I kept my entire life story a secret, hiding it from every single person that I know, including my closest friends who have trusted me with their lives. I felt as if my life was too unusual in compared to the average American childhood lifestyle, and that sad stories only brought people down. So I kept a straight face throughout the past 14 years telling people that I was born and raised in TX and lived a normal life in a normal family. I told everyone that I went to college and didn’t make it because I was too busy having fun rather than studying. Whenever they would ask me how I manage to pick up an accent that sounded similar to those who lived in New York or Jersey when I was born and raised in TX, I would just tell them that I happened to move around the states a lot with my parents. I have gone through many hardships in my life like many of you have. I don’t consider myself to be special. Although, I do recognize all the benefits that I have gained from my hardships and therefore do not complain about them no matter how painful they might have been. I now recognize that all of my hardships were in fact gifts and lessons from life itself preparing me to help others who are in need.
A friend of mine who works with me called me at 1am two weeks ago, stating that he was under a lot of stress, and that he had no one else to go to because he had just left his house after fighting with his wife. He told me that he finally had enough and told her that he thought a divorce was their best option. He told me that he was feeling hopeless and worried that his entire career was at stake, because his wife was planning to retaliate by filing several false charges claiming that he had beaten her, abused her and neglected her. This man weighed 110 pounds and was one of the nicest people I have ever met. But his wife did not want to leave him peacefully. I told him that he could stay at my place until things calmed down, and so we talked for hours each day as I tried to comfort him by telling him things are going to work out and that this stress is only temporary. I also told him that its normal for his wife to act this way sometimes because she might be in a lot of emotional pain knowing that he wanted a divorce, and to just give her sometime to heal. He told me all about his personal life and all about his personal relationship issues with his wife. I comforted him but never shared my personal hardships with him to let him know that things really do work out at the end. I also made him talk to mental health counselors to help him cope with his issues. Fast forward one week later, he moved in with another friend of his on base. a few days later, I get a phone call from the enlisted guy in charge on base stating that he really needs to talk to me, that it is extremely important that I see him as soon as possible because he has some really bad news that he needed to relay to me. As I drove the 30 min drive to base, I could not stop thinking about what was so urgent for him to ask me to drop everything I was doing at the time to come over and talk to him. It seemed extremely unusual and so thoughts just raced through my mind trying to figure it all out before I got there with little to no avail. I arrived at his office anxiously awaiting to find out what this was all about. He asked me to sit down and take a breath. He had a sad expression on his face as he said these exact words "There's no other way for me to tell you this, so I'm going to be straight forward with you. They found Barreto dead in his house today. He killed himself. I am sorry." I felt a jolt in my heart as I slammed my fist on the table in complete shock of what I had just heard. I felt as if I had let him down. That it was my fault. If only I was more honest with him about myself and about how hard my life had been as well then maybe I would have been able to inspire him to not do what he did.
I have since felt this fire in my heart. That I needed to tell people my true story in its entirety, in hopes that it would one day reach that one person out there who needs to hear it and maybe become inspired to continue to move forward with life instead of just give up. I am done with holding secrets. I will write my story down, and I will have it published. I don’t care if it sells one copy or a hundred. I just feel the strongest urge I have ever felt in my life to do this. I am tired of watching people I love give up on life. The man who took his own life last week was one out of 5 people I know that did this. I will no longer allow this to happen anymore, not after they come to me for help, ever again.
I have written an extremely condensed version of my story which is not even the tip of the iceberg. But I am just sampling it on this site until I finish writing the full book. Please feel free to criticize my writing for I am not a writer by any means. But I will do everything in my power to learn how to write properly. I will consult professionals along with other writers in order to get my story out. Please enjoy this short and condensed version that I have put together. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my story.
I always knew that I had a purpose. A purpose that manifested itself through several minor and major life experiences. Little did I know that whatever my purpose may be; these experiences would impact my life forever. I have since discovered my purpose. My purpose was to bear arms,support and defend our nation and its people, as a member of the United States Air force and to help inspire those who have lost hope in their life.
I was living in Kuwait with an extremely abusive father (duel citizen) who had taken me away from my birth home in the U.S against my mother’s will 3 years prior to this experience. My father then remarried which in turn created an illusion for me to believe that everything was normal again. Except, the beatings never stopped. I just had to learn how to bare it for the first 18 years of my life. Sometimes I feel as if my entire childhood was sucked out of my life because of it. Needless to say, it has taught me how to feel extreme compassion and love towards others later in my life because I understand exactly what hate, violence and anger can do to other people, and so for that I am grateful.
The first experience that led me towards my purpose occurred when I was only 8 years old. There were hundreds of plastic little toy soldiers, tanks and airplanes on the floor in my bedroom. They were arranged behind their assigned fortress, as I prepared to make my first move. At the time, I understood it to be a game that I enjoyed playing, yet I could almost imagine myself as one of the toy soldiers, surviving and defending my fortress until I forced the enemy to retreat. I learned how to coordinate different tactics to survive, which would eventually benefit me in fulfilling my purpose by teaching me basic wisdom. Little did I know, war would become a reality shortly thereafter.
One day, early in the morning, I heard a loud explosion that sounded like it came from a mile away. People outside were screaming as the wavering tone went off from the sirens in the city. I was too young to believe or comprehend what was happening. I knew it happened in movies, but I could never have imagined this to happen to me. The Gulf War had just begun. My father and step mother rushed me down stairs to the basement,which would become our home for the rest of the year. We survived mainly on rice, bread, meat and water for that entire year. It made me so angry because I couldn’t stomach the idea of living in fear and confinement. I often thought to myself, “if only I was older, stronger and possessed the skills that I needed as a soldier then I could fight for our freedom, and get us all out of this mess.” Needless to say, this experience taught me patience and gave me the strength that I would need for me to fulfill my purpose. One year later, the war was finally over.
As I got older, I made it a goal for myself to get back to the states and join the military, so I studied hard regardless of the everyday bullying that I had endured in school. I had been suspended multiple times and was threatened with expulsion due to fighting, even though the only reason I would fight was to defend myself. People in that school didn't believe in one on one fights, instead they would jump you in groups of 3's or 5's. Some of the schools I attended there were like prisons here in the U.S. People formed groups and fought with small tools such as screwdrivers, pens and pipes. I was transferred to a British school for my junior and senior years and finally managed to graduated high school with a full scholarship to the college of my choice in the U.S once accepted. Not only was this my chance to finally follow my dreams, but also a chance for me to gain my freedom and return back to the U.S. Little did I know, my mother had died 3 years ago from a seizure while driving. My father had kept this information from me claiming that it was no longer relevant to me in my life. My father insisted that computer engineering was my best route to success. In the year 2000, I was on my way to college for computer engineering with little to no interest in computers and with severe depression at the age of 18. I still managed to do well the first semester; unfortunately, I quickly started losing interest. I kept feeling as if I had something else I needed to accomplish in my life; as a result, I stopped going to class and ended up losing my scholarship. I decided to cut-off all communication with my entire family that was still living in Kuwait. I wanted a new life. A life that didn't consist of my father cursing at me through the phone or telling me what to do. I had no job experience and not even the slightest clue on how to get one. I became homeless, hiding in the dorms with nowhere to go. I would use the credit cards I had and my checkbook to eat. Six months later, all my credit cards were cut off and I had run out of places to bounce my checks at. I remember going 8 days with no food at some point. I was so hungry that I would eat ketchup packs at night to ease the stomach pain that I would get from starving. I cried every night in despair, yet I was too proud to ask anyone for help.
One night, an old friend showed up with a bag of potatoes. He said,“Get up, you need to eat.” I managed to eat half of that entire bag all on my own. We talked until the sun came up and he told me that there was nothing else left for me, but to join the military. I told him that I had no money and no car for me to even try. He offered to help me out until I was accepted in the military and that I could pay him back when I received my first paycheck. Needless to say, it was a deal well made. I have since realized that this experience taught me about survival and hope, two valuable lessons that I would once again use towards my purpose in life. I have been in the U.S Air Force since 2003 and am happily married to my lovely wife, living in my own beautiful home and enjoying a happy life.
In conclusion, I believe that there is no such thing as a coincidence and that every experience I had, beginning with moving my toy soldiers around as a child, living through a tragic war, getting constantly bullied in school or surviving through college on my own, all happened for a reason, which in turn, guided me towards fulfilling my purpose and taught me valuable lessons. I have managed to grasp the concept of forgiveness, compassion, love, wisdom, patience,strength, hope and most importantly survival in order to be perfect at what I do. More so, fulfill my purpose in life by working for the U.S Air force and defending our nation and its people. As for my father, he remains unaware of my whereabouts even 14 years later. Although, I have taken it upon myself to forgive him for all that he has done and I plan on letting him know through my writings that I will always love him for being my father regardless of his actions. If I hadn't gone through every single one of those hardships including the one from my father, I wouldn't be the man that I am today.
For all those who have given up on life please understand that life is precious. Every setback that you encounter in this life time is merely a set up for your comeback. Don’t ever give up on life for it will never give up on you as long as you keep living.
- In memory of my best friend Christian Barreto and anyone else out there who thinks they have hit rock bottom. Please don’t ever give up..….