Trigger Warning: Physical Abuse. Sexual Abuse. Homelessness.
I just wanted to share my story when it comes to overcoming rough situations. Growing up, I had a really tough childhood. I grew up without my father (he was killed when I was 3months) and my mom began to abuse me and my older brother when I was about 5. If there was any way that she could hurt us, she did. From being punched in our face, to being choked out, held underwater, forced to stand for hours, not being able to use the restroom and urinating on oursleves, and not having clean clothes to change into, it was some of worse abuse. I remember going to bed hungry and not seeing our mom for days at a time, but still missing her when she wasn’t home. All I had was my brother. He protected me from a lot of the abuse that we endured from her, and at times I used to always feel guilty that he had to take on a lot of the abuse. By the time I turned 8, my mom was selling me and my brother for drugs. I remember men and women coming into our home for me and my brother. At times we had to sit in the room together and watch each other be violated. We didn’t have a lot of family growing up, especially from my dad’s side because his family blamed my mom for his murder. He was killed by another man that she was dealing with. For a long time I had accepted the physical abuse that we were receiving because in my mind I thought that it stemmed from her losing our dad the way she did, and it really messed up her head. It’s a belief that I still hold on to. But the sexual abuse is what pushed me past the limit of accepting what she was doing to us. It’s still a childhood trauma that I have not been able to fully get past yet. By the time I turned 13 my mom had stopped paying the bills in the apartment we were staying in and we were kicked out. The day we had to leave from there was the last time I ever lived with my mama. She abandoned us and left us homeless, with me and my brother eventually going into the system. I lost contact with my brother after a year, and from 13 to 17 I was in and out of group homes until I finally ran away and lived on the streets until I was 23. Because my brother took a lot of the abuse, I really feel like it damaged him, so by the time he turned 19 he was a drug addict, dying from an overdose the same year. Sometimes when I think about him I wonder if it was an accident or was he ready to go. I know if he felt like me, then he wanted to die everyday too. By the time I was 21, I had began using. I felt hopeless, so I didn’t care. I didn’t have my brother, and I didn’t care about anyone else, so to me I felt like my life wasn’t worth that much anyway. That if I died, it would not be a big deal. By the time I turned 23 I had a friendship that I made while in the group home, and he allowed me to stay with him. I was close to dying at that point, I had really given up on myself. I was sick, and he helped me. He got me into rehab and a community service program, and I’ve been clean ever since. He helped me find a job and work while being able to save my own money to move into my own apartment. I am thankful for my friendship with a man I now consider my brother because if it wasn’t for him I know that I would have died living on the street. Within that time that I was able to live with my friend and now 9 years later, I have been able to go to school for engineering, build myself a small carpet cleaning business, and I now am married with a daughter that I would give my life for. And I’m sober. I’m happy about that one. One thing I can say with all of this is that it is possible to turn your life around for the better. There were days where I used to beg God to let me die, and now I could never imagine giving up on myself or my family. I was able to put myself in therapy two years ago and it has been helping me heal a lot of what stays in my mind from my childhood. My mama passed away when I was 27 from cancer, with me seeing her a handful of times during my adulthood. Therapy helped me to understand my mama’s behaviors and move to a space of forgiveness. I would not have ever gotten to that place without it. It’s ok go to therapy as a black man. To cry. To feel vunerable enough to express themselves. We deserve it too.