It was our last night of freedom as we all called it. The last night of our childhood. This was it, this was the night before our whole world changed. Little did I know my world would never be the same after this.
I was 19. I knew what my future was going to look like. I had it all planned out. I was leaving home, joining the military, I was going to make a career, a life for myself. So, I thought. But this chapter of my life did not go as I had planned. The world had a different plan for me. A plan I struggled to understand for a long time.
My last night of “freedom” had never tasted so good. The jack and coke mix had me buzzing. I felt relaxed. This was a nice feeling, especially since my nerves were overloaded with all different emotions; excitement, scared, nervous, etc.
I remember a large group of us hanging out, being silly, laughter filling the air as we chitchatted amongst one another asking where we headed, what we were planning to do with our future careers in the military, but then the air changed. Soon the crowd was much smaller, and I was no longer outside…
It was dark. I could see some light shining in by the window. This light gave me enough to see that I was in a room, but not my room. I felt weak. I could not breathe. I saw someone in the next bed over as I felt my legs being spread apart. I looked up. There was a hooded figure above me. I tried to scream, but a pillow was placed on my head. The fear I felt in that moment melted the pain of him shoving himself into me away. When the pillow was lifted away, I could see again, but still could not see who this evil was. I glanced over to the bed next to where I was and made eye contact with whomever that heartless person was as more pain tore into me. Tears dampened my cheeks.
When there was more light filling the room a weight was lifted off me. The evil had gone, I did not care to look where, I just took my chance and left. I never looked behind me to see if I was being watched or followed. When I got to my room I immediately showered, and I just sat there and cried.
I continued on. I thought if I could just forget what happened I could survive. Live my life like it never happened. Besides who would believe me? But I was not strong enough. I was terrified. This chapter of my life was taken from me by this evil.
I was angry for a long time. How, why could God let anyone go through this? That was my thought. What did I do to deserve this? But when I grew stronger, I realized why. It was not because I deserved it, or because I was hated. It was because I was strong. I was strong enough to survive and because I survived, I am able to tell my story, to help others, and to live on.
I did not understand at the time why. I still do not sometimes understand the evil in this world, but I do know that I am strong. I know that I am a survivor, because I have survived a darkness. I have seen evil first hand, but I still find the strength to shine bright, to live on, and to love my journey. Even though some chapters have been scary, they help define who I am.