< Chapter 2:5 Chapter 3:2 >
It wasn't long before I started seeking paths of acceptance that would lead me on some very unusual journeys. My faith became one that held my own condemnation. It was my belief that I was already destined to burn in hell, so there was really no reason for me to play by normal rules any more. My focus shifted, I began seeking paths of acceptance. All I wanted now, was to fit in. To find someone, somewhere, where I could be accepted. In my mind, God didn’t want me, so I had to find someone who did. I can remember vividly, standing in the dining room one night screaming at the top of my lungs. I yelled out, “Here’s the deal!!! If there is a devil, you give me my leg back, and I will do anything you want. ANYTHING!!! God won’t save me, so if you want me, I’m yours!!! Give me my leg back, and you have me!!!” Little did I realize, the devil had no reason to meet my demands. He already had me.
Now I want you to understand something. As I look back, I truly know that the people in my community, my school, my family did accept me. But as I stood in that moment, all I could see was pain and rejection. All I could feel was mistrust. All I could see was anger and pity. The great teachers say that what we see in the world is a reflection of ourselves. And I would have to say that was a pretty accurate description of my feelings at that time. The world was reflecting exactly what I held inside.
So I left behind the idea of a loving family life, and set out seeking paths of acceptance to find some place I could feel that I belonged. There was a “gang” that was formed on our mountain that was made up of a mixture of kids who lived at the top of the mountain, and some who lived at its base. Now this wasn’t a gang in the sense of the word that gang means today. It was a tight band of pre-teen and teenage boys, who spent time together and formed an alliance with a name. They would hunt and fish together, ride dirt bikes together, go camping together, play sports, cards, walk, talk, live and fight together. Swissdale Tech was the name of this gang, and the flag they flew was a custom made t-shirt that displayed your membership.
As I watched from the sidelines, what impressed me the most was that when these guys went somewhere, people respected them. Now in my young eyes… they were God-like, and I wanted to be a part of it.
Swissdale Tech was made up of a few of my cousins and some of their friends, so it was my assumption that I had a natural place in that group. But it wasn’t going to be that easy. I had created a lot of perceptions about myself through the way I manipulated my Mother and Grandmother. So my earlier actions which created an image of being a “momma’s boy” followed me.
And when it came to the activities that they were involved in, I was pretty much at a loss also. By this time, my uncle Dick had his own family, and was not around as much anymore to teach me the “manly” aspects of life. As for my stepfather, Lewis, he wasn’t taking any kind of active role with me anymore. I didn’t know how to play the games they played. With no real male role model, I never learned the rules and strategies involved in things like baseball or football. So in attempting to fit in, I was, as any child would do, constantly making mistakes. But by this point my self-image was so low that when I did make mistakes, I would feel “stupid”.
My desire for seeking paths of acceptance, to become “part of the gang” was so strong, that I became overzealous. And in doing so, my actions created opportunities for ongoing jokes and made me an easy target to pick on. Now again, I don’t want to paint some picture of the complete victim here. They did accept me on many levels. MY actions were what pushed me away. Have you ever met someone who wanted to be accepted so badly that they tried too hard, and you just didn’t want them around? Yet you saw in them some really good qualities. And if they didn’t push so much you could actually like this person. Have you known someone who fits that description? From my perception, that’s the best way that I can characterize my attempt to fit in. I wanted it so badly, and tried so hard, that I created the very situations that made it easy for me to be ridiculed. And because I wanted to belong so badly, I also allowed it to continue. I would accept the jokes and the insults because I was finally a part of something.
Now, even though that ridicule may have been well-intended playfulness by them, because of the way I already viewed myself, it hit me deeply. Not because of the ridicule itself, but because I had already planted HUGE seeds of doubt about who I was and what I would become.
One of the marks of significance that showed you were really a part of Swissdale Tech was a custom made t-shirt bearing the gang’s name. I remember wanting one of those shirts so badly, and not being able to get one. It was a “right of passage” in a sense, to own one. All I could focus on was that I wanted to wear that flag that said I was in Swissdale Tech too. Finally, one afternoon my mother took me to buy one at the local athletic store where they made them. I still remember the pride when I first wore it. It was a sense that I finally belonged. But that feeling was short-lived. The pride turned into a feeling of rejection when they saw me wearing the shirt the next day in school. It was a look like, “Wait a minute, you didn’t earn that.” And again, as I look back, I have to say that wasn’t what was in their heart, but what was in mine. I had developed such a low self worth by this time that nothing I would do would make me feel right. Seeking paths of acceptance that would lead me to very dark places was a pattern that would follow me for a major part of my life.
< Chapter 2:5 Chapter 3:2 >
The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:1 Seeking Paths Of Acceptance
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober - Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
Jump HOME from Seeking Paths Of Acceptance