Contemplating the Catholic Ministry

It is no secret I felt God’s calling when I was young. I converted from pagan (witch) to Baptist when I was 12 and basically never looked back. I became very enthusiastic about getting into the ministry at the age of 16. I became a counselor at bible camp and taught vacation bible school two different years. Then I shifted into music trying to break into the “Christian rap” scene. I quickly dropped the Christian part and tried to become more “street.” When that failed I gave up the ministry and walked away.

A little over a year ago I began my journey to becoming a full Catholic. That journey itself was quite an amazing experience for me. It helped me get closer to God than I had been in years, helped me find a loving church family I enjoy worshiping with and it helped me realize my desire to serve the Lord is as alive as ever.

I recently felt the calling to do more. As a result I am looking to clean up my act a little and start over fresh But that is only a small part of the big changes coming in my life. I have already reached out to and been invited to meet with a priest to discuss going into the vocation. There are a number of things to consider when contemplating that path as a Catholic that a protestant (or Evangelical) doesn’t necessarily have to consider. Beyond that there is this feeling I can’t escape that has me wanting to do more to serve. I won’t know what options are available until after I have my meeting with the priest. I am really hoping he will find something I can do to help out.

I am also seriously considering writing a book covering my conversion experience and the journey I took. I believe it would be a fascinating tale for those who have curiosity how a Baptist can turn Catholic. It’s obviously an experience a lot of people have had but I think I can write mine in a way it would speak to people.

None of this means I will completely remove my website, channel or podcast from the internet. I do believe I might try some re-branding or even just putting certain things in the past while I move towards a fuller life.

I don’t have much else to report at this time other than I have spent a great deal of time the last month reading articles on the Faith and watching hours of YouTube videos on the teachings of the Church, church history and the like. I’ve really fallen in love with the Church Jesus left behind to protect his people all over again. The closer I get to the Lord the more my faith grows in him. Stay Cool.

The winding road from paganism to Catholicism

As the season of Advent begins and the Christmas season is in full swing I wanted to recall the long and complicated journey it took for me to go from pagan to Catholic.

My earliest exposure to religion came in the form of an awkward costume party my non-Christian parents sent me and my sisters to. I was in second grade. We were invited to a church Halloween party.

Or, at least we thought it was a Halloween party. Turns out it was one of those anti-pagan substitute “harvest” celebrations some churches put on to distance themselves from the pagan origins of certain aspects of the Halloween festivities. I said it was awkward for a reason.

My friends and I went in our costumes we intended to wear while trick-or-treating. There was a witch, a vampire, a princess and a Jason Vorhees among others in our group. We stood there in the church standing out like a sore thumb surrounded by shepherds, wise men and other “Christian” symbols like angels and others I didn’t recognize at the time.

My actual religious belief at the time was simple. I knew in my mind there was a God out there and there were likely angels, demons and other spirits. I had read plenty of books on various mythologies from Greek and Roman to Celtic and Norse and even some Anglican Arthurian legends through in the mix. My beliefs were not well defined.

I started exploring paganism through dark magic. I wanted to be a warlock. I desired to learn the dark arts. Not in a cartoon or comic book way, no I was a legit pagan seeking to master the spiritual forces as best as I could. I was deeply attracted to the occult and its temptations of power and lust.

Needless to say this led me down a path where I was reading books on Satanism, witch craft, demons, ghosts and magic, all sorts of magic. I never became all to proficient in spell casting during this time but I developed a strong connection to the spiritual world that has been with me every since.

Early Beliefs

I was in the first grade when I took it upon myself to make my earliest plea to whichever deity would respond.

At an early age I knew internally I desired to be a girl more than anything else in the world. Thus my prayers were intensely focused on begging any God to please let me wake up tomorrow a girl so I can stop being a boy. I hated being a boy more than anything. I didn’t know which god to pray to so I prayed a generic pray to “god” without defining it.

I also dabbled in fairy tales like wishing upon a star and other incantations children learn through various means. I believed in ghosts, UFOs, Big Foot, Dragons, Leprechauns, fairies, monsters, demons, angels and other general supernatural phenomenon including vampires and werewolves.

I took the broad approach of accepting anything until disproved.

When I was around the age of 10 my parents began sending me and my sisters to this church every Sunday. It was a way to get us out of the house apparently.

During my time there I listened intently to the Sunday school teachers. I was supplementing their teachings I learned from Bible stories with other mythologies I read and mixing in stuff from horror movies such as The Omen and A Nightmare on Elm Street, among others. I quickly developed a broad sense of all religions had some nuggets of truth I just didn’t know how to define my own beliefs.

My Conversion experience

I was 11 years old. It was a stormy night. My dad had been listening to the rock station jamming to a popular Led Zeppelin tune. The weather caused the station to go out and Charles Stanley came on in its place. He was in the middle of a sermon preaching how so many people think being a good person will get them to Heaven. He gave the fire and brimstone message many Evangelical preachers are fond of.

During the course of the sermon, my dad being too drunk to change the channel, broke down into tears and prayed the sinners prayer giving his life to the Lord right there. Having been deeply interested in the supernatural his words shook me too.

Seeing that incident, witnessing the instant change in my dad who got cleaned up the next day and took us all to the first church he drove to. I, too, prayed the prayer that night choosing to devote my life to the God that made it through to my dad.

It was a life changing experience for my entire family. I learned, from talking to my mom after dad’s conversion, she had always been faithful and kept praying God would intervene and save my dad. That was enough for me. I was in. God was real and I now had all the proof I needed.

I didn’t make my profession of faith and become baptized until a year later after I turned 12. My devotion to the Lord and the Christian faith was immediate, but my journey to understanding what all that entailed was going to take much longer.

Adolescences intervenes 

I started cross dressing before puberty kicked in. It was a way for me to promote my own mental health. I knew in my mind I had to present as a girl every chance I could. This put me on a path of resisting social outings in order to seek every chance I could to sit at home, alone in the dark in my bedroom in a dress so I could feel like myself.

I also began dabbling in playing the game Dungeons and Dragons as well as listening to hard core gangsta rap, heavy metal rock music and eventually discovering Marilyn Manson and Garbage both quickly becoming favorites of mine. All this was taking place during my dads deepening quest to find us the right Church to teach us whatever it was he thought would be best for our spiritual well being.

Of course it was a weird time where things that were okay were suddenly a sin then okay again. That constant back and forth began to drive me nuts. I was perfectly fine devoting my life to Jesus. I was baptized by this time so my devotion to Scripture began to shape my views on life.

I was mostly attending Evangelical and protestant churches at this time. I wasn’t long before we began running into anti-catholic preachers warning us of the dangers of Catholicism. Now I was more of the belief that we were all Christians and some had different practices so I never bought into that belief.

As someone who was deeply invested in paganism before my Christian conversion I dismissed any notion that Catholics were just pagans pretending to be Christians, I knew better. But I never did fully explore the Catholic faith.

Suicide strikes my world

I was 16 when I made my first attempt to take my life. It’s kind of a long story how I got there but it happened at a Church camp. I left the Bible Study and walked towards the side of the mountain proclaiming I was going to throw myself off the cliff and die. I was under the belief that I was ensure an eternal resting place in Heaven as the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved was being taught at the church I was attending at the time.

Not long after another fried of mine succeeded in ending his life where I had failed. This, of course shook my faith for the first time and I had to begin questioning everything I knew.

I hadn’t learned much in the way of doctrine beyond a few basics. I knew about the Gospel message of repentance and faith. I knew the Be attitudes. I knew about the sinners prayer and the Romans Road to Salvation. I had a basic understanding of the pretribulation rapture. I spent most of my time obsessing on interpreting biblical prophecy and less on Christian living.

I knew about the Armor of God and the Works of the Flesh so I had a rudimentary understanding of the Christian faith. But I never explored any deeper out of frustration with all the different interpretations. I stuck closely to the least controversial topics that the majority of Christians agreed on and shied away from the deeper topics, intentionally.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round One

I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine that I grew close to who had a spare room at a time I was fighting with my parents. It ended up being one of those situations where I ended up making things worse for everyone involved but I can’t gloss over this part.

I had already gone through my brief foray into producing “Christian Rap” music to the point I put on a concert for my friends that resulted in me preaching damnation to a bunch of Catholics.

They were not impressed. One came up to me and said dude we appreciate your enthusiasm but we’re already saved, we’re Christian. I rebuked him saying no you are Catholic, that’s the same as worshiping the devil. I was wrong to but I didn’t know any better yet.

Needless to say I was working hard on converting my Catholic roommate and any of his friends as I could. What I succeeded in doing was turning one former Catholic into a Mormon and then giving into temptation for a night of drinking the resulted in the death of another good friend.

What really ended up happening was I discovered I was deflecting my repressed transgender bisexual feelings into a scathing condemnation of others in order to bury my own flaws and try to build myself up spiritually speaking by winning over other converts. It was how I stocked up on the Holy Spirit if you will.

2008 changes everything

I was  a devout Christian raised in the Midwest with very conservative values. It was no stretch for me to pledge my loyalty to the political ideology that closely aligned with that upbringing. Everything changed in 2008. I was white, sure, but my friends were not. I was the only white kid in a ton full of Hispanics, African Americans and other non whites.

For me, the election of Barack Obama, while certainly a blow to my political leanings at the time, was a major victory culturally speaking for those I cared about. This began the wavering period where I started to question everything I had previously held as firm.

It was one year later, in 2009, that I began applying to colleges. I had dropped out of high school, with no education floated from job to job amassing a pretty lousy credit score and thus it was not an easy road getting into a decent university.

By the middle of 2010 I finally found a university that would accept me and offer me student loans to begin my education.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round Two

I was in only my first semester of college. I was taking an art appreciation class and an American History course. Both of these began to challenge my long held beliefs on the origins of my then Christian denominational allegiance.

I was challenged with the reality that before the Reformation, for the most part, all Christians were basically Catholic. There were some underlying complications to this but it was an unavoidable fact I had to grapple with.

During this time I began exploring the Catholic faith. I also began learning more about the Eastern Orthodox Church which I had always assumed was just a branch of Roman Catholicism.

By this time my years of video games, specifically role playing games, and Dungeons and Dragons reminded me that there was a very strong interest in my mind to explore the medieval period in Church history.

It was also the time I started to really question everything I thought I knew about the Bible and Christianity. No matter how much I looked for an excuse to label Catholics as a false branch of Christianity I couldn’t escape the calling.

How an Anglican changed my mind

Last year I started a new chapter in my life. Aside from starting the journey to accept my transgender identity I had been struggling with I also began realizing that I had never found a church family or single denomination that worked for me.

I spent all my life moving from town to town, state to state bouncing around from one branch of Christianity to another. I had resisted any that even resembled Catholic at all. I knew I couldn’t find the right church for me just it couldn’t be Catholic.

I started working at a new job where I met an Episcopalian who invited me to his Anglo-Catholic style church. I was instantly scared away by the very mystical liturgy the church practiced. It reinforced my fear these were pagans pretending to be Christian.

I went home and prayed about it. This whole time I had never wavered on one central truth, my belief that Jesus was in fact the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind. Nothing was going to shake that. Even if I struggled with defining sin and living with how to grow spiritually, nothing would ever shake my belief in Jesus as my Lord.

After meeting with the Anglican priest over the course of several months and talking to some Catholic co-workers I did some intense research using Catholic Answers as a starting point. I slowly settled all my fears and doubts. I prayed intensely about it and decided to take the plunge.

I signed up for the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults at my local Catholic Parish and by the time the Easter Vigil was nearing I went to the priest and request an exception to the year long wait. I was anxious to join the Church and complete my conversion to a devoted follower of Christ that I started all those years ago.

In my mind I struggled to settle issues I didn’t quite fully understand. But that wasn’t what mattered. The first time I participated in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation I felt an instant healing of my broken soul. The Lord assured me, through his Holy Spirit, I found my way back into the comfort of his flock and the safety of his Church.

The first moment I received the Holy Host in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist I felt the real presence of Jesus’s Body in my soul. I have never felt the power of the Holy Spirit, the blessings of God nearly as much as I have since coming home to the Holy Roman Catholic Church that Jesus founded over 2,019 years ago.

What does the future hold?

I didn’t think I would get here where I am today. Finally, at peace with my Faith and a growing desire to get closer to God renewed my spirit.

It took me watching a Netflix series that focused on actual devil worshipers to really wake me up to the reality that despite my early affirmation of Faith int he Lord , I needed to get my life right so I could begin to not only get closer to God through prayer and Bible Study but also to better serve him.

Today I proudly introduce myself as Catholic after spending over three decades wandering this earth trying to define my religious beliefs.  I have recently signed up for a number of opportunities within my Parish family and I look forward to growing in Christ daily. Stay Cool.

New column on the way!

Stephanie Bri is here to stay. As a result I fully intend to write a column entirely from her perspective in the near future. Obviously I’ve been letting her voice take over more lately which has been very helpful in getting me aligned properly.

It won’t mean much but what I will do is create a column just for Stephanie. It will be a combination of gaming and nerdy topic gossip, rumors and such with a mix of editorial and some fashion/cosplay advice. Basically the bitch is out of the closet and she’s going to be taking over this site. Stay Cool.

Retropalooza is next weekend: Thoughts, hopes and expectations!

Alright friends I am excited to say that next weekend I will be heading to Arlington Event Center to attend my first ever convention. I am looking forward to attending Retropalooza. I am not sure what to expect because this is my first convention but I wanted to outline my hopes ahead of time to compare this to how the actual experience turns out. This way I can see if I had realistic expectations or not.

1. Food

I am expecting this to be like any other flea market or festival I have attended which means there should be food vendors selling home made stuff right out of the food truck. I am not sure if this is a realistic expectation as I have never been to one but I am hopeful this is the case. I would love to get some street tacos made fresh on the spot.

2. Toys and games

Specifically I am thinking the vendors or sellers. I am fairly certain there will be some video game sellers. I am hopeful there will also be retro toy sellers. Specifically I am looking to dig through a big bucket or tote of random Transformers, TMNT, and GI Joe action figures, all reasonably priced I would imagine.

I am not sure what to expect but I would think there would be a sufficient variety of sellers to choose from. As for video games I have my hope list narrow down to what I will buy from a convention. Since it is a retro gaming expo I am not going to buy anything new. The newest device I would consider is a PSP because I have an overwhelming desire to get one eventually and now is as good of a time as any.

I would contemplate a Dreamcast, 3DO. 32X or Virtual Boy as those are harder to find in the wild. I thought about a Sega Saturn but that’s a pipe dream so I will lower my expectations.

3. Autographs?

I am not sure I want to buy an autograph of anyone who is attending but I might try to grab a selfie with Boogie or Wood if I can. But the real reason I am going is to have fun, meet people and maybe do some networking. I am also planning on filming some footage for a video and naturally a podcast.

4. Cosplay!

I am not sure if this is the type of convention that people normally cosplay to but if so I already have a costume purchased and ready to go. It will be my first public outing in drag as Stephanie so I am really looking forward to that. If I arrive and nobody is cosplaying then I will either feel like a fool or suck it up and stand out. Either way I am looking forward to dressing up even if nobody gets to see the costume live on scene.

5. Road trip

No matter how the day turns out it will at the very least be a nice little road trip and those are always fun. I can always use a good excuse to eat some jerky. I am not looking forward to fighting the city traffic but it’s a small price to pay for a day of fun.

That’s about all I have for now. I am hoping this experience is memorable and I can’t wait to share how it turns out. Stay Cool.

OMG I made my first public debut!

It was scary and thrilling at the same time. I put on my make up, dress and cute witches hat, sat down and recorded an entire episode of my podcast not as him but as me. It was hard. It was exciting. It was fun!

I knew someday Stephanie was going to be out. I don’t know if she will ever get to take over our life but I want to ensure she gets to be herself more than ever before. It hasn’t been easy for me getting to this point. In fact it’s been extremely tumultuous. No agonizing. No, oh there probably isn’t a word for it. Is there a word for this feeling you have doing the absolutely most terrifying soul-crushing thing that is at the same time the most liberating and soul-freeing? I don’t know whatever that word is, that’s how I felt.

I made my first full public appearance in drag on The Dark Web Podcast. I told my audience Stephanie was coming a few weeks ago. I said she is real, she is me, but she is shy. I finally began making strides towards this about a year and a half ago when I came out officially to a female friend of mine. I decided I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Ever since that day I have been slowing giving in to being more and more Stephanie each day.

I finally got to wear I am comfortable enough painting my toe nails and wearing my flip flops sans socks in public. I’ve done that two weeks in a row now and pushed past the gut-wrenching fear. I’ve slowly begun getting used to clothes shopping, although when it comes to under things well I am still overly discrete. Dresses, blouses and even skirts I can grab without too much agony but panties and bras, well I still have a ways to go.

Things are improving. But last night I sat in front of the camera and was doing so, for the first time, comfortable in my skin, comfortable with who I am and who I’ve always wanted to be.

I will be defining more what the limits of Stephanie are in the coming days and weeks. I suspect I will set some boundaries but there is a very real chance, well now that she is out she isn’t going back in so there is a chance I let her live a little and take a back seat for a while.

If this sounds confusing trust me it is for me too. It’s not like she is a voice inside my head or a separate person or anything like that. She is me, I am her. But, well I’ve had to live a certain lie, build a life around a mask. Therefore Stephanie has a right to live, and she will! But The Rat also has to manage thing for her out of necessity for the time being.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffVemmSPh2Q

Anyways, hey check out my video where I am totally rocking that cute dress I spent all friggin day shopping for. Stay Cool.

Retropalooza is now two weeks away

I am two weeks away from attending my first ever convention. This year I will be going to Retropalooza, a retro video game convention held in Alrington, Texas. I chose this one to be my first because it was the easiest one to get to considering I am about an hour away from Arlington.

I decided since this will be my first convention I would double it as an opportunity to do my first cosplay. Since that is the case I will be going both as THERAT and Stephanie to this thing. I am not sure what it will be like walking around in public for the first time dressed as a woman but I am excited for it. I am trying to build up anticipation so that I don’t chicken out.

Gearing up for the trip I have set up an interview with a YouTuber who is known as a Transgender gamer. She will be making an appearance on my podcast to talk about being trans and a geek, plus gamer stuff and other topics. I am so looking forward to this much needed vacation. Stay Cool.

Displaying painted nails in public, a personal breakthrough

I will keep this short and sweet. Saturday afternoon I drove to town on three different occasions wearing flip flops without socks. This isn’t a particularly out of the ordinary thing for me, except I had previously painted my toe nails purple and decided I wasn’t hiding it anymore.

It was a little awkward walking around town displaying my painted toes. I tried to hide them by curling my toes everywhere but by the time I got to the third store I had stopped doing this. I decided I wasn’t looking at other people’s feet, why would they be looking at mine? Well that was how I got through it. I even walked over to my sisters house that same day still displaying my painted nails. It was a small breakthrough for me. Consider it a minor victory for Stephanie Bri. Stay Cool.

Discovering my place in the world

These last two years have been the most complicated time in my entire life. I have spent a tremendous amount of my life trying to figure out who I was. What I was. Where I fit in. Two years ago I started coming to terms with things I had kept hidden for most of my life. Things I was either afraid of, or ashamed to admit. That is no longer the case. I don’t have to talk about things that are personal, things that are nobody’s business, but I want to get things off my chest, as they say set the record straight.

When I was 11 years old I discovered I had an inclination to explore the taboo world of cross-dressing. At first I considered the implications. Does this make me gay? Well I was attracted to females so I thought if it did I must be a lesbian. I continued to struggle.

I had a friend who was a cross-dresser turned transwoman who eventually transitioned fully. After I discovered the internet I began exploring other things. Seeking different perspectives and opinions. I never how to come to terms with my confusing sexual identity with my strong Christian faith. It was a struggle I had to discover for my self. It took years of agonizing over this one fact, my personal relationship with the Lord is, in fact, between me and God. Once I came to terms with I didn’t need to let people run my life. I know who I am now. I know what I am now. I am a Christian. I am a gender queer person with masculine and feminine tendencies and I am still a Christian. I am not homosexual, not in the strictest sense. At least I don’t know fully since I do question my own gender identity obviously this causes some confusion in the rest.

But, I determined it is my life to struggle with. I am the one who has to make the decisions. I am the one who has to decide who to let in, and who to cut out, of my life. I have decided that my life is my business. Of course I have to reconcile my choices with my beliefs but again, that’s for me to decide. God will judge me and I am comfortable with my relationship with him. I am comfortable in my unwavering faith.

Now as for the rest. Here is my stance. I am not going to undergo surgery or transition to becoming a woman. For a number of reasons I don’t want to discuss here, I don’t need to go through with that. I don’t want to be a drag queen in public either. You might be wondering if I am going to basically keep it, well to myself in private why bother coming clean? Well every individual who harbors these out of the ordinary feelings has to find their own voice. Every person’s struggle is personal. Does this mean I am “coming out of the closet” well if that term helps you understand what I am saying sure why not. Does it mean I am gay, trans, or gender fluid? Well again whatever helps you sleep at night.

No, what I want to make sure is this, I am who I am and I don’t care what other people think. I don’t want to hide anymore. As far as why I wrote this. I had to. I needed to make sure I set the record straight. I am not entirely gay nor am I completely straight. I am not entirely trans nor am I entirely gender fluid but I am not going to fit into a box. That is all.

There is another person living inside my mind, heart and soul. Her name is Stephanie Bri. I don’t give her a voice as often as she would like. But I have come to accept she isn’t a part of me, or rather a separate part of me. She is me. We are one. One person, one mind, with one goal. You will likely hear more from Stephanie in the future. At the very least I can finally admit she is real and I am okay with that.

Remembering political icon Ross Perot

I was in grade school the first time I saw Ross Perot on TV. I was instantly enamored by the way he spoke. Even at a young age I knew I was fascinated by the things he talked about. I was young enough I didn’t fully understand, after all I was barely in the 3rd grade. But he is absolutely the reason I became so fascinated not only in politics but also business. The way he presented his argument with those charts, it just mesmerized me.

It wasn’t long before I started developing that interest in politics into a passion. I still remember Nickelodeon making fun of Perot in a number of skits as part of its All That program. The show might have contributed to my awareness of the individual. While I was in 5th grade my interest in how our government works increased tremendously following a field trip to the state capital. It was one of those times where I knew whatever life threw my way I was going to find a way to be involved in politics one way or another.

When I was in high school I turned my interest in politics into a term as student council president of my entire school. That experience was a game changer for me. I distinctly remember the first time we sat down in a room to discuss something as simple as hosting a dance for the school. It turned into a divisive yelling match that demonstrated how polarizing politicking can be at even a young age. Ultimately we never came to terms on the dance and it was handed down to the eighth grade body who took it over while we washed our hands of it. It wasn’t the high note of my young political career. It was a hardy reminder of how different people can be and how hard it is to get them to agree on even something as basic as hiring a DJ.

Even following his passing I was reminded how complex people can be listening to all the responses of others who had their own memories of the man. I admittedly never met him nor did I have any work related to his life. I have interviewed politicians before for my newspaper but never Ross Perot, sadly. Based on the stories I was told by colleagues who had that opportunity I can say I kind of wish I had been given a chance to cover him at some point but alas it is not to be.

I don’t want to write an editorial on his life or even a commentary on his political views. Rather I just want to remember as fondly as I can how one man’s campaign for president inspired me to get interested in politics in general.

The darkest days of my life

In order for this story to make sense you have to step into your time machine and head back to the late 90s. It was most likely around 1999 or maybe even into 2000. Hard to say.

During that time in my life my friend and I were spending most of our days sitting around listening to hard core gangsta rap. Mostly 2Pac but we dabbled in Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, N.W.A., and others. My friend had gotten himself into a crime ring. I won’t go into the specifics but he got caught and I kind of stood up for him. This wasn’t the first time I stuck my neck out to keep a good friend out of trouble. It won’t be the last.

There was a young girl he kind of had a crush on. I was about four years older than he, he was about 2 years older then her, so I was beyond crushing on a child. But he did a job for her step-dad. Nothing major like fixing a bike or mowing the lawn, kids stuff. He ended up not getting paid for the job and the girl talked some trash or something. In the end my friend ended up taking a knife from a tool box laying in the alley. He wasn’t 100 percent who’s knife it was but he took it and gave it to me not so much for safe keeping but as a token of our friendship or something along those lines.

I don’t want to dig too deep into the power I felt holding that knife in my hands. My lust for power mostly centered on my desire to not be bullied or pushed around anymore. I wasn’t a gun person but that knife gave me an edge. I took it with me everywhere. It was more or less a hunting knife I told myself. I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about knives. Honestly it was just a thing a friend gave me. But there always lingered in the back of mind, partly because the origin of the knife, partly well other things. I always feared if I lost it and it was used for I don’t know something bad, I would get blamed, or at the very least questioned.

I chose to ignore it. I put it my pocket where it lived. I would take it with me everywhere I went. Sometimes I would flip it out if I thought doing so would back up my claim of please don’t mess with me I am not stable. I was always perfectly stable but I had some anguish over things from my childhood. There was also me dropping out of high school and going right into the work force unprepared. I struggled to find my bliss.

Let’s get to the point. Now that you have the background let’s discuss the events leading up to the darkest days of my life. In 2010 I had basically been kicked out of truck driving school. With no education beyond a GED which I fumbled my way through and mostly experience bouncing around from job to job, town to town, I wasn’t on a solid path in this world. I kept my faith in God but I was losing my faith in myself. God forgives us for our sins, I was beginning to rely more on the forgiveness part less on the stay away from it altogether.

In 2011 I got my life turned around. I was accepted into a university where I studied Broadcasting. My dream, or one of them, had been to get into television production or film making. I figured I would major in broadcasting and minor in theater. I changed minors basically every semester but things started to finally look up in my life. The days of me losing my temper over stupid things were gone. I held onto the skeletons from my past but they were safely tucked away in the closet where they belonged. That is until one day.

I woke up from a dream. I was back in 6th grade. For the first time in my life I was looking at my 6th grade self from the eyes of an adult. I no longer saw this innocent child who had his spirit beat down by kids who thought they were better than him or whatever it was. I saw a dirty kid who didn’t follow the rules, swore way too much, pushed people out of his way and wore torn clothes despite his parents buying him better things than that. In other words I saw the mangled, troubled youth I was pretending not to be for the first time. This prompted me to seek counseling. I was tired of not knowing how to talk to people, especially females. If you have ever seen that TV show The Big Bang Theory, I was Raj. That was me. If two or more people were in the same space as I, my voice turned off and I sat there, a wallflower wishing I could connect with people.

At first the therapy was going well. I was on a new medication and I was talking to people. I was making friends, using my social skills not relying on close proximity in class or leeching on my sister’s friends. I was finally getting my life in order. Everything felt good. Until that fateful day.

I literally, truly, 100 percent honestly cannot revisit in my mind exactly the chain of events. Somehow I either blocked part of it out or it happened so fast I never processed it properly. Here is how I do remember it.

Monday I call the counselor, who always told me in our sessions going was optional, I was feeling better. I didn’t need the visits anymore I was going to wing myself off the medication and go back to normal. We talked about the side effects and I figured I had improved. I was happy. I didn’t, nor did I ever actually want the pills.

What ended up happen next I can’t be too certain. Somehow it escalated into them searching my apartment. Then going to my mom asking her invasive questions she didn’t care to answer. They threatened both of us, my mom was also attending school. I don’t know how she talked me into it but the counselor got me to turn  my friends knife over to campus police. They cited some no tolerance policy or whatever. I had never threatened anyone and explained it was a damn souvenir  it didn’t have any sinister meaning. Still they wanted it for evidence or whatever. Then someone in the faculty, they never told me who, accused me of lying and making threats. I got defensive and scared. I was being kicked out of school and my campus apartment. I was being told I would be homeless and unemployed without a proper education. I was having flash backs to the life I was saved from. College was supposed to prepare me for the real world and all it did was send me back to the life I was escaping. Fine but the story takes a nasty twist.

I don’t know who it was or how it happened but the police were called. I was asked, not court ordered but asked by the school if I checked myself into a mental health clinic for 24 hour evaluation if I was cleared I could go back to school and stay in my apartment and it would all be over. I did as I was asked.

Day one was a nightmare. I paced the walls of my, they called it a room I called it a cell. I had a room mate who sat on his bed crying the whole time. I couldn’t leave the room. I had a bathroom I could use but that was it. We had designated social sessions, group therapy and individual visits with their therapist. My parents visited me late at night when they were allowed. I had nothing, no phone, no watch nothing to occupy my mind. By the end of the first day it felt like I had been in there fore days. I was resisting. I wanted out but I knew I did nothing wrong. Nobody, not my college, not the state, not my parents had a right to deny me my personal freedom without just cause. I didn’t even have a proper accuser. I just kept following suit. Do what they tell you. Eat breakfast, do chores, sit in group, ask questions, socialize. It sucked. There were people in there that NEEDED to be. People who were fighting real demons. I was a kid from Kansas who moved around a lot. I didn’t have real struggles. I never did drugs. I was a Dean’s list student. You know any problems I had I knew were internal. Still I was there and there was nothing I could do to get out.

Day two.

I keep pacing the floor. I tried reading the books on the shelf. I was allowed to bring one from home, a school book from my film class. My film class I was failing because I couldn’t attend. I was saddened, and angered by this. Frustration. Fear. Despair. These began to compound. I went in knowing I had to get out. By the end of the second day I was afraid I was saying the wrong things. I had seen enough horror movies to know you can get stuck in these places if you don’t learn to say the right things.

The therapist asked me a thousand and one questions. I answered honestly. He asked me if I was lying. I said I had no motive to do so. I said I want out. I have no reason to be here. I explained how my life was going good, counseling school they were all the tings I needed. I asked why they were taking this away from me?

He said he didn’t have any reason to keep me but the deal with the school went from 24 hours to three days. It was only day 2.

This man, I never knew his name, I never cared. He told me I needed to stop pacing the floor. Not reading the books. He said socialize more. He said if I wanted to be released I had to prove I was sociable. He said if I did that it would look better. So I did. But the problem was those people. They were damaged. They were broken. They belonged there. I was normal. I had trouble talking to females but other than that I had no voices in my head. I had no drugs in my blood. I had no thoughts of ending my life. Not the first or second day.

Day Three.

I am getting really irritated. Why does it take so long to meet with the therapist? Why do they drag their damn feet? How much longer is this going to take? They said I could check myself out anytime I wanted. Finally the man came to me and pulled me into the private room. I have been there before I knew something was wrong. He told me point blank their staff didn’t see anything wrong with me. He said the school has something else going on but he couldn’t say what. He could say, he told me, they were NOT going to honor their agreement and if I wanted out I needed to start the process or they were going to put me past the voluntary watch and keep me there another week just to be safe. I pulled myself out and went home.

As I sat here putting these words down I realized I wasn’t able to go into all of my details that I thought. I realized there was no chance in hell I was going to open that scar and share my actual inner thoughts. Not if I am to put this dark past where it belongs. In the past. I knew someday I would need to work through it. I know someday further I will probably even find myself completely healed from it. Still, there is the small part of me that wants to scream on top of my lungs until they flatten like a tire with a nail in it. I don’t suppose that day will be today but I imagine it is coming.

The story has a somewhat happy ending in that it pushed me to be a better person. However, I can honestly say it also put the fear in me. I now know to be far more careful the things you say and who you say it to.

Every word of this is true to the best of my recollection. Of course there are details I am leaving out. But I can also say it is not intentional it is how my fuzzy brain remembers it. Stay Cool.