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!

Trapped Inside Herself

She used to be trapped inside of herself, the past demons cornering her into the alley of darkness hidden deep in the perception of her psyche. She fought the demons, as they surrounded her trying to suppress her and destroy her with the false illusion of her past becoming her reality again. This is what she saw every time she looked in the mirror. She never looked at the girl in the reflection staring back at her. Her focus never seemed to pertain to the aspects of her mortal body. What her attention was zoned on was beyond the flesh and blood of the girl poised in the mirror. She was in her soul that is where she was every time the mirror forced her to look upon the eyes of her being. Perhaps this is where the origin of her new self stemmed from, beginning with the reflections of the soul, creating a raging storm between past demons and the heart deep within, ending with the rebirth of something new. It seemed her past was chasing her. The translucent ghosts of her life in the past had come to combine as a clay and been molded into an entity of “what once was.” She thought they would haunt her forever, stalking the thoughts in her mind, stealing any sense of peace her being may have had contained. These were her demons, taunting her with everything she had been, whispering lies of what she was becoming.
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They were grotesque, but she found them beautiful, as she often found many dark disturbing things. Their appearance was something derived from her own imagination. Something she maybe had found in her gruesome wonderland. Black rose vines wrapped around their bodies, skin crafted of the shadows that once clung to her soul and smothered her with her fears. Their teeth were formed of the sharp razors, glinting silver, as she had once used them to pierce her skin, releasing her pain in the scarlet streams flowing outward from beneath her flesh. Their eyes were glossy, cold, and burning red, holding every drop that has ever cascaded down her cheek, and every crimson tear she had ever set free from her flesh. From deep inside they made shrieks that of a banshee, every wave of sound woven together by threads of every scream ever to have escaped her mortal being. Oozing from their mouths was the maroon wine she spilled from her body during her past attempts of erasing herself from this dominion. All these features formed perfectly together and created the Demon Fey standing still like statues, blocking her path out of the grimy alley.

She studied them, ignoring their beastly appearance, focusing only on their internal characteristics. She stared deep into their soul-less eyes, seeing them for what the real purpose of their false existence in her consciousness was. They were shadow tinted mirrors, reflecting the sins, regrets, heartache, and pain of her past. Looking into the reflections, she knew she should’ve ran from them and fled into the fog of the future and the present. Instead, her body refused to obey the request of her logic and slowly moved toward the demons. The demons also seemed daring and invaded the space between them. Their movement was quite gracious, resembling that of a dance. Perhaps they were dancing, their bodies swaying with each step, matching the melody of her past.

Her soul maybe should have felt some sense of fear, but all it felt was welcomed by the demons. It drew her nearer to them, the attraction pulling them together like the gravity between two magnets. The gap between her and the demons grew less and less. Without permission her hand reached out towards them, lightly brushing the skin of the demon nearest to her. At that moment when they had touched, anger-wired adrenaline injected into her body like a syringe filled with heroine. It flowed throughout her being, infesting her psyche with the emotions and instincts of a deranged animal. The atmosphere grew dense with the mists of her hatred, clouding the thoughts flickering through her mind. She closed her eyes and breathed in the haze, letting herself slip into the intensity of her emotions stemming from the past.When she opened her eyes and exhaled it seemed as if her breath paralyzed the universe, stealing the reality of time. The viridian-amber shade once filling her irises with life and being, now painted over with the amaranthine shades of insanity, coloring her eyes hollow. No longer had her own spirit dwelt within her body. Something twisted and deadly was lurking in her being, infesting her veins with madness, devouring her core with a newfound bloodlust.She looks up at the demons, her lips being consumed by a sinister grin. Not only did the insanity possess her soul it, it also began transforming her physical aspects. Her original hair had been about medium length touching just above the middle of her back, the layers gave it volume, adding a seductive characteristic to it. The color was something of a light shade of chestnut intertwined with strands of white, silver, gold, and copper. It looked as if it had been stitched together using fabrics of the sand, stardust, moonlight, sunshine, and the gleam of precious gems. But now insanity had bleached it white and grown it down to her knees. Her face took shape of a more mature structure. Her light pink lips grew plumper and kissed with a hint of deep rouge. Her already pale skin lost most of its pigment and was now pale like the winter snow. Her slender body filled in with curves, bust and hips connected by a smaller waist, forming a body that of a goddess. Ebony raven wings materialized in the space between her shoulder blades, ripping the clothes of her body as they grew to more than 8 feet in height and width.Her new form, driven by insanity, positions itself into a battle stance, knowing they were going to attack. She reaches down to her sides and pulls two swords (fabricated of darkness) from their sheaths. The universe grew still and quiet, every sound and movement hushed out of existence. She stares down her foes, waiting in silence until they make their move.
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The demons break the silence, darting toward her with the intentions of a malicious origin. She spreads her wings and soars into the air, demons following close behind her. She stops and turns around, they lunge at her violently, hoping to rip through her flesh and taste the sweetness of her bodily wine. Without effort, she swings her blades, severing the heads of the first group of enemies. More attack, coming at her from all angles. Without fault she defends, her long silver hair syncing to the rhythm of her body as she dances with her blades. She flits through the sky, the light of the moon caressing her skin serves as a spotlight, shimmering over her stage of twilight and mauve. Her blades sing as they leave the demons in crimson ribbons and scarlet rain. Her raven wings flutter and fall, landing her safely on the asphalt. The blood and corpses of her defeated opponents fall to ground like snow. Insanity disappears from her eyes.
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She looks up and sees the stars gazing down upon her, sparkling with what seemed to be a hint of hope for her destiny. Without turning back, she walks away, skin flawless and untouched by battle. She smiles knowing her past is dead and that the fate of the stars is wagering in her favor. Running, she spreads her wings and takes flight. Serenity overwhelms her being as she soars away from what had once chained down her soul. Leaving the corpses behind, her past dissipates from her thoughts and her shadow self is swept away from existence. Tonight she is born anew. Today she rises out of the debris and ash of the past as a reborn angel of darkness.

…………. And Then She Was Gone

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When a family member commits suicide, the entire family is plunged into confusion and grief. Life is instinctually valued by all of life’s creatures. Even a blade of grass or flower fights for the privilege of life. When someone close to you voluntarily ends their lives, your entire value system is thrown into question. Family members are consumed with guilt, thinking that they somehow should have seen the signs that led to the individuals suicide. This following note was found next to my 19 y/o niece’s body late in the afternoon on Christmas day after she did not show up at her parents house for brunch. Her dad went to pick her up figuring she was having car trouble. I’m sharing it with you today to remind you it is never too late.

“To my parents and sisters I love.

I do not know where to begin. I don’t know where I left off. I have been needing someone to talk to but our lives are very different. I have had big changes in my life which I cannot understand. I know that you would not understand my feelings. My pain. My situation. I sit here looking in the mirror wondering who I see. I sit here looking in the mirror looking to see who you don’t see. Wondering maybe. Wondering yes. Yes I wonder. I wonder if you wonder about my wonders. I sit here looking at my puffy face. Red with tears. Red with rage. Red with fear. Red with tears. I see myself scream. I hear nothing. I see myself cry. Alone I cry. I will not bear the pain of confronting you today. Family gathers, my sisters who I love. I am out of tears, I am out of anger, I am out of care, I am out of my own mind. I need time to myself. I need time not to be judged. I need time to say goodbye. Say goodbye for me to my unborn daughter, Cynthia Danielle. We are leaving, we are done. Merry Christmas, I love you, L.”

I sat there at her funeral on the following Saturday and wondered, as many did I assume, what makes suicide the answer. I tried to spend my time at the dual funeral believing that she isn’t suffering any longer. I held my wife’s hand as she cried and tried to be strong for her as she mourned her sister’s first born. I have been to my share of funerals but this is the first funeral I had been to that was a result of a suicide. It makes it different. The questions are different. The answers are none. I was unsure at that time what was going through my own children’s minds. How were they feeling, has this ever crossed their minds. It saddens me that she ended her life as much as it saddens me knowing what she has left behind.

In her memory I will not be discussing her method of suicide, that will not be talked about. I remember her as my niece I love.