Like many of you have no doubt experienced, friends have listened to some select stories of my life, and said quite sincerely, “You should write a book!”. But aren’t all our stories “book worthy”? When I do give it some thought, the overwhelming question is always, “Where would I start”. What would be your advice? My life does seem to have traveled more than one lifetime!
My early childhood was spent as the youngest of a brood of five, born to much too young parents who were struggling in the 1940’s and 1950’s. My dad himself from a family of twelve, who had endured the Dustbowl struggle by fruit picking in California. (Cue in Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath” here-that was very much his family story.)
My father was an over the road trucker following seasonal crops and freight, and my mother was from a broken-by-divorce farm family, which was quite unusual in those days. She went overnight from farming wealth to abject poverty. A pregnancy forced marriage, financial struggle, home alone with five kids under age 9, and you can probably sense the problems and subsequent depression issues.
One gift was the farm background at my Great grandparents, where I seemed to spend a lot of time, but also forced attendance to a very Pentecostal Assembly of God church, where a deacon targeted me as a victim for his Pedophilia when I was barely 8. This resulted in a serious illness, which also caused life-long trauma and psychological struggle. (My first story on Medium, “Targeted Child”.) Along with that came the Hellfire and brimstone terrifying sermons and the fear of being left on earth with demons because I had forgotten I said the word “damn” and hadn’t been “saved yet again!”
My early teens and Jr. High and High School struggling to get my dad’s attention and also struggling for my mom to find some happiness enough to make her smile by doing Rodeo, the only sport my older brother had not conquered. That activity gave me none of what I sought but did give me a life-long near crippling back injury, which I deal with to this day.
Young adulthood brought working at least three jobs at a time to pay my own way through college, the only one of my family to do so, and giving myself the gift of a college degree. Add the additional struggle of trying to decide if I was a gay man or…