This week I will discuss two of personal demons of mine, shame and anger. The reason for this topic will become more transparent as we go, so hold on for a very interesting conversation.
Growing up very poor and often ashamed of my financial situation, I often found myself encumbered with jealousy. I was so jealous of others who seemed to have everything come so damn easily to them. To the point I hated them for it. I am referring to individuals that were friends and family members. Because of these negative feelings, I chose to avoid and hide from them. Just so I can spare my own personal feelings.
I chose to hide at my jobs, yes, “jobs” is plural. I often worked one full-time and several part-time jobs at the same time. All I did was go to school then leave early around 2 p.m. to work on the Work Release program for needy students. After, I go straight to my first job and work until midnight. Then I would sleep until 5 a.m. and deliver the local newspaper for my paper route, which consisted of 365 houses. If I was lucky when it snowed. If it snowed, I would get up even earlier and go shovel snow for some neighbors who I had financial agreements with. This consisted of three driveways, three sidewalks and the walkways to their front doors.
Every payday I would deposit my paychecks and withdraw enough money to give to my mother so she could eat and stay warm. Then I would give my grandparents some for my living expenses. With the money I had left, I would buy my school clothes and my lunch ticket for school. During my summer vacation, I would add working in the cornfields in place of my school hours. While I still went to my full-time job and delivered my newspapers.
Prior to working at the age 12, I didn’t have many friends at school. I was often made fun of because I was poor and was labeled as the stinky kid, who was often called pig-pen (Thanks a lot Charles M. Schultz!). Once in elementary school, I was caught eating out of the school cafeteria trash can. Well, I didn’t have lunch money and the kids were throwing away perfectly good food and I was really hungry. I didn’t think anyone would see me do it. I thought that no one would mind, because it was getting thrown out anyway. But man, was I freaking wrong. My teacher and principal singled me out in front of the school and tried to make me feel ashamed of myself. Well, it worked! And boy, the name calling got much worse after that! I have never felt more ashamed at school.
I wore hand me down clothes that were stained, torn, and lacked proper fit and out of style. My shoes were tight and spotted with many holes and the tread was worn out. This definitely didn’t help me run faster or keep my feet dry or warm. I often felt sick to my stomach every day I went to school. I was always nervous around other people and would sweat profusely, which caused terrible headaches. I couldn’t share my feelings with anyone and it continued to drive me deeper into my dark place.
All of my early childhood experiences made me feel constantly inferior to the other children. I couldn’t explain why my life was so hard in comparison to my classmates. They had their parents, food to eat, a good home, nice warm clothes, cool sneakers and warm boots in the winter. Not to mention that they had many extras and here I was struggling to obtain the basic necessities. I would often lie about stuff that I had to my teachers and classmates, especially during Christmas and birthdays. This was simply an attempt to hide my terrible shame and to shield myself from embarrassment.
All of my shame made me want more for myself. It drove me to work hard. I was determined to show everyone that I was going to have everything and that they would be jealous of me. Most of all, I would show them that I actually belonged. So, at the age of 12, I worked hard and I would work even when physically sick. I pushed myself even harder when I was tired. I always had a constant feeling that someone was watching me. To avoid any criticism, I would work harder. I always felt like people were laughing and making fun of me and that pushed me even more.
During the summer was the only time that I made enough money to the point where I could save it. This routine of mine began at the age 12 and ended when I joined the Marine Corps at the age of 20. Yes, I even worked like this during my one year at the University of Nebraska. I was trying to walk-on the Cornhuskers’ football team as a running back and / or defensive end. This was a short-lived dream that was cut short due to me snapping my left ankle, resulting in me getting kicked off the tryout squad. Six months later, I was attending Marine Corps boot camp at MCRD San Diego.
While I was growing up, I wanted to be stinking rich and powerful. I was so fixated on this that I often would catch myself day dreaming about all the shit that I was going to buy. I was so full of false pride and so naive that I couldn’t appreciate what was really important in life. This was the dragon that I was chasing during the majority of my younger years. What a waste! I was weak and uneducated. I wasn’t loved nor did I love anyone, not even myself. I failed to recognize that the wealthiest people in the world aren’t those with monetary power, but those who are rich in family and love.
That is, until God brought my best friend into my life and I now have someone to love and to be loved by. Now, I finally figured it all out. I was always the wealthiest man on earth. Thank you for the lesson, my lord, thank you for everything.
Until next time my friends.