Even though I never knew my father, it seems that I find out quirks about him that I find myself now doing as I get older, one being writing letters when I get a little down to clear my head. Today….I am referring to support. Some of you may never really know what it’s like to be “alone”, I am by no means saying that what goes on in my life is harder than the next persons but I believe there is a big difference between having support (and not utilizing it) and having no support.
Unfortunately, I grew up with a mother who cared about herself and didn’t really support the ideals that her son had for himself. Growing up there were 2 things that I craved in my life, to play sports and to feel like I had family support. My memaw always gave it to me but my real battle was getting it from my mother, I never won that battle. 1st example: 6th grade, 11 years old….I wanted to play baseball, so I did. My mom signed me up and came to every game with my grandma, others came too…it was fantastic and I was REALLY good! The next year I started the year but gave up, why? My mother had lost interest…I was riding my bike to and from school and the practice field (which was far away) a lot of times coming in after dark. I asked my mom to pick me up and she told me just to ride my bike but I was tired…and I didn’t like the fact that I always saw other kids parents picking them up and the kids being happy to see their parents and then I would get on my bike and ride home…by myself. I know my grandma would have been there but she worked nights and my mom tried to keep her out of a lot of things to give herself a feeling of control. 2nd example: 10th grade, 15 years old…I begged and pleaded with my mom to let me play football. She didn’t want me to play because she thought I would get hurt and we didn’t have insurance. With some convincing from my grandma she finally agreed (I actually think my grandma signed the permission slip…). I didn’t start but I gave everything, every practice and I know that family members came to my games, especially my grandmother…I don’t remember my mom going, maybe she did a few times. When the season ended the Varsity coach pulled me aside and told me that I had a lot of promise and thought if I worked hard enough that I could potentially earn a scholarship so I begged my mom all summer to let me play and she said no, that I had to get a job and a car so I could transport myself around because she was tired of doing it. I pleaded that I would take the bus and all I wanted to do was play sports and go to school, it didn’t matter to her.
I moved out of my house when I was 19. My mom and I got in a huge fight and at the time I had nowhere to go but knew I needed to leave because of my health. The doctor had told my mother multiple times that she shouldn’t smoke in the house or even have the cat because of my allergies and asthma which resulted in her saying “go and your room and shut the door!” like those things wouldn’t find a way in. Thankfully, my friend Mary gave me a place to stay. Six months after moving out I felt like a brand new person, my health was great and I never looked back! (This is where I believe my inability to stay in one place started…because I was always looking for a “home”) Our relationship became even more distant and the next 2 years were the worst in my life. My father died when I was 20, we had issues, BIG issues but we had reconciled and a week before I was to see him he took his life…at that time I hadn’t seen him in 5 years (or heard from him in 2). Within that next year I lost the most important person to me, my best friend, my REAL mother and the other half of my soul, my Memaw. When she passed my mom was living in Georgia and we didn’t talk very much. Memaw was always my rock and who I went to because when I wanted help from my mom she was just cold to me and never “motherly”. I was so depressed….I went into a hole that I had never been in; I even contemplated suicide multiple times. I lost my direction in life but I vowed to her the last time that I saw her that I would make her proud to be the best man I could be and to treat people the best I could, no matter how they were to me. I feared that I would never become my mother, ever. From there until the time I was 28 my mother and I had an odd relationship…She was in Georgia and I always had to make contact with her to talk to her unless there was something that she wanted from me. I give her credit in attempting to do what she had failed to do the first 21 years of my life which was be a mother but her way of doing that was by buying me gifts and trying to spoil me during the holidays, all I really wanted was for her to be supportive of me, love me and be encouraging…I could never get that comfort from her. There were multiple times in college where I was working 2 jobs and struggling and all I wanted for her to do was say things would be alright, give me hope, and tell me I could do it but instead she would tell me to quit school and just work. It would frustrate me so much; I would just get off the phone and cry because those were times that I needed her most and she was the one that I wanted the support from! When I said “till I was 28” it’s because that is the age when she passed away. I wasn’t as sad as when my grandmother died but I felt like that was it…that everyone close to me (parents, grandparents) was gone, who would I go to for advice? Help? Love? I had nothing….I was empty.
Luckily a month before my mom passed I found out that I had a sister! My sister Emily whose family I love and cherish. We have a great relationship and I love her kids to pieces, I wish we could see each other more often but it is what it is. We talk and have a very open relationship to talk about anything but it’s not the same feeling you would get from a parent in the form of the support that I want. I have amazing friends as well: Mike, “Hair” Jonathan and others and I feel like when I talk, I sound like I’m always complaining or venting and I hate being a negative person or portraying myself in that light because I do everything not to be that person. I have amazing friends. I have a wonderful sister but she is so far away.
My friend Asanti put it pretty well when he said, “When you only have yourself, it’s hard to keep being positive and picking yourself up.” Something along those lines…and he is so right! Since 2000, I have been laid off 4 times, sometimes there were no options, and other times there were. In 2000 and 2003 both businesses shut down, there were no other options for me. Thankfully, I had found other things to do plus I was in school so there was always some source of income whether it was student loans or a job. When I was in school I had no idea what I wanted to do, I just needed a degree so I trusted my college guidance counselor, I opened up to him about what I wanted to do in my life and for that I got bad advice in which path to take. The thing was, I had no idea who else to talk to at that time. I have always felt that if I would have taken a different path, I may be in a better place (but maybe not…). After 2 years post college of pursuing my dream job, I got nowhere and knew I needed to take a different direction; the only problem was this was right when my mom passed away. I tried to run away and make a new life for myself (Denver) and I failed so I came back home and decided to do something bold, go to Korea. For everything that I learned in Korea, I loved it and I miss it. It taught me a lot but I ultimately knew coming home was the right thing to do. I then got a great opportunity at my old job where I had fantastic co-workers, an amazing boss and felt like I was finally on the right path in my career. This was all until late 2010…I had a lead about a job that sounded like a dream job for me: teaching, working with people, travel and good money! Where I met the contact for this position was from someone I respected and knew very well. As I started to work with this person I was feeling really good…I was enjoying the fact that I could trust someone again and that my life was going to be on an even better path! When I felt the time was right I discussed the possibilities of leaving my job to take this new one, my boss was on board and thought it was perfect for me. Long story short (not like this isn’t long enough), the job fell through and we had already hired my replacement…I found out that my company could not handle keeping me on due to budget. I panicked….and rushed to find anything, anywhere I could. After months of thinking about my new job and all the endless possibilities of where I could go I knew in my heart that I could no longer stay in Tampa…Just before my last days my boss offered my job back to me and I turned it down. I thought the move West would be good for my mental health and plus I had friends there. I don’t regret taking the risk on the way I did and I certainly do not hold anyone else accountable, I made a gamble and it failed.
Oregon…the 1st few months were not too bad, I had friends here and was starting to become a little more comfortable. However, they ended up leaving for better prosperity for their own family (I can’t blame them for that!) Since then, I have moved 3 times…my bills have been increasing for certain reasons…my job is just that, non-motivating and non-stimulating. I have tried and tried to better my situation but rejection after rejection keep coming, I keep trying and keep failing. I have been on and off depressed for months because I’m in a place where I have no support, have no feeling of “home”, I’m not proud of what I do, I’ve lost confidence as a man and I feel like a loser. I will admit….there have been multiple times where I have had really bad thoughts about doing certain things to myself but these are just thoughts…I’m not that selfish and know first-hand what it’s like to lose someone that way. The trick is finding my way out of this year long slump, coordinating a plan of what to do next which is difficult when there is nobody to lean on for…support. People think it’s so easy to just say “make a decision and stick with it” or “everything happens for a reason” (which I FUCKING hate that saying!) How do you make a decision when you don’t know where to start? This is my new dilemma…..
If you have decided to read this and made it this far, let me say this. This is not a cry for help. I am an intelligent person and know what I am writing. I’m ranting and simply needed to clear my thoughts about things that bother me. I’m not looking for an “awe” type moment or really any advice. What I do hope you get out of this is that if you have parents, grandparents, a spouse or even loved ones really close to you, utilize them if they are willing to support you, tell them you love them and give words of encouragement to each other and most importantly, recognize and appreciate each other for who they are because once they leave your life there is no getting them back. AND….last but not least….if you are a parent: SUPPORT your kids’ dreams and goals. It’s one thing if they want to be a meth addict (obviously you need to step in! lol) but I think most kids whether they are bad as hell or little angles need to know that you are there for them, you love them and you support their ideas and individuality as a person. You don’t need to hold their hand every step of the way but leave the lines of communication open so they know they can come to you and trust you when they need you most. This is the message I am trying to send…I know I could have gone many other ways then the way I did. I know my Memaw is proud of the man I have become. I just feel that with the support of my family growing up, I would have been much more successful. The fight continues…..
(Originally written 7/31/2012)