’s world, maybe even their perspective.

For myself, I’ve always tried doing the right thing, even when it meant risking losing the very thing I wanted most or sacrificing my own happiness. Which hasn’t always been easy and as often been decisions I have grappled and wrestled with, hoping I was making the right decision in the end. Many of these past choices I have regretted and had wished I would have put myself first or been a little more selfish. But being selfish has never really been in my character. I’m not saying that to humble brag or any of the sort. My selflessness was something that grew from me watching my mother and knowing my step-mother. I saw firsthand the damage being selfish causes those around you and how it affects an individual, how it ages and how it damages you. I’m not saying you or anyone shouldn’t ever be selfish, I’ve learned that sometimes being a little selfish for the right reasons can be a good thing. You deserve to be happy too and should always fight what you want. But just don’t get carried away and just ask yourself, “Is this something I really need?” Sometimes at least for me, it’s often been more fun to share and having someone to celebrate with. I know now that it’s okay to be a selfish and put myself first, just as I’ve learned its okay to say no and to walk away from those who hurt you. Unfortunately, I’ve learned those lessons a little bit too late. But I still find myself at war with myself, between choosing something for myself, or what I want, or letting someone else take the win.


I taught myself forgiveness, even when forgiving was far from easy. But I’ve learned early on that when you forgive someone, you have no right to throw the past back at them. I’ve learned from experience how that can feel and makes you feel, I’ve learned it from my mother. Who would often bring up my past mistakes to accuse me of wrong doing in the present and for me it felt like I couldn’t escape my past mistakes. That no matter how hard I tried to change and better myself that it wasn’t good enough and I’d always been that person they either want me to be or that they hate without any just cause or reason.

Despite my upbringing and the bullies who hunted me in school, I was born with this kind and gentle heart. Which I often find myself hating, wishing more than anything I could make myself numb to some of the hurt. Wishing there was some way I could stop myself from seeing the best in people. I tend to see the potential in those around me and I long to see the good in them, which has sometimes caused me to be taken advantage of, which is a problem which also sucks.

Worse is I’ve always had a generous and giving nature, which has been magnified by my C-ptsd, but this part of me was initially born from me trying to distance myself as much as possible from my mother, because I saw how her selfishness affected her and those around her. I never wanted to be blinded by jealously and believe it’s what I’m owed for some clandestine reason. I like earning my keep and my share. I was partly inspired by my father whom I witnessed frequently loaning friends and family money, when I asked him why he always did this, because he’d seldom get paid back. He said,


“Yeah, it sucks a little bit when I don’t get paid back, but it feels worse feeling like I could have helped someone but didn’t. I know I’ll probably never be rich and I don’t think I ever want to be. I like to give when I can and hope for the best.”


When I heard this, I made this vow to give whenever the need was great, to put others before myself and this was also because I partly wanted to have a positive effect on the world. Then without even realizing it, I found myself getting more joy out of helping others than I have ever gotten from helping myself. I often felt guilty the few times I chose to put myself first, the times I chose to be selfish even though I know now it’s okay and perfectly acceptable to be a little selfish sometimes. But, it doesn’t make it any less difficult, or less of a struggle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with a decision, wondering if the choice I made, or plan to make is the right one, or if I’m making a choice for the right reasons or not.

In all honesty I often feel like I’m at war with myself, with these voices in the back of my mind. My depression telling me how worthless I am, that I’m a burden to the world around me. My anxiety tells me I’m annoying and every choice I ever make is the wrong one and only annoy and hurt those around me, telling me I should just go away and let myself be forgotten. My heart is just tired of hurting, it used to be overflowing with hope, believing if I just stood my ground that things would get better, that it has too. But as times goes on, my heart just hurts, and it becomes filled with sorrow and pain and wanting it to just end.

Then I have this weird, defiant, stubborn voice that tells the other voices to shut the hell up and that I have to fight for thing things I want and never give up. To keep going, to keep getting back up no matter how many times I get knocked down, to keep trying. But it’s hard and it’s the hardest thing I ever have to do. Every day I have to make this choice to keep going and not end my life. When I was a kid, I would think of these arbitrary reasons to live. Like “I have to live just long enough to see this movie,” Or “Play that video game,” or “Go on this trip,” Etc. I was grasping at straws, trying to find a more solid reason to keep going.

It’s almost kind of funny, how a lot of people see me as an optimist and will comment on my positivity. When in truth, I’m just trying to make the most of every situation I find myself in. I have to try and force myself to have fun and enjoy myself as much as possible, because a part of me believes that when we die, we can only take the memories we make with us and I want to take as many good memories as I can. With the hope that maybe, when I die, I get to relive my favorite memories as often as I want. I can stay in those moments where I was my happiness, when I felt like I was at my best. For me it’s important to make the most of the time we have now and I’ve been learning to take more chances, to live in the moment. It can be exciting and life changing, as well as it can be heartbreaking. But I can at least look back and say “I tried, I took a risk, I gambled and I tried.”

So that’s all I can promise to do these days.
I’m trying.
Josh. C

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.”

― Judith Lewis Herman

During my time of growing, healing and recovering from my past traumas, I’ve come to the decision of my rewriting my blog series, “Scars of who we are” and attempt to break it down into novel format, in hopes of reaching others. My hope is to let people know they aren’t alone and don’t have to continuing being a victim, or victimized, or question themselves, their sanity and value.

I learned firsthand what it’s like to love someone who hurts you. Despite how badly my mother had treated me majority of the time, a part of me still loved her, cared about her and wanted more than anything for her to acknowledge me as her son. To show me just an ounce of the love she had shown any of my brothers. It sucks seeing someone you care about love and care for everyone else but you. Which lead me to having a bit of a break down when I was talking to my dad and had asked him, “Why didn’t she love me? What was wrong so wrong with me?”

I deeply longed for a good relationship with my mother, I wanted to be able to talk and confide in her, to trust her. I wanted her to love me as she had loved my older brother. Growing up I often thought if I was better, smarter, more talented, or thoughtful she would see me as her son and love me as such. Every day I prayed to God to just let her love me and to take away whatever it was that made her hate me. That being said, my mother wasn’t always horrible towards me, like many narcissistic abusers she would be kind to me sometimes. She could be silly and funny, which would always end a little strangely. It wasn’t ever that she was just goofing off with me, it was how abruptly it would end and she would be upset with me, or suddenly get very angry at me. It was almost as if she felt like I had somehow tricked her into not hating me for a little awhile. The shift was always sudden and seemed to come out of nowhere.

Still, I do remember when albeit vaguely how she used to read to me before bed when I was a kid and I think it’s what ignited my love for stories and expanded my imagination. My mother was also an amazing cook, she made the best brownies and chocolate chip cookies. She was also very creative and crafty in in her own right. Strangely enough, even though she rarely stayed up past 11pm, the few times she had she was cool. I don’t know what it was about the late-night hours that made her kinder and more motherly, but more often than not, whenever it was late at night, she would be kind of motherly towards me. She would actually talk to me like I was a person and not like someone she despised. Now it didn’t happen every time she stayed up late, but enough for me to realize it was a side of her I wished I saw more often.

Even still there is one moment when I was fifteen that always struck me as odd, something that not even my therapist really understands why this happened, knowing what she had learned about my mother, something that stuck with me. As you can imagine the older I got the worse my mother had treated me, with periodic episodes of kindness. (Also, whenever we were in public or around certain people my mother would be mother of the year. A façade that would quickly fall away once we either in the car or at home.) But there was this one night when I was fifteen, where I had awoken in the middle the night, shivering. I quickly discovered I had somehow managed to kick off my covers while I was asleep.
So still half asleep, I began blindly fumbling for my covers, when I heard someone at my bedroom door. Fearing it was my mother, I quickly laid back down and pretended to be asleep. Then through the slits of my eyes, I watched as my door slowly cracked open and I saw my mother poking her head into my room. I immediately felt my heart seize in my chest as I recalled all the times she dragged me out of bed, feeling her nails bite into my flesh as she would wrench me out of the bed by the arm. So I lay as still as I could, also remembering all the times she had caught me reading in med, or playing a handheld videogame, when I was supposed to be sleeping.

I kept hoping she would close my door and just go on down the hall away from my room, but she didn’t. Instead, I heard her silently pushing my door open and I could see her through the slits of my eyes silently stepping into my room, towards my bed. In my head I kept begging God to make her leave, to just turn around and walk out of my bedroom and to just leave me alone.
She didn’t leave, but then the strangest thing happened. I felt her untangling my blankets and then she proceeded to tuck me in. Needless to say I didn’t know what to think, I was completely stunned and didn’t fully understand or comprehend what she was doing, or why. She had never shown me this kind of tenderness or affection for as long as I could remember. Then I felt her lips gently kiss the top of my head and she whispered, “I’m sorry.”
Then she caressed my cheek and gave me a gentle squeeze on my shoulder and silently slipped back out of my room. When I told my therapist about this event, even she was stumped. Much like it has been for me, this sudden act of love was something very rare, very random and I’m 98% certain that there was no way she could have known I was awake when she came into my room that night.

Of course I was so love deprived, that every night after that for a week, I would kick off my blankets on purpose and would go as far as leaving my bedroom door cracked open in hopes the same event would repeat itself. Sadly it never did and I never brought it up to my mother either. I guess in a way I was a little afraid that if I brought it up to her it would have broke whatever strange magic was at work that night. Unfortunately just a year later, I would be assaulted by her as I was attempting to take out the trash. It was on that night that I had finally had enough and shoved her off of me and told that I had finally had enough and was finally going to leave and live with my dad. My mother ended up falling into my room and began at hitting me, scratching me, shoving me. Then when I raised an arm to keep her from hitting me, she dared me to hit her. Begged me and tried provoking me to hit her. By shoving me, hitting me, taunting me as she said, “Go on hit me! It’s what I want you to do, I want you to hit me! It’s what I’ve always wanted you to do! Because I’ll finally be able to call Chris (My cop step-dad) And have him arrest your ass tonight, your aunt’s husband is rich, he knows judges and I can make it where you go Juvy, to prison and never see your dad, or anyone you love every again. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do to you!”

Luckily I didn’t hit her, but I did threaten to call the cops myself and let them see the marks that she had left on me. But when I went to the phone, she broke down crying, begged me not to call the police, told me how if I did, I would cause my brothers to lose their mother. She told me how my older brother had no one else and asked me if I could really take away the only parent he had. She then apologized profusely, promised me she’d never hit me again and that things would get better. I dumbly agreed and didn’t call the police like I should have, like I wished I would have done, what I should have done.

But…All I could do was think about all the times I overheard my mother telling my older brother how his father never wanted him and how my father didn’t want him either, how she was the only one who had wanted him. When in truth my father couldn’t fight for custody of my older brother, since he wasn’t his biological son and my dad’s lawyer had told him fighting for custody for my older brother would be a lost cause.

Though still, every now and again, I find myself thinking back to that might when my mother crept into my room, tucked me in and shown me genuine love. I can’t tell you how many times I sat and wondered why she apologized to me in that moment, when she thought I was asleep. Some people have told me their theories, everything from her being possessed and she managed to break free for that one moment. Others believe she had an epiphany and realized how badly she had treated me or had a moment of clarity and realized in that moment that she was mentally ill and couldn’t help how she treated me. Sadly I don’t have any answers, I can tell you that there have been times when I wondered if maybe she was preparing me for something, or knew something I didn’t about my future and maybe she thought treating me so horribly would make strong, or a better person. Truth is I don’t know the answer and I don’t think I ever will. I do know I struggle day to day and I’m always fighting my demons who’re always telling me I should kill myself, that I’m worthless, pathetic and a burden to all those around me. I know the reason I struggle with these demons is because of what my mother had put me through. No kid should ever be afraid of going home, of talking to their parents. No kid deserves to have a parent call them stupid, or ugly, or that they need to have plastic surgery. All I ever wanted was to feel and be a part of something, a family, to be and feel and be loved. It’s what everyone deserves.

 

My very personal PSA

I have depression, anxiety and recently been diagnosed with C-PTSD.

Several people like to tell me I should get over it, or say “Oh I’ve been depressed a few times, but I did this thing and it stopped it.”

Truth is, depression isn’t cute or funny and it’s definitely not sexy. It’s a living thing. It exists by feeding on your darkest moods and emotions and it’s always hungry. It never really goes away. Anything that challenges it, anything that makes you feel good, anyone who brings you joy, it will drive them away so it can grow without interference. Its goal is to isolate you. At its worst, it will literally paralyze you, rather than allow you to feel anything at all. At its worst, you are numb and you are drained and immobilized by it. And it’s not that those of us who suffer from the disease want to push you away. For there have been times I could be in a room surrounded by friends and family and still feel no one else’s’ warmth or touch. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surrounded by people and still felt alone, hurt and like a burden or a joke to all those I loved and care about. Always thinking that everyone else would be so much happier if I just went away. You see Depression sucks, I mean it literally sucks, it takes away your happiness, your joy, leaving you as nothing more than a hollowed out husk of the person you were before. But that’s how depression works; it’ll drive you to your knees with the soul crushing weight that no one should ever have to bare alone. It will prey on your darkest thoughts, telling you that no one loves you and it’ll you that every negative thought you ever had about yourself is true, and how bleak your future really is. I’ve come to learned that depression lies. But I still wrestle with my depression; I have good days, bad days, and worst days. I often try to combat it by keeping myself busy.

Having anxiety on top of depression often validates your depression. Anxiety is debilitating. It feels like a constant heaviness in your mind; like something isn’t quite right, although oftentimes you don’t know exactly what that something is. But it feels like acid in your stomach, burning and eating away at the emptiness and taking away any feelings of hunger. It’s like a tight knot that you can’t untwist. Anxiety feels like your mind is on fire, overthinking and over analyzing every little, irrelevant thing. Sometimes, it makes you feel restless and constantly distracted. It feels as if your thoughts are running wild in a million different directions, bumping into each other along the way. Other times, it makes you feel detached, as if your mind has gone blank and you are no longer mentally present. You dissociate and feel as if you have left your own body. For me anxiety feels like there is a voice in the back of my mind telling me that everything is not okay, when everything in fact is. Sometimes the voice tells me that there is something wrong with me and that you are different from everybody else.

It’s like this voice that tells you that your feelings are bad and that you’re a burden to the world and that you should isolate. It makes everyday tasks, such as making simple decisions, incredibly difficult. Anxiety can keep you up at night — tossing and turning.
It’s like a lightbulb that comes on at the most inconvenient times and won’t switch off. Your body feels exhausted, but your mind feels wide awake and racing. You go through the events of your day, analyzing and agonizing over every specific detail. Much like depression, anxiety never really goes away.

When I discovered I’ve also been dealing with C-PTSD from the years of childhood abuse I’ve endured. I was like “Wow…aren’t I lucky.” You see In PTSD, your brain may replay a incident over and over again to help you process your emotions. It can become an endless loop that is actually more upsetting than the initial incident, as your unexpressed emotions continue to pile up.

C-PTSD is ongoing or repeated interpersonal trauma, where the victim is traumatized in captivity, and where there is no perceived way to escape. Ongoing child abuse is captivity abuse because the child cannot escape. Domestic violence is another example. Forced prostitution/sex trafficking is another.

The following are some of the symptoms and impact most felt by complex trauma survivors.

1. Deep Fear Of Trust People who endure ongoing abuse, particularly from significant people in their lives, develop an intense and understandable fear of trusting people. If the abuse was parents or caregivers, this intensifies. Ongoing trauma wires the brain for fear and distrust. It becomes the way the brain copes with any further potential abuse. Complex trauma survivors often find trusting people very difficult, and it takes little for any trust built to be destroyed. The brain senses issues and this overwhelms the already severely-traumatized brain. This fear of trust is extremely impactful on a survivor’s life. Trust can be learned with support and an understanding of trusting people slowly and carefully. This takes times and patience. Believe me when I say, people like me are trying.

2. Terminal Aloneness
This is a phrase I used to describe to my Therapist — the terribly painful aloneness I have always felt as a complex trauma survivor. I often feel little connection and trust with people, people like me often remain in a terrible state of aloneness, even when surrounded by people. I described it once as having a glass wall between myself and other people. I can see them, but I cannot connect with them. Another issue that increases this aloneness is feeling different to other people. Feeling damaged, broken and unable to be like other people can haunt a survivor, increasing the loneliness.

3. Emotion Regulation
Intense emotions are common with complex trauma survivors like myself. It is understandable that ongoing abuse can cause many different and intense emotions. This is normal for complex trauma survivors. Learning to manage and regulate emotions is vital in being able to manage all the other symptoms, but it’s not easy and incredibly difficult. Best way I can describe this is, imagine you’re on a strict, healthy diet, and every day you have to drive in a car, or sit at a table watch someone eat your favorite food, where they’re always asking you if you want some and you always have to say “No.” Now multiply that by like a thousand.

4. Emotional Flashbacks
flashbacks are something all PTSD survivors can deal with, and there are three types:

Visual Flashbacks – where your mind is triggered and transported back to the trauma, and you feel as though you are reliving it.
Somatic Flashbacks – where the survivor feels sensations, pain and discomfort in areas of the body, affected by the trauma. This pain/sensations cannot be explained by any other health issues, and are triggered by something that creates the body to “feel” the trauma again.
Emotional Flashbacks – the least known and understood, and yet the type complex trauma survivors can experience the most. These are where emotions from the past are triggered. Often the survivor does not understand these intense emotions are flashbacks, and it appears the survivor is being irrationally emotional. When I learned about emotional flashbacks, it was a huge lightbulb moment of finally understanding why I have intense emotions, when they do not reflect the issue occurring now, but are in fact emotions felt during the trauma, being triggered. But, there is no visual of the trauma – as with visual flashbacks. So, it takes a lot of work to start to understand when experiencing an emotional flashback.

5. Hypervigilance about People
Most people with PTSD have hypervigilance, where the person scans the environment for potential risks and likes to have their back to the wall.
But complex trauma survivors often have a deep subconscious need to “work people out.” Since childhood, I have been aware of people’s non-verbal cues; their body language, their tone of voice, their facial expressions. I also subconsciously learn people’s habits and store away what they say. Then if anything occurs that contradicts any of this, it will immediately flag as something potentially dangerous.
This can be exhausting. And it can create a deep skillset of discernment about people. The aim of healing fear-based hyper-vigilance is turning it into non-fear-based discernment
.
6. Loss Of Faith
Complex trauma survivors often endure a loss of faith. This can be about people, about the world being good, about religion, and a loss of faith about self.
Complex trauma survivors often view the world as dangerous and people as all potentially abusive, which is understandable when having endured ongoing severe abuse.
Many complex trauma survivors walk away from their religious beliefs. For example, to believe in a good and loving God who allows suffering and heinous abuse to occur can feel like the ultimate betrayal. This is something needing considerable compassion.

7. Profoundly Hurt Inner Child

Childhood complex trauma survivors, often have a very hurt inner child that continues on to affect the survivor in adulthood. When a child’s emotional needs are not met and a child is repeatedly hurt and abused this deeply and profoundly affects the child’s development. A survivor will often continue on subconsciously wanting those unmet childhood needs in adulthood. Looking for safety, protection, being cherished and loved can often be normal unmet needs in childhood, and the survivor searches for these in other adults. This can be where survivors search for mother and father figures. Transference issues in counseling can occur and this is normal for childhood abuse survivors. I can’t tell you how many times I met a girlfriend’s parents and would often begin viewing their mother as a motherly figure for me. Even my last supervisor, I found myself thinking of her as a motherly figure and she inherently had a very motherly personality, where my department would often refer to her as the mother of the circulation department.

8. Helplessness and Toxic Shame
Due to enduring ongoing or repeated abuse, the survivor can develop a sense of hopelessness — that nothing will ever be OK. They can feel so profoundly damaged, they see no hope for anything getting better. When faced with long periods of abuse, it does feel like there is no hope of anything changing. And even when the abuse or trauma stops, the survivor can continue on having these deep core level beliefs of hopelessness. This is intensified by the terribly life-impacting symptoms of complex PTSD that keep the survivor stuck with the trauma, with little hope of this easing.

Toxic shame is a common issue survivors of complex trauma endure. Often the perpetrators of the abuse make the survivor feel they deserved it, or they were the reason for it. Often survivors are made to feel they don’t deserve to be treated any better.

9. Repeated Search For A Rescuer
Subconsciously looking for someone to rescue them is something many survivors understandably think about during the ongoing trauma and this can continue on after the trauma has ceased. The survivor can feel helpless and yearn for someone to come and rescue them from the pain they feel and want them to make their lives better. This sadly often leads to the survivor seeking out the wrong types of people and being re-traumatized repeatedly.

10. Dissociation

When enduring ongoing abuse, the brain can utilize dissociation as a coping method. This can be from daydreaming to more life-impacting forms of dissociation such as dissociative identity disorder (DID). This is particularly experienced by child abuse survivors, who are emotionally unable to cope with trauma in the same way an adult can.

11. Persistent Sadness and Being Suicidal

Complex trauma survivors often experience ongoing states of sadness and severe depression. Mood disorders are often co-morbid with complex PTSD.

Complex trauma survivors are high risk for suicidal thoughts, suicide ideation and being actively suicidal. Suicide ideation can become a way of coping, where the survivor feels like they have a way to end the severe pain if it becomes any worse. Often the deep emotional pain survivors feel, can feel unbearable. This is when survivors are at risk of developing suicidal thoughts.

12. Muscle Armoring
Many complex trauma survivors, who have experienced ongoing abuse, develop body hyper-vigilance. This is where the body is continually tensed, as though the body is “braced” for potential trauma. This leads to pain issues as the muscles are being overworked. Chronic pain and other issues related such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia can result. Massage, guided muscle relaxation and other ways to manage this can help.

All of these issues are very normal for complex trauma survivors. Enduring complex trauma is not a normal life experience, and therefore the consequences it creates are different, yet very normal for what they have experienced and endured.

Not every survivor will endure all these, and there are other symptoms that can be endured. I always suggest trauma-informed counseling if that is accessible. There are medications available to help with symptoms such as anxiety and depression. But they tend to be fairly expensive.

Lastly, I advise that empathy, gentleness and compassion are required for complex trauma survivors. We are not people and trust me when I say, we are trying and doing our best.

One last time.

fosters_home_for_imaginary_friends___mac_n_bloo_by_xglider-d6j7oj1“This is the last time huh?” I ask, sitting on the corner of the bed, swinging my feet a couple of inches off the floor, as she roots through her closet of old clothes.

“Scratch-” she says my name limply, like she’s embarrassed or ashamed by it now. We had grown apart, it’s true, and we barely talk anymore and we play even less. I couldn’t help but feel like I was already being forgotten.

She turns and looks up at me with those sad eyes, ringed in messy eyeliner and a fresh coating of lip-gloss over her mouth.  I think about her a lifetime ago, back when she first discovered make-up in in her mom’s purse and how we laughed as I smeared her eye shadow across her eye lids and I threw the compact power across the room, making it snow. I tried confessing to the crime and tell them it was me, but they didn’t listen and only you got in trouble.  You cried into your pillow and told me leave you alone, to just go away, but I stayed by your side all night anyway, stroking your hair and telling you silly stories just to see you smile, to hear you laugh.

“Come on, “ I beg, I’ll play whatever you want, I’ll be the dragon with tiny wings growing out of his back, or be your roommate as we play house, I’ll let you be the princess in a big marble castle and chase you around in the falling leaves,  or we can just sit and talk.”

Her phone rings, and she turns aside to flick the glowing screen sideways. It’s another message from her school friend.

“Is she nice?” I ask, like a jealous boyfriend.

“Yeah, course she’s nice.” She replies defensively.

“What all do you do?”

She shrugs.

“I don’t know. Talk, I guess.”

“You don’t play games? Like the dragon and the princess, do you jump in puddles like we used too, or roll around in piles of dead leaves?”

“No…” She mumbles. “She’s really not into all of that.”

When she’d started going to school I’d sit on her bed, watching out the window and wait for her school bus to pull up and spill her out. She’d be dragging a bag of books, with her hair all a mess, spilling out stories about her day, her teachers and the friends she made.

I was there when the first boy she ever liked broke her heart and she came and sat next to me crying and I sat with her, telling these kinds of hurts will happen and how it was a good thing. Because it tells her she’s still here, she’s still alive and reminds her that the hurt doesn’t last forever. Then I’d begin a tickle fight, which I would always win. Some days we’d sit in bed together and play for hours. Sometimes she wouldn’t go to school the next day and I’d have her to myself for a whole twenty-four hours.

“Can’t we just play one more time?” I ask

She sighs and looks at her phone again.

“Please.”

There’s a cold feeling in my bones, like the empty space of the room is eating away at me and the only thing keeping it at bay is her eyes. They’re fixed on me; smudged eyeliner and the chin jutting out like she used to do when she was smaller and wanted to look braver.

“I have to go.”

She stops at the door and looks at me. There’s a look in her eye that says she knows it’s the last time we’re going to see each other.

“I have friends now,” she says. “I don’t need you anymore.”

She leaves and I look at the closed white door and feel the emptiness come rolling in.

“But I do.” There is no one left to listen as I fade away and become forgotten in the waves of times, waiting for the day she has a little girl or boy of her own who’ll dream of me too.

Years past and I’m swimming in nothingness, until one day, I open my eyes and I’m back, it feels like waking from a dream, but nothing feels real. Then I look around and see how everything is so different and unrecognizable. Then I see him, the small blond haired boy, sitting all alone in his bed and staring fearfully at his closet door. I hear him calling out softly for his mother who can’t hear him and I follow his gaze, seeing the closet door opening slowly inch by inch. I act without thinking, charging at the door and slamming it shut, I’ll always protect him from the monsters that lurk in the dark.
Then I feel his tiny little hand tugging at my coat and I look down, as he asks,

“What’s your name?”

“Scratch,” I say, smiling warmly and ruffling his hair, then for perhaps the first time I see the resemblance.

“Scratch? My mom used to tell me stories about you.”

I smile and nod and say, “Yes, I knew your mother.” Then I take his hand and guide him back to his bed and begin tucking him in, as he asks me to tell him a story, so I take a breath and begin telling him stories his mother and I used tell each other back when she was just a little girl.

Faith In mothers

Faith in mothers.

~Losing family obliges us to find our family. Not always the family that is our blood, but the family that can become our blood. Should we have the wisdom to open our door to this new family we will find that the wishes we had for the father, who once guided us, for the brother, who once inspired us… The only thing left to say will be:  “‘I wish I had seen this, or I wish I had done that, or I wish…”‘ Most of you are too young to know what your wishes will be. But when I read these words…words of hope, dreams…I realize that the one wish that was granted to me, so late in life was the gift of friendship.
~ Finding Forester

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I hate mother’s day.

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My Grandma

I know I shouldn’t, I try really hard not to. But it’s not a thing I can help, so I do my best to distract myself and not to think about it. So I focus instead on the one woman in my life who was more of a mother to me than my own. No one had asked her to do it, but she was an amazing mother to me, one she didn’t have to be. She believed in me more than anyone else and probably knew me best of all. She was my biggest fan, my greatest supporter and I regret for not doing any of this sooner so that she could share in my blog’s popularity and of course all of you who follow, or have subscribed to my blog and to all of you out there reading this right now.

She would have been overjoyed, she would laughed and cried, and told me how each one of you are special, blessed, she may even insist I write each one of my subscribers/followers a personal thank you letter, she would tell everyone she came across about my writings here and the amazing people who read it. (I mean let’s face it, you are pretty awesome for following me so long or even at all)

She would have gotten on me for not finishing my novel, insisting I hurry up and finish it so that all of you could have a chance to read and experience my creativity and the uniqueness of my stories. She definitely wouldn’t be happy with me putting my book on the back burner while I finished up the last of my classes for school and would have insisted I find time for both.
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Not a day goes by that I don’t miss her, my grandmother, is always in my thoughts and I’d never forget her…She was the strongest person I ever knew, the kind of person who would always tell you exactly how it was without sugarcoating a thing, which would usually be for your own good. She took no crap from anyone, and was always the first to stand up for me. If it weren’t for her I doubt I’d even be here today. Because I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for her I would have jumped off a bridge, or bought a gun to blow my brains out a long time ago. She was my rock, my best friend and confidant. She was one of those people who would sit there and listen, actually listen as you told her whatever it was on your mind, or whatever was bugging you. She was the most amazing kind of person and I loved her dearly.

I think she would have been moved to tears to see some of the friendships I forged, the people I’ve met and the support all of you have given me. I hate mother’s day, because I miss her, so very much and would give anything to have her back here again. But I’m confident I’ll see her again, waiting for me at the end of the road, standing near the pearly gates, jumping up and down, laughing and looking as she had back when I was just a kid….Whereas my actual mother was never really there for me, she never tried to get to know me and we never just talked about anything. Because she never saw me as her son, instead when she looked at me, she would see my father, their failed marriage, the complications that lead to her C-section and the stretch marks I left behind. I don’t think she ever saw me as her son, or the fact that I was just as much hers as I was my father.

Two of three best cousins anyone can ask for. Nick And Derek.

Two of three best cousins anyone can ask for. Nick And Derek.

So I hate mother’s day, because it reminds me of how I scoured every catalogue, the internet, various stores and malls in search of the perfect mother’s day gift, hoping every year it would win me her love, her acceptance, so that she’d finally see and know me. But she never did, no matter if I made, drew, wrote, or bought her something nice, the end result was always the same. And I hate the family I had, hate having it taken away, and hate not seeing my younger brothers grow up, hate not spending time with them and giving them some good brotherly advice on life, girls and dating. And every mother’s day I can’t help but think about each and every one of them.

But I had an amazing mother in my grandmother, who treasured everything I ever gotten her and it wasn’t until I was cleaning out some of her old stuff and stumbled upon a drawer filled with everything I ever gave her, every picture I ever drew, every story I had written, she had kept them all. Then I discovered her journal, and how nearly every entry was about me, and how great she thought I was. Then I stop and look around, and I see the family the Lord has given me, my younger cousins, Derek and Timmy, my cousin Nick, my best friends, Matt, Stephen and Hannah, even Matt’s wife who feels like a sister to me, then his three beautiful children who have grown to calling me Uncle Josh, making me feel more like family. But all of them have been great inspirations, and supporters of me, members of my extended family, a family that I love and cherish more than the world. So I guess, mother’s day isn’t so bad after all.

And Timmy, the third and quite possibly the strongest of us.

And Timmy, the third and quite possibly the strongest of us.

~Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, create, or paint can manage to escape the madness within themselves.
-J Cooper.

“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.

How do you put into words?

Putting it into words          
“There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free-form verse, and silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.) And as I lay there, it occurred to me that God is up there somewhere. Of course, I had always known He was, but this time I felt it, I realized it, the way a person realizes they are hungry or thirsty. The knowledge of God seeped out of my brain and into my heart. I imagined Him looking down on this earth, half angry because His beloved mankind had cheated on Him, had committed adultery, and yet hopelessly in love with her, drunk with love for her
-Donald Miller Blue like Jazz

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

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

I’d like to begin with a confession, which is. I still think about her sometimes, I try not to, I mean, everyone tells me I shouldn’t, but some days I can’t really help myself. She seeps into my brain like a fog, spreading out, covering my brain like morning dew. She was after all a huge part of my life for such a long time. It’s hard to forget and harder still not to think about her and the memories we shared. There were moments when I felt we were finally growing close and understanding each other. She was my mother, and it’s been over six years since I’ve last seen or spoke to her, five years of wondering if she ever thinks of me and wondering if the few kindnesses she showed me were ever real, or just a simple charade. I wonder if she ever loved me, or hated me from the very beginning. I wonder if she started out hating me and would have periods where she genuinely cared and loved me, but for some reason chose to continually shove those feelings aside. Leaving me wondering the more important question which is why and just how much of it was a lie and what moments were real, genuine.

My father, the greatest man I have ever known. Showing me endless support and love. Even though We don't always see eye to eye, words can't express how much I love and admire this man.

My father, the greatest man I have ever known. Showing me endless support and love. Even though We don’t always see eye to eye, words can’t express how much I love and admire this man.

I was introduced to God at a fairly young age and fell in love with the notion, of this being who a father of us all, who watched us from up above. I listened to all the stories, prayed all the time and would often speak to God as I would a friend. Of course many adults had always assumed I was speaking to an imaginary friend and any atheist would say that they weren’t wrong. But in many ways I believed and at times I believed I was raised in a broken home, with a mother who rarely ever made me feel love was because I was being tested. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for my mother’s love, or when I stopped praying for her love, but for an end of my misery. It wasn’t just my mom, but having to go school and face the bullies, then suffering the scrutiny of bad teachers. (A few of my teachers would actually participate and laugh as my bullies mocked, ridiculed and shoved me around) But I never really told anyone until I started writing this blog, because I always felt like it would make me more of a victim, it would make me less of a person and I somehow would just bring about more ridicule.

 

 

Despite our differences now, my older brother Dominic really helped pull me edge of the abyss I found myself teetering on the precipice of. But that was before our bond was broken my lies and deceit. But I still love him all the same.

Despite our differences now, my older brother Dominic
really helped pull me edge of the abyss I found myself
teetering on the precipice of. But that was before our
bond was broken my lies and deceit. But I still love him all the same.

I was born imperfect, I had warts, bad eyes, bucked teeth, a speech impediment and I was born painfully shy. I wasn’t particularly talented like my brother who could draw and created amazing works of art, nor did I have his charm and charisma. I often tried to be funny, tried to be artistic, brilliant and athletic. But none of it really stuck, I was simply me and I had a short attention span and a wild imagination, along with very deep introspective nature. So if anyone had a reason not to believe or to hate God it was me. I lived with an abusive mother, was bullied in school, had only a small handful of friends, but I still felt alone, like I had no place to turn, nowhere to go. My mother had fed into my social anxiety and depression by telling me things like just because my father enjoyed doing things with me, it didn’t mean he loved me. She told me it was all just for show, an act so I would choose to live with him once I became of age. Telling me everyone was always talking about me behind my back, laughing at me, etc.

So it’s not surprising that I eventually lost my faith. I couldn’t fathom why God, or any God would put so much on one person at such an early age. My whole life felt like a never ending uphill battle, with no end in sight and I felt like every time I made it over one hurdle, I instantly got beaten over the head with it, until I got over two more. I eventually grew tired of it all, tired of being a nice guy, tired of loving a God who showed me so precious little, tired of my prayers going unanswered, of being afraid of going to school and living in terror of going home.

 

My grandmother, was simply the best and greatest person I have ever known, as well as being the strongest.  She was in all honesty was the closest thing I ever really had to a real mother. A day doesn't go by that I don't miss her.

My grandmother, was simply the best and greatest person I have ever known, as well as being the strongest. She was in all honesty was the closest thing I ever really had to a real mother. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t miss her.

Then I had questions, questions every child of faith has; I wondered if God made everything, who or what made him? It took me a couple of years but I think I finally have it figured out.
You see, I’ve come full circle and I’ve become a born again Christian and I have proof that God is alive, well for me at least and here it is.

There are on average 4.4 million confirmed pregnancies in the U.S. every year. 900,000 to one million of those pregnancies end in miscarriages. 500,000 pregnancies each year end in miscarriage. So my proof is this, I’m still here. Both my mother and father confirmed that my mother had on numerous occasions tried having a miscarriage. Doing everything from binge smoking, to throwing herself down a flight of steps on her stomach, to punching and beating her gut and doing everything she could to terminate me while I was unborn and still in the womb. On top of that, I was an ‘accident’ both my parents had given up on having another child, a year later she became pregnant with me. Later, when I was just a few months old, my mother took my older brother and abandoned me, leaving me sleeping at the top of a flight of stairs as she locked up the house and left me there. During this time my mother and father’s marriage was on the rocks and he had been staying at my grandmothers, but God had spoken to him, demanding that he return home. That’s where my father found me, still asleep at the top of the stairs. Even if you don’t believe in God, it’s a small miracle within itself that my father showed up at the house at all. Because if he hadn’t, I highly doubt I would be there today, since it took about a week for my mother to call my father and ask him if he had me.

I was saved by her And despite our Differences she was one of the best friends I ever had.

I was saved by her And despite our
Differences she was one of the
best friends I ever had.

I survived all this, including my own suicide attempt. I lost my faith in everything and struggled with my faith time and again, sometimes I simply gave up and surrendered my faith, and there were times when I felt forgotten by him and raged a war, I sinned, cut myself, challenged others in their faith, alljust to get his notice, because even if I made him angry, or hate me he wouldn’t be able to ignore me, believing at least then he’d have no other choice but to take notice of me. All the while I was just drowning in a sea of sorrow, loneliness and despair.

I was eventually saved however. But for a long time I overlooked the positives in my life, and only focused on the negatives, the truth is, sorrow, despair, loneliness, and suicide are words we don’t mention in public. These feelings we keep firmly locked away, we dare not discuss, through their currents run through all of us in varying ebbs and flows throughout the course of life. Just as hope, passion, happiness and love all run together as well. I believe it doesn’t make us weaker to admit these lulls. As someone once said “Acceptance is the first step towards happiness.” Don’t fight the flow, but at the same time don’t let it drag you down either because it’ll hold you there if you let it.

So when you leap off that metaphorical bridge, when you’ve hit bottom and feel like you’ve reached the darkest depths of your inner ocean, just remember to keep kicking for the light at the surface. Or better yet don’t jump at all, just learn to swim.

Then there's my dear friend Hannah with her rich heart, sweet nature who shares my affinity for the outdoors.

Then there’s my dear friend Hannah
with her rich heart, sweet nature
who shares my affinity for the
outdoors.

Because we all have problems and we all get knocked down sometimes, it happens. But here’s my opinion, we’re all given these hardships, these trials and tribulations, in order to build us up, to make us stronger and to have empathy for our fellows. Because life is not all sunshine and rainbows, it’s in constant flux, a pendulum swinging wildly through the many shades of human emotion. And it is important to remember that sometimes the greatest inspiration comes from the moments of deep despair. Even Martin Luther King Jr. Once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

I was saved by a few kinds words, random acts of kindness and love, I found grace and solace in a moment, I was even saved from my own selfish suicidal attempts, which by all rights should have killed me. But I was given another chance at life; I was given a chance at this random, chaotic thing called life. This is how God works, it may not always be how you wanted and you may never really understand it, just like how I’ll probably never understand my mother, but I’m okay with that. So you should be okay with you.

Matt, my best-friend since High-School, who suspected something was wrong in my home life and always welcomed me to be a part of his family, treating me like a brother. A true friend.

Matt, my best-friend since High-School, who suspected something was wrong in my home life and always welcomed me to be a part of his family, treating me like a brother. A true friend.

And when people feel the need to challenge my faith, I tell them to look at life. There’s nothing more spectacular than it. Imagine all the circumstances that had to occur that resulted in your birth, thus creating the perfect storm that is you. But not only was it you that was born into this life. Think about it, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Now multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive, meeting, siring this precise son, that exact daughter and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold. Then there’s this planet, placed exactly here in this place, allowing the perfect climate to sustain intelligent life and if people can’t see how this is a miracle within itself, created by an expert craftsman, how can you not believe in something greater than yourself? Why doubt the existence of God? Other than believing that the earth wasn’t made, believing that perhaps nothing is made. Like A clock without a craftsman.

My faith will never be a struggle of intellect. I don’t really waiver in my beliefs as I had once had. I don’t care if your Bill Nye, I long since figured out there are some people who don’t believe in God and will always go through great lengths to prove He doesn’t exist, and there are some, like myself who do believe in God and can prove He exists, the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter, and honestly I don’t care. I know what I know, my experiences are purely my own and no one can take those things away from me. That being said, yes I am a Christian and I do believe many of fellows have forsaken themselves lost the meaning in all their preaching.

And there's this guy, my cousin and good friend, who pulled me back from the brink more than I can say.

And there’s this guy, my cousin and good friend, who pulled me back from the brink more than I can say.

I for one stand for equality and don’t believe anyone has the right to infringe on someone else’s pursuit of happiness. Being against same sex marriage to me, is like going to a restaurant and getting upset because someone else is ordering something different than yours. It’s long been my opinion that if something offends you pay it no mind, don’t waste time or energy getting upset about it. No one’s asking you to come to their wedding, or telling you that you need to marry someone of the same sex

Secondly I don’t homosexuality is a choice and I still love those who are among my friends and family who are gay, in fact it’s hard for me to even put labels on who they are, because all I see is friends, and family. I don’t really care about their sexual orientation, or how their beliefs differ from my own. I simply see good people. But still I admire their strength, because I know a little of the hardships and the prejudices they have to face and come to terms with when they come out.

Then there's Hodge. When we first met we couldn't stand each other. But in time we became good friends, and he became one of my biggest supporters, going as far as going out of his way to pull my bacon out of the fire once or twice. Good dude.

Then there’s Hodge. When we first met we couldn’t stand each other. But in time we became good friends, and he became one of my biggest supporters, going as far as going out of his way to pull my bacon out of the fire once or twice. Good dude.

Leviticus 19:18 you shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Leviticus 19:34 You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

Love is the key, and believing in something, believing in God, having conviction is to falling falling is love, as to making a decision. Love is both something that just happens and something you decide upon.

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Last but certainly not least, my other best friend from HS. Steven was the first real friend I met when I started going to school in Grant County, taking me under his wing, looked out for me, introduced me to his friends and one my biggest fans. Always telling me, “Don’t dream it, be it!” He and Matt helped teach me how to have confidence and to believe in myself. This guy has million dollar heart

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

 

            “Its two a.m. and I can can’t sleep again, so I decided to sit down in this computer chair and just start writing again, not really knowing where I’ll end, but the voices of the past are telling me where I should begin and trying to fall back asleep has lost its appeal, so I sit back and wondering if any of this is even real.” J Cooper.

I’ve had this passion for story telling since I was boy, I started off hating to read, but the words were quiet and persistent, inviting me into these whole new worlds, filled with both magic and wonder, offering me an escape from the place I didn’t want to be and making me wish I could always be as I was, free and carefree as any kid. I wanted to live forever as a child, to always find myself on one adventure or another, to explore the world with wonder and imagination. I saw castles, fortresses, crept past enemy lines, discovered lost and hidden abilities that I never knew I had and I never wanted to let any of it again.

In books I would lose myself completely in their pages, becoming momentarily lost in the books I’ve read, imagining what it would be like to discover a den of thieves and to don that invisible cape, to right wrongs, to save princesses, to become the hero I always wanted to be and to live in those moments, even if they lasted for just a moment. But I would carry those stories with me, with the characters often becoming my friends and would often occupy my thoughts as I drifted off to sleep. Habitually dreaming of meeting those characters who I loved, respected and admired, befriending or falling in love with them as we shared an epic journey, which would make me cling to sleep and those memories of dreaming long after my waking hours. Growing up I was found to be a quiet and introspective, spending long car rides just staring out the window letting my imagination run rampant, my thoughts wonder.

It’s these experiences and the memories that carry me through the long and lonely days. It wasn’t long after I fell in love with reading that I stated writing my own stories, creating my own characters, some of which I still carry with me today and write about. I was eight years old by the time I started crafting my own stories, with their twist and turns, sharing them excitedly with family, friends and the teachers who marveled over my creativity and originality, which motivated me to only write more.

I fell in love with words and the art that comes with writing your very own story, in your very own voice, putting yourself and working aspects of those closest to you and the ones you admired into the stories you craft. Of course, every story I wrote had characters born from different parts of me. Some were how I saw myself, while some were everything I wished I could be and who were still perfectly flawed, while others were mirror opposites of me and everything I believed in. They represented me as I imagined if I were to lose or forget myself, making the villains I would write all the more interesting and complex and born from the advice a young film maker gave me on a chance meeting when I was at Kings Island with my father, which is that even the most villainous of characters are never truly evil, most of the time they believe they’re doing the right thing.

My magic RingEven as a kid I believed that very few people ever thought of themselves as evil, less still ever wanted to be the villain. In their journey and in their eyes, they often saw themselves as heroes themselves. But every character has a journey, one that makes them who they are and often when I would sit in the car staring out the window I would imagine how my life would be with these different scenarios that often played on inside my head. Often wondering how I would have turned out if my father won custody instead of my mother, or if I stopped believing in God and fell in with a bad crowd, how would I turn out.

Then one day I sat at the dinner table, working on an outline to a story I was writing for my friends, when my mother asked me what I wanted to do after high school. And do you know what she said to me when I told her I wanted to be a writer? She laughed and said “You shouldn’t, your chances are one in a million of you being successful,” And I said “Maybe, I’m that one,” And she said “But you’re not, instead you should consider going in the military or getting into politics, because you have a better shot at being the President then you ever will being a writer.” She tried telling me I should give up on my dreams and to pursue a career where the financial success was more guanteed, she tried telling me to give up on the one thing that I loved, what made me feel alive and to simply give it up.

She didn’t care how much I loved to write, or that I felt like it was the one true thing that I could offer the world and how I dreamed of being able to change it. I know it may seem silly to you, but even back then I believed in words and if you could string together the perfect combination of words, you could save the world from itself. I was seventeen years old and I knew this to be true, because I’ve already seen the change my words had created in the people around me. I’ve turned enemies into close friends and my friends became my best friends, my brothers and all because of writing, which was the catalyst for everything. There were people who never liked me, who saw me as geek, a nerd, a loser, a fag, but I found my way with my words, sparking the sense of wonder of those around me, watching as they clung to every word I spoke and read to them the first page of my story, with my voice trembling and my hands shaking, until I looked up and saw all their eyes were upon me and leaning forward in their seats, with all of them listening to me, clinging to my every word. In the span of a few heartbeats and for the first time in my life, I had won over an entire room, I was thirteen then.

            Giving up on writing would never be an option and something that I always felt would cost me my very soul, because I had all these stories in me and these characters who wanted, needed to their tale to be told. And you know what I discovered by chasing my own dreams? My mother was wrong. And whatever she thought she saw in me was also wrong…Because I am that one in a million and so are you. We all have that something special inside of us, we’re born with storms, tidal waves, comets and forest fires raging on within us, we’re all born and gifted with magic and I for one was born in a magic time, in a magic world and no, not everyone could see what I saw then and what still see now. You see, we’re all born into this world of magic and wonder, connected my silver filaments of both chance and circumstance, and when I was child, I could talk to animals, sing to birds, read stories in the clouds and see my destiny in tiny grains of sand, the world was my magic ring and by its soft warm glow I protected, saved and changed the world countless times. Sometimes I was alone and sometimes I accomplished even greater feats with my brothers or the friends I made along the way, my world was in constant flux, growing and shrinking whenever friends came or went away, but no matter what, we were always connected by this web that connects and binds us all together. Friends, brothers, family and all the people we meet along the way on this journey called life, joining us, becoming connected, with some friendships lasting for only day while others forever. Learning slowly and over time that people will always come and go in our lives, no one leaves this world alive and those who leave us, leave behind permanent impressions and their fingerprints of who they were and what they meant to us on our very soul, for they may not always be with us, but their words will last forever in our hearts, the memory of those random strangers who came into our lives offering us their hand in friendship when we needed it, bonding in that single moment forever frozen in that one moment in time. The friends I made on vacation back when I was a kid, or more recently when I went to Fandom Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, making friendships I wouldn’t soon forget and all the like minded people I met, with the memories of who they were and the friendship we forged during my two day stay was and still is baffling to me, leaving me still wondering how and where they are now and if they ever got their flask signed by those two movie stars who we all loved and admired. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery.

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