I did not have the best childhood, at least for the first ten years of my life. I was in an angry house, my mother and father loved each other intensely, too intensely; and alcohol was a strong anger incubator for my dad. I remember periods of this childhood being exceptionally happy, or maybe they were just normal to the average kid. However, the other days were dark, scary and were filled with fear. I was never afraid for my life, I was afraid for my mom’s life. My mom was and is still a strong woman, she was a teen mom of two, our protector and certainly a survivor, she fought to provide a better life for my siblings and myself.
I remember the exact moment that I recall my life was different; and that it was OK for me to be happy and enjoy my life. It was spring of my sixth grade year, I had just tried out for seventh grade cheerleader. I am not sure why I tried out to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t a popular kid, I was a nerdy girl, who didn’t know how to fix her hair, and I didn’t have cute clothes, nor did I have many friends. I was actually pretty quite at school. I just thought it looked like fun. The cheerleaders were always happy and I guess wanted to be that happy too.
I recall that day after tryouts were over being so unfamiliarly happy. I was walking in the halls at school between classes and people were coming up to me telling me that they voted for me. They voted for ME! Yes, ME! I couldn’t believe it. It was in that exact moment that I decided I wanted to be that happy, everyday. I know it sounds cheesy, but this is the exact moment that I knew I was an optimist and nothing else would do for me. I wanted to feel that happiness everyday.
To this day I think about those first ten years, how they affected my thoughts, goals and aspirations, and how they made me stronger. Often my thoughts drift to my daughter and I grateful.