I was working in my Google Drive this morning looking for a video for work and I happened upon this document called: Life in the Wrong Layne. It was from December 2017. I was supposed to write a blog today about How To Be Confident in Who You Are – I’ve decided to share this instead. It ends abruptly because, well, I started a book two years ago – this is how far I got.
Book Excerpt – Life in the Wrong Layne – December 2017
When you sit down to write a book about your life, it’s hard to know where to begin or what to include, what to omit. For me, I want to tell it all. Without fear or secrets, no lies, and unabashedly open about my feelings. I guess my story starts when I was about three or four years old; I remember this time because I was a really happy kid. Super cute, funny, and I was the only kid in a large family. On my mom’s side, I was the first grandkid and on my dad’s side, I was technically the second. More on that later. I was spoiled and what I remember most is how much I loved my mom. She was happy I was here and things were great. I was into He-Man and She-Ra, Strawberry Shortcake, the Care Bears and I could have whatever I wanted.
My parents didn’t get married until I was four, almost five and by that time, my brother Justin had come into the world. He used to cry all the time. He was cute and fun and the apple of my mom’s eye. I didn’t realize it then and don’t think I cared. I was a Daddy’s Girl; destined to follow in his footsteps and thought he was the coolest guy ever. He played basketball and thought I was the best. We were always close. A couple years after my brother came, my little sister was born. The age gap between my brother and I is five years and seven between my sister and I. We were such a close family; our parents taught us that it was family over everything. My dad taught us to be grateful for what we had, to love each other hard, and to always have each other’s backs.
I don’t think we had overflowing money when I was growing up, my parents were just trying to figure it all out, like me now as an adult. My mom had gotten a good job at UPS but it was hard work. She was a delivery truck driver. My dad had a few jobs here and there before finally settling into becoming a community college basketball coach and faculty member. Because he was a coach, it gave me the opportunity to learn the game and spend time in the gym. Some of the greatest moments of my life happened in the gym at Lansing Community College or LCC. That’s where I learned what it meant to work hard, to compete, to push myself, and ultimately, play basketball.
I loved basketball; with everything in me. That’s all I ever wanted to do. I wanted to be the best and so I worked hard every single day to be the best player I could be. It was sort of an obsession; through middle and high school, I didn’t do a whole lot else socially. My mom was strict, almost mean at times, and we had “work” that needed to be done. For most people, these would be considered chores but at our house, it was “work.” I didn’t realize when I was younger that my mom was only mean because her job was hard. I didn’t understand that without a college degree, you didn’t have as many options for jobs. I also wouldn’t realize that I wasn’t exactly the “daughter” she thought I would turn out to be until much, much later in life.
My childhood was wonderful. I had a great family that was really close. We did a lot together. We never wanted for anything. I was a good student; a nerd almost. Not in the straight A way, but more in the I loved to read, do things with electronics and technology, was in middle school band way. I was funny and took being a big sister really seriously; when I was 10, this kid at the bus stop called my little brother the “N” word and I punched him in the face. That is the only physical altercation I’ve ever been in. In the backyard of the house we grew up in, a kid from two houses down spit in my sister’s hair while they were playing; I threw him over the fence.
We grew up in the Pentecostal church and went every Sunday and Wednesday. On my mom’s side, my grandmother was an Evangelist and Prayer Warrior who believed the word of god and lived by it. She went to church on Sundays, Wednesdays, bible studies, prayer, revivals, you name it. Her six kids were exposed to this growing up as well; of the six, four moved away, for freedom from it in my opinion, and two, my mom and aunt, stayed in our hometown and lived their lives as saved women of god.
When I was growing up, people got dressed up on Sundays for church; like REALLY dressed up. Suits, dresses, hats, shiny shoes, and brooches were all on display on Sunday mornings. For kids, especially girls, we wore dresses with lace, and frilly bottoms with socks that folded over with lace on them and church shoes. By the time I turned 12, that got to be my least favorite thing about going to church, wearing those dresses. It wasn’t just that my mom made me wear them a couple years longer than everyone else, it didn’t feel right. I felt stupid and it didn’t feel like me. Even at that age, I thought to myself, “why do I have to dress up to go to church?” Didn’t the bible say Come as you are? Come as you are might have been true at my church but it was a surface-ey type of statement. Come as you if you want to get saved. Come as you are as long as it fits in this box. Come as you if you are what we think you should be.
My years in church, all 17 of them did more harm than good. I left for college as a homophobe who believed that all gay people were gross and going to hell. I believed that drinking was a terrible sin. I believed that worldly music or any other genre besides gospel was from the devil. I believed that speaking in tongues meant you were talking to god through the holy ghost. I thought that all you had to do was repent your sins and you could go to heaven because really, that’s all we were living for. We were not of this world. Why did I believe all of that? Because that’s all I ever knew. I grew up in a box that included family, basketball, and church.
Around the same time I was going through the can I stop wearing frilly dresses stage, was when things really started to change between my mom and I and my dad and I became closer. Because of the long hard hours my mom worked, she was often irritable and tired, and we didn’t have much in common. It wasn’t terrible because I had basketball and I was really good at it. Even at a young age. I started playing when I was about four and by the time I was a freshman in high school, I was starting on varsity with letters from college coaches coming in. Life was good; while my dad could easily flip out and be a big scary man, even given the nickname “Mr. Mean Man” by my brother when we were kids, he was fun, he spent time with us, and he taught me how to play the game.
Basketball made our bond stronger; he was still in playing shape as I was going through middle and high school and I used to watch him play against his team at practices and open gyms and in a Sunday league in a dusty old church gym. He talked so much trash but he backed it up. He played hard and competed; would be fuming if he ever lost and the next time he stepped on the court, wouldn’t lose again the rest of the time. I wanted to be him. We played the fiercest games of one-on-one that would grow ugly and competitive. He never let me win; I had to earn it. And I did, when I was 15. I didn’t beat him again until I was a college athlete.
I knew that girls were supposed to like boys and as I reached middle school, kids were coupling up all over the place. I wasn’t super interested because I was…
It was just getting good. maybe I’ll finish it one of these days.