In our last blog, Dorri and I told Amy’s story. But Amy’s story is not complete without James’s, her now husband. One might ask, why would James keep going back to a woman that appeared so broken. The reason was that James understood broken. He, himself, had been broken for a long time. James’s mother was both mentally and physically abusive, and his father wasn’t around much. This fact alone can change a child’s future, but for James, it was only the half of it. At the young age of six years old, his uncle molested him. Through the years, anger boiled inside of James. When he felt pushed, this anger would seep out, threatening the people around him. 

James was a troubled youth from nearly the beginning, always pushing the limits. The incident that clinched it for him began with a bully at James’s school. This bully picked on James at one point, but James had nipped that in the bud early on. For a while, James watched the boy bully others until he couldn’t take it anymore. He went to school with a large buck knife and every intent to do serious harm to the boy. In fact, James told us his thoughts at the time. “I knew how to gut deer, and hogs and this boy would be easy.” Fortunately, the police caught James before this could happen, and the authorities kicked him out of the school system. 

The authorities then incarcerated James at the Jacksonville Marine Institute—a juvenile center—for stealing cars, running away, and assault and battery. At different times, they would release him. Not wanting to go back to his abusive home, James would run away, live on the streets, and eat out of garbage cans. In fact, he was homeless a good deal between the ages of thirteen and fifteen. It wasn’t long before he turned to alcohol to ease his pain, and soon, he became an alcoholic.

James married—twice. He has four children from these marriages and has custody of all of them. Both previous marriages ended when his ex-wives left him for men they met in bars. Despite being an alcoholic, James never let it destroy his life. He built a career trimming trees, and business was kind to him. Religion was a part of his life, but James described it by saying that he would be surrounded by strippers on Friday and sitting in church on Sunday.

And then he met Amy. We shared Amy’s story in our last post. She started dating James because another stripper told her that he had money, and she had a drug habit that needed fulfilling. Amy was in and out of his life, struggling with demons of her own. He prayed for help with his addiction to her, for that is what he feared it was. His prayer was that if the addiction to Amy was only due to physical aspects of their relationship, that God would take away his ability to enjoy her in that way. He wanted a clear picture of who she was and to love her for the right reasons. That day, he fell from a tree and broke his back. Amy, craving the drugs that James would not give her, left him to find a new sugar daddy. James healed to the point that he can walk but still suffers from pain from the accident.

Fortunately, Amy became addicted to James as well. Eventually, she chose him over drugs, and together they found their faith and strength. For nearly a decade, both James and Amy have been clean. The exceptions are that he uses medical marijuana to ease the pain he endures from his past injuries. Amy had one set back within those years. In the time she had left home, her mother had also become an addict. When Amy learned that her mother was dying of cancer, she went to take care of her. Her mother looked at her as a drug buddy and encouraged Amy to join in with her. After some resistance, she slipped into drug use for a brief time, but is once again clean and has been for years.

Amy married James, and together, they formed a family. James had four children from two marriages, and Amy’s relationship with her children has improved. Her son helps run a rehab center that they own. She made peace with her father before he died of bone cancer, and James has also reached out to his mother. James and his mother’s relationship remains a work in progress. Their stories are not pretty. James and Amy are the first to admit that fact, but they refused to let that be the end. They decided to take the pain, experience, and suffering and use it as the fertilizer for their fruit tree. To hear how they turned their horrific past into bright futures, read our next blog post.