All In or Nothing | Mike Gardipee

All in or Nothing

This post was intending to be about forgiveness, but somewhere along the line, I went in a totally different direction. Now you’ll see why this is titles “All In or Nothing”.

I took it as a sign that I was intended to share something completely different. What you are about to read is not your typical story of troubled youth, but it’s my life, filled with pain and despair. I can’t take back the things I have done, but if I never share them, they will continue to eat me alive, and I will never be able to forgive myself.

This story took place on the Puyallup Indian Reservation in Washington.

I condemned myself within the darkness of this world. After my mother committed suicide I isolated in addiction.

I watched in silence as other children enjoyed life, without any real concerns or worries in the world. Playing hide-n-seek, hopscotch, and climbing on the monkey bars out on the schoolyard. After school, I would watch the joy in all the other children as they boarded the bus or parents picked them up to go home. I also seen the joy in their faces when they would tease or throw little rocks at me because I had long braided hair with homemade Native American ribbon shirts, that my grandmother put together for me.

Yes, I was that kid that didn’t quite fit in and was a punching bag for a few of the kids on the schoolyard.

The physical violence, I was use to, but watching the other children hug their mothers and experiencing that love only a mother can provide, was killing me inside. I longed for that physical and emotional affection.

This is when I started to resent the other children because they had something I will never have again, the unconditional love from a mother.

I didn’t see it then, but I see it now that I also started to resent women. Yes, I believed it was my fault that my mother committed suicide, but I was also hurt and angry that my mother left my brother and I. This is also when the old Mike was created.

I started to make foolish decisions and allowed my pain to turn into anger that was directed at others. I started to fight back on the schoolyard. I am going, to be honest, at first, I lost more fights then I won. But the rush that I felt during the fights was like a drug within itself. Then when I started to win these fights I felt the overwhelming false sense of power that comes with controlling another human being. I became the bully on the schoolyard.

I was no longer the victim I was the victimizer.

Reflecting back on this transition in life. I can see the true control that anger and resentment had over my life. I know what it felt like to be the victim. The paralyzing fear that comes from violence. The insecurities and low self-worth that is created within another human being taking advantage of one’s weaknesses. It mentally destroyed me to the point that I felt weak and worthless.

Knowing how it affected me, how could I do this to another human being and be okay with it?

Anger and resentment clouded my mind so that I could not see or feel the damage I was causing others and myself.

I became addicted to these feelings and the false sense of power.

I was all in.

I started prying on the weak or who I thought to be weak. I was starting to build a reputation for myself and was attracting attention from others like me. The one’s that were truly weak hiding the pain or masking their fear with anger and antisocial behavior. Believe it or not, I felt comfortable around my new found friends. I found myself finding ways to be accepted by them. I would fight whoever wherever.

I started stealing money from my grandparents so we could drink or to simply live off of while we were on the run. I learned how to steal cars. Back then Dotson’s were very easy to steal, all you needed was a screwdriver, and strong arms to break the lock on the steering wheel.

Then I graduated to robbing people and houses. I began to love the social status or the street credit I was building. I was starting to feel needed and wanted. They even gave me a nickname, “Loco,” which means crazy in Spanish, because I was willing to do anything to prove my worth.

Then one day they told me they wanted me to be all in, a part of the family. They wanted to jump me into the MP family, which stood for Mexican Posse. Back then I took pride in this invitation. But looking back now it is the beginning of a long list of mistakes.

To be all in you had to do something that ties you to them for life, which I can’t talk about, but just know it’s something I will regret for the rest of my life. Now, it is time for me to get jumped in, which is when a bunch of my so-called friends circled around me, and I must fight them all at the same time. I fought like my life depended on it, but in the end, my hand was broke, along with my face, and ribs.

I am starting to get emotional about the ignorance of the situation that I am writing about, so I believe this is a good place to end, for now. Because it only gets worse from here.

You might be wondering the time period of which this took place, well my mother committed suicide when I was seven, and I was jumped in at 14.

God is good, even when I didn’t deserve it!



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