BE ENCOURAGED

BE ENCOURAGED

I have no idea who my biological father is.  My mother was physically and mentally abused and one night she fled for her own safety when I was about 5 years old.  I’ve had four (yes four) stepmothers, Virginia, Sandy, Denise and Ruthellen, all before I was 12. I was raised by an alcoholic with a raging temper (he did drugs too…).
My half brother, Frank, is developmentally disabled (umbilical cord wrapped around his neck so not enough oxygen).  Frank and I were constantly beaten, starved, left in the car alone while “he” was in the bar drinking.
One night we were so hungry, we tore open the bag of dog food and ate some… got beat for that. By beaten, I don’t  mean spankings, it was hits to the head, Frank´s lip was split and nose bleeds. I was punched,  had my hair yanked back and was called a Bastard because I wasn’t his child.  We had to respond to him saying “yes sir” .  If not…
We were starved meaning he sent us to bed without feeding us. If we ate, it was a can of Van DeKamps Pork & Beans (without being heated up).  We never had breakfast before heading out to school.  As a result of this, I got caught stealing other kids lunches.  More than once!  They put me on the “free lunch program” and I was made fun of for that.  We were not  properly cared for and got sent home for having lice in our hair.
I suffered from various race issues. My biological father was obviously black My mother was as white as bone china. She was British with a beautiful English accent.  As someone that is “mixed” race or “bi-racial”, I have seen the good and bad from both sides.  I can tell you this, KIDS ARE BRUTAL!
All of today´s talk about bullying is as if it is a new phenomenon…it is NOT! I was never comfortable in my own skin.  I certainly wasn’t going to talk to “him” as my mom had abandoned me. The older I got, the worse it got. The “good natured jokes” turned into racist hatred FROM BOTH SIDES!!! I was truly a Misfit.
I suffered from lack of stability.  As if having five different mother “figures” in your life before you are a teenager isn’t enough of a cause for concern, two of these mother ¨figures¨ had children of their own.  This requires a nuanced approach to blending the family, which was definitely not his skill set.
Here are other issues that I had to deal with:
Due to Frank’s behavioral issues, he was sent away to the State Institution. My rock.  My constant, was gone.
I was left with step siblings who let it be known that I was an “outsider” both in the home and at school in front of their friends.
I moved more than twelve times before Jr. High School (this takes into account the three different times we had to move into my Grandparents house because we had nowhere else to go.
My Grandparents, “his” parents, did not have to love me but they did. They were the only form of stability that I knew. As “mothers” came and went in my life, they were a constant. The invested in me. They cared. I finally truly mattered. If a stranger was looking in that didn’t know any better, and I wasn’t  so much darker, no one would ever guess that these two were not my Grandparents.  They provided love, guidance and direction. They helped shape who I am today.
What was missing?  What  did I desperately need as a child growing up?
As wonderful as my Grandparents were, there was no parental nurturing.  I certainly didn’t get it from “him” and the revolving door of Stepmothers was just that, a revolving door. As close as I was to my Grandparents, I could never discuss with them the atrocities committed by their son (their favorite). I could never discuss with them how much I missed my mom (they took “his” side). It was a sore subject in their house.  They would hang up on her when she called to speak to me and destroy Christmas, Easter and Birthday presents by sending them back to her or just throwing them out… horrible I know.  I was too ashamed and afraid to discuss the race issues and the torments I was getting at school or the fights I was in.  I would just clam up and internalize… NOT GOOD
I began “acting out” in school, it was attention seeking behavior.  Instead of concentrating on work in the class, I would be “goofing off” and talking, anything for attention.  Great until the first progress report and subsequent report cart.
Fast forward to the last Stepmother (RuthEllen). I am in my early teens at this point.  “He¨ and I are virtually in our own version of the Cold War. We are barely communicating. The hate is mutual.  I begin my first job at Taco Bell and work as often as I can to get out of the house.  I am required to pay rent or ¨room and board¨ which is 25% of my paycheck.  At age 15!
Age 16, I have a nasty fight with “him” about why I can’t drive and am banished to the basement (unfinished).
Yep, I am still paying room and board.  This went on for about 6 – 8 months and then I was provided the privilege to move back into the house.
Age 17, I have one last encounter with “him”.  We’ve had a disagreement about something and he comes into the room and begins to get physical. I just react and push him off and he hits the wall. I freeze.  He glares at me and walks out.  All I can think at this point is “well now you’ve done it…” He comes back and says “that it, there’s no love loss between the two of us, your ass is out of here. I don’t care if you go into the service or are out in the street but you have until the end of the month and you are gone, got me?¨
I went to the recruiter the next day (riding my bike of course) and he took care of things from there. I had to take the GED which means I am a high school dropout.  I took the Armed Services Vocational Battery (ASVAB) to determine what job choices I had.  The recruiter set up a meeting with my “parents” because I was under 18.  It required their consent and they GLADLY signed.  Within weeks off I went. There was a huge sigh of relief as the recruiter and I pulled away from that house.
>Navy & Beyond:
I truly enjoyed the Navy, even the challenges (discipline, teamwork, camaraderie).  I was stationed on a ship in Japan.  I was already intimately used to having someone in my face yelling and screaming when things didn’t go well.  But this was a new concept of positive reinforcement when things did go well.  The competition! The merit based evaluations. Engaging with people of all walks of life was fascinating and maddening at the same time (especially when they didn’t respond to logic).
At times, the racist taunts against me from blacks were almost unbearable. I was too different and wouldn’t do things their way.  I wouldn’t bend the rules in their favor or “pick a side”.
“Sell out”
“Uncle Tom”
“Boot Licker”
“House N…”
You name it I heard it.
The Navy gave me confidence, direction, discipline and a career path.  It centered me.  It showed me that hard work paid off and gave me a sense of worth that I could accomplish things for myself.
I got out and went to work for Pic N’ Save as a Benefits Analyst in their corporate office.  I was responsible for assisting employees with benefits. I liked this part of helping others.  I worked there for three years with VERY self-centered people who didn’t believe in teamwork.  I HATED it but stuck it out hoping it would change.  I got married in June of 1992. Her family was somewhat receptive to me except her Grandfather and Father who were not enthused of having a “dark skinned boy” in the family.  I repeatedly heard “jokes” about let’s go shooting “cans”, referring to  Africans, Mexicans, Jamaicans, Puerto Ricans, etc, sigh…
My Father-in-Law would go on rants about N’s all the time while screaming at the TV.  Yes, with me in the room.
As a crime was reported on TV showing minorities who committed it, he would say “where are the white people committing crimes?¨
My marriage lasted 10 years. I wanted children, she didn’t.  She and I met this couple and became instant friends, but what I didn’t know was how “close” my wife had become with the other husband.
While this sounds like a tragic ending it wasn’t.  During these  same ten years my life had changed cataclysmically for the better.  I began a new job which ignited my career!  While working during the day, I began going to school at night.  I then gave my life to Christ!  I received my Bachelors Degree in Public Administration.  My heart is then finally healed to a point where I can reach out and try to find my mother and accept her back into my life – Praise!  This WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT Jesus softening my hardened heart. I immediately located her and spoke with her, and then visited her and her husband.  A new bond was created with BOTH of them. I received my Master’s Degree in Management – HR emphasis.  I am then promoted to executive management  (not bad for a high school dropout).
Then I met Sandra.  Remember the couple I referenced above?  Yep!  What a HUGE upgrade for me! The other two aren’t even together any longer. I married my best friend, my soul mate, the only person who could convince me to leave California to move to Texas.  I love it here now.  Sandra has three boys from her previous marriage so I got my wish to have kids!  Two grand-kids as an added bonus!
In 2007, my mother passed – while that is initially sad as it was very sudden, I rest on my faith and I am eternally grateful that I reconnected with her when I did.  That year I began a new adventure here in the Lonestar state.
The last reconciliation was THE HARDEST!  “HIM¨.  I fought tooth and nail, I know.  Love, forgiveness, hanging onto “stuff” gives them that power over you.  I get it.  I was saved in 1993 and he and I were on speaking terms soon after that.  He has two adult daughters and when he was dying he asked me to handle his affairs, not either of them.  Reluctantly I did it.
I am almost ashamed to admit I carried bitterness ( I mean BITTERNESS) toward that man until about 3 years ago.   WWJD is almost trite these days,  it was keeping me from spiritual growth (a stronghold).
The whole point of this is to show, I have been there.  I know what it is like to be abused, unloved, unwanted.  Yes, unwanted.  When I reconnected with my mother she shared with me that there was talk about aborting me.
I am living proof that one can overcome all of this.   It’s not about me as much as it is about letting others know they are not alone and they can be productive and accepted.   Not everyone will have the added racial aspects.
Be Encouraged!
—Jim
American Society for the Positive Care of Children believes no child deserves to be abused or bullied.  We believe childhood should a time to learn, be nurtured and loved.
Join us as we educate and advocate for American children, and raise public awareness of the epidemic of abuse and bullying in the U.S., to help end all forms of child abuse. 
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November 8, 2017

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