Up until the last few months it seemed as if our family's life was fairly uneventful. I went about my life doing the usual things; work, school and being involved with youth groups. We lived an average life. My life was not always like this.
I learned to be street smart early in life. As a boy, I had to take care of myself and my younger sister. We lived in rough places. I was in a lot of fights. Bullies and intimidation were all part of my life.
When I was eight years old a group of older boys beat me up. I was determined to never let them hurt me again. I went home and stole one of my father's pocket knives. The next time they tried to jump me I was ready for them. Even though I began fighting back, something inside of me died. I was not born an angry violent kid, but that is what I became. Who said that bullies never hurt anyone?
In my preteen years my grades dropped. I was always in detention. As hard as I had become, I could not deal with what was going on in my life. I turned to drugs and alcohol to ease my pain. I lived with friends and on the street.
At age 16, I entered a rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol abuse. I was expelled. At that point of my life I was on a fast track to jail, prison or an early death. Even though those years were rough, I lived.
In 1990 I made a decision that changed my life. I left everything behind and moved halfway across the state for a new start. As cliche as it sounds, "I found God" and with help of new friends I was able to become civilized again. I put my knife away and learned to use my hands for other things than making fists.
After I graduated from high school I served as a missionary for two years. I came home, went to college and married my wife. I was as far from my previous life as possible, or so I thought. I raised my kids in a nice school district with nice people in nice neighborhoods surrounded by everything nice. I never thought that my children would have to experience the kind of hell that I did growing up.
Who says bullies never hurt anyone?