Monday, December 24, 2012

Making a List and Checking it Twice

This morning I woke up and read a piece that inspired me. That doesn’t happen often. It was written by a longtime friend and fellow Ellison Eagle. I had reconnected with this person about three years ago. Having been somewhat close to this person in high school, we quickly redeveloped a rapport and caught each other up on the last twenty years or so. In 2009, we both had our share of challenges and problems we were dealing with. That was then. And this is now. As I told her this morning (paraphrasing): “I remember when you were THERE. Now you are HERE. You have come a LONG way.” This is what inspired me to write. Typically, this might be an “end of year” piece. It might have been a “New Year’s Resolution” piece. Then, I thought to myself: “Why wait?!” 2012 has definitely had its share of ups and downs. I have dealt with physical ailments never experienced before, yet my job has taken off in a good way. There has been the joy of watching my son progress through his first year in life, and the difficulty of watching one of the most self assured eleven year olds’ cope with bullying. I never could have predicted THAT. As there is every year, there have been moral and spiritual failures and triumphs. There have been apologies made and apologies accepted. There have even been new friends made and friends lost. You get the picture – regrets and triumphs. Last year I kept it simple. I had one New Years’ resolution. That was to take the stairs up to the fourth floor every time at work. I did better than I expected. I made it through the first quarter of 2012 before that one got tossed aside. Starting RIGHT NOW, I’m going B I G ! Why wait till next year or even tomorrow? A couple of sayings come to mind: “Go big or go home.” How about: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Being Christmas Eve, what better day could there possibly be to start anew? On today’s agenda there is work, then there will be church, a family get-together, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Alexis. And what a wonderful life it is. No matter where we have gone astray, we can go to HIM and ask for forgiveness. HE will have us repent and absolve us of our sins. Some of those who read this may ask themselves “Where do I even begin? I have so many problems, issues, and things to work on.” And I say to you, SO DO I.” It’s a big tent and we’re ALL in it. I think WE start with asking for forgiveness – from our friends, our family, but most importantly our G O D. Here, I will humbly suggest some things to get US started: After asking for forgiveness, forgive others who have hurt you. L-E-T I-T G-O. You will feel better instantaneously. When we withhold forgiveness, we punish ourselves more than anyone else. Try and live in the here and now as much as possible. How often do you find yourself doing one thing, but thinking about another? By doing this, I am missing precious moments with my kids, my wife, my friends and my family. Isaiah 58: 1-4 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” STARTING NOW: “Live without fear!” A close friend pointed this out to me as a goal this person was pursuing. How awesome would that be?! Phil. 4:6, 7 - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Friends and family, there is so much to be thankful for and yet, so many challenges in front of us. Why wait??? I’ll bet this is exactly what my friend said to herself back in 2009 and now she is living the dream! Finally, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to every single one of you! KV 12/24/12

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don McLean - American Pie

Diary of a Dog

"Diary of a Dog"

This story begins circa mid to lower 1990's. This is how I see it all happening, despite the fact that I really don't know the very beginning of it all. She was a small mut of a puppy, who had a little bit of Beagle in her. Her master was a man. This man almost always wore a hat and he often had a problem controlling his temper. He would get angry about all kinds of different things and when this little puppy looked up at him she thought to herself: "Oh no, here he comes again." Looking straight at him and knowing what was coming next, all she could see was the man's hat. He would beat her and she would yelp and run inside the confines of the gated yard that was her world. She was faster than he, but he could corner her and take his unhappiness out in a brutal way. This went on for about a year, but for this 1 1/2 year old puppy it felt like a decade. If only she could get her freedom.

Mr. Brutal wasn't the brightest light bulb in the pack. Due to his tendencies toward violence, he didn't really have any friends or family. One day after Mr. Brutal came home from a hard days work, he realized that the next day the garbage men were scheduled to come by early. THIS, is what turned this little puppy's life around. While Mr. Brutal did remember garbage day and proceeded to take out the trash, he was so tired he forgot to close the gate.

Once the puppy realized there was a chance to escape, she took a leap of faith and ran out of the gate. It was especially scary for her because it was dark outside and she had never been out like this on her own. The world scared her. There were cars driving by, people talking and looking at her, and even from time to time people feeding her. This place was B I G. She instinctively made her way to the streets of Stafford, Texas. After a week of sheer survival, she was weary and just had to stop on the side of the road. Two people came by and looked at the pup, but moved on. Then, a good Samaritan picked her up and dropped her off at the SPCA.

Somewhere around the pups 2nd birthday a young married couple drove the approximately 50 minute trek from the Woodlands, Texas across the city of Houston to try and pick out a dog from the SPCA. The couple looked all through the available dogs and finally, the man suggested a Beagle mix that he thought met the requirements. After playing with the dog for a few minutes, the pups shyness, fright of men, and friendliness was evident. So, the couple thought about it and the man gave it a thumbs up. The young lady however, was not certain. As per a family policy that the couple had that they still adhere to today, (all big decisions made by this couple had to be unanimous) they left the SPCA that day without a dog. The couple went home and talked about the one dog they considered and the man argued the merits of adopting this dog. Still, the lady seemed unsure.

The next day while the lady was attending to other matters, the man slipped away and made the 50 minute drive right back to the SPCA. He went back to that same pup and pondered adopting the dog. He considered the fact that if he adopted the dog, he would have to be willing to give the dog up as this was a violation of the couples’ aforementioned policy on big decisions. The man thought for a moment and decided to adopt the dog. He drove the 50 miles home hoping that surprising his wife and having her see the dog again, she would be onboard. On this particular occasion, it worked out well for the man. When the woman arrived home, it was like she had met a whole new dog and was thrilled that the man went back and selected her. The dog was dubbed Carly, for no other reason than the man sat near someone at work that shared the same name. Although Carly was certainly housetrained, there were some mishaps along the way. The couple deduced from her behavior that she had very likely been abused by a man in a hat. It was their goal to rid her of her fears. She needed to know that when she was in OUR home, she always had a soft place to fall. She improved over the years, but I don’t think ever fully healed from the cruelty inflicted upon her. To the day of her death she had a tendency to cower if a man she wasn’t familiar with approached her. One problematic, but memorable moment occurred inside the couple’s apartment. The man had arranged for a friend to come over and they were going to play tennis at the apartment complex’s court. The man’s friend happened to be a big and husky guy. When the man’s friend arrived and went toward Carly to administer some pets, she ran onto the couch and proceeded to “soil” it in fear.

Carly was a valued member of the family as they hit many milestones in their lives. She was there when they bought their first house. She was there when the couple had their first child. She was there when they bought their next house. She was there when the man suffered through a serious illness. She was there when the lady went through some difficult times. She was there when they decided to move to live near family. Finally, she was there when the couples 2nd child was born.

It was right before the birth of the couples 2nd child though, that a severe decline in health seemed to become very obvious and sudden. In retrospect, the couple was probably distracted by the upcoming birth of their child and the business of life in general. Regrettably, the couple likely let the dog live too long and thereby, suffer. There were however, many considerations when determining to make the inevitably difficult decision of determining the death of their dog. Those aren’t excuses, but they are the facts. Making the decision for the man and his wife seemed to come quickly and easily. Their primary concern was how their 10 year old daughter would react. This is where the wife came through as she’s apt to do, and made a very wise decision. She elected to take the couple’s daughter with her for the “quality of life exam” as the man had referred to it. The couple was lucky in that the vet they took the dog to had just a couple months earlier put the man’s sister’s dog down as well. The vet, who had the name “Dr. Condolence” (not really, but it was an eerie last name and privacy must be protected), was exceptionally sympathetic and did an outstanding job of explaining to the 10 year old girl why it was time for the “dog to go to heaven.” The couple wanted to give their daughter some time to say good-bye. So, the euthanasia was put off until the day after Thanksgiving (4 days away). The man was surprised that he didn’t seem very affected by the decision that had just been made. Then, came the day after Thanksgiving......

Friday November 25, 2011, started off in what seemed a very odd way. The man woke up, got some work clothes on, and grabbed his shovel from the garage. The decision had already been made. The thought of Carly being incinerated horrified the couples ten your old daughter. The family was going to bury their beloved dog Carly in their backyard. The "site" was selected for viewing convenience so that it may be randomly checked for any disturbances from inside the house. The man knew from having done a substantial amount of planting that the surface in Central Texas was going to put up a big fight. He allotted 2 hours for digging the grave and it took all of that and a bit more. The 10 year old daughter helped the father as the persistent digging was an arduous task to say the least. Still, as they worked to reach their goal, neither the man, nor his daughter showed any emotion. After accomplishing their goal and the man getting a much needed shower, it was time for what the man later thought to himself of as “the drive to death.” The lady and her child specified that they did not want to go to the vet’s. The man picked up Carly, who was gently wrapped in a towel and placed her in the backseat. It was time for the lady and the daughter to say their good-byes. Both the lady and the daughter immediately began to sob, which in turn caused the tears to run rapidly down the man’s face. The lady and the daughter turned and walked back inside.

The man began “the drive towards death.” The man knew he only had a few minutes to think before reaching the Vet’s office. He continued to weep silently and made it to his destination in about 7 minutes. Upon entering with Carly, the man only stood for about 3 seconds when a “nurse” said, “I’m so sorry to keep you waiting. Come right in here. The Dr. will be right in.” The man put the towel on the floor and placed his dog on it and laid down next to her. At that moment the man thought to himself; “You waited too long.” The Dr. came in and asked if he needed more time. “No.”, said the man. The doctor explained the process and took Carly to get some sort of catheter so she would not have to feel the pain of a missed vein when injecting the needle. When the Dr. returned with Carly, she asked him again. “Would you like some more time with her?” “No.”, said the man. The Dr. injected the needle and it was over in about 15 seconds. She checked Carly’s heartbeat and simply said, “She’s gone.” The weeping continued, but only in silence. The man was instructed to move his car to a back door with some privacy and Carly was delivered to his car well wrapped and ready for burial. The man thought about stopping and thinking, but quickly decided to just drive straight home. When the man arrived at home with Carly’s body, his daughter and wife were waiting. Upon entering the house, the three of them all looked at each other and wept, this time out loud. It lasted but a few short seconds, and then the lady said, “Go ahead and put her back there and then come on back in.” The family’s first experience with putting a pet down was over. The man thought for a moment about the irony of having to put the dog down, just three weeks and one day after his wife gave birth to his son.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


The A.E.S.O.P tells thread weaves a tapestry of inspired persons through their tales. Everybody HERE comes from SOMEWHERE.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Agony

Five days after my daughters birth, I was at home helping take care of my infant, when there was a knock at my bedroom door around 8:45 am.

It was my father. I'm paraphrasing but I think he said, "Son, I think you may want to come out here and take a look at the t.v. A plane has just slammed into one of the World Trade center buildings in New York."

A little bleary eyed, I walked into the family room and looked at the horrifying events that would continue to unfold. The second tower was hit by another plane and people were beginnning to jump off of the buildings. The Pentagon was hit by a third plane and there was mass hysteria in both Washington D.C. and New York. Speculation was rampant that a fourth plane may be headed for the White House. Really? I can't believe what my eyes are seeing.

Thankfully, Todd Beamer and others, "Let it Roll" and ensured the symbol of our nations government wouldn't take a hit as well. Looking back nine years, it's hard to believe it, but Osama Bin Laden was not a household name at that time. Oh, I knew who he was. I've always been addicted to the news. I was just having a hard time wrapping my arms around the fact that this guy who frequents caves in Afghanistan was wreaking havoc in two of America's most important cities.

Again, my mind was churning. "Does this guy have any idea who he's messing with"? Heck, my father worked for the world's greatest military for 23 years. I knew "our boys" would end up taking care of business. I remember looking at the t.v. screen a few days later as George W. Bush was in New York City standing in the back of a pickup truck with his arm around one of the firefighters. He had a megaphone in one hand and his other arm was wrapped around the man's shoulder.

I began to get chills going down my spine as he said, "I hear you. America hears you. And the people who knocked those buildings down are going to hear from all of us soon." The New York crowd went wild. I was proud to be an American. Moreover, I thought, "man you ticked off the wrong city and country". The big apple and the U.S. Military are forces to be reckoned with. I had a lump in my throat and I felt a sense of U.S. pride. I was cheering inside already for our boys about to go and battle.

Never underestimate your opponent


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Second Child

Okay, here it goes.....I am the second child between my mother and father. My mother was raised in Selma, Indiana. To this day there are still not other races living there but white people. My dad was born in Tennessee, but lived in Muncie, Indiana when he met my mother. As you know the mixed race thing back then was frowned upon.

My older full brother died before I was ever born. He was killed by his babysitter. I don't think my mother has ever really gotten over that. My mother did have another child, which is my sister. She is my half sister, but I have grown up with her from the start and never thought of her as anything else than my real sister. My dad has had several other children throughout his life. A couple I still don't know. Two of my dad's other children are my brothers. Justin who is the same age as my sister, grew up with me too. Whenever I came to visit my dad, we were together. Johnathan, my youngest brother, is 17. I knew him when he was a child.

The backdrop for my story begins here. My mother and dad divorced either after my brother died or when I was a small child. Don't actually know when. My mother joined the military and my dad joined the railroad.

As a small child with a single mother I had a blast! We traveled a lot because of the military, but I didn't mind because my mother was my best friend as a child. We did everything together. I can close my eyes and remember those times.

Then my little sister was born. I love her to death and always have, but deep down I blame her for having to share my mother and losing my best friend in my mother. I think I actually had a wonderful childhood, but it seems to me that once my sister was born my life was on the turn of getting worse. It didn't start immediately, but one outside the family could see the change. My mom got busier, I had to help with my sister, and I just didn't have any mom time!

I started acting out the older I got. Started getting in trouble. Stealing change from my family. Even from my sister's piggy bank!...I remember one time, I had been stealing from family so much and getting in trouble, that when my cousin stole five dollars from my Uncle Joe, everyone swore it was me! Even to this day they think it was me! I was there when my cousin did it and he still won't admit it.

I had a great childhood and teenager years, I just wasn't getting the mom time I wanted and then started to not get the positive attention I needed, so i turned to negative things. I can remember times when my mother was at every sporting event I had and cheered me on like no tomorrow. Then one day it stopped. Everything stopped. Praising me for good grades, watching me play sports, and going to do things as a family. She was too busy.

Somewhere around this time my dad went to prison for selling drugs. he did two six year stints. From day one of my mother finding out and telling me, her words were always, "You going to grow up just like your dad!" That hurt me to the bone because to me I loved my dad and he always showed me love and attention, so in that aspect I loved him, but also he was in prison! So, not only did she talk about my dad who I loved, but she was saying I was going to go to jail too! My mother loved me with toys and stuff like that when I got older. I knew I was loved, but I needed to see it and hear it by other means than just hardships? Not hearing I love you. You are a good son. I'm proud of you. My mother loved with an iron fist, not abusive, just not loving.

The end result to all of the love my mother stopped showing me was me being a man whore as Debbie would say. I dated two or three girls in high school all the time, looking for someone to love and love me back.

I played all sports in junior high, but in high school our basketball coach didn't like you playing if you played football too. So one of my favorite sports I had to quit to play my best sport, which was football. I played soccer and baseball too, but for some peculiar reason I always seemed to fail a class the first part of baseball season and never played for high school. I think if i had have played my life might have been a little different. Same goes for football. I was one of the best receivers we had during my time of playing for school, but the head coach didn't like me. In his terms, I was a trouble maker. So I played only defense my junior and senior year.

A highlight of my high school year was a picture in the Cove paper talking about Cove Soccer Team gets arrested. It actually wasn't all of us, but most of us. We were breaking into houses and cars and taking whatever we wanted. Stupid stuff. None of us needed anything. We always had money and did whatever we wanted, just being stupid teenagers bored to death, so we created our own adventures. Though I truly enjoyed doing it - the excitement of it all.

My best friend, who I feel is a brother to me, has always been there with me. Through the good and the bad. If I was there so was he. We were so close that both of us could walk right into each other's house, go in the fridge and get whatever, or just go to sleep in each other's rooms. We were family. Once in 10th grade we said to each other that one of us was going to go to prison and one of us was going to be successful. happened just like that......

I have been one who has seen his blessings go by and not grab them. My high school years were a mix of good and bad experiences. Though even the bad experiences brought me and my friends together. My best friend Chris was like a brother to me. We didn't always do right, but even through the bad we were always there for each other and our families. I love him as much as I love my my own family.

My Dad was always my role model even though he wasn't there for me. He was in prison....I was a good sports player in school with a not enough drive to reach the upper levels of play to go to college. Wanted to, but had no one to push me towards that dream. So many things happened in my life to get me where I am right now.

I went to prison myself. Something I never had to do but made it my destiny. I went to prison for 10 years on a 15 year conviction. I will tell you that prison was a dangerous, yet vast learning experience. I met quite a few men I could and do call my friends, prison guards and inmates.

My other best friend, is a stand up guy and my brother also. I love him as much as I love Chris. He not only kept me going, but kept my relationship with my wife going. He saw what i didn't see. He saw the good when I wanted to see the bad. He saw the future when I only saw the present.

I got involved with a gang in prison and had to do a few things I will always regret. Luckily, I made it out of prison healthy. Scarred emotionally, and mentally, but in one piece.

I can still remember the day I got out! It was a very emotionally draining day. I was going to get out and almost at the end of the day they tell me I wasn't going to get out til the next week! You can only imagine what that felt like. It felt like someone had torn my heart out! Thankfully, God, stepped in and made some things happen. I knew then that God had a true plan for me and my family.

It hasn't been all peachy keen for my family with me being home. Not only have my wife and I been through the ringer, but my oldest daughter has had some issues too. Mostly because I haven't ever been a real father to her. I question myself every single day, because I know I want to be, but how? How do you love your children when you can't even love yourself sometimes?

Thankfully, I have some good Christian friends and a great support group in my family and my friends. I can honestly say that without GOD in my life and in my heart and in the heart of my family and friends I would not be here today. I take one day at a time.

There is nothing better in life than to see your children smile when they see you. To see your wife smile when she sees you. To see your father and mother smile when they see you.

I am here to tell anyone, that when life gets bad and you want to quit..don't! There is hope. Seek Him and He will be there. Pray and he will listen. Ask and you will receive. People love you no matter how they show it, they do. And for all my family and friends, especially my children, Audreanna and Channah, Daddy loves you to the fullest!

Every day I take a step forward. Sometimes I take two. One day I will be the person everyone expects me to be and I expect to be. I hit rock bottom and slowly but surely have climbed that ladder to success.

Thank you everyone.

Thank you God.

Thank you for reading my story. It is real. It is sad. It is beautiful!

take one day at a time

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A New Voice

I have never been one to get very involved in the world of politics. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t get involved or keep informed due to the lack of caring. I was born an “army brat” and consider my family to be very patriotic! My dad was career military. He was a green beret, served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and retired a Lt. Colonel. I grew up in a household that discussed politics, watched the news every day, and believed that if your country needed you to serve, you did it without question. So then, how could I be uninvolved and uninformed as an adult?

I’ve asked myself that question many times. I now feel that I’m a big part of the current problem with our great country. I voted, but didn’t take the time to get involved or really learn about the issues. I was one of those people that now drive me crazy. I told myself I wouldn’t make a difference anyway and that we had a “checks and balances” system in place that would stop any type of radical change from occurring. Like many other Americans, my complacency has allowed the USA to head down the path it seems to be on now. I believe it to be a very dangerous path.

I have a wonderful husband and two beautiful and talented daughters. As our daughters grew and became involved in their activities, my priorities changed and my focus narrowed. My goal in life was to help them be as successful as possible in their endeavors. I think I was one of those moms that lost my identity. My schedule was completely based upon the needs of my children. I don’t regret making those sacrifices. That’s what parents do. I just wish that I had always stayed informed and up to date on the state of our nation. I should have balanced a little better.

My husband is what I call a Couch Commando Dad! During his down time, you can find him on the sofa with the flicker in his hand. I can guarantee that the television is either on one of the sports stations, Fox News, or one of the “mainstream” news networks. The girls and I constantly harassed him about his channel selections. We would razz him for a bit and then eventually migrate to the back to watch our pick of shows. I would complain to him that he should just watch the one hour of local and national news that came on our local station.

Approximately a year ago, I was on the computer in the family room while my husband was watching FOX. They were discussing the repercussions of passing the Health Care Bill. I started to get interested in the program when I noticed what I was hearing discussed on this station in no way resembled what I had been hearing on my local station. I was very naïve back then. I believed that news stations simply reported the news without any type of biased slant. As the days went on, I watched more news programs, and then watched other stations to compare the information. I was very curious and skeptical, but not quite hooked. I remember hearing about the House of Representatives passing Cap and Trade and sending it to the Senate. After listening to what was being said about it on the news, talking to people I trusted, and researching the information myself via the internet, I became obsessed. I refer to this as my awakening!

It was suddenly clear to me the direction our great country was heading. As a country, I feel we have always taken all of our wonderful freedoms for granted. Our forefathers fought so that we might have these freedoms. My father and lots of other great patriots fought to defend our country to assure that we would always keep these freedoms. In a million years, I would have never thought these freedoms might be threatened from within by our own government. I now understand that there are many Americans out there, and in our government, that don’t have the same respect for our freedoms or for that wonderful and historic document “The Constitution” and what it provides for us.

I now listen to every bit of news I can. I am a Tea Party member. I call and write my representative and my senators. I go to town hall meetings and take place in peaceful rallies and protests. I post links to current issues on my Facebook page hoping to inform and spark interest in other people. I am planning on getting involved in the upcoming elections in November. In a year, I have gone from someone that didn’t have a clue to someone that is very informed. People ask my opinion and actually care about what I think. It’s taken me 48 years to find my voice. I don’t ever want to lose it again! I now know that I can make a difference. Everyone has a voice. They just have to find it.

make a difference

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Our Mission

The A.E.S.O.P tells thread weaves a tapestry of inspired persons through their tales. Everybody HERE comes from SOMEWHERE.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Woman in the Mirror

Born and raised as an Army Brat, I was used to picking up and moving every three or four years. As a child, I felt like I was pretty well rounded. I always made friends easily. The summer before 7seventh grade we moved from Germany back to Texas. It was a typical Army move and I was excited to get back to school to meet new friends.

My parents bought their first house when we returned from Germany, so we were not going to live in on base housing. That would be different. But, as I said, I made friends easily, so I had no worries.

No worries, until I started school. The kids at my new middle school were different. Of course, a lot of them were Army brats, but a lot of them were not. I actually felt like the new kid for the first time in my life. I felt like that because a lot of the kids had grown up together and were unwilling to let newcomers into their circles. Still, I made friends, and to this day, I still have several of those same friends.

Seventh grade is a time in my life that sticks out the most to me because that is the year that my self esteem issues began. I had never thought that I was overweight before I started seventh grade.

I was always active. I was a cheerleader in Germany for four years. I had been in ballet for years, and had even been taught by a former Russian Ballet star when I lived in Germany. For the first time in my life I felt like people judged me because of the way I looked and not because of the person I was inside. In eighth grade I made the cheerleading squad. I never felt a part of that squad, I felt self-conscious. One night after a football game, a player pulled me aside and laughed at me and told me how ridiculous I looked in my uniform. I still remember how much that hurt.

I have some great memories from high school. I also have memories of feeling fat, ugly and never good enough. I look back now and realize that I wasn’t fat, and I was far from ugly. My insecurities made me feel bad about myself. The way I looked at others was warped. I look back now and realize that I wasn’t much heavier than most girls. I just saw myself differently.

My father got sent back to Germany when I was in the tenth grade. My mom, my sister, and I stayed in Texas because we were in school and my mom owned her own business.

It was about this time that I started smoking marijuana and drinking. I think that I thought it would help me to fit in. I was really good at hiding the effects of the drugs and alcohol. My mom had no clue. Maybe she did, but she never admitted it. The summer before my senior year I ended up losing a lot of weight. My mom used to say that I had finally blossomed.

The truth is that I had developed an eating disorder. I just didn’t eat. Or if I did, I threw it up as soon as I could find a safe place to do so. The fact that I lost some weight didn’t affect the way I felt about myself.

I never had a boyfriend in high school. I got asked to prom, then a week before the prom he canceled on me. My mom’s best friend had a son that was a year older than me, and he agreed to take me. How embarrassed I was that night. He tried to make it a great night for me, but I was mortified the entire night because I really didn’t even know him, and here I was at prom with him. I felt like a charity case. He didn’t make me feel like one, I made myself feel like one.

My parents divorced at the end of my senior year of high school. The two years that my dad was in Germany did nothing for my parents’ marriage.When he returned to Texas, he brought a girlfriend with him. This other woman was a lot younger than my dad, by over twenty years. I learned later that this particular affair wasn’t my father’s first affair. My mother had always stood by him because he would always tell her that he’d never do it again. He lied and she believed him every time.

My world turned upside down. I had always been very close to my father. This other woman changed all of that because not only did he leave my mom, my sister, and me behind, but he rarely came around at all except to berate my mother.

I continued to be the same cheerful person that I needed to be at school and to my mom. I could fall apart in private, and on most days, I did. Even my closest friends didn’t know how I felt. I kept it all inside and got through it all with the help of drugs and alcohol.

Graduation came and went. It should have been a more joyful occasion, but it wasn’t. My father decided, to bring his new girlfriend to the ceremony. No amount of begging from my mom, or me would change his mind. He couldn’t even let me have a happy memory. Instead of sitting together, my father’s family sat with him and my mother’s family sat with her. My family didn’t meet me out on the football field after the ceremony; they watched from the stands and then left.

I decided to hold off on going away to school for a year so that I could be around if my mom needed me. While my best friend enrolled in the University of Texas, I enrolled at the local community college with plans to move to Austin the next year. I never even finished my second semester. I dropped all of my classes because I liked partying and going to the clubs more than I liked getting up and going to class. I spent most nights partying and drinking. I continued to binge and purge. There were some mornings that I woke up and had no idea how I had even gotten home.

Throughout this time it is truly amazing that I never got pulled over for DWI, or worse, killed someone while driving drunk. My relationship with my father got worse. I didn’t want anything to do with the other woman, who by now had married my dad. He couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t accept her and welcome her into the family. I couldn’t believe he would choose her over his family. It disgusted me. It’s been many years and I’ve moved on, but it still disgusts me to this day. She knew he was married and had a family. He is definitely not blameless, but she should have walked away. The Army moved them away for several years and I rarely heard from my father, which suited me fine. I stopped partying and drinking and got help with my eating disorder.

Eventually, I went back to college and graduated from the University of Texas. I met a man and we fell in love quickly. Our whirlwind relationship quickly went from dating to engaged to married. It was nearing our tenth anniversary when I discovered that my husband was having an affair. I thought we had the perfect marriage. I thought I was everything that he wanted and needed. We had two children and were living the American Dream, weren’t we?

I couldn’t believe that another “other woman” was about to destroy my family. I decided at that moment that I was not going to roll over and lose my marriage. I loved him. He had hurt me, he had devastated me, but I was going to fight for my family. I immediately set up marriage counseling for the two of us. The other woman isn’t totally to blame, I know that.

One night after therapy the counselor told me that I didn’t need to come back to see her. I was surprised and asked her why. She told me that I was one of the strongest people she had ever encountered. She told me that she had no doubt that I would save my marriage and that after I saved my marriage I should write a book on how to do so. Really? I am thankful to her, because she not only helped me with my marriage issues, but she helped me work through a lot of issues with my father and my self-esteem.

The past six years since I discovered the affair have been long, but my husband and I are still together and our marriage is stronger than it has been in many years.

My relationship with my father has improved, too. Eventually, as I matured, I realized that I needed my father in my life. Shortly before I got married, I thought about eventually having children, and the thought of my father not being in their lives didn’t seem right. I decided to put aside my anger and start building a relationship with him. I am thankful to have my dad in my life; he and his wife are a large part of our family.

Some days I look in the mirror and see that person who is still very unsure of herself. Fortunately, most days I look and see the strong woman that I’ve become. I strive to be that strong woman daily.

put aside anger