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