Hi everyone, it’s time for another Your Story submission, this time from an anonymous submitter (under the alias “Jay Brooks”).
This is a powerful, life-changing story, and I’d ask as you read to keep an open heart and have respect for the person who went through this. It was a difficult moment in his life and his recovery from such a dark time is incredible. I hope this story is as inspiring for you as it was for me :)
And as always, do feel free to leave a kind comment! Despite the submission being anonymous, all comments will be passed along to the author.
The Darkness and The Dawn
“As the saying goes; It is always darkest, before the dawn.
The lead up to year six had been interesting for me. In year four, my teacher realised I had incredible potential in maths and science. She took a select group of us and together we excelled and she pushed us to achieve more. It is still one of my fondest memories through the entirety of my schooling. However, my year five teacher was there for collecting pay checks. I began to sail through tests effortlessly and started to get into trouble.
I was growing up in a low socio-economic area, or in my case, a trailer park. The neighbourhood wasn’t terrible, but the kids tended to have a way of getting into trouble. It started out innocently enough knocking on doors and playing hide and seek. Then it upgraded into trespassing and petty theft. Year five saw me stealing to be a part of a particular group of people. Better known as, buying my friends, or so I had titled them. Then, enter year six.
Year six had begun with me stealing video games from the local department store. Watches and radios fell victim too, pretty much anything I could touch. I divided up the spoils among my friends, never keeping a thing for myself. I stole a lot; my friends always pushing for more. I had stolen a small portable stereo and almost been caught. This had changed my mentality on theft and I began to think for myself.
The first decision for myself was to stop stealing. It was a bold choice, considering my friendship was seemingly linked to my worth as a thief. Although despite my decision and how it affected the “livelihood” of my friends, they stayed with me. I was surprised, but the year continued on despite my own trials and tribulations.
The first half of the year I had survived, then came Christmas. We had opened the presents and paper littered the floor. I can remember the smell of turkey and ham. As everyone moved toward the kitchen, a sudden knock came from the door. I could feel the tension in the air, after all, it was Christmas Day. Who would be coming at dinner time, especially at the holidays? The front door opened, two rooms away and I could feel the chill of the northern winter outside. My Aunt pushed through and pulled the shawl from around her head. She looked past everyone to my mother, and they turned as if to follow her gaze.
“It’s Dad… he’s passed away- a heart attack.” She managed. I will never forget the wail my mother let out. I cried, for him and for her. He was one of the closest role models in my life and now, on Christmas no less, he was gone.
School went back in and the routine began anew. It felt good to be back. It felt good to have something to simply focus on. My friends had heard, and were seemingly sorry and apologetic. It was the second half of year six, and there were decisions ahead. Would I take up Immersion where my classes would be in a different language? Would I go to year seven in one school, or the other? I began to wonder if I’d lose my friends. It seemed that answer was to come sooner than I had expected.
One school day in spring, my friends and I were playing basketball outside of our school. I didn’t have particularly good aim, nor decent control of the ball, but I could jump and simply toss the ball into the hoop. Plus, it was nice to have something I was good at. On this particular morning though, a kid who had been trying to make his own all year was playing with us. He had tripped me up and I had scuffed my knee. My friends were chanting “Fight, fight, fight!” and I remember staring at this kid. He was a bit heavier set than I and while I didn’t want to fight him, he didn’t seem to want to fight me either. Suddenly we were both saved from our fate by the bell and we attended our classes.
The day was boring. I day dreamed of anything but school and stared out the window into the field beyond. I wanted to play football or basketball, or anything besides listening to my teacher prattle on about verbs. The day dragged on until one of my friends told me there was going to be a fight after school. Then the rest of the day picked up pace quite a bit. I grabbed my stuff at the end of the day and made my way to the far corner of the field where my friends had gathered. As I ran up, the crowd opened up for me. There, in the middle of the circle, was the new kid.
The chants of “Fight, fight, fight!” over and over again echoed as I found myself suddenly enclosed by my friends and strangers who had simply come to watch. I stared at the other kid as we circled each other. As I reached the other side of the circle, I shook my head. I was about to make my second major decision and I stared at my friends. “No, I don’t want to fight him.” I said calmly. I turned to push through the circle when before I knew what was going on, the other kid jumped me.
I fell to my knees as he came down on top of me, forcing my face into the dirt. Pain shot through my ribs as his knee glanced off the back of them and I struggled to regain any sort of upper hand. He was bigger than me, and so I laid there, struggling to get up. My friends? They stood there, cheering him on. Suddenly, he got up and rushed off, for fear of reprieve. I stood up and gathered my stuff, alone. Everyone pointed and laughed at me. My friends. People I barely knew. I was defeated both physically and emotionally. I was unprepared for the particular brand of cruelty of my so called friends.
I dusted myself off and bent over to pick up my backpack, only for one of my friends to kick it away. I stared at him in shock. I had been to his birthday only a few weeks before this. I had bought him a present with my Mom’s money. I turned to grab it, only to be kicked to the ground. Then, I in turn was beaten by my so called friends as I curled into a ball with the hope of survival. They continued for what seemed like an eternity until a teacher passing by heard the commotion and their laughter.
The summer started and I had never felt more alone. I had no friends. I didn’t know how to be a friend. I had lost a cherished family member. I had no idea how to be one of those either. I felt as though the whole world was against me. I was heading into a new school friendless. My life had hit its lowest point and felt as though it was closing in on me.
I had given up on myself as my family went on a road trip to my Dad’s family’s holiday house. One day I had asked if I could go for a walk and my parents had said yes. It just goes to show, you can never know what your child is thinking. I had hoped to get eaten by a bear. Or abducted by aliens. Or anything. I didn’t want to go back. I would be bullied. I would be ridiculed. At this point in my life I had a particular fondness for God and up until everything fell apart, I had never questioned anything. But now, I found myself asking why? Why let this happen to me?
The lake was unnaturally calm, as if no breeze dared defile its mirror-like surface. As I came upon it, I walked along the edge and gazed down into its murky depths. The trees framed it perfectly, the only imperfection was the small hill that lead to a rock face overlooking it. I sat on the edge staring down between my feet. I couldn’t swim, but here I was, staring death in the face. I cursed God. I cursed my family. I cursed my friends. I wept uncontrollably as the weight of my world came crashing down on me. I didn’t want to go back. I couldn’t go back. So I wouldn’t. In a brief moment of impulse, I pushed from the cliff and fell through the mirror below.
No matter what anyone tells you, death is not the answer. I sank, like cement, to the bottom of the lake. I watched as the light faded from view beneath the trees and the cliff and the ripples atop the water grew distant. My body struggled, but my mind and spirit were tired. I will never forget the feeling of water entering my lungs. The overwhelming feeling of panic as you gasp for air, and choke on liquid. I swallowed and watched a bubble float away as if the world were moving slower than ever before. At the bottom of that lake, I realised there was no God. He wasn’t coming for me. No one was. That feeling of truly being alone, in the darkness, in the silence at the bottom of the lake as my consciousness left me, will haunt me forever.
I hacked and coughed as the water removed itself from my lungs. I rolled onto my side as water, bile and bits of something came through my nose and mouth violently. Slithering helplessly amid the dirt at the water’s edge, my body convulsed as more unwelcome liquid evacuated from the depths of my chest. The forest seemed quieter as I struggled to find my strength. The world spun as I considered many questions. What time was it? How did I get to the water’s edge? Why am I alive? Where was my oh so loving God? The walk home was long, but my thoughts at that point would far outlast that moment in my life.
I considered the very fact that at the bottom of that lake, there was an eerie emptiness. A void which had taught me one thing: There were no gods. Even if there were, they don’t have time for us. I began to change my mentality and perception of God. I changed my perception of myself. I changed from looking for reasons to live, and began living. After all, my God will welcome me after my long journey and as I am supposedly made in God’s image, they will be proud of how far I’ve come and who I am now despite my history.
From this I became stronger. More determined. More confident. Was I bullied? Of course. Now those who caused my pain and torment are addicted to drugs, or have no life or some are in prison. Meanwhile, I’ve travelled the world, live as far from home as I possibly can and have so much to be grateful for. All I need now is to get published and get rich enough to start my own Arts School and I will have accomplished all of my goals.
Sometimes the night is indeed darkest before the dawn; But the sun will eventually rise.”