Yes, that's right; this is my Giant-Sized 100th Blog!! I am very excited to make an amazing announcement in it too. This just happens to be a coincidence though! What's that? You want me to tell you the good news right now? fPah!! I say! fPah!! I love to type and this is a great opportunity to do just that. The good news, dare I say the GREAT news is going to be somewhere near the end of this post (for some reason Microsoft Word wanted me to say "somewhere nears the end" instead of near.. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that). But don't skip ahead lest my feelings get damaged!
I actually may not do as much typing as I indicated a lot of the typing I already did quite some time ago. I am going to start this blog off with a note I posted to my Facebook account on April 13th 2007. I may have even posted it to my blog at that time. If you have read it, feel free to read it again as I am going to go over it and update it a bit.
Who I Am:
I asked myself a question 7 years ago. Who Am I?
That is very much the opposite of the title of this note. I know who I am, I answered that question. I know who I am, and I am going to tell you who that is right now. Not because I think you want to know, or I think you don't know, but because I feel the need to refresh my memory (and I like to type endlessly). I need to take a moment and remember the man that I am, and why I am that man.
I guess I should start off by telling you (or myself) that 7 years have passed, and I have grown and changed in that time. Making a decision about 'Who I Am' does not imply that I would not seek to better myself, I am not at all indicating that I chose to be perfect (that doesn't sound very interesting at all :-) ).
Also, before I get any farther into this, I would like to say that this is not just coming out of no where. I don't just suddenly feel the need to post this; there were a build up of events. The catalyst was hearing that my Grandmother had become very sick. I was also afraid of the impact this would have on my Grandpa, he is having a harder and harder time with his Dementia and he is just lost without my Grandma.
(NEW) As an update, my Grandmother is doing very well but my Grandfather's Alzheimers has progressed farther and farther. I just found out today (Feb. 27th, 2008) that doctors are recommending he no longer be around children without any kind of supervision. That is how we have treated the situation for some time, but hearing it come from a professional makes it feel very much more real.
Continuing where I left off, 7 years ago I began having some personal issues. I lost who I was, I was disappointed with my life to that point and then something happened in my best friend's life that caused me to initiate a breakdown in my own. I stopped sleeping, I stopped eating; I pretty much stopped doing everything. (As a note, 'stop' is too strong a word, I don't mean it literally, I was eating less than a whole meal per day combined and I generally had what I would call insomnia and I would go days without sleep and when I did get sleep it was short and restless).
That lasted several months, and even though my friend and I continued to live together, it pushed a thick wedge in between us. Then, one day, I just looked at myself and realized the kind of torment I was inflicting upon myself. I started thinking, started working out who I was in my mind. I was no longer lost, yes I was still asking myself 'Who Am I?', but now I was answering that question. After awhile it got to the point that I felt more complete than any other time in my life.
It was kind of crazy, I felt like I was flying through the clouds almost. I was very 'Whistle While You Work' happy. I continued answering my own questions, continued feeling good about it, and then one day while walking home I was attacked. It was about 4:30 in the morning, though it was spring time and the sun was already bright above the mountain range. I was listening to music ("In The End" by Linkin Park), using my old Game Boy ear buds. Suddenly I was struck on the right side of my head really hard, I turned around to see who had thrown something at me and standing only a few feet away from me was some punk kid holding a Tire Iron. With the shock of the situation and him being so close to me, I fell backwards. He yelled at me and demanded money, indicating that he would hit me again if I didn't give him my wallet. I did and he ran off to his friend's car and drove off.
It seemed like I sat there forever after it happened, but in reality I got to my feet in time to see the back of their car disappear over the first hill. The first thing I felt was anger, and then I felt my ear with my hand. It didn't feel quite right, and my fingers felt wet. I looked at them cautiously; they were covered in my blood. Fear washed over me, I felt my ear again, it didn't feel like an ear, I am not sure what it felt like. It did not hurt; the entire side of my head was numbed instantly when I was hit with the Tire Iron.
I had another mile to go before I was home, so I started walking. A few cars past, I tried to wave them over, no one stopped. Took me about 15 min to get home, I went straight to my friend's girlfriend's apartment (same building) and asked her for help. She sat me down and gave me something to put on my ear and she called 911 for me. The paramedics came and I joked around with them for a bit while they checked out my ear, then they recommended I get a ride so that I didn't have to pay for an ambulance. At the hospital they washed out my ear with hydrogen peroxide (with what I can only describe as an industrial squirt gun), and told me to tell them when it started to hurt. Turns out having that sprayed into your ear hurts like hell, so I don't recommend it.
My earlobe had been sliced in two parts and the ear bud I was wearing had been shattered and cut into parts inside my ear. The hospital had a plastic surgeon on site that put over 40 stitches into my ear, and then they stuffed it full of cotton and wrapped a TON of bandages around my head to keep my ear in place. It made me look devastatingly handsome to be sure.
Well, that was a long story, anyway.
Obviously this was a really bad time to be suddenly attacked. While I had been working hard on myself and answering the "Who Am I?" question with successful results, I was still fragile and incomplete. I tried to be conscious of this, 24 hours after I had been attacked, I walked back down to the spot it had happened with a friend of mine. I stood there just screaming that I wasn't going to let something like this ruin me, that I wasn't going to give up and that life could throw whatever it wanted my way and I would take it. I realized at that moment that when I had first broken down at the beginning of this story, what I had really done was given up on myself. I decided at this moment that I would never give up again.
I stopped asking myself "Who Am I?" and started 'telling myself'. I no longer asked myself questions hoping that I could answer them, now I was telling myself. Now I was saying, this is Who I Am. I am Strength. I am Durability. I am Loyalty. I am Trust. I am Honor. I am many things now and many more things to come. This didn't happen overnight, it happened over the course of the next 3-4 weeks after the mugging. Everything in life is a process.
To skip ahead:
So, after the above story I met a girl. She was 18 years old and she had a 4 month old baby (well, he was 0 months old when he was born, and 4 months old when I met his mother). She was cute, but not really my type (though she definitely had the hips and butt that I like), though I worked with her often and developed a little crush on her.
She was clearly a very needy person with lots of issues. She described part of a fairly tragic history. My friend and roommate, whom I worked overnights with, (she worked overnights too) and I took Nicole under our wings. Everyone knew a little about her history and none of the women there liked her because of the amount of flirting she would do. There would always be complaints about her, so my friend and I encouraged and defended her. She was a really good worker and we were the only guys there not trying to take advantage of her. We hadn't had a high quality worker like her in a long time and we all ended up getting pretty close.
Eventually she asked me if she could come over and hang out with us. We had known and worked with her for about 4 months at this point and I ran it by my roommates and we brought her over. It was kind of a full time thing, none of us had cars and since we worked nights she would need to sleep over and bring her baby with her.
That was the first time I met Jadon. My eyes are welling up as I type this. He was the cutest baby I had ever seen in my life; I felt a bond with him instantly. He was 8 months old.
Within a few days of her hanging out and sleeping at my place I asked Nicole to go out with me. She agreed. I thought of myself in a fatherly role quickly, and my Mom and Grandma were just as excited, they came over right away to meet him and play with him and even called him their Grandson. It moved Nicole to see them so accepting; to them he was my son. He is my son. I am his father.
Things between Nicole and I took on a life of their own, we got pregnant right away with Tristan Alexander (or Julianna Isabella if he had been a girl), and we got married in October after having been together for 4 months (living together that whole time) and knowing each other for only 8 months.
I grew to love us as a family, and I thought I loved her. I realize now that I was mistaken. I had to compromise myself and who I had decided to be, just to be with her. I was not being the husband or father that I wanted to be. I became very shut off and withdrawn. My emotions were indiscernible and while we got along really well, neither of us were very responsible as people, or as a couple.
We had been married for about 3 years, and even though we both found ourselves with better jobs than we had ever had in the past, things started spiraling out of control. I am not going to say much about this time, no reason to play the blame game, we both played our parts. But eventually she left, and she took our children with her. At the time I was supposed to join her in just a few short months as soon as we both had enough money saved to move our stuff and get an apartment.
Things did not work out like that, after 2 1/2 months we agreed the kids would benefit from living with me for awhile, and eventually decided they should stay with me for the whole school year. Several months later I find out that there is another man and that she has kept it a secret that they had been living together for several months (since she sent the kids to me). I just about fell apart. I suddenly realized everything I have already told you in this document_ I realized just how I had compromised who I was. Since she was out of my life I had become the father I had always wanted to be.
Who I Am. I am Strength. I am Durability. I am Loyalty. I am Trust. I am Honor. I am Family. I am Father. I am many things now and many more things to come.
Despite this, I still felt broken. Nicole's betrayal was brutal, we had a family and she didn't even try to keep it together. Things have only gotten worse.
And there is one other thing that I won't mention here. It is the thing I am thinking about most right now, and also the thing that I think will most likely not work in my favor. But it is a happy thing, no matter how it turns out (by the way, this cryptic comment turned out to be true, it did not work out in my favor, I am still happy I feel the way I feel, I just wish that something had come of it.)
I feel better. Life is intense. I just took a break from writing this, despite almost being at the end, and I checked on my kids. They are fast asleep. Life is intense, but it is worth it. Family make it worth it, Friends make it worth it.
Who Am I? I am who I am. I am Father. I am Brother. I am Son and Grandson. I am Uncle. I am Family. I am Friend. I am Strength. I am Durability. I am Loyalty. I am Trust. I am Honor. I am Love. I am many things now and many more things to come.
I am Man.
Well, that's the end of the note that I posted on Facebook; pretty long right? Well now its time to make this sucker even longer! I'm assuming if you've made it this far than you'll make it to the end as well!
The note above was posted 10 months ago; I had filed for divorce just weeks before that note was written. I feel as though I have been through an awful lot since that time.
First I would like to say that I am not the father I want to be. Not yet and hopefully not ever. I will never be the best that I can be, but I hope I always strive to be. I want to always change and improve myself, especially in regards to fatherhood.
If you have been at all following my divorce than you know that quite a lot has happened recently. I am so very happy to make the announcement that I am about to make:
Today, through the help of our lawyers, Nicole and I came to an agreement settling the issue of custody. She has agreed that I will retain primary custody of both children, though the parenting plan I wrote gives her a majority of the 'non-school' time.
It is not over, I am not yet divorced. We are hoping to hammer out an agreement on debt soon and a short trial will decide child support. Once those issues are resolved then my divorce will finally be finished.
Though that pales in comparison to what we agreed on today. I've won. This is better than a judge's decision as a settlement can not be appealed. Despite that I have written a ton in this blog already, I feel nearly speechless when it comes to describing just how amazing I feel right now. I've won!
Thank you all for the kind words and support that you shared with me through all of this. It has been a difficult ride and at times I felt as though I would fold. Without some of your help, especially one of you in particular, I may have done just that. I realize now, more than ever, the value of friendship.
Soon I will be off, living on my own. The Shaper of my own Destiny. I was fated to struggle through this battle and I feel as though it has transformed me into a better person and father than I ever was before.