Out of the Ashes

Matthew - St.Joseph, Missouri
Entered on September 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that through great struggle we excel and become stronger. My teenage years have been wretched filled with some awkward moments and just plain terrible ones; however I do not regret any of them for, like the phoenix, I too have risen from the ashes. Struggle has taught me one of the many important truths life has to offer: forgiveness.

When I was twelve I watched my mother as she flew down the stairs with my baby brother in her arms. My father stood at the top fire flashing in his eyes. At the time I did not fully grasp what was going on, and I knew my mother did the right thing when she took us away. Living then was a daily struggle. With four kids and no husband to help pay bills my mother went to school studied day and night to get financial aid to feed us and pay for school. During that time I could never have understood the sacrifices my mother made to take care of us. She was strong, never showing any weakness, always doing what she had to do to take care of her children. Over time my father became better. He paid child support as well as took us to get clothes and get us toys making things for my mom a little easier, and though they did start to get along he would no longer be apart of her life as a lover, another man was to fulfill that need.

Adam entered our lives. My mother began to see him, and all of us were in love with him instantly. He was kind, caring, and always knew just what to say or do to brighten any day. When the time came they married and he reenlisted into the navy so he could provide for us. We were stationed in Sugar Grove West Virginia a place that held promise for all of us, or so we thought. Everything changed. My mother had not finished college and needed money to do so, so she joined the Army National Guard to take advantage of their financial aid programs. Some idiot decided it would be a wonderful idea to hijack some planes and crash them into the World Trade Centers. The National Guard was called to duty. My mother, the woman who had given my siblings and me everything the one source of stability in my life, was ripped from me by the hands of the great beast known as war, and the dominos fell. Adam, not used to the stress of handling four children on his own and working began, to change. He had become a monster whom my sibling and I feared and no amount of light or stuffed toys could make him go away. We cowered when he was angry, our eyes darting around the room praying that he could not find the belt he would beat us with. Over time I changed. Now not to say that I am particularly disobedient or that I like to break rules however I began to fight him everyway I knew how. I would argue back talk, cuss, and scream. Of course it was all to no avail he simply beat me until I bowed in submission. This became our daily lives. One day while he was searching my room he found some adult paraphernalia that alluded to my true sexual orientation. Things became worse. When he got to talk to my mother who was over seas he would tell her how wretched I had become that I was into drugs that I had become a slutty faggot sleeping with men and relishing in it. I felt so alone so afraid. I began to think of ways that I could kill him and not get into trouble. I thought “will they accept self defense in my case if I succeed?’ and “if I fail I will be sent away leaving my siblings to the lions without any protection”. That is how terrified he made me. Of course I considered telling authorities the school councilor. I know must have expected something was amiss for she constantly asked how things were doing as if trying to coax a confession to the horrible events that went on in my home, but he told me “Do you really think they would ever believe you? You are always getting into trouble and they know your track record”, and though I knew they would believe me they could not do anything without solid evidence or the statements of my siblings, and my siblings would never have told what Adam truly was like for they were too afraid of what he would do to them. It got worse when my best friend died. His heart just gave up. I wished with all my being that mine would do the same. It seemed like I would never escape this hell, but then heaven sent us a gift.

My mother was sent home. She had served her country well and now it was another’s turn. Adam changed fast, though my behavior did not. I did as I was conditioned; challenge him when I knew he was wrong or shy away when I was not up for the fight. She detested his daily insults to me and was constantly fighting with him about how he treated me. The other children had begun to escape his wrath as I did all I could to make sure he focused on me. I thought it was the way to protect them. Eventually their marriage became almost as bad as the first though he never lifted a finger to her wretched words flew from his mouth towards my mother as bullets to men. My mother had no clue as to what truly went on while she was fighting a battle that equaled mine in relentlessness, and she did not know until he had left our lives completely. Through this I lost someone I had just begun to get close to someone that knew me better than anyone. My father. Things got progressively worse until finally my mother knew it was time to leave Adam.

All of these events shaped me. However they shaped me in a terrible way. Because of my hatred I had become a monster not unlike him. I was abusive; verbally and physically my siblings were terrified of me. My mother desperately tried as Hercules to end it to make me myself again. No one in the world could fix me. I was blind to it. Adam was gone from our live permanently however my desperate thirst for vengeance had turned me into strange creature blind to the destruction and pain it was causing. Now overtaken with darkness everything in my path felt my rage. Monster was now used to describe me. I was Adam. I felt nothing; I felt dead. I tried to kill myself with pills. Cutting was a daily routine. Watching the blood drip down my arm I felt like I was alive. Knowing I could bleed meant that I was still something remotely human, and that mean there was a chance for me, for as all things relentlessly do, I could change. Then from on high came an epiphany. As I lay in the tub bleeding myself I thought “I am in hell” everything was wrong in my life, and it was not Adams fault, it was mine.

That moment ignited a chain reaction. Slowly but surely I began walking back into grace. The battle has been long and grueling however I believe I have made it. You see I realized my mistake. I wanted vengeance. A justice that would be cruel and fitting for a man like Adam, but that only perpetuates a cycle. I had, as I said before, become him. He was not there for me to wreak my will upon thusly I began to rip my family apart. The key the light the one thing that could make it right the only thing that could make it right: forgiveness. I had to forgive Adam for everything he had ever done to me. Most importantly I had to forgive myself. I have destroyed my relationship with my mother and in a million years I can never make it right. My siblings are no longer afraid of me and now we are friends, thank the light. I can never undo what I have done, but dwelling on it will not help me. I have to forgive. I have learned to forgive.

I guess in the long run not only do I forgive Adam, but I also thank him. He caused events that have made me a much stronger person a much wiser being. Through forgiveness there is love. It is the only way to end the vicious cycle of hate and violence. Through great struggle I have excelled and become stronger for I have learned to forgive.