For some, years can pass before they are ready for their story to be heard, for the pain to escape, for life to begin again.
All My Life
by Angel De La Cruz
All my life I’ve been raised by my mom who played the role of mother and father.
Since I was five years old, my father has been in and out of prison. I law saw him almost ten years ago, when I was eight.
My dad was pretty chill and sometimes a nice guy, at least to me. But he went to prison for domestic violence and robbery. All of his bad behavior was caused by his alcohol addiction.
When I was a boy, sometimes I was afraid just to speak to him, and I would stand in the corner shaking because of his temper.
My dad is 5’7” tall, with medium brown skin, black hair and black eyes. His eyes look just like mine.
He was gang-related, but he’s no longer involved with gang activity. He quit that when he learned the hard way—behind bars.
I didn’t write to my while he was in prison, and for a while I convinced myself I didn’t care about him.
Even without a dad around, I played it straight. In high school I played on the football team for three years, and I earned good grades and participated in clubs. The entire time my mom was by my side. She took 100% of the responsibility for raising me right.
I always wanted a real dad who would toughen me up, play catch with me on the football field or at the park. I always wanted a real dad who would play video games with me or give me those guy lectures and life advice. You know, little stuff I never had.
People used to assume I’d turn out like him. “Oh Angel, he’s going to be just like his dad. He’s got his genes.”
But those people were shocked. I became a bright, educated young man. Again, because my mom was there for me.
And because she was there watching over me, I always hung out with positive people. I never wanted to be the guy who was mean. I wanted to be a decent person who got along well with everyone.
After all I’ve seen my father go through, I’ve taught myself to be disciplined, respectful, patient, and kind.
My friends often ask me how I forged my own path, one so unlike my father’s. And I always say, “Stay humble, hungry and dedicated to something or someone you love, because with these virtues, good things will come.”
All that I have seen and all that I have done make me realize I’m a good guy.
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Photos courtesy of the author