Instantly I was confronted with a choice.
Go back with my birth mother or stay with my step-mom and my dad.
I was only 8 years old and I had a grown-up choice to make.
One or the other. Either way, life was never going to be “normal”
My dad and mom divorced when I was less than a year old. Dad was a reformed drug-dealer and Mom was a thief. Both were dirt poor and unexpectedly had a kid. Me.
The marriage fell apart and my dad retained custody and met my step-mom shortly after. They married a couple years later.
To this day I have no attachment to my step-mother, There was always something inherently fucked up about that relationship.
We did not share blood so of course I knew instinctively that she was a stranger. We didn’t “fit” but more on that later.
We lived in Oklahoma (where I was born) for a little bit and then moved to Kansas where we stayed for a few years and and my half-brother was born we’ll call him Tim.
Eventually when I was 6 we moved to North Carolina where I spent the remainder of my formative years.
My parents made the decision to homeschool me which was good and bad.
Good because I was able to be creative and not be dumbed down by public schools but bad because I was homeschooled K-12 and had no friends or social experiences.
Humans are social animals, and I wanted friends and never had them. It was a painful loneliness.
It took many years longer than average for me to adapt to people and society when I was 18 and on my own. I was like a deer in headlights everywhere I went. Jarring.
My folks were strict disciplinarians and deeply religious we went to “church” 3 times a week and this was usually the only real interaction I had with the outside world outside of going on errands with my step-mom.
My folks were abusive and made me feel unwanted and unloved. Spanking kids was the norm in the 90’s. My folks did it with a leather, my dad beat me like a runaway slave and left welts all over my body when he was done.
My step-mom loved to talk shit about my mother and one day I took issue with that when we were on the way home. My dad lost his temper and pushed me down on the garage floor.
The next day he had me jacked up against the car trunk and tore my favorite shirt.
As I got older the violence would escalate, violence was all my dad knew because he came from the streets.
One day he was smashing my head against the wall and tossing me across the living room.
What was crazy was that I would get beaten and I would have no idea why.
And then the day came when he threw punches and gave me a black eye and cuts on my face. At this point I was having homicidal and suicidal ideations and kept a steak knife under my pillow.
I thought about calling CPS but I figured I was 16 at that point and decided to endure.
When I was 17 one day he choked me. I remember it vividly, I didn’t know it yet but that was the day our relationship died.
What was worse than the physical abuse was hearing “you’re ungrateful” “we sacrificed for you” “we’re going to throw you out and you can live on the street”.
I would hear this stuff every other day. My parents would say they loved me but I never felt it and knew it was a lie. I was the kid they didn’t want.
It was painfully obvious to me that they treated my brother in a totally different matter and of course my step-mother because that was her son.
That’s fine but what I hated was the fact that the woman would say one thing to me and do something different.
Dad and my step-mom were close to divorce on a number of occasions and they fed off each other’s negativity. They hated themselves and took their frustration out on their kids.
Everyday I was told I was worthless
Everyday I was told that I was stupid
Everyday I was told I didn’t matter
I could go on but you get the point.
I asked my dad when I was 12 if I do Martial Arts, he said yes and its the reason I’m alive today.
I would’ve ended my own life if not for learning the mindset and toughness from practicing traditional Korean martial arts Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido
In 5 years I was a black belt in Chung Do Kwan TKD.
By the time I got to Boot Camp I was an empty husk of a human, damaged, and maladjusted.
I HAD A CHOICE
I could have chosen to go with my birth mother that day. But I didn’t.
I could have committed suicide when I was neck-deep in despair. I didn’t
I could have ran to CPS. I didn’t.
I’m glad I didn’t.
Everything is a choice and “something” told me to endure.
“but the pain…the pain”
“The pain is only in the moment. You are destined to do great things.”
What Mental Toughness is
Mental toughness is developed through action and experience, not thought.
You cannot ever think your way to mental toughness. Its forged by your action and experience.
Its written in blood, carved by sweat, and quenched by tears.
I do not regret the way life has gone for me because it made me tough as nails. While I no longer speak or associate with my family and haven’t for over 3 years….
My pain, sorrow, despair, anger, anguish, rage created the “me” you see now.
People get stuck in the past because they don’t know how to frame what happened to them or refuse to.
I frame it as “yeah it happened but I’m the toughest sonofabitch I know because of it”.
You learn much more from pain and failure than you ever do from happiness and success.
My past is the best thing that ever could have happened to me because it makes me one-of-a-kind and unique.
I’ve had many disappointments in the military but the funny thing is, all the successes vastly eclipse the failures.
I was rolled back in boot camp.
I failed a school for a job
I was nearly thrown out the second one
I gained a shitload of weight
I was nearly fired twice since I was put in a job I was massively underqualified for. I lived everyday for 2 years in fear that I would be removed from the position and kicked out of the Navy.
Years later, though I was quite fit at the time, I was medically disqualified from Navy Special Warfare
…and then I found Bold And Determined
I had the fire since I wanted to prove that NSW made a mistake B&D fueled my fire.
I became one of the best sailors at my command
At one point I was the best sailor at my command, at my paygrade
I was promoted to E-6 after 5 years at E-5.
I received a Commendation from an Admiral
My subordinates got promotions
I started a blog
Here we are.
What Life actually is
Life is a series of pendulum swings, if you don’t know where it swings and how to deal with it, you will always be on the wrong end of it.
Complaining about your lot will get you no where. The world will always, spit on and cannibalize the weak.
Life is hard and you must become strong. Embrace the pain, embrace the toil and become IRON.
Embrace life because the difference between the living and the dead is that the dead feel no pain.
I saw a counselor back in 2014 and she told me that most people with similar experiences have mental breakdowns and do not recover.
Martial Arts gave me above all else an IRON WILL.
Remember when I said that mental toughness can only be found in ACTION?
Practice Martial Arts, take on a high-pressure job, do what other people aren’t willing to do.
Punch a tree everyday like the Martial Arts Masters, work on deadlifts, or do a Spartan Race
You will become very tough very quickly because toughness is in the mind.
Internalize toughness with repeat action and you get repeat results.
When a boy learns how to frame his past and overcomes it; he becomes a man.
I am that man
and so are you.