“There’s something wrong with Mom.”
That was how it began. I didn’t realize in the moment, but as my 8-year-old eyes pored over my mother’s diminished condition, my childhood was about to die. I held a phone to one ear, listening to my father’s instructions, and with the other I kept shaking my mother for lack of a better solution. She was going in and out of consciousness, head bobbing, eyes fluttering, and nonsensical words emanated from her mouth. She didn’t seem to be having a medical emergency, but she had been incapacitated by something. So, I called my father at work instead of dialing 911, and when he asked me what was wrong, I said I didn’t know. I was crying by this point, terrified of what might be transpiring. Was she going to die? He asked if she had fallen, or otherwise injured herself, and then curiously prodded as to whether she might have ingested something that made her sick, such as medication. I noticed a red, plastic cup on a table next to her, and sniffed inside, only to realize that it contained the remnants of some type of liquor. Right then, I noticed that her breath smelled the same. It hit me all at once: Mom was drunk. Blackout drunk. But that couldn’t be possible. We had never even seen her drink. Until now.
My dad came home and sent me and my older sibling to our bedrooms. As my mom slowly regained her senses downstairs, I hid along the railing in darkness and listened to the conversation. Mom kept denying she had been drinking, until she sobered enough to break down in tears and admit she had been doing this for a long time. In fact, she was able to hide it from everyone until the moment the disease finally took her to a place where she was overwhelmed. But… what disease?
Dad eventually came upstairs, and explained that Mom was sick, and needed help. She was something called an alcoholic. This meant that she would be going away for a while to a place called rehab where they’d make her all better, and then she could come home where everything would be fine again, just like it used to be.
So, we dropped her off at the rehab, and as I watched her disappear through the door leading to her new residence, I was assured that she would be home soon.
I never saw her again. At least, not the person she had been. That woman was gone.
I recall standing there in that moment, and turning my attention to the doctor speaking to my father. He looked at us, and inquired somberly, “Are you okay?” We looked at each other like, of course, we’re okay. She’s the one with the drinking problem. But we weren’t. Little did I know that this was the end of our family.
That’s when the trauma really began. I was asked to lie to everyone about where she was and what she was doing. So, while she had the convenience of being locked away from intrusive people, I was on the front lines of that secrecy being instructed to thwart any advance from those in her life attempting to learn the truth. I lied about her condition nonstop, as I was told, and suffered in silence without a mother as an 8-year-old boy. My father soon began spending time away from the home with other women, while my sibling decided the best way to deal with his pain of my mother being out of control was to hurt and control me. I had no protection from persistent abuse and neglect. And during the times my mother was around, we were cursed with the constant fallout of her alcoholism, from ambulances responding to nearly fatal emergencies to repeatedly catching her in the act of attempting suicide.
Each time she came home from rehab, we were graced with the false promise of a new day, one that never came to bear, and before long, that 8-year-old boy that I had once been in the mirror was suddenly a man, yet there was no emotional growth to accompany that metamorphosis. I had never learned anything but survival; the thought that I would need to find a way to thrive in adulthood was jarring, to say the least. I had never been anything but that child fighting desperately for Mom to finally come back, and the full weight of that psychological burden finally hit me at age 25 when my mother committed suicide.
As I had 17 years earlier, upon finding her, I picked up the phone and dialed, yet this time the call was to 911. She was clearly dead. And it was only then, after all those years of suffering, that I finally lost hope that she would truly come home. For all of those years, while my peers were becoming the adults they were destined to be, and carving out their own identities, I had to come to terms with the fact that I was still that little boy holding the phone and calling for help, but I had held on for so long that, in the process, I got left behind. I wasn’t going to be able to catch up.
Trying to establish myself in my adult life has been a nightmare, especially because I don’t possess the formal education I would have otherwise received. For that reason, my professional life has been rife with failure and mostly directionless. I’m also a somewhat neurodivergent person, which comes with its own struggles, and the result is that I haven’t been able to find a suitable career path outside of artistic endeavors, such as writing. So, against all odds, I set out to try to make that happen. I wanted to not only use art as a way of expressing the irreconcilable pain of my past, but also as a conduit to becoming a professional who could finally thrive.
I started by writing a few plays, and soon enough I won an award, followed by a full production, and then another award. It was a great start, so I decided that transitioning to writing screenplays was the way to go. After writing and submitting several scripts, I began getting calls from managers potentially interested in representing me. I also managed to get a script into pre-production with a director attached. Things were going well, but I still wasn’t making the type of impact I wanted to because the scope of people indulging my work was quite limited, and only included professionals geared toward making sales. I needed to connect with an audience, I believed, in order to make my artistic value evident to employers.
But… How could I connect with an audience? How could I connect to more than just that single reader, so that my artistic fate is realized collectively, rather than by one person? I decided to start a podcast. Knowing that my emotional wound from childhood was created by that moment when I picked up the phone to assist my mother, I believed that picking up a microphone and calling out to other women in need of help or empowerment was the right way to go. So, I started a true crime podcast called Cold Case Murder Mysteries, a unique show which examines the criminal mind through psychology and evolution, specifically the manner in which women are changed and empowered through an antagonistic process leading to equality. While my quasi-autistic ramblings can sometimes be unfamiliar and off-putting to certain people, many others find them absolutely fascinating, especially other creative types. People began to take notice, and soon the phone rang.
A very well-known writer who created an extremely popular animated show had his assistant contact me and invite me to LA to appear on his live podcast. I was really excited, as he was very talented and influential, but also hesitant because he was a notorious alcoholic who had previously been accused of abuse. Soon after, I was invited back out there to spend time in the writer’s room, which was obviously a dream come true. I loved being in there with the writers, and it was great to realize I could hold my own in a place with so many talented people, but the most exciting part proved to be a tour of the animators’ production room. I was intrigued by the amazing art, along with the process. I asked the co-creator of the show if I could have two minutes of his time at the end of the week before I left, as a means of asking career advice. He said yes, and we made an appointment; however, he was intoxicated and absent from the office the entire week. I felt my childhood coming back to haunt me, but suddenly I got a text urging me to meet him at a local dive bar to receive the requested advice. I showed up, and he quickly told me he had no advice because he was bringing me on as a staff writer for the next season.
My mind was blown. I couldn’t believe it. I did it. I finally made it. I asked what I should do over the next 8 months until the job began, and he said nothing. I was set. So, I kept making my podcast, and though I was in financial trouble, I was comforted by the fact that this great job that paid so much was right around the corner. Except it wasn’t. He lied. When the time came, I was provided excuses that amounted to nothing more than total nonsense, and a harsh reality hit me like a punch to the face. After spending my entire adult life working for this moment in which I could finally leave behind the damage done by an alcoholic in my youth, an alcoholic from my adulthood was going to stomp me into the ground just the same. His last words to me were, “I feel like I owe you an opportunity.”
I never heard from him again. Without that job, my car got repossessed, and I was literally left in the middle of a desert city without a job or a car. Reeling from that experience, and knowing that I had touched the hearts of others in the entertainment industry, I made a call to my audience for help. Surely, somebody knew a person who could assist. I was contacted by a woman who said she loved my work, and that her husband was recently named the president of a prominent movie studio. They invited me to come stay in their guesthouse during Covid, and promised to introduce me to their friends in the industry who could help. I told them I had an idea for adapting my podcast into an animated TV series, and was soon connected to one of their very successful friends who is a revered creator of dark and mysterious material. Unfortunately, I knew this person had grown up in a home that involved sexual and other physical abuse handed down by a violent, alcoholic father, and had been fired from most jobs in the industry that he’d ever held, so I remained wary, to the greatest extent, that he would be problematic.
Everything started great. With my substance and his style, our first attempt to get a studio interested in the show rendered a “yes”. They were going to give us 150k to make a sizzle reel (demo) for the show to present to buyers. However, what was quite obviously a path to success soon became the worst nightmare I’d ever endured because I came to realize this person wasn’t interested in making a show. He wanted symbolic revenge on his father for what happened in his youth, and I was the perfect target of vulnerability. I was placed inside an abusive cycle in which this man could play the abusive father while the woman who had introduced me to him proceeded in the role of the mother who was forced to be complicit or else lose the resources of the father. So, I endured no fewer than 8 consecutive months of devastating psychological abuse, at the culmination of which I was dumped back into the desert with no car, no job, and no prospects for creating a future. After working extremely hard for years just to get one opportunity in the entertainment industry, I simply could not cope with having endured that level of abuse. So, I developed severe PTSD in the summer of 2021, and would often need to physically brace myself when the spells came that would make the room spin. This person’s abuse was nearly damaging beyond repair, but I have managed to fully recover.
After spending years working nonstop to have creative success and help other people, this was the thanks I received. I was left completely broken by people who want revenge for what they suffered in their youth, rather than healing. Yet, I thought of the fact that so many thousands of people have contacted me to say that I’ve enlightened them in some way, through empathy, understanding, and compassion. For every person who sends me a message like that, I know there are many more who haven’t, but are appreciative just the same. I want to be part of their healing process. I’m only one person, but I would like to offer what I have.
Unfortunately, in the time that has elapsed since these abuses, I’m left with no other option but trying to enter a professional world I left years ago, which means that employers are viewing a murder podcast at the top of my resume. It’s a great way to end up on the bottom of the pile, and that’s exactly what has occurred. Outside of my podcast, I have not been able to acquire any type of employment, despite a tremendous effort. I don’t even receive calls for minimum wage jobs. It feels as though I’ve been canceled from the world, yet my audience is still wondering when I’m coming back, and even more so, when I’ll finally climb out of this hole. There are so many people who care, but there is no one who can offer me employment.
I recently became homeless due to these struggles, and as I watch the remaining funds I have diminish to zero, it’s apparent that this story isn’t going to end well. I am not an addict. I have not given up hope. Thankfully, I still have my sanity. But I am currently only days away from complete disaster. There is so much love in my heart, and I have so much to offer others, but I find myself absent the resources necessary to get out of this hole. I want nothing more than to find the success I know is waiting for me, and I want it because I can use it to help other people. So many people are suffering in silence, and doing it in places where we can’t find them because they’re afraid. They need to hear our voices drawing near. They need to know they’re not alone, and that help is coming. I know this because I am both the person who has fallen into that pit and someone who can help them out.
But right now I need you to reach down and save me because I’m trapped. I’m calling out to you. And I know you can hear me. I believe that you’re coming.
I would like to get back into a small apartment and return to school to study 3D animation, so that I’m able to write and produce the animated true crime show I had intended to make, in addition to starting a new career as a 3D modeler/animator. My audience really believes in me, so they were kind enough to crowdfund an amazing laptop to do the animation, which is a great start. Unfortunately, I’m in need of a significant amount of education to complete the process, yet I don’t have basics like a home, sufficient clothing, or financial resources. I have sought all types of work, including minimum wage jobs, yet the result has been nothing but dreadful silence. It feels like I suddenly just vanished.
But I didn’t. I’m still here. I’m still fighting. And while I’m ashamed to say that I’m still that 8-year-old boy with the phone gripped in his hand, the truth is that this time I’m calling you. I can’t hear your voice on the other end right now, but I know you’re out there, and you’ll find me, because you’ve been waiting for this call too.