The last time my dad went to jail….

I was born into chaos. An only child with an alcoholic, drug-dealing, abusive father. The first time I called 9-1-1, I was four. I ran into my parents bedroom, dialed 9-1-1, and heard someone speaking on the other end just as my father rounded the corner in the hall and stormed towards me, causing me to hang up quickly. He then unplugged the phone and continued his violent rage. Shortly after, the police arrived. My knights in blue uniform. They gave me police badge stickers, looked at my sea shell collection, and convinced me to tell them what happened.

This began to be a sort of routine. I learned that when my dad started acting out, I was to take my mom’s purse and hide it in one place, and hide her wallet somewhere else. Then I tried to get to one of the two phones before my dad unplugged them. If I was successful, the Knights would show up and I could serve them imaginary tea and they would take my dad away and I would get a police badge sticker. Once they offered me another sticker and I showed them my already large collection and asked if they could bring me a fireman sticker the next time they arrived. Occasionally, I would get a ride in a police car.

Eventually it escalated and one night in March of 1994, my dad put my mom in the hospital. I spent all night in the waiting room, coloring and watching Barney. The nurses were awesome in accommodating me and keeping me busy throughout the night. The next morning we were back at the hospital, for me this time. The stress of that evening had caused me to have a seizure the following morning. This was the evening that got my dad sent to jail for the last time.

At the end of October 1994, my dad went to court and was sentenced to jail time for domestic violence. After years of overnight visits to jail, he finally had to stay there for awhile. It was a decision that changed the course of my life forever, an act of mercy and grace credited only to God.

During my prayers last night, I considered how gracious God has been to myself and to my father. I thanked the Lord for October of sixteen years ago and all that has happened because of it. He started a new chapter in my story, one that has never made me regret the first 9 chaotic years of my life. It is hard for me to see pictures of myself as a little girl and know the kinds of things my eyes saw, to know that I could keep my head and operate as an adult at the age of 5 when my dad was beating my mom, to know the things my dad put me through because of alcohol, to know that the brave little girl in the pictures has somehow grown into the still hopeful girl in the mirror.

But I am getting ahead of myself, because we’re just talking about October of 1994. Just wait until you hear about December.