I remember a warm sunny morning at the birth of autumn. The leaves on the trees were beginning to change color. The world took on a different hue. The mountains around the farm were colorized with different shades of red and yellow. The day was golden to say the least and I was young. My life was ahead of me and at the time, my 11-month stay at a facility was behind me.
I am not sure what I thought would happen. I am not sure what I thought I would be or where I believed I would end up. I am certain that at the time, I never thought that I would ever look back and regard this moment as importantly as I do now.
The Old Man had gone and passed away. My future was altered by fate, and oh yes, I do credit fate. I credit fate for the changes I made. I credit fate for the night I turned left instead of right. I credit fate for the night I spent in the precinct and for the times I spent in the holding cells and the overnight visits awaiting processing in the morning. I credit fate for a trip I took Upstate and for the road I traveled ever since this time. In fact, I credit fate for my entire life.
Yes, I believe in fate. I believe it was fate when I took a trip back home just before I arrived at the farm. The Old Man was with me before a court appearance and said, “I’m not mad at you anymore.” This is only one of a few conversations we had before The Old Man passed. And had it not been for fate, perhaps I would have never had the chance to hear my Father say, “I’m not mad at you anymore.” Or even more memorable was the time when I had the chance to hear The Old Man say, “I’m proud of you!”
I remember the last drive I took out of the driveway on the farm. I remember the sky. I remember the farewell to people I considered to be my family. I remember Mike. I remember Shane. I remember Brad and I remember Timmy. I remember Michelle and I remember Amy, Becky, and the list could go on.
I remember John. I will always remember John. I will always remember Kevin. I will always remember their support and had it not been for their encouragement — perhaps I might have given into the sadness of myself. Perhaps I would have believed the lies I lived beneath — or perhaps I would not have had the courage to come out from behind my mask.
I never had much courage or confidence. I never thought there was anything exceptional about me nor was I of the opinion that someone like me could ever make it anywhere outside the walls of institutionalized living.
I never thought I would do much because I never thought I could do much — least of all, I never thought I would be as I am now, fully-grown now for quite some time, and reporting to you about a change I made (and stuck with) for nearly 30 years.
I remember the drive home after leaving the farm. I remember the strange idea in my head and asking myself the question, “So what do I do now?” And then fate stepped in again.
I never knew much about the word destiny. The only thing I knew about Destiny is she was a stripper I met at a quick hospital stay for a psych evaluation — Destiny was there because she had an STD of some kind and I had tragic thoughts.
I never thought I would weave through my life, I never thought I would see much more and yet, I did.
I did more than I ever believed I could do.
I go back to that autumn day in 1990. I go back to the boy I was and the young man I had hoped to be. There was no clear path for me.
There was no sure ideas about me or who I’d be now that I was back in the real world and outside the realm of a protected environment.
I suppose I was too sensitive. Then again, I suppose I have always been too sensitive.
And when I say “I feel” I say this in the truest way possible.
I feel everything. I feel situations and pain, joy, confusion, bewilderment, excitement, and like a child or like anyone viewing something new for the first time — I wanted to feel as if I could meet the world with zest.
I wanted to find my place. I wanted to be able to live, love, laugh, and learn without being afraid of feeling, “Special” as if to hint that I was mentally flawed or “Emotionally disturbed.”
I had been asked why I am the way I am and why I do the things I do. I was asked about my experience and “How long have you been working on this plan of yours.”
I had to think about the answer for a second.
I could say that as for my entry into the world of mental health, my journey might not appear as long. I can say that my journey in the working world differs in career choices. I can say that I am a union man for more than 20 years. I can say a lot of things but above all, when it comes to living my life and doing what I do, I can say that as of this September 20, 2020, I will have earned the right to say I have 48 years of life experience.
I have 48 years of experience with destiny
(Not Destiny the stripper. I mean the other kind.)
I think about that day when I left the farm. I think about the drive with my Mother and the concerns she had of me being home.
I think about the changes in my life and the mistakes I made. I recall the times I tempted fate to come along and place me away again.
Mom never saw this part of my life. It was five years ago this last June. And I don’t know where she is and I don’t know what she can see.
I know there are times when I need to feel something. There are times when I need some reassurance because no matter what age I reach — a Mother’s love is still a Mother’s love.
Mistakes and all, a Mother’s love is wrapped in the comforts of unconditional warmth. And I need this sometimes.
I could use a heap of Mom’s mashed potatoes and her chicken cutlets. I could use a few slices of her cinnamon toast in the morning or that feel that comes when a son comes back for a visit — and there’s Mom, just waiting to hear the news about her son’s life.
Partly because I want to and partly because I have the need to be involved; partly because I feel compelled and partly because I recall the feelings I had, way back when, and partly because I remember being arraigned in a courtroom and hearing my Mother belt out in a rain of sobbing cries and partly because I never want to see someone hurt or suffer, or feel alone, or be alone and partly because there is something we call life, which hits all of us pretty hard and yet, effectively different — I feel the need to be involved. I have the desire to help or look to support people as they transition or choose to seek help.
I look for the catalyst. I look for the incentive. I look for the reasons to change and I look for the spark of life because yes, I feel.
I understand the word “Empathy” all too well. I understand the glory of overcoming and surpassing the misperceived versions of self.
God, that trip home was so long ago. The ups and downs have been a little crazy. But fortunately, I have fate to stand by my side. I’ve had my destiny to keep my company – and again, not the stripper. but I think you get the point.