Tag Archive: Writing.


Falling Like Snow

Before I begin, this story was something I wrote in hour and a half as part of a writing exercises given to me by my writer’s group. We were each given three lines which we had to work into the story. The lines I was given were  “We started dying before the snow and like the snow, we continued to fall,” Sitting in the kitchen sink, “And “The sky was static.” For me, the story came alive instantaneously and I wrote like a man possessed to get it all down before time ran out. Here is the result, I hope you enjoy. Falling Like Snow Falling like snow… after_the_smoke_clears_by_busterbrownbb-d67nizy We started dying before the snow and like the snow, we continued to fall. The sky had grown dark and our blood turned the soil beneath our feet into mud. Alive and cut off from the rest of my unit, my thoughts turn back to my father and how I use to write to him every night from the kitchen sink, imagining I was with him hunkered down in that fox hole, he was a soldier then fighting overseas. He had gone missing when I was just thirteen, like my grandfather before him, who had fought bravely in the Vietnam War and his father back in the second great World War.

I still remember how my mother clung to me as she cried and how I was unable to take my eyes off the casket being lowered deep down in the cold, dark ground. I didn’t cry then, the tears wouldn’t come for another few years, because I knew he wasn’t inside that box they buried so deep, nothing but a uniform, a photograph and old memories, I knew it wasn’t him they buried, just a box filled with memories and dust.

For months I imagined him coming home, stealing into my room to tell me everything was alright and how he would muss with my hair, before kissing me goodnight. But that day never came and I swore I’d never go to war and that I wouldn’t fall in line with the family tradition of never coming home from War. Patriotism seems to be in our blood, even when we’re left with little to no choice, for at twenty eight my country was at war yet again and one night after work, I found the draft letter addressed to me in the mail. Fear washed me as I read and reread those words, ordering me into the armed forces and the date I was to report to the military base for training. I must have stood outside for an hour before my wife came to join me, I couldn’t speak, the dread had turned my tongue to lead and all I could do was hand her the letter with trembling hands and her tears began falling like rain as she crumbled the letter in her fist and drew me close, promising to never let go. We cried and held each other for what felt like the last time, even as the rain began to fall, drenching us both as we repeated our vows there in the driving rain, kissing away each other’s tears, she wants me to run, I tell her I won’t, I explain that I can’t, I assure her that we’ll be alright, I promise her I’ll return home, I tell her lies. Then there I am, on that bus, leaving my civilian life behind, kissing goodbye my wife and seeing my eight year boy watching me from kitchen sink with his face pressed up against the windowpane and it was then my heart began to break, for he looked so much like me the day I watched my father go away. The days seem to pass in a blur, they cut off my hair,  and we marched till we sang, we all became friends as we learned how to fight. By graduation day I was stepping up onto that plane, feeling only half-alive, just going through the motions, believing that this was it for me, that I was already gone, for I had come from a family of patriots and none of them had ever returned home from the wars they fought, the line I feared would go on unbroken, as heroes of war.

Artillery exploded in the air around our craft, causing even greater turbulence, and my brothers  disguised and hid their fear, with cheers and jeers, while I close my eyes letting my thoughts turn to that of my wife and child, I imagined him as I might, playing soldier with his friends, imagining that he was fighting alongside me, helping me keep this country free and safe, this land that I loved. His face was all I could see, etched forever into my mind, along with the look he gave me as I marched up onto that bus. Realizing I would never go back, I would never return home, the thought made me feel both empty and hollow, making me numb, a shell of the man I once was, who before this had never so much as fired a gun, or thought about taking a another life, but here I was, a soldier of war, a pacifist turned trained killer. But every night had been the same, I’d fall asleep thinking of my son, knowing I wasn’t much older than him when this happened to me and now I could feel the ghosts of my father and his, our entire family line standing all around, haunting me. Then there I was boarding the plane that would take me to some foreign land that threatened the very freedoms of the land that I’ve always known and loved. But that was then and now I’m here, trudging through snow drifts two feet deep, bleeding and fatigued with the snow pulling at my legs with every step.  My toes and fingers had long since gone numb from the cold, so I stop to stare up at the sky and it reminds me of static seen on old TVs, with the falling snow soothing the singed flesh of my face. Snow_Texture_by_funnybunny_stockI close my eyes and it’s all I see, blood and flames.

Our transport exploded moments after our boots touched the ground. The explosion was deafening, throwing me to the dirt, saved only by the man behind me, whose body shielded me from blunt of the explosion, making him one of the first who wouldn’t be making it home. Burned and bloody I crawled out from beneath the bodies of my comrades to the sounds of gunfire erupting all around me, but still I rose, disoriented and lost, just as the first snow flake landed and melted against my cheek. Ears ringing, I turned towards the enemy line and charged headlong into their ranks, their screams filled my ears, long after they were gone and it was then I realized the screams had been my own and I couldn’t stop, not until long after my rifle clicked empty and I was covered in the blood of both my fallen brothers and my own. We were twenty strong before and now we were but five. snow_by_theloneredsheep-d3lb6br With our faces streaked with dirt, blood and mud, we turned as one and charged into hell, amidst the rain of bullets, the guns and the sound of the drums beating in our ears and blood stinging our eyes. We’ve broke the enemy lines time and again. It hadn’t been a day, but I’ve already had my fill of war, even though this was just the beginning and like the snow we starting to fall. Exhausted, wounded and fatigued, I soon myself standing alone in a field of white looking up at the sky and thinking of home, when I heard the crack of the rifle and saw the snow before me turning to crimson as I fell to my knees, praying, please God…. As the ground rushed up to greet me and I expected the world to end.

 

I felt the rough hands gripping me, wrenching me up out of the snow and with my heart hammering in my chest, not knowing if I’d be tortured or killed, I raised my head defiantly to stare  at up at the weather worn face of the man I believed to be my executioner. But there was something oddly familiar about him that I couldn’t quite place and he begins shouting something and it takes a moment for me to realize he’s American like me, and he’s asking if I was hit. Nodding, I clumsily paw at my shoulder. He looks at me, examining the wound and pulls me towards him to examine the entry wound at my back, after he lowering his head to the exit wound just below my left shoulder, he tells me I’m lucky for it passed cleaned through, but I don’t feel lucky. Then to my surprise, he begins scooping up snow and packing it into the wound. I bite my tongue so hard I taste blood, and would have  collapsed if he hadn’t been holding me up. Through the tears that filled my eyes, I see his uniform for perhaps the first time, but it was all wrong. It was beige instead of camouflage and looked to be out of time and out of place, surely I imagined it couldn’t be warm enough to keep out the cold that was cutting through me despite by winter fatigues and thermal wear. Patting his pockets, he sighs, shaking his head, and begins tearing at the hem of his uniform, using it as a makeshift bandage, cinching it tight over the wound, before hauling me back to my feet.

“C’mon son, on your feet, don’t make me write another letter of condolences, I’m tired of losing good men,” He shouts into my ear.

“Sir…” I breathed, between gasps of breath, and through agonizing pain lancing up through my shoulder, “Sniper….”

he nods, looking down at my rifle, asking if it’s loaded and I tell him yes, but with only two rounds. Which was all I had left, he says one is all he’ll need and snatches it up from the snow and pulls me stumbling behind him. I stop, to turn back to see him taking a kneeling position as he peered down the sights of my rifle.

“Better get going so if you want to see that family of yours again.” Then without another word, I hear a second gunshot and this time I feel the bullet grazing the left side of my head. “Go,” He says, squeezing off a round, “Looks like there’s more coming,”
Lonesome_Soldier_by_xDestitutex I’m in no shape argue, but before I can, I feel a hand gripping me roughly by the shoulder, pulling me forward and almost off my feet. I turn to see another solider, pulling me along through the snow; he was wearing a uniform of forest green, with a M2 Carbine tucked under one arm, which he was using to fire into the field behind me. “C’mon, we’re pulling back,” he says shouting and before I can say a word, he moves to pull my arm around his shoulders and proceeds to help me run, and I’m too out of breath to ask who he was, or what was going on. But I could hear the tanks and gun fire erupting everywhere behind me as if hell itself was chasing on our heels. The marine, forces us to stop every couple of steps to turn and fire back into the field behind us, but through the falling snow I see nothing but shadowed shapes and what I can only guess are the enemy lines moving in to flank us, accompanied by flashes of light as the enemy returns fire. The marine’s carbine clicks dry and he turns to me, and through the driving snow he shouts for me to keep moving and turns his back to me,  as he begins reloading. I open my mouth to ask him what he’s doing, when the grenade goes off from where we was standing, with force of the explosion driving me into the ever thickening snow. I fall into the hard packed snow with my right side feeling like it was on fire. blood_in_the_snow_by_scout2freak-d5nvw1f I try to rise, but the pain lances up through my side, making me feel as if my ribs were being torn apart, and I can’t help the scream that escapes my lips as I fall back into the snow, fumbling for my side and feeling the warmth washing over my fingers, knowing that it was my life rushing out of me and turning the snow around me into fresh crimson. Gritting my teeth I try to rise again, when I hear a voice overhead, and I feel gentle hands turning me over onto my back. “He’s alive,” The person shouts to someone behind him, I can tell my his accent that he too is an American, from Boston I think,  his uniform was an olive drab, with his sleeves rolled up past his elbows, with a sheen of sweat covering his exposed flesh and despite the blistering cold winds or the falling snow his touch was warm.

“Okay buddy, looks like you took some shrapnel to the ribs, just hold on and I’ll get you patched up and ready for the LZ, I think I can remove it,” he says and I feel him rolling me over onto my uninjured side and fresh pain lances up through my ribs as he pokes and prods at the wound that feels like agony and fresh tears well up in my eyes. I scream into the snow, digging my fingers and hands into the drifts around me, I want to grab his arm and make him stop, but my arms and legs feel as if they’ve been tied down. Inch my agonizing inch, I feel him pulling at the shrapnel embedded deep in my side and it feels two feet long and half as thick, but once freed I find myself able to breathe easier and he’s packing the wound with fresh snow, before doing his best to bandage me up, then he’s dragging me back up to my feet. I’m so tired I can barely stand, so I lean against him as he helps me walk. Behind me I can feel the heat from explosions and the rain of snow and earth falling down around us, followed by burst of gun fire from all around us, and a mixture of shouts and screams. Whose I’m not sure. My knees buckle and I fall to my knees, reliving my first drop where I lost half my brothers, but the medic is quick to haul me back to my feet, and grunting from the exertion he tells me to keep going and not too look back, to never look back, ordering me not give up, to never give up. I don’t. I just keep walking, focusing on placing one foot after another and I’m trying not to think of home, because it would be more than I could take. With every step I expected to feel a bullet piercing my back or slamming into the back of my skull ending what little life I still had in me and I could scarcely believe that I was even still alive as it were. Then I felt the medic’s body go limp as a bullet struck him in the back, causing his body to pitch forward and me to fall in a tangle of arms and legs on top of him. He was dead by the time I untangled myself and pushed myself up onto my hands and knees. The back of his head had become a mass of dark blood and I found myself fumbling to free his sidearm from his person, when another hand closed tightly around my wrist, hauling me up to my feet before I could free his pistol, and it was then I noticed for perhaps the first time how the snow was kicking up all around me, followed by the whoop, whoop of helicopter blades cutting through the icy air. “Forget it, he’s dead, we need to get you out of here!” Shouted a voice over my head and I looked up to stare into the face of my father moments before I lost consciousness. The next thing I remember is waking up in a military hospital. No one quite knows how I survived, or why, no one saw the pilot, or even the Black-hawk helicopter that dropped me off before flying away, disappearing from sight and radar just as quickly as it had appeared. A story I tell no one but my wife, for I have no other explanation, other than I was saved by the ghosts of patriots.  winter_freakin___wonderland_by_knightofammo-d3aqwjd

Chapter 17-Part 2.

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

Man goes through the morning mist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh of course you do)

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

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

“Yes,” I confirmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brief pause when I hear him say,

“Chris is an HP laptop?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Davenport returns to me shaking his head,

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

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then comes the interview.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

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

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

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

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

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

The rest of my new family

The rest of my new family

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

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

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

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

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

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

Scars of Who We Are chapter 17
~A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only requirement is the ability to remember every scar.-Stephen King

Man Sitting on a Step

Why you can never go home again: Remembering every scar:

There I was, staring up into the face of my step-father, his face twisting in rage.
“I had three hundred dollars in my wallet and I want you to give it back to me!” He screams shoving again, harder against the wall and panic grips my body as my mouth goes dry, fear is all I feel. So I say nothing, as he shouting his accusations into my face, drilling me with questions, never waiting for me to answer.
Picture2 (1)
He shoves me three or four more times and I can’t help but feel as if he’s trying to provoke me, my fear gives way to self-righteous indignation and I step into him and shout,
“I didn’t take your damn money, I never touched your fucking wallet, feel free to search me and go through my things, because I don’t have it, then once you’re finished, I’m done with you and this family, never again will pull this kind of crap on me.”

For a moment, he looks like he’s about to hit me and he draws his fist back, but I stand firm, making it a point not to so much as flinch. I’m ready for blow, but it never comes, dropping his fist, he instead jabs me in the chest with his finger.

“I want my money,” He shouts, bringing his face so close to mine I can feel his breath on me, as he says, “And I WILL search you and you’ll do whatever I tell you to do.”
He then orders me to put my hands behind my head and then proceeds to frisk me, even though all I’m wearing is a t-shirt and my boxers.
I comply, even though all I want to do is shove him away and tell him to go screw himself, but I don’t and I abide by the violation of his hands patting me down and searching for what I know is nothing. Seeing him uniform intimidates me more than I care to say.

“What the hell is this?” I ask equal parts offended and violated by the absurdity it all.
He ignores me and turns me to face the wall, I’m half expecting him to begin reading me my rights, but he doesn’t.

“You know I don’t have anything,” I tell him as he continues to frisk me, so angry that my heart feels like it’s about to burst from my chest.

“I had three hundred dollars in my wallet and it’s gone and you’re the only one who could have taken it.” (Every day when Chris got off work, he would come in from the garage and lay his wallet on a dry sink by the door leading to the garage, or upstairs on the kitchen counter. Something he’d been doing since I was a kid.

“Listen, I never touched your wallet, you’re a cop, see if my fingerprints are on anything!” And he responds by shoving my face into the wall as he orders me to shut-up, telling me the only thing he wanted to hear come from my mouth was a confession.

So I speak all the words he doesn’t want to hear.

“Why would I steal from you? I came down for Christmas!”

All of us together just two years prior.

All of us together just two years prior.

He turns and flips the mattress off the bed and finding nothing under the bed and begins running his fingers through the discarded sheets, finding nothing he begins going through the pillow cases.

“Are you sure mom didn’t take it, or that the kids by mistake, or that you didn’t lose it?” (I halfheartedly believed they may have need lunch money and our mother had told them to get what they needed out of Chris’s wallet, just as she had told me time and again back when I was growing up there.)

But he doesn’t care about anything I have to say I doubt he was even listening and he waits until I try to help by putting the mattress back on the bed, but he turns on me, shoving me, pushing me back up against the wall, he’s screaming at me again, calling me a liar, a thief a delinquent, telling me how I had always been a punk, even though I have never been in any kind of trouble before.

He threatens me with jail time, lecturing me how three hundred dollars is enough to qualify for a felony offense.
(I hereby apologize in advanced for the language and any I may have let slip earlier on, but I feel it’s required to be as accurate as possible)

“I didn’t take your God Damn money!” I shout back, with my hands trembling, I don’t believe I’ve ever been this angry before, I didn’t think it were possible.
“Oh yes you did,” He shouts rearing up towards me, hitting me with the hell of his hands, “You did!” He says again with another hard shove. I’m so angry I can barely see straight and I want to hit him, I want to hit back as hard I could, as many times as I could. But I don’t, I just grit my teeth and do my best to refrain from the violence and rage I felt coursing through my veins.

He takes a moment to stare into my eyes and I meet his gaze defiance, I had been bullied for most my life and a coward for almost half as long and I was tired of being afraid. After a beat he asks where my clothes were and I point to them as the hung on the closet door. He smiles and pulls them down, searching through the pockets and the folds in my clothes. Finding he nothing he throws them at me and orders me to get dressed. So I ask him to leave for a little and he whirls back like he’s going to hit me and again I stay still and unflinching as he drops his fist, telling me no, he says,

“No, I don’t trust you I’m taking my eyes off you until you’re out of my house.”

It’s hard not to be a little scared seeing my a cop in uniform harassing you, let alone one acting like how he was and with him being my step-father. I don’t like it, but still I dress as he watches, my hands never stop shaking. I want to hit something, I want to hit him, I’m angry, scared and frustrated by the absurdity of it all.

CIMG0020

Anyone can lose money, heck I lost money before, misplaced it even, or spent more than I thought. It happens.

“Hurry up I don’t want you staying in my house any longer than you have too.” He says, watching me fumble with my clothes, but I still can’t keep my hands from shaking I’m so angry now at the injustice of it all, with no outlet to channel my fury. Finding my voice I decide to try and reason with him by saying,

“Look, I’ve been nothing but cooperative and I think you know me better than this, I think you know I didn’t take your money, maybe, just maybe you just lost it?”

“I didn’t lose it! He screams, charging at me, grabbing me by the collar do the shirt and yanking me up and practically off my feet, with his voice almost screeching at me as he repeats, “I didn’t lose it, I didn’t!”

Now, I’m sure he’s going to hit me, perhaps even begin beating me to death, but he doesn’t and I just hold his gaze, with my teeth clenched and breathing heavily as I don’t know what to expect to come from him next.
“You’ve always been sneaky and a little liar, you’re a fucking punk and you’ve always been a little shit.”
I take his comments in stride and careful speak each word as I very calmly say,

“I never stole. I’ve never been in trouble-”
“Never been in trouble?” He interrupts, speaking in high, mocking tones, “But you dress up all in black and getting into fights at the the county fair!”

“That was over five years ago and that’s not what happened and you know it!”
“Oh I know and just as I know you took my money,” He tells me.

“You know what fine, let’s go down to the station and hook me up to a lie-detector test, I’ll show you I’m telling the truth,” I say, with the internal, emotional war raging beneath my breast making my words come out in an unsteady rush. My blood is boiling hot and I can’t help but feel hurt, betrayed, scared angrier than I had ever been. I honestly didn’t know if I’d find myself sitting inside a jail cell by myself for Christmas or not.

Sneering, he grabs my arm, wrenching me away from the bed, pulling me out into the hallway saying,
“Oh you won’t have a choice,” he says manically and with a smile that unnerves me to my very core, “So you bet your ass you’ll be taking a polygraph and I’ll be there to see you fail,” He says rather matter-of-factly.
Man looking out office window at night
I don’t say a word, it’s all I can do is to grit my teeth and and wait for release me, as I do every I can to keep from going on the offensive. I wanted to hurt him more than I care to admit, I wanted to knock that sick and smug smirk off his face, but I reminded myself that he was a cop and in uniform, so it was likely that was exactly what he wanted.

Letting me go, he snorts and orders me downstairs and I take the steps two at a time, with him following close behind me. Once downstairs I immediately see my laptop is gone. I begin looking frantically around the rest of my bags for it, but to no avail, then Chris asks what I’m doing.

“I’m looking for my computer,” I tell him, not giving me the benefit of seeing my face.

“Oh, it’s mine now, I took it and put it somewhere you’ll never get it,” He says derisively.
I turn on him then and I feel myself reaching my breaking point, with my heart feeling like it was fit to explode.

“That’s not right man, you can’t take my computer.”

“No he says,” stepping into me and once again invading my personal space as he leers at me, jabbing me in the chest with his fat finger as he says, “I can do whatever I want, you’re a guest in my house, you have no rights here.” He’s so pleased with himself that all I can see is red.
Fighting the urge to shove him away and start beating him with whatever object my hands could find, I swallow my rage, with my thoughts racing. All I can think about is turning the tables on him someway, somehow, to make him sorry for all of this.So I say the only thing I can think of saying,

“You’re crazy and if you don’t give me back my property…”

“You’ll what?”He asks, smiling, reminding me of every bully I ever met.

“I’ll call the police.” I figure the threat alone would be enough to bring him back to his senses and let him see reason. But instead he smiles and says,

“Why? They can’t do anything for you, there’s nothing you can do!” He laughs, taunting me,

“Besides who are you? You’re nobody, you’re no one, you don’t matter, I’m a cop, I’m a someone and there’s nothing the police can do for you. This is a domestic dispute and there’s nothing you, your father, or anyone else can do about it. This is my home and you’re in my house and I can do whatever I want to you and no one can say or do anything about it.”

At this point the thought of beating him to death really doesn’t seem all that bad, more to the point I’d at least wipe that sick toothy grin of his off his face. It was then I realize he was enjoying this and it felt like no matter what I did I was playing further into his sick little game.

Seeing that I had nothing else to say, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the pocket-watch I had gotten him for Christmas, (I gave both of him and my mother their presents a bit early, hoping it’ll cure whatever it was I was feeling. Plus I halfheartedly believed they might have thought that I was only visiting so that I could get presents, which was why they were acting so peculiar so I had figured if they saw I actually put a thought of thought on getting them all presents, it would prove otherwise. Evidently it had not.) Chris then hands me the pocket-watch and tells me he doesn’t need or want it anymore, so I should take it back.
I snap, gripping the watch tightly in my hand, I fling it across the room, nearly kill my mom’s parrot,(That was an accident and in my defense I wasn’t thinking or aiming) and the watch bounces hard of the wall, leaving a sizable indention in the wall where it struck.
Immature? Maybe, but it was enough to take that smug look off his face as he stormed across the room to examine the hole I put in the wall. I don’t apologize, even as he tells me how I’ll have to pay for it.

however to wipe the smirk off his face as he stormed across the room and flipped out about the hole I put in his wall. I don’t apologize, but he tells me I’d have to pay for it and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it at least a little bit.

“Look,” I manage to say with my voice stained as I fought to keep my hatred for him in check. “Search my bags, search everything you want, I don’t have your fucking money!” I spit the last few words out as I see his smile returning.

“I already searched your bags and went through all your things,” He says contemptuously, closing the distance between us and shoves me painfully against the dry sink as he smiles at me again. At this point i hear my mother pulling into the garage and so does he and he backs off, his grin disappears and begins shouting at the top of his lungs,

“But I know you have it, or that you hid the money somewhere in this house and I’m not giving you back your computer until you give me my money, I’ll tell you that much right now.” My mom slips into the house, silent as a mouse not saying anything and I look at my step-father, seething with rage at his belligerence and the air of arrogance about him.

So I think of the only solution that I can to bring about a solution of some kind.
“Fine…You win alright? I don’t have your money, I never took it, but if you want, we can go to the bank together and I’ll withdraw three hundred dollars and I’ll give it to you in return for my computer.”

“No!” He barks, “I don’t want your money, I want my money!”

I look to my mom, hoping she heard what I heard, saw what I saw, but she just stands there, staring solemnly back at me.
“What sense does that make? You’re accusing me of stealing three hundred bucks, I offer to get you three hundred bucks, but you say that’s not good enough?”

“No, I don’t want your stupid money, you don’t have any money, I want my money!” He says venomloulsy , as if repeating the statement would somehow make any more sense.
He then launches into a tirade, calling me every name he could think of and the whole time all I can do is stare back at my mother. I wait for her to step up, for her to be a mom, to defend me, to fight for me, to do or say something. But she doesn’t. Instead she quietly asks if I took the money and frustrated I tell her that I had not, but how I wished I had.

Chris then says something about not being to tolerate the sight of me and tells my mother to have me gone by the time he returns.
I look at her and try to plead with her to see some reason,

“You can’t let him take my computer, my life’s work is on that thing and I hadn’t backed anything up.”

“Josh if you took the money, just tell me and you can give it to me and I’ll tell him I took it.”

“I didn’t take his money, but he did take my computer, and in my computer bag has library books inside it too, I can’t afford to replace everything. “

She nods, and tells me she’ll talk to him. She then tells me to grab my things and she’d take me home.

“Mom,” I reason, “ look at me, you have to know I’m better than this and that I wouldn’t steal from you guys, or anyone else. Besides you know I’m a horrible liar and I’ve always admitted to any wrong I’ve done, granted when I was young I would try to hide it from you so that I wouldn’t get beat. But I always admitted to what I did and I didn’t do this, never this; this is too big…this is too bad, too wrong.” ( Although I’ve always been fairly honest, during the course of my life, I have always been a practical jokester, but one thing I would never do is mess with someone else’s money.)

“I don’t know what to believe,” She tells me.

“He searched me, went through my things, didn’t find anything, no proof or evidence and I offered to get you 300 hundred dollars in order to get my computer back and you sat there as he told it wasn’t good enough. Why? Because if I stole from you, it makes no difference whose three hundred dollars you’ll be getting, mine, or yours. This is wrong, all wrong, what do I have to do to get you to believe me?”

“Josh you always do this and get overly dramatic.”

“Are you serious? You people took something very important to me and you did it without just cause, without proof and I’m being dramatic? I’ve been harassed and bullied, with my every attempt to be reasonable ignored or shot down.”

“Well you could have hidden it somewhere,” She tells me and I throw my arms up in the air and shake my head.

“Really? That’s what you’re going to do, are you going to keep coming up with different things I could have done with his money? Do you have an excuse at the ready for everything I say or do?”

“Josh, you’ve always been very spiteful and you probably just thought you were owed it,”

“Are you kidding me? I forgave you, I came down on my weekends off work just to give you a free babysitting and all those times I never asked for anything, no compensation, nothing and all those times I came here I never once took anything, why would I suddenly do so now?”

“Josh if you give me the money I can just tell Chris I-” My mother began before I cut her off.

“There’s no money to be had, and despite whatever you may think, I didn’t take it and how stupid do you think I am? I don’t have a car, I have no getaway and I’m still here for a few more days, do you actually think I would be dumb enough to steal that kind of money and just sit back hoping you didn’t notice it was missing?”

“Josh, Chris has always been very careful and meticulous with his money,”

“So, that doesn’t mean anything, he can still lose, or misplace it just like everyone else.”

“Well why do you think he’s accusing you?” She asks, as we climb into her car.

“Because,” I tell her as I climb into the passenger seat beside her, “I’m an easy target, he knows our history and all about the bad blood between us. I’m the easy mark.”
My words must have had some effect, because she doesn’t say anything until we’re on the road and I’m watching the house fade away in the rear-view when she asks,

“Do you think you’re being setup?” There was such clarity and innocence in the way she asked, I caught myself staring at her for a long time before I could answer. For a while I was thinking she had something to do with all of this, but now I wasn’t so sure and to be honest, I’m still not certain.
But her words get me thinking and I think back about how he was asking about my laptop and how much it cost, how he refused the three hundred dollars I offered him and how quickly he was to accuse me of everything.

“Yeah…Yeah I do,” I tell her.
A few moments pass and she asks me why I thought he took my computer. So I tell her,
“Because my computer is worth a lot more than three hundred bucks, which is why he was so quick to declined my offer when I made it.”
Silence fills the car and after awhile I tell her everything that happened and how it happened since he woke me up. As I talk she’s silent and never says a word, even when I’m finished she just sits there driving, never uttering a word.

We drive the rest of the way in silence and I’ll be lying if I said I didn’t think about grabbing the wheel and steering it into oncoming traffic, or to send us careening into a semi-truck. I was in a place of such darkness and hatred, it was consuming me.

So by the time she pulled up into my driveway I reached for the door and hesitated,

“I’m giving you three days….” I whisper. “Three days to make this right, to return my computer to me. If you do this, we’ll be family; if you don’t….you’ll be dead to me.”

“Ok,” was all she said.

I opened the door and step out of the car and just as quietly I hear her say,
“I love you,”

“We’ll see,” I respond, grabbing my things and slamming the car door shut behind me.

(I know, I know, I said there were just two chapters left. But it had gotten a bit long. So I had to break the final Chapter up into two parts. The conclusion I promise will be coming soon. )

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Scars of Who We Are Chapter XVI

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

FudPuckers

FudPuckers

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

Dominic my older brother

Dominic my older brother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The library where I work

The library where I work

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

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

My younger brother Christian

My younger brother Christian

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

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

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

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

My Youngest brother Caleb.

My Youngest brother Caleb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pending storm.

The pending storm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s going on?” I ask, waking up.

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

All of us together just two years prior.

All of us together just two years prior.

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

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

“I don’t think, I know you took it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scars of Who We Are Chapter XV-Home

And two chapters remain.

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

 CIMG0250

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

My older brother and his dog Dozer

My older brother and his dog Dozer

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

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

My brother and I hiking at Red River Gorge

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

My brother and me on the beach

My brother and me on the beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

My cousin derek, me, my brother and Jenifer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CIMG0020

Scars of Who We Are 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. Intermission Part 3

For my mother, I have this to say, I wish you never gone away,
and I would have preferred that you would have stayed.

My brother wondering when he'll finally be able to play with me.

My brother wondering when he’ll finally be able to play with me.

I wasn’t ever the perfect son and more often than not, I was a coward who struggled with finding ways to express myself. More often than not, this usually resulted in me writing how much I hated my mom or the phrase “I have no mom,” on my belongings, because well for the most part it she didn’t feel like much a mother to me. And occasionally she would find something that I had written in a fit of anger, which I’m sure had to hurt, then she would give me the third degree, making me feel two inches tall.

In truth and more than anything I think all I really wanted was to have the courage, the strength of character to simply open up a dialog with her and just ask her why, why was she always so hard on me? And wasn’t I ever good enough? Because I always tried to be a good kid. I never gave in to peer pressure, never smoked, or drank alcohol, kept my nose clean and my head down.  Unlike my older brother who fell into a bad crowd, got detentions and suspensions from school and more than once he even managed to get himself expelled. But no matter what he did my mother was always there for him, always believed and saw only the best in him. She was there having his back, helping him fight some of the hardest battles he had to fight. Even when my brother dropped out of school, fell into the drug scene, got arrested, sent to jail, she was there for him. Even when my step-father had enough and kicked him out of the house, my mother was still on my brother’s side, so much so that her and my step-father almost got a divorce over it.

I still remember that day that my brother had probably forgotten when he came by the house late at night, knocked on my window and asked to come inside. He looked like he aged ten years and was thinner than I remembered,  telling me how he hadn’t eaten in days and asks if I can make him a sandwich since he didn’t want to risk going upstairs himself and risk being caught by our step-father. So I crept upstairs, made him some food and brought him a bag of chips, because I loved him. I barely knew the person he had become, but I loved him all the same and I remember how we talked for bit, which felt really good, it felt like I finally getting to know him a little bit. Then before he left, I stopped him and dug into my wallet, giving him all the money I had, which was about fifty bucks and told him to take care of himself. I knew it wasn’t much, but I figured it’d be enough to  at least get him a place to stay for a night maybe, or enough to afford him a hot meal until he got back on his feet. It’s amazing how quickly some people forget the little things and quick he was able to turn his back and forget about me. But as I said before, I don’t blame him, he saw only the best in our mother and that’s what she gave him, he hadn’t been singled out like I me, and it was something he never would see. Also for those who are curious my brother did eventually clean himself up and left the drug scene behind, he eventually went on to get his GED, got a good job and has started a family of his own. Although we still don’t talk much. But he knows I write this blog and I pray one day he’ll read it from beginning to end and maybe then we’ll be able to reconcile our differences and remember what it means to be brothers again.

Me and my brother at my grandma's

Me and my brother at my grandma’s

At seventeen, I was given my brother’s room in the basement, which I actually preferred; it was bigger than my old room and always cold in the summer. Then one night at seventeen I woke up in the middle of the night starving, so I decided to slip out of my bed and sneak upstairs for a little late night snack. I was tired and still half asleep, so my senses were dull and I wasn’t fully alert so I thought the house was silent and everyone was fast asleep. Still I crept silently up the stairs, daring not to make a noise out fear of waking my mother or step-father, partially out of fear of the inquisition that had to tendency to occur in the past whenever I was caught sneaking a snack this late at night. But when I reached the top of the stairs and eased open the door, I could hear my mother talking to someone and so I froze with my hand still on the door, afraid to move, to make a sound, or to even breathe.

Holding my breath I listened intently to the sound of her voice in floating down the hall to me from the kitchen, weighing my options and curious as to why she was in the kitchen and not in her room, believing at first she had to have been speaking to my step-father. Because now I believed I had gotten lucky up until then, that no one had heard me climbing the stairs or opening the door, believing that if I retreated now I would most certainly be heard, and accused for sneaking around and for being where I wasn’t suppose to be.  My heart was pounding in my breast as I slowly began to ease the door shut and began slipping back the stairs wince I came. Realizing then as I descended the stairs, that no other voices came from the kitchen, telling me she was alone and simply believed she was on the phone. Which for me was great, because it meant she was less likely to hear me, but as I retreated back to my room I heard her sob.

Again I stood frozen there on the steps, with my heart hammering in my chest, still holding my breath as I quietly debated what I should do. A part of me told me to retreat and go to bed, because nothing good would come of this, because nothing good ever had.

Then I was moving before I even realized what I was doing, climbing silently back up the stairs, easing the door to the upstairs back open and set my foot on the smooth, cool hardwood floor.  Stepping carefully I crept up into the hall and poked my head around the corner and peered into the kitchen, where I saw my mother sitting at the kitchen table in her faded pink bathroom, her face buried in her hands and  she’s crying.

“Are…are you okay?” I asked, my voice barely above a whisper and to my surprise she’s not startled by the sound of my voice or my sudden appearance, instead she looks up at me with red puffy eyes and waves me to come close to her..
Reminding myself to breathe, I let out a breath and slowly cross the kitchen to her place at the table, not really knowing what to expect, but when I make it within arm’s reach, I’m startled by the feeling of her arms wrapping around me, pulling me close, hugging me.

I’m seventeen and I don’t know how to react, I stand there with her holding me and sobbing against my chest and I had forgotten how to return affection, or show it to my mother. It takes several minutes for my arms to pull around her and return her embrace. She’s telling me she’s sorry, she’s tells me she doesn’t know why she’s so hard on me, or why she mistreats me as often as she does. I tell her it’s okay and that I love her. Which was true, or so I think and if it wasn’t I wanted it to be.

A once happy family with me, my mother, brother and father.

A once happy family with me, my mother, brother and father.

She pulls away and messes with my hair, before grabbing me and pulling me back against her hugging me tighter than before, telling me how sweet I am, that I have a good heart and always been a good kid. I’m taken aback, not really knowing how one such as I should react, with a part of me believing that this was all some dream and I didn’t want to wake up. Because here in this place, in this moment in time, my mother was talking to me, actually talking to me like a human being and she was hugging me, making me feel this indescribable sense of love that she had for me.

After a while I slowly pull back and sit in a chair beside her, I never talk, I just look at her and she begins talking. She tells me about her childhood, how hard her father was on her, how he would beat her and her sister. She tells me this whole history of phyiscal and verbal abuse she suffered at the hands of her father; she even professes her drug use and how she never meant to drive my father away like she did, telling me how sorry she was for how she treated him and me. I listen to every word, weighing each one carefully in my mind and when she’s finished I tell her it’s okay and I understand, I tell her I love her, then I make a joke and make her laugh.

My father and mother beneath the missletoe & My older brother.

My father and mother beneath the missletoe & My older brother.

We talk for another hour or two and I discover that I like talking to her, I like making her laugh, so by the time we hug and say goodnight, I go to bed believing things would be alright from now on. I only wish I had been right, but even though I wasn’t, I still had this moment and other moments like it, whenever I would stay up late and she was still up, I would find that would be the time that we would connect the most. It was in those late twilight hours, when sleep was at the forefront of our minds. And It was in those moments we would share and talk openly, about anything, everything and nothing, it was then it felt like we were the most real with eachtother.  Perhaps that is what caused my insomnia to become so deeply ingrained into my very being, where even when I’m exhausted and on the verge of sleep, I fight it and try to stay awake for just a little longer. Finding that people in general, not just my mother are the most real in that late hour, when you’re too tired to be angry, to lie or be false and you can only speak in simple truths. A lesson my mother had taught me early on, one that I won’t soon forget.

Thanks Debbie, wherever you are, near or far,
Thank you for being a mother to me, even if was just briefly for mere moments at a time.
I still love you forever and always.

Joshua A. Cooper

And finally...me asleep.

And finally me fast asleep.

Scars of Who We Are: Chapter X

Scars of who were are, memories chapter 10.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Scars of Who We Are Chapter IX

Scars of Who We Are Part IX
Young boy sitting on an old porch swing,
Waiting for his father to come and rescue him,
His tears dried and stained on his cheeks,
Wishing his life was more like his dreams,
Where nothing was ever as bad as it seems.

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Me on Easter Sunday

After the divorce it wasn’t long until my relationship with my mother began to change for the worse… But for a brief moment, I was somewhat okay with it, even though I longed and hoped my dad would one day return home, I did somewhat look forward to having two birthdays and Christmas’s every year, which for me was something and my dad always went above and beyond to give me a great Christmas, along with birthday celebrations I won’t soon forget.

It never did occur to me that my mother may have been better to me in those days just to keep me quiet about Chris who moved in with us just months after the divorce and to be honest I did like him for awhile there in the beginning, I think for the most part he did try to be a good fatherly figure to both me and my brother, so I didn’t have any real issue, plus he was a cop which back then was very cool, because who didn’t play cops and robbers when they were a kid?

His family was pretty cool too, and his dad Lewis was the best, always with a story to tell and with him being an actor, he always managed to keep me captivated with his emoting and his many voices. Not to mention the guy was awesome, always giving me pennies which back then could always win my favor, (Because I was always collecting and saving up change) Even to this day I will say no one can ask for a cooler step grandparent.

My favorite crime fighting Heroes.

My favorite crime fighting Heroes.

But I digress, because the day when everything changed for me was maybe a couple of months after Chris had started living with us and I was playing with my toys at the top of the steps, (which back then were mostly Teenage mutant Ninja turtles, which were my favorite. I can’t tell you why, but to me, you couldn’t get much better than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I loved everything about them, the toys, the cartoons, the movies, games, you name it I loved it.
tank
So there I was, playing on the top of the stairs, with my Turtles tank, and sub-marine, along with my various other Turtle related figures and (playing on the top of the stairs, was something both my brother and I were notorious for; partially because we’d be in our own little world and still be somewhat near the rest of the family and not closed off. Not to mention it made the best battlefield, the stairs in my mind would become treacherous mountain region, or become the the deep and unfathomable depths the ocean, with its perilous  underwater trenches. So, yeah I had a pretty spectacular imagination and still do.

 

It wasn’t too out of the ordinary for my mother to yell for one of us, which usually meant we made a mess somewhere, or didn’t put something away, or other typical kid stuff, that we do when we’re kids. So when I heard my mom yelling for me to get my butt into the kitchen, I honestly didn’t think anything of it, besides being a curious/nosy child I was pretty good and usually behaved myself, so I went knowing I hadn’t done anything wrong, so didn’t expect what happened to actually happen…

I stepped into the kitchen, expecting to be asked what I wanted for lunch, or to hear I had to get cleaned up to go out, but instead I was asked about a carton of grape juice that someone had left out on the kitchen table. Immediately I knew it wasn’t me, because back then I was the pickiest child in the world and I refused to drink anything other than orange, or apple juice, or well soda of course.

The Turtle Sub, man I loved this thing.

The Turtle Sub, man I loved this thing.

 

But I was extremely pick with both food and with what beverages I would drink, which may have been my downfall, because I smiled, knowing it hadn’t been me and believed my older brother would finally get into trouble instead of me. Because to be honest I had grown a little tired of him always getting me in trouble and this time I figured I was being the first questioned and with my being innocent, that all blame would fall on him.

 

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Because when she asked if I did it and I honestly told her no, she grabbed my arm, wrenching it painfully up over my head with her nails biting painfully into my arm, which startled me enough as it were, then she began screaming into my face, accusing me of lying.

 

Shaking me and swearing to me that she already knew it was me and she was sick of my lying, even as tears began racing down my cheeks, with me frantically telling her how it wasn’t me, trying to blurt out the words that I didn’t even like that kind of juice and that I hadn’t drank anything that day other than water. But she wouldn’t have it and smacked me hard across the face, leaving what felt like a burning imprint of her hand across my cheek, as she struck me again and again, ordering me now to stop crying.

 

I tried once more to to profess my innocence, but that only earned me several hard smacks to my rear, each one hard enough to lift me up off my feet, causing her nails to cut even deeper into my arm and as blood began to well up where her nails had bit into my arm, it was only then she released my arm and stopped hitting me enough to tell me how it was my fault for trying to throw myself to the floor when she held me by the arm. Then she proceeded to question me again and in a tearful display I tried once again to plead my innocence, but she grabbed me hard by the face, painfully squeezing my cheeks as she told me she already asked Dominic (My brother) and told me he had said he hadn’t done it, then I tried suggesting it was Chris (My soon to be step dad) When she told me he wouldn’t forget to return the juice and when I tried telling her it wasn’t me, she smacked me again, hauling me up off the floor and began beating me again, telling me every few swats that she would stop once I confessed and stop lying, insisting I was only making it worse for myself.

 

So… seeing no end in sight, I did what any frighted and scared boy my age would do, I confessed. I would have confessed to anything at that point and my reward was a whipping with the paddle, eight swats, (As if the beating I had been receiving hadn’t been punishment enough) Then I was grounded on top of it and ordered not to make a noise or she would give me something more to cry about.

old-child-swing-1358169948Fsn

 I was seven years old, the first time I felt any kind hate, seven and I was already beginning to learn real fear and began my back and forth battle with myself, trying to figure out if my mother truly hated me or not. I was seven years old, when I made the biggest mistake of my life, because I was never allowed to forget this day. I was reminded every time I ever gotten into trouble, innocent or not my mother would bring this instance up, would remind me of my confession and that confession would forever mark me a liar. So I was never found innocent, even though 9 out of 10 times when I did do wrong, I would readily admit it once question and when I wasn’t guilty, I would get beaten and reminded of how big of a liar I was and how I had brought every punishment onto myself. Because if I lied once, in my mom’s world, I was a liar forever and always, allowing no room for innocence, ever. This would follow me up through my mid-twenties, when I was believe it or not, still being judged and weighed by things she had accused me of since I was seven. Making me wonder sometimes if I would have been better off if I would have just let her beaten me to death…..

 

Eventually, over the years I began to withdraw, keeping more and more to myself. Something I still struggle with today, because back in those days, I slowly learned the less of a presence I made of myself, the less I would be notice and the less i would be beaten.

 

I still remember, sitting in my room that day, wanting to destroy or break something in order to let out at least some of what I felt inside. So after beating my pillow flat, and punching my mattress into oblivion, I sat fuming in my room until my brother finally came home. It took him all of two seconds to realize something was wrong and I was upset and when he asked me what was wrong, I exploded, with my first words being “Mom hates me,” And he was quick to assure me that she didn’t. So I explained what happened and he was just like,

“Oh….” Then he smiled sheepishly and when I asked him about his smile, he said,

“I think I did leave the juice out.” And he was so cavalier about it I wanted to kill him, probably would have too if I didn’t also idolize him. Instead I told him I got punished for it and that he should tell our mom, which he claimed he would, but I doubt he ever did, but never before did I feel so alone.

 

It wasn’t until I was 15 that I learned it was all a game to her. I know this, because she all but told me it was. I was in my room and someone had broken a vase and when she came to my room and asked if it was me, I sighed, already knowing I hadn’t even touched the vase, or even knew one was broken in the first place. But, as she went on about how someone tried hiding it in the trash, underneath a bunch of stuff, which she was already claiming to be my usual M.O, I figured, “What the heck, what I can I really lose a this point?”

So with a sigh, I made my final false confession and I swear I could have knocked her over with a feather. She simply just stared at me, dumbstruck, before finally throwing her arms up in the air and saying and I quote,

“It’s not even fun anymore, if you’re not even trying to defend yourself!” And then just like that, she turned and stormed off, never punishing me, or bringing up the case of the broken vase ever again.

 

That said, she never did stop bringing up the first instance in my life with the juice, anytime my character was brought into question, she would bring my childhood back up and throw it back into my face. But adding how devious and sneaky I “always” was, because apprently kids arn’t suppose to ever explore, like I used to whenever I went somewhere new, like my aunt’s mansion. I would explore, look in all the drawers, explore every closet, etc. I was a kid, kid’s explore. I tried telling her this once, but she wouldn’t have it, sticking to her opnion that I was a sneaky little devil and would always be thus. This she kept up until just four years ago, when I had tried mending fences and when I thought everythign was going well and began, or thought I was forging a brand new relationship with her, until things fell apart and I was accused of something I would never do and that’s when I finally had enough.

I

                “Enough,” I shouted, exhausted and just tired of the whole ugly situation, (which I will talk about later in more detail)

“Just enough already,” I begged her, “you can’t keep judging me by how I was when I was seven. I was seven years old and I was a kid, but you use that to hold me accountable for things I never did and the worse part of it is, unlike my older brother, I never got into any trouble at school, or with the law, I was a good kid, I never gave you any problems, I never rebelled, I never broke curfew, I never been in any kind of trouble whatsoever, but you still hold me accountable for everything I did since I was seven, as if I’m incapable of ever changing or growing as a person. I’m so tired of you being so quick to call me liar and all these horrible things all because you believe I always lied as a kid. But truth is…truth is, I remember everything and the reasons you have for thinking I’m such a horrible person and liar, is because you wouldn’t ever let anything go, you would beat me until i confessed and not once did you ever question it. You never once realized that I always admitted to the things I did do wrong and if I ever said no to anything you would beaten me until I said yes. Whatever you have against me, let it go, please just let it go, I’m not a bad person I never was, all I wanted was a relationship with you and not because I had some grand ulterior motive, that makes you think I was just trying to get back at you for past wrongs. Which begs the question why, why would you think I would want to get back at you, unless in your heart of hearts you know you’ve done me wrong and this is your guilt, you want to believe I’m just like you, when I’m not.”

She responded by hanging up on me and we hadn’t spoken since and the crazy thing is, if she would find me and ask me for forgiveness, making just an attempt to amend past wrongs, I would forgive her, I would talk to her and never bring up the past ever again. I would start a fresh new relationship with her,  But that’s just who I am and the weight I carry and unfortunately as time goes by I know that will never happen. Even though every time the phone rings, or I check the mail, I pray to find something from her, at least telling he she’s out there thinking about me somewhere, at the very least an apology….And maybe an explanation other than the one I tell myself, which is that she’s sick and needs help, or medication, or something to help unburden this weight I carry.

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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.