Written by Judith A Cruz-Vazquez
By most accounts myself and my children should have been added to the list of statistics. I came from an abusive background, on all levels. I didn’t get help and as I got older I immersed myself in extremely destructive lifestyle choices. I was a teen run away, involved in the juvenile court system, I drank, did drugs and by the time I was 17, I was a mother.
I thought this beautiful baby would be what saved me, I tried my best, but in time the broken pieces of me destroyed what mothering instincts I had. By the time I was 21, I had 3 sons. By the time I was 24, all three of them were placed in the custody of my mother. I maintained a relationship with my sons, there was never a question of my love for them. I knew it was better for them to not see the way I was every day.
I wrestled mental health demons and nightmares of my past, all the while making choices that only furthered my pain. I was with men who abused me, I never felt I was deserving of more. It was what I knew.
Still, I tried. By the time I was 28, I had 3 additional children. I worked and tried to handle responsibilities but the jagged pieces of me seemed to poke holes in everything. I still believed the lie that told me, “Hey, you work so hard, you need a drink, or to go out and have some fun.”
Eventually things got so bad we lost our place to live. I put the majority of our belongings into storage, and I subsequently lost all of it due to non-payment. I was in yet another abusive relationship and it had become more than I could bear. Right as I was gathering my courage to escape my abuser, my youngest son started getting violently ill. The episodes lasted a day or two, he would run an extremely high fever and lose control of his body. It terrified me. I started to lose my nerve about leaving. I had secretly been in contact with a women’s shelter and I was waiting for available space for them to accept the four of us.
When I finally got the call I knew it was time to make a break for it. All we had was packed in one storage tote and a diaper bag. The shelter was about 40 miles away from everyone I knew. I didn’t know anything about that place, where a grocery store was, where the hospital was, nothing.
It was made clear upon my admission that it was time to get real. No drugs, no guys, no nothing. My caseworker helped me set goals and it was up to me to make them happen. I had no car and no money. I was so afraid. I thought I was so alone, looking back though I can see that God was leading me, every step of the way.
During our time at the shelter my little boy continued to have episodes of illness. A number of times we went to the hospital. I was dismissed with “He has a fever, he’ll be fine.” Or another antibiotic prescription for whatever they thought was ailing him. One day an episode started very strong, the women at the shelter realized the gravity of what I had been trying to tell them about his condition. They got out their first-aid kit and were shocked to see that his fever rose from 98.6 to 104.6 within about an hour. The lady who ran the shelter made an exception to the rule of anyone driving the shelter guests anywhere and she allowed another young mom who had a car to rush my son and I to the Emergency Room, we picked up my two daughters from school on the way. By the time we reached the hospital his fever was nearing 106. It was painful to hold him.
I rushed to the front desk of the very crowded waiting room to be met by a hospital worker who appeared to be desensitized to this pain filled environment. “My son’s fever is out of control, he’s been throwing up and shaking, he’s not coherent!” Then, remembering some of my nursing training from years past I shouted, “He’s not breathing right!”
A doctor came out of nowhere it seemed and made a beeline for the fragile little boy in my arms. We were rushed to a cubical in the back. As quickly as this doctor arrived to help us, he was called away to some sort of trauma. We waited for hours. My 2-year-old baby boy on a gurney and his sisters and I have one plastic chair between the three of us. My son continued to vomit and ebb in and out of consciousness when I asked a nurse for clean sheets, I received an attitude instead.
When the doctor reappeared about 4 hours later he took me into the hall. He hurriedly but sincerely told me, “Your son is having seizures. I don’t know if this runs in your family but he needs to see a neurologist and he will need meds to control it.” I was stunned. We had no family history of anything like this.
We continued on at the shelter for 6 weeks until we were accepted to a long term living situation that provided us with a small, basic apartment to live in and a case manager. That’s where I realized my absolute need of God.
I found resources to help us get food, clothing and medicine. Daily I realized my dependence on God. I saw that I was so weak and foolish on my own.
I kept our life very simple in our new living situation. I learned the joy of talking to my daughters as I walked them to and from school every day. We ate dinners together, we prayed together and we found a church together. I was scared to venture out into anything social. I wanted to keep our life the way it was. No “lady’s nights”, no going on dates, nothing. I came to the conclusion that I was really bad at picking out a man so I would have nothing to do with it ever again. I was happy that way and my time was taken up with doctor appointments and church now. I started to form friendships with a couple of the other moms in the nearby apartments. One of them wanted me to meet someone I told her “No way! I don’t even want a guy, they’re nothing but trouble! Thanks but I’m good.” Well wouldn’t you know it, my daughters and this neighbor worked together and finally got me to meet him. When I met him I felt something I’d never felt. I wasn’t overcome with lusty attraction; I wasn’t impressed by his clothes or shoes. I can’t put my finger on what it was. All I can say is, God sent my future husband into a community of homeless, single mothers, to find me.
If I would have lost my nerve to run to the shelter a year earlier, I would have missed out on finding the man God had chosen to be my husband and father to my children. We were married August of 2014. All 6 of my children love him and we are all united under one roof. God took my brokenness and in return He gave me hope, the return of my oldest three sons, an amazing husband and a new life.
Meet Judith A Cruz-Vazquez
I am a blogger (“A Mom Like Me”) and soon-to-be published author of my first book, a wife, homeschooling mother of 6, college student, special needs parent, trauma survivor, and a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace. I hope to encourage and inspire others through my writing, to seek a relationship with the God who saved me from certain death in streets. The God who lifted me out of my former life of drugs, violence, crime and self-destruction and led me into a new life of hope, healing and thanksgiving.