Derek – A Father Overcoming Abuse and PTSD

Marcus and Rut,

Thank you for your incredible stories. It’s the fuel I need to keep moving forward no matter what. I was raised in a sub-par home as well. It was easy to put a face on while growing up. I dreamed of growing up, commissioning in the Army medical service, and becoming a father. However in 2009, after I had left home to pursue an Army ROTC scholarship, the man who raised me was arrested for rape of a child. It was at then that the straws holding together my feeble reality broke. Unable to avoid the suffering and tragedy of the years of mistreatment, I withdrew from the ROTC, dropped out of college, and turned to alcohol, video game and pornography addiction. For the next year, I tried to drink myself into oblivion.

But then God sent me an angel. We were married and our son was born in 2010. Notwithstanding the joy I felt at getting the chance to be a father, I realized I had no clue how to be one. The man who raised me was no example, one of my grandfathers had cheated on and left my grandmother, and my other grandfather had left my mother when she was young. The time I should have spent preparing for fatherhood had been spent in hedonistic indulgence and addiction. All the while my sweet wife couldn’t understand how unfeeling I seemed toward my son. She couldn’t see the struggle and fear I was facing inside. This pressure started to ignite symptoms of PTSD. I would get flashbacks of the man who raised me when talking to any authority figure. I would wake up in the middle of the night enraged from the nightmares that persisted night after night. I became distant and withdrawn from friends and family and became increasingly alone. Instead of responding to my son’s first words and steps with praise, joy and love, I would stare blankly at him and wonder why I didn’t feel anything. Eventually my mistakes began to pile up on one another and became unavoidable. I hurt my relationship with my wife and her family. My reaction was to give up. I started to consider suicide again, thinking it would be better for my family if I wasn’t in the picture.

Then a thought occurred to me: my mother didn’t have her father in the picture, and it did just as much harm as my having a crappy one. Clearly, suicide was not an option. Not knowing what else to do, I prayed for the first time in years. For so long, I had blamed God for the pain that had been inflicted upon my family. I wondered how it was possible for Him to allow such evil to be perpetrated against the innocent. When I prayed this time, I prayed for oblivion. In my desperation I asked to have never been born. For three days, I struggled in the turmoil of having my soul laid bare before the judgement seat, and finding a withered, putrified husk in place of the man I could have been. Eventually, my prayer changed. I prayed instead to no longer be what I am; to be different; to be changed. I remembered what I had learned about Jesus Christ’s sacrifice as a child. That He suffered so I could have another chance. I asked Jesus if He could show me how to be different. In that moment, my turmoil became quieter. Out of nowhere, a friend I hadn’t spoken to in years messaged me and asked if we wanted to get together. He was on a mission sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the moment we met I felt the peace and assurance of the Holy Spirit telling me this is where I belong. Since that day, I have been fighting to overcome my weaknesses, build my talents and abilities, and be a better father and husband than I ever imagined I could be.

Thank you for your service, your inspiration, and the passion you share. God bless.

Author: Derek