Joseph grew up in a single parent home with his mother & two sisters. It wasn’t always easy being the middle child let alone the only boy. To top it off, internally he was struggling with his own identity and wondering exactly where he fit into this puzzle called life.
If Joseph was to describe his home life it would be different, painful, lonely and fear. That about sums it up. The first time he heard his mother say the words I love you, he was 22 years old. He can remember it as if it were yesterday. Joseph loved his mother but growing up he always wondered if she loved him the same. He was never treated the same as his oldest sister and could never get away with the things she got away with. His little sister was spoiled so he was stuck in the middle.
Growing up, Joseph & his older sister despised each other. They fought like cat & dogs. She would always win of course being the bigger sister. Nothing would be said about all the scratches in Joseph’s face or hair pulled out from the roots. He hated her. She was what you’d call a bully.
That would be his first introduction to bullying.
Joseph was born in 1977 in a small town in the state of Oregon. At the time, his parents were separated but needless to say in his mother’s womb, he believed that’s when the unwelcome voices began. You’re probably wondering how that is. Well, when his parents got married, his father already had three other children from a previous marriage and one from another relationship. Prior to him being conceived, his parents had his sister. She was born in 1975. Joseph’s mother was told she couldn’t have any children so this was a miracle to her. When his mother found out she was pregnant with him, she went to tell his father who was in the bathtub at the time. He jumped out of the tub and said she had to choose between him & the baby. Of course she chose Joseph. The reason he even knows this story is because as a kid he heard his mother & aunt discussing it. As any young person would be, he was devastated. The thought that his father wouldn’t want him?What was wrong with me? He thought. Is it because I’m different?Am I ugly? Am I a mistake? These are the thoughts that ran through his mind constantly. But it all started to make sense. Growing up, he was oftentimes mistreated by his father & his father’s side of the family especially his grandmother. On birthdays his grandmother would send his sister birthday cards each year with money in them and Joseph wouldn’t get anything when his birthday came two days after his sister’s. Or on Christmas when their dad would pick them up and take them over to see their grandparents, he’d always get one Christmas gift and his sister and other cousins had several. Joseph’s gift was usually a shirt that was too small and he would have to give it to his little sister.
Joseph first noticed he lost his voice in the 2nd grade at age 7 when his aunt (his mother’s sister) talked him into writing his grandmother a letter expressing how hurt it made him to be treated indifferent. He received a call from his father who was angry and demanded that he apologize to his grandmother for such lies. Joseph was made to feel guilty even though he knew it was the truth. He apologized to his grandmother as she cried and said she’d never treated him indifferent. At that moment, Joseph lost his voice and was made to believe what he felt was not real. He would begin a journey of believing every hurt he encountered was self afflicted and deserved because of who he was. And there was no one to talk to about such pain so he began to write…
Today I celebrate my 40th birthday. Yes it’s a milestone birthday but for me it’s a different kind of a milestone on so many levels. 22 years ago I tried to take my own life. 21 years ago I tried again and this time I was almost successful. Over two decades later I’m still here. Today I realize I have a purpose and a voice. Back then I had no voice and no purpose (so I thought). I️ will begin to tell a story through the eyes of “Joseph”. My prayer is that this story will encourage, empower, enlighten and most of all awaken your voice within.
Have you ever just wanted to be heard? Have you ever felt lost or that you did not belong in such a huge world? Have you looked and searched and found no answers? Have the voices in your head been voices of doubt, fear, mistrust, guilt, low self-esteem, seeking validation, not good enough and even death? In other words, your presence will not be missed. Have you ever been bullied whether it be on social media, school, work, church and even at home? Have you ever had a voice deep down within on the inside tell you you’re special? You are validated! You are good enough! You are capable! You are stronger! You are well! You can make it! You are a fighter! That voice within is Jesus Christ. I want to take you on a journey of a young man who for years allowed his inner voice to be overshadowed with voices of torment until one day at the age of 38, sitting in the office of his therapist, he realized what the true meaning of the voice within was.
You might walk around freely, wherever you want to go, but you can still be in prison. How? by worrying about what others think. Free yourself, and freedom will follow!