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Growing up in a small town in Michigan

I was the middle child of 3 boys growing up in a moderately dysfunctional family. Fortunately I fell into the Hero role. Being the family Hero afforded me the best my family could give me. As a Hero child, I was the first to go to college. College opened my eyes and my mind. College also turned out to be the bane of my family and the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Montrose, Michigan is a bedroom community near Flint, MI. Flint was made infamous by Michael Moor’s documentary, Roger and Me. But in the 1950’s and the 196o’s it was an ideal place to grow up. There was technology, television that gave us sound and pictures at the same time. Just like the movies and much better than radio.

Hill-McCloyIf I was not in school, I spent most of my day outside, playing with my friends. We played from after breakfast to before dinner, then it was outside again, weather permitting. There were no fences around peoples houses today making peoples lives much more transparent than they are today.

I play sports in school and dated cheerleaders. Looking back, I’m a bit surprised, but there’s more to that story as well. I’ll share that in a later post. My life was exactly like TV. My town was like Mayberry. We all knew each other and everyone knew your business. I couldn’t think of a better place to grow up.

I was a pretty good student. I was motivated because I planned to go to college. I was going to be a teacher. A vocation I decided upon in 7th grade. It looked like fun and there were great vacation benefits. I didn’t know then what I know now. Later much later, at the age of 50, I was diagnosed with ADD-Attention Deficit Disorder. This explained a lot. Here’s another future post on my experience of living with un-diagnosed ADD.

The Look 2Girls were a mystery to me and I later learned that girls are a mystery to all adolescent boys. I was no exception, but I did not know about the ugly underbelly of my family at time. I just know that I liked girls, but had not idea what to do with them.  I was a very late bloomer but I had gotten to 2nd base before and was pretty happy with that for the moment. Then one night we were making out on the sofa at her house and  she thrust her hand down my pants. WTF?! One minute, I’m gratefully kissing her and caressing her breasts and the next minute, she reaches in under my belt and grabs my penis.? I was not prepared for this. I immediately came in my pants. This was my first sexual experience with another person.

I was overwhelmed with shame, I jumped from the sofa and excused myself as fast as possible. Jumping into my parent’s car, I drove. I drove around and around for hours, feeling devastated, terrified, ashamed and all alone. I had no one to talk to about this. I loved this girl! How could I be feeling this way? It was one of the most confusing and most emotionally devastating experiences in my life and I handled it terribly. I refused to talk with her the next day and I did everything in my power to avoid having contact with her. This was a horrible thing to do. I was ashamed about that for most of my adult life. Like I could keep it a secret in at a high school with 500 students.

Time does heal these wounds, but emotional scars remain. I was so filled with shame, I could not bear to talk with her and ended the relationship. I was 16 years old. We returned to our separate worlds in the same tiny town, sad, confused and hurt. This experience played a role, unconsciously, in relationships throughout my life and moved me into a career in the treatment of teenagers and families.

Love SilloetteSince then, I have fallen in love many times  and I’ve had my share of relationship problems. Nobody ever talked with me about girls, about relationships. In my heart, I’ve always sought openness, honesty, gentleness and kindness in my relationships and most of the time I’m that, but not always.

Come back soon and see where this free association will take me next time. Thanks for visiting.



About Ray

I was raised in a small town in Michigan. I was the middle child of 3 boys in a moderately dysfunctional family. I was fortunate to fall into the Hero role hat afforded me the very best that my family could provide. As a hero child, I was the first to go to college. College opened my eyes and my mind. College also turned out to be the bane of my family. To make along story short, at 38 years old and a new social worker, I learned of the dark secrets my family held. The more I reached out to help the family, the more the pushed me away until, I could not longer have contact with any family members. It's been nearly 30 years now. It's just better that way. As a result, I've focused my career on helping families, especially families with teenagers. I've always worked with teens, since I was 19 years-old I've worked with teens as a teacher, counselor, social worker and psychotherapist. I am still passionate about working with teens and their families, but am focused on working with large groups with multiple families in attendance. Part of my desire to accomplish on this website is to create a place for discussion of families, adolescents, their ever present angst. I want to share with parents of teens some of what the wisdom I've gained from 30 years of working with teenagers and their families. Please visit for awhile. Read some articles, make some comments or share a post with your friends or colleagues. I'm at your service.

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