I grew up with a single mother who worked two jobs and was gone from 5am – 8pm Mon- Fri and some Saturdays. She taught me to love, but lie and take advantage to get ahead. I lived in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley in a rough gang infested area where I was the minority for appearing more Caucasian than my Hispanic sperm donor. I was weak, timid, emotional, and had ADHD to an extreme level. I saw doctors, therapists, and an ADHD specialist monthly because my mother just knew something was wrong with me. I was disciplined through physical acts, and extensive tasks that took hours to complete. I had dreams, and wants like every boy in the Late 70’s to early 80’s, but we were too poor and she too busy to achieve any of them. My mother reminded my weekly that if I didn’t fix my hyper state I would amount to nothing and never be successful. For a short time my mother was sleeping with my t-ball coach, so I was able to participate in sports, but I would hear them talk about me being the charity case.
In high school I was picked on by the band geeks, and ran home each day in fear that I would be beat up, picked on or jumped. One day I decided to forge my mother’s signature in order to participate in wrestling, after all if I was going to learn to be a man with no father around then this was the sport to do it in. Although she was too busy, to ever attend a match, I had a prior Marine as a coach who became my semi-sue do mentor. It’s here where I began to mold myself into the person I wanted to be, or so I thought. I was tired of being afraid, so I decided I was going into the military to become what my coach was; a stoic no nonsense badass man who was successful and had seen the world. Little did I know that would come with some heavy baggage.
In 1998, I joined the US Navy with my best friend Brandon. Actually, he was my only real friend at the time, and today we are no longer friends but family. I had no idea what I was doing and no direction, but I knew I had my spit swapping brother with me. I worked hard, kept my head low, and listened to commands. This recipe allowed me to excel, be promoted, and become a military cop. I had finally found a purpose and a path. I enjoyed protecting people, and learning how to protect myself. I began to study firearms, self-defense, health & fitness, and tactics. I began to gain friends, comrades, and girls; oh man the girls started talking to me!
Shortly after, I met my wife, rented a home, got married, and had a baby on the way. We had friends, went out, had adventures, and I felt like I had accomplished 70% of my original plan to become a real man. Then just like that the Navy decided to deploy me to the Middle East. Now this was in May of 2001, so there was no war on Terrorism, the towers were still standing and I was excited to travel and learn a new culture. My son was just born and my wife and I were solid, or so I thought. I was on guard duty out at the aviation unit in Manama Bahrain when the Towers were attacked. My mother called me frantic, panicking, and distraught. Telling me the US was under attack, and asking if I was safe! I thought she was crazy, we had heard nothing to this affect. As a matter of fact we were in the Middle East, at a base where secret combat or rescue missions departed often.
We were surrounded by a culture that for the majority hated us, and wanted us gone or dead. We swept vehicles and person(s) for bombs and weapons on a daily basis, but we had never come under attack. I brushed her off and thought she was just being her everyday paranoid dramatic self. You see recently before this my mother pursued a degree in mental health specific to children with learning disabilities. This made her all-knowing and an expert mental health or so she would tell you. The phone call came 3 hours later that the US had been attacked and we were going to condition DELTA. All non-military personnel or government employees were to be removed off base immediately, or arrested, searched, and held until further notice. 3 days later I was attached to a Fly-Away defense force team and flown to Qatar to protect EOD, and SEAL teams while they prepared themselves in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. 2 weeks later I landed in Afghanistan and we were told to stand by pending orders. October 2nd the first shots rang out during a security patrol and that was my first experience of combat, Oct 7th Operation Enduring Freedom began officially.
Coming back to the states after a year and a half had changed me and my views. I would go on to become a special weapons, tactics, and self-defense instructor, and work with both SEAL teams and EOD teams here and there as tech support. I got to play with the big boys, but never be one as they say. This changed my life forever.
Post war and military I became a sales rep for a gym, then assistant manager. When I got bored with that I took a more financial rewarding job in marketing selling websites, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I was good enough that I was recruited by Wachovia Bank to become a Licensed Business Banker and there started my corporate suit and tie career. Wait, but what about my wife and kid? Oh yah, in grand social fashion, my wife cheated on me, hurt our son, and was almost kicked out of the military and sent to the Brig (military jail). Needless to say I gained full custody of my son, and spent 2 years nurturing him back to health or a normal sense of safety and happiness. Ok, so there’s that and now I ‘m a successful banker making all this money, and I have women (plural), a house, 2 nice jeeps and a ton of friends. Yet I wasn’t happy, and no one understood me. You see, I had been so busy with my son, and distracted with the divorce, and starting over that I didn’t realize this thing (darkness) growing inside me. I mistook it for confidence and a new found self-worth. I thought this is what a man feels like, and what a combat man behaves like; we own the world. HA, was that a load of shit!!!
I would eventually leave the corporate life out of boredom and go into Club Security, Executive Security, Security Contracting, and then eventually Federal Law Enforcement. I would also become a Tac-Medic (Federal Tactical Paramedic) and National EMT. So here I am protecting and healing people and it felt great! The truth is I was lonely, misunderstood, grumpy, and was looking to women, sex, booze, and fights to make me feel better. I could hurt someone because I felt like it, I was no longer afraid of… well, anything; except losing my son. I thought I had kept him safe and provided a wonderful life for him. Truth is he did have a good life, and felt loved, but I woke him up at night with my nightmares, or me coming home drunk and crying or screaming. I had become that stoic badass who was successful and had traveled the world but it wasn’t what I thought it to be. Truth is I was hurting inside, seeing images, hearing voices, and remembering all the badass things I had done. They weren’t badass anymore though, they hurt, they angered me, I was embarrassed by some of the things I had done. Problem was my whole world was created by this image, I was surrounded by men just like me, and I felt there was no way out. We were men of protection and intimidation and there was nothing else for us, no other mission. I like many thought I had my shit together, and the acts and things we saw didn’t affect me like the others. Then something happened and things changed. One night I was so drunk, that I grabbed a rifle in my closet loaded it and ran out of the house with my buddy in tow trying to stop me. I can’t tell you what I was thinking or why?! I scoped in on some random person walking down the street and my buddy ended up pounding me into the ground until I was unconscious in order to stop me. Typical movie clip, and cliché right? No kidding, a lot of us are in some sense or another. I remembered everything the next morning and I was mortified, how could I hurt an innocent person? I needed help!
Fast forward a couple years, and some more bad relationships, bad choices in sexual partners, and just down right stupidity on my part. I’m now a drug interdiction investigator for another 3 letter agency (no not the DEA). I’m in a shit hole town with my son in college on the opposite coast, he was struggling a bit with grades, but I thought it was just nerves. I’m giving back what I feel I took away from society. I opted in on every mission, investigation, and undercover Op I could. I needed to give back and get rid of this darkness. I had a younger GF, who had moved in with me and I thought things were good. Well, during an Op I got to close, and almost made a fatal error. This again changed my life. My GF left, my son came home and disclosed to me he was struggling and thinking of suicide, and I was about to walk away from my career, but I didn’t know it yet. A simple sexual assault crossed my desk, and I normally did not handle these, but at the time I was the only qualified SAVI (Sexual Assault Intervention Specialist) investigator on staff. Short story, my Chief told me to botch the investigation because the accused was a respected member of our agency. BULLSHIT! I was not about to destroy the progress and giving back I had done by tainting my career. I knew if I did as asked, I would have been promoted, and given any assignment I wanted and become ‘one of them’. FUCK THAT, I turned in my report and also sent it to the FBI, and congressional office. LET THE SHIT STORM BEGIN! I Stood by my actions, but was met with retaliation, intimidation, lack of support, and a management that now wanted me gone.
Luckily for me, federal time also engulfs military time, and I was able to early retire. So, that’s what I did. In the mean time I took the time to learn about my list of problems (disabilities) such as my:
TBI (traumatic brain injury): Cognitive Memory Disorder, Speech Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, PTSD, Anxiety, Hyper Vigilance, Mood Swings, Nightmares, Visual Stimulants as they call it (seeing shit), Flashbacks, Depression, Chronic Pain, joint detrition, and some other BS I can’t even spell. I needed to heal my Mental Health, so my body could follow suit.
I started dating Stephanie in May of 2019. Initially we just wanted to find a steady FWB (fuck buddy). What I found was an amazing, educated, tolerant, thoughtful, caring, and steadfast woman who was also lost and needed a good honest foundation. Not to mention her past relationships were surrounded by men using her intellect, money, and hard work to their advantage. Well I was many things in my past, but at this point I was not a user, and I too was looking for a broken yet fixable, honest, hardworking, and caring person that was loyal. In a way and to sound cliché again, we were equally just what the other needed at the time. Luckily, once we both began to heal and come out of that phase we still liked each other, and eventually loved one another. We are now and may forever be in our honey moon phase, having found growth, strength, adventure, and loyalty in a not so perfect person that is perfect for us. She accepts the darkness in me, and I the crazy dramatic in her. Together we try to teach and heal each other without changing one another.
We have experienced a lot together, in our first couple years. Selling our homes, me retiring from my Law Enforcement career and finding a new one, moving across the state together, starting a company together, becoming licensed skydivers together, going through trials in our sex life, merging our families: kids, dogs, and in laws. Buying a new home, traveling, losing a fur baby, and many other adventures; both good and challenging. Through all this I have never seen Stephanie sway from wanting to help others. She is now in her doctoral program and still sees the light at the end of the tunnel like she is a kid seeing Santa for the first time. Not because she wants to be called Doctor (well maybe sexually), but because she knows it will help her clients even more. I in return have discovered that I can protect and help others with my mind not just with my hands. Through her grace, that darkness it shrinking and I’m able to help others with this new found path. Through my clients I’m becoming the actual man I never knew I wanted to be or could be.
Why do I tell you all this intimate and detailed information? Because you need to know I'm just another person who has been through some things just like you. I jumped into mental health because of my past and for my future. If you read this and it resignates with you, please reach out to me, I can help. Our consultations are free and private.