whenever he spat out the window, his phlegm boomeranged into my face. Each drop of his nasty saliva on my skin burned like venom and intensified my hate.

laid across the corner of the bed with my legs dangling, my torso stretched out in front of me, and my ass exposed. That was the protocol, and he’d designed it for maximum psychological and physical pain.

The beatings were often brutal, but the anticipation was the worst part.
he’d take his time, letting my dread build.
I was breathing heavy too, but I wasn’t crying. His evil was too real and my hate gave me courage. I refused to give that motherfucker the satisfaction.

According to the doctor we saw that night, my mother got me to the ER just in time. My ear infection was so bad that if we’d waited any longer, I would have lost my hearing in my left ear for life. She risked her ass to save mine and we both knew she’d pay for it. We drove home in eerie silence.

he didn’t drop his weapon. He aimed it right between my eyes. I stared straight at him, blank as possible, my feet anchored to the floor boards. There was no one else in the house, and part of me expected him to pull the trigger, but by this time in my life I no longer cared if I lived or died. I was an exhausted eight-year-old kid, plain old fucking tired of being terrified of my father

I didn’t know what awaited me—what awaited us—in that small, rural, Southern Indiana town, and I didn’t much care. All I knew was that we’d escaped from Hell, and for the first time in my life, we were free from the Devil himself.

She didn’t know my backstory and didn’t have to. All that mattered to her was that I turned up at her door with a kindergarten education, and it was her job to shape my mind.

It seemed that I was healing, but my demons weren’t gone. They were dormant. And when they came back, they hit hard.

Every kid knows what “special” means. It means you are about to be stigmatized for the rest of your damn life. It means that you are not normal. The threat alone was a trigger, and I developed a stutter almost overnight.

Imagine being the only black kid in class, in the entire school, and enduring the daily humiliation of also being the dumbest.

The psychologist’s office was adjacent to a hospital, which was exactly where you’d want to put it if you were trying to make a little kid doubt himself.

The type of physical and emotional abuse I was exposed to has been proven to have a range of side effects on young children because in our early years the brain grows and develops so rapidly. If, during those years, your father is an evil motherfucker hell-bent on destroying everyone in his house, stress spikes.

I’ve read that some pediatricians believe toxic stress does more damage to kids than polio or meningitis. I know firsthand that it leads to learning disabilities and social anxiety because according to doctors it limits language development and memory.


What was your bad hand? What kind of bullshit did you contend with growing up? Were you beaten? Abused? Bullied? Did you ever feel insecure? Maybe your limiting factor is that you grew up so supported and comfortable, you never pushed yourself?
What are the current factors limiting your growth and success? Is someone standing in your way at work or school? Are you underappreciated and overlooked for opportunities? What are the long odds you’re up against right now? Are you standing in your own way?

Break out your journal. buy one, or start one on your laptop.
tell the story in full.
Once you have your list, share it with whoever you want.

Otherwise, acknowledge and accept it privately. Whatever works for you. I know it’s hard, but this act alone will begin to empower you to overcome.