© 2012 Donald Whitehead. All rights reserved.
Written by Donald H. Whitehead Jr.
(An exert) Most Unlikely to Succeed
My five siblings and I lived in a three family home that we occupied with other relatives. We all shared one bedroom and my parents slept in the living room. My mother was a lunchroom worker at our elementary school. She later became a teacher's aide and then a licensed social worker. She insisted that education was the top priority. This early focus on education was a lifeboat in the sea of desperation that my life would later become. My father, usually a very happy person, worked hard to care for us. For most of my early childhood he worked two jobs. One evening my father crashed his car into a tree. From the time of my father's accident things were never the same. The accident disfigured his face, leaving a visible scar. He became a tyrant. Our house became a war zone. My grandfather, who was unwilling to ignore my father's abuse, shot him. Even before the trauma and the abuse I remember feeling different. I remember feeling lonely. At home I created imaginary friends and my play-acting was so vivid that my poor mother had me tested for sanity. When I left elementary school I went to Walnut Hills High School, one of the top public schools in the nation. I didn't stand out because everyone was smart. I also didn't fit in socially. Because of my father's progressive addiction and unwillingness to maintain employment on a regular basis we were forced to live in poverty. Most students at school were from affluent families and I always felt that I wasn't as good as everyone else. The growing dysfunction in my household began to have a negative impact and I began to experiment with drugs. I was asked to leave Walnut Hills High and for the first time I experienced academic problems. My academic problems were not related to my ability to do the work, but rather they stemmed from my newly acquired practice of skipping classes. I take full responsibility for my actions, but I place some blame on the teacher's strike of 1977 that allowed me to perfect the art of skipping class on a regular basis. In the next three years I attended three different schools. By this time my addiction had progressed to the level of blackouts. I lived a "Jekyll and Hyde" existence. By day I was the class vice president, the prom king, most likely to succeed, a football player - I was even selected to be "councilman for a day" in Cincinnati. After school hours, I was an addict who had already tried almost every drug that didn't require needles. I knew that this was not how I wanted to live - the only problem was I just couldn't stop.
Author, Donald H. Whitehead Jr.
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