A Life Examined

a-life-examined

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack

You may find yourself in another part of the world

You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile

You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

The Talking Heads Once In a Lifetime

So, what happened to put me where I am today? What does my past mean? What if I was to write down the most vivid memory for each year of my life, starting with the first one?

1960

Seeing the deep blue sky

1961

Dad hitting me in the back seat of the car because I was crying after reconstructive facial surgery

1962

John Sprankle breaking into our house/room and trying to hurt Mom. The “Here’s Johnny” scene in The Shining.

1963
City of Youngstown uses Eminent Domain to kick us out of house, woke up one morning with the excavators piling dirt onto the sides of our house

1964
Undergo multiple electric shock therapy sessions to cure my Bell’s Palsy

1965
Started speech therapy

1966
Uncle John returns from Viet Nam in a closed casket

1967
Mrs. Scott pulls me out of special ed saying, “This child doesn’t belong here.” Best. Teacher. Ever.

1968
Moved to new house on Clarencedale, left my best friend Kenny King

1969
Got grade 4 concussion falling from roof of garage

1970
Overheard Mom and her boyfriend in bedroom having sex

1971
Bancroft school closed, started busing to Sheridan School

1972
My best friend John moves away

1973
Fabulous vacation at Cedar Point, followed by my Grandmother giving Mom heck for having to had pay for it

1974
Tore ACL in left knee

1975
Got dental partial, sent to school on that very same day, publicly humiliated when I couldn’t talk

1976
Bully Bobby Mitchell torments me in high school

1977
Moved out from home and into trailer

1978
Severely injured in hit-and-run accident while training on bike

1979
Started wheel-building,

1980
Another severe concussion in second hit-and-run accident, nearly died

1981
Road 9,000+ miles training, got good results in races

1982
Grandma moves in with me so she doesn’t have to go to nursing home

1983
Started college

1984
Met Janet

1985
First of 3 solo motocycle trips out West

1986
Janet coerces me to come home early while climbing/riding in WV on Spring Break

1987
Graduated from Youngstown State University with a 4.0 GPA in my major

1988
Married Janet

1989
On vacation in Crested Butte, rode rental bike to the top of Pearl Pass without Janet

1990
After 20,040 wheels, ended wheel-building

1991
On vacation with Janet, bagged Mt. Whitney in 1 day by myself

1992
House flooded, bought first house 3 days later

1993
On vacation, 70-mile ride in Key West. Janet rides along on a scooter, only time she rode with me

1994
Started at Dick’s Sporting Goods as Buyer, Grandma dies, Savannah born

1995
Looked up and found Dad and 3 previously unknown siblings that were given up for adoption

1996
Janet miscarriage

1997
First date with Janet since Savannah was born, Courtney born via C-section

1998
Bees swarm Courtney’s 1st Birthday party

1999
Janet falsely accuses me of having a liason while we were on a business trip in Lake Tahoe with my boss and his wife

2000
Recipient of Buyer of the Year Award at Dick’s Sporting Goods

2001
Bought second house, Douglas born

2002
Resigned from Dick’s Sporting Goods under duress

2003
Took sabbatical to walk Appalachian Trail

2004
Started as Marketing Director for YESCO Electric

2005
Moved family cross-country to California as Buyer for Copeland Sports. short-sold my house in Ohio

2006
Started at VAS Entertainment

2007
Let go by VAS Entertainment due to “strategic re-structuring”

2008
First argument in front of kids, Janet diagnosed with Breast Cancer

2009
Janet cleared of cancer

2010
Failed merger at CBO and let go, Janet dies

2011
Coached Douglas’s Little League team to championships on anniversary of Janet’s death

2012
Engaged to Alex

Putting it this way, I see a very clear picture of myself. My Mother was the only one strong for me, Dad abused and left us. I initially resented Mom’s boyfriend because of his extramarital affair with Mom. He tried to get close to me but it only worsened the trauma. I eventually grew to understand him late in his life, I wish he was still here for Mom and me.

I stayed married to a woman for 23 years out of love and devotion, even when she was hurting me. If I argued then I was labeled unreasonable. If I disengaged then I was labeled as not caring. If I got upset then I was a tyrant. If I called out her behavior she denied it until our relationship was past done.

I was always “wrong,” always “selfish,” and always “not caring” for wanting to see my friends, for wanting my own life, for not wanting to deal with being insulted or emotionally abused. And the worst part was that I believed every word of it. I spent years feeling like I was an awful person, and feeling scared of her. I felt like leaving the situation would just prove that I really didn’t care/love her enough, and that would make me a bad husband, a bad human being. I was unknowingly married to a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder. A lifetime of trauma left me always defensive, constantly alert, hyper-vigilant.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after prolonged exposure to psychological trauma. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD. I’ll make it though this just fine. I always do.