I wake in the night, not sure what has awoken me. I lay there as still as I can waiting to hear what comes next. It's not long before I know. It's happening again. Another night of yelling, screaming and throwing things. I can hear every word through the paper thin walls of our trailer. I roll over and hug myself to the wall. Praying and hoping that my door doesn't open. Praying that I won't be called to the witness stand as though our living room had become a court of twisted law. I hear a muffled cry. It belongs to one of my smaller siblings. They've managed to sneak to my room undetected. They huddle in close and we both lay there pretending to sleep in case the door should open suddenly.
It's funny the things that no one has to teach you as a child that lives in a house of alcohol and violence. You know not to speak up without ever being told. You know not to volunteer information because it will be used against you or someone else. You know to pretend to sleep even though the whole neighborhood is awakened by what is happening. You know not to talk about anything, ever.
I glance at the clock. It's 3:15am. I know that when I went to bed they were both asleep. Why does this always happen in the dead of night? What demons shake them from their slumber and rile them up to the point of screaming and throwing and hitting?
The door opens wildly. My name is yelled. I pretend to wake up with a start, rubbing my eyes at the light shining in. My testimony is needed. Where did we go today? Who did we see? How long were we there for? It doesn't matter what I say if it doesn't go along with what my father wants to hear. If my testimony doesn't line up with his theories it's thrown out of court immediately and I'm accused of siding with the enemy, a conspirator in lewd and unsavory behavior. I'm questioned to the point of tears. My mind searches frantically for the "right" words and answers. What will calm the demons? My efforts hit the wall like jello and drop to the floor. There is no right answer but I'm still expected to talk.
Eventually frustration with my lack of cooperation in his favor causes him to slam the door and leave me in darkness once again. Screaming, breaking and door slamming continue into the night until I can no longer keep my heavy eyes open.
I awake the next morning leery to leave my room. I'm a shell of a human walking through the expectations of my day. I'm a good student. I stay quiet and hidden at home as much as possible. I don't have any dreams or expectations for my life past running at full speed when I hit 18. My life is void of emotion, too much pain for a child to endure has stripped me of every feeling in the spectrum but fear, guilt and timidity. If there is a God he can't seem to get through these paper thin walls.
I awake in the night, not sure what has awoken me. I lay there in the silence trying to decide what it was that stirred me. I hear a whimper from the other room and slide out of bed to investigate. In the darkness I peer into the room that my two boys share and find my youngest stirring from a bad dream. I nudge him enough to bring him out of the dream and into the realization that he is safe. He calms quickly with a hug and a nuzzle and before I leave the room he is sleeping sweetly once again.
My heart is grateful that the occasional bad dream is the only evil that vexes my boys. My heart is full of love and thankfulness and peace. My children live the dreamy childhood that was so far from my own. The ease and abundance of blessings in my life is something that is brought forth in my list of thanks on a daily basis. My boys have never been woken in the night to face adult things. My boys have never been called to testify against a parent. My boys don't know fear, or guilt or timidity.
My life now is the opposite of that valley from long ago. Each day, each step, each ascent out of that dark place has been painful. The whys and wheres and what fors all had to be dealt with. The Lord has delivered me from a place that was barren of love, grace and favor into a place where my heart can barely contain my Joy. Slowly he has revealed to me where he was hidden in those days and his plans for their use in my future.
I've been praying for some time for a safe place to tell my story, to use it for good for others, to reach out to those still in the valley and give them a rope to hold onto. I'm thankful to have found this place and I can't wait to share my life with you.