I believe having the courage to face one’s truth and share it with the world is the mark of a brave person.
I grew up as the youngest of four children with two exceptional parents, both of whom were alcoholics. As a young child, I was involved in gangs, constantly in trouble in school, put into “special ed” because they didn’t know what else to do with me and in court every other week. I had sex with more men than I can remember and wet the bed until I was nearly 14.
After a sudden move out of the city to a small town in Colorado, I gave up smoking, sex with strangers and fighting with teachers. I replaced these activities with sports – it was “the thing to do,” so I began doing it. Through sports, I quickly realized I could gain the attention I desperately desired in a positive way.
Instead, I began focusing all my attention on sports — specifically track and field. When I entered high school, the principal said to me — in front of my mom — that there was no “special ed” program for me. He said I was “normal” and would fit in just fine. I still remember the freeing feeling that man’s words created for me.
With a new school and a new beginning, I began demonstrating incredible talent in the shot put and discus. I went to the state track meet my freshman year, broke many school records, became a three-time state champion and was selected as Student Athlete of the year for Colorado in 1996.
While I excelled in sports during high school, academics were a different story. Let’s just say that if my homework didn’t fit in my back pocket, I didn’t take it home, nor did I do it. I didn’t know how to sit still well, school was boring for me and I didn’t know how to actually learn the material being taught. I graduated with a 2.5 average and a 14 on my ACT’s.
Six years later, I graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree. I received awards for academic excellence and built a positive reputation on campus.
Throughout my life (and I am only 30), I have learned that everyone has their own challenging life stories. I’ve also learned that those who are brave enough to share their truths open a space for relating and create a sense of belonging that can help heal.
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