What’s it like growing up poor and fatherless?
Imagine you’re at farm league baseball practice all alone and see the other boys’ parents on the sidelines yelling, “We love you, Baby! Don’t worry, just swing, best you can! You got this!”
Now you look over to the street and see more loving and supportive parents showing up with pizza and soda. This is when your stomach feels hungrier than normal because you know, you’re not going to be invited to the after-party.
Imagine showing up with no water bottle or a coin in your pocket to buy a drink, and when you look for a family member in the bleaches, no warm eyes there to lighten the dread of not knowing what you’re doing, or how you fit into this social situation.
Now imagine standing alone in the outfield because the coach does not trust you to be where the action is.
As I stand there in the outfield bored out of my mind, a huge dark cloud of fear comes over me because I’m visualizing what’s going to happen once practice is over. The boys will run to their moms and dads for hugs, pizza, and some Cola while I try to fade away as fast as possible, hoping no one sees me parentless. If they see me alone and talk to me, I will have to explain why my mom never comes with me to practice along with her toxic, drug-using boyfriend and why my real father is in jail or with another family he made some time ago? That’s too heavy for a ten-year-old to articulate.
Then the second tsunami of dread overtakes my nervous system… I’m imagining returning home to my mom and her boyfriend.
My mom has told me on several occasions, “I wish you were never born!”
Her boyfriend just gives me a look that has a heavy undertone; I am in the way of whatever twisted, toxic, codependent, entanglement he has going on with her and I need to just go away.
Now imagine returning home to find out we will be moving to an all-black neighborhood because mom’s boyfriend feels bad living in an all-white area. (40 years ago, my town was highly segregated and it was frowned upon to mix races.)
The nightmare continues…
What do you think it’s going to be like for three small white kids, on welfare, living in an all-black neighborhood riddled with poverty and crime, in America?
It was as if someone just tripled down on the “living hell” that was already an unbearable experience.
I can’t even imagine what my sisters were going through, or my older brother! My mother had him put in a State managed group home for “troubled” children, to where it was common for young boys to be molested.
This type of childhood I experienced is an incubator for a long life of mental illness, drug abuse, poverty, prison, homelessness, and misery. Hardly ever, do things turn out well for people growing up this way.
Well, things turned out pretty good for me and they can for you too.
If you’re struggling, hang in there and just raise yourself up and out of whatever crappy situation you’re in. Why? It’s because no one else is going to do it for you, it’s your responsibility, and who else, if not you?
If you go to work hard on you, people will show up to support your growth because life supports life.