TRIGGER WARNING: this post talks in detail about sexual abuse, domestic violence, and emotional neglect. READERS BEWARE
Thanks for coming back and joining me on my journey! You can read more about why I’m doing this from my first blog post here.
So I really want to talk about what life for me was like before I became a Christian. This is really important because I recently realized it basically drove me into the arms of Christ. 😅 I’ve noticed that some Christians are that way because they were born into it and essentially indoctrinated into it from birth and others become Christians out of necessity because of abuse, addiction, generally shitty life… mine was the latter.
I was born in a small urban town in Pennsylvania to a single mom. Life was really unstable for me for a long time. We lived with my grandmother, we lived with my sister’s father (let’s call him Smegory: not my father or step father), we lived with my aunt and her family, we lived in strangers homes. I went to 5 schools before I was 10 years old. We weren’t stable until I was 12 or 13years old. We finally moved into a house that was our own, not an apartment. I believe the turbulence during my formative years has had a profound impact on my mental health and my ability to regulate my emotions, education due to being on my own with little to no help, my physical wellbeing as I was not encouraged to go out and play because some of the places we lived were dangerous and because no one would take me outside. All of this is really important to know because there was so much more that was going on at the same time.
I have very few early memories. One of those was a time my mother and I were waiting for “my dad”, Smegory, to come home. I had heard my mother speaking to him angrily on the phone, he was out and didn’t want to come home. She was smoking and wanted me to empty her ashtray. I took it to the trash but dropped it in and forgot to bring it back, this is also my earliest memory of anxiety. My next memory was a time when Smegory came over to visit and talk to my mom, they went upstairs “to talk” and I was ordered to stay downstairs and watch T.V. but when I heard funny noises coming from the bedroom they were in I got scared and started to investigate. I thought my mother was getting hurt so I knocked on the door and continued to knock even though she was demanding me to go away until she opened the door and screamed at me to go away. She was completely naked and so was he, laying on the bed with an erection, I knew I did the wrong thing and I was terrified, I’m convinced that was the day my sister was conceived and that my mother had done it on purpose.
I remember living with a man for a summer, he had split with his wife and my mom was having a hard time affording a place for us on her own so he had two rooms we rented. Living there wasn’t so bad until one night I woke up to go get my mom and I found her in this mans room completely topless. I was so confused, I knew something about this wasn’t right, but all she did was usher me back to my room and tell me she was hot. There was another time my mother got engaged to an abusive man and we moved to another town to live with him. He had a son he favored over the rest of us and my mom wasn’t allowed to reprimand the boy. But this man was very hard on me and was very controlling of my mother from what I can remember, he would wag his finger in my face, I could hear him screaming at my mom after she put us to bed and slamming doors. I remember that he used to criticize how I walked heavily around the house and call me a bull. I spent so much time feeling scared and alone and because I moved around so much I had no one to talk to. My mom had friends that we saw but it wasn’t my place to talk to the adults. I don’t really think anyone knew what things were like for me and how difficult of a time I was having coping.
But wait, there’s more! When I was around 7 years old my mom picked me up from school and told me she had something to tell me. She told me Smegory was not my father, just my sister’s father. How confusing! Not only did I think he was my father but so did other extended family members. He tried to take gain full custody of my sister in a court battle which is the reason she revealed this to me. After the court dealing for my sister settled down I continued to go to Smegory’s house with her for visitation. I didn’t know what to call him at first and I didn’t know how I felt, but we didn’t talk about it anymore. Following that there were some seemingly good years with him, he lived in an old farm house with lots of land where I could venture and explore on my own. I would say that I loved him more than I loved my mother at that time. There was some stability with him that I didn’t have anywhere else in my life. This ended when he decided to marry. He had known this woman for years, although I had never met her, and he was finally going to settle down. She and her children moved down from Massachusetts to live with him. This is where things started to change. She started to poison his mind about me, I wasn’t his daughter, my mother was forcing him to care for a child that wasn’t his. She forced me out of his life, but before I stopped seeing him completely I overheard her calling my mother a bitch to her friends. I was so confused by all of this but I told my mother and it was probably the only time my mother believed what I told her about someone, validated it, and did something about it. So suddenly around 12 years old he stopped being my dad, I lost a whole piece of myself, my identity that I didn’t feel I could ever get back.
There is another piece of this story involving Smeorgy that I blocked out of my mind until I was in my early 20s but talking about it is key to my healing. I remembered, at 21, that I was sexually abused by him, it took me a really long time to admit it because compared to others my abuse was different. In the 2000’s the term was molested which was talked about a lot but I knew I hadn’t been touched that way; it wasn’t until the 2010’s that being “sexually abused” became a mainstream term. Finally, I feel released to be able to call it by its name, sexual abuse. At this point, I can’t remember my exact age but I think I was about 5, I had gotten ready for the day and went into Smeorgy’s bedroom to ask him if my outfit was okay, and he advised me to go and change my shirt. His girlfriend, at the time, was there in the shower of the bathroom attached to his bedroom. I left and came back with a new shirt which he said was fine. Then he asked me to climb up to him, on the high bed and then encouraged me to essentially mount on top of him, I had no idea what I was doing but it felt wrong. Next he told me to “go up and down” on him, in my 5yr old mind that meant to bounce up and down like I was riding a horse, but he corrected me and told me he wanted me to lay on him and rub up and down. The second experience I remember was when I was older, 11yrs old, right before he stopped “being my dad” he had changed the shower curtain from a half clear curtain with yellow ducks to a completely clear shower curtain. I thought it was weird because we didn’t have clear ones at my mom’s house and when I asked him about it he said the other one was old which wasn’t untrue. At whatever point I needed to that weekend I showered and when I was in the middle of my shower he came in and watched me. I was already very self conscious about my body so I asked him why he was in there, he said he needed to watch and make sure I was cleaning myself properly. In fear I dropped the soap and had to pick it up with him watching me. I remember telling my mom about the situation after it happened and telling her I felt really uncomfortable. She asked me if I asked him why, and I told her what he said, her response then was that was what he was doing, just watching me to make sure I cleaned myself properly. I’m heart broken for myself, for the years I spent sad, confused, depressed, alone… its just not how life should be for a little girl.
As if all of that wasn’t enough I really struggled in school. I didn’t really have any help when it came to school work. In first grade my school attempted to put me in a reading class for the second time and my mom was enraged. She went down to the school and told them that I would absolutely not be a part of that “special class” even though I desperately needed the help. They told my mom that she could work with me at home to catch me up. I remember not really knowing my letters at 6years old or the sounds they made. I don’t remember her ever reading to me. I don’t remember ever doing homework at home unless it was a big project and I always waited until the last minute to tell her and she always just did it for me. I get that she was a single mom working hard to get by but my education, my ability to read, write, understand, do math, and be a functioning human being was dependent on that education. I barely graduated high school, barely graduated college. I know that at a certain point you have to take responsibility for yourself and your education, but I wasn’t capable or mature enough to do that and I’m wise enough now to admit it. Despite that I did graduate high school and college because I worked as hard as I was capable of at the time.
These words have been difficult to write. I am writing all of this to the best of my knowledge and my goal isn’t to make anyone else look bad but to simply tell my story. The things that happened to me thrust me away from my home life and to the next best thing at the time: the church and a relationship with Christ at 15 years old. I realize now that my goal was to escape the abusive situation I was enduring. But even in the arms of the church no one really helped me. I was indoctrinated to believe that praying hard, forgiving, renewing my mind would make all the things that happened to me better. That some how a relationship with God could take all the trauma and pain away. It has taken me almost 20 years to realize that it didn’t happen that way. I was left with as much fear and confusion in the second part of my life with Christ as I was in the situation I was in with my family. There was no help, there was no hope in christianity.