Tuesday, December 28, 2010

From playmate to inmate…how I got here - Part 9

The question and the COUNSELOR.

This is the shell of me shortly before the events below.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you are forced to look into the mirror of life and catch a glimpse of what you’ve become.  My love affair with pain pills had taken me places I never thought I’d go, enticed me to do things I never thought I’d do and make choices that even today are still sometimes unbelievably hard for me to understand.  I never set out to fail the way I had, and I certainly never desired to become the puppet of the addiction to pain pills puppeteer.  But that’s exactly what I had become.  The rebellion of my youth had culminated into despicable acts of self-centered sin and left me holding the bag of moral bankruptcy.

The words of a great friend of mine had never been more true:

“you’ll never find in sin what you are looking for.”

(What’s up Ritchie!)

My chemically aided fumbled search for love and acceptance had literally taken me into a desert wasteland of lostness.  I needed rescued.

It’s funny…but God’s search and rescue tactics don’t always take on the appearance we imagine they should.  Some 12 years ago, the onset of my “journey out” came in the form of a drug detox unit and a simple – but not so simple – question.  Although this was my first go at a detox, the question presented to me by one of the counselors was one that I had secretly pondered over and over in my mind.  In fact, it was one that had haunted me for several years.

As I walked down the hallway of the lock-down unit, I strategically kept to myself by avoiding eye contact with everyone I passed.  I was ashamed, embarrassed and downright beat up from the disastrous choices I had made to keep my pill addiction secret and afloat.  As if he’d been laying in wait for me to shuffle by, the counselor stepped from amongst the shadows into my path and asked how I was doing.  His unexpected presence startled me.

To me, this was a stupid question.  If it were not apparent to him that I was a complete mess, then obviously this man had chosen the wrong profession.  I gave him the typical brush off response – “I’m ok” – in hopes that he would retreat back to whatever office he crawled out of…but noooo…he wanted to talk…whether I wanted to or not.

I appeased him through his small talk questions but as the conversation proceeded I slowly began to sense that there was something different about this counselor compared to the others I’d encountered.  He didn’t care to dwell on the drugs or how much I had used of what or when I first started my drug escapade.  He seemed more interested in something completely different – ME – and where I was spiritually – specifically, where I was with God.

We muddled through the basic religious questions of what denomination I was, if and where I went to church, and if so how often, but the conversation took on another form when he asked “the question.”  With sincerity in his eyes, he looked at me and bluntly asked, 

“If you died today, do you know where you’d spend eternity?”

Caught completely off guard by his candidly delivered question, I now stood face to face with the very question that had haunted me for many years.  I felt as if I’d been exposed.  As long as the question was merely in my mind, I thought I could ignore it, file it away for another day (another year), but now that it had been vocalized by someone else and aimed directly at me - 

I could ignore it no longer.

Not willing to entirely concede my lostness, I quickly retreated to several of the topics we had already discussed.  I fumbled over my words, stammering and stuttering as I regurgitated religious sounding jargon such as –  I believe in Jesus; I never did any of these things with the intentions of hurting anyone; deep down I’m a good person; my parents are good Christians; they always took me to church; in fact, I even go myself, once in awhile.

When I had finished my unsuccessful rant, the counselor said in a very diplomatic but firm way –

“I didn’t ask you about your parents,

if you went to church,

or if you were a good person.

I asked you if you died today, did you know where you’d spend eternity?”


In all honesty, I had always considered myself a Christian – at the age of seven I had walked the aisle, said the prayer and was baptized shortly thereafter.  Although, truth be known, if you would’ve asked the people I went to school with, worked with and hung out with during my early adulthood, their response probably would have been something like this – 

Christian?!?! I didn’t even think he went to church!

Deep down I too knew something was amiss in my life.  None of my life resembled anything godly.  In fact, it was the complete opposite – I was the epitome of worldly.  My choices revolved around ME – what was good for ME – what felt good to ME – how this or that would benefit ME.  Additionally, aiding and abetting all of my catering to ME were the deceptive behaviors I had drug along with me from my childhood as well as all the doors of pleasure I had kicked open along my way.  The truth of the matter was -

I was as far away from God as one could be.

The conversation with the counselor lasted several more minutes but to be honest with you the only other thing I remember from our encounter was that he gave me a Bible and encouraged me to read it.  I was dazed and confused as I walked back to my room; my simple stroll down the hall had left my head spinning.  As I entered my room, I threw the Bible on the desk vowing not to read it.  

I was still gripped by my rebellion and pride, 

but war had erupted in my soul.

I remember rationalizing in my mind that I had gotten myself in to this mess and by gosh I’d get myself out of it.  I would not use God or religion as a crutch.  Oh how wrong my thinking was.

The war raged on throughout the night and into the early hours of the next morning.  I was tired and restless.  I felt like I could explode into a babbling ball of emotions at any point, but I would not relent.  Like a movie playing over and over in my head, I recalled failures and mistakes that I had made along my journey.  They were painful, and I did not like what I saw.  Occasionally, I would look over at the desk where I’d thrown the Bible earlier that day. 

It was like something inside of me was leading me to pick it up – just read it.  

Finally, I did!

It had been quite some time since I’d read the Bible…but for some strange reason it felt right.  It was like the words on the pages began to leap off at me.  As I read, all I kept thinking to myself was, “That’s me! That’s me! That’s me!”  Without realizing it I began to do something I hadn’t done for a long time – nor do I do that often – I began to cry.  Like ice disappearing in the sun - my cold, hard, calloused heart began to melt.  I knew that I’d been running from God.  No matter where I was or what I did, I’d felt His presence gently guiding and counseling me to give up for quite some time.  So it was there in a hospital bed, deep within the depths of the lock-down detox unit that I responded to THE COUNSELOR with three simple words – 

I give up!

I knew what I meant –

and so did God.

No amount of humanistic reasoning or rationalizing in my mind could trump the truth that I’d been living separated from God due to the sin in my life.  I needed the gift of God’s grace provided by Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection in order to obtain peace with God.  By faith that’s what I accepted.

I can – but I can’t – explain what happened to me that night – it was spiritually supernatural.  Unless you’ve personally experienced the regeneration that comes from accepting God’s gift of grace, any description of what happened internally to me will sound like mere foolishness.  Therefore, all I’ll venture to say at this point is that I felt different.  A strange soothing peace had enveloped me.  Although I had many self-inflicted wounds, a corrupt moral nature, as well as a host of problems to sort out, somehow I knew I was now on the right path.  My journey out had begun.

…from the inside…ray-ray

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

The above image was drawn by one of Scott's friends on the "inside."  Thought you might find it interesting - such amazing talent with such limited resources (he used a simple bic pen to draw this image and got creative with adding the color).

As we are apart this year, we realize how precious time together with family is - especially during the holidays.  We hope you enjoy each moment you spend with your loved ones, and we are anxiously awaiting being able to spend next Christmas together as a complete family!

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!!

...from the inside...ray-ray
...on the outside...lump

Monday, December 13, 2010

From Playmate to Inmate…how I got here - Part 8

After six years with Uncle Sammy, two TMJ surgeries and hundreds of prescriptions for pain pills, my Air Force career wound down.  There were many factors that weighed into why I chose to trade my Air Force dress blue uniform in for a suit and tie of the civilian world, but ultimately it came down to one pretty simple reason – a tremendous job offer from a national/international company that would allow my family to move back home.  Thus we did.

It wasn’t long after moving back that my personal life and relationships began to completely unravel.  Many of the old friends that I’d left behind some six years before were literally still sitting on the same bar stools I’d left them on.  

I reclaimed my old stool.

I started playing golf with the “old gang” again – especially the 19th green (ask a golfer) – although, golf was never fully about golf for us.  Oh sure, we were competitive and all, but a large part of our rounds of golf were more about the rounds of drinks we consumed while playing, as well as the “extracurricular” items we used to enhance the experience.  Though I would take part in the “extras,” I always had my own little “something-something” stashed away in my golf bag that even the gang didn’t know about –

my pills -

my own little secret.

Sound familiar?

The guys I ran with were partiers and all…but I began to notice something above and beyond in my life.  Unlike most of them, that when the party was over it was over, my use of “extras” and pills was becoming consistent and persistent.  They had become “the norm” – part of my life.

My move back home would last only two and a half years.  This time when I moved away it was without my family, but with a lot more baggage.  My life became the epitome of the working definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.  I became like a nomad wondering and searching aimlessly from job to job, city to city, and relationship to relationship – on a quest to find something or someone that would calm the raging storm within my soul and fill the dark empty void.

I was not successful.

With each failure, I heaped abundant amounts of self-inflicted pain upon my heart.  It came to the point that no amount of pain pills or “extras” would extinguish the pain that I had ignited.

There was a time that I blamed my demise on my decision of getting out of the Air Force and moving back home.  But after many years of introspective evaluation, in all honesty, I had to admit that it had nothing to do with the choice.  My self-centeredness and addiction had me on a collision course with destruction long before I packed the truck to move back home.  It wouldn’t have mattered where I was or who I was with – location and others weren’t the problem – I was the problem and…

I wanted out.

I wanted to die.

Thank God He doesn’t always give us what we want.

Instead of leaving me to my own destructive thinking and ways, God began to use His loving discipline and abundant GRACE to get my attention.  Although there are several definitions for GRACE, in this incident I mean God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Looking back through life’s rearview mirror, I smile when I think about the gift of GRACE God placed in my life so many years before this hellish time –

my daughter – Pooh.  

In all honesty, if it were not for her presence in my life back in those dark, dismal, confused days, I probably would have “checked out.”  I literally get goose bumps sometimes when I think about God’s sovereignty and how He knew that I would need her existence, love and character in my life in order to muster up the strength to press on.

So press on I did.  I slowly began to realize that I really didn’t want to die; and if I didn’t want to die, that meant I really wanted to live; and if I were going to live, change had to take place.

I had no idea how hard and painful that change would be.

…from the inside…ray-ray

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

From Playmate to Inmate…how I got here - Part 7

East bound – gone south.

It’s funny what we remember.

Like it was yesterday, I remember playing outside with my daughter (big love Pooh) as we watched the movers wrap, box, tag and tote all our earthly possessions to the large moving truck parked out front.  It was pointed east – the direction we were bound the very next morning.

Although it was late December, the temperature had fixed itself pleasantly in the mid 80’s with clear skies and light dry air – not entirely unusual for this time of year in the south-central region of the United States.  The reason I remember the weather so well that day is because of the drastic change that loomed.  As the movers completed their task and the day drifted to evening, the temperature, sky and air did a complete 180 – by morning we would awake to a bona fide winter ice storm.

The weather changed so drastically, it was like living in an episode of Bewitched where Samantha twitched her nose and instantly you were mystically transported to the arctic.  We quickly exchanged the shorts and t-shirts of the previous day for coats, gloves and boots.  In hindsight, I probably should have waited for the weather to clear before starting out on the trek back east, but my youth and vigor said differently…

No, we were out of there!

So with the car packed to the gills – including cat and dog – we were off…east bound… into the storm.  Two storms, actually…

one visible…

the other invisible.

One was obviously tangible and treacherous to drive in, and the other was one developing deep within my soul.  Unbeknownst to me, I had a stowaway traveling with me – the initial stages of dependency and addiction to prescription pain pills.  In the not too distant future, it would slowly begin to unpack itself.

My Air Force recruiting assignment was in a nice quaint town conveniently tucked amidst the cotton and tobacco fields of the South.  As a child I had passed through my new home numerous times with my parents on our annual pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach for fun and sun.  The folks were friendly and hospitable, and the weather had a moderate balance of the four seasons.  The town had a Wal-Mart – which, back in those days, was a symbol to the surrounding communities that this little town had arrived.  

My office was in the mall – a good location because, like the rest of small town America at that time, the mall was the place to hang.  

My new home also held a treasure.

Hidden obscurely within its community, this gift from God, that would play a huge role in assisting me to sort out life and relationships, would actually not be made known to me for several years to come.

I was a natural at recruiting and soon established myself as one of the best for that region.  Although my professional life was excelling, it was no mirror for my personal life.  On the outside everything looked well put together – I had a family, a career that was on track and the hallmark of “things” that the world uses to gauge success.


Internally, I was a wreck.  My closest personal relationships were unraveling, and I felt completely helpless.

It was then, for the first time that I began to realize that I wasn’t merely taking Percocets for the pain in my jaw – I was also taking them to shroud the pain in my heart and fill the void in my soul.  I knew my pill-popping was getting out of control, but I didn’t care – they worked.  I was numb to the pain and emptiness.  The soothing, warm and fuzzy sense of well being the Percocets delivered was magically powerful.  With the pop of a pill, I could instantly escape and change any feelings of insecurity, rejection or frustration.  Interestingly as well, pain pills gave me energy, endurance and confidence.  I liked who I was on Percocets, and I liked how I performed on them too.

The love affair was growing deeper and deeper.

But the truth was, this was nothing but a new shield – a mask that gave me an unbelievable positive sense of self worth – counterfeit as it was.  It was becoming my “way of life.”  Slowly and methodically my addiction was unpacking itself.  My move back east had quickly gone south.

…from the inside…ray-ray

Monday, November 29, 2010

From playmate to inmate…how I got here – Part 6

Uncle Sammy.

Under the cover of Christmas break – and after just one semester – I snuck back to the university and recovered my gear from my dorm room.  The university had strongly suggested I not return.  

It’s amazing what a .96 GPA will get you.

I had now experienced my first taste of failure.

In defeat, I headed home unaware of the turbulent storm with self that was brewing on the horizon.  Fueled by rebellion, self-centeredness and pleasure, I began to make choices that would lay a false foundation in which to exist.  It wasn’t long before the outcome of my choices began to reveal the actual storm that raged within.  The storm would settle in for several years to come.

Barely out of my teens, I was forced with some very adult decisions to make.

With no job to speak of, no money to continue college, and a family to support, I decided to explore the option of joining the United States Air Force.  In all honesty, I really didn’t want to do it; I was scared of the unknown and extremely unsure of myself due to being bitten by a string of poor choices.  Besides that, the Air Force didn’t sound like it matched up with my mental attitude at the time.


The very selfish, self-centered, rebellious me wanted to live on pleasure and party with the boys.  From what I understood, the Air Force was big on 





This to me sounded all too familiar.  But in the end, logic added up over my empty checkbook, and I decided to clean myself up and submit to Uncle Sam for the next four years.  

This wouldn’t be the last time I “cleaned myself up.”

Now, it may be hard for some of you to believe, but I took to the Air Force like a fish to water.  Why wouldn’t I?  I understood the concept of living under rules, accountability, discipline, and structure, and I certainly knew a few things about conforming to fit in.  So with those things in my favor, I thrived in the military environment and began to slowly pull myself out of the proverbial dark hole of my reckless choices.

It didn’t take long before I was able to support my family as well as get back into college full-time at night.  I even ventured out and tested my entrepreneurial abilities by starting my own little lawn care business.  I was busy, productive and achieving the goals that I’d set before me.  

Don’t get me wrong – all was not picture perfect.

I was still very self-centered and loved to slip in a little pleasure with the drink every now and again (emphasis on the again).  But for the most part, I seemed to be growing up.

By the end of my first four year enlistment, I had been promoted to Sergeant, earned a college degree, and been selected to become a US Air Force recruiter – which came with a little give and take.  

I got to move back East, 

but had to give Uncle Sam four more years of my life.

One morning, just prior to moving back East, I woke up with what I thought was an excruciating earache.  Unable to bare the pain, I decided to go to the base clinic and get it checked out.  

What I would find that day would set into motion 

a LOVE-HATE affair that would last, 

on and off, for nearly two decades.

After I had been examined, poked, prodded and x-rayed, the doctor came into the room and announced,

“I have some good news and bad news…which do you want first?”

Although, this may seem like a clever little way to deliver bad news, when it comes out of your doctor’s mouth, it has a tendency to be quite unnerving.  He asked me if I’d been in an accident or if I’d been experiencing headaches recently - to which the answer was NO.  This questioning was not helping my anxiety.  He proceeded to ask me if I’d had any dental work done lately – to which the answer was YES.  I’d had my wisdom teeth extracted not too long ago.  With a nod of his head and a raised eyebrow, the doctor said “that makes sense.”

The good news:  I didn’t have an earache.

The bad news: I had something terribly wrong with my right jaw.

It (my right jaw joint) was severely inflamed and very, very sore.  But why?  Probably a result of my recent wisdom teeth surgery, but he could not answer for sure.  I had to see a maxillofacial/oral surgeon IMMEDIATELY.  Fortunately he was in the same building.  So with records and x-rays in hand, I was off for the first of many appointments with the specialist.  His preliminary diagnosis was Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), brought on my having my jaw joint overextended during my wisdom teeth extraction.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much the specialist could do for me at the time.  Both the swelling and the pain needed to be gotten under control before he could better determine the extent of the damage.  So with an appointment to see him the following week, he loaded me up with…

anti-inflammatory meds,

muscle relaxers,

and...PAIN PILLS –


The love affair would begin.

…from the inside…ray-ray

Monday, November 15, 2010

From playmate to inmate…how I got here - Part 5

Trick or Treat.

Sadly, when I went away to college I didn’t’ go to get an education…I went to get away from home.  My naughty-by-nature, self-conscious, small town, cookie cutter identity had not only grown weary of rural American living – my rebellious attitude had also waxed tired of the…





…of my parents.  The love, protection and provisions they gave me had somehow become distorted.  I perceived them as a hindrance – an out-and-out attempt to stifle my life.

I had allowed myself to be hoodwinked. 

I was ready for bigger and better things – the hills of my hometown could hold me no longer.  Propelled by arrogance and ignorance, I was ready for 


-  whether I could handle it or not.

The warmth of the sun standing tall in the crystal clear Carolina blue sky, still held its own with crisp pre-fall air of early September – a good day to move.  It was a bitter-sweet, nervous but exciting anticipation I felt as me and my parents lugged boxes, bags, remnant carpet, mini-fridge, clothes and other essentials into my new 12x12 domain (sounds a little like jail – minus the carpet and mini-fridge J).  After Mom’s ritual check and recheck of things, making sure her baby’s gear was precisely arranged, put up and in order, it was time to say our goodbyes (at least for a week).  As I waved goodbye with a hint of tears in my eyes, I remember thinking to myself, 

“Now what do I do?”

The day I had longed and hoped for was now here…but at that moment for some strange reason, I could not remember why I wanted it so bad. 

I missed my parents.

The campus was big, but not large.  Like most good sized universities there were hundreds of students in my general education classes.  I soon began to feel like “a number” – just one of many.  There were thousands of people from all over the country with a plethora of various genres represented.  To me they all seemed much more intriguing, had done many more interesting things and came from social worlds that seemed much more attractive than anything I’d experienced thus far.  

Talk about reality check!  

Any inkling of self-awareness or worth that I brought from home was almost instantaneously dispelled.  Over the first few weeks, I would begin to discover holes in my shield.  Who I thought I was did not seem to fit in this world.  I felt stripped, naked and vulnerable – I didn’t know who I was anymore, or why I was even there.  My plan had back-fired.  Loneliness settled in.  I didn’t know what to do…

…or did I?...


…I had to adjust…

…adjust to fit in…



…DO NOT be made fun of!

I started hanging out with a group of more socially savvied guys on my hall – in other words – PARTIERS.  Like most “suitcase colleges”, Thursday night was the big party night.  And for the most part, at least for the first few weeks, partying with the socially skilled was contained to that night.  Although, it wasn’t long before Thursday extended to Friday…and Friday to Saturday.  Drinking quickly became our common denominator; “the drink” was involved no matter what we did.

The popular salutation of Halloween, Trick or Treat, took on a new meaning for me that fall.  On Halloween night, I “upped the ante” on my party world – 

I bought my first bag of pot.

Sure, I’d seen it in high school, even experimented with it one or two times (wink, wink), but I certainly was no Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High…(yet).   

Oh what TREAT I thought I’d found!

A substance that allowed me to change the way I felt – at the flick of a Bic.  With one little “poof-poof” I could make myself feel good and confident, chasing away any feelings of inferiority and insecurity.  I could relax and come out of my shell.  I soon discovered three parts of a principle that would shape my existence for many years to come.

1)      When I smoked dope, I was funny.

2)      Other people thought I was funny too - they like me – accepted me – wanted to be around me.

3)      I liked both 1 & 2…a lot!

Soon after this discovery, like the drinking, the pot smoking picked up too.  It started off as something I did with the guys on party night, but it wasn’t long before that wasn’t enough.  I had to be ready to perform from the get-go.  I had to be on point and funny before they picked me up.  Consequently, I started smoking dope by myself…everyday…all day.  

It didn’t take long before I crossed the line – 

the psychological, imaginary line of dependency on a substance to control the way I felt…

and I didn’t even know it.

- The TREAT had become a TRICK.-

At that time all I knew was that I liked this newly discovered power.  The little boy had grown up and found the soothing and comforting power of pleasure – right at his finger tips (no pun intended).  A synthetic and pseudo form of pleasure, but in my mind, pleasure, nonetheless.  A romance was born – a romance augmented by an intense sneaky drive for excitement.  

Unbeknownst to me, hedonism –

the love of excitement and pleasure

- was slowly becoming my god.  A god that would patiently and stealthily try to destroy me!

…from the inside…ray-ray

Monday, November 8, 2010

From playmate to inmate…how I got here - Part 4

Identity by conformity.
I was going to start this blog with the statement, “I hated high school” – but after thinking about it a bit, I decided that “hate” was a little too strong of a word. So I’ll begin this way…

For the record, I extremely disliked high school (come to think of it, Jr. High too).  The cliques, struggle to fit in, search for identity, and mere awkwardness of growing up…all centered around academics and sitting still in a classroom all day (remember, I’m self-diagnosed ADHD).  

I mean seriously…give me a break...this was not my idea of a good time.

Don’t get me wrong there were some good times in the midst of the mess – but that can be said of jail too. In fact, in any given situation, circumstance or time of life there are always those people you meet or special times and memories that are produced that would not have happened nor could have been duplicated outside of that particular situation, circumstance or time.  So in that regard, high school was OK.

I have great memories of “running the roads” (as my dad called it), going to the mall on weekends, Friday night football games, and double dating with my best friend from life.  A little piece of irony, his nickname was “High School”.

That's High School on the left.

I will never forget my first car - a cool old car, a 1966 Mustang - and cruising “the park” (our teenage hangout) on warm summer nights listening to Lover Boy and Tom Petty…on 8 track!

I smile when I think about basketball and golf team away trips, and the memory of a high school dance that I had “way too much” fun at.

Since I’m on this little trip of nostalgia, looking back introspectively I’d have to say that I was average in intelligence, average in looks and average in popularity – somewhere between

Marty McFly


Tom Cruise.

I dressed like, wore my hair like and acted like 75% of my classmates.  In reality, any one of us could have been the “poster child” for the small town middle class preppy.

If perception is reality…then, to that extent I knew who I was.

When all was said and done, and graduation FINALLY rolled around, I had at least survived this battle with the struggle to appear smart, strong and popular. 

CONFORMITY had been my shield.

…from the inside…ray-ray

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

From playmate to inmate…how I got here – Part 3

The dirt bike posse.
In my pre-teen years, most of the boys in my neighborhood had dirt bikes.  (Back in the day, we had neighborhoods, not housing developments.)  I was sooo jealous.  I wanted one sooo bad.  My dad was a smart man, though – he knew what he was working with – he knew I’d kill myself on one.

Insight insert:  At this time Evil Knievel was my hero. 
I was already trying to imitate him by jumping my
black and yellow banana-seat bicycle over trash cans.

So, I was forced to observe my “friends” rip and roar up and down the hills and trails of the large undeveloped area next to my neighborhood. (I’m pretty sure there’s a housing development there now.)

One afternoon I heard the familiar sounds of the two-stroke engines in the distance.  I quickly found my bike, adorned myself with my Baltimore Colts football helmet (thanks cousin Tom – and the Colts were from Baltimore back in the day) and took off for the field, peddling as hard and fast as my skinny little legs would take me.

I showed up on the scene about the time several of the riders decided to take a break.  They were sitting on their motorcycles talking as I peddled my two-wheeler into the midst of them to say “what’s up.”  I’d like to be able to report that they welcomed me with open arms into their dirt bike posse – they did not.  On the contrary…they laughed and made fun of me (imagine that).  My banana-seat bike and Baltimore Colts helmet did not meet the standard of “cool” according to the posse.

The embarrassment smarted.

Not being accepted stung.

As I tucked my tail between my legs and peddled for home, I was hurt and rejected.  Little did I know then, that the seed of a false formula had been planted within me.  I sought refuge in my tree house.  It was there in the solitude of self that I vowed to never – as long as I could help it – be made fun of again. 

It was from this point that I began to rely on what other people thought of me to gauge my self-worth – a very unhealthy way to live.  The manner in which I would act, perform and respond to life’s various situations, circumstances and people had now been perverted.  The false formula had not only been planted, but was now alive and growing.  It looked something like this (found in The Search for Significance):

My performance

Plus the opinions of others

Equals my self-worth.

What a high order and very unrealistic goal…especially with Jr. and Sr. High on the horizon. 

…from the inside…ray-ray

Thursday, October 28, 2010

From playmate to inmate…how I got here - Part 2

Naughty by nature.

By the time I was four years old I had lost my two front teeth.  That’s not natural.  They didn’t come out on their own…like they’re supposed to.  They had a little help – ME!

The wind was blowing and the snow was flying and building up outside.  It was the first snow of the winter and first one I could recall as a child.  I was thrilled and wanted to see it first hand, face-to-face, all nat-u-ral, not through some window.

As I made my way to the kitchen side door to peak out, the last words I heard my mother say were, 

“DO NOT open that door.”

I didn’t listen.

About that time, just as I peeped my little head out, a gust of wind whipped around the side of the house and caught the door, like the wind catching a ships sail.  As the door swung open with a SWOOSH, I forgot to let go of the handle and was instantly catapulted through the air, across the side porch, and mouth first into the cold, hard steel bumper of my parents car. 

The bumper won.

My teeth lost.

I was now front toothless.

I now bore the first mark of my rebellion.

There would be many more to come.

My grandmother used to say that one of the greatest wonders of God is that a husband and wife could have nine children (she did) and none of them turn out the same.  One is self-disciplined, while the other is free-spirited.  One can sing like a bird and the other can’t carry a tune if it had a handle.  One that’s compliant and another that is straight “off the chain” rebellious.  Such is the case of me and my only sister.  We share the same mother and father – good ones at that – were raised in the same house, in the same manner with virtually the same rules…and we turned out completely different.   Why she chose to honor and respect my parents –





- and I did not, is a mystery…or is it?

As a child, I loved to isolate.  I can remember playing in the woods behind our house or in my tree-house (Thanks Dad!) for hours by myself.  Though I was a good playmate to the other kids in “the hood”, I loved getting off by myself to make-believe and pretend – creating my own thrill-centered adventures, my own secret little world of excitement.

I don’t k now where it came from but I loved the secrecy of hiding things; the mere exhilaration of being sneaky.  Especially if it were something that I wasn’t supposed to have or do (i.e. “dirty books” or tobacco).  Oh how I embraced that challenge!  

It all became a game to me.

An innocent game at first.

But little did I know how very destructive it would become.

I was developing a harmful system and pattern.  A game system that would morph and re-invent itself – rearing its ugly head over and over again in my life.

The rebellious, naughty by nature boy would grow up…and soon discover pleasure to boot.

…from the inside…ray-ray