And then she died, and my world crumbled around me. I don’t remember the days ahead, time freezes and breaks apart in different ways. Different paths come together and different lengths, but the next thing I remember is a fiery blaze. Could have been the same night, the deaths of two places, my home and the store a community called home. So two homes have now been destroyed, part of me blames myself for both of them, even though I had no choice in either occurrence. Then time winds again, the next memory is of another death. Another close family member to die, could have been the next year at Christmas, or the same year, but I can’t fully declare which one. The funeral of her was something I still don’t remember, I know I didn’t cry, I know I looked at my family crying and wished I could do something, I know I didn’t look at her body or the body of my grandmother’s sister, I know my fifth grade teacher came and my father did not, I know it was held in the town where my family resides, I know she was buried in the graveyard where my family lies, and that is all I know. I cried twice for her, once the morning I found her with no life in her body, the second was some time after the funeral. Then I moved with them. I wasn’t wanted there, I wasn’t trusted there, I wasn’t accepted there. My room was the guest room, I was supposed to get the new room that was being built on, that never happened. From being a responsible ten year old well trusted and well loved by her, I became a ten year old problem and outcast for them. Too fat I was, too smart I was, not athletic enough I was, questionably spoiled by the rest of my family I was as well. I never wanted to be with them, I was ordered to, I knew it wouldn’t work, I knew I wouldn’t be happy, I barely enjoyed tolerating them on visits. One friend I had, and from him I gained a few others, soon I had to invest happiness outside of my new home. Dreaded the thought of returning to my “place of safety”. Was I spoiled before? Possibly so, but not for naught. The responsibility I was given was never mistreated or used inappropriately, I held true to the trust that I was given. Of course, no child is perfect, so I will not say I was either, but I kept that trust not out of necessity but because of faith. There was no faith with them, just expectations. I was expected to make better grades than their daughter, but not congratulated because of it, just something I was supposed to do. Attention soon became something of fantasy, love more importantly was lost, I knew it no longer where I stayed, searched for it all the time outside of the home. I thought once before, I was possibly saying it was worse than it was. Maybe I was delusional and just saying that I was mistreated and I really wasn’t. If I was delusional, then were also my grandmother, some of my friend’s parents, some of my friends, and a great deal of people who were close to me but not to them. I soon realized, I didn’t have family friends, just one, but soon he became my friend more than a friend of the family. My friends hardly visited me there, other than those who would congregate outside for basketball. I wasn’t allowed the same privileges as their children, I never had someone spend the night at the house with me, as far as friends go. She had plenty of people sleepover, even some of my female friends who liked me, but of course, they were not to socialize with me at all. In my room is the only place I was to be, then that was taken from me and my room became the area for their socialite party. So I no longer had my room until she was done using it. I was told to participate in particular parts of the church, I no longer had a choice in what I would do, I was just told to do something and was expected to do so. As I once said before, no trust, no independence in a sense, no respect, just expectations. I couldn’t watch television after church on Wednesday nights, I would be punished for doing so; if I left and went to a friend’s house, I couldn’t return home on my own accord because as soon I left, so did they and usually to go shopping and other things of enjoyment I was most commonly left out on. Then came his rage, his spasms, his outbursts. They were slightly frightening until they became humorous to me, but in the beginning, very intimidating. I remember him snapping for quite frankly no true reason and being within inches of my face with his fist, screaming, not in control of his emotional state. I had no idea he had that type of personality, but it makes complete sense. He was too mellow, too timid, he didn’t run his household, his wife did, and she made the decisions, not him. He couldn’t handle me being there because he wasn’t in control, I am his family not hers, so why should she care. Maybe on more than one occasion, my grandmother tried to correct her mistake in her eyes, she tried to take me from there, he would say he had it under control. My grandmother came to stay once, she favored me a lot more than their children, she didn’t like the way they treated me, so the daughter my age decides to change things back to how she wants them. She grabs the biggest knife in the house, pins me on my back, puts the knife to my face and makes her point. I wasn’t harmed but she didn’t enjoy the treatment she was getting from my grandmother, granted the treated she got was nothing to what I was getting day by day. I thought about suicide, almost attempted it with the gun they had hidden in the bottom drawer of the chest. I decided not to and gave my heart to God instead. Me and the daughter used to fight a lot, I would hardly retaliate, just get in trouble for her fighting me basically until one day. She was trying to fight me, I threw her across the room and onto a couch by her arm, she never picked a fight with me again. She wasn’t hurt, physically but maybe her pride. My room became my prison, my sanctuary, my home to say the least. I only came out to eat, shower, and then go outside and play basketball. I, in turn, was treated as an outcast among them so much that I welcomed the thought. They were no longer my family in my mind, just a place I was forced to stay. I never knew a summer or a birthday around them, I would either be with my aunt, my mother’s sister, or my grandmother, but never with them if at all possible. Never to them I would go for advice, we rarely spoke, we rarely joked, we rarely spent and enjoyed any time together. Survival came from life outside of the house. Inside I had no attention, especially not any for a child who just lost the only person they knew most of their life, I felt no love, I felt nothing at all, just an environment, mostly cold, empty, and hostile. Even now, walking in that house just feels empty, the same feeling I had as a child there, I can still feel it now. I had friends at school, I felt attention and love from people at school and from people out of town. My joy came from involvement in school, trips to spend with my aunt, staying with my grandmother, and soon to be the relationships I would have with women. From the ridicule, I starved myself and eventually lost a lot of weight due to stress and depression as well. Then I began to have women attracted to me, I loved that attention, it gave me more joy than I ever knew was possible again. I can’t exactly remember when I gave my heart to God completely, but love became my main principle to live by. Through me dedicating myself to loving a woman the way she was supposed to be, trying to treat everyone the best I can, helping everyone I come by if they need it, me and God developed a very good personality inside a cold shell. So I began to live to make others happy and in turn use that to make myself happy. I can’t say that I was truly living but moreover surviving by making others happy. It gave me pleasure, I enjoyed it, I embraced it because it gave me some satisfaction. That was my dedication and my service from then on. I came to the conclusion that God wanted me to love, that was the guiding principle he wanted me to live by because the hopes of it coming to me or me meeting it later in life was the only thing that kept me from killing myself. There wasn’t much more conflict at the place I had to reside and if there was, I don’t remember it because the memories I have are of school and my personal life. My aunt moved where I was to help me, I am so grateful for that, she gave me a true escape. Somewhere I could go, be happy and be myself, and even have friends over. There was another conflict, one of the main and final ones in my mind. There were probably others of disbelief in me, and things of that nature but those don’t equal up to this one. While being at my uncle’s job, not by my choice but because he would make me stay there with him after I got out of school because they didn’t trust me at their house mainly; we got into some type of argument over something I really don’t know what. He got into one of his anger moments, and in the heat of his anger, he decides to choke me. Not too forceful if my memory serves me right but he did grab me by my throat, squeeze even if just a little and I can remember grabbing his wrist to get his hands from around my neck. He of course, disputes that he ever even did it, but after he did it, I left. I walked from his job, across town to one of my friend’s house for a good moment, then all the way to my aunt’s house. The walk itself is more than a few miles, and I did this with my schoolbooks as well. I believe in my mind, that was the last straw and I had nothing else to feel or think of. I wasn’t hurt by far, physically, emotional, or in any way because I was far past that. I can’t very well understand what I was feeling, other than anger, because I didn’t retaliate. Yes, he is an adult and he is my uncle, but he is not my family in my mind, nor does he have the right to put his hands on me in that manner, I believe it was out of respect that I didn’t do anything, but I can’t fully say. I can guarantee it wasn’t because of fear of him, but maybe of myself. I believe he gave me a “false” apology but even if he did, it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t hold it against him anymore, but I didn’t forget it either. He was already forgiven because that is the person I am, but I did not forget that he done it. It took all the things that I deal with internally to come out in a rash decision to kill myself early in the year of 2004 for him to actually change his interactions with me. He was in control of my money, never trusting me enough to have it and take care of it on my own, which would make me call him if I ever needed or wanted money for something. Before that incident, it was extremely hard for me to even get my hands on my own money, and we would have arguments over the phone for truly no reason at all. After the incident, he would listen a little bit more, have a more inviting tone when he talked to me, maybe it affected him that I was in a mental hospital for suicide, maybe it was something else, I will truly never know because we still don’t talk. I have no purpose in conscientiously calling him, and he has not once called me since I left for college. I wonder what effect it had on him, knowing that my mother trusted him enough to take care of me after she was gone, and he has done nothing. I have not grown wise, experienced, and more intelligent because of him or his influence, but by me and God’s accord. He was never a father figure to look up to, never even a person to look up to in any type of way possible. I have to wonder if he ever thinks of the fact, he completely failed my mother in the way she would have wanted him to take care of me. All he literally did was give me a roof over my head, food, and clothing; however, we know it takes a lot more than just simply that for a child to grow up the right way. I grew up too fast, at 10 years old, I was faced with death and handled it in a fashion that would not be expected of someone of my age. Then faced with suicide before the age of 13, when I am still supposed to be just enjoying life, I no longer cared if I lived or died. Even after I gave my life to Christ, I still longed for death for at least another 9 years. When I turned 22 years old last year, is when I finally decided that I wanted to live in every sense of the word. I treasure love the most, because it is what kept me here and made me feel alive. I am in love with love. I love being in love with someone as I am right now, I love someone loving me, I cherish it far beyond the mind could fathom. At this point in my life, the only people I claim to be family most of the time is my aunt and my grandmother. I still have no true support from anyone. Their ideal of me is “you could do it, but you won’t”, or better put, they will completely doubt my success until they see it in the way they want to see it. So in the end, my life and family consists of me, God, and my mother; all of whom I speak to on a constant basis. I am in love right now, have yet to feel the love reciprocal, but I treasure the feelings I have for her. Maybe this light explanation of my growing up will give more reason to why I am the way I am. I do not look for sympathy, empathy, pity, or anything of the sort, simply understanding of who I am. I realize I am a tortured soul, always fighting the devil through the day and even when I am asleep. However, my aura is inviting yet mysterious. Intriguing yet slightly fearful. Slightly shining and warm, but sinisterly dark and cold. It is who I am and that won’t change unless someone truly wants to help me. I had to embrace the darkness to survive or else I wouldn’t be here, the darkness showed me how to harden my entire being, created strength in the midst of pain and the longing for love. It is almost like a curse, I will receive the strength and power to defend myself against anything physical,spiritual, emotional that may come my way, but I will have this deep, passionate longing for love and until I receive that love, I will constantly be in battle. So while some may say I have saved their life, influenced them greatly, made their life better, those that allow themselves to love me and allow me in their life are actually the ones slowly cutting away the vines of my soul. Jesus is my soul’s savior and helps me everyday throughout my daily life, but in order for me to live and not just survive from day to day, the love of a woman becomes my knight in shining armor. So all those who are here and who aren’t who ever thought I was saving you, you were actually saving me.