Living With PTSD, A Warrior’s Story (Angel’s Story)

Podcast Version? The whole story is on his 30 minute episode, click here.

“They don’t know that I go running home when I fall down, they don’t know who picks me up when no one is around, I drop my sword and cry for just a while, because deep inside this armor, the Warrior is a child” Twila Paris

He told me that he did not have a memory of his parents where violence was absent from their home. He easily told me of four or five places his father moved the family in an attempt to win the battle against the demons of violence that played out in their home. 

I met Angel when I was 17 years old. He and his older brother Joe, his younger brother Isaac, and younger sister Anna Marie were in the same children’s home as me. As you may imagine, sad stories were easy to find at a children’s home—but the Rivera’s story affected me then and now as a domestic violence survivor, their story has impacted me in a completely different way. I want to shout their story from the mountaintops because theirs is a story of hope through unimaginable pain. They have navigated the crooked roads of pain and trauma to find Hope. AnneMarie shared her perspective (blog) on my podcast Wednesdays With Watson, she was not there that day that changed everything.

I still remember meeting them at the children’s home, I remember the sound of the wings of bugs flickering inside the blue and white sign that read “Faith Children’s Home”. Angel was the leader of his pack, and we all knew it. By the time they arrived I was in my senior year and considered more of a staff member than one of the kids. I took the Rivera’s under my wing, and I will never forget the day they arrived. Their story is here and on the podcast, but suffice it to say there is so much we aren’t telling you. It is simply amazing that they even breathe air, even thirty years later.

Sometimes it does come down to the areas of life that don’t reside in gray: they are black or they are white. Angel told me that the argument that led to both of his parents’ deaths was over the color of a Bible they were purchasing. She wanted white because it signified purity, forgiveness and the hope of a new start; he wanted black because it would not show dirt.

They went to church and had Sunday lunch as a family.  Angel told me how the night before, police officers pulled his mom out of a ditch after she over-indulged in alcohol. It seemed that she’d had enough of the abuse in their home.

Angel said that his parents separated and left them with their father. But despite his mother’s attempts to hide from her abuser, the ex-narcotics agent had his ways of finding her. The fear of his rage drove her and the kids to a local shelter a few times. But after the cops brought her to her old home after that ill-fated night of drinking, she found herself right back in the line of fire.

The next morning, they decided to go to church and try to stay together as a family. Angel told me on the interview that his parents went forward for prayer that day. They went to the store to purchase those Bibles and that argument continued after arriving back at their home.

Angel told me that he and his brothers were outside playing basketball and listening to music. And then they heard it. As he was telling me the story, he struggled to find a word to describe what he heard. “It was like a light bulb breaking,” he said. 

He continued to tell the story of how, ultimately, those four children ended that day with both parents dead–one of them said his last words to Angel, before taking his own life. Angel explained how he tried to stop his dad from taking his own life.

He told me how they saw their mom lying in a puddle of blood. 

He told me that they still don’t know if he killed her or if she killed herself. 

He told me about his father throwing him across the room before jamming the gun three separate times before clearing the magazine and finally succeeding at a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

He told me his father’s last words over and over again:  “Tell your sister I love her and call your grandmother.”

That day changed their lives forever, and soon I was to meet all of them under that blue white flickering sign. Hope was on the way. Today, we bring you a story of Hope as Angel has a beautiful family and is still very much working out how this trauma affected him. His wife told me that every day is different but his PTSD is well managed through counseling and community.

My interview with Angel was not easy, but his strength and resiliency is to be commended and his faith, though different, still in tact. After the interview, he committed to more counseling as visiting the property, talking about it and handling all the emotions that came with it highlighted his need for help. Head to the podcast to her the full story, click here to listen or pick your favorite platform.

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