How it Really Started

Don’t think my dark inner personality came from thin air. I’m sure that if you’ve been reading for the last couple of weeks, you’ve been wondering about the real deal with me. Here’s another open door to me, but in the form of an essay I wrote in the 11th grade:

 

Common App Prompt – Failure

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


If you asked a modern person what comes to mind when they think of failure, they might say something along the lines of: School or grades; Sports and video game scores. Some may even respond with social achievements in media such as the amount of likes on a picture, or reposts of a status. Well, I could earn a lower grade than I expected, hit a few balls out of bounds and those examples still wouldn’t come to mind if you ask me. What comes to my mind when I hear the word “failure”? My father.

According to him, I was an undependable, lazy and half-done disappointment. My B and C averages were not up to his standards. My time inside of my room was too long, while my time in church was too short. I read too much and spent time with my family too little. The only time I completed something correctly was when it came to daily chores… but those were enumerated one-by-one, step-by-step and posted boldly on the wall of every room. I did eventually memorize every 39 rules required of me – while being consecrated indoors – so I was able to recite them whenever he felt it necessary to interrogate me about them. Does that count? When I spoke, I said the wrong word. When I acted, it wasn’t fast enough. And when I tried, it was never good enough.

Responsibilities always come first, no matter what. “NO EXCUSES, NO EXCEPTIONS.” If I forgot, if I slacked, if I took a break, I saw consequences. Those consequences were usually more chores. Chores (even laundry) are a responsibility (rule #3). When I return from school Monday, the bathroom, every hall, stairs and the kitchen will be cleaned by the list. And I dare not say the area doesn’t need to be cleaned. Regardless of the prior asepsis, I will clean it again the following Tuesday and Wednesday and the rest of the week – except Sunday. I must attend church on Sunday. In that routine, I failed.

My laundry day was every Thursday, but our dryer was lousy. It took up to three hours for one load to dry and so I wouldn’t complete it until almost ten at night. Nothing comes before responsibility. One Thursday, I came straight home at 3 (rule #18) to start chores and laundry. Everything was finished excluding the laundry and it was already nine at night. While waiting for my last load to to dry, I nodded off to sleep. I woke with a quickness though, when I heard my father’s booming voice at one in the morning, “The dryer stopped, and you’re still in bed?!?!” I’d failed to stay up and handle the responsibility of folding my clothes and putting them away. Not only did I earn a punishment, but I had failed my father.

The goal is to make it through high school. Turn 18, make your own decisions and ultimately get out.

I remember my aunt briefly coming over and commenting on my wiping the baseboards, “Sheesh, it’s like 6 and you’re still cleaning?” She checked her phone and stepped around me before saying, “You’re like Cinderella!” She laughed and continued up the steps to her brother. I guess she was trying to lighten the situation by comparing me to a princess, but I always ponder the story plot, and grow disappointed. If  I’m Cinderella, than is my father the evil stepmother? At first I considered him  the “monster”. I thought he just couldn’t be pleased or that he just wanted to pick with me. So, I took the reprimanding and moved on. Though, over a short period of time, I noticed how I continuously messed up. I forgot to wipe the toilet bowl one day, the next week I neglected to mop. At one time, I didn’t put the dishes away after they dried, another time the railing on the staircase wasn’t scrubbed. Soon, I believed that I truly was irresponsible and incapable of doing “simple” tasks. I was constantly grounded and locked in a cage for what would seem to be miniscule reasons. I began to look down on myself every time my father looked down on me. And I’d decided that I was a failure.

For years I’d lived there and continued the routine. At the rate I was going, I knew I would never pass “[Insert my last name] Boot Camp”, as others called it. More and more, I separated myself from the rest of the household. Even while briefly off punishment, I stayed indoors and listened to music. Sometimes, I just sat on the other side of the door, listening to the house and the world around me. I didn’t want to be abolished anymore. I didn’t want to face my father or my failures. Over half the time, I didn’t want to go “home”. The only thing that got me through the day was the thought of being able to consecrate myself to my room with my music and my boxer, Rocco (another responsibility) …to stare at nothing and think. My appetite dwindled, so my weight was up and down the scale. My emotions were erratic – especially in school, which negatively affected my grades. Towards my friends, I became irritable, so I lost many of them. I just didn’t know when I was going to hear another admonishment. Soon, I found myself apathetic toward people and life as a whole.

One night while I was staring in my room, I had a dream of being the only one in the world. The same bolded letters floated repetitively around the room, “NO EXCUSES, NO EXCEPTIONS,” when they conjoined in a jumble and grew larger and larger until everything shifted to dark. And then I jolted awake to the sound of Rocco growling in his own nightmare. But I felt as though I was living mine.

“Symptoms of depression,” Mrs. Jochym, my counselor, said to me after I relayed all that I was experiencing. “And anger. These emotions can be really harmful, [Insert my real name here].” To me or others?  “I want you to call this number if you need me outside of school.”  She handed me a card with the number of a suicide hotline. It read, ‘Dial, but don’t do it.’

I was in the eighth grade when my mother decided to send me to my father’s house for more “structure” and “discipline.” One year turned to 4 and a half. 2011 turned into 2015. Truthfully, there’s only two reasons I’m still alive. One comes in the shape of a now three year old boy named Zackie-boy. My stepmom had him in 2013 and I fell in love with him from the jump. The second? Well, I met him when I was 16 (he had just turned 18) in the year 2014. His name is Xavier and he literally told me, “If you cut, I’ll cut you.”

I never did finish the essay. My AP English teacher was so impressed with what I shared that she didn’t care about what I neglected to include from the prompt. In fact, she could relate.

Oh, here’s a recent picture. Take it as an extra special accessary.

Rocco

Rocco

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