My name is Trenton Parks, I was born on August 19th, 1988, and my parents divorced when I was 2 years old, so I never knew what it was like to grow up with both parents around. Growing up it was just my mom taking care of my sister and I. My dad was not around very much. My grandparents helped a lot with raising us. For the most part, I had a decent childhood.
As I started getting older, I started getting in trouble here and there. The summer before 9th grade I started smoking marijuana, cigarettes and drinking alcohol. For a couple of months when I was in the 9th grade I lived with my father. My father was always a heavy drinker but at this time he had just lost his job and was drinking even heavier than normal. He also had a girlfriend who was staying with him. She would smoke marijuana and drink with me. She would also say and do inappropriate sexual things with me when my dad was passed out drunk. Around this time, I started suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Later I found out that on my mother’s side of my family, depression was very common. My mother caught me trying to slit my wrist one day at home and when I left the house without her permission. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. During my stay I was made aware that my absent father and his choosing women and alcohol over spending time with me were a major factor in my depression. When I tried talking to him, we had a day planned out which he missed to go on a date and get drunk.
The rest of my high school days I was still getting in trouble here and there. I was also fighting, drinking and having sex with different women regularly. I was good in sports, good looking and a brawler. Because of these things I was usually able to get my way and got leniency when I got in trouble. Because of this I didn’t get punished enough to learn the consequences of my actions. I leaned heavily towards drugs and alcohol to try and escape my feelings. During the last two semesters of college I was charged with 2 DWI’s. This weighed heavy on me. While my drinking and drug use became worse my mental health declined severely to the point that I thought the only way to fix it was to commit suicide. While dealing with the aftermath of my 2nd DWI. I was fighting with all my family, friends and girlfriend. I had convinced myself that the answer to all my problems was killing myself. I thought “Sure if I was dead everyone will be sad for a little while, but they would be better off not having to deal with me and trouble I brought them.”
On January 3rd, 2009 it all came to a boiling point. I woke up that day and started drinking immediately. I was given a handful of benzos’ and took all of them. When I got home, my best friend and cousin who was my roommate were hanging out in the living room. I didn’t say anything and walked into my room and locked the door. This is when I took out my 20-gauge shotgun that was my dead grandfathers. I put the gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger.
I woke a week and a half later in a hospital ICU bed where I was strapped down and couldn’t talk. I had no idea what had happened until my mother told me. I was in denial and didn’t believe her at first until I started thinking back upon all the other times that I had tried to kill myself in the past. Come to find out the whole time I had been in there, every time I would wake up my mother would have to tell me everything because the frontal lobe damage in my brain and head trauma that I had suffered. Every time I woke it was like starting over and freaking out again and again. My family wouldn’t let me look at myself in the mirror for a long time because they were afraid, I would freak out. A week or so later my mom left the hospital for a little while to go get something to eat. It was just me and my sister at the time. I called a nurse in to take the bandages off and I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. What I saw looked nothing like me. There was a big hole where my nose and left eye was. I was lucky when the shot hit the lower pallet of my skull it ricocheted out. I lost my left eye, nose, my front four teeth, my jaw was broken, and I had shrapnel in my brain. As I looked in the mirror, I tried to joke around to keep me from panicking. But I knew my life as I knew it was going to be completely different from now on.
For the next 8 years I would undergo around 40 different surgeries to try to reconstruct my face. During this time, I had a hard time going out in public. Every time I did people would always stop and stare at me. Random people would come up and ask me what happened. I would go through a lot of therapy and anxiety meds to try to overcome this. Sadly, I also turned to a lot of drug use to try and not think about it all. I was abusing all the pain medications I was being prescribed because I just wanted to not feel anything, including my feelings. I figured out that if I was high, I didn’t care when people stared at me. Life was hard, and there was a point where they built my new nose on my forehead. So, for a few months I walked around with this crazy upside nose on my forehead. Then I had to wear a vacuum attached to my head after they attached the nose to my face to pull nutrients from my skull so that tissue would grow. Today, I have what looks like a dent in my forehead and was told that I am too much of a risk for any more surgeries. I didn’t take this news very well. Here I thought I was close to looking somewhat normal. After 40 surgeries, I still don’t have a left eye. I was never able to get a glass or prosthetic one. My forehead has what looks like a huge dent in it that I didn’t have before. I usually try to wear a hat or longer hair in the front to cover it. I always have a beard because I don’t like how my face and lip healed back.
I lived in self-pity and drug abuse for years. Finally, years later, I am finally sober and trying to help other people like me who’s traumatic experiences are the cause of drug abuse and depression. Because I know the hell that we can put our own selves through by not working through past trauma. My name is Trenton Parks, and I am a trauma survivor.
My name is Nathan Casey, and I have survived one hundred percent of my worst days. I was born on May 6th, 1990 in a city called Northridge in Los Angeles California. The day I was born was the best day of my mothers’ life. See, my mom was a Filipino Native, and was destined to live the same redundant generational perpetuation of a life in poverty. She is a smart woman, and she knew what she wanted. She was determined to get what she wanted at any cost, regardless of the wreckage it would cause. I preface that because I was left in the wreckage of my mothers’ goal to not get stuck in the system of poverty her family has been in for generations. My mom met a man through a mail order service, My father. She tactically played with his heart and convinced him to come to the Philippines. Once my father arrived, she began to manipulate his malleable heart. She convinced him to marry her, and the thought of me began, in my father’s mind. I was all “part of the plan” in my mother’s mind way before any of this. She was that good. I was conceived in the Philippines but born in America. This allowed my mother to become an American Citizen. I mention all of this because this brought on this undeniable burdening feeling that my purpose in life had been served and completed the day I was born, and once that happened, I was just a nuisance. I have always felt like I was just in the way, a burden. Knowing this by the age of 5 played a vital role in the development of my being who I am today. Abandonment, neglect, feeling like a burden, not having my feelings validated, not being heard, feeling like I don’t belong or don’t have a place are all threads that have been woven into my blanket of life that is supposed to protect me from the storm of life, and keep me warm, fails to do that. Rather it is a constant reminder of how incomplete I feel, or how unworthy I feel inside.
I have destroyed every single relationship with a woman that I have ever been in, all due to what my mother did to my father. That was a revelation. I have always felt like I was going to be abandoned or used, all because my mom did that to my father. I look back and see that I destroyed my relationships because I was afraid of being hurt, I was afraid of love, at least my distorted childhood perception of love. I would rather ruin the relationship myself, than see it fall apart around me, helpless and powerless to preventing it. It was sick, how I was more comfortable ruining it myself with my behavior and distrust in my partner. I was so scared of being abandoned or neglected that I acted out in a way that would destroy and sense of trust and hurt them while doing it, not intentionally but still. Once I learned that I immediately sought help and learned that I don’t have to live that way ever again, and that there is a solution, uncovering and processing my trauma.
I have a traumatizing memory of me being about three in my crib, and hearing yelling through the walls and a loud commotion of things slamming and ceramic breaking. I remember thinking that I need to stop this, I knew I could prevent this from escalating. I crawled out of my crib and remember turning the corner and saying, “mom…dad… what is going on? “it immediately fell silent… I was shocked to see the look on my parents faces of complete rage and disgust with each other. I thought to myself “Do they not want me? Are they arguing about how much of a burden I was?” I thought this because through all the yelling I could hear my name “NATHAN!” repeated over and over by both my mother and father. This is one of my first memories, and this is the first impression of what love looked like in my life. Love equaled Chaos.
When I was about 6, I have a memory of being at my father’s apartment and feeling very excited to see him. I remember walking inside and feeling very uncomfortable, I think I could just feel it in the air. He sat me down on the couch and told me to wait, and he walked out the front door, and I was scared being all alone. Suddenly two people walk in through the door and they are wearing these scary masks. I black out right when they come towards me. I mention this because the mind has away of protecting itself. I don’t know what happened next, but I have a feeling I don’t want to know. I have always had this feeling growing up that I had been molested as a child and I would always think of that time with the two people in masks at my dad’s apartment. That memory was seared into my developing mind and still comes up in my day to day. Later in life I started having risky behavior, I just found myself seeking adrenaline and a rush through my behaviors. I later learned that childhood trauma can lead an adult into such risky behavior as a way of acting out or not feeling or recognizing the underlying issue.
I remember feeling so confused as child, not knowing who to believe, my mother, my father, neither. I tried my best to decipher through their hatred of each other, but it was more difficult than I could admit. They were both master manipulators, so I learned from the best to say the least. I was told at the age of 5 that my father tried to kill me when I was a baby. One night when my mother was trying to take me away, her and my father got into a very heated argument. My father was not going to let her leave, and it was escalating. My father told my mother that he would not let her take me. What he really wanted was my mom not to leave him. So, saying he wouldn’t let her take me was in hopes that she wouldn’t leave without me. What happened was, my mom told him that she was going to leave no matter what, and this infuriated my father. That night my father put me to sleep and my mom could hear me crying and choking from the living room. My father closed my room door and stood in front of the door guarding it from my mother. She tried to talk her way through, saying she was concerned with what my crying sounded like. My father told her that he wanted to just let me cry it out, but what my mom heard was no ordinary cry. She describes it as if I was gagging. She couldn’t talk her way through so she shoved her way through his barricade and opened the door to see the drawstring from the blinds wrapped 5 or 6 times around my neck and it had broken skin, so my neck was bleeding. She ran over and saw that I had turned purple and she unwrapped my neck and said that I looked dead or as if I was about to die. See, my crib was right next to the window and the drawstring was always up because the blinds were always down, but that night the blinds were drawn up and the string had to have been wrapped around my neck on purpose. My father was furious, he planned on getting back at her because she had already made her decision to leave, so he was going to take me away from her. He verbally told her that “if I can’t have you, you can’t have him!” that was the night she knew that she had to take me away, and the only way to do it was when he wouldn’t be home. So that’s why I was taken the next day while my father was at work.
I believe the ruin I caused in my life, self-destruction and self-depreciation all revolves around my childhood, the same way everything revolves around the sun. We moved so many times, each time a little bit further and further away from my father. I remember being in the bath oblivious to what was happening, and my father shows up at the door and I hear him from the bathroom. I run out naked and so happy to see my father who hadn’t been able to go with us because he “had to work”. I run up and hug him and he lifts me up and squeezes me and he is happy but I can see in his eyes that he is hiding something, because his eyes are teary and red. My mother and father began to discuss some adult things, but what I gathered was that my dad wanted “me” to choose who I live with. I remember being so confused, I really had no idea that I was about to make a decision that would leave one of my parents destroyed. My mother agreed and I was placed in the middle, with each parent on either side and I was told to choose which one I would go with… I ran straight to my mom, and she picked me up and I looked back and saw the look on my dad…he was crying and looked so distraught. I remember feeling like I needed to save him but felt helpless in what I was capable of. I did not know that I just made the decision to choose to live with my mother instead of my father…All because I was told lie after lie and me being trusting in my mother, I believed that we were actually just going on a “little adventure, and this was temporary.” At 5 years old or so, my dad took me to go see the movie air bud. There is a scene in the movie where the dog’s old owner wants his dog back because his dog became famous after learning the dog could play basketball. The old owner was very abusive and neglected the dog, and they showed how he would hit the dog, and not feed the dog. Anyway, there is this scene in the movie where the old owner demands that the dog be placed in the middle and be able to choose who he wants to have as his owner, and the dog is going back and forth, reluctant to make its decision, but he sees the old owner with his rolled up newspaper slapping his hand and remembers the abuse and the trauma, and runs to the new owner. That scene made me have a flashback of how that same exact thing happened to me with my parents. I didn’t realize what was happening to me, but I became flushed, anxious and very sad, looking back on it knowing now what those feelings feel like. I wanted to cry, because right then I remembered how horrible that felt, abandoning one parent for the other. I carried that guilt through my whole life, believing my dads pain was my fault.
I was supposed to see my dad every other week, but it ended up being like every other month. I didn’t realize that my father was going though severe clinical depression and was not capable of even getting out of bed. He told me he would hear his phone ringing and he would feel paralyzed, wanting to answer the phone and tell me he wouldn’t make it, but being unable to face me and tell me the truth. I would be so hurt… I remember waiting on the front step just outside the door every Saturday, looking for his blood red Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. I would see a car a quarter mile down the road pull up the hill and turn right towards my direction and think” that has got to be him, it’s 9:15 he said he would be here at 8 am, that has got to be him! As each car got closer and I was able to make out the color…blue, green, black, white, red! Oh, that’s not him.” Only to realize after hours and hours of waiting, and call after call to him, that he wasn’t coming, again. Only once I was about 25 did I fully understand what my father was going through when I had my 9 year old little sister, his daughter, calling me the day I was supposed to drive up to see her. She would be calling me over and over, yet I didn’t have it in me to answer. I was paralyzed with fear and would just look at the phone knowing she needed me, expected me, and I couldn’t face her. I was so depressed and sad that I knew my company would make anyone I was around just as miserable, and that’s when I realized that was probably how my father felt each time, I would be calling him and expecting him.
Holidays were traumatizing… I had moved almost 2 hours driving away from my dad. Each thanksgiving, Christmas eve, Christmas day, New year’s, I had to choose who I was going to spend it with. I remember feeling exhausted at the thought of how I was going to decide and having full knowledge of how whatever decision I made, one of my parents would feel betrayed. I was thrown jabs verbally by my father, saying “ you always choose your mother over me” or “ it’s no surprise that you want to spend this time with your mom, but you have to know she is your fake family, I’m your real family”. My mother would return the same manipulation if I had decided I would make the 2-hour trip on the train on Christmas day to see my father. She would say “ your father just wants you there, so it he could hurt me, because he knows that if you aren’t here with family, I would be sad.” They are always so concerned about their reputation. How they look to everyone in the family means more than how close and happy we really are. I remember thinking how messed up it is that we never talk about our feelings or how things are. Everything was surface level bull crap. “how was your day?” never “how are you feeling? How are you processing what has happened? Are you making sure you grieve through your pain Nathan? ” If I was ever caught crying my step dad would yell “where’s the blood pussy!? If there is no blood and you have all your limbs, stop being a wuss and man up!” “men never cry!” I lived in a household where we never truly bonded over our struggle, and when the pain became too much for me, I would explode, and everything would come pouring out. My outburst would be viewed as me being immature, me not having control of my emotions, little did they know they were controlling my emotions, micromanaging my cries, counting each tear. Not being allowed to truly express myself made it impossible for me to understand what I was feeling. My feelings were turned down by my mother and stepfather, and I was told that I needed to grow up, or that what I’m feeling doesn’t matter which created a sense in me that made me question if what I feel is relevant. I felt like I didn’t belong, like I had no place in this home.
Going through life with unresolved trauma has been the cause the destructive path that I have walked. I destroyed myself because I didn’t like myself, I almost hated myself. I had suicidal thoughts at a young age and felt like everything would just be better off if I were just gone. I have always felt different, like I didn’t have a place. I have always felt depressed or misunderstood. I have always sought escape from self through any outlet I knew how. Whether that be sports, video games, shopping, drugs, sex, television, anything distracting really. I have always felt very anxious, I just didn’t know what I was feeling until I was a lot older All of that seems to stem from my unresolved trauma. After multiple suicide attempts and multiple drug overdoses and being in comas on life support, I now recognize that I was just trying to escape my feelings of the manifestation of trauma. I am relieved knowing that there is a solution. Processing, recognizing, and finally being able to let go of all that pain that I have unknowingly held on to all my life. Trauma Anonymous and the steps and the unity of the fellowship have all allowed me the opportunity to move on with my life and become me. I don’t feel alone anymore, and I feel understood and I know that when I am triggered, I have a simple solution, work with another person who suffers and try to be of service to them. That’s how I live my life today, the Trauma Anonymous way.
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Preamble & Chapter 5