Hi, I’m Sam. I was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa in a strict Christian, military home. My dad got out of the army soon after I was born but the lifestyle and ptsd lived on. My mother was a teacher but soon after my brother was born she became a stay at home mom. My dad worked a lot of long hours and wasn’t around much when I was a kid but when he was around, well, there aren’t many good memories. I was a stubborn, angry child and my dad had a short fuse. Those two things didn’t mix well. And my mother was not one to take a stand. I felt a need to protect my younger brother and took a lot of the punishment for both of us. I wanted it that way though. My brother is 5 years younger and it was my job to protect him. When i was 16 my dad signed up with the National Guard and left on a tour over seas. When I was 17 he returned and I moved out. I couldn’t stay any longer. I graduated high school the following spring.

When I was 19 I packed everything I had in my car and moved to Texas to live with my best friend who had moved there 2 years earlier. I was finally free! I got a job waiting tables. I made lots of friends and we partied… a lot. There were some nights I probably shouldn’t have lived and definitely some nights I should have been arrested. I met my first girlfriend. I really struggled with this because my brother had come out many years earlier and I had just sort of accepted the fact that I would always hide who I really was. But I was over 1000 miles away from my family so who would know right. Ha! Well eventually, as you can imagine, my plan to stay in the closet didn’t last and I came out to my family and friends. No one was surprised. And to my surprise it was not the traumatic event it had been with my brother years before. I guess he had softened the blow so to speak. (Thanks bro) I was finally on the path to me. Or so I thought.

Then one night, just a few weeks before my 21st birthday, I was arrested for possession of marijuana. Trust me, there were a lot of times I could have been caught with a lot worse! After a night in jail and some other unpleasant events that that came from that situation, I ended up with 1 year probation that included quite a bit of fines and other stipulations. I took a good look at my life right then and realized that wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want that life. I had been around gangs and drug dealers and watched people I cared about end up in prison and I didn’t want that. It was time to make a change. I completed my probation without any issues and cleaned up my act.

And then my whole world changed. The woman I had been in love with since the moment I laid eyes on her said she wanted me too! I was head over heals truly madly deeply in love. It was perfect! We were a family. Her, her 2 boys and me. She even helped me go to nursing school. Until it wasn’t so perfect. We fought constantly. She controlled everything I did. Put me down in front of people. And would always use the kids against me. Nothing I did was good enough. I began to believe I was worthless. We were going to get married and the closer it got to the wedding, the more I began to panic. I had to get out. We had been together almost 8 years. The boys were older now, 21 and 15. They would understand. So I did. I left. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t leave because I didn’t love her anymore, I left because I needed to love me again. Because I wasn’t happy anymore. Because I deserved better. Eventually, we figured it all out. We make great co-parents! And good friends. We get along better now then we ever did when we were a couple. I am still a parent to those boys. I see them constantly, never miss a sports event and they know if they call I will always answer. Everything worked out.

Now I work at the local hospital. I am a scrub nurse in the OR. I dabble in photography on the side. I have a new girlfriend who is a super sweet and understanding person with a heart of gold. My dad and I patched up our relationship and he got remarried. My stepmom is the most amazing human on the face of the earth and I am beyond thankful for her! My 2 beautiful, talented, smart, funny, loving stepsisters are amazing people as well and I love that they are part of my life. My brother moved to Texas a few years ago so I get to hangout with him pretty often.

I guess it goes to show, life throws a lot of twists and turns, bumps and bruises at you but no matter what, they all taught me something and I wouldn’t change one thing for who or where I am today.

Story Submitted By Sam