My first step toward recovery was moving home. I had spent a decade away from childhood friends and family. Time had slipped by. People who were children when I left, now had children of their own.
I was no longer the person they’d known. All around me were the whispers. “He’s changed,” they would mutter when I walked away. My personal favorite though was what they said when they thought I couldn’t hear them. “He knows better than to act like that.”
They were right. I did know better; I just didn’t care. My no-cares given attitude applied to my studies as well. The VA (Veterans Affairs) paid my tuition, and I should have cared. However, I was at the end of my rope with my math classes.
In a fit of frustration, I decided to call a local university to check for a tutor. They didn’t have one but put me in touch with a local teacher who assisted with all math-related chaos.
After speaking to the VA, I called the math teacher. She said she could meet me the following day. At noon, on a Tuesday if memory serves me correctly, I met her at a small trailer in an equally small town.
We became good friends rather quick, and with the same quickness, I brought my grades up with her help. My mom would drop me off at the trailer, and I would catch a ride home with my tutor. It was weird having someone I could depend on in my life after so much calamity ensued. Wonderful, but weird.
I came in to work on math and I sat at my usual spot at the end of the row. My chair was turned so I could face the door. I caught the tutor looking at me.
“Nothing. Do you go to church?”
“Do I sound like someone who goes to church?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I wondered if you would like to go with me.”
“No. Maybe. I don’t know. I’ll think about it.”
That was the whole conversation. For years I had wandered far from the way I was raised. Church was not something I did. My life had become a nightmare, and even with the horrors I lived with, I refused to acknowledge that church could help ease my burden.
My term ended, and I passed math. My tutor and I went our separate ways. Still, I could not shake the impact she had on my life. She made me want to be better than I was. I even broke down and went to church with her on a Wednesday night. I sat in the back and waited for the altar call. Then, I slipped out and went home.
Emotions I had not felt in years bubbled to the surface. I didn’t know what to do with them. So, I ignored them. Still, my mind would drift to the math tutor, and I often wondered what had become of her.
I stayed away from the math tutor and church. One day while I cruised social media, I came upon the math tutor’s picture. All those emotions I suppressed came back. “Quit it. You’re a train wreck, there’s no reason for you to destroy someone else.”
In a moment of pure spontaneity, I sent her a private message. It read something like this:
Do you know of a good local church that I could attend? Hope you’re doing well.”
It took no time at all for me to get a response. She sent back:
“Yep. My church. Services are Wednesday night at 715, Sunday @ 1000 and 6. Hope to see you there.”
I started going to church, and the math tutor introduced me to her family. Everyone greeted me enthusiastically and made me feel welcome. Without even noticing it, I found peace. The more I went to church, the more peace I found. Sure, my life was still a train wreck, but with the mental clarity I found at church, I found the strength to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.
Now, if I could only do something about this rage I hid in my heart.