WARNING: The following account of my life is a testimony of my actions in life. Those with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety and PTSD are cautioned that the following invents of my life may triggering. Please read with cuation and know that there is a silver lining, for all of us, we just have to find it. Names have been changed to protect their identity.
I am 359 #B. I was born in Everett, Washington. My mother and I lived in a small one bedroom apartment. I can't recall the name of the complex, only that it was relatively small, the sliding glass doors all faced towards the streets. The building itself was a dull brown. The rental property's logo was greeted with a hapless mallard gracefully floating on sky blue waters. We had a very nice neighbor by the name of Dave, he was a kind man suffering from a cruel diseas, AIDS. My mother befriended him when not many people did. It was his actions alone that saved my Mother's life that day and even though he suffered horrendously and died years later without so much as a thanks. I wish to thank you now David! My first recollection as a child is an unfortunate one. By the age of five I had already developed the emotional intelligence to realize when things weren't okay, I did not know that what I was feeling early on was empathy. My mother had grown very quiet that night and I couldn't figure out why. I didn't understand the way she felt in life nor could I do anything to prevent it. Silently she placed the grilled cheese sandwich in front of me, cut diagonally and served on my favorite plate, just the way I liked it. I told her thank you and she either didn't hear me or chose not to reply before going into the bathroom to turn on the faucet. Time passed on and I was finished with half of my dinner when I heard the echo of cries. I'm hearing impaired, but not at the extent of being able to mask the echoing of a bathroom, her cries were too overpowered. I crossed to the bathroom door and knocked on it. With a different tone of voice she yelled "Go away!" unable to hid back to tears. I did what every child was taught to do, obey your parents. I went back to eating and finished my food and sat there silently, the crying was gone and the faucet still ran. My neighbor came over to visit as he often did, he helped look after me when my mother's boyfriend wasn't around to do so. "Where's your Mom?" with concern, I pointed to the bathroom. "What the fuck?" even though I was only a child, I understood he was using an unfamiliar statement to try and understand what was happening in the bathroom, he wasn't the only one that was curious. Without hesitation he reached for the doorknob, locked, jiggly it harder. "Lulu! Open up!" he yelled, shake the door knob harder, I burst into tears, I don't know what had happened, only that something was wrong, every child knows when there's something wrong in the household. "Lulu! This isn't funny open up!" By this time his plea grew to a frustrating voice and he began to pound on the door, the sounds of his shoulder slamming against the door, it eventually gave way.
“Jesus Christ Lulu! What have you done!?” came the loud echoes that pierced my mind forever. My mother’s tears dulled to a soft whimper, yet still penetrable even after he had turned off the faucet. The next thing I remember is the paramedics rolling me mother out on the gourney. I stood in the corner of the kitchen and watched as they wheeled out my Mother, her right arm draped over her head, covered in blood, her body strapped to the gourney as she convulsed and tried to fight the aid of the paramedics.
A few years later my Mother would marry her boyfriend, my step father, whom at the time I was never told he wasn’t my biological father, until a few years after they were married. We moved into a much larger apartment complex in Bothell, just south of the city where I was born. My step father was an alcoholic with a short temper, often battle his own personal demons along with fighting for the ability to go onto disability, money was always tight, but we lived as best as we could as a family in Apartment A203, that number was my first emotional tattoo, golden lettering with a faded and chipped green door, behind that door I faced every abuse you could imagine, I did not suffer alone, my Mother recieved most of the mental abuse, I received that and physical abuse, it started with a simple nine count of a leather belt across my ass, but the more that life angered him and the more you drank the more violent the outburts and beatings increased, the first I was beaten bloody were results of my mistake of insensitively asking if my mother was too fat to swim, I spent my entire life regretting that memory in the indoor pool of our apartment complex, that was the last time I would ever enjoy swimming. It was understandable that I was insensitive and I understand that she cried on my step father’s shoulder to be counseled over my poor choice of words. It was that night that I received a beating that would split my head open from the beating I took, he was enjoying it and once the buckle struck the top of my head and I began to bleed he finally stopped, I still have the scar on the left side of my head, when my Mother asked me what happened I lied to her for the second time, for fear of safety. The first time I had lied was the first time I tried to self harm myself by rolling down the concrete stairs of, we lived on the second floor. I wanted to feel a different kind of pain, to see if it was easier than what I experienced behind the door, when my Mother and Step Father found me I lied to them and told them I tripped, if I had told the truth, he would have beaten me. I lied to protecgt myself and my Mother, it wasn’t right but it was the only life I knew. So when she asked me how I got the injury on my head, I told her it was from a car accident and I kept the truth from her for twenty-three years.
My mother suffered gravely with depression and split personality disorder, in that time there was very little known about mental health awareness and its treatments, for those that were afflicted by the addiction to self harm, you were medicated and monitored. I remember being lied to at an early age. Whenever my Mother had to go to the hospital, it was always the same story, to “Help her quit smoking.” My step father would do his best to take care of me and when my mother was committed for a month, my step father did one thing I’ll always be grateful, he helped figure out how to get in touch with my biological father and when my Mother was released, she introduced me to him. He was a large man in size, there was something very comforting and familiar to him. He smiled nervously with his pencil thin english mustache, jet black hair kept short and combed to the side and always sporting a red members only jacket.
I was always so thankful that he would come see me on the weekends when he was able to. Unfortunately life can sometimes complicate things as I’ve learned as an adult and he broke every promise he ever spoke of to come and see me, countlessly. I remember whenever he’d drop me off, I’d go into my room and stare out my bedroom and cry as I watched him drive away in his Pontiac Silhoutte, white with black side trimming. I was sad because I didn’t have the strength to ask my biological father to take us away. I lived in fear of the ability to tell him that we were in danger as I was constantly reminded of the .38 special short barrel revolver, silver plated with black handgrips, tucked into a black sock in his top dresser drawer.
My very first addiction began not with drugs or alcohol, it was with food. When you purchased a kids meal Dairy Queen would issue plastic tokens that you could redeem for a cold treat, there were three different options to choose from and I always chose the dilly bar whenever my Mom and step Father were having a bad day, there were never enough tokens.
I was thankful for what family did come visit and help be a positive influence in my life, my Mom’s cousins would often take me to college football games and church at an early age, those two outlets aside from adventures with my biological father were the only positivity I knew aside from my own personal outlets with drawing, playing with my toys and constant day dreaming. My Mother was not an unkind woman in any way, whenever she wasn’t “Rachel” she was a wonderful person and selfless, she gave all of her energy to make sure she knew that I was loved, my greatest memories of my childhood is at night when we were kicked out of the house so that my step father could enjoy his pornography and alcohol we would always talk about the day we’d get to leave this place and be freed from him, it was our only silver lining, together.
One day after school I came home to be greeted by a woman in a suit, she reminded me of a fictional character from a sci-fi show my biological father and I enjoyed together, so my comfort with her was already gained. Without question I got into her car and we drove to a home where I was placed into, with confusion on my mind I had to try and understand for myself why I couldn’t go home? Where was my family? And what had I done wrong? When was someone going to come get me? This was the root cause of my abadonment and co-dependency issues. A month after being placed into foster care I was finally placed back into the home and things were better financially and emotionally, yet it wouldn’t last long.
In July of 1996 the three of us headed to the Oregon Coast for a family reunion that would become know to our family as “The Fourth of July from Hell”. While details of that day aren’t my focus it’s important to notate that my family had finally seen just how abusive my step father was to both of us, they intervened and it got agressive, quickly.
I wasn’t there to witness any of it, as my Aunt had taken myself and my two cousis to the beach to enjoy some fireworks we’d purchased. During the time that my Mother was being released from our imprisonment of him, I’m also told she received an exorcism from my cousin whom at the time was an evangelical minister and musician. That night my step father left and I have never seen or spoken to him since, the memories he implanted however still remained.
Over the next few months my Mother would need time recoupe from the divorce and all the emotional experiences we had together, so she felt it was necessary for me to live with my biological father and new step Mother in Washington. My Father is a very educated man and with that, it can me that sometimes emotions can be slightly short coming or under handed. My biological father wanted nothing but the best for me, he still does to this day. And I thank him and have since then thanked him for trying to better my life with a healthy living situation and enstilling education into me. I was too far gone to be saved unfortunately. I had gone from abusive home and having to take care of the responsbilities around the house when my mother frequented the hospital. This new structure was too much for me and I needed to go back to my mother, through it all the bond was too unbreakable and I moved to the Oregon Coast in the fall, in time to start the fourth grade.
Suddenly and without much warning to my mental health I was shifted into a whirlwind of changes. I had just been through a lot emotionally and here I was about to start school meeting brand new people in a brand new living enviroment. Anyway that shares in the experience and stress of these moments in our lives knows just how overwhelming it can be, yet there were good sides too. I met my best friend “James”… and we became childhood best friends and have remained in contact throughout the years. Spending time with himself and their family members was of great comfort to me and it helped me through the struggles I constantly faced whenever I would see the burgundy Jeep Grand Cherokee driving into Bandon, I allowed myself to live in fear the first entire year we moved. It has been rumored that my Step Father recieved the Lord and I once had a dream that I would have to do the hardeset thing ever and that would be to forgive him, turns out to be turn in the future however it wasn’t the hardest battle, that would come to me as an adult with childish behaviors.
My Mother and our new found adoptive family would gather in the masses every Summer we’d hit the lake, go to garage sales, the beach, play video games and go to church on the weekdnds. My Mother found herself healed through Christianity, I was a little hesitant. As much as I love my Mother I always, even to this day have a slight tendency to get anxious whenever she’s struggling, I’m sure she feels the same for me as well. So seeing my mother change through faith wasn’t exactly appealing to me, she was still the same Mother I’d grew up with before and quite frankly it wasn’t the first time in our lives where happiness was attained yet short lived, so there was no convincing me at the time that faith was the right answer for myself, she would need to prove herself changed by this so called “God”, yet she did and eventually we were baptized on the same day, with my first mentor in my life Pastor B.
Pastor B had three daughters and no son to speak of, so I was to be mentored by him as a father figure and spiritual leader. He’d take me anywhere I wanted on my Birthday’s, usually bowling and pizza or skating, those were my only two otions outside of enjoying my time playing video games, locked away to just be alone while I struggled with the sharp yet educated words of my Grandfather. I don’t wish to speak ill of him. I only wish to state that he was an educated man that found a way to exploit your weakness and make you feel guilty about yourself, it was down putting on my life, especially a new one at that. My Grandmother and Mother always got me through it through means of support and food, I would prefer my Grandmother’s love and her food as my healing source. My first addiction actually began in Washington as a child. On the other side of the apartment complex was a Dairy Queen, I was allowed to walk to their and back only. I’d go there when I needed a place to escape, outside of the fences of a basketball court where I’d spend time walking Sushi.
Whenever you ordered a kids meal, DQ would give you a little plastic token and you could redeem it a cold treat, you had three options to choose from and I always went for the dilly bars. Yet I would save the tokens for a day when my Mother and Step Father were always fighting, lets just say there were never enough tokens, but food was my first addiction and it started in full swing near the end of fourth grade and increased through the summer going into fifth grade. Food was my only escape for me, the only thing that I thought could understand me and ease my pain, this… is the epitemy of how addiction is born, with that simple thought alone! When we’re too timid or shy to turn to loved ones because we’re afraid of the response, especially when only know abuse as the response be it mental or physical, it’s so easy to turn towards an addiction that is man made instead of seeking comfort by a human or spirituality (for some of us, both). Food was my gateway, I understood the chemical changes that flooded my endopeamines with happiness, temporary as it was — and it never stopped except for a brief point in my life in 2014. Here I was going into first day of middle school, over weight, a lazy eye and hearing aids… I was every bullies dream come true and to be truthful I have bullied back as well to some and for that I do apologize, it’s never okay to fight fire with fire. With bullying and continually eating and gaining weight my Grandfather felt it was necessary to make fun of my weight, what should have been motivation enough for me to slow down actually increased my intake, have I mentioned I’m an addict?
My Mother got me out of public school and put me into a private school where I flourished academically, socially, spiritually and mentally. My teacher was the greatest influence to my writing aside from my Uncle, he was the first man ever in my life to verbalize that I had potential as a writer, I was constantly writing in school, it didn’t matter if my assignments were done or not, I was always writing I never knew why until this very moment of my life. I was always chasing my dreams and always trying to find a way to escape from how I felt as far back as I can remember.
Life has a way of humbling us to remind us that the moments of happiness do come at a price. My mentor and father figure, Pastor B was now leaving as was my other Uncle whom had eventually found love and moved out of the area. They were both a comfort and I missed them dearly and as a teenager with misguided anger I didn’t take to that lightly. My caloric consumption was about double the average and since my mother felt it necessary to spoil me to make up for my childhood I was treated to anything I wanted food wise and I wanted anything that was of comfort to me. I wanted a large pizza to myself, with a two lite of coca cola and two snickers bars, mayb one snickers bar and a twix, sometimes you gotta change it up right? My anger was misguided in my youth on top of trying to find my identity as we often face in our adolscent years… I’m afraid somedays I’ve never really grown up, though I try and some days that’s all any of us can do. Since there were transitions in the church that caused the flock to fall away my Mother and I left the Baptist church and we moved to a Pentecostal church, they took us in and I became another adopted moment in life to a Pastor and wife that had no children to speak of at the time, they’d tried unsuccessfully for years and had all but given up (Silver lining they have two beautiful and healthy children now) and I once again had a Father figure that taught me right from wrong and was a very avid outdoors man and handiman, I tried to live the same life he taught me, sadly my interest was in skateboarding, video games, my music (listening and playing my guitar in school) writing and sketching. The outdoor living wasn’t a call to me, however I’m thankful for the experiences that I’ve had fishing, hunting, camping and hiking, to helped propel my interest in nature, so it wasn’t a total loss, I was just an angry teenager that became even more angered with the news of their pregnancy. I was going to be replaced once more, sadly that’s the only way I could see it. It didnt’ matter that God had rewarded them, all that mattered is that I was losing a Dad, again. They moved away and I walked away from the church resentfully, never picking up the bible or keeping in faith, I’d had enough of church and I had had enough of this supposed “Love” God was supposed to be giving his children, none of it was real… or so I thought.
It was no surprise that by the time I dropped out of the private school before going into my senior year that I was no nearing three hundred pounds at the age of sixteen or seventeen with no signs or desire to stop my addiction that I was too blinded by to recognize I was an addict, it was just food, how could what I need to live on, be an addiction? And that’s when denial was easy for me to assemble at the drop of a hat, if it made me feel better, I needed it and nothing else mattered, ever that was my teenage philosphy that branded my addiction and allowed me to spiral out of control as life continued to hand me continued struggles and loss.
After I dropped out my depression worsened from personals relationships I tried to have. I wasn’t able to articulate too well how exactly how to treat a woman where dating was concerned, not only did I grow up with terrible examples, but I also had never dated before, I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew whom I liked and my first ever crush in life was with a wonderful and beautiful person by the name of “Sapphire”…. Her beauty and shyness were only short lived to the amount of conviction and faith she had, which is why she turned me down for a date. Her conviction to her faith was always a positive example to me and it gave me a thrust when I felt there was none and I was even able to have my guitar instructor witness to me until I walked away from it all and on my 19th Birthday, I attended Sapphire’s funeral. She was gone, her life taken at her own hands and that’s when I began to doubt my own ability to have enough faith to be accepted by any kind of love from a higher power, if someone so pure and innocent couldn’t hold on, then why was I deserving of that. I was confused and to this day, I still think of her often, peoples lives no matter how short lived they stay in your life can still have the most powerful impact that changes the very course of your mindset. Why? I needed to know why? And the beauty in all this is that we’ll never fully understand the answers, we just have to change the way we see the outcome. One thing was certain, as a teenager angered and now trying to understand why someone of such faith would feel the need to take their own life. I had to leave this town that had begun to feel haunting to me. I wanted more, I wanted to be free from this city. I wanted to become something. I wanted that small town boy achieves his dream and is succesful in the big city, that was my forecast to life and I thought that would be the only thing to make me happy and to unburden myself from the things I’d experienced as a child. My dreams were the only positive addiction, sometimes.
I was accepted into Angell Job Corps in 2005. I studied Dispensing Opticianry, earned my GED, was honor roll twice, student of the month three times, Dorm Captain of my wing, called Boardwalk South and yes upstairs was Park Place. I was in several clubs and I achieved the highest level of leadership status holding the longest record of anyone in the schools history, I was a model student and I accomplished this in a year and a half. I was nearing graduation day and I was getting signatures from head departments, when one day a tour group was visting the school and I saw for the first time in about four years a childhood sweetheart I’d spent a lot of time with when my Mother owned her own scrapbooking business, her name was “Lynn”… She and I were bullied together, we found a lot of things in common and during our teenager years we often spent time getting away from adult supervision as every teenager did. It was such an overwhelming shock to see how much she had changed, her transition from childhood to teenage years had been very kind to her and we’d still reconnected as if nothing had ever changed between us. I made plans with her days after graduating to go on our first date. I felt mature and focused enough to have my own drive that would allow me to go to College as I had the desire then and to get married, settle down and raise a family in opposite to what I had known…and as we’ll read, it didn’t quite happen like that.
Within three days of graduating I had gotten a dispensing job inside of a retail store, those of you that know me and the area well enough you know exactly where I used to work now. Within one month I was enrolled in college to study medical transcription. I was going to use my love for writing and the medical field to become a transcription right, which would afford me the opportunity to chase my dream (at the time) and professional tournament paintball player for the PSP and NPPL, specializing in Xball and Speedball formats. And at night I was going to work on my novel called, Goodbye Butterfly, a novel based losely on my life with a fictional version of the main character being an alcoholic and having to come to terms with his past, the irony of that statement and novel idea now.
Lynn’s father approved of me right away, why wouldn’t he. I was going into my twenties with my head on my shoulder and I was well suited to take care of his daughter, the daughter he loved and it hurt when she struggled with her anorexia and cutting, I knew about those details early on in the relationship and that’s what made me lover her more, that was my mistake. I went into the relationship remembering our teenager years while conflicting it with my path, she displayed the same traits as my Mother and now I was mentally strong enough to help her, to change her when I couldn’t help my Mother as a child. This ladies and gentlemen, this is the worst mistake you can ever make! You cannot help someone unless they are willing to help themselves, this is something I’ve had a very very long road to get through to see that. Yet I loved her unconditionally, when everyone told me this was not a good relationship for me, my fight or flight mentality ignored the gestures (which were absolutely valid and correct). I not only loved her, admittedly I loved him more as my Dad, I called him Dad and he called me Son well before I even proposed to his daughter on a Christmas morning (yeah…I know)
We were insperable, I was his support and he was mine, his struggles with agent orange was a very hard battle for him and it frustrated him to know end that we became smokers, sorry Dad… I’m still trying. I had a step father, I have a very intelligent and inquistive biologcal father, but “Lane” was my Dad, he’ll aways be that for me, that doesn’t mean I don’t love my biological father any less, if anything “Lane” brought me closer to my Father.
Our relationship struggled, we were our first commitment and quite honestly way to young to consider marriage early, but I believed in that nostaliga that my grandparents lived, get married early to your sweetheart and start a family. Our start was a struggle from the beginning, we didn’t trust each other, we fought constantly and no matter how many times I thought about leaving the relationship, I couldn’t because selfishly, I loved my Dad too much to walk away, I didn’t want to lose another man in my life, ever! It was never going to happen to me again.
I decided irrationally the only way I was ever going to gain her trust and be happy was to marry her, that would fix everything, right? (Don’t answer that)….You already know where this is headed, you don’t however know to what extent. At the time of this writing, I do not regret marrying my first ex wife, as my Dad died knowing he had a son and happy daughter and that’s my silver lining in all of this, though it’s hard to always see that when I couldn’t let go of the guilt, that you will inevitably read… please bare with me, this is and will always be the hardest moment to reflect upon. Losing my Dad was harder than the abuse I faced in Washington. Why was it so hard? Cause it was a repeatative cycle, you’ve read it paragraph after paragraph, father figures come and go and here I was, losing the man I got to call Dad for only a year and a half before his passing.
Lane and Lynn had fallen out several times in their lives together, they never saw eye to eye, that’s just a obstacle of life that we as children and parents face, there’s no denying that. As parents you want the best for your child and as a child growing into adulthood you want love and support with boundaries. The struggles were put away one night when it was revealed that Dad would have to go into the hospital for a few days to have a biopsy done, he also needed to be closely monitored as his lungs easily collapsed do to the damage from Agent Orange, complimented by his nicotine habit (You’d think I’d learn huh?)
It was was the second week in January of 2008. I was working and couldn’t bring myself to visit the hospital, I’d seen enough of the hospital in my life and my mother’s life to not really have the desire to go there, I’m also the type that gets very uncomfortable and has a lot of anxiety just being in the hospital, which is actually a common thing for people. Nobody really likes hospitals, I know I’m not alone in that regard. Dad was always on my mind, I visited him once and his body was puffed up from all the excess air his body had taken on, we chit chatted about Football to keep the mood light, he understood how uncomfortable this was for me and I made that obvious when I excused myself, went into the hallway of the ICU and cried, as I am at this moment.
January 15th 2008. My wife and I spent the night in town so we could be closer when we planned to see him the next day. We’d seen him the night previously but he was already asleep, my wife grabbed his hand, she said I love you and I said to him, “We’ll see you tomorow.” and we walked away. That morning I got a call from my Mother-in-law. I’ll never for as long as I live forget these details you’re about to read. “Hello?” I said, still rubbing the sleep off my face. “Hey, it’s me.” My Mother-in-law always introduced herself that way to me over the phone without fail. “Hey Ma, what’s up?” without hesitation she responded, “Don’t go see Dad, come straight home.” and the click from her disconnecting the line repeated in my ear, I didn’t need to question her motive, we got in the car and headed back to Bandon where they lived on Prosper, Lynn and I had just gotten an apartment together a few blocks from home. The coastal highway from Coos Bay to Bandon on average depending traffic and speed takes approximately 30 minutes, that day… it felt like seconds as I questioned myself, I couldn’t see it coming, I was too naive and I’m actually thankful for that peace of not knowing until we walked through the door, she greeted us in the foyer, tears in her eyes, her voice low as she told Lynn, “Dad’s gone.”
I broke down in tears and the first thing I did was call my Father to tell him I love him and that I was sorry for everything, I didn’t know exactly what I was sorry for. I just knew that I didn’t want to lose my Dad in the same fashion, not getting to say goodbye. He drove down that night from Washington and stayed with my wife and I for a few days, it was one of most pivotal moments that my Father and I have shared and I’ll always treasure that memory. After he left my wife and I had to figure out how to cope together, the driving force of our love was gone, she turned to drugs and I turned to alochol and adultery, even attempting to take my own life after drinking an entire bottle of vodka at a party, I have no recollection as to why there was even water in the bathtub or why I even had the desire without second guessing to take my life. I closed the bathroom door and laid myself in the tub and shortly after I began to sink myself into the cold water as a 21 year old that had just lost his Dad and was no able to drink, this sort of depression by alcohol was a new experience. I was never in any danger, I was thankfully pulled out of the water before I could completely black out. The next day my friend told my wife about my attempt and it affected her emotions more negatively, can’t blame, I did understand. I just wish I could have behaved in a better manner, to be able to come to her instead of running from each other. I stopped drinking and food was really interesting to me, so I started playing online poker instead after watching just one episode of the 2007 World Series of Poker. I was interested in the competition, the reading ability, the mathematics and of course the prize pool. Previously I had a knowledge of card games in my youth, often times I would gamble with both of my grandfathers, it was our connection and I was quite talented at it, however my addictive personality would be the death of me for that would fragment into irresponsibilty in not just one marriage but two.
What began as free online play would change to playing at the casino within just a couple of days. I wanted to give it at least one chance, if I was unsuccessful like I was with blackjack and the slot machines that I had played with on my 21st Birthday, then I too would walk away from that as well, but it didn’t happen that way. I won and I never looked back. I worked two jobs just so I could afford my habit, along with trying to payback massive credit card debts I was putting myself into, trying to buy things to make me not feel so empty. I was an adult that was ready to take on the world, yet I was still broken by my past and now present. I blamed myself for not seeing my Dad more often in the hospital, I hated that I didn’t get to say goodbye and I hated myself for being unfaithful to his daughter. So poker was the only time I felt normal, cause I didn’t have to think about the reality I had put myself into, escape is the name of the game for addicts. After my divorce I decided to give up any desire to be normal, I wanted to dive head first into gambling, become a professional gambler and win the title as world champion! That was my new, small town boy moves to the big city dream. I went all over Oregon and played poker, I focused on it so much that I constantly called in sick only to travel hours just to get into a game, almost always with money I should have been playing with and when I was riding high financially, I didn’t payback the debts. I lost both jobs and my car and defaulted on three or four major credit cards as I left for las Vegas after a short stay in Washington, with only $400 in my pocket (You know where this is going don’t you). I survived Vegas playing in various stakes, always going high and low as every gambler did, mismanaging a bankroll and eventually going broke. In the Summer of 2009 my Mother had to send me bus money to come back to Oregon, it was the longest bus ride of my life, three days of travel time (which includes lay overs) and barely any sleep.
A month after coming back into town I was still eager to get back into gambling after I got a steady job and could afford to play again, still mismanaging my funds and still finding satisfaction in the game and not my own reality. I took up a relationship with two people since coming back to Oregon, one was a friend to my ex and the other one was a relationship in between my second wife and after as well, both relationship resulted in the loss of a child, which means I needed to continue to play as often as a I could. I met a free to play league and fell in love in love with a very shy and reserved poker player by the name of “Marie” she was very gentle and very kind to me. She knew I was irresponsible and that I wanted to become a professional poker player, I had money I was living on at the time and the deal was, if I ran out of money I’d have to get a job. We lived together and eventually were married after three years of being together. We got married in the early Summer of 2012 in Las Vegas with two of our best friends and a few of her family members. Life was perfect, we were happy yet my mental health was always struggling and I never fully allowed myself to open up right away. I shared what I felt comfortable sharing, but not all the details. She was such a loving and supportive person and I could not have been worse for her mentally and it’s something I have to live accept and continually ask myself and others, to be forgiven.
2011 was the second time I had the idea to commit suicide. I had woken up from a subconcious nightmare that reminded me that in my youth I had been placed into foster care and that no one came to take me back home, this was the burden I placed on myself, this was the nightmare that I woke up crying from. I had repressed these memories for years and unprovoked they returned, my wife caught me trying to swallow pills as I told myself I’d never cut myself like my Mother did.
I had good days and bad as we often do in life. There were good times together in the marriage that we really thrived together emotionally and financially. Yet there were preferences during our intimate moments that made us struggle and I found another addiction to draw my attention to. I still had food and gambling as well, I was inevitably a ticking time bomb where my emotions were concerned and that would come true just two years after Marie and I were married, I was straining our marriage financially even though we were making decent money for a young couple. I was dishonest with myself and still hurting from the miscarriage as well as the loss of my Dad, I wasn’t strong enough to come to someone for help. Without realizing what I was doing my mind went into a haze and I had an out of body experience as I read into the medicine and proceeded to take my own life. I was driven to the ER just a few blocks from where we lived, they got me in immediately and began flushing out my body. My heart began beating slowly, the overhead light grew brighter, my body clamy and the world around me was fading. For some reason I felt as if I was being watched, I slowly lifted up my head to find without question my Dad standing at the end of the hall with a confused look on his face, his expression was evident that he’d been lost and trying to find his way. I remember seeing him in his silver aviator tri-focals I had made him at my work. The purple T-Shirt with green pin stripes, his denim blue jeans older than I and his loud crocs he’d always wear around the house. He crossed my path never looking towards me, he was too focused on finding something until he disappeared from my sight. It was then that I knew to take that as a sign. I had to work on my life and I had to let go some how, some way.
I servived and felt ashamed for the actions I’d taken. I worked towards improving the quality of my life with counseling, medication, faith and exercise. With all the changes I had made emotionally I felt mentally strong enough to let go of my past enough to lose weight and I did, I stepped on the scale at 320 and by the end of 2015 I was in the best shape of my life and fit. I set out all my physical goals and completed them, inluding the Prefontaine 10K Memorial Run. Nothing was going to change this path I was on, or…. once again, so I thought.
I still had food and my gambling addiction and my marriage had healed but not completely, I was causing more harm to her than good. I had a temper and self hatred within myself, often yelling in the same manner I was raised and when I’d become ashamed of my actions, I would run from my shame with addiction instead of handling my responsibilies as an adult. I won’t blame my upbringing for the decisions I made, they were mine and mine alone. I take full responbility for everything in my life!
In April of 2016 my depression returned once more and this time I self admitted into the mental hospital, this was my first experience in a hospital since going to a unit to see my Mother. I’m sure you can imagine the way it felt for me ending up in the psychiatric unit. It gave me more anxiety than when I first had it. All I could do was think about my faith, my life and my writing. In the five days I was checked in. After being released all I wanted to do was see my Mother and my wife and explore life. I went to the beach and began to take black & white pictures on my iphone of the beach, just a simple perspective shot, nothing major. It seemed to be impactful enough for my Father to comment on my photos after I posted them on social media, he said something I’ll never forget, that I had “talent.”
My Father is a very educated man, practical and direct. Throughout my childhood I sought to recieve his approval only to feel like I was always fell short. It’s not that he didn’t care or love me, it’s that he understand I had more of a potential, which I have often misinterrprted for not being enough. My father and I are very much alike and it’s because of that, that our ideas can sometimes clash and when they do it breaks communication until one us has time to process everything, I’m usually the one that has to seek forgiveness, constantly. My stubbornness often interferes between affection and validation, both of which can be a double edged sword. Yet after reading the comment, I heard my Father speak to me as Father and Son, there was a warm and gentle connections to his support and it blossomed into what my art has become today, our relationship would still struggle in the years to come.
Art was my first positive outlet. I spent the first two weeks of unemployment doing nothing but writing and learning about photography in between job searches. My major was still struggling. I should have done better as her friend and lover to have taken care of her, I was selfish and it was in that selfishness that it was best that we divorce. I could see her unhappiness and she could see mine, I knew she deserved better. I loved her and still cherish the memories we had together and I know one day she’ll be freed from my toxicity and my narcassism, a deadly mindset that took me years to let go of. Instead of turning to poker I turned to a new addiction, methamphetamine in 2017.
Within a week of our separation, I began to use methamphetamine, it was very obvious to her that I was beginning to use. I carried on for a month with this habit, if I was high… I didn’t have to think about how I had failed my marriage and I didn’t have to think about the shame I felt for not giving it another chance when she asked if a divorce is what I really wanted, I told her yes… I shouldn’t have and I lost the only person that was every truly good to me. I was not strong enough to right the wrongs and I have since apologized for my actions, yet I have a long way to make things truly accountable for my actions until I’m further into my sobriety and proving myself with regard to improving my life and keeping it stable, for once.
I found a night job and met amazing people and had one friend “Boss” always in my corner to help me unconditionally, she was in my corner even when I was ashamed to see her after my first relapse. I followed up my use with excellerants and switched to pain medication, I used woman to get ahold of drugs, this continued repeatedly until I experienced a Mother use heroin with her kids in the bedroom, I walked away and stayed clean and in 2018 I met an woman named “Anne”… she had three amazing young kids, her personality mirrored mine and I was familiar to her, as I reminded her of their Father. Our affections grew quickly and we connected emotionally for all the struggles we’d gone through together, I thought we’d be the perfect match, yet there was something always with me, it was obvious that she still loved her ex and in just days before Thanksgiving of 2018 she broke off our engagement and went back to her ex, crushing what I knew in the back of my mind to be true, I just didn’t want to believe it. It was a devastating blow emotionally, I was no longer going to get the chance to have a family, something I looked forward to.
I continued to work on myself, staying clean and sober, only drinking socially and never allowing myself to drink when I was depressed, I knew better at that time. I continued to make art my focus and I decided to make plans to got to art school in Portland the following year. I thought I would make my Father proud but the response was less than what I hoped for in my mind and I was angered by his practicality and phrasing, I took that to mean what I was doing to pursue my dreams wasn’t good enough, after all, he was the one to discover my talent as an artist, why wouldn’t I get the validation I was seeking? I didn’t and I took offense, I felt like I was never going to make him happy or live up to his expectations, so in true fight or flight mindset, I flew asking him to never speak to me again.
Five days after my fiance had dumped me, a woman I had been interested in years ago reached out to me, we quickly reconnected as if we’d just spoken the day before. “Nicole” was a model, photographer, singer and a single mother. Her beauty was far above anyone I had ever dated before. We spent every opportunity connecting and learning about our lives through the phone and I would visit her as often as I could and with art school becoming my main focus along with our attraction to each other we decided to move in together as a couple and to help support each other artistically, it wasn’t long before her son was calling me Dad, it was our bond that gave everyone in the home the right family structure and love that all three needed, once again the past of my partners were mirrored similar to my own. We knew what methods we were going to use to raise, “our son”. We were happy and life was successful, within nine days of being in Portland I was in the process of getting into Pacific Northwest College of Arts, where I intended to work for a publication company pertaining to fashion while work on my own gallery to be finalized and revealed upon my death, a legacy to my work if you will. Within that same nine days I got a good paying job and we furnished the house and bought a car within months. I was showing continued success at work, taking home more money than I’d ever seen before. I was finally living that small town boy goes to big city to become successful. I was able to provide for my girlfriend, our child and the new child we were expecting, only it was unexpected that she was pregnant and we continued to drink, smoke and eat fish diet meals a reciepe for miscarriage, which is what we had and it broke both of us and I never want to go into what happened that night, no one was violent or in danger, in fact we were very detached mentally, which grew into becoming detached as artists, friends and lovers. The joy was gone and only insecurity grew into the relationship on both sides. Mine was a constant fear of being kicked out since I wasn’t legally on the lease, I was only give her the money for it (I know… I know). Her insecurity is that I was being unfaithful to her, I wasn’t. I made that one mistake in my first marriage and I’ve never done that since, we never forget our mistakes! forgive? yes! forget…never! Once the insecurity grew she wanted less to do with me as her lover and photographer and bitterness ensued to the point where I became physically unhealthy trying to make myself and someone else happy until I couldn’t take it anymore and I left one night and drove straight to Bandon, to clear my head. I made it obvious that I wished to dissolve the relationship, to explain my reasonsings only to be back handed by insults. I understand the hurt I placed on her for leaving the relationship and her son, that’s something I couldn’t accept right away though it’s what I had to do and it was the second hardest decisions of my life.
I remember that drive back to the Oregon Coast in May of 2019, I remember how feel I felt leaving Portland, until something haunted. The ghost of my self hatred appeared to me and I decided to replace the thoughts with a Summer fueled by alcohol. I quit photography and found a great job with my friends and enjoyed the Summer being single without consequences, I stayed positive, though I refused to let myself process what had happpened. If I opened up to my thoughts and opened up one door then the rest would only flood up dating back to the childhood trauma, I wasn’t ready to open that door yet. I needed my addiction, I abandoned art, for good… or so I thought…
Without hesitation I dove into the careless and wreckless single life. I was free to come and go as I pleased and I didn’t have to answer to anyone, I cared to not deal with the agony that would make me cringe, it was a simple word, fatherhood. The more spare time I had to dwell on my thoughts at night, the more I’d become depressed and I’d be afraid to go to sleep, so I’d drink until I could feel buzzed enough to fall asleep, once I woke up I’d have to drink nightly and to counteract the exahustion, I tried a psychodelic drug willingly, I hold only myself responsible for that decision. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the release it gave me, for the first time in my life my mind was on a vacation, all I could do was lay on the hot rocks by a creek, feel the sun soak up my spirit as I watch the cloud and tree branches timelapse quickly as I thought about absolutely nothing, for the first time in my I had self medicated to the point of absolute clairty and I enjoyed the experience, it’s important to note that I was not alone when I tried this drug for the first time.
I felt as if my mind has been refreshed, yet I continued to drink to keep going mentally and physically, it was my dependency again before I could even see it. It was just a norm for me, you worked hard and then you drank a beverage to reward yourself… it’s a common past time and it’s perfectly fine in small doses as long you’re not an addict.
In my struggles I still had a great support system with my closest friends and supporters, they were disappointed in the news that I had quit photography, I just felt like never picking it up again until I started to spend some time with an incredibly talented person, whom became a role model to help me find my creativity again, our time together was short, painful and quite meaningful to each other in order for both of us to focus on our dreams, it’s clear she has her own path and past to resolve as do I. She was a very important person to me in my life and the actions we took were not healthy ones. We told each other we’d remain friends, though that doesn’t seem to be the case as I’ve tried to offer my friendship to no avail and since undergoing health issues, it’s best to let go and appreciate that I’m able to let go of what we had without needing closure unlike previous situations.
On September 30th, I took matters into my own hands and began to not only increase my narcotic intake but also experiment with different drugs, as long as it wasn’t meth or a syringe there wasn’t anything I was gonna say no too. I ended up doing two different psychodelic drugs, twice over an eight hour time period… by the time I left the party I’d officially been up for 24 hours, I took more drugs that night (alone). My depression for the recent invents in my life for 2019, pushed my mind towards taking as much as I could and by four o’clock in the morning on October 2nd of 2019, all the doors to my past opened up starting with the simple reminder that I had failed myself as a Father. I told myself that I’d never become my Father, yet I had… I had walked out on a woman and child and I began to hate myself for two very eason reason. The first, I was angered by a man that left yet I had become a hypocrite, especially promising myself that would never be me. I was so wrong to think I could control destiny or life itself. The second, I was angered that I had lost yet another child, my third and life flashed backwards and I did something I swore I’d never do, I grabbed the knife that “Nicole” packed that wasn’t even mine and I sliced my right wrist three times, one for each woman I loved and thought of as I slid the dull blade across my wrist, making a groaning sound, I wasn’t sure how loud it was. I sat there high from the drugs and the self harm, slightly ashamed that I’d chosen the same path my Mother had chosen. I sat there on my bed, out of my mind, but ready to attempt it again. My Mother has trouble sleeping too, yet she never comes into my room, yet she did that day by divine intervention. She couldn’t see the knife in between my legs or the blood, it was too dark to tell, she asked me what was wrong and I grumbled for her to go away. I never forget the look she gave me. I was very high, yet distinctly remember the pained expression on her face as she walked away in slow motion, my mind repeatedly looped that moment in my head as I sat there with two choices to make. I could either continue harming myself or I could stop and admit that I need to get help.
Since you’re still reading this, I chose the latter. I finished getting dressed and had my mother go with me as I drove myself to the hospital. The extent of the damage was only minor and it required a tetnis shot. It pains me to say that when the nurse asked if I had harmed myself, the resulting answer and look on my Mother’s face is something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life, in the same way I had seen my mother bleeding, life had come full circle and there was no longer going to be another way to run, this was the beginning of the end. After my vitals were taken and I was cleaned up, a nurse and two security officers walked me to the “holding room” it’s a suicide room and for those that have never been in one, I don’t recommend it. You’re stripped down to oversized scrubs, afterwards you’re taken into a cold cemented room, that contains a locker on to the right of the enterance, a bathroom with a door across the way and a rubber frame, cot sized mattress like prison cells one blanket and one pillow, the floors are rubber and the walls are made of concrete, all the doors are to remain open, you’re only allowed to close the bathroom for privacy and even then it’s visible to the nurses if they decide to look away from their game of solitaire that they’re playing on the computer directly outside room. People are human, we all have flaws and bad days, I seemed to on the welcoming end of a very short fuse as nurses changed shifts, I get that it’s not easy to work in the psychiatric unit, however I’d like to state this publicly once and for all, you cannot claim to want to go into the medical field to help people if you also don’t consider the fact that it included mental health as well. The psyche unit is almost always a place no nurse wants to be and let me tell you, I get it. I see what the nurses have to tolerate and for HIPPA reasons I won’t speak of the unnerving things that happen to you are in a psychiatric unit. When you have anxiety and you get nervous around people, guess where the last place you’ll ever want to be is? Go ahead… I’ll wait. So as started to come off my high, I got angered by the fact that I’d been sitting in my holding cell for the last four hours, only checked on once. I had to ask the nurse what time it was, she told me it was 9:35 am, she wanted to know if I was hungry. I told her no, I was too surprised by the passing of the time and it angered me that no one had helped me since sitting in this room. Moments after my frustration continued to fester I informed the nurse I just wanted to go home. Full disclosure I was absolutely going to go home and get high again. Two minutes after the nurse went to go get her her supervisor my Mother’s new Pastor whom I’d never met for quickly crossed from the main room into my room with a pleasant energy about him, however I was still coming down and I’m not often comfortable meeting new people, especially unannounced. “Hi Cameron!” he said, my mind still foggy. I took me a moment to realize whom he was. And while I can’t recall our exact words, I remember that once we started talking, it was a clear intervention by faith that I needed to stay in the hospital, I told him I would stay first and then I informed the nurse. I needed help after all. He left me a bible and wished me well and let me know he’d be praying for me, really? Well… Okay, thank you. My mind wrestled as it often did before where faith and my struggles would often clash, going back and forth between victory and defeat. I always felt defeated because I couldn’t let go of my past, I couldn’t forgive myself and therefor, what if I wasn’t a chosen one? How was it that I could see my faith working in my life all along, yet I wasn’t able to feel that acceptance? What did I need? What was the answer?
That answer would come in the book of Job. If you know your Bible, you’ll understand the correlation between my life and the struggles Job went through. The test Job was put through by God, no matter the struggles or the words spoken, God forgave and he gave back more in rewards than he’d had before his test. I hadn’t allowed faith in because I wasn’t ready to accept love. The heart of the passage that I took from this was that no matter what Job was going through, God was always there and he understood more than we realized. And that’s when I broke down realized the love I had been searching for my whole life, was right there all along. I could not live in both worlds of fleshly desires and only scream out for my faith when times were hard, I had to choose only one life. I had to be all in for one choice, just like the choices I had to make before coming to the hospital, like all those other choices in life I had to make sure I understood which path I wanted and I chose to reunite with faith and once I did, I was able to start healing emotionally and with days of my release I flushed down the drugs that Saturday after having breakfast with my Mother’s Pastor, I decided I wanted to commit to a life of peace.
I suppose I’ve always known something was wrong with my health since my return from Portland when I head a loud voice say, “Go!”. I felt myself getting sicker and the results of my tests were confirmed, I had already started to think of a worse case scenario. The news of my health certainly caused a normal state of depression and after one day of mourning, I maintainted my sobriety and focused on healing my mind, reading scripture and working on my art. by Mid November I broke I silenced the news I’d known for some time. While I love my family, I have my reasons I wished to fight alone. The first, I’ve been co-depedent all my life, I wanted to face these new challenges alone to be able to gain indpendence. The other reasoning could best simply be described as, too many chiefs and not enough indians. What I was going through in my own mind was stressful and gave me more anxiety than I prefered, telling my family didn’t help any. I had to inform my family that they would not be going, I would have someone bring me and sign me out of the hospital (For legal reasons I had no choice). During that time I also attempted to make restitution with anyone I had wronged or loved in my life. Most of them were accepting, other attempts were ignored and a small number of people still greeted me with anger, I never told them the exact details of my health, I only mentioned that I wished for their forgiveness and I wanted to live a life of peace. There were a lot of frustrating moments where trust was often not granted, rightfully so but the more I was open and honest with myself the more I was able to be accepted and forgiven in the way that I had been forgiven in Faith. The work I was doing to live the right life was already paying off in early stages and I felt blessed, little did I know it was only my beginning to something much grander.
Five days before I left for Seattle to have surgery I came out to have coffee with my Mother and was greeted with frustration and emotion, rightfully so….she had a lot on her mind with what I was going through as well as other family members. Make no mistake, my Mother could never falsely accussed for being unkind or cruel, she had the biggest heart I’ve ever known, we all have good days and bad days, each and every one of us I am certainly not without fault. That day was just one of those bad days. My mother began to vent, raising her voice a little more at a time, waking my grandmother… I sat silently letting her vent, I didn’t want to tell her to calm down I thought it was best for her to get it all out in the point. She spoke a lot of truth to what she said, along with words she regretted saying to me as a result she took off hysterical. I had to leave for a meeting that I couldn’t miss, I tried to calm my mother down as she went into that all too familar hyperventilation, she couldn’t sit still, she roamed nervously down the halls back and fourth until she decided to slam the door to her room. My Grandmother encouraged me to try and say something to my Mother before I left, out of respect to my Grandmother I agreed to her wishes and approached the door, knocking gently and speaking in the same manner, “Mom?” and then it happened, that voice returned… “Go away Cameron. Just go.” I had two choice that day right then and there. To stay and first myself into her room and give her a hug and talk this out or walk away and give her space and take care of something I needed to do for my future. I wanted to stay, something didn’t feel right something was calling back like my childhood. I walked away and came back fourty-five minutes later to notified via text by my Aunt that my Mother was in the hospital. I didn’t even have to respond to my Aunt’s message, I knew it all too well, it was a terrifying comfort. After all these years, that moment of my childhood had resurfaced once more. How would I approach this? How would the early stages of my sobriety affect, was I ready to pass this test?
I was informed by a family member that she’d self harm her tongue and wanted to know what exactly was happening to my Mother, my family members weren’t aware of the exact medical conditions my suffers from, my only question to my Aunt at this time was to know if my mother had identified herself as someone else? The response was shattering but not surprising… Yes.
All the stress and burdens my Mother had taken on were allowing her split personality to come out and I couldn’t help but feel guilty on top of my health issues and struggle with sobriety I was pushed to the edge and sought support from my Aunt and Uncle, which they gave me enough support until there were words exchanged on both sides, causing a strain on the relationship with my distant family members. All of those thoughts of my past resurfaced for the third time in my life, this time I wasn’t running. I was going to face it head on. I was too tired emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically to fight anymore. I had peace and I needed to take the painful steps to heal, no matter the consequences or what peoples opinions of me were. I needed peace.
I left a day early for Seattle, alone… burdened by the fact that there was someone I wanted by my side emotionally, I didn’t want to fight this alone in a companionship sense yet I did and I’m stronger for it and there was a greater design for doing that alone that I’m not publicly ready to state yet.
I knew I had the support of my friends and a few of my family members. I also had disappointment going with me, for not allowing them in. I’m still the child in their eyes, I’ll always be that to them. Until they hear the words I’ve heard in similiar fashion, they’ll never truly understands to make decisions for yourself regardless of what other people thing, it’s selfishly rewarding to not be afraid anymore. No longer afraid of my own soul and no longer afraid of death. The irony of my life! The years I spent wishing I were dead, only to be praying and fighting for my life in every aspect. I had so much on my shoulder and I wanted it to stay there, I didn’t need help this time and yes I was anxious and often scared, yet I was given peace on the whole drive up towards seattle as I realized it was time to face my demons after twenty three years…
had made plans to check into my hotel room in downtown Seattle and then take a break before heading back to the Dairy Queen in Bothell, after that I’d use my memory to get back to my apartment. My friends were coming up the next day, so I had the day to spend to myself. By the time I got to Seattle, I was too drained mentally and physically to continue to drive past Seattle, in fact it was bad enough that my hotel reservation was as succesful as I thought and I called the one person I could always count on and she was able to help me get things taken care of, I found the motel on my own and the rest we worked together to make sure I had a room. I didn’t get much sleep that night, it wasn’t so much the pre-operation nerves it was more about the fact that it never occurd to me why people didn’t want to stay in hotels near a hospital in downtown Seattle, needless to say I was not well rested that day, nor was I permitted to have any coffee, it was not a good morning for me, yet I did have have inner peace that allowed me to be accept comfortably what lay ahead of me. My efforts and rewards were greeted by a quicker and less evasive surgery. I was sent home the same day and my friends got me a motel for the night and helped me figure out how to get enough finances for another night in a motel. The day after my surgery I was determined to go to Bothell and since I was not physically capable of driving yet I held up my end of a bargain that was made and as a result we drove to the Diary Queen in Bothell and smiled as the flashbacks flooded my mind. I walked in and sat down, prepared myself and remembering how this had been my sanctuary away from the church, the football stadiums, the fence and when my Father would take me away on the weekends. We drove directly across the street, to the wrong apartment complex. I alot had changed in twenty-three years. I had almost given up until I looked up and recognized right away that the apartment we lived on was directly across the street on the other side, hidden by trees, when I was lived there, that section was primarly gravel lots and under developed buidings, we had a few stores a Costco and a theatre. We parked the car and I had got out slowly and walked towards the main admission office, politely asking permission to walk around the area, it was granted as long as I didn’t disturb the residents, I respected that and I also respected the fact that I wouldnt be able to go into the pool room where I experessed happiness and tragedy, the pool was the last happy moment I had until I said something childish to my mother, it was in that pool room that I said words to my mother I wish to take back, in her hysterics she ran to my step father and told him of the insensitive word I used to her and that was the night I recieved the worst beating I’d ever face. I wasn’t able to let go in the pool room, I was however able to take a picture of the building and let go that way. Next I walked towards apartment A.. directly across from where I’d taken the picture. Nothing in its appearance had changed at all, it was just as I remembered and some how I felt sympathy, it started to prove that even though i couldn’t let go of my own guilt, anger and shame I still had changed…unlike my childhood home. I got half way up the stairs when I felt the energy tell me I wasn’t ready, I rushed back down the stairs and as best as I was physically able to I did an awkward limp dash across the street and climbed into the car to take a deep breath, they assumed I was ready to leave, I thought about it for a split second, the truth was I was still wanting to stay and let go, I just couldn’t go up those stairs just yet. I needed more light before heading back up the stairs to face the darkness. I took a picture of the dumpster where I’d let out my frustrations towards life by throwing the glass beer bottles into the dumpster, the sound of the glass breaking was of comfort. I walked down the road where I learned to ride my bike, where I broke my glasses and even got scuffed up after my step father’s dog took off to chase after a cat, I knew if I’d let go of the leash I’d be beaten in the exact same manner the pavement had hit scuffed my body as the dog dragged me down the street, only to be saved by residents that heard the commotion. I still have the scars on my elbow and legs from the brute strength of the dog pulling the leash. Why didn’t I just let go? Simple the pain was much more manageable compared to what my Step Father was capable of. And any time my Mother would try to defend me against him, the backlash would be directed towards her, immediately without warning, like a snakes strike.
The memories of that day really didn’t haunt me at all. To my surprise the only thing I could think of was how small everything had become now that I was grown. I was no longer that small child. I was bigger than all of this and I was thankful for all the peace I could feel as I walked towards my first friends home and then directly behind it was the only safe place I could go to be alone, a tennis court with a large fence. When I arrived to my safe haven, the fence had been the same, however they’d remodeled the area to a single sized basketball court and the hills had become over grown with forestry. I smiled and made my way back towards the stairs to the apartment, I was ready, I had enough light and peace to handle whatever emotions came. I realized there was a possibility of being emotionally drained and depressed as I detoxed mentally, through it all I knew I was strong enough to stay sober. There was a reason I was meant to go back there and the time was now. I stopped briefly to capture a happy memory of my childhood on the front lawn before approaching the stairs again, not focusing on the fact that I had used these stairs to harm myself, I was eager to let go. I had no anxiety only obvious uncertainty considering the drug related crime rates Bothell has. My father was supportive of my decision to go back to Bothell, though he was concerned for my health and safety, thankfully I had nothing but peace. I walked three steps away from the stairs, turned to my right and stared at the door that had been repainted from green to black, the golden font was gone as well and quite honestly the door was simply a reminder of the depression and sadness that went on behind that door, it was somehow poetic and a comforting black. I exhaled and slowly and confidentally, placed my left hand on the cold door and without hesitation muttered these final words to the demons I laid to rest. “I forgive you…and I forgive myself.” I exhaled once more as I pulled away and scurried down the stairs.
After twenty-three years of holding onto the emotion, it felt good to re-visit the birth place of my self hatred. Why was it that I didn’t feel any different? I mean sure, there was a peace inside myself, but I didn’t feel free from the oppression, I still didn’t feel thankful for my life? Why? I had so much to live for now in faith, sobriety and my life, all of it was going to be for myself and I was going to do everything in my power to avoid another road block and should the day come, I’d face it head on instead of running. I drove back home to Oregon, eager to leave the recent experience of Washington behind me. It wasn’t until I hit the North Bend Bridge that I began to appreciate the life I had been given. I drove the massive green bridge, remembering those that had taken their own life on this bridge to escape to a place of peace, I too had idealized jumping off the bridge, several times, in fact it was my next attempt. I stared at my own ghost on the bridge and I watch myself disappear as I released myself from the idea of suicide. I was strong and sober in faith to not rely on those negative thoughts as a comfort. I had so much more to be thankful for in life and I know full well it’s going to be a long road to recovery, yet in the short time I’ve been sober, it’s been incredibly rewarding and healing. Now you may be questioning my ability to commit to sobriety, after all my life really is a roller coaster of regrets and damaging emotions, whether they were self inflicted or lashed out onto others. So how can I be so certain that I’m free from my addictions? Well the truth is we’re never free, it’s always a constant struggle, addicts will be the first to admit that. Life is full of good days and bad days, no matter what we go through we just have to find a way to ride it out and face our emotions head on.
For me, there was only one thing I ever sought, love! Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, family and friends and they love me too. But self love was something I could never feel for myself, I craved inner peace and forgiveness and since reading Job, I’ve been able to clearly understand the test of life I faced and I realized my faith ways always there, I just needed to find a way to let go of it all.
I want to thank you all personally for reading this. The social media attention doesn’t matters to me. What matters to me is my ability to let go of the past and continue to heal through my faith, sobriety and art. I still have a long fight ahead of me and I pray each day that it’s a long one. I love you all and wish to thank you for being a part of my life.