I grew up in a small town in Mississippi where nothing ever happened outside of family drama or the occasional drug addict disturbance in the neighborhood. I was raised primarily by my great-grandmother due to my mother being in college and my father not wanting to be in the picture.
My mother later moved to O’Fallon, MO due to untold family reasons and my father went on to start a new family. I was the only child at this stage and often felt misplaced and unwanted due to a lack of love and relationship with my parents.
With no real outlet, I started to have some behavioral issues that began to strain my relationship with my great-grandmother. One day, my great-grandmother told me that she wanted to kill herself because of me. That statement shook me to my core.
I was 10-years-old and fighting with thoughts of not being wanted, not being good enough, and then with this overwhelming feeling that I was just bad and unlovable. A few months went by and I found out that my mother was expecting another child with my soon-to-be stepdad and I was expected to move up to Missouri to be with them.
I made it to O’Fallon, MO when I was 11. I was excited for this new place with bright lights. I was joyful to be a big brother to my new baby sister and to be with my mother for the first time. We lived with my great aunt and her son who was in his mid to late 20s. I struggled to adapt to the mid-western ways. Everything was too fast for me and the people weren’t as nice as compared to the south. I started to feel that familiar feeling of being misplaced.
My grades struggled in a new school environment and it was tough to fit in. With my struggles in school, my parents came down on me hard. Stripping my room down to only a bed, desk, and an entertainment center with a tv that was to never come on till I brought my grades up. I struggled to make that happen for over two years. In that time, I only went to school and sat in my room with the occasional freedom of a birthday weekend or a rare break given.
I ate separately from my family and felt like an outcast. In those two years I became extremely depressed. I remember picking at the same hole in the wall, just sitting and staring, or sobbing myself to sleep, hoping that someone would just maybe want to understand me or how I was feeling. My depression was a huge weight on my shoulders throughout my teenage years and early 20s- where the pressures of life and becoming an adult pushed me to my limits.
During my senior year of high school, I was separated from my family because we became homeless. Fortunately, I was able to live with the head football coach of my high school and his family. This experience had a huge impact on what I thought a family was supposed to be. They did everything together, though I still had this sense of being out of place. It just felt amazing to be a part of a loving family environment.
Even though I was a part of this amazing family, my thoughts and struggles with self-worth were reaching a breaking point throughout the year I was there. The fear of what was to come after high school continued to build, especially since my grades were poor. So playing football in college was going to be an uphill battle, one I would eventually lose.
After high school, I moved back in with my parents. It was the strangest thing going back into that family dynamic, where isolation and division were so prominent.
My relationship with my mother deteriorated quickly and the lack of relationship with my father and stepfather seemed to be affecting me more and more. When I was 19-years-old, the overwhelming feeling of unworthiness, not feeling any type of real love, not having anything to look forward to, and being unwanted took me to my breaking point.
I attempted suicide with a cocktail of pills. I remember feeling cold and shaking violently. My heart felt like it was pounding out of my chest. Soon after it was just darkness. I woke up to my youngest sister playing in my room, and though I felt like death was what I deserved, I was relieved to see her face. I continued to have depression and suicidal thoughts. I tried to drown them with sex and shallow toxic relationships. The dysfunction became normal, but in the midst of one of these toxic relationships, a little bit of light started to shine through.
I crossed paths with some amazing members of The Crossings Church. It was a little awkward at first because I wasn’t used to people showing interest in getting to know the real me. It took some time but I eventually began to study the Bible and open more and more of myself up to God and the people he placed in my life.
I left the toxic relationship with my girlfriend behind to explore this newfound hope- a treasure hidden in the field I had come to find. I fully embraced this church family. I had finally found the love and acceptance I was looking for, spiritually and physically. I felt one with the Holy Spirit and gave my life to Christ in 2016.
Life has never been the same since. I now have a purpose in life in giving others the same love I found in Christ and his people. A purpose that is bigger than me. I have married my beautiful wife and have two stepdaughters by the grace of God, who strive to be a light and difference in this world. I now have faith that I can repair and deepen my relationship with my parents.
Even though my depression struggles haven’t just vanished, I now have hope founded in the word of God. Where I may fall short and feel broken, I know now I have the word and God’s people to pick me up, to lean on, and fill the cracks.