Being a happy, positive person and living a life of awesomeness is a choice. In the face of adversity, it isn’t always easy to make, but it is a necessary choice if you want to live life to the absolute fullest.
Written and illustrated with infinite wisdom and an original comic twist, Stairway to Awesomeness is the ultimate 30-step self-improvement guide that will make you want to change your life forever and encourage others to do the same.
Comic Strip Mama cartoonist and writer, Tanya Masse, shares her tragedy-to-triumph life story with the world and proves that no matter what adversity you are faced with, as long as you have a shred of sanity left, you CAN rise above and BE AWESOME!
Comic Strip Mama shows you how to:
Now make your choice, and start climbing the Stairway to Awesomeness!
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My Childhood Years
My childhood was bittersweet. I remember being very loved especially by my extended family, but I also remember being very scared and lost. In all honesty, my parents were not the best of parents. I’d like to believe that the reasoning was simply because they were not ready to be parents, so they were a little selfish and therefore made some really bad choices.
First, I will tell you about the good. I remember my mother being a beautiful, loving, spiritual and talented woman. She watched the Young and the Restless every day, she loved music and she could sew. She designed and made a lot of my clothes. She made me the most amazing Halloween costumes and some pretty funky “fashion forward” clothes. I like to believe that if she were alive today, she would have made it in the fashion world. She also loved to doll me up and experiment with my long hair. She was a housewife and a stay-at-home mom. She loved me and my little brothers. I know she did.
My father was a handsome, talented man. He worked as a shoe salesman on the Base, but his true passion was music. Before I was born, he was in a band. I remember that he played the guitar like a rock n’ roll star and he could sing too. I remember getting together with family and everyone would sit around listening to my dad sing and play guitar. Sometimes my mom would sing too. They were good times and awesome memories.
Now, I will tell you about the bad…and the ugly.
My father abused drugs and my mother was an alcoholic. When it wasn’t all fun and happiness, they fought…a lot. It was pretty extreme at times and when my father got angry with my mom, or with anybody for that matter, it was terrifying. He was loud and physically, verbally and mentally abusive. My parents abused each other mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically.
Over time, my mother became so severely depressed to the point that alcohol wasn’t enough to take away her pain anymore. She didn’t want to exist anymore and eventually, after several attempts, on November 2nd, 1981, she made that happen. The month before Christmas, 10 days after my 7th birthday and my brothers where only 3 and 5 years old. My mother was only 28! So young, so much to live for!
I know her brain was sick and she was tainted with abuse and alcohol. I know that what she did wasn’t my fault, but as you can imagine, trying to figure out the meaning of life after that devastation was extremely difficult and challenging for me. It is something that I struggled with tremendously throughout most of my life.
Do I blame my father for my mother’s death? I do, but only partially and he knows that. For years my father lied and told me and my brothers that my mom innocently and naturally died in her sleep. Another thing I had to struggle with until I finally found the guts to confront him and make him tell me the truth, the truth I already knew.
I don’t like to talk about this era of my life in detail, but you get the gist. I will say that their abusive behavior was mainly directed towards each other and quite often, thankfully, my aunt and uncle would stay with us, play with us and take care of us.
Very soon after my mother’s demise, in 1982, my father “rebounded” and re-married. I will call her the “evil stepmother”. I only say that because she was truly an evil person. She would hurt me and my brothers when my father was not around and she would leave us alone as a punishment to my father when she was upset with him. After she left me and my brothers on the side of a busy highway and told us to find our own way home while she and her daughter hitchhiked back to Ottawa, my father finally saw the light and separated from her for good.
Shortly after my father’s divorce from the “evil stepmother”, in 1983, he met another woman who has been my stepmother ever since. She wasn’t an “evil stepmother”. She was actually a very nice, kind and caring person. BUT, all of this happened within a span of less than 2 years after my mom died. Imagine the pain, the confusion and the insanity. Two new “moms” and I haven’t even truly had a chance to grieve or even begin to understand the loss of my real mom. I know that my father was desperate to find someone to take care of my brothers and me, but WOW it was hard. Yes, kids are resilient, but they aren’t THAT resilient!
I will admit that my childhood improved significantly after my father moved in with my stepmom, despite my fears and apprehension. My new stepmom had two children and although there were conflicts at times, we all got along pretty well, like regular brothers and sisters. I do remember a lot of love, a lot of happiness and some awesome, fun times. My new stepmom wasn’t my real mom, but she was the next best thing and I will refer to her as my “mom” from hereinafter.
In 1984 my father almost died from sepsis (blood poisoning) caused by a severe tooth abscess. Yes, a tooth abscess can kill you! Scary, right? Well it was very scary and I thought my dad was going to die and leave me just like my mom did. He was hospitalized in intensive care and when he didn’t come home that day after my mom took him to the ER, I cried and cried. My mom tried to comfort me and assure me that he was going to be fine, but I didn’t believe her and I demanded to see him so I could make sure he was still alive. My mom was told that children would not be permitted into the ICU, but she managed to convince the doctor to allow me to see him for just a few minutes. He was alive, but he was very sick and he had several tubes and machines hooked up to him. Thankfully, he pulled through and came home.
Over the next three years, my father changed his ways for the better. He had an awakening after his near-death experience. He wasn’t angry all the time. He still had his moments, but for the most part, he was happy and he decided to make some positive changes. This is when I started to admire my father and truly recognize how awesome and intelligent he was. He went to college as a mature student and graduated top of his computer programming class, with distinction. As a result, he was offered an amazing job in another city. This made me really proud and that is when I truly started to realize that people really can change their negative ways and get back to good, if they put their mind to it.
In 1987, we moved from the small town of Kingston, Ontario to the big city of Ottawa, Ontario. I was 12. I was all sorts of excited and positive and optimistic. We were moving on up! Then almost immediately after we moved, my body started to change, I got my first lady flow and hit the BIG “P”. Ugh! Puberty!