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In My Shoes

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BC: "Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?" -Ian Wallace

FC: By: Allen J. Nohay | In My Shoes

1: This book is dedicated to people who feel that they do not feel they fit in. And also to mother, Betty White. | -1-

2: The Start of my Life | I was born on May 28th, 1964 in St. Catharines, Ontario. My father was killed in a car accident while my mother was pregnant with me. When my mother found out that my father passed away the nurses gave her a sedative to calm her down. That sedative got to me while I was inside of her and that is why I am handicapped. There are 5 children in my family and I am the third oldest. | -2-

3: I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when I was born. The doctors told my mother that I would never be able to walk or talk. They also told her that she should put me in an institution. But my mother wanted to keep me and she was the one who taught me how to walk and talk. | -3-

4: Growing up kids would make fun of me. Sometimes I would be walking down the street and kids would throw pop cans at me for no reason and call me a retard.” I always felt that I could not fit in with my family because of having a disability and they did not have one. I felt left out of my family and it really hurt me that my real father was not around. | -4-

5: When I was 9 years old my favourite teacher left Lingarden. Lindgarden was a school for kids who had disabilities. Penny Stewart was her name. She was very nice to me and helped me understand why things happen in life. The school tried putting me in a different class and I went on strike. Right after Ms. Steward left I went into a coma and nobody knew why. I remember telling my mom that I was seeing the colour yellow. | -5-

6: My mom tucked me in bed but she did not feel good leaving me alone and then she saw that I did not look good. I woke up in a hospital bed 2 days later. I felt that I did not fit in at school either. I always felt that I could not fit in with people who had disabilities or people who did not have a disability. I became the class clown. I really liked making people laugh. I wanted to be a comedian. I think I can make anybody laugh. | -6-

7: Going on summer vacations was very hard for me. I always got in trouble in the summer. I really did not have any friends. I did not have any friends except for Dave who was much older than me. He always defended me when someone wanted to hurt me. There were times I would see my brother having girlfriends and I never had any because I knew that none of the girls wanted to date me. When I was 10 I had my first girlfriend and her name was Lori. I would only see her at school. I was really shy around girls and I still am to this day. | -7-

8: I wanted to marry Lori because I loved her until my best friend stole her away from me. I was so upset when I found out that she was with my best friend that I hit him. When I was 14 I had a very tough year. That summer I was riding my bike down the street and smoking and then my brother Brad saw me. As soon as I saw him I knew he was going to squeal on me because he would always rat me out. Brad told my mother and she grounded me. She also said that I couldn't go to camp and that she was going to tell my step father. | -8-

9: I was so worried about getting in trouble with my father that I went downstairs and found a bottle of turpentine and drank it. Brad knew what I was doing and told my parents when they got home. | -9-

10: I went to the Community Centre sleepover. This was my first sleepover and I was a volunteer counselor at the centre. One of the staff brought whiskey and kool aid and we went out back and drank. This was the first time I ever got drunk. I was so scared of going home because I did not want my parents to see me drunk. When I became sober I eventually went home. When I went home I was fine but it looked like my Dad knew something was going on but he let me get away with it. | -10-

11: My sister Cheryl left the house when I was 14 which really upset me. She was the one who always protected me. She was a tom boy who would knock anybody out that ever touched me. I was very close to Cheryl. We were always together and when she left it changed my life. Cheryl moved out to my aunt's house and I tried running away to get her back. | -11-

12: When I was 16 my mother and my step father got divorced. I was not sad about that at all but I was not very happy to see them separated. She met another man named Charlie. I had the best Christmas when I was 16. Charlie got me drunk on Christmas Eve. I felt so sick until I started drinking again the next day on Christmas Day. During Christmas dinner my grandmother was there and she asked me why I was so pale. I was hungover but I tried to hide it as best as I could. It was the best Christmas because no one was fighting and everyone was relaxed and getting along. | -12-

13: I didn't go to high school I went to senior's school when I was 16 at Lady Spencer. I finished going to school there when I was 20. I was happy to be finished because I did not like school. I could not read or write and no one really tried to teach me how to. The school made me do assessments and they told that I could not learn because I had a problem with my brain. | -13-

14: After I finished Lady Spencer I went to Arc. Arc is a workshop for people that had disabilities and I always felt that I did not fit in. The people that were going to Arc were not into the same things that I was into. I felt like I could do more than them so I felt out of place. They made me assemble things like nuts and bolts but I did not like it because they were greasy. I kept quitting and going back until eventually I got assessments done at Bethesda and they said I was too high functioning to go to Arc. Arc labeled me as “mentally retarded” but I never felt that way. | -14-

15: My mother always said I had a disability. I never thought I was mentally retarded but I have always known that I had a disability. After leaving Arc I became very frustrated. I tried to fit into the “normal” world but couldn't. I began drinking a lot of alcohol and got into a lot of trouble. I was not happy in my life. I quit a few times and I always went back and had bad benders. I finally quit for 2 years and went to AA almost every night. | -15-

16: My social worker got me into Mainstream when I was 23. I moved into Avalon which was a “dry house, which meant there could not be any alcohol. Mainstream sent me to treatment for my alcohol problem to St. Thomas. I stayed there for 28 days and I really wanted to stay there. Mainstream was at a laundry mat in Port Dalhousie. I was in charge of the craft store but I don't think we sold a lot. I lived at Avalon for one year and eventually left because I did not like the rule of no alcohol. I moved out to the Leonard but Charlie came and brought me home. Then he threw me out and I spent some time on the streets. Then I got a room at the Queensway and Charlie found me again and brought me home. Then I got kicked out again. This was the story of my life. | -16-

17: I then got involved with Bethesda when I was 29. I got a worker named Tim who I didn't like at first but we eventually stayed together for almost 20 years and became good friends. I was one of the first ones in the Bethesda SIL program. I lived in an apartment that belonged to Bethesda. I lived there for 5 years. I had a worker named Abbie and she helped me with my money and helped me with my groceries. During my time at Bethesda, I sat on the Dual Diagnosis committee. We met once every three months. I got to know a lot of doctors during this time because they were also on the committee. | -17-

18: The Dual Diagnosis committee sent me to a Hamilton Hospital to talk to interns about how it was like to have a handicap. I really enjoyed talking to them and I found it fun. I also went to the Port Colborne Association to talk to their staff about my handicap so they could get a better understanding how to treat people with a minor as opposed to a severe handicap. The director of Bethesda asked me to do a workshop for all of the agencies in the Niagara region. I really liked sharing my stories with the community and people were really amazed at how I was doing. I really enjoy teaching. | -18-

19: A friend that I used to have coffee with took me to church one Sunday. The church was called World of Life in St. Catharines. He introduced me to a woman named Marie and her husband Garrett. Marie and I became good friends. I joined the choir where we met every Thursday night. Marie was the choir director. | -19-

20: One day I was in church and I got a bad pain in my chest and my whole face went red. A couple of days later I went to the doctors and I found out that I had a heart attack and I was diagnosed with having diabetes. My doctor told me that I had to take pills and go for blood tests. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. What a bummer.!! After I left the hospital I was told that I could not live in my original apartment because I needed more help because of my diabetes. | -20-

21: So I began living on Scott Street which was a Bethesda group home but the downstairs basement was for me because I was in SIL. I got into some trouble and then I moved to Scott Manor. My parents did not want me living in Scott Manor so I moved back home with them. I stayed at home for 3 years and eventually ended up at Queenston Terrace because I was drinking a lot. I stayed at Queenston Terrace for 2 years. | -21-

22: I did not like living in these places because they barely gave me any food. There were a lot of people who were talking to themselves, people who stole and fighting with each other. I was very depressed during this time and alone. Again, I felt like I did not fit in these places. My mother called Contact Niagara and I was sent back to Mainstream. I can remember going back to Mainstream like it was yesterday. It was one of the happiest days of my life because I was out of those bad places. I moved back to Avalon and had two room mates. | -22-

23: By this time Mainstream moved from Port Dalhousie to Pelham Road and there was no laundry mat. Mainstream then offered classes to attend but I did not like going to them. For the next couple of years I struggled with my sobriety. I was not going to AA groups or church on Sundays. My life felt like it was getting worse and worse. I could not find anything to make me happy. | -23-

24: December 21st, 2006 I found out the worst news of my life. My mother was sick with lung cancer. I was very angry and hurt because I knew she was going to die. She eventually died on July 6th, 2007. I still love her very much. I think if she was here she would be very proud of me. I miss her and thinking of her brings tears to my eyes. | -24-

25: One Saturday morning in January, 2008 a young girl came to my door step and I knew she was a new worker so as a joke I did not let her into the house. Her name was Jen and she eventually became my primary worker and I have worked with her ever since and she has become one of my best friends. I gave her a hard time for 2 years because I continued drinking but Jen was always there for me. | -25-

26: Today I still struggle with being depressed but life is better and I'm learning how to be happy. I was excited to finish this book because I feel that it will help a lot of people who have a disability. I never felt that I fit in anywhere and I am sure there are other people who are in the same boat as me. I look forward to completing more goals and moving on to the next project. I did it! :) | -26-

27: -27-

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  • Title: In My Shoes
  • Al's life
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  • Published: almost 7 years ago