My story doesn’t start off with the cliché… “Oh my dysfunctional family.” Though I’m sure by some people’s perceptions, I could use that catch phrase to blame away many of the events of my life. I actually was raised in quite a beautiful surrounding, by two fantastic women. I was born on July 8, 1965 in Lock Haven, PA. My father left my mother before I was born, and my Mom, who was 39, and Grandmother, who was around 70, took on the task of raising me by themselves. From a financial standpoint, we were what you would call “lower-middle class”. We didn’t have a lot of “material things”, but my mother made sure that we never “went without”.
As I begin the process of self awareness, I have to say, that in retrospect, I believe that I gained some of the most valuable lessons about values, morals, work ethic, faith and love from those two women that anyone could ever learn. I was blessed with a Mother who had the intestinal fortitude to do what she needed to do, sometimes working 3 jobs so that she could support our family, and a Grandmother who was able to dedicate the time and energy to raising me while my mother worked to support us all. Between the two of them, they created an environment of love and security that was the foundation for my life.
My grandmother was the Matriarch of our family. Born in the 1890’s she lived through times and circumstances that I couldn’t begin to imagine. Through her life experiences she grew into a wise woman who could be strict and judgmental, but at her core, I believe that she only wanted the best for her family and believed she was preparing them for the realities of life.
My mother also survived through tough times, born in 1926, she lived through the depression, and spent a major part of her early life being responsible for the raising of her younger brothers and sisters while my Grandmother worked in the fields on the family farm with my Grandfather. When she was 17 and her younger siblings were able to be left alone, she started working in a factory and later sent herself to nursing school with little to no outside help.
As I watched these women deal with life, and received the lessons that they instilled in me as a child, I now believe that these were some of the guiding forces that saved me at my lowest points. I would never have admitted that up until about 8 years ago. But I realize as I have progressed in the process of self awareness and my new way of looking at life, that what I learned from them is a part of who I am at the core. Can I put a finger on each and every lesson these two wonderful women gave me? No, I think not. But some of my strongest character traits are those that they inspired in me.
Now even though they gave me a great foundation and all the love I could have asked for, there was something missing. I couldn’t escape the feeling that something about our family was different. I was born at a time and in a part of the country where unwed mothers were not commonplace. To be more specific, they were looked down on and treated as outcasts. It was a time when women in my mother’s situation were sent away to distant relatives and the baby was either given up for adoption or aborted. My mother took a big risk in staying where she was and going through the term of her pregnancy with the whole community knowing about her being unmarried.
I can remember the tension as I was growing up. Whether it was real or just my perception, I knew that we were different from other families and that people seemed to turn away from us. But I have to give my mother and grandmother credit, they stayed committed to the path they chose and in time, that changed people’s perceptions of our family and we did become accepted by our community.
I led what I believe to be a very normal life for a child. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting in the grass, along my grandmother’s flowerbed, playing with my puppy, a small tan mutt named “Brownie”. He was nothing too original; he was small, about the size of a beagle with short tan fur, and a white stripe down the center of his nose. I think I was around 4 years old at the time. It’s one of those memories that you have of being a child sitting in the sun, the cool breeze blowing across your skin, the laughter you hear when you think of a child as they play with their puppy.... that is the life I remember as a small child. Laughter, sunshine, warm days and spring rains.
I grew up in the type of community where everyone knew each other, and most of the people were related. Literally! I grew up in a community where out of the 10 to 15 homes within a 1-mile radius… everyone was related to each other.
It was a community that even if you were not related, you grew up understanding the value of neighbors helping neighbors. As an example, once when I was about 10 or 11 years old, a brush fire broke out that threatened to burn several acres and some of our families’ homes. The call went out and neighbors from 3-4 miles away showed up within minutes to help battle the blaze.
I believe that I was a typical country kid. As a young child, the outdoors were my home. I loved to lie in the grass and look at the constantly changing images that appeared in the clouds. I loved to sing, and dance. I loved to play with my dog, and went to an imaginary school that my cousins and I created in the little playhouse we had that was made out of an old chicken coop.
My family also had a small country store that was the center of the mountain community. It was a small place where you could buy everything you needed without driving 20 minutes into the closest town. It was also the focal point for all of our activities as kids. We played baseball and football in the big field that was next to the store. And as we got older, we rode our motorcycles and snowmobiles in the surrounding trails that ran for miles and miles through the woods and when the machines got damaged, we would come together and do the repairs on them in the garage that was located in the back of the store.
I would say that we were living a storybook life for kids growing up in the 70’s. There was no major crime, there wasn’t abuse going on; it really was like a Norman Rockwell kind of setting. No alcoholic fathers, or fights, at least not that anyone saw. It was almost too good to be true. Yet the reality, which I was to experience later, turned that beautiful start at a dream life, into a horrific nightmare.
< Preface Chapter 1:2 >
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?
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 The Process Of Self Awareness