Life is filled with decisions. Decisions are crossroads in life. You must choose one direction or the other, and often, you will not know the ultimate outcome.
Throughout my life, I've had difficult decisions to make. Some were good. Some bad. As they say, "Hindsight is 20-20." This is often true. How we deal with the outcomes is what makes us grow as an individual, or it sets us back if we don't cope with it.
I attended Berea College in 1985-1986. Being three states away from home was new to me and oft times depressing. Mid-Spring semester I had so much pressure on me to succeed that I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Classes were a lot different than I had expected and being away from my siblings was perhaps much harder on me than the academic pressures. I had twin sisters that were 15 years younger than me, and a little brother that was 16 years younger. Because of our age difference they were more like my children than siblings, and I thought about them all the time.
When I returned home that following summer, I took a job and spent a lot of time with them. I made the decision by the end of summer not to return to college and work full time so I could be near my brother and sisters. My mother worked off and on, but never really took a steady job. She was also an alcoholic, which made living with her difficult.
By 1988, I married my first wife and discovered soon after she suffered from bi-polar depression and life suddenly took a strange turn for me. She berated me for wanting to spend any time with my siblings, but instead, always wanted me to go visit her family. If I visited my family, she went ballistic. By 1991, she had left me twice for reasons that made no sense. Our six month separations gave me time with my brother and sisters. We were apart more than we were together during our short three year marriage.
Although she was seven years older than I was, her parents did her bidding at the drop of the hat and moved her out. The same had occurred with her first two marriages, too. In July of 1991, we had tried to work things through once again, but her mood swings escalated and she demanded a divorce. We had an eighteen month old daughter and my heart broke.
On the day we had planned to separate, I arrived home from work to pack my belongings and move back in at my mother's for a while. Instead, my wife came outside and told me that my 8 year old brother had been shot in the stomach and was in the hospital. I don't remember leaving the driveway. I came back to reality driving like a maniac down the highway to get to the hospital. When I found my mother at the emergency room, the doctor came and told us that he had not survived. There are no words to describe that feeling, that pain.
I had hoped that we could still salvage the marriage, but after the funeral and a week later, she still insisted on the divorce. I moved out and a week after that, we signed the divorce papers. That July was perhaps the darkest time of my life. Everything seemed to dim. I decided to return to college and in Fall 1992, I returned to Berea College after a seven year absence. But I had determination, a devout focus to get my life on the right track.
After my divorce, I had left that marriage thinking it was all my fault. Depression had kept me skeptical and distant from believing I'd find the right person to spend my life with. Then I met Christal. While we had been dating, she mentioned to me that she loved reading Dean R. Koontz, and while in a bookstore, she pointed out a three book collection by him. I went back to the bookstore a day later and bought it as a surprise gift for her. Instead, I found myself immersed in Servants of Twilight at my dorm room.
From an early age, I had known I wanted to write. I wrote my first novel at the age of eleven. I made my own comic books and loved drawing. Reading Koontz reignited my passion to write again.
A lot of great things occurred simply because I had taken what I thought had been a wrong turn. Had I not dropped out of college the first time, I'd not have gotten to spend valuable time with my little brother (He loved to fish), and I wouldn't have my oldest daughter. Had I graduated as a traditional student, I'd have never returned to the same college seven years later to find my wife, Christal (18 years of marriage this month and two teenage kids). I wouldn't be working on the "Darkness" series and the screenplay for Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, either. I have to agree with Ray Bradbury and his short story, "The Butterfly Effect." Knowing all I know about my past, I wouldn't go back to change anything because changing one thing would alter the future as we know it. Sometimes you have to survive the bad things in order to find happiness.