Those Damn Teenage Years

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In a recent conversation with my soon to be fourteen year old son, I was reminded of my youth, the choices I was forced to make, and how rough it really is being that age. I like to think I’m taking a different approach to parenting than the approach my parents took with me, I was raised in a wrath of God house by two very devout Catholics with closet human tendencies. Of course, my wife and my style differs from many parents as I’m told. I also get told I’m doing it wrong, the parents are the boss. Before you assume way to much here, I’m not the “friend” parent type. I am the type of parent who has instilled justifiable fear into his children, after all they live in my house, sleep in my house, and scary shit happens when you least expect it. Anyway, I’ve tried very hard to not raise quitters in a society where quitting has become the norm. I believe in self esteem because without it you have little control of your inward or outward emotions. But, we all get to the point where we start asking when is enough going to be enough, when will the madness end, and why can’t this be easier.

We all have given up at some point. All of us at a certain point have stopped believing that we’ll be able to make it. Some of us have done it often, some just very few times, but all of us know how it feels.The  sad fact is that most of us give up far too soon.My son explained to me that he was thinking the other day, why does he actually give up? What are his most common reasons and are there any ways to get around those reasons for giving up?

He thinks discouragement is the biggest reason for quitting and failure. No matter what you have decided to do, as soon as you share it with people there will be at least few who will tell you that YOU Can’t Do it and come up with different reasons about why it can’t be done. At that point you may decide to give up the idea even before giving it a try.  Instead of thinking about giving up think about how are you going to prove all those people wrong.  In fact proving those who doubt me wrong has been pretty good motivation for me so far, I have spent a lifetime trying to stay on top of my game. As well, if you don’t believe in yourself you will always be tempted to give up because you won’t believe in your success. The self-doubt will be keeping you from pushing forward.

I somehow thought that I was not strong enough to make my dreams come true, but then there was a shift in mindset which sort of set me free. And it was one simple realization. The realization that none of the people who have succeeded are better than me. They worked harder, they were persistent and they believed in their dreams, but they were not actually better, just approached life differently, as most of us do. These days there are so many distractions… Social media, TV series, and different smart phone notifications not letting you focus on the important things. If you don’t keep focus on your goal you will end up with insufficient results and that will discourage you even further. But, as I discussed with my son, social media didn’t exist when I was growing up, none of this shit did. My social media was friends and family. My internet was called “the outdoors”, I earned my allowance by being a part of the family unit team. Unlike today, parents give their children money to just leave them alone. As it is, in our house we are pretty tight, we do allot together on a very regular basis. On top of it all we have dinner together, every night, without fail. Also, no television is on, no cell phones are allowed at the table, and we talk or play games while we eat, there is fun and laughter, and it is also a time to gather to discuss more serious matters, if any.

That reminds me of yet another reason we, as humans, give up, we give up when we don’t get the immediate results. We all want things to happen fast and it is hard to realize that there are things that actually takes time. One can not have instant on and instant off like the flick of a light switch each and every time. Some things, to include pets and people, are more challenging, they take more time, things like trust and value in a person have to be developed and earned, which takes time. There is no such thing as overnight success so we have to keep in mind that it takes time and to be prepared not to give up.

When I am starting something new I am on fire. I am full of enthusiasm and I am motivated. But with the time things may start cooling off and at some point the self-motivation may not be enough to keep me moving. That is when I may think about giving up, that is when I need to go back to beginning and try to recall the big why. Why did I start that project in first place and what was initially motivating me? That brings me back on track most of the time. But still we need motivation, we still need the allure that there is a prize waiting for us at the end. No matter what kind of life you had, you are used to your own personal comfort zone and that brings you great comfort. Now when you have initiated changes you entered the stage of uncertainty and struggle, which by no means is comfortable. What makes me not giving up in those cases is the thought that once I get where I wanna be my new comfort zone will be a much better one. But, what I’ve learned over the years cannot be taught, it has to be experienced. This is my son’s struggle know, the learning curve, stepping out of the comfort zone, finding new experiences doing new things or with new people. Plus, he is at the beautiful age where he has really realized he really likes boobs. One more thing we have in common.

Anything worth achieving is hard. Yes the easiest option is to just give up, but then, will it be easy living with the regret that you gave up midway? On the other hand I would not say that giving up is something terrible and wrong. Sometimes you may end up having too many things on your plate and that may make you overwhelmed. Sometimes you may need to give up certain things because they may not be a priority at that point. I find myself looking at the details in my own life on a regular basis, there is never room for bullshit, it is always the first into the fuckbucket. What is important that you don’t give up your dreams and the things you want really bad. Don’t give up your passion and never give up on life. I understand living with a person like me is challenging, being a sarcastic jackass is a fine art and we all don’t appreciate fine art. We all have given up at some point. All of us at a certain point have stopped believing that we’ll be able to make it. Some of us have done it often, some just very few times, but all of us know how it feels. The  sad fact is that most of us give up far too soon.

Where does all this leave the conversation I was having with my son? Well, he was never actually clear as to what he was thinking about quitting. And, I’m not altogether sure we were even talking about the same thing. Later, while talking with my wife I was informed that a girl he knew in school, friends but not inner circle friends, had committed suicide last week. There was no clear reason why, she left no note, gave the parents no inkling that she was distressed, same with her two sisters, teachers, and friends. Except for one person, who came forward to “confess” to her parents that he knew why. You see, they were boyfriend and girlfriend. She wanted an exclusive relationship (at 14) and he wanted to play the field. She took it had, it killed her self esteem and self worth, and according to him, as she told him, she didn’t feel she was worth the effort of having his love if he was not willing to commit to her. Granted, this is the opinion of a 14 year old boy, and this story was also posted up on Facebook, so I don’t really know if it actually ever happened. But, after going back to my son to talk, he said that I did answer his question of “why people quit” without even knowing that was what I was doing. We talked more, we talked about the cruelty of emotions, especially in a teenager. But suicide is not an easy subject, simply because there isn’t an actual answer to give. The only person who knows is dead.

I don’t know if this makes me angry or sad. I do know that I have been in my sons shoes before, knowing a person who has had her self esteem crushed on a daily basis for “fun” by others. But, that is another topic altogether, since bullying seems to have become so evermore popular these days, or its just more in the public eye these days. As a parent I try to teach my children to hope for the best and prepare for the worst because the two survive together hand in hand. One may think they are just words, but others take those words to heart. As uncomfortable as I was talking with my son about suicide and how I personally believe it should never be the answer for anyone, I was also proud of my son for wanting to sit and talk to me about life, emotions, feelings, relationships, and family with me. It takes courage to begin a conversation with your father when you don’t know what the outcome will be. Both of us feeling a little bummed, we invited the rest of the family to go out for ice cream. Ice cream? Yes, the one thing on the planet stronger than any drug, stronger than and alcohol, stronger than any words, stronger than any bond, it is a time of peace for a troubled mind or a troubled soul. Its a time to take a break from the crap life offers and just enjoy a bite of ice cream.

Yes, I know, ice cream doesn’t solve all problems, but it does give the opportunity to step away from them, not to quit them, but to take a break from them. Everyone needs a break, we all take breaks or celebrate in our own ways. In the end I learned from my son that I should keep my past close so it can be accessed and shared. I never knew my life, in general, would be an education tool for the youth in my family. But then again, we do learn most of what we know from our parents and family. Having children has been the best challenge I never quit. Try something new, get in your child’s head today, give them a nice tight hug, a big smile, and a peck on the cheek. When they ask why just tell them it is because you were thinking about them. It scares the crap out of them. I know from experience that life isn’t easy. It wasn’t designed to be easy. We don’t evolve within ourselves if we are not constantly challenged. Don’t let life discourage you, leave that to the people around you, you know, the people who don’t want you to succeed because they don’t care about succeeding. Until we “meet” again, remember to eat it everyday!

Traveling Down The Rabbit Hole

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A couple of months ago I received a letter in the mail that made some, in my opinion, really outlandish claims. It was a letter that took quite a bit to digest because the information made sense but at the same time confused the hell out of me. The first person I talked to about this letter was my oldest daughter (23 y/o) because I was hoping she might help me make sense of it enough where I could have a talk with my wife that actually made sense. In the beginning of the letter the woman identified herself (I will refer to her as “ST) as the granddaughter of my biological mother (I will refer to her as JT). I was 2 sentences in to the letter and now I was a little pissed. Let me track back a few years and I will explain. I will assume from this point forward that y’all know I’m adopted. I located my biological mother back in 2002 and the short version was I was fed a boatload of bullshit that took me roughly 8 years to unravel. When I unraveled what I was able to find out I was able to find my biological father (died in 2004) which led me to tracking down his wife, which eventually led to me finding their children, and in 2009 I met a majority of them when attending my eldest daughter’s high school graduation in South Dakota where the biologicals also happened to live. Anyway, the long and the short of this is that my biological mother (JT) said without saying that she does not have time for me in her life and wishes that I will discontinue contact. Her wish was my command and I do not have contact with her nor have I met her yet because she has declined meeting me under any circumstances. Back to the beginning of the letter from ST. Granddaughter? This means that JT had children or at least one where she told me that after the “ordeal” with me that she never wanted any more children because she was heartbroken that she was forced to give me up for adoption since she was only 16 y/o at the time of my birth. Shall we go deeper into the rabbit hole?

ST went on to explain that she was the daughter of the youngest of two sons of JT. Dramatic pause please ………….. wait for it ………………. WTF did she just say???? Did she just say that my biological mother had two sons besides me? Unfuckingbelievable! Now ST had set the hook and was in the process of reeling me in, it was slow going because, as one might imagine, I was fighting the information a little bit because of my disbelief of what she was saying. I can’t help but reading on, pushing forward, looking for the next little surprise that she might have to offer. Here it comes, she didn’t ease into it at all, no cuddling and no foreplay, just jumped right into it. Apparently my biological mother is having some heath issues of some sort so ST was asked to come over to her house, because they live in the same town of Kingston Idaho, to help her do some cleaning. ST wasn’t there to help, she was there to do it herself because JT was in the hospital for a few days having tests done. While at JT’s house ST got to snooping around because she has never been in this house alone so she said it felt natural to look around a bit. ST had done some laundry and was in the process of hanging the dresses up in the closet when her hand bumped a large envelope. When she peeked to see what was in this stuffed envelope she saw pictures of her dad (RT), her uncle ( also JT), and another man she didn’t recognize (me). There were individual pictures of me while I was in the Air Force, individual pictures of her dad while he was in the Air Force that she had never seen, and one picture of her dad and myself together in our uniforms. She enclosed a copy of this picture. My first thoughts? Holy shit I met my half brother and neither of us even knew the relationship. ST had not made the connection at this point, it took her some time looking through letters that I had written to her over the years, 4 to be exact, none of which were ever answered. ST explained she was very stunned because grandma had some explaining to do. ST borrowed the envelope that afternoon knowing that grandma would not be home for a few days. She wanted to talk to her boyfriend of 4 years what he thought and if he had got the same impression from everything that was read, to include information about my adoption and so forth. He concluded the same thing, her grandmother was hiding all of this from the family for some reason. But, what was the reason? Why hide all of this for so many years? Why is it so important to keep this a secret? That information boys and girls may never be revealed.

After speaking with her boyfriend, ST spoke to her father in a very private setting. Her dad, RT, explained to her that it was ok to contact me since they had my phone number and address. So, she did contact me, she did write me the letter, and she did talk to her uncle as well. I reviewed what I knew about her dad. He was part of a select group of people that I hung around while I was stationed in New Mexico. He was on my “crew” but I knew all six of my crew pretty well because working with explosives you need to be able to know the “sides” of people and their moods as it helps to determine how they operate day to day. In fact, I knew ST as a young girl, I would guess she was 9 or 10 at the time, as well I knew his wife. Her dad and I had a weird relationship, we acted like siblings to one another, but were never really close by any means. We joked around well together and worked well together. As I read this letter I would pause to look at the picture she sent because I knew exactly when, where, and why the picture was taken. That in itself isn’t important, just had those flashback moments that in the end made me smile. After a very long talk with my wife the ultimate question was asked, she wanted to know what I was going to do. Well, first, I kissed her on the forehead, gathered up the letter, and headed out to my shop to be alone. I was mad. I was mad at a person who didn’t have the time for me to tell me she had two sons just a few years younger than me. I was mad that I wasn’t important enough to tell. I did allot of yelling at her in my shop, I called her things I don’t care to repeat here, and I cut up allot of wood that otherwise I would have used to make something nice. I worked thru my anger as the night passed. I would read the letter, stare in to the picture, read the letter some more, and then finally I folded the letter back up, replaced it into the envelope, closed up my shop, and went back up to the house since it was about 3 in the morning. I called her that day, I tried to be a cold hearted bastard and act as if I didn’t care, but it didn’t work because ST was so damn sweet to me. She knew she would be fucking my life up by sending the letter, but she knew she needed to tell me what she did for the sake of everyone involved, to include herself. She mentioned that she put all the papers back in her grandmothers closet and she isn’t any wiser that anything has transpired. St asked me if I was mad at her, I guess my tone was a little stressed, but I let her know I hold no anger for her because they were as clueless as I was. She mentioned how bizarre she thought it was that her grandmother would keep all this information about me but keep me a secret to all her family. All I could do at that time was agree with her.

Since then, I have spoken to ST and my two 1/2 brothers on a few occasions. I have not spoken to my biological mother. I have sat down and talked with my mother who finds everything I uncover over the years very interesting. Sadly, she has been able to provide zero help because she had parts of the same false information I began my journey with. But, she knows I am not family shopping. Any additional people brought into my life all have to understand I do have a life, that they also have a life, and just knowing all of this information is disruptive enough. Then a person has to process the lies, the deceit, the rabbit holes, and the sometimes high hopes which get deflated every so often. I don’t know if they will ever confront their mother with what they found out or with what I was able to tell them. Personally I don’t care. They will have to wrestle those demons on their own as I wrestle my demons on my own. I know what your thinking but I’m not really that selfish. As far as I am concerned I don’t have anything specific to say to my biological mother. If I never meet her in person I think I can live and die in comfort with my decision. It’s things like this in my life that demonstrate the exact reasons why I don’t trust too many people.

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