Silently Surviving Brokeness

After my first encounter with the Lord, you would think that my life would have been perfect. After all, the Lord called me into leadership so how could anything go wrong. However, shortly after this encounter with God, my mother would marry and as a result of her marriage, my young life would be spent watching my mother deal with physical abuse. My step-father struggled with addiction to alcohol and would drink to numb his own pain. As a young women attempting to navigate the violence and turmoil of my environment while trying to understand my identity, maneuver my neighborhood on Detroit's east-side, and school was too much. We weren't a rich family so also having to navigate financial struggles which meant I had to help my family. In many Black families, you don't discuss what happens in your home, outside of the home. There was no therapy or counselor and no-one speaks about the problem until my step-father would attack so severely that it couldn't be hidden anymore. Speaking about it at all was viewed as a sign of disrespect, weakness, or dishonor so I just stayed silent. As the violence would get out of hand, my mom would sometimes pack us up and move us to a different place, only to have my stepfather come back. My response to this was to become despondent, I stayed away from everyone even my siblings. I shut off my emotions and used my imagination and music to escape from the harsh realities of my life. Survival Mode was the new normal. I got a job a soon as I could to take the burden off my family and tried to help my mom as best I could. My pre-teen and teenage years were spent being a support system for my family. I couldn't fix the things that were broken but I could try to survive them. Where was the God's whose gentle voice taught me to step forward in the circle? At this point, I couldn't answer that question but no matter what I was experiencing, there was this little seed of hope on the inside, that couldn't be drowned out by the turmoil. The turmoil certainly tried. My step-father's addiction to alcohol and his erratic behavior made it difficult to trust men and I spent many years being completely afraid of them especially in any sort of dating relationship. I remember moments where men would speak to me and I couldn't even speak because of the fear. Most people interpreted this as shyness, I knew better, I knew something was wrong. It seems to me that nothing is harder for a child than watching someone they love have to endure abuse at the hand of someone else. The powerlessness you feel that you are unable to stop it is unimaginable. This was the place where all my illusions of being amazing seemed to fade away and my desire was to just one day be free of the mess. It was to survive it. It would be eleven years of this sort of violence before my mother would divorce my step-father. By that time, I was in college and seemingly successful by most standards. I attended the best school in Detroit, Cass Tech with a 100 year history of excellence and was accepted to Michigan State Univ. I knew how to stay quiet and look like everything was fine. On the surface, everything looked fine. Little did anyone know, even me, things were about to crack.

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