Lawayne Childrey, an Edward R. Murrow award winning author and journalist who now resides in Nashville, has written his memoirs, Peeling Back the Layers. This book has such a powerful message that it not only deserves to be read but should be required reading for every person tasked with decision making.
This work deals in depth with many of the author’s life experiences and how he dealt with them. In its pages we discover how Childrey not only survived, but thrived, despite adversity. Even a few examples of his burdens suffice to show that this was a truly amazing journey.
Perhaps most importantly, Childrey shares his experience of testing positive for HIV. The following is a passage expressing what it was like for him to go through the testing and to receive the diagnosis: “As they stuck the needle in my vein to draw the vials of blood, I sat there as cool as a cucumber on the outside, but it felt like I was dying on the inside. Finally after about 20 minutes passed, the nurse, along with a doctor, came back into the room and told me exactly what I had feared. ‘You have come into contact with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.’ I didn’t flinch, I didn’t cry. All I could do was sit there in silence with my whole sexual life flashing before my eye. I couldn’t help thinking about all the stupid things I’d done, like not wearing a condom and sleeping with multiple partners. But the truth is, I guess I felt that the diagnosis was punishment I deserved.”
Childrey goes on unflinchingly to disclose his addiction to drugs and alcohol as well. He does not minimize the experience but faces it head-on. “Instead of smoking laced joints,” Childrey wrote, “I started smoking crack off a can. When that didn’t work, I began smoking it out of a glass pipe. That way I was ingesting what I’d hope would be a lethal amount. After several months of smoking crack, I found myself in situations that I never dreamed I’d ever be in. It was nothing for me to leave work and head straight to the crack house. It wasn’t just the allure of the drug. It was also the stimulating conversations that took place there. That’s where loneliness and depression can lead you.”
Childrey’s thoughts of suicide by overdose were more than a passive hope, and his thoughts on this too are presented with radical honesty. “Finally, I convinced myself that the only real solution to my problems was suicide, but I didn’t have the courage to pull the trigger of a gun or swallow a bottle of sleeping pills. I had hoped the crack would eventually burst my heart, and then I’d end up dead.”
Against the backdrop of this anguish, Childrey presents how he coped with the whole process. His coping methods are very much faith based, which is a common thread throughout the book. Faith appears interestingly as an important means of self-examination and of healing. So as not to misrepresent this process, suffice it to say that Childrey is a man who humbly tells stories of how his own broken life was restored, renewed and redeemed by his faith. He is a testament to the reality that, regardless of how hopeless things may seem, through faith and by trusting in yourself, one can still achieve one’s dreams.
While reading this book, I looked deep within, and consider myself blessed for not having to face issues of being HIV positive, drug/alcohol addiction, or suicidal tendencies. My own issues with co-dependency and self-esteem pale by comparison, and yet I gained so much self-worth through reading his book.
Sermon messages I had heard all my life from my spiritual leaders, such as Pastor Kim and Pastor Cindy, suddenly clicked again with me. I'd never really taken those messages seriously or applied them to my heart until I read this book. I then realized how important these messages are to my salvation, not only in an eternal sense but in present life circumstances.
The thoughts the book inspired helped me to face devastating events in my life I had long since suppressed. Reading this book forced me to look deep within myself to evaluate how I view things and make decisions. Childrey’s sole purpose in writing this book is to help the reader face and conquer their own demons, the ones each reader experiences within the context of his or her own life.
Childrey and his life partner have established their home in the Nashville area and have become very involved in Brothers United, Team Friendly & Ryan White Planning Council. Peeling Back the Layers is available through Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. Mr. Childrey can be reached directly through email at [email protected]