“You never really know where to begin when you start to write out what curve balls have been thrown your way. To keep it direct, you must first have an understanding of what happens after-the-fact.
I can remember how the day started when I first found out my mother was going on a date. It was the first real date she had been on since my parents divorced when I was 6 years old. She came home later that night and told us how much fun she had and how amazing this guy was. ‘He is a man of God, and he wants to instill good things in those around him,’ she said. To keep privacy, we will name him Jay.
Jay was a youth minister who had a church in my hometown. Everyone loved him. They thought he was fantastic and really loved the Lord. 6 or 7 months went by and my mom really started to like this guy. She came home one afternoon from work and told my sister and I that she finally wanted us to meet him. She felt like things could get pretty serious. She was very protective of my sister and myself. She wouldn’t just want to bring someone into our lives who was going to just walk out on us.
It was a Saturday in early June of 2000. The day was beautiful, sunny, and full of life. School was out for the summer, so I was pretty much on cloud nine. I finally had the chance to just hang out with my neighborhood friends, without a care in the world. Mom told us after breakfast Jay was coming over for supper that night and she needed us to be home before 6 so we could get cleaned up beforehand. We listened because if we didn’t listen, we knew we would get disciplined. Six o’clock rolled around and I heard a knock at our back door. I was scared and nervous, being that I was only 10 years old and about to meet a dude I’d never even seen. Mom answered it and in walked this guy — tall, tan skin, chiseled features. He clearly took care of himself. He introduces himself to my sister and I and right away, we were in love. We thought this guy was going to change our lives forever. He sure did.
The next day, my mom told us he proposed to her and she said, ‘Yes!’ We were happy because this guy was awesome. We grew close to Jay and my sister and I both got to be in the wedding. Everything was going so smoothly. Jay played video games with me and introduced me to his youth group. The youth group was full of kids my age, all striving to become the best we could.
Everything was okay for the first year or so. My mom and stepdad would have your typical arguments, but nothing ever got out of hand. We never felt threatened in any sort of way. Mid 2003 hit and we noticed Jay was home a lot and we started piecing together the fact he wasn’t going to work or anything. He was constantly at the computer, sitting on eBay, buying stuff. Turns out, he stole my mom’s credit cards and was using them to buy military items. He was a huge collector and came from a military family, though he was never a service member.
One night, my sister came into my room and woke me up. She was bawling her eyes out and I quickly made sure she was okay. It wasn’t like her to act out this way. She always thought of me as her protector. She said, ‘Something is wrong in Mommy’s room. I heard screaming, a thud, and then nothing.’ I immediately jumped out of bed. For only being 12 years old, I was a pretty good-sized kid and had the attitude I could take on the world. I ran up to my mom’s bedroom door just to listen. The only thing I heard was, ‘Don’t ever accuse me of anything ever again.’
Jay had done something to my mom. I wasn’t going to sit back and let him do it again. I went to open the door and it was locked. I screamed, ‘Let me in right now!’ Jay came to the door. He was shaking really badly as he told my sister and I to ‘f*ck off.’ It was at that point I went into the kitchen, grabbed a chair from our table, and went to attack. My sister was screaming at me, telling me to stop and that I was going to get hurt. I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to let this guy hurt my mom anymore. I went back to their bedroom and kicked the door in. He was picking my mom up off the floor and laying her in bed. I went to swing the chair with every bit of strength I had. He caught it, ripped it from my hands, and slammed it into my back. I felt the life just get sucked out me.
I remember bending down, trying to catch myself, before I hit the floor. My sister was just hysterical at this point. I knew I had to get her away and do whatever I could to protect her. I was her rock. I couldn’t show weakness, I had to be strong for her. We went downstairs where we had our second living room and I just sat in our recliner with her, holding her, telling her I was okay. I could feel this cold sensation under my skin. My shirt was soaked with my sweat and blood from the chair. My adrenaline was pumping through the roof. My sister and I fell asleep in the chair that night, waking up to the sound of my mom. Seeing her was a relief but not as much as you may think. She was bruised up badly and refused to call the cops. When I told I was going to, she said, ‘No. It’s in God’s hands now.’
We went to church the following Sunday like nothing was wrong. My mom’s bruised face was covered up with layers of makeup, so no one knew what transpired the night before. I was crushed. I had to act like everything was okay, like my life was just full of love and happiness.
This went on for two years. By the time I was 14, I had enough. One night, my sister (12 years old now) came in crying, ‘Jay is beating Mom again.’ This time, I called the cops and grabbed my baseball bat. Within minutes, the police were at my house. My sister let them in. I had a hold of my bat because I was ready to administer justice on my own. My neighbor, a police sergeant, came running to my room and saw me with a bat. He said he saw a darkness in my eyes that scared him. He didn’t want to have to take me to jail that night. He rushed into my room and gave me a hug. He calmed me down, told me they were there now, and nothing bad could happen anymore. I trusted him, as I would a hundred times over again. He entered the bedroom and grabbed Jay, taking him outside. That was the last time I ever had to see him.
I was scared, mentally and physically for a long time. I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression because I didn’t properly let out my emotions over the whole thing. One thing I remained true to was my faith in God Almighty. I believe we are sent through trials to prove we are worthy, not only to ourselves but to God. We walk in faith because we know He is watching over us and nothing is impossible through the strength of Christ. Those were dark times that will always be engraved into my mind and my history, but they have made me into the man I am today.
I spread faith and love to everyone I can. My goal in life is to touch as many lives as I can through my survival story, through my trials and tribulations. Life isn’t always going to be easy, but through hard work, we can all be truly great. My mom is remarried now to a real man, one who provides, loves, and cares for my sister and myself, as well as his own family. To him, we are all his kids. There isn’t any ‘stepfamily’ in his eyes. My mom is the single strongest person I know. I don’t blame her for what happened, I only wished she would’ve gotten out of that situation sooner. God’s timing is key.
Just remember, the waters are always calm on the other side of the storm. The sunshine will always outweigh the rain. No matter what demons you’re battling, you can overcome. The strength will always be inside of you, you just have to believe in yourself.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by M.E. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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