Excerpt from The Skin I'm In - An Intimate Journey With
by Jewel Tyler
During my time of reflection, I also began to realize the men in my life and I did not have a lot in common, and I fully understood what it meant to be "unequally yoked" as Paul stated: 2 Corinthians 6:14 "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" This was so very true in my life at this point with all of the people I had surrounded myself with for years, none of them were saved, especially the men I had been dating.
However, it was very difficult for me to totally let go of Antoine, a man I had been seeing for over six years; we had tried living together, broke up, and were back together again. During the time of my salvation, we were living apart but we were still involved with one another. When I would discuss my salvation with him, he never made a comment one way or the other initially. The part of my discussion with him regarding my new way of life that got his attention was when I told him that I would no longer be having sex with him or anyone ever again unless I was married. I had no desire to commit fornication again (I had looked it up). I went through many changes with my relationship with him, and it was difficult to just simply let him go because I really loved him. I was not going to force my belief or doctrine on him, this was something I believed he had to desire for himself. I personally wanted time to learn everything I could about the Word and the Lord. I spent all of my free time doing just that, I was either studying my Word at home, or at church attending any events or classes they offered. I spent a lot of time with Donna and her husband as well, they began to introduce me to new friends who were Christians as well, we would meet at my home or Donna's to fellowship and study the Word together.
I lived with my aunt in Capital Heights, MD as I mentioned earlier in her converted attic. It was simply too compact and the house was full of family members; the truth, it was time for me to get my own place, even though I attended Prince Georges Community College in Maryland, and the apartment that I had my eye on for a few years was located in Washington, D.C. Moving back to D.C. meant quitting school; it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I was very interested in the place because it was a brand new development, in a very nice neighborhood for S.E. and the complex had a program, which set the cost of rent according to your salary. It was adjacent to Fort Dupont Park off Minnesota Avenue, S.E. Another plus was the summer concerts in the park every weekend and I would be in walking distance; also, the commute to downtown D.C. would not be as long of a distance from the apartment compared to where I was currently living in Maryland.
I prayed over my application and submitted it for the apartment; God heard my prayer and it was approved. The place was perfect for my son and I as I said earlier the rent was based on my income. The complex also provided childcare services on the premises and the elementary school was less than a block away, it was perfect.
A few months after my son and I moved in, it was not long before Antoine had approached me regarding a full reconciliation of our relationship and even marriage. I have shared the incident that almost cost him is life. My visits to the hospital weakened me; I felt so sorry for him, I knew he had to have someone to care for him, upon his release, I agreed he could come to my new home to recover. Approximately two weeks before he was suppose to be released from the hospital, I was baptized at Evangel Temple; after the baptism, I had second thoughts about allowing him to even come to my home, but I had committed to assist him. I felt purified and I was cleansed, however I knew the temptation would be strong and difficult to fight with him in the same house sleeping in the same bed with me. We had discussed him sleeping on the sofa, yet he persisted we were going to get married, so it did not make any sense. We would go back and forth with this discussion, while he was in the hospital; He vowed after he was released, he was going to buy my ring and we would be married. He expressed he wanted to start studying the Bible with me and attend church.
After he was released, I was surprised the first night at the apartment, he fixed up the sofa and that is where he slept. He joined me at church on Sundays and also would sit with me and have bible study. He was raised Catholic so he explained it was a different experience for him. It was a beautiful time, I grew to love him even deeper than I had before, but it was now on a level where we were sharing my true love. My love for God!
A few days before we were going to actually get married, I prayed asking the Lord if he was my husband and should I marry him? I needed to hear from the Lord for confirmation, especially after my experience of hearing his voice and him speaking a scripture to me. I would consult the Lord about everything in my life through prayer; and he would answer me either audibly or by giving me a scripture. This time the response was different; it was the first time he communicated in the form of a dream. Therefore, it was a hard lesson to later learn the truth of the answer to my question was in this dream.
That night I dreamt I was lying in a bed and there was darkness all around me. As I began to sit up in the bed I saw I was surrounded by large black snakes, they were everywhere. It looked like there were hundreds of them slithering all over the place and they had a gloss to them. I felt fearful, afraid to move, paralyzed. I could hear someone approaching from behind me, but I could not take my eyes off the snakes, it looked like they were growing in numbers. When I glanced, back to see who was approaching it was my sister. She walked right over the snakes as if they were the regular floor. She stepped right up on the bed and said "Come on let's go, why are you lying there?" I looked around and said "Why do you think I am lying here there are snakes everywhere." She walked right across my bed down and off and was standing right on top of the snakes and she extended her hand and said "Come on, don't be afraid, it's time to go." As I began to push, myself with my hand to sit up on the bed and used my right hand to brace myself to get up. When my hand hit what I thought was the bed there lying beside me was a huge black snake coiled up in the bed next to me and my hand was on top of the snake. I awoke from the dream in the exact position I was in the dream but my hand was on Antoine lying in the bed asleep next to me and I was sitting up with all of my body weight against my right arm/hand.
That was my answer, but what did I do? I allowed my flesh to make the decision about marriage to Antoine, as scheduled I married him, the marriage did not last an entire year. He was very verbally and physically abusive, as well as unfaithful. Not long after marrying him, I became pregnant. It was one year of hell and I felt just like I did in the dream, paralyzed, afraid to leave, to speak up or cause the wrong trigger, which could bring on the physical or verbal abuse.
I continued progressing in my relationship with God, praying, attending church, Antoine even made a mockery of that, addressing me as "Ms. Holier than Thou." Before the marriage he would attend church with me, read the Bible with me and pray, actually, when I told him the only way I was going to have sex was if he was my husband; he agreed and did not touch me the entire time until after we were married. Currently and even then, it is simply unheard of and hard to maintain abstinence if you are going to be involved in a personal relationship with the opposite sex.
After the marriage everything between Antoine and I had changed. When I would ask him to join me in attending church, he told me "No" he did not feel like going. I asked him to join me in studying the Word, he would say "No", and he had something else to do. The truth finally surfaced during one of my requests to join me at church one Sunday, he made it clear, he said "The only reason I was doing all of that stuff, going to church with you and reading the Bible with you was to get you to marry me. Now we are married, it is not happening." I endured the name-calling: "Holy Roller", "Holier than thou", "Ms. Jesus", and so much more. However, the day he took my Bible and threw it into the trash, I knew I had to get out of this situation; not him hitting me, calling me out of my name "b***", nor all of the abuse I endured. I know it sounds crazy, but when you are actually in an abusive relationship, it takes a toll on you psychologically, it is conditioning that takes place in your mind that keeps you stuck. It was something that triggered in me when I had to reach down to take my Bible out of the trash, when I rose up and looked at him; I knew it was the dawning of something new. I knew, he insulted the Lord I serve and love, with all of my heart; he was not just insulting me.
My son and I went to church and the Bishop was speaking about change, fear, new beginnings, and allowing God to be your strength. When I returned home, he was there with a house full of men; the house reeked of marijuana, of beer and cigarette smoke. They were all laughing, talking, cursing and watching football; it felt like I had walked into another dimension. I took my son to his room and he changed his clothes to go outside to play. I changed my clothes as well and asked my husband to come into the bedroom so I could speak with him. We discussed the drugs being used in the house and the fact I did not want my son exposed to them and I was pregnant. The argument began, he cursed me out, told me I could leave my apartment (not his - it was in my name) or just stay in the bedroom until his company left. I stayed in my bedroom, praying for the Lord to deliver me with a breakthrough either change him or end this marriage.
I truly believed in the scripture: 1 Corinthian 7:14 "For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy." Therefore, I did not give up; I continued to pray for him and our marriage, especially since we were going to have a child.
One of the things I began to notice was even though I felt like I was sleeping with the enemy I continued to grow spiritually. God talked to me even more; and I continued to have dreams that I now know were of spiritual significance in my life. During this time, it was all so new to me so a lot of things that were happening I did not understand. I did not question them nor second-guess anymore. Especially after the dream about Antoine, which I truly believe, was a warning and a message to not marry him.
We had only been married less than four months and he returned to his consistent pattern of staying out all night; I would wake up in the middle of the night to find him not in bed, or in the apartment anywhere, there were times during my pregnancy when I just could not sleep. Once I was awakened out of my sleep, I realized once again he was not home, I would lie in bed waiting to see what time he would return home. During this time cell phones did not exist, so I could not just simply call him to see where he was like one can do today. Eventually he would come in before the sun would rise, but there were times I would go to work and he still would not have returned home. There was always some sort of an excuse and then it finally got to the point when he would just simply reply, "I have been out", when I would inquire as to his whereabouts.
One night it felt like an electrical jolt ran up my leg, when I woke up I realized once again he was not home. Before I could lie back down in bed after checking the apartment, I felt strongly in my Spirit to get dressed. I had no idea why, because my car was gone as usual, (notice I said my car not his car); but I felt compelled to get dressed. After I was dressed, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me on what to do next. I put on my coat, and proceeded outside even though it was approximately 3:00 am in the morning; there was no fear because I knew the Lord was leading me. Once outside, the Spirit told me to make a left and walk to the corner, then make a right and walk straight. I had to cross a major street and I continued walking, after about three blocks down the street; I could not believe my eyes, there was my car. I had no clue as to where he could have been, because my car was sitting in front of an apartment complex. I could not believe he was evidently having an affair with someone so very close to home. I thanked the Lord, got in my car, drove home, and parked it. The next morning when I awoke, he was in bed, we said nothing to each other about the night before, and I simply asked him for the keys to my car. I did not argue with him, I explained to him that since I was pregnant, I felt it was important I have my car accessible at all times. There was no argument on his part I assume because he knew he had been caught. I praised the Lord for revealing the truth and blessing me to know the truth! He continued to spend nights out but minus the use of my car.
A couple of months later, I had a dream that awoke me in the middle of the night, I could not sleep afterwards and decided to just simply get up and go into the living room area alone to try to figure out what it meant, also to pray and ask God to help me to understand the dream.
I discussed my Granddaddy Clayton earlier, for some reason I had many dreams, which included him for many years after my salvation. The dreams were always pleasant and peaceful, one of our favorite meeting places was a beautiful field with wildflowers, the sun would always be shining so bright and I could see the butterflies fluttering and periodically landing on daisies and other flowers. We would walk through the pasture and just talk, other times we would walk and he would just hold my hand. My mother said when he was alive he used to take me by the hand when I was a child and take me for walks in our neighborhood and his favorite place to take me and my siblings was to the parks.
In this particular dream, we met in a beautiful pasture. However, this time it was quite different, as soon as we got together, the sun was covered by very dark clouds. The wind was blowing so profusely it was difficult to stand or even walk against the wind. Nevertheless, my grandfather held my hand tightly, as we pressed against the wind; it was obvious he had a destination in mind. As we approached, I could hear rushing waters; we were headed to a river. On the opposite side of the river I could see a torrential storm approaching, it was raining very hard; I could hardly see the trees or anything on the other side of the river. I turned to look at my grandfather, he looked at me and smiled, he said "You are going to go through a heavy storm but you are going to make it through, you are going to have to be strong and you will get to the other side." The river was swelling with water because of the downpour of rain, the water was rushing, and it looked like the white waters of the Grand Canyon. Before I could even ask my grandfather anything about the storm, a boat filled with some people was being tossed to the degree I thought it was going to flip over completely. I was about to approach and even yell at the people in the boat; but my grandfather stopped me, he pulled me by my hand and ensured I was standing behind him. Just as he did a tornado funnel tipped down into the water and spun the boat around and around with the people holding on for their dear life. As the boat got closer to where we were standing; I could see the people in the boat were actually my brother David, my Dad and my brother Terry (later in my life I understand why I saw them in that order). I started screaming and I tried to break free of my grandfather's grasp to offer them some sort of help, but I could not move. It was like watching a movie and there was nothing I could do but watch as everything unfolded. The funnel dipped again, but this time, my grandfather turned me around and he turned as well. We both had our backs to the river, he told me to close my eyes, and I did what he asked. However, I have to add when we communicated with one another it was not with words, only by thought, we were speaking telepathically. I could feel the storm calming, the wind had stopped blowing, we both turned around and even the water in the river had subsided. It was drying up rapidly, my grandfather pointed to what looked like a plank. Nevertheless, when I looked at it the entire thing seemed to move right in front of me. There was some sort of object lying on what I thought was a pier. However, as it got closer, I could see the object was moving, and the closer it got I could make out it had legs and arms, but it was covered with some sort of white pasty substance and blood. By the time the object and table were before me, I could see it was a baby, a very fat baby, with cold black silky hair, it was a boy and then the baby turned his face toward me, opened his eyes, and smiled and I woke up from my dream.
I sat in the living room the rest of the early morning hours and was anxious for daybreak. I wanted to talk to my grandmother about the dream especially since it involved her husband. When I called her and explained the dream, I asked what she thought about it. She replied, "It sounds like to me honey you are going to go through a storm before you have your baby and you're going to have a boy. I just don't understand about your dad and your brothers, that part is not making any sense to me. It is so sweet your granddad still visits with you, I never hear from him nor dream about him." That was it, a storm before having the baby, a boy, and no idea what the significance of the tornado taking away my two brothers and my dad.
At the time of the dream I was seven months pregnant, the very next week, I started experiencing a lot of pain, when I went to see my OB-GYN he said I was experiencing Braxton Hick contractions, and I was dilated approximately six centimeters, he wanted me to be placed on strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. Which meant he only wanted me to get out of bed to use the bathroom and to bathe that was it. At first, it was easy to comply with the doctor's orders, but I also had my son Gary to care for as well. It was the Christmas holiday season and I had not finished shopping for him. After being in bed for two weeks, I figured it was safe for me to go to the store to finish my son's Christmas list.
My day was going very well, I made it to Toys R' Us, Hecht's department store; and I wanted to make one more stop to purchase Christmas decorations. I was at the register in Kmart and as soon as the cashier had finished ringing up my items; a sharp pain hit me that brought me down to my knees in the store. I yelled out because the pain was severe, it wasn't like the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing nor was it like labor pain. The baby was knotting up, stretching and kicking so hard. I was nervous about the baby's behavior; he had never kicked or knotted up like this during my entire pregnancy even with the Braxton Hicks. During my last visit, the doctor had also mentioned the baby had an irregular heartbeat that needed to be monitored. The cashier asked if I wanted her to call an ambulance, I declined and asked if she could just get me to a chair so I could sit down. I could barely walk the pain was so great. I called my husband from the phone booth next to the chair I was sitting in and explained to him what was going on. As we were talking the pain began to subside, it was gone, the baby was calm I was able to stand and figured I better gather my belongings and head to the car and go home immediately. My husband scolded me for over doing it with my shopping spree and threatened to take my car keys.
Once at home the pain returned, worst then it was at the store. Antoine called my doctor and explained everything; he wanted to meet at the hospital. We arrived at Columbia Hospital for Women in less than 15 minutes in spite of the ending rush hour traffic along with streetlights that barely caught us; this ride under normal circumstances should have taken 45 minutes. I just closed my eyes and held on for the ride. It was fortunate I had dropped Gary at my Mom's before going shopping; it would have been more chaotic with trying to drop him off and rushing to the hospital. I checked into the hospital and was immediately taken to a labor room, when my doctor arrived, he examined me and said I had dilated to eight centimeters and I was in labor, he explained he was going to give me a medication to try to stop the labor. He felt it was too early to deliver; the baby's lungs had not fully developed. The nurse put in an IV and the medication started to enter my body, I began feeling very light headed and dizzy, it was difficult to breathe; I explained to the nurse my symptoms, I felt like I was going to pass out. It was as if I had been given an anesthesia for surgery or something. I could not stay awake, I didn't feel like I was going to sleep, I told the nurse I felt like I was dying; that was the last thing I remembered before fading away; I faintly heard the nurse in slow motion saying "STAT, STAT HER BLOOD PRESSURE IS 100 OVER NOTHING" as I began to fade into unconsciousness.
Even though I was no longer conscious I was aware of everything that was going on around me, I heard the nurse continue to yell STAT and some code then another nurse said "Oh my God her blood pressure is 100 over nothing, she's flat lining" when she entered the room. I felt so light and free and unbound by the confounds of my flesh, it was if there was no time, whatever or wherever I thought I was there instantly. I realized I was looking at my body lying on the gurney and the nurses were working on me, I saw my doctor enter the room checking my body and pulse. It was a panicked frenzy; I realized I was floating over the whole scene. Nevertheless, I was at peace, no more pain, instantly I was in the hallway, I saw and could hear my doctor discussing with my husband that he had to make a decision on who he wanted save the baby or me. Next, I was outside of the hospital over the Georgetown area where I worked and then back into the room watching everything the doctor and nurses were doing to my body. Finally, I was being drawn somehow away from the hospital room I could see so many magnificent colors, colors unlike anything I have seen here on earth. The colors were alive and vibrant, they were moving as if they were some sort of beings. There was a color illuminated brighter than any other color there; this colorization began to take some sort of shape or form I could hear my name but it sounded like harped water of some sort. I was no longer being drawn away but being pushed back away from what I thought was the most beautiful and peaceful experience of my entire life. An experience I simply cannot put into words to describe, and I have provided the short version here.
It was as if I had blinked my eyes in that place and when I opened them, I was in a bed with my doctor there by my side, holding my hand with his head bent down and he was praying to my surprise. I called his name and he looked up, and said, "Oh thank God you're finally awake!" He embraced me and apologized repeatedly for making the decision to administer the medication to stop the delivery. I felt like it had only been just a few minutes ago, the nurse had put the IV in my arm and started the medication. When I looked around, I realized I was in a hospital room and no longer in the labor-delivery room. I asked him what had happened and he explained to me; I had flat lined after my blood pressure had dropped to 100 over zero. They had worked very hard on saving the baby and me and then I had stabilized but remained unconscious. I asked him how long I had been in this room and where was my husband. He said it had been over three days and my husband had been coming to the hospital sitting by my side every evening after work. I was stabilized the baby was fine but I just would not wake up. He had been coming to the hospital every day and sitting with me praying as he was doing when I came too, I remained in the hospital for a couple of more days. My doctor stated he thought it was best I stay in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy; I pleaded with him to allow me to go home to be with my son Gary. I could not imagine being in the hospital and he would have to spend Christmas alone without me. I assured my doctor under no circumstances would I leave home again and I would remain in the bed. I was still dilated eight centimeters, so I did not want to take any chances along with the Braxton Hick contractions of repeating what I had just experienced. After returning home, I kept my word and enjoyed the holiday with my son. After awhile I was able to get up and about more than when I first arrived at home, I performed simple tasks like cooking meals, washing dishes and even started back attending church. I believe the scare shook Antoine, the all nighters ceased and he was home directly after work every day our relationship was good for a change.
One of Antoine's favorite singing groups were the Whispers, during the course of our relationship we had never missed a concert when they visited the Washington, D.C. area. Even though I was pregnant and so close to delivery time, Antoine purchased near to front row seats at Constitution Hall for us both to attend the concert. I was a bit apprehensive about attending the concert because I knew it was so close to my due date. I had heard stories about how the second child delivered a lot faster than the first, with Gary I believe I was in labor 18 hours, so I had approximated in my own thinking maybe 10 hours for the child I was currently carrying. I was in the middle of doing my hair, my clothes were ironed and Antoine had left to take Gary to my mother's for the evening when I felt like I had wet myself. I went to the bathroom to check to ensure I wasn't bleeding or anything out of the ordinary, and it was strange looking thick mucus. I called my physician's office and explained to the answering service what I had just experienced, they asked if there was any pain, nope no pain just mucus. My doctor returned the call just as Antoine was entering the door singing "And the Beat Goes on" one of the Whispers up-tempo tunes. He explained to me what I saw in the bathroom was called a 'mucus plug' we should expect the baby within 24 - 48 hours. Antoine had started preparing dinner while ironing his clothes at the same time; he had the Whispers playing selecting which songs he hoped they would sing tonight. I hadn't shared with him what I had experienced while he was gone because the doctor said 24 to 48 hours I figured we could make the concert and the baby would be coming thereafter. When Antoine brought me my plate of baked fish and salad along with a baked potato for dinner, the first labor pain rolled around my lower abdomen. The other thing I noticed the baby had not moved all day long, which was strange. I was reluctant to eat because I knew if I had eaten my dinner and the baby was coming tonight; once at the hospital I would have to endure an enema, I experienced labor and holding fluids in my body from an enema with my first son and it was grueling. I picked over my food, approximately 20 minutes later the next labor pain, this time I pulled out my watch to calculate accurately how many minutes apart the pains were coming, they were not Braxton Hicks. Not even 15 minutes later the next one hit, Antoine had entered the room inquiring as to why I had not eaten my dinner and why I was not getting dressed. I asked him to sit down and explained everything to him. The disappointment covered his face instantly, I could not believe his response "Well the labor pains are fluctuating between 20 to 30 minutes so we might have time to go to the show and at least catch their first couple of songs." I looked at him in disbelief, he had to be joking, but he was not he was serious, and reasoning as he was getting dressed on how we could make the concert and then leave from downtown and go to the hospital we would be closer. I called a friend of mine, apologized for the short notice, and asked if she would like to purchase our Whispers' tickets for a discount, the concert had been sold out and I knew she had wanted to attend. Antoine really started to pout then, he knew I was serious and it was time for this little one to come. Reluctantly he sold the tickets to my girlfriend when she arrived and off we were to the hospital listening to the Whispers all the way.
On February 11, 1985, in the early hours of the morning, I gave birth to my son Ricky and he was a fat baby, nine pounds eight ounces. It was a struggle because like a sudden rush he just started coming, the doctor had left the room and said there was still time before he was going to be delivered. However, right after he left the room I had a powerful contraction and I could tell the baby was coming now. My husband went after the doctor to come back; everyone was moving about frantically, dressing the doctor with his robe and gloves and he was asking me to hold the baby while he prepared. Any mothers out there reading this story, how on earth can you hold a baby when they are coming down the birth canal? It is not possible! Then there was the umbilical cord, which was wrapped around his neck; the doctor later explained that is why he had an irregular heartbeat the entire pregnancy. I was ripped in every direction; the doctor did not have any time to administer any sort of anesthesia for the area and told me so as he sliced me to allow the baby's head to pass without tearing me apart. Once he was delivered, I felt that same peace and serenity like the day in my dream with my grandfather; the storm was over. When I looked over to the table where they were cleaning him while the doctor was stitching me back together, the dream came back to me; there he was covered with blood and the white substance from being in the placenta for nine months. He looked over at me opened his eyes so wide and smiled. I motioned to his Dad to look, but that special moment was only for me and the nurse who was cleaning him caught it as well. She said, "My goodness this big fella just smiled." My grandfather had prepared me by showing me the storm and my son before it all occurred; my relationship and the nights alone the pain of finding out Antoine was cheating on me; the hospitalization and my out of body experience, it was finally over or at least I thought it was.
Once we were home, I noticed Ricky would scream as if he were in excruciating pain when I would lie him down, pick him up. I could not figure it out. I took him to see the pediatrician and they could not find anything wrong with him. Later, during one of my mother's visits, I explained to her what had been happening. She took all of his clothes off and laid him on a table, she began to move his legs around nothing, then she lifted one of his arms and the screaming began. She said, "Okay, there is something going on with this arm." She put both of his arms by his side and then she said, "Honey look at his shoulders, one looks quite different from the other one and it is on the side where he screams when I move that arm." I immediately called the doctor and took him back to his office. The doctor ordered an x-ray and his clavicle was broken (shoulder blade). This had occurred during his delivery, evidently when the doctor was struggling with him to remove the umbilical cord and trying to stop him from ripping and tearing me, he broke his clavicle.
Out of all my children, as a baby, Ricky suffered physically, attack after attack on his flesh. Nevertheless, as a toddler, from the time he began to talk, his love for the Lord was made evident. At the age of two, he would just walk up to someone who was sick, lay hands on them, and pray over them. In addition, yes, the individual would be healed. I share other stories in this book regarding some of Ricky's spiritual experiences. Moreover, to this day as a man, his fervent love for the Lord, ministers to my soul.
Lord I thank you, for us both pulling through back in 1985, to be here and be a living witness and both of our lives are constant testimonies of your Spirit, Power, and Love!