I've started to write this story a thousand times and each time I couldn't bring myself to write it. This story is important to me because it's mine. Every time before that I tried to write it, it just hasn't come out right, but I think I finally found the right way to tell it. I've felt a lot of pain in my life, a lot of sorrow; but I became a better person for it. Scratch that. I am becoming a better person because of it. You never fully reach the top, as far as I know.

Being able to write this story is a turning point in my life. No matter what, I know that I can't go back afterwards. It's the first story I have to tell before I tell any others and as a writer, it's important for me to tell stories. It's been really hard to get this out of my system so I hope you bear with me, because it has been an adventure. Not your typical adventure, to be honest, with hero's and swords and magic, but an adventure nonetheless.

I am writing this story for every person that knows me. I write it for my parents; my brothers and sisters; the friends I have that put up with me and those who have touched my life in ways they don't even know. I am writing it for myself so I can finally move on and get on with my life. It's an explanation for who I am; why I am the way I am. I promise you won't be bored.

My earliest memory is actually of the second day after I was born, when my mom was being wheeled out of her hospital room and I saw my Dad and older Sister as huge distorted blurs. After that, it's just random memories stacked up in no particular order: a couple moments before I started my day to day thinking. Once I became aware that I was thinking from day to day I also kind of knew that what I remembered before that was all I would ever remember, which wasn't much. I don't remember too much of the years after, either, though, so bear with me if I seem to bounce about. I'll try to give it a proper timeline, but I can't promise anything.

I don't ever remember Mom and Dad being together. I just remember visitations between the two and then my Mom moving in with our Step-Dad and us going to live there. I remember wishing that Mom and Dad would get back together and I said as much at one point only to be told vehemently that it would never happen, so I didn't bring it up again. Growing up with Mom, we never heard too many good words about Dad or his family. I'm sure some of you know how it is to go through a bad relationship. It's hard not to hate the other person after. I don't know why that is.

I don't know too much of anything, actually. Growing up, I was told that 'I don't Know' wasn't an answer, but I can never seem to get past giving it as one. I've since realized that some times it's the only answer that can be given. But, for the moment, I was 3 years old and moving in to a new house with a man I barely knew. He told my sister and I from the very start that we weren't his kids, we weren't to call him Dad. Ever. Being kids, we took this in stride. He was afraid that somehow we would take the place of his kids so he tried his best to let us know that that would never happen. I think he drove the point home pretty well, but it still didn't stop me from trying to prove myself to him, growing up.

Adults were Gods to us at that time. All-knowing beings. So, if they were mad or mean, there had to be a good reason for it, right? Some times I still wonder when he'll realize that we were his kids; the ones he raised. His got back in contact with him years ago and never came back. I just hope some day he see's the kids he did have, because being related by blood doesn't really mean anything. You're still family. Well, at least to me. We were the kids he molded in his image and imparted himself, too. He really should have been more mindful of that, but some times it takes people a while to realize stuff like that.

From about the time we moved in, we were off to a rcky start. Mom and Step Dad fought constantly, and viciously. Imagine being a kid and seeing your parents fight. To see your mom being knocked about and words flying like daggers. We did what was natural: we cried. I think the worst of it was when I stopped crying over it, but that didn't happen until years later, after I had closed myself off. I don't really understand why someone would put up with someone who beats them up or berates them, even though I've done it a lot myself. I know that it has to do with a mixture of love, desperation and a feeling that somehow you deserve it, but I still don't understand it.

What Mom didn't get to see was how we were treated when she was gone at work and we were home alone with our step dad. During those times, we were informed that our whole family was worthless. That we were horrible kids; satan spawn; and that both our Mom's family and our Dad's was full of messed up people and that we were messed up because of it. I'm actually sugar-coating it right now. Our step dad was just a vicious, vile person who said a lot of various things along those themes. We actually believed it at some point. His claim has always been that he must have done alright because he never laid a hand on us kids, but the Hell I endured partly because of that man is worse than any beating I've ever received.

Mom wouldn't believe us, though. Even though she and him fought so bad that she would have to leave for a couple hours and go balance her checkbook in the dark at the local park and even though most times we went back, the fighting just got worse and we had to go to Grandma and Grandpa's for a couple days, she wouldn't believe us kids. She just couldn't believe he was being that vile to us, all the while he was being even more vile to her. I loved it when we would go to Grandma's and Grandpa's, though. At home, the fighting happened a lot and it would almost always get to the point where Mom would have to leave. And then our Step Dad would come in our room and tell us that we should go with her so she didn't kill herself and we'd run outside crying our eyes out from that and the fighting.

But, with all that, she never did believe us. We told her to leave him and she never would, because when he wasn't all psycho, he could be very sweet and he lied to her about what was done when she wasn't around. She trusted him with the knowledge that we were telling her to leave him and things got worse after that. This lasted pretty much throughout all of my school years and while I was living there. They loved each other, to be sure. People say love doesn't exist, but they would be wrong because they wouldn't have stayed together all these years without it. I've seen more of all the wrong ways to love people than I ever cared to.

Once School started, I was a problem child. I was hyper and destructive; odd and highly reactive to bullies, which meant that my future was sealed as far as being a bully magnet. The teachers thought I had ADHD and went above my parents head to put me on Ritalin, which didn't help none at all. I was never Attention Deficit in any sense of the meaning. I was always the one paying attention to multiple things at once and making it look like I wasn't. I did well in school, always, when I tried. I had a bad home life and was naturally hyper. I actually think now that I was Bipolar because I've shown a lot of the tendencies over time.

After a while, they noticed the Ritalin wasn't working and had me placed on Silert instead, which made me a zombie and was later recalled by the FDA for being an unsafe drug. I was taken off of it by my Dad when I went to visit him in Virginia in second grade. At that time, I was a very violent kid and was visiting the Principals Office at the least 3-4 times a week. My teacher was scared of me. But, I had straight A's because I was made to do all the school work while I was there, something that my Mom and Step Dad never stuck with me on.

Like most kids in broken households, though, a time came when I wanted the one parent that wasn't getting on my case all the time and my Dad decided to send me back home to Mom. She was threatening to press kidnapping charges on him and he had a lot on his mind, I'm sure. I've spent a lot of time thinking and regretting the one sentence that brought it to that point: I want my Mommy. When I think about it, I was in the wrong and deserved to be punished, and I could have missed out on so many years of heartache if I hadn't said those 4 little words. But, if I hadn't, things probably wouldn't be the way they are now.

Shortly afterwards, he moved back to our state and tried getting visitations again, but stuff came out that worked against him that I won't mention. Let it suffice to be said that he made mistakes and he suffered greatly for them and moved on to become a better person for them, in the end. Mom and Step Dad got custody of us and we were adopted shortly after, but Dad was gone for a long time with a no-contact order placed on him. I didn't see him again after that, until 8 years later. I think I was 11 at the time.

I didn't really understand it all at the time and somehow got the feeling that he had never wanted me in his life. I came to know differently later, but this feeling stuck with me for a long time. Combine that with my home life and School, both of which were a constant attack on my self-esteem and mental stability and I wound up dragging my feet and keeping my head down. I thought everyone hated me and I further believed that there must be a good reason why they all made fun of me and put me down. I believed that I was worthless, that anyone who showed me kindness did so only because they felt like it, not because I deserved it.

I kept acting up in School and just about everywhere I went. I hated my life and began to wish for death. I cried myself to sleep a lot of nights and some times would just sit in the dark, crying and listening to Mom and Step Dad fight and feel so helpless about everything. It didn't help that during this same time, I was being babysat by our next door neighbors' kids. Both of them older boys and they would make me do sexual acts to play video games. This happened about the time I was in third grade and I didn't really know any better. I didn't want to do it, but I really wanted to play video games. I knew something was wrong about it, but I didn't know quite what and it took me a while to be able to say anything about it.

When I did talk about it, my Mom and Step Dad had some heated words with our neighbors but nothing was really done about it beyond that. It went this way for a long while. Not the molestations, but the general degradation on a sliding scale. In Middle School, it just got worse. I tried fighting back a couple times, but I never won anything and mostly stopped trying after that. I was plunged directly into the loser crowd not because they liked me any better than anyone else, but because they were the only group who would accept me. Hell, we were all outcasts.

The friends I made outside of school all picked on me a lot and unfairly, including my cousin that I hung out with when visiting with Grandma and Grandpa and sometimes they would beat me up for the sheer hell of it. They'd always put me down and pick away at me and I think the only reason I kept hanging out with them was because they allowed me to and I so desperately needed to be accepted somewhere. One of my best friends in school during that time actually tried choking me to death over a minor little annoying thing I was doing. All I could really do was laugh, so I laughed in his face while mine was turning blue and continued laughing even after a teacher came up and tackled him off of me.

I had my head rammed into a lot of things, from brick walls to lockers, for no other reason than because people could do so. I started picking at people at that point in the hope that they would do it really hard just one time and I would get amnesia and not be able to remember anything. No such luck. My Sister ran away from home during this time, as well, when she was 15 or 16 and I was 12 or 13. She started staying with friends here and there, popping back and forth until she got a job and a place of her own. My step-dad continued his psycho crap throughout it all, some times being nice and friendly, but mostly just leaving hateful little notes around the house and hounding me incessantly when I was home and Mom wasn't, or couldn't hear.

I started to step between him and Mom when they fought and he started waking me up in the middle of the night to cause an argument and then tell me to get out of his house. I wouldn't ever last long in a fight against him, though it was mostly words a lot of the time. He only shoved me once, and I flew backward from it. He was just vicious no matter how he fought and had a way of knowing what your secret weaknesses were and going right for them to make you cry so you would shut up. After knowing someone for a while, it's a very easy thing to do, and I did it for a time as well, having learned how. I began to escape to my sister's house on weekends from time to time to get away from it all and see my Nephews.

My first Nephew was born when I was in eighth grade and I was very proud of him. I did manage to get a girlfriend that year, as well, but it didn't last even a week because she couldn't put up with all of the harassment she was getting from everyone else. It didn't really help my self-esteem much. I began to be kicked out of school for the first time ever. In Elementary School, they were more tolerant of my actions and just put me in a room in the office or the counselors office, away from the other kids. The Vice Principal took a shine to me, though and did his best to help me out when he could.

When I got into an incident at lunch that I should have been kicked out of school for, I was put into an isolation room for lunch time for a couple months after that. I was allowed to have one person join me if they wanted to, and was lucky enough to have a good friend at the time who did so, which is kind of funny because we met in a class where I was kicking the back of his chair. But then, we were both in the outcast crowd and mostly got along Ok. I can only talk about Middle School for a little amount of time because really, it was just much the same as elementary school, but worse. Same type of stuff happened, but it was amplified because we were all older and knew more. That, and it only lasted two years.

In High School, it got really bad for the first two years as things amplified even more. I hadn't cared about doing well in School for quite some time and wasn't pressed to be, so I only did well in classes I liked. Even then, the only reason I didn't get A's in those classes was because I didn't care to do all the work, not because I couldn't do it. I kept getting picked on and kept getting kicked out of school until I eventually got a teacher that hated me and went out of her way to target me out of all the rest of the class. Easy enough, I just stopped going to that class.

As a result, I got suspended from school after the fifth day when they managed to catch up to me. I knew it was coming because the class I was skipping was in the middle of the day and I still went to all my other classes. I actually got called into the office on the fourth day and wasn't got to by the time the lunch bell rang, so I went to lunch and continued my day as normal. The next day they were ready to deal with me and I basically got expelled for the rest of the school year. For skipping class. Go figure.

I didn't have many options at the time, having just turned sixteen, so I went to Job Corps. It's a good program, definitely, for anyone age 16-24. It's structured to give you job training and schooling and is government ran. You get paid while being there and you learn how to deal with the reality of society if you have a mind to. I wasn't mentally prepared to to follow it through and it didn't help matters any that I was told as much by my Step Dad before going. I mean, even though it turned out to be true, he could have at least tried to be supportive. I might have done better then instead of having to deal with a stigma while trying to prove him wrong.

I only lasted a month and three weeks there, but I had already managed to get most f my trade training done in Business and Clerical and obtained my G.E.D. in the last three weeks I was there before I acted out too many times. They wanted to put me on a contract, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to stick to it, so I opted to go home. After that, I had the choice of finding work or going back to school. Since I couldn't find work, I decided to make another go at School and attended a challenger school until I could be placed in regular school again, at a grade lower than I should have been. Things did pick up in school kind of after that because the people I went to class with didn't know me and didn't know they should pick on me, and those who used to pick on me had grown up enough to not do it as much.

Around that time, my step dad finally got arrested for beating my Mom, thanks to a neighbor making an anonymous call, but he was made to go to Anger Management instead of jail time. He saw a video there of guys who beat their wives to death and it changed him a little. He told my Mom that he had never meant to hurt her, he just wanted her to shut up. He only hit her a time or two after that, but he took it out of us in his other ways, increasing his efforts in mentally screwing with us. I was getting kicked out of the house more and just decided to stay at friends houses for the night or a couple nights and my Mom started having my Sister track me down.

Before then and before the times when I went to her house to escape, my sister and I never got along too well. We didn't really get along too well at that point, either, but I started respecting her more and now she's the person I respect and love the most. Out of everybody I have ever known, she has always been the only one who has consistantly been there for me when I needed her, no matter what. I started really getting into writing when I was seventeen and developed some patience for it and I started writing poetry as a release. It was as addictive to me as the cigarettes I started smoking when I was thirteen.

I had my first nervous breakdown not too long after that and my step dad just thought I was faking it. I could barely make the call to my sister to have her come and get me because I just couldn't pull myself together. I had lost control of myself and had wrapped my arms around my legs and rocked back and forth with tears rolling out of my eyes like rain from the sky. It is impossible to interact with anyone at that point with any semblance of pride, because you're blubbering like a baby. Not that I had much pride at that point, anyway.

I mean, I've always known I was intelligent and that I had potential, because people always told me that, but I was also always told that I was worthless and would never amount to anything, so I never had the motivation to do anything with it. I had reached the bottom and I knew I was going to die, when and how. I knew that when I was old enough to buy a gun that I would do so and blow my brains out. To me, it was the most painless way I could think of and it seemed quick. Ironically, years later, I found a really good and painless way to commit suicide, but only after I started wanting to live.

School went well enough up until it came to the year I was supposed to graduate. Things were still going much the same at home and with my friends, though it had cooled down a bit at school and with my friends. I knew I wasn't going to do the Senior Project for my School that was necessary to graduate so I withdrew myself at the age of eighteen with the assent of a parent. I thought I could do it without needing parental confirmation because I was eighteen and was kind of upset when I found out otherwise. Sadly, though, it wasn't the first time I was allowed to give up on myself.

I worked odd jobs for a bit after that, here and there and mostly tried to spend all of my waking hours away from home, but it still came down to a head one night at three in the morning. Apparently, I had said something to my step dad's pot dealer that he didn't like and he woke me up at three in the morning to confront me about it, forcing me to give him my key to the house and to get out. At that time, I thought I was homeless and was going to have to live on the streets and I didn't have much of a plan. I think I probably would have despaired at that point and found a way to end it. But Life is funny some times.

The night before, I had managed to track my Dad down on the internet at the community college that one of my friends and his Girlfriend went to and had gotten his address and phone number. I walked around for a couple hours until about six and went over to my friends house to wake him up to hang out. Wasn't the first time for that, either. I was constantly waking him up to hang out over the years and only recently have I learned how annoying that can be. I went around with him job hunting and did despair on that point because I didn't have an address I could put down on an application.

After we got back, I gave my sister a call and told her what was going on and she asked me if I had a plan. I still didn't have one, but I showed her what I had found. I didn't know how she would react, given her history with our Dad, but I don't think I would have had the courage to contact him if She hadn't made the call for me. Only now do I realize that she must have had a way to contact him before, having been in contact with other people who knew where he lived and that she must have passed it up. It makes me appreciate her even more because I know she only endured visiting with him for my sake and probably to try to get closure in her own life.

Getting back in contact with my Dad was a life-changing event. Before then, I had gotten the thought stuck in my head that I had had two Dads in my life, more than most people, and neither one had wanted me. I found out differently the first weekend and also found out I had a little Brother and Sister. My little Sister is only a week older than my oldest nephew and my Brother is three years older than her, the reverse of me and my older sister. By that time, my older sister had four kids, two boys and two girls and I loved them a lot, but I was filled with a love I had never known before then because I had gone from being the youngest child to finding out I had a little brother and sister. I finally understood what it meant to be an older sibling and my respect for my older sister just grew enormously.

I was so happy and it was so foreign to me that after that first weekend, I had to to sit for a couple hours just to absorb it all and I finally got to understand what people meant by the term 'happy tears'. For once in my life, I was accepted right off the bat and held in high esteem for being the one to track them down on the internet. As I said, it was life-changing and I began to get a whole new outlook on life because of it. But it didn't all happen over night. I had to go back home to my Mom and step dad's house for a week or two after that, but I knew I couldn't stay there. To this day, I would still rather live on the streets then go back there, and I don't think anyone could blame me at this point.

After that, it was arranged that I would move in with my Sister and she would put in a good word for me at her work. So it was that I wound up working the morning shift at McDonald's, with her as my manager. We clashed heads a lot because we would push each others buttons and I was still trying to reign in my anger and learn to feel other emotions again. I got laid during this time, by a co-worker, and I learned what it felt like to be used for sex and when she started playing games with me, I played them back on her. She ended up quitting work because of me on a day when I actually handled a problem like I was supposed to, which I got commended by the managers working at the time. She threw her nametag in the garbage pail and walked out and I don't think I saw her again after that. I didn't much care, either.

I fought with my sister at work and at home and just about everywhere and it came to head finally and she couldn't take it anymore. She was living in a two bedroom apartment with her fiance at the time and her four kids and I was just the seventh person adding stress. If I had got caught staying there, she could have been thrown out. I had been offered a couple months before a place to stay at my Dad's if I wanted it and hadn't taken them up on it because I wanted to make a decent run at things instead of just running to an out. I learned something about myself from fighting with my Sister, though. She did point out to me one time that when I got angry I acted just like our step dad and after a long walk I decided she was right and have been working on it ever since then.

I got work for a couple weeks at my Dad's house, but I couldn't deal with the different pace of the McDonals up in their area. It was too stressful for me at that point and I quit to avoid another nervous breakdown, having had a couple more since the first one when I was seventeen. We were a bit out of town and it didn't make it easy to go look for jobs because both my Dad and my Step Mom worked and I used that as an excuse to stay home and hang out with my little brother and Sister more often. I kind of took over my little brothers World of Warcraft account during that time.

After a month or two, though, my Dad and Step Mom broke up after having been together for eleven years. I didn't see it coming and it really tore me up for a while. I decided to stay with my Step Mom while my Dad tried to situate himself so I could help out with watching my little brother and sister and spend time with them. I kept slipping back into depression, though, and I really dropped the ball while watching them one fateful afternoon when I decided to get into my Step Mom's Valium. It was like God wanted to get back at me for all those years I spent wishing I was dead and grabbed my hand, because I only had control over myself for the first pill. I remember taking four more after that, but it was like watching something from a distance that you have no control over.

What I don't remember is the other thirteen Valium that followed after that or the six anti-depressants I took on top of it. I blacked out, so I don't remember much of anything until I woke up in the hospital over a day later. Apparently, my little Brother, who is high-functional autistic, made the call to my step mom to let her know that something was wrong with me, because I was acting all weird. She rushed home and saw the state I was in. I was still concious at that point, but I wasn't there. I don't remember it at all. She said I swore at her and called her names when she asked me what was going on. She took a look at her pills and saw how many were gone and made the call to the paramedics, who showed up right as my systems started failing.

When I woke up in the hospital, I didn't even know what had happened. I was confused and wanted to get out of there and told them that I would just take the IVs out of my arms and walk out, but I couldn't even move to do it. I was told shortly after that I was being placed in a halfway house, which was when my mom and step dad tried acting like parents again. I let them because I needed them at the time. Needed the assurance that people were there I could talk to. I consider my little Brother a hero. He saved my life and doesn't even know how much that means to me. He's going through his own rough spots in school and it bugs the hell out of me because he hasn't learned yet that he's paying attention to all the wrong sorts of people.

I spent two months in that halfway house, where I found God. Or realized that he had been walking along beside me the whole time. I still don't believe in any one religions view of God, but I believe in God. I had to leave, though, because nobody had paid the rent on the second month and I didn't remember being told that I would have to pay it, hadn't been looking for a job. I ended up moving in to my grandparents, where I found work and continued to work on myself. I still hung out with old friends but it was losing it's appeal to me, being picked on. I've moved around a couple times since then, but it's where I hang my coat again at the moment.

For the most part, even though I haven't been able to find work in the past couple years and have had this huge mental block in place stopping me from doing much of anything for myself and the fact that I have a decent sized hospital bill to pay along with recurring bouts of depression, my life has been pretty good. I've got a long way to go, but I've made some significant gains in the past 5 years. I've learned a lot about life and I'm still under a quarter century old. I feel weak at times and defeated, but I'm getting better. Two steps forward, one back.

I can't really regret my past, though, because it's made me who I am today and I'm stronger and wiser for it. It has defined me in ways that I'm still trying to figure out and has made me unique in ways I never wanted to be. I worry that if I were to change anything in the past that I wouldn't have all the great things I have now. Not that my life has been all bad. I make it seem like that, but there were up points mixed into it. Times when my step dad and I really got along, times that kept me hoping, but it wasn't enough at the time. I'm done trying to prove myself; to be accepted by; people whom nothing will ever be good enough. I am who I am and forget anyone besides me who tries to change me.

I have to tell you though, even though I was at my lowest point and felt so broken; hollow; crushed; defeated; I never gave up on my self, and I'm glad. I got lost for a long time and never really got to be a kid, but I'm getting to know who I am now, and the person I'm finding is kind of messed up, but pretty cool to know. All I could do some times was just hand on and wait to see if things got better. Been some close calls, but my hope was justified and I lived to see a new dawn on a new life. I deal with my bouts of depression because I know it could be worse. I could feel that way all the time like I used to. My life really began when I was almost nineteen and got a boost when it was renewed when I was twenty and overdosed.

I still don't think I could have written this story without the help of one person specifically. We've never met or even talked, but I read his autobiography the other day. In his book, he talks about how happy his life was, for the most part, and it made me cry a bit to read it, because what he described was how I always imagined a happy life to be like. He suffered here and there and I felt his pain in those moments, but pain I can take. What made me cry was seeing the happy moments and I couldn't help but wish I had had them while growing up.

While I was growing up, I never knew what it was like to be a guy or how to be a man, because nobody ever told me, and the people who did tell me, I didn't like their answers. I finally found an answer I could be satisfied with and it was explained in such a way that just made me think, 'My God, he has nailed it on the head.' For those wondering, the book was titled, 'Just a Guy Notes from a Blue Collar Life', by Bill Engvall. It may sound like a stupid thing to most people, but as I said, I have never known how to just be a guy or even what it meant to be a man, so I have to thank you, Bill, if you ever read this, for that. You are a great person and I fully enjoyed that you shared your life with me, even if it was unknowingly. It was honest and real.

I wouldn't have been able to write this story without that, and without having been able to move past my past. I couldn't manage to get the full effect of it across, because words can only say so much, but I already feel like a load has been lifted. I had to write this story, and it had to come first before any other stories I'll write in the future because it sums me up and defines me. Like any good story, I don't know where it will end, but I do know that I will always want to see what happens next. All I can do is wait to see what the next chapter holds, so this is where I leave you, for now.