Through my tears, I looked up at her, and she was so angry, but the words hit home. I gave up a perfect girl in my life only to feel this. It was then the anger started to explode in my body, and it happened to be as my mom rolled up on Marie’s house. As I was getting out of the car, my mom grabbed my arm. “David, don’t you touch her, she not worth going to jail and ruining your life.” I responded, “I would never hurt her as she hurt me.”

Read Part one HERE

As I made my way up the sidewalk, my, whole body was shaking, and my legs felt weak. I gave this girl everything I had to give as a young boy — the purity of my life and moreover my enduring love. Marie made me feel confident and comfortable being who I was, an awkward, shy boy. She taught me to be sensitive and say things I felt. Marie taught me to love myself and love her without that youthful lust. Marie was a legit soul mate in my life, and she always will be, regardless of our lack of friendship currently. It’s a one-way road of appreciation and enduring affection. I still believe that we will talk one day and find harmony. Here I was walking up to confront someone that let me down in the most significant way a young boy could face. I walked up to the door and knocked.

I turned around and noticed my mother pulled out of the driveway and drove away. I had lost my getaway if things went wrong or her dad beat me to death for coming over later. Marie’s dad opened the door and looked straight at me. The look was intimating, but it didn’t shake. In the first year of the relationship, he was intimidating. I learned to like him, and he seemed to know how much I loved Marie. Fathers know who is real and who’s there to try to score or do what young people do.

I loved Marie, and it was pure and straightforward to see. “Good evening, David.” I knew he had an idea of what was going on. “May I speak to Marie?” He looked back at Marie, and she seemed upset, but she walked toward the door. Marie’s father walked away, and Marie came to the door. I looked into her beautiful brown eyes, and I could see her eye’s seemed red. “Why, Marie?” I loved you so much. How could you do this?” Marie put down her head and started crying. “Please don’t cry Marie, you know I hate when you cry, babe.” She looked at me, cleared her tears, and calmed down. “I am sorry, David, I am.” I got closer to her, and she looked down. “We did everything together Marie, now what?” She was quite. It was then my next action would forever change our lives.

I started yelling at her to answer me, and it scared her. I never touched her, but in a way, fighting between the anger and my tears, I wanted to hug her. That was how much I loved her. I faced two-sided of emotion. Her father came to the door, and I felt overwhelmed with emotion. In a moment of lost love, I animated a threating expression with hands. As she walked, she walked into her mother’s arms, and I shook head and hit the side of the door and walked away.

I walked back and forth on the lawn for what felt like 30 minutes. I sat on the curb demoralized. I sat there, and every moment we spent together went through my head. I reflected on the extraordinary personal life-changing moments that catapulted us into maturity. I was in denial that this situation between her and some Tennis jock name Mark occurred. I started to calm down enough to finally move into thinking about how I could bargain with her. If only I had tried to be a better person or boyfriend. I thought I was, did I miss something? My mom came to pick me up, and I didn’t want to talk about what had happened. 

I started my drift into a dark and depressive mindset that would challenge me. This would change everything in life and other relationship for years to come. You may ask, did this conclude our relationship? That’s for another blog post. When young people share life-changing experiences and growth paths often meet again. So, what did I learn from this experience? So much that I can’t cover it all here right now. Through this experience, I went through many emotional and stages. I didn’t know those stages, then, but as I grew up, I learned what it was.

It was clear I was facing the 5 stages of Grief and Loss.

1. Denial In this phase, our heart—rather than our head—rules our belief system as we try to adjust to the idea of life without the person we’re losing. Even though we know the relationship is over, we don’t believe it. Against the better judgment of everyone around us, we can’t help but entertain fantasies of things somehow working out. We see hidden glimmers of hope buried in clear indications that it’s over. (Unsurprisingly, this is the phase where we are most susceptible to hooking up again)

2. Anger can manifest in many different ways—anger at your ex. How could she/he do this to me? Why can’t she stop being selfish?”), anger at God or the universe (“Why can’t anything ever work out for me? Why am I cursed? This is the phase where people tell anyone and everyone how “crazy” or “psycho” our ex was. Marie was not crazy. She was intelligent and beautiful. I was lucky to have her in my life.

3. Bargaining often goes hand in hand with the denial. Looking for any possible way to make a relationship work through negotiations. Later I will share how I went after Mark and plotted his demise. If I would have followed through I wouldn’t be free to write this today, it was that serious. During this stage, you may take a new interest in, but trust me it won’t work.

4. Depression, like anger, also surfaces in many different forms. Feeling tired all the time, not wanting to do anything but lay in bed. feeling disconnected from people even when you’re with them. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of appetite or overeating. The big one—hopelessness. Hopelessness is the most pervasive and debilitating. It is the thing that leads us to believe that nothing will ever be or feel different than it is right now. Hopelessness makes it feel like you will never move on and that nothing will ever work out for you in the future.

Miss and I are now friends after years of being a part, so it’s possible….

5. Acceptance Finally, this is the phase in which we can make peace with the loss. It doesn’t always come on suddenly; it often happens gradually. Bit by little bit, interspersed with some of the other phases. Acceptance doesn’t always involve harmony and flowers. There is almost certain to be lingering sadness. Acceptance entails making peace with the loss, letting go of the relationship. Slowly moving forward with your life is key. It feels like this phase will never come, which usually means you’re still struggling in an earlier phase. Knowing your phases of grief can help normalize your break-up experience. It’s also important to know that there are no time limits and no rushing the process. Grieving is like digestion: there is nothing you can do to hurry it along. It takes time, and the only thing you can do is try to get through it. But take heart in the fact that this, like everything else, will pass.

The question is… Does it ever pass from the heart and mind? Do we ever forget the one person that taught us to let down our guard and trust the love we felt and gave? That’s up to you. I will never forget Marie and her being a soul mate in my life. She will always be that girl that I loved and found the bridge from boyhood to manhood. Moreover, my first and only true teen Love in my life!

We have all had our fair share of heartbreaks in life. Some of those heartbreaks for me occurred early in childhood. From junior high to high school, I dated two girls. If you follow my reading or have been to one of my speeches, you will know a lot about two women in my life. Melissa is the g genesis of my early childhood authentic relationships. The physical and mental components involved were life-changing. Melissa and I, through all the ups and downs, have remained great friends and often talk about our kids growing up and how times have changed.

We are forever connected. Our relationship when young, was the epitome of pure love and friendship. That fundamental relationship lasted from 7th grade till 10th grade. We dated later in life, and it was magical, but my inability to forgive myself for how things ended affected me. She deserved someone who never hurt her. After coming back from my deployment from Iraq, I finally forgave myself. She forgave many years ago. She is one of the most critical soulmates in my life, and we both understand that importance.

For clarification, Melissa was a soulmate because she understood me like no one else. Our connection of minds and mutual respect and unconditional love was supreme. This love was enduring and magnetic.

The other relationship is not easy to write about, it never has. When I do speeches on topics about this teenage love, I find myself in deep sadness and absolute regret. You may ask why would you be sad and regretful about a relationship from high school. We all have that one relationship when we are young that takes you from one dimension of life into another. It’s a transcendent moment in a boy’s life that one will never forget.

To this day, we are not friends and have never talked. I felt the desire to bridge the gap in October of 2007 after coming back from combat. Combat changed me in so many ways. I thought about her while I was there as well as Melissa. These two amazing people meant so much to me 11 years after our lives crossed. I grew as a person and through actions went from boyhood to manhood in this other relationship.

I tried to fix things as did with Melissa, and we did it through a lot of tears and in-depth communication. Honesty, transparency, forgiveness, and love for each other bridged the gape.

It’s been 23 (1995) years since the day I set my eyes on Marie, but the story of is still essential. There other surprising stories and learning opportunities about our relationship, but this is not one of them.

1995

I was sitting at home in my room, writing in my personal journal. The journal that originated from my life with Melissa. I was writing about Marie and basketball experiences in Varsity Basketball. My mom came into my room and told me I had a phone call. I didn’t receive phone calls much, so I wasn’t sure who it was. Marie and I talked on the phone early in our relationship, but as it got more serious, we did most of our talking in person.

I asked my mom, “Who is it?” She replied, “It’s her” That voice was her telling me in her way she was still upset from Melissa and I parting ways. Melissa was her daughter and friend. In the eye’s of our parents, we were going to last and walk down the aisle. Truth is we both felt that way.

I picked up the phone “Hello” there was an odd pause, but I could hear breathing. “Marie, is that you?” “she replied, ” Yes, David; it’s me.” “Is everything okay babe?” “David, you know I love you, right?” her voice seemed tired. “Yes, babe I love you so much you know that” She seemed to gather her strength “I have to tell you something” “What’s up?” The pause was deafening. “David, I cheated on you with another guy?” “Say what?” “David, I am so sorry, I love you, I..” It was there at the moment that I had to dig deep to ask what kind of cheat. As if any cheating is terrible, but there was one cheating experience you can not coming back from.

“Okay, A kiss or something?” She started to cry, and I couldn’t stand her crying. It was my weakest vulnerability with Marie. Her pretty softy and beautiful eyes always showed emotion and truthfulness. “Meria, don’t cry, what happened.” I could tell that she was beside herself and whatever it was it was the worst possible cheat. Every man or boy knows it. I didn’t even ask who. I knew none of my boys would ever do me wrong and loved me like a brother, so it was someone outside our circle of trust.

I sat down the ground next to bed with tears coming down my face. I couldn’t even hold the phone. I finally got brave enough to ask a question no 16 or 17-year-old boy should. So many things raced through my head. I loved Marie more than anything, she was my direction and stability during tough times at home and on the team. She was the main reason I was doing so well in basketball. She motivated me to work harder then I had ever done on the court.

“Marie, please don’t tell me…did you…no way.” I couldn’t even say it right, because I didn’t want to bring it in reality. “David, I am so sorry.”

I broke down and started crying as I had never had before. Everything in my life was falling apart. I was dizzy and so confused. I put the phone down to gather myself. I could hear her small delicate voice on the phone. “David, are you there?” I wanted to explode with anger but remain calm. I picked up the phone and closed my eyes. “Can I come over Marie? “David, I don’t know..” “Don’t know what Marie?” She didn’t respond. “I am coming over, we need to talk now.” I hung up.

I walked out of the room and told my mother that I needed to go to Marie’s house. My mom didn’t hesitate a minute, and we jumped in the honda and made our way 5 minutes up the road.

My mother knew something was mad, so she did her best to get information out of me. “David is something wrong with Marie?” I started to cry and hit my leg on the floor of the car. “Did she cheat on you, David?” She knew what heartbreak looked like, and now her son was feeling this pain. ” Yes, mom Marie told me she kissed or did something to some guy” My mom in her amazing ways of added her thoughts.

“I knew from the start that girl would hurt you. She was with you because she’s a cheerleader and you are a Varsity basketball player. David, you should have never have left our Melissa, she loves you more than anything still. The only time you ever cried was when she went to Colorado to see her grandpa.”

Through my tears, I looked up at her, and she was so angry, but the words hit home. I gave up the most perfect girl in my life only to feel this. It was then the anger started to explode in my body, and it happened to be as my mom rolled up on Marie’s house.

Be continued.

Bullying is a big problem that affects lots of kids. Being bullied can make kids feel bad, and the stress of dealing with it can make them feel sick.

Bullying can make kids not want to play outside or go to school. It’s hard to keep your mind on schoolwork when you’re worried about how you’re going to deal with the bully near your locker.

Bullying bothers everyone — and not the kids who are getting picked on. Bullying can make school a place of fear and can lead to violence and more stress for everyone.

In elementary school, I was a victim of bullying, and it affected my childhood. I was a target for bullies. I was an introvert and often anxious. I lacked self-esteem in 5, and 6th grade and found most of my time talking to myself. I was in the people-pleasing business.

Bullies are often attracted to that personality because they feel they can manipulate.

The first bullying occurred on a bus trip home from school on a Friday afternoon. I knew I was prey to bigger kids, so I always sat in front of the bus so the driver could see me. On this day, we happened to have a full bus, and I ended up further back by the older kids. As I walked in the aisle to my seat, I locked eyes with the old boy, and they started to laugh. As I sat down, I sank into the green duck tap bus seat and pushed up against the window. I felt like I was waiting until the moment these kids would make their move.

Weirdly, I wasn’t nervous but instead resolved to it. The bus started rolling, and I could hear the kids talking out loud and laughing. Danny, who lived in the same mobile home park, was known as a bully and well known for smoking, drinking, and stealing. He had his own little gang, and they caused a lot of damage in the park and in the small community of Highland we lived in. Danny didn’t have a father figure. His mother was an alcoholic, and his brother Jeff was the leader of the house. Yet he still couldn’t get his brother under control.

Back on the Bus.

Danny and I didn’t have many personal engagements, but the ones we had didn’t involve violence. Danny made fun my thin body. I was so small you could see my heart beating. Yet, he never touched me, and I could live with that.

As I looked out the window and started to daydream and I let my guard down. I notice it was hushed and the bus driver didn’t instruct us to lower our voice. Those feelings of anxiety came back. I felt so overwhelmed it made me want to pee. My body started to get hot and started to perspire.

The bus came to a stop, and the kids started to get off. One of the girls who I really liked named Crystal walked by me and said, “David be careful they have my…” the boy Todd behind her pushed on her backpack to have her move along. As she was getting off the bus, she looked back to me and shook her head and shrugged her shoulders and mouthed “No.” She wasn’t talking to me, but to kids behind me.

With the two stops left, I was almost sure I was going to make it out unscathed. The bus stopped and pulled over. I looked out the window to see what was happening. The bus driver ran over a cat. She opened the bus door and walked off the bus. At the same time, I heard feet move, and then the back of seat moved.

The bus driver got on the bus, and we continued. I could hear the kid behind me breathing. It was belabored. I peaked back through the seat, and I noticed he was getting something out of his bag. We came to the next stop, and kids started getting off. The boy behind me got up, and at that moment, my body went numb.

The boy grabbed my hair and pulled me up and grabbed my chine. I looked right into his face, and I will never forget it. He looked poised and determined. He pulled out lipstick and started marking all over my face. The kids block the driver, so she noticed nothing. As he finished, he pushed me down and walked away, laughing.

I was silent and alone with lipstick on my face and my pants wet for me urinating from nervousness. I didn’t cry or ask for help, I wanted to handle this moment on my own. I got off on my stop and walked directly to the mobile home clubhouse to wash my face. I cleaned up and walked home.

It was hot enough that my pants air-dried to urine, but it smelled.

I got home and skipped passed my mom, who didn’t realize her son was assaulted on the bus. I went to my room and laid down. That evening I promised myself I would fight back and do whatever I could to defend myself.

Even though this experience was terrifying, it was a cold hard reminder of the world I was heading into. If I weren’t going to hold my ground, I would be pushed over. I wish I could say it stopped, but it didn’t. I put up a solid fight and the sharp pencil I carried taught these kids on some occasions I was going to put up a fight.

Preventing bullying is something I learned and now teach my kids. It will happen, but how you respond is all that matters. If you hid in the corner, it’s most likely going to happen over and over again.

I learned the most crucial lesson in my life, and that was to Stand tall and be brave. It’s easier to feel brave when you feel good about yourself. The good news is that kids who are bullies can learn to change their behavior, but this kid never did and ended up in jail for a long time for abuse of his girlfriend. So many lessons to share with my kids.To be honest writing this helped me relive it only to feel stronger and more intune with my mental thoughts of the passed. Truly rewarding. That’s a win for me and you.

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One of our Favorites

When I was young, I had an apprehension of writing anything on paper. It wasn’t that I couldn’t write because I had so many things to express. I felt overwhelmed by the process. As I shared in my first blog, my brain was active and always developing a story, movie, or a plot. I started to create a mindset that what I wrote was wrong and most likely unreadable and incorrect.

The desire to share things about what I thought about the world and things going on around me tugged at me. I wasn’t interested in the regular conversations young kids had at lunch. Yet, my thoughts were on why kids do what they do and act the way they do. I was an oddball and felt content in my separate world.

BAND

At the early age of 7, I could play drums by ear. The story goes like this. On August 10, 1983, I was sitting in the pews during song service at my Dads church in Muskegon, Michigan. I felt an overwhelming desire to walk up on stage and play the drums. The drums were there from the Spanish church earlier in the morning. I walked down the aisle, driven to the drums. My brother didn’t even stop me, or he tried, I never heard or felt anything.

As I made my way up to the drums, everything became very peaceful and almost quit. I glanced over at my dad, who was playing the piano, and my mom, who was singing. It seemed from my perspective everything was quit. I felt invisible because I was sure my parents would stop me in my track.

I walked up to the drums and sat down. I picked up the sticks looked over at my dad, and he looked at me and nodded. He proclaimed to the hundreds of people in standing up.”Well, my son David has joined us in worship.”

That was it. My dad didn’t tell me to get off the stage. My mom didn’t give me the evil eye of disdain like Mr. Munson did in my last blog. They continued song service.

I wasn’t sure what was next. I put one stick on the snare and the other on Zildjian crash cymbal. My foot started to find the rhythm of the music, and I began to hit the bass.
The sounds of the song service came alive, it almost hurt my ears. I could hear and feel an intense emotional feeling.

That was it, I in a single moment had become a drummer. This fantastic experience would impact my future.

Melissa and I song!

JUNIOR HIGH BAND

We moved from Michigan to California, so my dad could be a pastor at the local church. I continued to play drums, and when I entered junior high, I went right into the band. Playing drums was not the same as playing at church. We had to learn how to read music. It was challenging, and I still played by ear.

In-band is where I learned some huge lesson in life. One crucial lesson I learned was from a beautiful young girl named Melissa. She’s a massive part of life now and then.

This youthful story is so beautiful, and I know it can help others see through things, but that’s for later. I am continuing to write short stories called “Blind Sided.” I will fast forward to our relationship and the moment I found my passion.

November 4, 1989 (Saturday)
Saturday morning, I walked over to Melissa’s house. We planned to watch the Los Angeles Lakers play the San Antonio Spurs that afternoon. We both love the Lakers, and both sported the gear. As we sat and watched the game, I often looked over at her because she intrigued me. Who is this girl? And how did my silly self end up with her? At that time, I wasn’t outgoing and was, pathic. Yet, when she wasn’t with me, I always felt something was missing. She understood, believed in me and moreover loved me, as for me. It was the purest form of love on earth.

I will never be able to explain it. Melissa was my soul mate, no question.

After the basketball game in which the Lakers lost 98 to 106. It was a great game, but it was only their second game of the season, so Melissa and I knew they would get better. The relationships focal point centered around basketball, Magic Johnson and band. She wasn’t watching basketball for me, she loved the game. She knew so much about the game, it was scary, but I digress.

After the game, we went upstairs into her room. I know what you are thinking? You went to her room at 13? Well, the door was open, and her parents trusted us at this point in our relationship. That would change a tad later, but that’s another story. My fault, of course.

While we sat on the ground, we talked about the game and how we felt. After while we both stopped talking. I was always nervous when things went silent when I was with Melissa, but she calmed me completely. She was so smart and articulate (still is), and sometimes I felt compelled to talk about nothing. That feeling dissipated, and our talks became deep, passionate.

While sitting there, she pulled out a book from under her bed. It was purple and had Laker stickers on it. I asked what it was, and she said: “David, it’s my diary.” I replied, what do you write about Melissa?” She smiled and opened it. “You know, stuff.” I looked at the book and asked: “Do you write about us.” She laughed. ” I bet you would want to know.” I do want to know.”

She flipped through the pages and stopped at one. “This is where we start.” The looked on her face gave me a direct answer. “She was writing about us and our story. “Can you read something for me, a little.” I was so intrigued. “You promise not to laugh,” I moved closer to and put my head on her shoulder, and she leaned her head on mine. “Melissa, I love you, I would never.” Yea, we passed that whole uncomfortable I like you and how should I say it. She was my first real and defining love.

She smiled and started to read one page. You would think I would have read over her shoulder, but I didn’t. I closed my eyes and listened for once. Young boys always have something to say to break up the moment. I felt the moment, like going up to the drums.

She started to read, and the words “I met a boy named David, and he is silly, but I like him.” She continued to read, and I realized she was the one for me. After she finished, she closed the book “Well, I am a going to have to hide this book now.”
I looked at her and smiled and leaned in and kissed her passionately. It was a different kiss. This was a trusting kiss. From there, our relationship and daily engagements became mature.

After everything concluded, she asked me, |”Can you write?”
I replied. “I can write song lyrics?” I wrote Melissa a song called over the mountains. I had it produced by a local musician. Yea, I found money to make this Melissa a full-blown song. I know every lyric from it, but I that’s not for today.

Melissa told me to start writing, and I could share my writings with her. This love wasn’t like the regular 13-year-olds in junior high. The connection was extraordinary.

I went home that night, and my whole world of writing changed and expressing how I felt dripped through the pen. I wasn’t afraid to write, even though it may have been incorrect. It was about telling a story.

I shared some of my lyrics with Melissa, and through those words, she knew I loved her. Sometimes I would stay up all night writing. I kept every word from the journal, and that how I can share these stories in great detail. I never told her I was writing about us, but later while I was in Iraq in a conversation, I told her. She seemed to already know, but that was my Melissa, she knew things without me saying something.

Future

Melissa is the reason earned my degree in Journalism. I later became the Washington States feature writer of the year in 2010 and 2011. This experience is why I continue to write about life.

One beautiful, intelligent, and loving girl when I was 13 would forever be a part of me in every tap of the keyboard. I will always love her for that and so many other things. That’s straight from the heart.

I will never publish the content from those days in full. The reality, its something that is very connected to Melissa. And one other young lady, that to this day I have only spoken about in speeches.
Yet, I will share the stories in a way that heal my soul and help others.

Don’t be afraid to write…..right or wrong the words matter to you and someone else. It can relieve pain….as it does for me on so many levels. It also allows me to tell people a story of paths taking.

Year: 1989 (7th Grade)

Location: Serrano Middle School (Bathroom)

In my life, there has been a handful of people who have influenced my travels. Some of these individuals directly affected the way I went about relationship, careers, and friendship. Some of these people had no idea the effect they had on me. Some of these people’s hold on me took years to completely shed the negative impressions. However, many had a positive and influential impacts. I still face some issues, but I use these issues to help others, by giving speeches on hard life topics, such as growing up, love and insecurities

When I think of impact, I refer directly to emotional and physical properties. Early in life, I knew I was different from other kids. This is not to say I was better than those around me, but I stood out like a sore thumb in groups.

I spent a lot of time in my head, some would reference this to overthinking, creative introvert, however, sports changed me, but that’s for another story. I worked hard to solve my own problems without my parents or friends. Answering my own questions gave me power and resilience. 

The fact that in the first year or two of middle school looking back most kids went through times of feeling socially insecure and emotionally vulnerable. I was in-between those, but weirdly I could perceive things better and break down situations rapidly. I wasn’t always right at what I saw or analyzing information correctly, but my brain was working overtime and fast. This is very different from being smart in school because I had trouble in math and science and things that actually required brainpower.

Conforming


I was the worst at submitting to being one way or to hang out with a specific group. I knew that who I hung out with would come at a cost. I remember having a conversation with a young boy at lunch in junior high, and I really didn’t know him, but I thought he was entertaining. He was in a group of what one would refer to as a school gang, and I swear he was a recruiter.

At this time, I was very open to exploring new things and experiencing what I wouldn’t ordinarily do. I was inquisitive, so I asked this young boy to share with me what gang or group he was in and what they did. I wanted to understand his path or what made him so eager to recruit the worst dressed and the awkwardest kid in the school, I just wanted to know why I was unique and special for his group.

He quickly got up from the seat, and he told me to follow him. I remember looking over at the table across from me, and everyone was looking right us, it was extremely awkward, and the bells in my head went off, but I simply ignored them. I was so confused, but wholly enthralled in this adventure, I was inclined to find out what in the world was so awesome. As we walked up the stairs, I notice my P.E teacher and coach standing by the office. He locked eyes with me and with a destained look, shook his head no. I ignored the signs of this episode. 


I continued walking and quickly glanced back. Mr. Munson was still looking at me, I started to wonder if he was trying to tell me something. I kept walking with the mysterious boy, and we ended up in the bathroom. That would be the third ignoring signs of directional change or path.

As we all know nothing ever happens good in the bathroom, according to every teen movie. We stopped, and he turned around and looked at me in the eyes. In a shallow creepy voice said, “To be one of us, you have been like us, believe like us, behave like us, go along with us, look like us, like us best, and not do better than us.”

It was at the moment I started to feel uncomfortable and little weirded out. I stepped back to get my distance because I wasn’t sure what was happening or going to happen. The boy looked possed. His dispostion was intense.

As I was about to reply, Mr. Muson walked in the bathroom and with a deep and angry voice yelled, “Hardt, get out of here now!” I walked out quickly, but Mr. Munson stayed behind. I wasn’t sure if I was to stay or leave. I knew one thing that this situation wasn’t going to end well for the boy trapped in the bathroom with Mr. Munson or for me.

Mr. Munson later strolled out of the bathroom, grabbed both of my shoulders, and looked down at me from his 6’5 stature. And said the words that would forever stick with me.
“Hardt, this is not your path.” His angry eyes dimmed to slightly connected supportive engagement. He pointed out into the lunch crowd and said in a very stern and effective way. “Take this path back to where you came from, trust me Hardt.” I looked up at him, and internally I wanted to say, “Why, coach?” But something, possibly fear made me back up turn around and walk away. That young kid never spoke or even looked at me again. Later down the road, it was very clear what Coach Munson was keeping me away from. This young boy turned out heavy into drugs, drinking, and had an arrest record.

What I didn’t see my coach could foresee. I just wanted to understand and see this young boy’s perspective. The question is, would I have possibly gone down this road, most likely not, I had set my goals high, and everyone knew from elementary I was a kid-focused on being kind and always clean.

Influencing people can have enormous consequences or rewards. Mr. Munson, on that day, changed me and possibly my path. He encouraged me to stop or pause and think things out. This also taught me it’s okay to hit reverse and go back to where I was and do a redo. Sometimes we don’t get redo, but I did with some help!

Have you went down and path only to quickly find out that the road back is the best path forward.

More stories and experiences to come!

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