I was talking with someone recently that brought back a memory. Well, to be honest, it is one of those things that is never that far away. Waiting behind a closed door, ready the moment the door is even so much as cracked to spring forth into a full remembrance. It was, nor is the proudest time of my life, but it is a measuring stick as to how far I have been brought.
I could look for the records, or do the math, but to save time, I’ll say I was somewhere in my early to mid twenties. I met someone who seemed the perfect gentleman. Kind, caring, attentive. My judgement in men, was not good to say the least. It turned out that he was a very abusive alcoholic. We married rather quickly. Then, all hell broke loose.
Possibly out of fear of being found out, possibly thinking that his brother would take care of him, possibly for who knows how many other reasons, we moved from North Carolina to Louisiana. I found myself in a place nearly a thousand miles from home, among beautiful people who had a very different look on life. “Laissez les bons temps rouler” Cajun for let the good times roll.
I won’t go into the entirety of what I went through. Only to say that to survive, I did something out of desperation. I began to drink, a lot. Wine was my preference. As long as I was drinking, I was safe because I was in the same gutter in which he spent his time. It was not a pleasant place, but one I became accustomed to visiting. I still suffered beatings and verbal and emotional abuse. I wanted blood to run through my veins not alcohol so I didn’t drink all the time. Then came that night.
I prepared the evening meal, I prepared his plate and carried it to him. For reasons known only to him, he knocked the plate from my hand. It went sailing over my shoulder and landed on the floor behind me. My mistake? I turned my back to clean up the mess. I don’t know how long the beating lasted. I do recall that eventually I stopped resisting. Not long after, I was not a part of it, I was watching from a spot up on the corner of the ceiling. Watching as I was tossed about, slammed into the wall and kicked repeatedly. Then, as suddenly as he began, he stopped.
Painfully I got up from the floor and finished cleaning away the mess. I then went and cleaned the kitchen. I couldn’t do anything that night. He watched my every move. I could plan however.
The next day I called home. My mother sent me a bus ticket. I got in touch with a friend telling them a terrible lie. I was planning a surprise party but needed him out of the house, would he get in touch with him with a distraction just for a while? When he left, another supposed friend, took me and my few bags to the bus station where I got my ticket then begin the wait for the bus.But I was betrayed.
The one who took me, told where I was. The one I was running from showed up.He begged, he pleaded, he promised promises he had made before. The fleeting kind that can’t be kept. He managed to grab my ticket from my hand and made his way to his car. But the man working the ticket counter had called the police. They asked me where I had got the ticket. When I told them my mother had sent it, they retrieved it from him. The bus that had arrived in the process, waited for me.
The last time I saw him, he was standing in place between two Louisiana police officers watching me board the bus for home.
I’m way beyond my mid twenties now at sixty-three. Over the course of the passing years, I have been given a resurrected life. On that bus ride home, I left behind the desire to drink. I drank very little for a while, a couple of swallows here or there, but in the last thirty years, I haven’t drank enough to say I have drank any at all. A sip now and then to remind me that the desire and need is gone. I quit smoking thirty-three years ago, when I discovered I was expecting my son.
I’ve had a good marriage. Held good jobs and lived a completely different life than I lived before. I have a home, family who are close, and friends who are incredibly special. I have a life worth living, a story worth telling. An understanding of what could have been, and the pain of those who endure to this day.
I felt somewhat like the prodigal returning home. I had deserted my beliefs, leaving them ignored, while I was never abandoned. We are given free will, which gives us the ability to screw up from time to time, but He waits for us to return. With open arms and ready heart. Jesus not only gives us an eternal life to look forward to, He offers us a life to live to its fullest here as we journey through.