One of my earliest childhood recollections was when I was about 4 ½ years old. One night there were police and fire trucks in front of my house with their lights on and I was on the couch with my Grammy. You see my mom had gone missing and she had been gone a while, it turns out she was in an old abandoned stairwell in our basement. I remember the firemen carrying her up the basement stairs and I didn’t understand what was going on at that time. The short version is that is when we found out my mom was mentally ill, she was diagnosed as manic depressive, which is called bi-polar today. It was the beginning of a vicious cycle in my house for many years to come. I had been to several mental hospitals all over Massachusetts by the time I was 11 years old. It is what caused my family to move to NC. I have been to several mental hospitals in eastern NC also. I was terrified of those places and the people in them. You see my mom’s mania manifested in the form of religion, she would build idols, hear voices, and have conversations with saints, the pope and God. She would tear the house up and neglect my sister and I. I hid from her and also I didn’t want to go to school, by staying in the closet in our home when I was in 6th grade. See what happened almost every time my mom had a manic episode her and my dad would fight and argue terribly. Almost every time she would get a restraining order on my dad. My sister and I would be trapped with her in her unstable state of mind. Now mind you my dad was no saint in the situation. He was very verbally abusive and sometimes he would hit her when she was having an episode or tie her up to restrain her. At 11 years old I had to put myself between him and her, to keep him off of her. I have also seen him threaten her life at the same age. At that time my dad was addicted to narcotic pain meds. He made me get into the car with him when he was barely conscious and he wrecked. I was fine physically but I am still scared emotionally from it. He was also sadistic towards me as a child. He used to like to torture me by scaring me. One example is that when it was summer I would sleep on the screened in porch and he would put a panty hose over his face and pop up in the windows from outside to scare me, or he would chase me with bugs. As I got older he mainly just verbally abused me at times. The weird thing is that we weren’t the Brady bunch but my life seemed somewhat normal between my mom’s manic episodes.
My mom was a devout Catholic Christian woman when she was sane. She raised my sister and I in the Catholic faith also. I had a great love and fear of the Lord as a young child and I was an altar boy. As I got older I started getting angry at God for the things I went through and was going through. I found it hard to take my mom as a role model especially where God was concerned. I got to a point that I was scared that if I devoted my life to God I might go crazy like my mom. My dad was mean to my mom and picked fights with her. He was mentally cruel to her at times. He was not the best role model either. Having said that I love and respect my parents through it all. When I was a senior in high school my mom had a manic episode and she was still ill at the time of my high school graduation and she told me she was going to come so I missed my high school graduation because I was afraid she would show up and make a scene. I was forced by my mom to go to church every Sunday even through high school. I continued to go to Catholic Church some as an adult mainly out of habit and to keep my mom off of my back. Eventually I quit going to church all together. I was lost with no direction in life, I started drinking and partying on the weekends. Most weekends I spent on a bar stool drinking away my problems. I ended up in a bad relationship with a loose woman and her kids. I ended up ending the relationship by escaping by taking a job in Afghanistan as a contractor. I grew up a lot over there but I still wasn’t ready to commit to the Lord so I didn’t at that time.
I found the beginning of my turn around was when I met my wife to be, Karen. I was still in turmoil where the Lord was concerned. I still drank some and I didn’t go to church. Karen is the best person I know and my soul mate. I know for a fact God put her in my life and I will ALWAYS be thankful for that. In 2013 my mom was diagnosed as terminal with complications from multiple sclerosis. She had been afflicted with this disease as well as the mental illness for years. It was tough watching her day after day but some blessings came from it. My mom had been having issues communicating clearly due to the M.S. for some time. The Lord gave her some clarity in her final weeks and we were able to reconcile our differences and I got some closure from my childhood. Also when my mom was dying Karen introduced me to Klove and Christian music. I started listening and still do to this day. Then I decided that I wanted to go to church, but not a Catholic church. Karen took me to Victory Baptist church in Jacksonville NC. It was foreign to me at first my I enjoyed it from day one. We became regular visitors at church.
My mom passed away on September 1st, 2013. It was hard to deal with but I was glad she wasn’t suffering any more. I was happy to hear the gospel again and I was trying to have one foot in and one foot out. I wasn’t happy and I fell into a depression and I stayed stressed out. It all came to a head in the fall of 2015, unfortunately I can’t remember the exact date but I will never forget that day. I had stayed home from work because I needed a break from the stress. I was folding laundry and something in me relented. I fell to my knees and started praying to God the Father and Jesus. I told God I give up and I was ready to do His will and that I knew I couldn’t make it on my own. Through my prayers and tears my life was changed forever.
I since have gotten more serious about my faith and God. I started reading the bible and watching Christian movies. Life has been a whirlwind since then, we moved to the mountains at the Lord’s direction. He blessed us with good jobs and a good church family. I feel like we were led here for a reason. We joined Gilead Baptist Church and I got baptized. My prayer life has increased and I think of God much more and I try to do his will, I fail daily, but I am truly blessed. My faith has increased steadily as I learn about God and I worry less because I trust God with my life. I also find myself with much more peace in my heart. I find I worry much more about my friends relationship with Jesus than there physical wellbeing. I can’t wait to see what the Lord is calling me to do. I am ready to do the Lord’s work.