“You make a decision every day to step out of your history, your past…and [you] choose to be happy now. Everyone has the ability to be that.” – Oprah

I often state my belief that life’s most trying times can be made easier if we know we aren’t alone. We all have a past filled with adversity that someone else can relate to and learn from… that someone can find affirmation, clarity and comfort in.

I’m always looking for stories that inspire me to keep going; that remind me that I should be grateful for how far I’ve come; that although some parts of the story may be dark, the resilient message provides me with some source of light.

Yesterday, while checking out some Youtube videos, I came across a story that initially surfaced in 2000 on Oprah Winfrey’s daytime talk show—perhaps some of you remember it. It’s Clayton Moss’ story—a six-year-old boy who was emotionally, mentally and physically abused by his father and stepmom.

For about six months, Clayton’s parents would lock him inside of a chained fence, which was in a closet—leaving him without food, water, or a place to go to the bathroom. Often trapped for days and nights at a time, he would fall asleep standing up while the barbwire of the fence cut into his skin. When his parents were not home, Clayton’s step-sister freed him and they ate and watched TV together. In fact, fortunately, when his step-sister was found by a patrolman while she fled home, Clayton, too, was rescued and eventually got adopted by his biological mom’s aunt.

Such a roller coaster for one’s first six years of life—you would think that a young boy, tormented and put through so much distress, would be left hopeless (and rightfully so). The thought of being treated so negatively by the ones you expect to protect you can be such a devastating and dreadful experience.

Although he indicates he felt discouraged by life and sometimes still does (he is nineteen in this interview), Clayton decided to speak out about his experience so that he could be a source of hope for someone else.

Can you say strength? Resilience? Inspiration?

Given all that he’s been through, Clayton didn’t let his negative experiences stop him from living and he wants people to take heed to the following:

- Be aware of what’s happening to the people around you and;

- Don’t let bad situations define you as a person

His story is one that I’ll never forget and one that shows us the light is always brighter after the storm.

Please take time to know Clayton Moss’s story above. It’s a heavy one but his message is worth hearing. You can stay updated with Clayton by following him on his facebook page.