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After years of allowing the lies and abuse he suffered as a child define his past and cloud his future, Roger Dean Kiser author of The Whitehouse Boys: An American Tragedy decided to find a way to make sense of a childhood replete with verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse before it was too late. In his new book A Better Tomorrow, Kiser revisits his past and makes a conscious choice to focus on the kindness and happiness he experienced throughout his life.
Sharing his heartfelt memories of kind people, loving animals, and comforting events, Kiser affirms the benevolence of the human spirit and demonstrates the healing capacity that random acts of compassion can have on a child. A Better Yesterday reveals the precious, defining moments that molded Kiser into a caring, loving person despite the experiences of a childhood cloaked in misery.
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Roger Dean Kiser is the author of The White House Boys: An American Tragedy. He lives in Brunswick, Georgia, with his wife Judy, where he continues to write and publish his heartfelt essays. A contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Kiser has touched millions of lives through his stories, whether shared over the Internet or found in an anthology.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Most people who were or are abused are always looking to the future, a better tomorrow, in the hope of finding happiness. A new experience, a new car, winning the lottery, or falling in love always seems to ease the pain and sadness, at least for a short period. At age fifty-two, I came to the realization that the future did not hold the answers I sought. Most of my future had already passed me by, and I had very little time left to try to find some form of happiness. It was then that I began to search my past for any answers that might be hidden, and it was in that past that I finally found the happiness and the comfort I had always sought.
Despite the years of verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse I suffered as a child, one evening I decided to sit down and try to make a list of the few positive things (if there were any) that happened during my childhood and as a young man. I was rather surprised when right before my eyes the list began to grow. Within days, the positive list far outweighed the negative list. I then began to wonder, If the positive list is fifty times longer than the negative list, why does the negative list hold so much power over me?
For days I pondered that thought.
While mowing the lawn early one evening, I began thinking about a painful incident that had happened to me on my first day at a new high school. As usual, the boys were inspecting the girls and the girls were inspecting the boys. While I was walking down the hallway, there were as many as ten girls who winked, batted their eyelashes, or smiled at me. I heard a couple of them whisper, 'He's cute,' or 'He's nice-looking.'
Just as I was about to enter my mechanical drawing class, a beautiful girl near the doorway looked at me, snickered, and said to her girlfriend, 'Jesus Christ, look at that big nose he's got.' My face grew hot. I was devastated and almost did not enter the classroom. I wanted to run away, never to be seen or heard from again. I went to class, but the girl's words haunted me―up until this moment, nearly forty years later.
I stopped mowing and stood there thinking, How can what one girl said far outweigh what ten other girls had said minutes earlier? It was then and there that I began to realize the answer to my problem. I clearly saw that I had chosen to live my entire life based on a few falsehoods rather than on the truth.
With my life now more than half over, I had to quickly decide: What is the truth?
Many adults who were abused as children have allowed a few irresponsible individuals from their past to destroy their future happiness―all thanks to nothing more than a handful of lies and distorted self-interest. I too had allowed the lies and the abuse I suffered at the hands of my caretakers to define my past, but now I choose to focus on the comfort and the happiness that I also experienced throughout my life, which helped to shape me into the caring person I am today. In this book, I share those stories―about the kind people, the loving animals, and the positive events that were comforting lights in a dark tunnel. Without them, I would have never found my way out.
In this book, I share with you some of the experiences that most affected my life for the good. Although the stories appear mostly in chronological order, to the best of my memory, they span many years. You may wish to know exact dates and more details, but this is not the story of my life. Rather, these stories are snapshots from my life. The where, when, and what happened next are not the focus. What I write about and share with you are my memories of the kindness and the respect that I received from special people and animals over the years, as well as several events I witnessed that touched my heart or taught me a valuable lesson about life. Many of these experiences transformed some of the hatred that was lurking in my heart into warm and wonderful feelings.
I didn't recognize these feelings as a young child in an abusive orphanage or later as a teenager in a horrific institution for wayward boys. Nevertheless, the feelings and emotions were there and, fortunately, remained with me my entire life, just waiting for recognition and attention. Because of these positive experiences, I was able to return these special feelings to others during the course of my life. It is those feelings, and those feelings alone, that allowed me to learn about the kindness of the human spirit and taught me to love my children, my grandchildren, and my fellow human beings.
©2010. Roger Dean Kiser. All rights reserved. Reprinted from A Better Yesterday. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
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