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Adversity Equals Strength

Updated: May 20

These pictures hold a special place in my heart, transporting me back to a time when everything felt well, right. It was a rare moment when my dad had steady work and we lived in a small home, paying rent like ordinary people.

But before this snapshot, I had already become accustomed to constant moving. Six moves before this shot and that was just the beginning. By the time I donned my graduation cap, I would have navigated through over 22 different schools. Our home? It was wherever we parked our car, the occasional rat hole hotel room, or even abandoned houses that my dad would break into. We were squatters, with no electricity or hot water. Cold showers and maybe a slice of bread was how we lived. There were several of those homes where the Sherriff was called to come out to remove us from the home. I can remember them pounding on the door, my parents would tell me to hide in a closet and I would hear them say things like, "I know you're in there!" "This isn't your house, you need to leave."

Our furniture and belongings were lost when I was in middle school because of unpaid storage fees. I had to learn how to survive on my own since I was 12. That meant stealing to put food in my stomach and clothes on my back.

So when I see old photographs like this one given to me by a very good friend, they trigger a flood of memories, reminding me of the strength that carried me through those turbulent times.

Reflecting on those years now, I realize they were the crucible that forged my resilience. 

Every move, every new school, only served to strengthen my resolve. Those things taught me that adversity is not the end of the road and helped me in becoming the person I am today – strong, resilient and unyielding in the face of life's trials. Truly living the phrase, "this too shall pass." 

People would ask, why did we live that way, didn’t your dad have a job? The answer is no, after that pic was taken he decided to try to invent something that would make us millions. I grew up with the promise of “this invention will be the one to make us rich!” He borrowed from his brothers and everyone he knew to support a family of 6. He wrote bad checks and turned back the odometer on cars so they would have less miles when selling them (yep, totally illegal). He was arrested once while taking me to school, in a stolen car. The officers just left me on the side of the road so I walked 8 miles to school.  

I left the confines of my parents right after graduation and did everything in my power to make my own living.  Worked 3 jobs, paid for college myself (that’s another story, I'll have to tell about how I was able to do that) and once I started having babies of my own, I couldn’t even imagine not doing everything I could to take care of them. Even if that meant getting a job at a fast food restaurant. Those early lessons taught me that success is earned through perseverance and diligence, qualities that continue to drive me forward in all aspects of my life. 

I never had the luxury to lay in bed feeling sorry for myself, I didn’t have a bed, or a roof, I had to hustle to get through the day. 

There was a time, not too long ago that I felt shame from this. Now I see it as my battle wounds of strength and courage and how much I want to help others in there time of need.

*I'm the tall red head with green pants!

~Vicki Patterson

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