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The Human Experience: The Power of Love.... Debbie's Story

Updated on April 2, 2013
Teaching has given this author more joys than he can count.
Teaching has given this author more joys than he can count. | Source
I have learned far more from my students than they have learned from me.
I have learned far more from my students than they have learned from me.
There is great beauty in the world and in mankind.
There is great beauty in the world and in mankind. | Source

About once a year I hear some extremist preaching that Mankind will cease to exist on such and such a date. We are inhumane to each other; we are destroying the planet; we are raping and pillaging and plundering to our heart’s content and it will all come to an end soon. Mother Earth will finally have had enough and a cataclysmic event will eliminate us and all that will be left are cockroaches, or God will smite us down for our failures and transgressions.

I read in the newspapers about the murders and the ethnic cleansing and the abuse and, like you, I feel great sadness. It seems so hard to believe that a species that could achieve such greatness could also stoop to the lowest levels of morality. I understand why some find it so hard to have hope and I understand in a particular fashion those who believe that it will all end soon.

However, I have preferred in recent years to concentrate on the positives that I see. As you may know by now I love the acronym PIPO….Positive In Positive Out. If all I did was concentrate on the negatives in life there would be no happiness in my life and then life really would be a tragic affair. Rather I watch the world around me and observe the people who share this planet with me and I take a little something out of every positive experience that I observe.

There will always be those who see nothing but the negative. I feel sorry for them because life is wonderful; the people in my life are beautiful and courageous and stunning in their determination to claw out a place of their own where they can love and foster all that is good about mankind.

Today I bring you the story of one of my former students; her name has been changed but for the time being let’s call her Debbie.


I met Debbie about sixteen or seventeen years ago. She was my student in middle school and a more shy person you will never meet. Painfully shy are the words that come to mind when I think of Debbie in those days; the pain was at times visible on her face as she tried desperately to fit in with the other kids in class. She had self-esteem problems to the max but thankfully she found one or two other kids who she befriended. I would always find Debbie and her best friend Monica sitting on the playground away from the other kids and I always made it a point to go visit them when I had the chance, just to say hello and in some small way to let them know that they counted every bit as much as the outgoing, boisterous crowd that would not let them join.

I remember in particular graduation day when the 8th graders lined up for pictures and how beautiful Debbie and Monica looked and yet the happiness that should have been on their faces was somehow missing and the smiles forced. It was as though they sensed that the hard days were just beginning and they had only turned over one page in a full-length novel that would have a sad ending.


I lost track of Debbie after that as she went on to high school; I do recall her visiting my classroom a time or two while in high school but once high school was over for her she faded from my life.

One day I was working at a job as a manager of a UHaul business and to my complete surprise in walked Debbie. By that time she must have been twenty-one or so and my first impression upon seeing her was that the unhappiness I had seen in school had only grown with the years. We made small talk and she told me a little about her life but managed to leave out the important things. She left that day after giving me a sad smile; she managed to stop in a few more times after that with the same scene replaying, small talk, sad smiles, a quick goodbye.


I have found out since then that Debbie had a fairly tough go of it during those years. Drugs and alcohol managed to be her friends, an attempt to fill in psychological and emotional holes that had only grown deeper as the years passed. Along the way there was a succession of not-so-nice boyfriends, eventually culminating in an abusive husband. She told me once that no matter how hard she tried she could not please him, that she gave her heart and soul into finding ways to make him happy but in the end her efforts were for naught.

The bright spot in her life was her daughter, the spitting image of Debbie in looks and personality. Lisa is every bit as shy as her mother and appears not to believe that she has a beauty that others can see but remains invisible to her.

Through all of the pain and the endless days of looking for happiness Debbie remained a loving and devoted mother. I will forever be amazed at the depth of love a mother has for her child and Debbie certainly personified that truth while raising her daughter, more often than not without the help of the father.


I re-connected with Debbie through Facebook a few years ago. We began to correspond on a regular basis and her story had changed dramatically. Although still struggling through the final days of her marriage she began to show a determination to carve out a better life for her and Lisa. She began to exercise and lost over fifty pounds and the pictures and words that I saw on Facebook showed a young woman who was coming to grips with her reality and who decided to change that reality for the better.

She began to call me one of her Supermen, someone who has always been there for her, and each email ends now with “I love you Mr. Holland.”

The story of Debbie has just begun and there are exciting chapters ahead for her and Lisa. She has since left that damaging relationship; her job of many years is going well and she is up for a promotion. She and her daughter are moving into a place of their own, a better environment for both, and drugs and alcohol are things of the past.

Bev and I ran into Debbie and Lisa downtown not too long ago and although still shy they both appeared much happier and I look forward to the day soon when we will be invited over for a dinner that I was promised a few months ago.


Why do I choose to share Debbie with all of you? I guess because she exemplifies all that is good about mankind. She is a generous, beautiful person who feels deeply about others, who saddens when she sees injustice, who loves her daughter more than life itself. She has had every reason to give up and yet she has continued to move forward, always attempting to mold a new life, always attempting to find the positives in life.

People like Debbie bring me to my knees in thanks for the lessons they teach me. She has thanked me countless times for caring about her but it is I who has thanks for her for she continues to show me that we humans are good, that we humans are strong and that we humans are resilient beyond belief. Debbie thinks I am the teacher; she has that oh so wrong. She has taught me more about life and love than I ever taught her.

I have actually had people ask me why I became a teacher. The answer, to me, is so obvious. There is so much of Debbie in me. I understand the pain of self-loathing and I understand the misery of loneliness. The gifts I have received from my years of teaching are priceless and it was a vocation that keeps giving me gifts each and every year. I found a way through teaching to reach out to those kids who just need to know that someone cares and sometimes that make all the difference in the world.

I believe in the Debbies of the world. I believe in the power of persistence and positive thinking and above all I believe in the power of love.

Thank you Debbie! I love you!

2012 Bill Holland (aka billybuc)


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debbie, you have gone way beyond loyal today; thank you and I can tell you that the Debbie in the story is the happiest she has ever been. I just talked to her yesterday.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Billy I just found this one.. As I have said before I would have loved to had you as a teacher. You are an awesome person just the way you are God Bless you and I pray for Debbie and her daughter Lisa.. I know life can be hard.. but you are so right we have to have a positive attitude.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tillsontitan, that was a beautiful thing to say! Thank you so much! I have been blessed for the life I have lived and I wouldn't trade a moment of it. Teaching is the gift that just keeps on giving. Blessings and peace to you!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      "It is commonly said that a teacher fails if he has not been surpassed by his students." (Edmond H. Fischer) You have not only passed but excelled! Debbie's story is so touching and all the more for your part in it. What a wonderful teacher and inspiration you were and now you write such wonderful and inspirational hubs!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marcy, she is a wonder to behold and an inspiration to me daily. Thank you so much for stopping by; I do believe I owe you a visit.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      Debbie sounds like a strong and determined person - she is fortunate to have friends like you to cheer her successes! Thanks for sharing her touching story here.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brave, thank you! I have my own acronym that I live by PIPO...positive in, positive out. I have had far too many years of negativity and now it's all positive from here on...and helping others is about as positive as I can be.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 6 years ago from Central Florida

      You amaze me, Billy! After the self-destruction of your younger years, you are selfless and want to help those who doubt themselves to shine thru your love, guidance and words. You truly are a special being!

      My dad raised us 3 kids with this mantra: PMA. Positive Mental Attitude. It has carried through my adulthood and helps make me strong.

      Keep sharing, Billy! You are touching lives. I and God thank you for that!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alicia, Debbie is doing wonderfully; I talk to her almost daily now and she is a remarkable young woman. Thank you so much for commenting.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruchira, I have been lucky enough to know some incredible people along my way and I have learned so much from them. I appreciate you always stopping by; your support is comforting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another beautiful and touching story, billybuc. I'm glad that Debbie's life is improving and that the sadness in her life is fading.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

      I like how you narrate your stories...such an easy flow and yet convey a strong message. It's good to know that you came across such beings in your life. This keeps you constantly inspired.

      Voted up Bill as useful and interesting!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, by the way, I hear from Debbie almost daily and she is happy and making plans for the future and she really is a miracle in my life.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Savanah, thank you but in truth I am the lucky one. I hear from Debbie practically ever day now as she gives me updates on her life and she is sooo excited about the future. What a true joy that is! I hope you are well my dear and thank you for your kindness and just for being a good person.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, I had tears in my eyes reading your comments. What a marvel you are! The dedication you have shown your children has definitely left you with an impressive legacy, that of a loving human being. Thank you so much for sharing such personal comments and for taking the time to leave comments that have so much depth. I know you are pulled in so many directions during the day but you always take the time to try and make me feel good about my writing. You are incredibly special to me and I thank you! May your family enjoy a peaceful and love-filled weekend.

    • savanahl profile image

      savanahl 6 years ago

      What an incredible story. I can see now why you really loved being a teacher. It must feel really good to see her finally succeed in life. She's lucky to have you. Voting up and awesome.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Oh billybuc this story touched me so;I suppose beause I can relate.

      As a young child in Primary school while my sister was so outgoing;had loads of friends and oozed confidence I on the other hand was so shy and didn't mix easily.My best friend was my beagle Lassie.

      I continued to be so shy but when I came to about the age of 13 or 14 I began to hang around with the bad boys and girls;I began to smoke and drink but never took drugs.

      My boyfriends were tough guys and perpetual offenders;I made myself 'Fit'.

      We were a very well known family;pillars of the community and chapel goers.

      Therefore some would look at me in disgust others would try and help because by then I have made the abuse that I had suffered since small public and my father was in prison.

      Strange as it sounds the looks of disgust from many gave me a sense of satisfaction!!!'Child psychology' which I know so much about without any studying.

      Today after a long and hard road I am the true'ME';and because of all this Debbie's story really took me back.

      I stopped all drinking the day I found out that I was pregnant with my first baby;from this day on I became a 'mother' in every true sense of the word and made sure that I loved and encouraged my children;guiding them so that they would grow up knowing who they were from the word go.;it was what my life was all about;if they were happy so was I.

      You are a true gem billybuc and have obviously given so much if your time to helping others from a long time ago.

      This one again I am bookmarking into 'My Special hubs' slot.

      I really do hope that 'Debbie' and her dauhgter's lives carry on going from good to better and that she will be as happy and whole as I am today.

      Take care my dear friend and enjoy your weekend.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teaches, you are so right. This is easily the best part of teaching and there are times we don't even realize the impact we have on others until years later. Thank you and keep doing the good work you are doing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rosalinem, I hear from Debbie almost every day and I have no doubt that things will only get better from now on. Thank you so much for being here supporting me. I do appreciate you!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      Such a touching story! Teaching has its rewards and you have mentioned the best part -- you touch the lives of others and make a difference. I have always loved Carole's song and sing it sometimes for comfort. Voted up, up!

    • Rosalinem profile image

      Rosalinem 6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Billy your style of writing just captures my attention to the end.

      you have made me picture Debbie and I can,t wait to find out what person she becomes.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Katrine, what a lovely and insightful comment. I spent far too many years struggling between the overwhelming sense of impending disaster and the longing for happiness...trying to be positive but incapable of turning the dial. Now I embrace happiness and love and all that goes with it and it is remarkable the change that has happened within me. In other words, I agree with you completely. Thank you my dear!

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      KatrineDalMonte 6 years ago

      Hi Bill, a wonderful hub! You are absolutely right with your 'positive in positive out' acronym. It's so easy to fall a victim of negative thoughts. In today's world we see negativity everywhere around us, unfortunatelly some things happening we just cannot change ourselves, just like you described. We must recognize the wholeness of our lives, that is the purpose of being here, to enjoy every day to its fullest, enjoy time with those we love and care about. That lady's story is one of so many people out there. What counts is the determination and dedication to change for better, for positive. I'm pleased for her.

      Thank you for sharing this. Have a great day :-)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, the good teachers always feel that way. The mediocre and bad teachers sit in jealousy wondering why students always come back to visit the good teachers. And so it goes! My best to you as you continue to reach out to your students and give them love each day.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      Beautiful, inspirational story yet again, my friend. You really are a rare gem. I'm so glad you're a beacon of light for that young woman. That was why I became a teacher: for the teachers that noticed me when I was an awkward misfit. Though I know I won't remain in the profession forever, I feel such love from my students every day. :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brewski, thank you so much! Hopefully we are all there when someone reaches out to us.

    • brewskitimeguy profile image

      brewskitimeguy 6 years ago from Maine

      Absolutely fantastic ariticle...I truly see how you were thee for her. God bless you Mr. Holland

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ardie, I am too; the human spirit is a force to be reckoned with and I love stories of perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Thank you my friend; I love having you as a friend.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      What a beautiful story about a young woman finding her way even through the drugs and alcohol and even through the abuse. She found strength in her daughter - and her daughter will know and recognize that forever. Thank you for sharing this with me. I am always humbled by the stories of others who overcome :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sonya, it is indeed our choice. I sure hope you are going to update us on the big move you are contemplating....or if you aren't going public I would love to hear about your progress....maybe we could be Facebook friends? Anyway, I am interested in the big changes happening with you and I greatly appreciate your support and kind words.

    • Sonya L Morley profile image

      Sonya L Morley 6 years ago from Edinburgh

      How beautiful and moving, thank you for writing this. I always find myself making more of an effort to think happy thoughts after reading your work Bill, it really is our own choice, isn't it? Take care.