Tag Archive: struggles


“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 did took a risk, I gambled and I tried.”

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

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XIII

Chapter 13

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

― Anne Lamott

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

The Grant County Fair

The Grant County Fair

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

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

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

Matt and his lovely family

Matt and his lovely wife

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

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

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

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

Steven

Steven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shrugging, I shake my head,

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

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

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

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

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

Me, Matt, Dawn and Steven.

Me, Matt, Dawn and Steven.

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XII

Chapter 12

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

Senior photo

Senior photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sherry and her sister Terry

Sherry and her sister Terry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sherry Troy and smile that was like the sunrise.

Sherry Troy and smile that was like the sunrise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2008 I'm the crow with my cousins

2008 I’m the crow with my cousins

 

 

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XI

Chapter 11

~The truth is every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, and some not. Some things change, while some never do and life goes on and on. And it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and my life in particular is a testament to that little fact. Yes the world can be a very mean and nasty place and no matter how strong or tough you think you are, it will beat you down to your knees and keep you there if you let it. No one will ever hit you as hard as life can and will, but its not about how hard you get hit, or how many times life knocks you down, it’s about how many times you keep getting back up, keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving and pressing ever forward on this journey called life, yeah my head may be bloody, but its unbowed and you can either press on to something more, or call it quits and simply give up, never knowing how close you came to getting past those hurdles, to finding solace in a moment, when find peace while walking barefoot through the grass with a pretty girl.
The battles you fight will be hard, but the reward will be all the sweeter once your journey finally winds down and you look back at a life well lived, because you didn’t give up. Yes you may lose your heart’s desire along the way, but you can also find it and there is no greater joy in life than that, yes accidents happen, sometimes you may lose your way, which can be tragic, but only if you let it, or you can embark on an all new journey of discovery until you find your way back home, to the place you’re meant to be. You just can’t ever let it keep you down, because this world is filled with its crazy mazes, obscene obstacles, and flashing lights all meant to test us, strengthen us and sometimes even distract us from what’s important…and I…I just want to write, to change the world with my words and get people to read again, to discover the magic in the written word, that magic that has been buried in the hidden depths of your soul. Remember your life is a story, and some chapters end, while others are just beginning, so if you ever think of ending your story prematurely, you’re robbing yourself and of those around you of the story of you and you’ll never see how things were truly meant to be, even the saddest of stories can have a happy ending. Plus, the beginning of most stories are often the hardest, but if you hang in there, you’ll soon discover you weathered the storm and have become a little stronger, a little wiser and just better for having lived through it. Don’ think of yourself as a victim, but a survivor, because that’s what you are, you’re stronger and better than you know.

stars

After the debacle of my sixteenth, birthday party, I kind of became two people. At home I would withdraw into myself, spending most of time hiding out alone in my room, transfixed by some video game, engrossed in a television program, or lost in a book. Gradually I was becoming a hermit whenever I was home. I hated socializing with the rest of my mom’s family because now everything they said to me just felt false, every compliment was a lie. often I found myself entertaining thoughts of suicide, hearing that little voice in the back of my head confirming all my worst fears, telling me my friends weren’t really my friends, that everyone was really just laughing at me behind my back, that I was a joke, a burden on everyone I loved and cared for. These words always spoke to me in the voice of my mother, telling me I had no future, I was stupid and ugly, along with all the horrible things we sometimes tell ourselves. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about killing myself, or how close I came. I grew up a Christian and still am, so my beliefs and my relationship with my father, my step-brother, my grandmother were all that kept me strong despite everything else that was going wrong in my life.

            The other person I found myself becoming was in thanks to my friends, who pulled me from the edge and held me there. To this day I still don’t know what it was they saw in me, I was an overly shy, backwards, introverted dork. But they saved me from myself and accepted me for who i was, they started a  change me. Slowly and gradually, I noticed how being around them made me better, more confident and not so afraid to have a little fun every now and again. Because I was as straight-laced as they came. I never smoked, drank, did any drugs, never did anything really, so much so  that most of my friend’s parents wanted to adopt me. In the end, I think that’s why I really chose to stay with my mother during all that time, with a little of it being afraid of what she would do if I left to live with my father.

           A week after my sixteenth birthday, when I was sitting alone in my room vegging out  in front of my t.v when I hear my mother yelling for me. My mom’s sister, Terry was there whose presence I simply endured and hadn’t been much of a fan of, (It was no illusion that she liked my older brother better than me, often treating me like a second class citizen), but still I tolerated her and she was standing in the living room, with my mom standing at the edge of the kitchen, upon seeing me, she asks me to take out the trash.

 (Now this part is the hardest for me talk about, let alone write, so I’m probably not going to edit any of it, just going to try and get through it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, typos be damned.)

 I walked past my mother, opening the cabinet which held our trashcan, which was overflowing, and started liberating the bag from the can, when behind me my mom asks me to check on our cat’s litter-box, responded by saying, 

Me at 16

Me at 16

   “Alright, as soon as I finish with this,” and I stand up and begin to carry the bag out of the kitchen when I’m shoved into our fridge which sat next to the entryway of our kitchen. At first I cracked a bit of a smile, believing my mother was just goofing off with me, or was trying to be cute or something, so I laugh and roll my eyes and pick myself back up and begin to step away, when my mother grabs my head and slams the side of my head into the fridge.

 

I whirled my head around in confusion, no longer thinking this was some harmless fun and wondering what I did wrong, but before I can ask she throws me up against the fridge, then hits me. My face stinging from the blow, I can already feel the red hand print throbbing, with my cheek feeling like it was on fire, I open my mouth to protest, when she shoves me again, followed by a second blow to the other side of my face. 

Then I do something I had never done before, I shove off of me, which also proves to be a mistake. She leaps at me again, her hands going to my face and she slams the back of my skull against the side of our fridge, before hitting me across the face again, harder this time. I manage a brief glance over at my aunt, expecting that she would have enough sense to stop whatever this was and I watch her smile and and give me an exaggerated shrug and my blood begins to boil. I barely have time to register her apathy, I feel my mother’s nails digging into my neck as she grabs the collar of my shirt, pulling me towards her, before shoving me back against the fridge once more. 


Pain lances up through my shoulder blades, with a part of me believing that this was it, she was going to murder me, because I can feel is her jumping on me, reigning blow after blow on me, hitting me everywhere and anywhere as I tried to shrink back into the fridge, raising my arms to protect my face, all the while still holding the bag containing the kitchen’s garbage. 

Finally having enough I snap, shoving her off of me as hard as I can and into the counter at her back. I’m screaming “Stop,” at the top of my lungs, maybe a part of me was hoping a neighbor or someone would hear and call the cops. But I was so angry, I could barely think clearly, with my whole body trembling with rage, wanting nothing more than to finally hit her back and not stop until I could no longer raise my fists.

My heart was racing and feeling as though it would beat right out of my chest. Then she hits me again and I slam her harder into the counter and throw the bag of trash at her and scream,

“That’s it, I had enough, I’m packing my bags tonight and moving in with my dad, I don’t care what you do to me, I’m done!”

With my heart still beating like a jackhammer, I storm out of the kitchen, pausing momentarily to glower at my aunt, who’s still just standing there.

       “Are you really going to do nothing and let her beat the hell out of me?” I ask, and she responds by turning her back to me.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I turn and storm down the hall to my room, already thinking of how I was going to explain this to my friends, hoping that I’d still be able to see them from to time and wondering how difficult it’d be to make new friends in a new school, to be the new kid all over again. Realizing I hated my mother then, I hated her for doing this to me, for forcing me to leave behind my friends. 


         I make it to my room where I try slamming the door behind me, (because when you’re angry slamming things usually feel pretty good,) But my mother catches the door just before it slams shut and throws it open, and shoves me from behind. I stumble, catch my balance, but by the time I recover, she’s on top of me again, beating me, clawing at my face and neck, pulling and tearing at my shirt, going absolutely berserk. I’m terrified, believing this was where I’m going to die.But my anger fuels me, drives me and I let her hit me three or four more times before I explode, shoving her out of my room and pin her arms at her side, bringing my face inches from hers as I scream. No words, I just scream, feeling every part of my body wanted to hit her repeatedly, I wanted to show her how to hurt and teach her how to bleed. I wanted her to know, to feel every blow, ever pain and every hurt she ever made me feel. In that moment I wanted to kill her. But I manage to reign in my anger just enough to shout, 

  

            “Stop! Just stop and leave me alone! I’m done with this, I’m done with you! It’s over.”

            Shaking I let her go and turn to head back to my room  and begin packing my beds, when she shoves me from behind and again I stumble, recover and turn to face her as she shoves me again harder. I stagger back, plant my feet and shove in return, in what erupts into a brief shoving match between us. Realizing she’s losing ground, she launches herself at me and begins wailing away on me, hitting me, scratching me in what felt like an endless barrage of blows to every exposed square inch of my body, while the whole time I’m seeing red and all I can think about is breaking her neck.  That’s when I see it, I see her pulling her hand back in a fist and I clench my fist in return, making the conscious decision I was done letting her hit me, I bring my arm up to block the blow when she smiles.

            The blow never comes; instead she’s smiling ear to ear and begins taunting me, presenting her face to me saying,

            “Oh you going to hit me, come on, hit me,”

            “I don’t want to hit you; but I want you to stop hitting me!” I snap, but she doesn’t stop, nor do I think she hears a single word I said, because she’s shoving me now with her palms, presenting her chin to me, saying,
“No, I saw you, you want to hit me, so c’mon and hit me,”

Shaking my head with my heart still racing, I slowly back away wondering if this is what she wanted all along and I try rationalizing with her, telling her how I wasn’t going to hit her, albeit I wanted to, but I wasn’t about to let her beat me to death, I was done being the victim.


But she won’t have it; instead she shoves me again and I almost fall against my bed as she saying,

            “No I want you to hit me, it’s what I’ve always wanted you to do, so come on hit me, It’s what I want you to do, c’mon hit me,” She taunts, presenting her face to me and outstretching her arms, to give me a free open shot at her. When I refuse, she continues,
“Oh, come on, I want you to hit me, it’s what I’ve always wanted you to do, what I’ve always been wanting you to do.”

            Those words hit me harder than any blow I ever received from her and panic begins setting in as I start to realize what all this is.

            “Hit me!” She screams over and over again, “C’mon hit me,” She demands, “Hit me so I can have your step dad (who’s a cop) Come home and haul your ass to juvie, and your uncle Skip (who’s rich)  knows judges so I can make sure you never see the light of day, your dad, or anyone you love ever again, I’ll make sure you stay locked away in the system from juvie to prison, it’s where I want you to spend the rest of your life, what I’ve always wanted you to do.”  She professes, sounding like she’s already won and had beaten me. She smiles and shoves me once more for good measure, then smacks me again, hoping I’ll snap and  hit her back. But I don’t. I’m too much in shock.

            The horror of what she was saying kept me rooted and I saw my whole life flash before my eyes, remembered every beating, every nasty thing she’s done, or said to me, knowing then in that moment she wanted to ruin my life. My mother, the woman who brought me into this world, had gotten off on the idea of making my life miserable.

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

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

 I know people sometimes say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment, but the way she looked at me and how she recanted her plan to ruin my life, I couldn’t and still can’t help but think she had given this some real thought. But now I refused to play into her little game, I stood my ground and an idea came to me, to turn this whole ordeal against her, to let the whole world see her for the monster she was.

            “You know what?” I asked breathlessly, shaking my head as I started for my phone, “I think I’ll go ahead and call the police myself and let them see the marks you left on me, then I’ll testify against you and we’ll see where all your connections get you when all this is done.”        

            My mother didn’t move, she was stunned and I could feel her eyes following me as I moved to my phone and my hands were still trembling as I began to dial 911.

            By the time I picked up the phone, she started crying, which had always been my Achilles Heel. (I never could stand seeing a girl cry, let alone my own mother) and I could feel myself beginning to lose my resolve and my the time I dialed 9, she was began begging me to stop, asking me, pleading me to think of my Brothers and how it’ll affect them and I told her how I didn’t care, not anymore. So I pressed 1 and she sobbed harder, begging me to stop, asking for my forgiveness, telling me how sorry she was, how much she loved me, how she didn’t mean any of the things she said.

            I fell for it…..

Dropping the phone I turned to her, she was practically on the floor sobbing defeated and was still pleading for me to stop and not do this to her, so I say,


           “Fine, but if you ever and I mean ever touch me again, I won’t hesitate to make this call and there’s nothing you can do, or ever say that’ll stop me.”

            She crawled back to her feet then, all tears and apologies, wrapping her arms around me, telling me how good I was and how much she loved me and all I could say to her was,
“Never again.”

      My mom and her sister then blamed all this on me, because they claimed I said something, or smarted off after I was asked to clean the litter-box, however neither one could tell me what it was they thought I said. But after that day, I stopped trusting my mother and began spending more and more time with my friends, too afraid to go home…. But I’m still here, I survived and if I can make through all that, there’s no limit to what you can do. 

Me and my grandma, the woman was more of a mother to me then she'll ever know. I miss her dearly.

Me and my grandma, the woman was more of a mother to me then she’ll ever know. I miss her dearly.

 

Scars of Who We Are: Chapter X

Scars of who were are, memories chapter 10.

15170_102198256469802_6030428_n

My little cousin, me, Dominic my older brother and his now ex-girlfriend, five years ago.

~These memories of who I was and where I’ve been are important to me. Just as your memories should be to you, even when they’re painful, or mired in regret, they still make up a large part of who we are, who I am, and the person I’m going to be once my journey finally winds down. I need to remember the essence of magic and hope that I once knew and held so dear, if I’m ever to capture it again. 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. 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 in our lives that hovers and settles for but a moment, leaving us forever and inexplicably 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.

      Patrick and I became inseparable, we were best friends and brothers all the same.  His eyes were also open, he wasn’t afraid to speak up and stand up to his mother for me. It was something about him I always admired, he never cared that

My step-brother and me at King's Island....Sorry Patrick this is the only picture I could find of you.

My step-brother and me at King’s Island….Sorry Patrick this is the only picture I could find of you.

by jumping to my defense whenever she was jumping on my case, making fun, or bullying me and how it would get often get him grounded, or chewed out, he was someone who always stood up for what was right, no matter what it had cost him.  Eventually Patrick would be the one to go to my dad about how I was being treated and I would begrudgingly confirm that Patrick was telling the truth. Often I had held my tongue Because I didn’t want to cause any ripples in my father’s new marriage. He loved her and she made him happy and I couldn’t bear to bear to be the the reason why he couldn’t hold onto this family he had found. He loved her kids and still does as if they were his own and maybe I was a little selfish myself, because I also didn’t want to jeopardize my relationship with my brother, I didn’t want to lose to him, or any of my extended family. So I was willing to go through that mental abuse and more if it meant my father’s happiness and the continued bond that forms between brothers. Sadly, I would eventually see this marriage fall apart and once more I got to relive all the ugliest therein. With a part of me always wishing they would get back together and mend the fences, so that we could all once again be a family.   

My Step-mother.

My Step-mother.

To my step-mother’s credit, she did eventually find me on face-book years later. To be honest I didn’t know what to make of the friend request that found its way to my inbox, or the message she sent with. In it, she wrote me a very heartfelt apology for how she treated me. Telling me how sorry she was and asking if I could ever find it in my heart to forgive her. So I accepted her friend request, and wrote her back, telling her I had forgiven her a very long time ago, because truth was I saw why she resented me so much even back then, I knew why. Even though she had two kids from a previous marriage whom of which my father had accepted as his own, she couldn’t bring herself to accept me.  I was a constant reminder to her of father’s previous marriage and how committed. I would be the one thing that would always keep him tied to her

       But now I’m happy to report that her and I still stay in touch and I do still have love for her. I even told her as much the last we talked and that she was often more of a mother to me, than my real one, because Trisha did  occasionally put forth at least a little  effort in trying to get to know me and she did spend a little bit of time with me here and there. Yeah, it may have been mostly because she didn’t want to watch a particular scary movie alone, or  maybe she was just lonely when my father wasn’t there and just wanted a movie buddy. But those memories of her asking me to sit with her and watch a movie together are some of greatest memories I have and still carry with me to this day. Movies had become her and mine thing that we would share and do together, further illustrating how the magic of a story, in a cinema, a movie can capture the essence of magic and bring unlikely people together. I remember how she would make me popcorn and how we would talk about the movie later, about what we thought of the story and how it should have ended. And to be honest if we shared more of those moments, I would have elected left home and would have moved in with them, adopting a new family all my own. 

My step-sister and no I'm not ashamed to admit I did used to have a bit of a crush on her.

My step-sister and no I’m not ashamed to admit I did used to have a bit of a crush on her.

 

 

But at fourteen, I had fallen into the habit of spending most of my summers with my father and when I stayed with him, I never wanted to come home, partially because I know I would be left alone and because I was afraid of my mother, who had the habit of making me miserable, so naturally I loathed the idea of coming home. Home was a place that never felt really real and always left me feeling a bit out of place, like I really didn’t belong, even though my mother had went from physically beating me, to full scale psychological abuse which started a year prior. I had also grown to dislike my step father, but the blunt of that came earlier in the year when he nearly broke my arm because I complained of having a migraine and wanted to lay down. Then I was threatened into lying about how I had a bruise the size of a grown man’s hand around my bicep, a angry black and yellow band around my arm, that everyone had wondered how I got, but to each one I told a different story.

Then of course was my older brother who often tormented me by either having fun at my expense or by treating me like a second class citizen, who was his dork little brother. I hated him so much at times and my mother too, for she would laugh with him as he poked fun at me and my speech problems, then whenever I would get bad and try to say something hurtful in turn, I would be the one whipped and punished. I hated my life, I hated my home more, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to love it. I wanted to be happy in my home and I wanted to have the kind of life you read about, or see on t.v. I wanted to believe in the stars.

Me at fourteen

Me at fourteen

 

But this one summer, I came home to an unexpected surprise; I went to my room to unpack my things and to discover that my room had been redecorated. The bunk beds that once took up residence in my room were replaced by a very nice queen sized bed and my walls had been painted to my favorite color, which at the time was red. (Now it’s blue, things change) It was then my mom popped into my room and I was taken aback by how excited and happy she was to see me. Then I saw her brow crease with worry when she thought I didn’t like it, when truth was I was in shock, I was speechless. It took me a moment for my wits to return and for me tell her how much I loved it. But that was two years before I would learn the unspeakable truth that would forever weigh on my soul. But sometimes, I also wonder if she could love me on this day how come she couldn’t always, why did her love sometimes wash over me like a wave, to so quickly ebb and dissipate, why was it that the waves were so few and far between, leaving me stranded alone on this island, with no place to call my home.

 

At sixteen, I came home from a hard day at school to yet another surprise, this time to discover that  my mother had thrown me a surprised birthday party. To be honest, it had been something I mentioned from to time growing up, I’ve always wanted one, but as I grew older I began to believe less and less in it actually happening, so needless to say I was overjoyed.

For all of ten minutes I couldn’t stop smiling, believing this was one of the greatest days of my life and for ten minutes I had forgotten about all the hurt feelings, the nasty words and all the beatings. I opened the door to the smell of steaks frying on the grill out back, mac and cheese cooking on the stove, the smell of freshly baked cookies and chocolate fudge brownies, all my favorites.

I laughed, not knowing what to think, believing that the Lord had finally granted my one request, which was to have my mother love me as much as she did my bother. Because this was it, this was the turning point I had been waiting for and I was so tired of struggling and fighting just to stay afloat and now, now I was happy. I had the attention I had always wanted, the sense of belonging I had craved for so long and now it was finally mine, or so I thought.

 

Then the pictures started the first few were of me, then I posed with a few family members, than my brother Dominic and I was still feeling euphoric, until I heard my aunt Terry remark on how handsome my brother was and right in front of me, she began insisting that he should go into modeling because he was so unbelievably photogenic and handsome. To my brother’s credit, he was being modest and tried brushing the comments aside, but they kept coming. My grandma on my mother’s side jumped in, as well telling my brother how it was true and that girls were always inquiring about him because he was so  handsome, then of course my mother had her say, trying to convince him of all the good money that could be had if he went into modeling, while I stood there, completely forgotten.

For awhile I did my best to pretend not to be a little hurt, so I wore my false smile and eventually having enough, I threw am arm around my brother and saying,

                “Hey, how about we go into modeling together, you know as brothers?” My brother quickly brushed me off and laughed, while the rest of the room looked at me as if looks could kill and as I tried figuring out what it was that I said that got everyone looking so peeved at me,I feel my Aunt Terry’s hand closing around my arm as she pulls me aside saying,

“Hey, you’re not like your brother, he’s really handsome and you shouldn’t be acting all jealous because you’re not and he’s your brother.”

                  At sixteen, I didn’t know rather to laugh or to cry, I wanted to believe she was just joking around with me, even if it was a little mean. But before I could formulate any kind of response my grandmother (on my mother’s side) Pulls me around, telling me it’s okay to be average and I shouldn’t be acting this way just because he’s really special and and very handsome.

I couldn’t believe my ears, heck I couldn’t even believe this was really happening and I had thought this was suppose to my day, and all could feel was m heart sinking along with whatever positive self image I still possessed.

 

Then of course my mom chimed in, I don’t know why when she first interrupted my aunt and grandma that I allowed myself to believe she was jumping to my defense, instead she launched into telling me about everything that was wrong with me. How my nose was too big and that I needed plastic surgery to get it fixed, then piece by piece she tore me apart, telling me how my hair was too greasy and unkempt, that I was too weakly, scrawny, my clothes didn’t fit me right, I had poor posture, bad skin, I couldn’t stand or walk right, my teeth weren’t white enough, my gums weren’t pink enough, etc. By then end of it I just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and die, but of course she didn’t stop there, she went as far as pointing out my speech problems, the grades I was making in school and so forth.

That day my favorite foods had lost their taste, I had lost my appetite, lost in my own depression, thinking how sorry they’ll all be once I’m gone, but I played my part, I smiled falsely, pretended that everything okay; even though I was dying inside and when I finally got to blow out my candles, I wished for a new life and I hoped for love to come into my life and make sense of all of this.

 

Later I would grow to suspect everything that happened was some veiled attempt to breed resentment between my brother and me, but it never took. Even when he was making my life miserable I still loved him, he was my brother and he always will be. brothers are suppose to be a pain, suppose to torment you and get on your nerves. Even my step-brother and me for as well as we did get along we often got on each others nerves, would tease one another and annoy the ever loving crap out of each other. So no, I never really blamed Dominic for anything that’s happened, because he was my brother.

                But, Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had spoken out and made myself heard, to admit how I wasn’t perfect but to ask who of us really was, I could have pointed out the faults of everyone in that room if I had wanted to. But I didn’t, instead I retreated into my room, having always preferred losing myself in a book, a movie, a video game, or hanging out with my own friends than try and pretend I was a part of something that I wasn’t. But it was okay, I had my friends, I had an amazing step brother and sister and it was they who always found me and pulled me back from that ledge that my depression had often brought me. They were my strongest supporters, my biggest fans, the people who I’ll always love and never forget, remembering always there words which will stay with me until the very end of my days. I may have been just days from learning the truth. But one thing I learned from writing this blog, which is this, appreciate your family for what it can be, not what it should be, step parents, step brothers and sisters can be just as good, or sometimes even better than the real thing, family is what you make of it, not what it should be, anyone can family, friends, co-workers, even your bosses, all you have to do is let it.

 

Okay, this has nothing to do with what I'm writing, but over the weekend I did finally get to meet my two favorite actors Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery and even in my severely sleep deprived state I can tell you, these guys are awesome and are remarkably down to earth.

Okay, this has nothing to do with what I’m writing, but over the weekend I did finally get to meet my two favorite actors Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery and even in my severely sleep deprived state I can tell you, these guys are awesome and are remarkably down to earth.

 

 

 

 

The Scars of Who We Are Chapter VIII

The Scars of Who We Are Part VIII

Dreams become shattered memories,|
The earth crumbles beneath my feet,
My heart creaks and cracks,
As my knees grow weak,
And the words assault me.

Boy Standing Along a Fence

 I used to cry alone in my room, so that no one would see or hear me, I was the kid with a story that no one would believe, praying every night for God to please send me someone who would just love me and  often wondered what love really meant, because my parents’ divorce was a nightmare and I speak from experience when I say it’s never easy on a kid. Ideally I believe parents should always try very hard to work things out before calling a marriage quits. But I understand, sometimes things just fall apart and you can if you’re not careful fall out of love. In this case if divorce is inevitable, they need to find some common ground and put the hurt feelings aside, out of respect for the children who by no fault of their own are also involved. Be civil and fair to each other, don’t worry about what you think you deserve, or what you want, because it’s the children who suffer, it is us who you end up hurting. We hear all the nasty things you say to each other and about one another, we understand more than you think and we’ll always listening, even when you think we’re not.

When it comes to any kind of separation  it’s important not  to get caught up in a whirlwind of hate, no matter how much you feel like you may be justified. Try to remember your spouse and the good times you shared, try to become something more than bitter words, arguments over who gets what and who deserves the most in the divorce. Because in the end, it’s the kids who have to cross the battlefield and it’s unfair to force, or manipulate them into choosing a side.  Both my parents tried painting the other as a horrible person, never taking into account what it does to those who are caught in the middle and feeling like a weapon one would use to try and hurt the other as much as possible.

The worse thing about my parents splitting up was how the divorce had pitted me against my father and his side of the family against my mother and hers. My mother’s side often had the tendency of treating me with borderline neglect and more often than not had looked upon me as if I was an incredibly dim witted fool, who had on more than one occasion would ask me to do something (In one particular case it was getting my grandma some ice water, and wouldn’t let me go, until I heard her explain, precisely what ice water was, what it consisted of,  how to get the ice from the freezer, etc.…I was eleven) Suffice to say, I knew how to prepare a glass of ice water. Which lead to me on more than one occasion informing my mother’s side that I wasn’t an idiot, nor was I mentally handicapped, (although forgive me, I actually said, “retarded” no offense, I was eleven)  Granted I was incredibly backwards and shy, with a bit of a speech impediment, but that didn’t mean I was stupid or least not in my opinion. (also in my defense I had buckteeth, which sometimes made things a little difficult to enunciate certain words.)

Dinning on my favorite food. French Fries!

Dinning on my favorite food. French Fries!

Then there was my dad and his side of the family, who always did their best to win my favor, always incredibly outgoing, supportive, loving and caring. (Which I took somewhat for granted, because over the years I saw that I already had their love and respect, I didn’t have to work for it. So I devoted much of my time, too much of my time, trying to win the favor of my mother and her side of the family. And now there’s a subtle divide between my father’s family and me, we don’t talk much anymore and not from lack of trying on my part. I don’t blame them though. I often chose my spend most of my time with my mother’s family, making them feel like second best, or that I didn’t love them as much, which is untrue. I only wanted my mother’s love and to become a part of something bigger, with a big family. A lot of it came from how much I seen how they spoiled my brother, always showering him with praise and gifts, something that was always in short supply whenever it came to me. I don’t know if that makes me selfish, or a bad person or what. But I longed to hear a few kind words from them, words that sadly never came)

              But I digress, the battle between my mother and father continually broke my heart, it wouldn’t stop, every week was the same thing; my mom would always be so quick to tell me how my own father didn’t love me. Insisting that he was only good to me so that I would make the choice to live with him once I came of age to choose and he only wanted me so that he would no longer have to pay child support. She often described my father as being selfish, cold and greedy. Telling me that despite how he never so much as raise his voice to me, that he was really masking his cruel and abusive nature. She often told me, he wouldn’t put up with my shyness, my struggling grades, my being a picky eater or really just me in general, swearing that he would put me up in military school the first chance he got just so that he wouldn’t have to put up with me.

She could easily turn anything kind or good thing my father did for me and paint it as some elaborate facade, which often left me wondering if I would ever learn to the truth. I can’t tell you how many times I questioned everything my dad had done for me, wondering if she was right, if he really didn’t love or care about me, questions that no kid should ever have to concern himself with.

          Then there was my dad, as great as he was, he was far from perfect. Every other weekend I would have to sit and listen to him bad mouth my mother, telling me that she was a manipulative sadist and how she didn’t really love me. (Beginning to see a pattern here?) My whole life growing up all I ever heard was how the only reason she wanted me was to collect her precious support. So here I was, stuck in the middle of this war and well intention as my father may have been, it was something no child should here. I can’t tell you how much it hurts always hearing how the other parent doesn’t love you, or care about you. Unfortunately for me, my dad’s words rang true, for as soon as I graduated High-school, my mother did exactly what he had warned me about. I was told to leave, having my belongings thrown carelessly into trash bags and sat outside as I frantically called my dad looking for a place to stay. Meanwhile my mother was robbing me blind, closing my savings account and making sure to take every penny my family had given me for graduation, leaving me with nothing but with what little cash I had in my pocket at the time. If it wasn’t for my dad, I would have been left broken, penniless and homeless. But I doubt I would have lasted too long without throwing myself off a bridge, or into traffic. But that’s a story for another day.

           Regardless of however true my father’s words may have been, it still wasn’t something I should have heard; no child should ever hear how one parent loves him/her more than the other, or isn’t loved at all by one parent.

However, I must give my dad some credit, because by the time I was fifteen I finally asked him to stop talking so negatively about my mother, explaining how I just couldn’t take it anymore and how much it was hurting me, I explained in as few words as possible that she often did the same and it was making things just that much harder on me. My father was taken aback, not realizing what his words had been doing to me for all these years and from that day rarely if ever spoke poorly about her again, at least in my presence he did  his best to curve his tongue.

Disney

Me, Pluto and my brother at Disney

A lot of my struggles also came from my brother and how much I loved and looked at him. It was heart wrenching for me to watch my brother grow to hate and despise my father, who never did stop caring or worrying about him. It didn’t help that I was all too aware how my relationship with my dad was driving my brother and I farther apart, so I grew up barely knowing anything about my brother. And I can’t tell you how many times I tried convincing him that my dad and his family still cared about him, but he wouldn’t have it. Which only added to my festering guilt, making me feel a pang of guilt whenever I did something fun or cool with  my dad and as much as I would have loved to have shared it with my brother, I knew I couldn’t, I knew just by telling him I would inadvertently hurt him, driving an even larger wedge between us. But sometimes it bothered me, seeing how my brother was so quick to forget everything our, my dad had done for and with him.

But I remember, I always remember, that’s always really been my thing, I remember, I remember everything. For some having a memory like mine would be a blessing, for me, it has which has been both a blessing and a curse. Even now as I write this, I wish I could forget some of my childhood, I wish I could forget, the pain, hardships, I wish I could forget how my mother didn’t love me and probably never had.

It’s my hope that by writing this and sharing my story it’ll touch someone, help them get help and not to be afraid. I know how it is being in an abusive situation, especially when you’re young and may think the behavior is normal because you have nothing else to compare it too. I also know the fear of what might happen, or what they may do if you tell someone, if you seek help. I know what it’s like loving someone who, for the lack of a better term is simply poison. The question you have to ask whenever you’re in an abusive relationship, with family, or a boy or girlfriend, spouse, is “Are you happy?” If the answer is no, you have to get out, you may be taken out of your home, you may go to child services, or have to strike out on your own in a terrifying, dark and scary world, which is only as scary as we make it out to be. Then once you’re free from that abuse, you’ll slowly begin finding a strength in you that you never knew was there and you’ll realize that you did the right thing, you made the right choice and no matter what you may tell yourself, or what they, or others may say, you’re stronger then you think and you, you can accomplish anything. Just don’t be afraid, never be afraid.

Life can and will knock us down and it may seem like the whole damn world is crashing down around you, but you have to hold on. Don’t lose hope, never lose hope and you will persevere. Don’t stress about your troubles in school, so what if you’re struggling to make the grade, just work a little harder, find your focus, if you’re being bullied seek help, start working out, learn self-defense and stand up! I’ve been bullied in school myself and if shy, quiet, little ole me can stand up to them so can you. Life isn’t always easy, we all struggle and we all have our demons we have to overcome and the private battles we rage will be the hardest, tougher than anyone else’s, because they’re yours. One thing I learned is life eventually balances out, God does balance the scales eventually, granted it may sometimes take awhile, but I’ve seen him work and seen those who used to make me feel miserable and now I have nothing but pity for them.

        This is why I started this series, why I pour my heart and soul into every word and paragraph of this blog. Forcing myself to relive these moments, reminding myself of my own struggles and the private battles I fought, sharing with you some of the pictures I managed to save in an old shoe-box and I’m right their with you as you read my words, sharing my journey, as I watch it all play out all over again.

To be honest however, I sometimes do hate writing this series, but when a friend told me I should blog about my life and to be honest I never meant to write down or share any of this. I was just sitting down and all of it started pouring it out and sometimes I feel like I’m just a vacuum bag, that holds all that old dirt, wondering if I’ll ever get it, if I’ll ever figure it out, if I’ll ever understand.

I never really got to know my mother and I never found her, she was buried beneath too many lies and deceitful ways for me to ever find. a day doesn’t go by when I don’t wish she could have showed me what a mother’s love, or secretly hope she’d find me and at the very least attempt to make amends, but as the years go by, I know that day will never come. But I often dreamed and fantasized about having one of those mothers you see on t.v, or in the movies, or the ones I’ve read about in books. I can’t tell you how many times I longed for, begged and pleaded to have similar relationship with the woman who gave birth to me, but instead I’m left wondering what happened and why.

If I could, I’d give just about anything to tell her that I loved her, I loved her even though she treated me like a cancer and caused me to hate myself for so long. I wish she could tell me why I was never good enough, why she hated me so much. I would like to ask her what I did so wrong besides being my father’s son.

For my birthday this year, I visited a friend and his wife, I’m always taken aback when I visit, I’m amazed simply by watching a real family interact. It reminds me a little of what I missed growing up and when I watched their kids. being around them and watching their kids play and how they interacted, I was overcome with such wonder and amazement. I saw how much they’ve changed and grew since when I saw them last and was reminded how my dad must have felt, only being allowed to see me every other weekend, or for weeks on in throughout the summer. I found myself imagining their futures and thinking about the challenges they may face as they grow older, I found myself worried, hoping only the best. I even prayed for God to always keep his hand on each and every one of them. That’s when it hit me, I understood then that I’d never understand how anyone can turn their back on their child, or want to make them hurt. Because life is amazing and just how two people and get together and create life. I thought about how small and humble our beginnings are. By then end, I was left wondering how my mother could make my life so difficult, without ever giving me so much as a kind word. I realize now that my mother never got to know me, I was her son and yet, we never even met.

                I know I had problems growing up, I know I wasn’t the perfect son, I wasn’t especially athletic, or brilliant, handsome, nor was I very funny, if anything I was more of an observer and dreamer than anything.  I was a picky eater, incredibly backwards and shy, I had buckteeth, speech problems, bad eyes, and to top it off I was also sensitive. So I know it couldn’t have been easy to raise me, or to always put up with me. But I couldn’t help it I was how God made me, and I loved me me, I still do. I’ve made some best friends you could hope for and I’ve seen the beauty of a sunrise, watched the brilliant setting of the sun and found salvation.

Me

Me

Take it from me,|
Speak slowly,
Forgive quickly,
Be slow to anger,
and love…always.

The Scars of Who We Are Chapter VII

Chapter VII: Scars will always fade,
But they will never go away,
I try throwing it all away,
But I remember everything,
Because the memory always remains…

Young boy looking through window

The year was 1989 when my parents finally got a divorce, admittedly I didn’t really understand what was going on and like most kids I had hoped it would be only temporary. But it wasn’t  My mother had cheated on my dad, with someone she had told my brother and I was just a friend. Admittedly I was somewhat suspicious when asked my brother and I to be quiet about it. Personally at the time I liked the guy, but I was six and he seemed nice enough to me, so I didn’t have a problem with him. But again I was six, below should be a recording that I accidently made, when I was trying to get my older brother in trouble, by recording him cursing on a tape recorder…..Yeah it may have been black mail, but I had grown tired of him picking on me, making fun of me and always blaming me, or getting me into trouble. What can I say, I was resourceful and I suppose I was a lot smarter

than I gave myself credit for in those days.
Believe it or not, my mom wasn’t always as nice as she sounds in this recording, remember the woman had brought another man to our house and was afraid of my dad finding out in fear that it would give him ammunition for their looming divorce.  You can listen to through here, (sorry I coudn’t find any other way to upload it to my blog.
https://sites.google.com/site/jcooperaudio/mp3/confession_.wav?attredirects=0&d=1

 

(I believe the first voice you hear is my older brother, followed by my less intelligible voice. I edited the recording down as much as I could and cut out all the blips and squeals, since most of the cassette tape had eroded somewhat. If you want to fast forward to the 3 minute mark I think is when my mother finally enters our room.)

 

 


I don’t think I’ll ever forget when I was told that I would only be able to see my dad every other weekend. Because my father was always very involved in the lives of both my brother and me, he loved, taking us to the movies and taking us to see the movies we wanted to see. Once even after our parents divorced he picked up both my brother and me and took us to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then afterward he took us to Toys R’us and bought us some Ninja Turtle toys. Something he didn’t have to do, but he that’s the kind of man my father was. He was always the kind of father he didn’t have to be and treated the kids that weren’t even his as if they were his own.  And it was my father who spent time with my brother and me; he didn’t hesitate taking us to parks, fairs, or amusement parks.  He always made time for us and was rarely ever too tired, or busy to spend time with us. If I ever get married and have kids I hope I’ll be half the father and the man that was and still is.

 

This is my mom way back when, it's the only good picture I have of her anymore.

This is my mom way back when, it’s the only good picture I have of her anymore.

 

My father was and still is my hero, the strongest man I’ll ever know and I’ll never forget the day when I saw him cry. He had come to pick me up the weekend after the divorce, because my mother had lied and manipulated the court to judge in her favor and won the custody battle over me. I didn’t have any say, I wasn’t allowed to speak up and because of that I only got to see my father every other weekend, or for weeks at a time once summer began. But the day I saw him dad cry, I have no words for it.  I was there at my grandma’s with him and I was playing contently on the couch across from him with my toys; he was talking to my grandmother about everything. I distinctly remembered the very words he spoke as I heard his voice crack for the very first time.

 

 

       “I don’t know what I’m going to do…and I miss her,” He spoke, choking back a sob. I knew the sound well, from all the times I tried holding back my tears and always failed so miserably. So I froze at first, not really knowing what to do, but I doped my toys and turned to my father, feeling my own heart shatter as I saw the tears streaming down his cheeks. A part of me knew this was an adult situation and was well beyond my understanding at the time. But I stood up all the same and walked solemnly over to him, wrapping my around his neck and I hugged him. I told him that everything would be okay and I loved him. He pulled his arms around me, clutching my little shoulders as he assured me that he knew and that he loved me too. We stayed there for a while, as he apologized and I could feel him shaking as he told me how sorry he was, that he tried his best to get me and failed. I did my best try and comfort him as he had comforted me so many countless times in the past. I never did stop missing him.

 

 

When I got home that weekend, I felt as if I had aged by ten years, I had so many things now rattling around inside my head, most of which I didn’t fully understand and at the time I still didn’t get how two people could fall out of love and how they could hurt each other so much. I was thinking about that and a dozen other things a child of six had no business thinking, or wondering about.  I did want to live with my dad, but at the same time I knew I would miss my brother, then there were my friends who I knew I’d never see again if I moved. I also believed that my mother could still love me, or so that’s what I wanted so desperately to believe. Even now I kick myself for not seeing things for how they were and it was strange to think that just a year prior I was with both my parents in my aunt’s car, driving to see my uncle Skip so he could show off his new boat.

 

We had spent most of the day driving around, so by the time we pulled up into the parking lot to meet him, my dad had popped out to get a coke because he was thirsty and I started to with him, when I was ordered to stay where I was. So naturally I protested, insisting I was thirsty all the while I was watching my dad on the off the chance my mother and her sister (my aunt Terry) would permit me to go. Instead Terry produced a clear glass bottle from under her seat and offered it to me.

 

I don’t know why the sight of the bottle made me immediately suspicious, or why I had that sickly feeling that something about it was wrong and I shouldn’t partake in its contents of whatever liquid that bottle held.

 

“No thanks, I don’t like it.” I said almost immediately, (mistake #1)

 

“How do you know you don’t like it?” My aunt asked.

 

“I just don’t….Please let me go with dad and get something to drink, I’m really thirsty.” I pleaded (mistake #2 for thinking they’d show me the slightest of mercies)

 

“Then you can’t be that thirsty,” My mother challenged and I looked at the bottle again, debating.

 

 “It’s either this or you have to wait till we meet up with Skip and see if he has any drinks on his boat,” My aunt said with mock sympathy. I knew what it was even then, for I had grown accustom to having an older brother who often got me in trouble or got me to do something I didn’t want to by speaking in the same tone.

 

“What is it?”  I asked, distrustfully trying to read the bottle and my aunt’s face, because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was some sort of trick. (Which it was)

 

 

“Water,” My aunt (lied) as she held the bottle out to me again and I stared at it suspiciously, half expecting at any moment that one of them would laugh, or give something away to tell me this was all some sort of a joke they were playing on me.

 

          “It doesn’t look like water,” I commented, smiling and almost certain my they would tell me this was a joke now and they were just teasing me. (Mistake number 3) I should have known better and shouldn’t under estimate my mom or my aunt’s depravity.

 

 

         “It’s flavored water,” my mom answered.  (It wasn’t.)

 

Her answer gave me pause,  because I did see her and my aunt drinking flavored water on numerous occasions, however I knew those bottles were different, clear plastic with colored labels, and this one was in a glass bottle with a label I didn’t recognize. (Yeah, I couldn’t really read it, but give me a break I was five.)

 

“No thanks, can I please go with dad and get something?”  I pleaded, hoping I’d get permission before he returns, in which I knew would make the answer an definitive and resounding “No,” but I saw the anger flash across my mom’s face as she accused me of lying telling me if I was really thirsty I would drink what was being offered and wouldn’t be so picky.

 

 

“No, no, I’m not lying!” I protested, panic rising in my throat, with a strong suspicion that I was about to be smacked, (Because my mother had a penchant for hauling off and hitting us, my brother or me across the face, whenever we made her upset, often this would come without warning or provocation, such as at the dinner table whenever we sat our elbows on the table, or complained of being hot whenever we sat in the backseat of the car, or accidently bothered her on the wrong day.)

 

 

        “You’re getting the paddle when we get home,” She threatened and I paled,


 

       Long ago, my mother believed her hand was ineffective in beating us kids, so she commissioned my father to craft a wooden paddle, with the holes drilled into it to reduce wind resistance, and the electrical taped handle “for her comfort” she naturally didn’t want to risk getting splinters and for whatever the reason I recalled her beating me with that paddle quit frequently. (I feared the beatings from my mother way more than my father. For the few times I warranted a beating from my father, he would only do so with the greatest of reluctance and would only give me one or two swats to my backside and be done with it. My mother however was much more severe. She would deliver so many that I would lose count, hitting me as hard as she could with each swat, which often times left large and sometimes bleeding welts against my buttocks, my lower back, or the back of my legs whenever she missed. She didn’t much care for accuracy, she prided herself more on bending over her knee and hitting as wildly and as ferociously as she could and to this day I still remember the searing pain that would flair up whenever she struck my lower back, and/or the back of my legs. If I cried, or screamed out during any of this, she would beat me more until I didn’t make a noise, then God help me if later I retreated to my room and she heard me crying. Because she explode into my room, with a belt, or tear me out of my bed with her nails biting painfully into my arms and beat me until I promised to be quiet.

 

 

So now, when I find myself sitting in a car, listening to my mom tell me how she’s going to beat me when we get home for lying about how thirsty I was, I had little choice, but to prove my honesty by taking the bottle of whiskey from my aunt. I vaguely remember squeezing my noise as I brought the bottle to my lips, partly from the noxious smell of it and to help me not taste it, then I threw back my head, gulping down the contents. Almost immediately I heard my aunt squealing with delight,

 

 

 “Oh my god, he’s drinking it, he’s really drinking it,” She squealed excitedly.

 

 

  Then I heard my mother guffaw as the two laughed and it was then the taste hit me and I could feel my mouth and throat burning as if I was drinking liquid fire. My eyes bulge out as I threw the bottle away from me and immediately got sick all over my aunt’s new car.

 

 

         My father returned shortly thereafter, right as my mother was dragging me out of the car, so that I could finish throwing up outside the car, oppose to further ruining my the interior of my aunt’s car, with the last thing I remembered from that day being my dad going ballistic as he found out what happened and how he took care of me afterwards.

 

 

 Now, more than a year later, I finished spending that first weekend with my dad and I come into the house and overhear my older brother, Dominic asking my mother why Robert, (My dad) didn’t take him away for the weekend too. I too was curious so I ease dropped and heard her explain that my father wasn’t his real father and that he was from her previous marriage and that he wasn’t Robert’s son, only I was (meaning me)

 

 

“Why?” He asked pitifully, adding how much he had loved and cared for my father. What I heard next chilled me to my core and left me feeling overwhelming pity for my older brother, as my mother said,

 

 

“Because he doesn’t love you, he never loved you, just like how your real father didn’t want you. I’m the only one who loves you, I’m the only who cares about you and wants you.”

 I slipped away after that, I felt ashamed, guilty and confused. My heart went out to my older brother with the only thing I knew for certain was that what she said to him was wrong.  I didn’t say for certain, but I knew she was being a liar, because I remembered my father and he treated my brother no different than me.  But I still searched and long for the truth. Often I would ask my dad, I saw my dad if he reason why he never picked my brother up along with me was because he didn’t love or want him and every time he had told me that he couldn’t gain custody of Dominic because he wasn’t his son and the lawyers wouldn’t allow it, but he still tried. Truthfully, my dad did care for my brother and for years would ask me about him, wanting to know what he was up too and what how he’d been. A few times he did try to see him as well as me, but my mother would never allow it. It still pains my heart to this day knowing that my brother’s opinion of my father is based solely on lies. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Behind you, behind you!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, it’s loaded.” He informs me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No dice, we’re in a hurry.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Take them!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know…” I tell him,

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

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

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

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

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

“Pray,” I tell him.

“Pray?” Nick echoes, “Why pray?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scars of who we are, part 2

The scars of who we are Part 2
Part 2. Where are you when you can’t be found?

For what it’s worth, I think I was a pretty happy kid and no matter how dark the world around me grew, I couldn’t shake this feeling I had, that I was special, unique in some way I couldn’t quite described. I had always felt as if I was meant for something more, something greater than myself. Now this could be, that when I was born I was born both upside down and backwards, forcing the doctors to perform an emergency C-section in order to save my life. Something I don’t think my mother had ever really forgiven me for, because before then she was one of those models you’d see on T.V or magazines.

But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Because my first struggles had started before I was even born. This I know, I know from the stories my farther had often shared with me while I was growing up, stories I’ve always kept to myself until the day I graduated High school and my mother confirmed everything he told me was true. By telling me, how useless and pathetic I was and how she tried having a miscarriage and get an abortion.

I know not exactly something you want to tell your son, or a kid, but I grew up with both parents telling me how much the other didn’t love me. In truth, I secretly hoped that they were both wrong.

Now my dad tells me, that my mother wasn’t particularly an easy person to live with, nor was she exactly thrilled with having another kid, because she had already had a son from a previous marriage, my older brother Dominic. But my dad can be quite insistent and managed to convince her try, because he wanted a kid of his own. He wanted someone to carry on his legacy and if you ever seen my dad, you’ll see that he’s really good with kids, because he sincerely loves them. (Partially because he’s really a big kid at heart)

But for a while it would seem that fate was against them, for after a whole year of trying, they had failed to ever conceive. It wasn’t until they gave up trying which was when I was finally conceived. During which time my dad tells me my mother was becoming increasingly hard to live with, always wanting to start a fight with him whenever he came home from work, which lead to him working double and triple shifts just to stay away from her. But during this time, my dad tells me that when they would fight, she would get angry and sometimes throw herself down on our steps and slide down on her belly in attempt to get even with him and to cause some irreparable harm to myself while I was still in her womb. Once she even got so angry amidst an augment she would begin beating on her stomach, in attempt to kill or harm me while I was still in the womb, something that would always break my dad’s heart and drive him to tears and sometimes unparalleled fits of anger. Causing him to throw her down, straddle her chest and began slapping her face with fingers all the while asking her how it felt and if she liked that, then threatened of she ever did anything like that again, he’d kill her. (I can’t say I condone his actions, I don’t think a man should ever strike a woman, but in truth I don’t know how I feel about it in this kind of situation)
But on this peculiar situation, her brother, my uncle Mike who had just gotten out of prison had decided to show up at house and see my mom. (I know what you’re thinking, how much more dysfunctional can we get, but it’s true) My dad sees the marks he had left on my mother’s face and tells her not to answer the door, knowing that if her brother took one good look at her face, he would do what my father would do and try to kill the guy who did it. However my mom insists on answering the door, because it is her brother after all. So my father responds with getting a baseball bat and stands at the top of the stairs, telling my mom that if he came in and tried to attack him, he would beat him away with the bat. They were at an impasse, as nuts as my mother may have and still is, she didn’t want to see any harm come to her brother, so she agreed to send him away, which she does. The stalemate resulted in my protection and my eventual birth. (Thank God right? And see, life is a miracle within itself. I mean the mere fact I managed to make it to term is miracle within itself. My mom was also a bit into drugs and had told me once she smoked pot a few times while pregnant with me and she hinted to doing a few other drugs while carrying me. So the fact that I’m even alive and I don’t look like Sloth from “The Goonies,” I’m not eating paste, or sitting in a room gluing macaroni to paper plates is nothing short of amazing. Every day I’m surprised that I am who I am, I’m healthy, fairly intelligent and physically fit. Although I can’t help but wonder how smart I would have been if my mother wasn’t my mother, you know what I mean?)

 “We are the fallen,
Who tear down the world,
We are the broken,
Who are lost,
We are the weary,
Who lost our way,
Yet we’re looking forward to a better day.”

I was a little more fifteen months old the day my mother abandoned me. Her and my dad were on the outs, fighting all the time and so my dad often worked double shifts. Because that way, he’d be too tired to fight and could go right to sleep whenever he got home. Making what my mother did, all the more horrific. My mother had taken my older brother, packed up both her and his things and left me. She left me sleeping in my carrier, at the top of the stairs, apparently she hadn’t even bothered to strap me in.

My dad was on his way home from working a double, dreading going home. It was late in the day and he knew my mother would be up and would most likely start in on him as soon as he walked in the door. So he was debating rather he should go home, or go his mothers. On his way to his mom’s, my dad heard a voice speaking to him. (Now I can’t vouch for this, but part is every bit my father’s story. I’m a Christian, like my father before me and most of my family. I wasn’t around for this part of the story, believe it or not, it’s up to you)

The voice told my father to go home. My father, without question believes it was God and is every bit as stubborn as me, so I’m not surprised when he told me he said “No,”

“I said go home,” God ordered,

“No,” My dad snaps, “If I go home she’s going to be there and I can’t take it anymore!” My dad shouts to his windshield.

“I don’t care, I said go home,” countered God.

“Alright fine, I’ll go home,” My dad relented, “but I’m just going there to take a shower and grab some clothes, does that make you happy?” My dad asked, hearing nothing but his radio and silence. Afraid to disobey and risk the voice returning my dad turned around and headed back home.

Once home he discovers that my mom is gone. At first he Believes that she took my older brother and me somewhere and left. Yet further investigation would prove otherwise, for it doesn’t take him long to discover me asleep atop the stairs. My dad couldn’t describe all the emotions that went through him as he discovered my mother had left the house, abandoning me to my own devises. He was angry, heartbroken, astounded, he couldn’t believe she really left there. So he gathers my few belongings along with his and takes me to my grandmothers.
(Sorry folks, I’m going to wrap this up here, in part III, my mother devises a plan to kidnap me from my father, which leads to a car chase as my dad races to catch up with her in hopes of rescuing me)

The scars of who we are, Part 1.

The scars of who we are, part 1.

Intro. Life is often like our dreams, where nothing is ever quite as what it seems.
~J Cooper

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by someone else, I don’t know. All I know for certain is that some will read this thinking I’m just playing the victim, when I’m not, I’m just sharing the truth as I know it.  So if you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were too busy fighting to really take a moment to just stop and get to know me.

But that isn’t how I’ll like to begin, even though if you’re reading this now, I had just finished writing the final installment to this series, about my life, telling it as honestly as I know it. it took me a year to sum up most of my life in 17 chapters. My intention wasn’t to focus on my family, but the struggles of dealing with abuse at home and going to school and facing down the bullies that were there. But as I wrote, I found all these memories and emotions inside of me, with the story of me and my family just wanting to get out of me, so without intending to do so, it all just came pouring out.

It all started in late December of last year, when a friend heard a little of what I went through and she told a friend of her’s Shane Pergrem of True Artist Studios, check them out here http://www.trueartistsstudio.com. Who does  a lot of documentaries and had called me in for an interview. I never realized until I started talking about everything that I went through growing up about how much I needed it, needed to just talk about it. I was always afraid of being a burden, or that I would come off as a whining victim, or risk people accusing me of being a liar. When pressed I would sometimes open up and give people a few snippets of growing up with my bi-polar and my more or less schizophrenic mother. But despite everything I’ve been through, suffered, I’m still alive, I’m still standing, so I’m going to share my story with you, so that you know that things do get better, even when it feels like you’ve hit rock bottom, with no no hope of getting out, because you can. It won’t be easy, it’ll be he hardest, longest and toughest battle you’ll ever face. You may get tired or fall along the way, which we all do, but what’s important is to keep getting back up. No matter what life throws at you, you have to keep pressing forward, never stop reaching out and always, always believe in magic.

Because, that’s what I believe in. I’m a Christian who firmly believes that when God created this world, he did so with a little magic, magic that he placed in you. Because we  all start off knowing magic when we’re young. We’re born with fire, storms and comets inside us. Even when I was a boy, I would step outside myself and see a world of endless possibilities, I believed in magic, heroes, dragons and that all animals secretly had the power to speak and all we had to do was be patient and listen. talk. But not everybody could see it, that web of magic we all lived in, connected my those silver filaments of chance and circumstance, but I knew it all along. The world was my magic lantern and with it  I unlocked the secrets of the past, adventured in the present and explored the far future. When we’re kids, we don’t discriminate, beat ourselves up, or make excuses, we live in the moment, day by day, capable of seeing our destinies on tiny grains of sand and the power to sing to birds.

But as we grow older, we develop fears, doubts and become consumed by the opinions of others, becoming afraid to say what’s on our minds, our heads and in our hearts. We worry about what others might think, or do and we forget the magic that’s been imprinted, like fingerprints onto our very souls. We often take for granted the moment we feel that magic pool residing within our souls, when you finally get the chance to sit and talk to your crush and how you experience this incredible moment where time just stops and it lasts much longer than just moment. We forget to look up and see the world around us and the beauty we once saw in the clouds when we were young, staring up at the sky in awe, wondering what it would be like to fly up and sail through the very clouds we watched from the ground.

Many lose their way, we stumble and fall and forget sometimes the magic within their hearts. But the wonder and the magic of this world can often be found in the silver filaments of our dreams. But like all things,  once you get so far from it, it gradually fades away, like a long forgotten well that eventually dries up, becoming lost in the sands of time. And we fall in line with chance and circumstance, forgetting about the dreams where we can fly, or fearlessly exploring a lost cavern with nothing to light our way but the fading glow from the lantern we carry along in our trembling hands.

But me, I’m a dreamer and as a dreamer I believe  there’s a certain kind of magic locked deep within our souls and its called imagination and imagination is what keeps us young. (Or keeps me young at heart to say the least)

Of course growing up we do tend to get away from it, we stop believing in fairy-tales, the knights in shining armor, and the damsels in distress. Often with it goes our sense of chivalry and honor,  no longer do we believe in the magic of a moment which settles and hovers there in the air, and becomes much more than a moment, once sound stops and movement ceases for much, much more than a moment. Like when your hands brush against that of your one true love right before you share your first kiss and you can actually feel the electricity in the air, as your heart flutters and feels like it’s about to beat right out of your chest, making you feel weak, strong and lighter all at once.

But we often drift away from this feeling of magic, wonder and the daring to wish and hope upon a star, and every day thereafter it becomes that much harder to believe in both magic and the dreams that guide us. Which is odd to me, since we spend almost as much time dreaming as we do being awake.

But even if you lose that spark, all is not lost, believe me. Loss sometimes marks a larger return, being a writer I often lose several pages or entire chapters that I had spent half the night working on, or maybe an entire month of writing, honing, editing making it perfect, just to lose it. ( which tends to make you want to throw said computer out the window.)  Then after I finish shouting to the heavens and bashing my head against my desk and pacing the floors, I take a breath and mutter a few swears and other nonsense, before taking a another breath. Then I crack my knuckles and sit back down and start all over again, much like life. Sometimes you may lose a job, or a spouse, a save file, flash drive, or a loved one. No matter what it is you’ve lost, you eventually have to pull yourself back together and start over. Which can be daunting I know, I had to start over and rebuild my own life a few times over and it’s something that never gets any easier and it was never easy to begin with. But you do it, because you have too, because quitting and giving up isn’t an option, I survived and been through too much to have it kill me right there at the end. Besides, if you quit, I’ll never know how close I’ve came to achieving everything I set out to do.

With that said and remembering all those things I’ve said so long ago, many may call me a failure. But to me, failing is something that only happens once you’ve given up. I may not have achieved much of what I set out to do and had hoped to have done at this point in my life. But I’ve gained more than I could have have ever hoped for, I discovered that family is what you say it is, not what it should be. A stranger can become a friend, that friend can later become like a brother, who then becomes family.

I do all this because I have all these stories inside of me, characters who long to live, waiting patiently for me to tell their story. I learned a long time ago that you can never let little setbacks derail you, or become a roadblock. It happens, even to the best of us and with that I say, never lose that spark, that so irreplaceable spark, that animates and connects us all to everything. Remember your dreams, remember the simply joys you had as a child, when you were jumping from one couch to another to avoid the lava.

Even when we get so far away from the magic and the songs within us, I believe that whenever a song stirs a memory, or when you’re sitting in a darkened theater watching a moving that stirs your feelings, or moves you in a particular way.  For people like me, the people who have picked up a book and decided to just read again, this happens whenever you nose is buried in a book and you feel your heart racing as you immerse yourself in the world the author had created and you’re living the story as much as you are reading it, watching it all unfold before you as if you were there.

It is within these rare moments that you become connected with the swirling pool of magic residing in your very own heart. When you’re accompanying these characters on their journey, with your heart racing as you inch ever closer to the climax, just to breathe a sigh of relief as you reach the conclusion, for whatever it may be. Leaving you with the resolution, which sometimes brings closure, or contempt, sometimes great sadness or joy, even on the rare occasion it brings great displeasure. Because for a few minutes, these characters, these words written on a page have become real.

For better or for worse, I grew up in a magic time, in a magic world which helped save me from the darker side of life, which is why I decided to write this. The few people who have heard about my life and my childhood tell me how inspirational my life is, because I didn’t let the darkness encroach around my heart and soul, didn’t let it define me. Even in the times when it threatened to swallow me whole.

Now this may sound clique, but my story is my own. It may not be for everyone and I may be writing for you, just you, because this isn’t going to be a story all about sunshine and rainbows. It’s about my life and my struggles with growing up in a broken home, with an abusive mother and only being able to see my father every other weekend, which became the only thing for me to look forward too. My father saved my life and helped salvaged what little childhood I had and made it worth living. I love my father, despite his flaws and short comings. I know he did his best and he still tries to always be there and support me when he can. It’s not possible to admire someone more than I do my own father.
Now I ran a bit long here so, you’ll have to wait until The Scars of who we are Part II, where I’ll actually dive into my childhood and how I actually survived my own abortion or so speak. But before I go, I would just like to inform my readers, that despite everything I been through, I survived. Even my suicide attempt I survived (obviously) but more than that, I persevered and overcame my demons and all my troubles. I’m fairly well-adjusted and my life has greatly improved and my only complaint is that there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. But I look forward to each new day with enthusiasm, curiously, wonder, and grace. So keep reading and keep living.