The Raising of Mary

Mary - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on April 9, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

As I approach the finish line for my MBA I can’t help but think of my unique set of circumstances that brought me here. How did this convicted felon, a previous drug and heavy alcohol user totally scorned by my family, arrive?

I used to think that we were all such ordinary people, going through life’s rituals, based on the norms taught during childhood. We lived our lives no different than the way that we were raised. Mom and dad taught us that. This is what became of them, now this is what will become of us.

But this wasn’t true. I watched the transformation of my parents from wretched, angry individuals to beautiful, mindful parents that nurtured their children. These were no ordinary people, not these lovers of family, the dreamers of their children’s dreams.

I came from the stereotypical dysfunctional family. We struggled just to survive. Each child had their own unique set of insecurities, yet no hopes or dreams were established.

As young adults each child of this family would go on to act out aggressions caused by this lack of self awareness. We each had a unique set of problems, generally brought on by drugs, alcohol, members of the opposite sex, you name it. And each of us was an island. We didn’t want or need the critique from any family member.

I suppose the transformation occurred during my brief time as an inmate. I made a mistake, my family knew it, yet they couldn’t, for the first time EVER, scorn me due to their own sins. This began my family’s new found support of each other.

After my brief stint as the blackest of the black sheep I went on to try desperately to improve my image in the minds of my family. I returned to college, yet my old habits returned. I passed due to dating my professors. I graduated with a 2.5 GPA. Big accomplishment. I knew that I couldn’t get any job worth having because I was a slacker. Yet my family was singing my praises.

I continued on my self-destructive path, drinking and drugging, dating losers, until I finally got tired of it all. I wanted more. So I quietly enrolled in an MBA program. This began my self awareness.

Back in my early twenties I knew a girl named Amanda. She was exactly like me. Party, give a rat’s tail about tomorrow, and throw caution to the wind. She moved to L.A. Then, in the strangest of circumstances, I met her again. All she could do was speak of the unspeakable things I had done. Yet we hung out together and she is now married to my brother. She had seen my worst, now my best. I work 50 hours a week, am a full time student with pretty good grades, not dating any professors. She tells me that I am an inspiration. Me. This convicted felon, this screw up. Now, next month, Amanda Rose will be getting her degree with a fabulous GPA. And I am invited.

The things that I do, the hours that I keep, the things that I give up, none of it matters. What matters is that I have my family, always behind me, always cheering me, always pestering me. I love them. When I receive this coveted degree it will only be for this purpose – to take care of my family. Without their constant prying, judging and praising, who knows what would have become of me. This I believe. While it may take a village to raise a child, it will always take my family to raise me.