and his struggle. I am a big fan of Tyler’s work and his rise to power in the entertainment industry. Tyler Perry turned down the huge payday that would have come with him selling his works to major film studios and instead opted to own all of his material, creating his own studio in Atlanta in the process. The way he came onto the scene just a few short years ago and became so popular may make Perry seem to be some sort of overnight success, but the below message (along with this concise Tyler Perry background story) shows that that assumption would be far from the truth. I felt this message should be shared with those whom otherwise would’ve missed it:
October 3rd , 2009 Hi there.
I know I’ve been a little quiet lately but I’ve been in silent reflection, quiet meditation, and prayer. Turning 40 is such a blessing. Especially because as I child I always thought I would die before I grew up.
If life begins at 40, then I owe the little boy that I was my life. Case in point, not long ago, I was brought a film to watch to see what I thought of it. It’s called PRECIOUS, based on the novel PUSH by Sapphire. I sat at home watching this movie not knowing what to expect. After the movie was over, I sat there for a long time just thinking about what I had just witnessed. I watched all the things that Precious, a 16-year-old girl in the film, went through. I watched her mother be unusually cruel to her and I realized at that moment that a large part of my childhood had just played out before my eyes. It hit me so hard, I sat there in tears realizing that somehow, by the grace of God, I made it through. My tears were tears of joy, being thankful that I made it.
Believe me when I tell you, PRECIOUS is a powerful film. After seeing it, I had to be involved. I didn’t write it or direct it, nor am I making any money from it. Oprah and I both are giving any proceeds we would make to charity. I just wanted to get as many people to see it as I can. It gave me so much hope after watching it. For everyone who has been a Precious, male or female, this movie will make you so glad you made it through.
It took me through some raw emotions and brought me to some things and places in my life that I needed to deal with but had long forgotten. It brought back memories so strong that I can smell and taste them. Like, when I was very young, my mother decided to leave my father…she had had enough of his insanity. She loaded me and my two sisters up in an old Cadillac that he had bought for her, and drove to California. When he realized she was gone, he called the police and reported the car stolen, as it was in his name. My mother was arrested and my two sisters and I were put in the cell with her. He and my uncle drove from Louisiana to California to get us. We spent several days in jail waiting for him. He bailed her out and couldn’t wait to get her into the car. He got into the back seat with us and beat her black and blue from California to Louisiana, as me and my sisters watched. Even though I was only two or three, I know that this had to have some effect on me.
I’m tired of holding this in. I don’t know what to do with it anymore, so, I’ve decided to give some of it away…
Memories at 40: Not long ago, I was asked to speak at an engagement. I walked in and I was told that they had assigned a person to take care of me while I was there. She walked up to me, all of 5’2” of her, and asked if I needed anything. I looked at her and started to sweat. It took me back thirty-something years to her apartment. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old when I went over to play with her son and Matchbox cars. She opened the door in skimpy lingerie. There was a man sitting on the couch, smoking. She told me that her son was in the bedroom. I was there playing with him about 20 minutes when I heard the man arguing with her. He said he was leaving and slammed the door. She came into the bedroom and told me that I had to go home. She told her son to take a bath and she locked him in the bathroom. I was at the front door trying to get out, when she came in and laid on the sofa and asked me if I wanted the key. I told her I had to go home as it was getting dark. She put the key inside of herself and told me to come get it, pulling me on top of her.
Memories at 40: “What the f*#K are you reading books for?! That’s bull*#*T!”
“You F*#*ing jackass! You got book sense but you ain’t got no mothaf*#*en common sense! You ain’t sh*t and ain’t never gonna be sh*t!” I heard this every day of my childhood. As my father would beat and belittle me, he played all kinds of mind games with me. He knew I loved cookies as a kid, most kids do. So he would buy them and put them on top of the fridge and when I would eat them he would beat me mercilessly.
My mother was out one night, as she loved to play bingo, and my father came home…mad at the world. He was drunk, as he was most of the time. He got the vacuum cleaner extension cord and trapped me in a room and beat me until the skin was coming off my back. To this day, I don’t know what would make a person do something like that to a child. But thank God that in my mind, I left. I didn’t feel it anymore, just like in PRECIOUS. How this girl would leave in her mind. I learned to use my gift, as it was my imagination that let me escape. After he was done with his rant he passed out. Since my aunt lived two doors down, I ran to her. She saw me and was horrified. She loaded her 357 and went to kill him. Holding a gun to his head, her husband came and stopped her.
Memories at 40: I got a call not long ago from a friend. He told me that a man that I knew from church when I was a kid had died and he didn’t have any insurance. His family was trying to reach out to me to see if I would pay for his funeral. I quickly said no, but I wish I would have said yes. There is something so powerful to me in burying the man that molested me. I wish I would have dug the grave myself.
Memories at 40: I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had a crush on a little girl across the street. She would come over to my house and we’d play. She was about 12 or 13. One day she stopped coming and when I asked her why, she told me that my father was touching her. I didn’t believe her, so I talked her into staying one night. We were both asleep — she was in one bed and I was in another. I opened my eyes to see my father trying to touch her and her pushing him away. I moved in my bed trying to make him think I was waking up. He looked over at me and left out of the room. Not long after that, he beat me mercilessly for something again. Another mind game set up, so I told my mother what he had done. The blood drained from her face. We left that day. We were at my Aunt’s house and he came there about 1am. Not long after that we were back at home. Nothing would compare to the random, drunken, violent beatings I would receive from then until I was 19.
Memories at 40: We would spend the summers in the country, with my father’s adoptive mother. As a kid I was always sick. I had asthma and he hated it. He hated that I wasn’t strong and virile like him. He hated that I couldn’t be in the sawdust, pollen and the raw lumber like him. He hated that I liked to read and write and draw. He hated that me and my middle sister were darker-skinned than him. He didn’t think he could make a dark baby. He just hated everything about me I guess. Anyway, I had to go to the doctor every Tuesday to get shots to control my allergies. When his mother found out she said, “Ain’t nothing wrong with that damn boy…he just got germs on him. Stop wasting all that money.” When my mother left to visit some friends I heard what sounded like water running in a tub but it was sporadic. She came and got me out of the living room leaving my Matchbox cars on the floor. She said she was going to kill these germs on me once and for all. She gave me a bath in ammonia.
Grateful at 40: I was asked recently how I made it through all of this, (half has not even been told) and my answer to that is…I know for a fact that there is a GOD. When my father would say or do those things to me, I would hear this voice inside of me say, “That’s not true” or, “Don’t believe that” or, “You’re going to make it through this”. I didn’t know at the time what “it” was, but today I surely have no doubt that “it” was GOD. That voice always gave me comfort. It allowed me to hold on. It kept me from being strung out on drugs, from dying when I wanted to commit suicide. It kept me from being a gang banger or drug dealer. Worse than all of those things put together, it kept me from being him. It brought angels to comfort me after every foul, harsh word or every welt on my legs or back. GOD, only GOD.
To know that the little boy that I was went through all that — he went through and made it. Then me, as a man…I have to take on the responsibility of forgiving all of those people. I owe it to that little boy that I was and, more than that, I owe it to the man that I am. Think about it, as a child we have no recourse. We have nowhere to go. We have to endure it. But as adults, we have choices. I choose to forgive with all my might. Forgiveness has been my weapon of choice. It has helped to free me.
If you’re having a hard time getting over something in your life, maybe you can try forgiveness too. It’s not easy, but it does bring forth healing. I know that there are a lot of people out there with stories far worse than mine but you, too, can make it. To those of you who have, welcome to life. I celebrate you. We’re all PRECIOUS in His sight.