Degrees of Reality

Growing up, my father was abusive and my mother neglectful. Both suffer from mental illness, which has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of my siblings. My father had two loves in his life: himself and his money. He was extremely prideful, and a skilled actor when it came to maintaining appearances. We never knew what would send him into a fit of rage, and he was always sure to make it known that each of us were worthless nothings that he had to waste his money feeding and providing shelter. My mother was suicidal, and often in and out of mental health institutions. My father had this warped view of himself, that he was Job from the bible. That was his reality. The story goes that Job was so faithful, that God allowed Satan to test his faith by taking away every blessing from his life: his family, his home, etc. and still Job praised God. The difference is that my father serves only himself, and the chaos that surrounds him is in big part a result of his own evil actions.

Through all of the trauma we faced regularly, I had found hope through faith. Hope of having a better life one day, hope of experiencing love, and hope of future happiness.   My brothers did not have hope.

Sneaky T, 19, (refer to previous “Crazy” post) is a high school dropout, fresh out of prison, and has two children. Although he continues to struggle with pill-popping, he’s working full-time at a fast food joint. So I would say that he’s doing fairly well, considering. Sneaky C, 16, is fresh out of jail on drug charges and a soon-to-be high school dropout. He struggles with severe depression and occasional suicide attempts, but receives no treatment because of course, that would cost my father money. And Bro 1, 23, is facing life in prison on multiple armed robberies, assault, drug trafficking, etc. Bro 1 also has a beautiful young daughter who is now without a mother or father, as her mother committed suicide at 18. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teen, but manipulated by my father to believe it was a mistake and never received the needed treatment that could have changed his life.

My heart breaks every day for my three knuckle-head brothers and their families. Close friends ask me why I think my life took such a different path than my brothers. And for me, the answer is simple – hope. I had my faith to get me though, not that it wasn’t incredibly difficult. My brothers had nothing to give them hope. I tried and failed to give them some idea that they could have a better life.

And now, I work with homeless children who experience trauma similar to what my family experienced, but even more severe and compounded by the fact that they don’t know where they’ll sleep at night or if they’ll have dinner. The whole point of what we do for them each day is providing hope. Because hope makes all the difference.

Despite all of this, I am around people who complain about the fact that their spouse makes less money than they do and is too lazy to fix the garage door opener, or that mom bought little sister a boob job for a graduation present and all they got from mom was a nice camera. These people will complain about these things because that is their reality. A group of homeless children will pass by the door, and they’ll pause, smile and wave, and return to their self-proclaimed “first-world problems.”

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