The Darkest Age: Deep calls to deep
My soul is cast down within me… Deep calls to deep (Psalm 42:6a; 7a)
I finished my first post saying: “Although things got a little better for me at that time, it was about to become worse.” The worst period of my life took place during my adolescence as a consequence of bad choices that I made. However, before I move in that direction, I want to share with you some good and even great things that happened in my family and consequently in my life.
The Raising of a Hero
In 1980, my family was experiencing some relief in regard to starvation. It was because my older sister and my oldest brother got a job and they were able to help with the bills and groceries and the other needs. Although things were going well, things were about to become even better, because God was, in silent, working in favor of our family.
At that time, I remember my mom began to attend a charismatic church. At that church she was encouraged to pray for our family and to believe that God could restore my dad’s life. Many times I saw my mom on her knees praying for our family and asking God in favor of my dad, and God heard her prayer.
It was still 1980, when one day, my dad just got up from his bed and surprised all of us with his decision not to drink alcohol anymore. Miraculously, my dad recovered his health and not too long after that he found a job and became the provider of our family. Let me tell you something about my dad’s job at that time. My dad began to work in a bar, mainly serving alcoholic drinks all day long tocostumers, but he never drank alcohol again. My dad was not happy working in a bar because he knew how destructive drinking could be. He was only working at that place to provide for his family. Nevertheless, at that place, my dad met a man who helped him to get a position in a fertilizer company where he worked for a long time. Many years later he left that company and began to work as a janitor in a residential building until his retirement.
From the doctor’s prediction of my dad’s death until he passed away, my dad lived thirty-two more years as a man of great honor. Throughout all of these thirty-two years, I never see my dad skip his work even one single day, never saw him leave one bill behind; instead I saw God raising my dad as an example to our family. My dad worked hard to provide for our family, and he remodeled our house with his own hands. My dad never made much money, but he always had enough to loan some money to us, his children – he indeed gave it to us, because he never expected us to pay him back. My dad passed away in 2011, but about two years before his death he confessed Jesus as his Lord and Savior, so I am sure I will see him again one day. My dad left all of his kids grown up with their own family and my mom in good financial condition.
Poverty + Pre - Adolescence = Pain and Anger
Although things had changed for good for my dad, I can’t say the same about myself; and although things were getting better for our family, we were still struggling with poverty. We were no longer starving, but we were still living in poverty. As a teenager, I had some struggles caused by being poor. I have two hard memories during my pre-adolescence that caused me a lot of pain – this is the very first time that I am talking about it. The first hard adolescent memory that I have occurred when I was about eleven years old. It was Saturday evening, and there was a wedding party going on in our community. It was my friend’s cousin’s wedding – I don’t know if he was my friend, but anyway – I was playing on the street by myself when this boy and many others with him came to me and said: "Hey, are you not going to the wedding party? It is about time." I told him: I wasn’t because my mom had washed my pants and they were not dry yet. That was absolutely true. That guy then started laughing and said to the others: "Come on, let's go to collect some money for this beggar to buy pants." They left laughing out loud… and my Saturday was gone. I know that guy was just joking, but I felt profoundly humiliated, and deeply hurt.
The second hard memory comes from when I was around twelve years old. I was playing with other boys across the street from my house; there were about six or seven boys playing together. One of the boys began a conversation about winning the lottery, and then he started asking one by one what we would do if we won the lottery. I remember one of the boys saying that he would go buy a motorcycle; another one said that he would buy a car, and another one said that he would buy a house on the beach. I said that I would buy the best mountain bike in the world. The boy who began the conversation, pointing out my house, said: “If I won the lottery the first thing that I would do would be to put that trash down." One of the boys said to him that he shouldn't say that, but he continued his argument, and I just left, hating that boy. Unfortunately, it is a kind of thing that happens all the time among kids, and it hurts and grows anger on the inside of the offended child.
I never became a close friend with those two boys. I didn't like them, and for a period of time, I can say that I hated them. I was just a child, but I so badly wanted a better social condition than I had. It didn't give those boys the right of humiliating me in that way. Pain and anger!
Adolescence + Bad Choices = Darkness
A mix of bad feelings like shame, anger, and bitterness was growing up inside of me. All of these emotions began to dictate my actions. When I was about to turn thirteen years old, I had some experience drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. However, the worst decision that I made was to quit school. I did that because I wanted to work to help my family, and I did, but definitely, that was not the best choice. My first job was an informal job. It was for delivering advertising pamphlets for a health insurance company. I was making some money and being able to help my family; however, working at that place surrounded by adult men led me to begin to drink alcohol with more frequency. In the beginning, I used to drink with them on Friday evenings after work. Then, I started drinking a small glass of tequila before lunch. Soon I was drinking almost every day. It is a kind of that way after you start, it becomes hard for you to stop for some reasons. Initially, it gives you a sense of being an adult, being respected and responsible – delusion! Second, it offers you a kind of relief from your struggles, even it is only momentary relief. Third, you don't want to disappoint your friends - if all of them are drinking you want to drink too. From thirteen to sixteen years old I become addicted to alcohol, even though I never thought that. I used to drink every day, and several weekends I got drunk. I can't imagine how much pain I caused my parents - being so young and already drinking alcohol and getting drunk frequently.
At the age of sixteen I got a new job. The lady who owned the health insurance company decided to hire me as one of her employees. Indeed, this lady was someone who God used to bless our family. Except for my young sister, she employed all of my siblings and I. We owe a lot to her. After six months at this new job I got promoted, and another guy was hired for my old position. This new guy had a life story similar to mine, and that led us to be a close friends. The negative aspect of our friendship was the fact that he was addicted to marijuana and soon I was trying something new. Deep calls to deep!!!
Deep Calls to Deeps
Following the same process of my alcohol addiction, I began to smoke marijuana only on weekends, but the desire for marijuana grew in my life faster and stronger than drinking alcohol. The combination of alcohol and marijuana took me to a lower level in my living life. I began smoking marijuana early in the morning before went to work; then in the middle of the day when I was at work. I lost responsibility, I lost respect for others. The company's owner tried to help me and transferred me to another location, but at that point I was no longer interested in my job. Then, she had no option. After two years of working at her company, I was fired.
I stayed unemployed for a period of time, and my addiction just grew. I developed a relationship with other drug users, and every day, all day I was under the effect of drugs. I became a hater. I fought many people. I hurt many families. I made many enemies. The ones that I hurt the most? My parents. Darkness!
Among the drug users, I made a very close friend. We became like brothers. At that time I was still unemployed, and he had a job. Many times he supplied me with marijuana and paid for my drinks. He talked to his boss and got me hired by the company. Now we were working together and using drugs every day together. We bought guns together. – Purchasing a firearm in Brazil is illegal, but we did it. However, as I said, I had become an irresponsible person, and six months after being hired I was fired again. I apologized to him, and we remained friends.
In October 1989, it was on Friday night, my friend and I had smoked some marijuana, and we were in my house yard drinking some beer. He said that he had to go downtown but would be back soon. He never returned.
I remember I was sleeping when my brother woke me up and said that my friend had been murdered. My world fell apart. I experience a deep sorrow, but that situation made me think about my life and the end that it could have. I struggled with grief, but I also decided that I would change my life. I began to seek a job, and I found one. Next, I decided to go back to school, and I did so in January 1990. Everything was going better for me at that time. My life consisted of going from home to work, from work to school and from school back home. I quit drinking and smoking marijuana every day; now I was doing it only on the weekends. As I said everything was going better, but… There is another evening that I will never forget in my life. It was late June 1990, and I had a paper due on that night, but I had left it at home. I left work and went home to get my paper. Having my paper in hand, I ran to school because I was late. When I got to school I saw the guy closing the gates, I yelled at him and said: "Wait a moment I will drop my paper and I will be right back." I thought I was talking to the security guy, but I wasn't. The guy was the son of the drug dealer, and he ran after me and said: “I am not your employee! When you get outside I will catch you! When I crossed the school gate, that guy and his crew beat me almost to death. They didn't kill me because some people intervened. However, I was gravely injured, my face was deformed, and anger was jumping out of my eyes.
After being injured by those guys I fought with myself. I tried to change, but there seemed to be no chance for me, so I will go back to my bad life. In fact, to an even worse life. The following eight months, from July 1990 to January 1991, was the darkest period of my life. I made friends with killers, robbers, and terrible guys. I increased smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol. I began to use cocaine. I fought more people. I hurt more families. I hurt my family. I was killing myself day by day. My life was getting worse and worse, and my death seemed certain. Then something happened, but not what was expected; however that is the subject for the next post. See you there.
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