My journey starts where all journeys start, the beginning. I was born September of 1987 in Portsmouth, Virginia, a small city that you won’t find in any tourist brochures.
I was born to a 15 year old mother who was just beginning her journey herself when suddenly she found herself being thrust from adolescence into adulthood.
My Mother has been a rock throughout my life. Despite the immense adversity that she faced becoming a teenage mother she rose to overcome every obstacle.
My Father was 18 and far from ready for the responsibilities of parenthood. He had his own journey to take and his own demons to work out. I was bitter over his absence for a long time.
I felt him not being around detracted from my childhood. It didn’t and I’ve since let that bitter resentment fade. I was, for all intents and purposes, a strange child.
I was labelled with ADHD at an early age and the lack of a cohesive father figure early on was credited for my frequent instances of acting out.
I was short tempered and quick to react without thinking of the consequences first. This resulted in many trips to the principals office and a number of suspensions.
My grades never suffered though. Despite my behavioral issues I was a great student with a thirst for knowledge. I was a friendly kid who craved meaningful companionship from an early age.
I had some friends that came and went but on a whole it was very difficult for me to foster relationships with the other children.
I was a small scrawny kid with thrift store clothes and a homemade bowl cut.
I was into Ninja Turtles, professional wrestling, Super Mario, and would often weave these elaborate fantasies in my head which I would recite to my friends and family.
Because of the way my birthday fell, I was always the youngest kid in my class.
All of these factors together labelled me an oucast of sorts and led to being bullied and picked on, which consequently led to lasting self esteem and confidence issues throughout life.
I adopted a class clown persona. If I was the one making people laugh then they were laughing with me, not at me.
This furthered my behavioral issues as there was nothing I wouldn’t do for the percieved approval of my peers. Despite this I was still a terribly shy child who had trouble forming real friendships.
Around the time I turned 6 my brother was born. This was a defining moment in my life because I finally felt like I had someone I could really connect with.
I finally had someone who would look up to me and think I was cool. My brothers dad(whom my mother had been with for a couple years by this point) had become my acting father figure.
However, his approach to masculinity and the preconcieved notions of what makes a “man” proved to do more bad than good to my developing psyche. He meant well.
He just approached fatherhood the way his father did, which was outdated at best.
My all to frequent instances of acting out were met with a Ieather belt and groundings, and my moments of glory were met with half sincere pats on the back.
I entered into middle school still very uncomfortable in my own skin and unsure of the person I was supposed to be.
I played sports(even though I hated them) and joined the boyscouts(even thought I felt more ostracized there than anywhere else)because that’s what boys my age did.
I was more interested in reading, drawing, and playing video games, but I also had an all consuming desire to fit in and be accepted.
This led to what I refer to as my chamelion quality that would be present in years to come.
Despite my step fathers linear view of masculinity, my mother always fostered a “you can be whatever you want to be” mentality.
When I announced that I wanted to play drums she bought me a toy drum set. When I decided I was going to be a professional wrestler she encouraged it.
She bought me my first guitar, endured countless weekends at the local skatepark watching me botch skateboard tricks,
and permitted as well as enabled my endless tirade of phases throughout my teens. My mother was my rock. It was around this time that my grades began to slip.
I had become less interested in knowledge and more interested in the arts. I excelled in art and music classes, but was failing almost all of my core classes.
This resulted in my first time ever needing to attend summer school.
This thrust me into a new low, because now in addition to being poor and dorky and scrawny and ugly, I was percieved as stupid.
I wasn’t, of course, school just didn’t hold my attention the way music and books and video games did. But this was the start of my academic decline.