In the Night.

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.            


  1. My heart aches for you... But thanks to our great God for breaking trough darkness!!

  2. Sadly, I know I work with kids who come from a background similar to yours. I hope they too are able to break the cycle. I would love to post a link to your story on my blog- Ok? Best of luck to you today & always :)

  3. I will be 50 next year and I have been in a wonderful marriage for 30 years, but I grew up in a home just like yours. I still do not sleep well. My children are grow and have never had the nightmares of a family out of control. I have broken that cycle of craziness. Some of get out and go on. Sadly my sister did not make it, she is now in her own nightmare. Thank you for sharing!

  4. thank you for sharing your story. i needed to hear this today. to remember i too have so so so much to be thankful for.

    much of your story is familiar and echos my own. the childhood defeat, the running full speed when i hit 18, the rescue from Savior and life in joy now.

    i pray that God continue to show himself through you, to be glorified. i know he will, that is his way.

  5. thank you for sharing your story. mine is oh so similar. i'm sorry for what you had to experience then, but thankful for who you are and how it shaped you. i'm glad you chose better instead of bitter. i struggle with choosing better everyday, but it's what i want. i'm sad and glad at the same time to know that i am not alone.

  6. You are so brave for sharing!!! in doing so, it will help someone who may be in the same situation not knowing what to do! keep your head held high and stay strong... it makes you so beautiful!!! xo

  7. Hi Crystal, thank you for sharing your story though it is hard to read. I grew up with a schizophrenic mother and dis-functional stepfathers. I too know all about those coping methods. Praise God for bringing us out of those dark places.

  8. Incredibly intense, no child should have to be a part of that insanity. Ever.
    So glad you can reframe it with your own children and keep them safe and sound in their sleepy places. thank you for sharing your hard to share story.

  9. Beautiful girl, I'm so sorry for the hurt you grew up with. I'm glad that the story doesn't end here.
    Thank you for sharing.

  10. Thank you for sharing Crystal. Although my childhood was like that of your boys, my husband's is very similar to yours. Maybe someday God will ask him to share his story.
    You are brave. Bless you for that!

  11. I hung on your every word. SO. WELL. DONE. Glory to GOD for bringing freedom to the captives. Bless you, Crystal.

  12. What a post. Gave me chills and it was so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your bittersweet story, Crystal. Praise God that He specializes in redemption and grace!

  13. So.well.done. Like others, I too resemble many of your remarks. But I long to know one more thing. How did you get to the place where you can write:

    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.

    How do you walk in such confidence, and who/what helped you get there? I'm not asking as a lost soul. I love Jesus and have been walking my road to sanctification for 18 years. But I still struggle with fear that I too, will pass on a legacy of insanity. I long for the confident assurance you portray.

    Thank you for sharing. Please continue.

  14. I knew I loved the person I see just in your Instagram photos but this story touched home and made me cry. So many similarities down to the detail of us each having two boys that we protect in all the ways we know how. Bless you!

  15. My mom's story was much like yours and God used it to form her into the most nurturing and kind mother I could have ever asked for. He makes the unlovely lovely and I thank God for you, just like I thank Him for my mama. He preserved you for a noble purpose!