My guest blogger is my youngest son Brandon – now 24.
He openly and honestly shares his coming of age story. Complete with the ups and downs of navigating young adulthood – while living with FASD and the lingering effects of early trauma. May you profit by his wisdom and authenticity.
Brandon put great thought into this writing which makes this father very proud of his son. Although I set boundaries, remained emotional available, stayed in regular contact and refused to give him money, the choice to change ultimately was his – not mine. As it must be.
A brain is given to us during creation. It develops during pregancy and throughout life. However, the ability to use the brain’s power is not given during creation. And for some, like me with early trauma and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, physical strength overshadows mental strength far into young adulthood.
When I let my love be for everybody – prior to first loving myself 100%, life had a tragic but finite way of reminding me. Our hearts are still a muscle. Unlike our brains. The fight for who & what we want our hearts to love becomes more than a game of sticks and stones.
Words can hurt me.
You see, I’m a 24-year-old young man given many labels and accompanying expectations – before I knew I was born to be me. For me.
Black, disabled, adopted, overly-sensitive, impulsively-giving, 9-5 working, addicted, homeless.
Eventually I hit rock bottom because I was using my physical strength and my brain’s potential separately.
For example. When I started my first job in 2015 at Studio Movie Grill at age 20, I had the physical strength to get up and go to the job. I completed every shift. But on payday I failed to use MY hard earned money for ME.
My future apartment, my car, my needs.
My love was for the people I perceived as my heart’s desire: a second family. That meant anyone who didn’t lecture me or remind me how much I needed to grow up – like I perceived my real family constantly doing.
No doubt, I didn’t love myself AND my job first. I didn’t use my brain to seek a respectable lifestyle for myself. Acceptance from non-family members came first, regardless of consequences.
Then came 2018. After I’d been working 35 hours full-time at Panera Bread for 7 months, Taco Bell rehired me for 3 days per week. I was on Cloud 9 with the strength to work 2 jobs. But I still possessed 0 desire to use them to further myself.
I let my euphoric feeling of loving my life via numbers draw me under the influence of others. They all had one thing in common. They were more interested in spending my hard-earned money than becoming a true and lasting friend.
And I let them take advantage of me again and again.
Most notably was a now ex-addict whom I could never let myself hate for one traumatic reason. I didn’t deserve to be loved until I was “Black” enough. So I let him inject me with a drug. I soon became an addict. I then became homeless. Finally, I received a most-ironic reality check.
There are different “levels” to being Black, being white or being Latino. Being any race.
I could never be respected or loved by the type of Black man I was trying to be. No, I never wanted to be a Thug. Or an angry, scared man with a secret heart of gold.
I wanted to be around people who looked like me yet still be myself. A Lizzie McGuire fan and true Hilary Duff lover. A fanatic of the Disney Trinity (Miley Cyrus Demi Lovato & Selena Gomez).
All without being a threat to Black masculinity.
After 18 months of wandering and trying to mimic others, I found myself. I learned to be okay with the judgment my labels bring – because it’s all misguided.
No one’s opinion will define me unless my mentally-weakened brain allows it.
I can’t let down my guard. Ever.
So today I’m in control. I’m clean and sober. I love myself for me. I don’t shame from within. No name, label or hateful gesture can affect my will to use my strength AND my brain together for positive gain.
To learn from my mistakes. To trust family members and keep them in the loop. To know right from wrong. To be productive each day. To reach my potential.
And to be happy being me. For me.
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page NoLimitsAndrew – Andrew Peterson
To watch Andrew’s amazing ESPN 14-minute documentary, click here. Andrew Peterson ESPN Documentary