When I Was a Young Boy

When I was young I had quite a few challenges.  They were nothing more or less than anyone else' childhood problems.  However, they were my problems and so, they affected me personally.

My family was poor.  Now, I'm not talking about not being able to afford premium cable service and having to go with the family share plan at the cell phone store.  No, we were dirt poor.  My father was as lazy as he was abusive. He could not hold down a job, mostly because he was caught at nearly all of them, stealing money from wherever he could find it.  He didn't have any addictions. In fact, he didn't even smoke.  He simply took the money because he was greedy and thought he deserved it. 

My father enjoyed beating us, even my sister. His resume includes slamming our fingers in window panes, throwing dinner plates and breaking them on the back of our heads.  He enjoyed figuring out that we liked something like a toy or a game and he would take that toy or game and destroy it in the backyard while we sat crying and asking him to stop.

My mother worked very hard to keep us above water.  Yet, with four children, a deadbeat husband, and one paycheck, she couldn't really do a whole lot. She was a church goer.  A Pentecostal. I'm not sure if you know what that is, but believe me it has some strangeness attached to it.  My mother believed that the Devil was to blame for nearly everything.  I was not allowed to watch television shows that gave personalities to animals (such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, etc.), because my mother labeled that as "demonic".

My Uncle went to Universal Studios and brought me back a Darth Vader helmet from the original mold created for Empire Strikes Back.  I immediately put it on and was so excited.  My mother waited until my Uncle went home, ripped the helmet off of my head and smashed it with a hammer, saying that it was a symbol of the Devil. On a few other occasions my mother would teach us lessons about the devil by putting our hands in boiling water and telling us "Do you want to feel that for eternity? That's what Hell feels like!"

I can remember two Christmases where we were able to have presents. Those two Christmases are my favorite in my memories.  They were the only two that my mother wasn't crying and my sister wasn't hugging her, telling her that it was okay. 

I remember receiving food from the church shelter. One year they gave us a bulk pack of macaroni and cheese, the next year it was a huge box of ready to bake peanut butter cookies and of course Ramen Noodles.  To this day, I cannot stand macaroni and cheese, peanut butter cookies, or Ramen Noodles.

There was constant fighting in our house.  We had been evicted so many times that I really was surprised that we could still keep getting a place to live.  Finally, after a huge argument between my parents, my brother and sister and I went to school and when we came home, our father was gone. He had cleaned out my mother's bank account and taken the car.  He told her that he was going to the store to get toilet paper and never came back.

At this point, my little brother was two weeks old.  I felt bad for me, but I felt horrible for him. I thought that he shouldn't have to witness this at such a young age (my age being 11 years old). 

Once dad left, I began thinking of my future.  I looked around me and at my siblings and I thought: "I don't want to be poor anymore. I don't want to be hungry or upset anymore."  I began working as hard as I could at school.  I was put on the honor roll every year afterward.  When I reached Middle School, I didn't make any friends. I only studied extremely hard.  I didn't just study to pass the test, I studied to completely understand the material. I also achieved the honor roll every year of my Middle School career. 

When I got to high school, I met a girl whom I will not name. She was beautiful and fantastic, but she never wanted to leave me alone so that I could study.  She would constantly call me, or come over unannounced and I finally broke up with her when I got a B on a Science test because I wasn't able to study.

After a while, I not only studied to make something of myself, but I studied by myself in a library to find out more.  I wanted to know more. In fact, I wanted to know everything!  I purchased books on anatomy to find out why we look the way we do. I studied to see why a woman goes through a cycle. Any question that I had, I studied it.  I learned it and I retained it. It became a grand pursuit.  There was no end to the knowledge that I could acquire and therefore, I would never be able to say that I knew everything.  That was a good thing to me.

I am here now.  I have a large account with Amazon and other book sellers.  I have over thirty bookshelves in my house and office filled with text books.  I've read books on neuro science, biology, anthropology--anything that struck me.

Now, I am wealthy.  I haven't been poor in a very long time.  I received a scholarship for my hard work in school and completed my Bachelor's in pre-law and was able to go to law school.  I use that degree, but I decided on being a writer.  Whenever you find a love for books like I did. It's hard to not want to be a part of their creation.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is not a somber tale.  This is a tale of enlightenment.  This is a tale of how even the most horrible things can lead to the best days of your life.  There is a balance to it all.  There is a rhythm.  One cannot go up unless one has been down.  One cannot appreciate light, until one has sat in the darkness.

Your situation is pretty bad.  Other people don't understand how bad it is and sometimes think that you're overreacting.  It is bad to you, however.  I understand that.  I lived that.  Look forward and move forward.  Keep your eyes planted on your goal and make it happen.  Nothing good, in life, comes without a measure of pain.

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Mar 3, 2009