My soul has been kept from enjoying peace. I have forgotten what happiness is. I’ve lost my strength to live and my hope in the Lord. Lamentations 3:17-18
The man of despair, the child I used to live as.
Sickness swirls in the depths of my stomach, the acid a consequence of Father’s threat. His words “You’re asking for it,” replay in my mind while I slide my pink suitcase beneath one of the sixty bunk beds, the same one I slept in two years ago, the last time we visited here.
We call this cafeteria sized hall with adjoining cabins and chapel wing Revival Camp. A scary hell-fire weekend where we remind ourselves of the upcoming tribulation, the second coming of Christ, and our biblical duty on this Earth. Father’ pastor says ‘We are living in the final days, our world a septic tank of wickedness.’ We must daily pray and prepare ourselves for Jesus to swoop down and miraculously transport His children to heaven. Of course, I doubt Jesus will allow me to go with Him considering Father still claims he sees demons in my eyes.
He told me before we entered Revival Camp that Jesus will not accept me because I chose to clothe myself in jean shorts. Girls and women should always wear dresses to prevent tempting men. Maybe that’s why Father threatened me, I tempted him.
I frown at the bunk bed’s ladder, the metal surface as glossy as a mirror. Beyond my greenish cat eyes, I spy women with kids milling through the double doors. They herd past dozens of females already occupying the hall designated for women and children only. Men reside in a separate hall away from their families as though our presence might cut them out of Jesus’ grace. As though men rule over us lowly women.
I focus on a girl my age, trailing behind seven other children searching for vacant beds. Her head is slightly bowed so her gaze touches the floor, so I barely make out the freckles on her nose. She trudges in between the aisle and my bunk and shoots me a glimpse, her eyes creased, sorrow appearing to match my own.
I wish to reach out and grasp her hand, tell her I understand, I want to help. That maybe the two of us can flee together away from this madness, away from my sisters I couldn’t in a million years leave. I sniffle up a cry, wrestling with my grief, latching onto my final shred of courage. Strength arises from adversity, that’s what mother once said. I wonder sometimes if she also had a cruel father. Except I can’t picture her father, a math teacher with the funniest jokes behaving like mine.
My attention departs from the girl and swivels to the two side-by-side bunks my mother and sisters selected earlier, after our terrifying car ride with Father. His hands shook the steering wheel the entire drive here. We kept weaving in and out of the oncoming lane. I had to bury my face in my hands to keep from screaming at the approaching headlights, from showing my tears. Between you and me, we should never have embarked on that plane and returned to father. He doesn’t deserve for us to give him another chance. Nor should he have authority in our choices. He’s mean and nasty, there’s no way he has changed like mother claims he has.
His statement alone proves he remains the same. My insides reel at the possibility that mother might take him back, that Father might hurt me again. The acid in my stomach hurls upward. I gulp down a bit of puke while I slouch on the mattress watching my older sister climb up our ladder.
Behind her, my younger sister and mother lay out their dresses for the Celebration Service.
Mother zeros in on me. “You need to put on a dress.” She inspects my stone-washed jean shorts then points at my suitcase unopened under my bed.
I feel like squaring my arms, jutting out my chin, refusing to obey. Why should I listen to her when she didn’t listen to me? I told her I didn’t want to visit father and she ignored my plea.
It’s not fair! Ten and a half years old and still I can’t speak my mind.
“Hurry. We have less than ten minutes.” Mother scans my face, the crinkle in her brow suggests she notices my anger. She adds “Please,” to her request. As if please will make things better. Please won’t erase my scars or remove us from danger. Father waits for us, two rooms down. If we’re late, who knows what he’ll do to me, to my sisters, to mother.
My one hope of protecting us from additional danger rests in complying.
I drag my suitcase onto the bed, all my emotion sucked out of me as though someone slurped it up in a straw. Or swallowed me whole like the shark did Eliza Jane. She’s my one reprieve from reality, the little blonde haired girl like me. I’ve been day dreaming about her over the past year. Ever since we separated from father. Ever since I determined my life crushes my heart harder than my fantasy world.
I dig past the few dresses filling my suitcase and feel for my red skirt. The fluffy poodle emblem mother sewed on it grazes my palm. I barely notice the soft flannel as I lug it out and draw it over my legs, my thoughts immersed in Eliza Jane’s bravery.
Saliva slimed Eliza’s arms and legs as she squeezed herself down the shark’s throat. She sucked in a breath, holding it, enduring that foul egg stench, trying to retain what little oxygen she figured she had left. Definitely couldn’t last long without fresh air. Not to mention food or water. Sunshine had practically disapeared along with the mouthful of fangs her toes had scarcely dodged.
Thank the stars, she’d survived being swallowed whole. Now hopefully she’d remain alive.
Her pulse accelerated once the last shard of light vanished ahead until she saw nothing. Until the slimy orifice around her mirrored a fatal cage, resonating with gurgling belches. Each belch the shark emitted, clenched down on her, threatening to smash her bones.
A knot swelled in her own throat.
Don’t give up. You can do this. She chided herself.
From here on, she’d have to depend solely on her other senses, provided she didn’t lose those too. She wrestled to inhale, her ribs cramped within the shark’s esophagus, the palpations of its heart hard against her back. Being inside this monster worried her less than the potential that she might die here and never escape.
The thought coiled her panic into dread. Dizziness spun her brain as she wormed faster against the suction of its digestive track. She felt the crown of her head spear an opening of something maybe the belly. That would make logical sense, the anatomy of a body in consecutive order, mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach. If only she could fit herself through the opening.
She wiggled her shoulders forward, inching her eyes then nose past the hole. Her mouth sought out air, a big gulp that made her chin arch and her lips contort. The stench had gotten worse, akin to rotten meat like that putrid smell after chicken sits in a plastic bag at room temperature for days on end. It made her wonder if this shark had indigestion or had eaten something really, really raunchy.
Either way, a stomachache might prove to her advantage. If she could just poke around a bit more she might provoke it to vomit. She prodded her elbows against its sides, burrowing her fingernails into the rubbery tissue for extra measure. A rush of liquid burst on her face followed by what felt and smelled like rotten peaches. The squishy wad of shark food burst upward, pressing over her mouth and nose, suffocating her. Her lungs screamed for air, her mind awake with fear. She squirmed vigorously, jamming her heels into its esophagus…
At times like these, I can relate to Eliza Jane, trapped and terrified of what may happen. I tie my last shoe lace and sneak behind my older sister, my younger sister toddling after me. My fingers dew with sweat while we march in single file out the double door. Father scowls at us as we enter the hall, his knee jittering, his eyes trained on me as though he knows I kept him waiting.
My mouth goes sour. Again, I’m in the wrong. I’ll never be good enough.
My gaze drops to my black saddle shoes, my will to move or do anything disappears. I wish to sink to the floor, roll my legs into my chest and weep forever. Or at least until someone releases me from this horrible existence. But I can’t cry the tears biting my eyes. I have to follow father, mother and my older sister heading toward the chapel. They lead me inside the canopied-ceiling room where hushed murmurs circulate from hundreds people. The sounds shush in my ears like a river overflowing, overpowering my hearing. It’s difficult to focus on the rows of pews, the entering mothers, fathers, and kids, the pastor stepping down the aisle to the stage ahead.
He watches us from his pulpit, his congregation sinking into their seats. His expression turns somber once the last baby is quieted, and each child sits more upright than toy soldier. Order and discipline follows this pastor as much as it does father. That’s probably where he learned it. I snag a peek of father. His hands twitch, mumbles exit his mouth, the same behavior he exhibited during our car ride today. The fear I felt then mirrored what I remember during our worst car ride two years ago, when we still lived with him.
Blizzard conditions followed us the entire fifteen hours to grandmother’s house. Half the time my younger sister laid on the floor behind mother sleeping while my older sister and I colored pictures and day dreamed in the back seat. Of course, mother didn’t make him stop overnight somewhere, even though the snow blasted our windshield so much we couldn’t make out the road. We ran out of gas in the middle of a bridge, our tires frozen to the ice.
I spotted headlights in the rear window. A semi-truck plowed straight toward us. Not enough room existed for it cross on either side of us. My older sister, mother and I screeched. Father mumbled to himself, jittering his knee. The truck horn honked, getting closer and closer to crashing into us. We didn’t have time to escape. I feared we would die. So I did the one thing I thought could help. I closed my eyes, praying in my hands.
The next moment the bridge seemed to expand beneath us. I lifted my head and saw the truck roll past us. I could have stretched my hand out the window and touched its tires. They skimmed ours. I’m sure that day we experienced a miracle. Except I don’t understand why Jesus saved us since He decided to place my sisters and I back in danger.
I cup my fingers in my lap, and sit like a young lady with my legs crossed as father has taught us. Perhaps he won’t hurt me if I do exactly what he says. My shoulders tremble as I recall the numerous times he beat me no matter how much I listened to him. Bet these people don’t realize what he did to me.
Or maybe they’ve all undergone the same abuse, considering the way pastor yells at us.
He shouts in the microphone, blasting my eardrums. “The lake of fire waits for you, oh sinners.” He shakes his finger at the congregation. “Our lord’s coming draws nearer by the day. We must be ready. Repent and ye shall not burn as the worldly heathens.”
All around me people shout out, beginning to sing ‘Victory in Jesus’ as the organ drones.
I toss a glance at the other kids now standing in the pews. Their faces appear sad, tired, scared. They all wear fake smiles, tight lipped and pasted on like mine. I spy the girl my age, the one I observed earlier in the women’s hall. She notices me looking at her. Her frown appears, masking her smile. Tears dot the tops of her cheeks, reflecting my suppressed ones, the ones I wish I could release.
I mute a sob from my lips when father reaches around my older sister and pokes me. My attention veers back to the singing. I join in the chorus, words I can’t stand anymore. Victory that seems impossible for all of us, for my sisters, for me.
The Lord will not reject such people forever. Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy. Lamentations 3: 31-32.
The man of hope, the woman I chose to live as.
Throughout this life, we endure hardships and difficulties. But we must always remember to keep our hope.
Some days have fallen on me harder than others. These last few weeks have proved very trying. As the saying goes, ‘when it rains it pours.’ For me the trials have dropped during my monsoon season, Father’s day. One of the hardest days of the year for my husband and I alike. We both grew up without fathers, his died when he was eight while mine lived as a lunatic, circulating in and out of mental hospitals.
Our fatherless upbringings offered us unique common ground. This similarity helped us to relate to each other and ultimately led to our deep connection. We both believe that when we have a child, father’s day will hold much more meaning to us than it does the normal person. Although I can only imagine the picture of a positive parental role, I look forward to experiencing it with unconditional love and open arms.
Certainly, my trials have helped me gain appreciation for life. They became a blessing and transformed my outlook on my future which is hard to wrap my mind around.
Take for example a quote from my husband.
'Although my father passed away when I was eight, I knew without a doubt we were his treasure. He loved us and we knew that. My father taught me another lesson—life is short. Don’t waste time and don’t take it for granted. Be thankful and love.'
These truths my husband and I both cling to, have served as our motto. The comfort and support I’ve received from him during these last few weeks have lessened my sadness as we’ve had to say goodbye to my paternal grandmother, a beautiful woman no longer imprisoned by the childhood trauma she carried.
Though during her adulthood, she denied my father’s condition and refused to help him or my sisters and I, I chose to forgive her. For holding bitterness can shred your heart and your relationships as it did my grandmother. She suffered from Alzheimer’s, her memories kept locked in her mind. Tuesday night she drifted into the arms of my heavenly father, to a place she will never have to cry again. What a brilliant feeling she must behold in His presence, peace far exceeding the peace I received during the healing moments I shared with her over the past year. I told her I forgive her, held her hands, prayed with her, and sang with her her favorite song, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus.’
What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
For His love and mercy pours over any sin, grace more abundant than we can fathom.
My one hope remains that one day I will forgive my Earthly father. When that will come, I’m unsure. The memories of his abusive actions still plague me. They grew worse with my grandmother's decline. Regardless of my sorrow, I determined to attend my grandmother’s funeral tomorrow. Attending it will mean seeing my father, the man I haven’t visited since I was fourteen, three and half years after he raped me.
Yes, my decision may prove unwise to some. Why choose to return to that which hurt you? Because I believe in facing my fears, that perhaps I will see my father in a different light now, that perhaps God has something special to teach and show me. I know despite any doubts I may have, those who love me, my husband, my younger sister, and extended family will protect me. Most of all I will gain my strength from my heavenly father, for I am child of God.
A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. John 3:27
Blessings come to those who walk in faith over standing still and gaining momentary fulfillment.
Come, my love, finish my sentences over tea and crumpets. We’ll dream up purple canopied sunsets, stars will light our paths each night. Time will glide under us gently as we venture into the unknown. The years are ours to share no matter where we tread. ~Poem by Joy Shaw~
Out west you can lose yourself in the masses or the desolation of the wilderness. With sun bronzing your skin, sky bluer than the sea, mountains capped with snow, showbiz at every street corner, it’s a perfect blend of leisure and fun. That’s how I spent my first two weeks in May, escaping to Nevada and California, leaving behind my journey to freedom for a few precious days with my husband.
Before we flew to Vegas, we celebrated our ninth anniversary at Canoe Bay Resort.
This Relais and Chateau property, tucked in the Wisconsin wilderness, prides itself on its private lakes and Frank Lloyd-Wright architecture. We stayed in one of their log cabins, a three room suite distinguished by cantilevered ceilings, two fireplaces, a carport, and a spa complete with sauna, whirlpool, and steam-shower.
Peaceful spa and view from our suite.
Fishing, canoeing and swimming include the most common activities outside of dining in the lodge. The chefs prepared a candlelit dinner in the Wine Cellar for us. I consider my husband’s surprise one of my most memorable “Bachelorette” moments. Of course the show paled in comparison to our romantic evening.
We enjoyed five courses with wine pairing and lots of smooches.
Following our annual wedding night, we ventured west. We rented a car in Vegas and drove three hours to Death Valley National Park.
From 280 feet below sea level to 8000 foot mountains, this park sees extreme differences in weather and elevation. Temperatures can range from 110 degrees in the valley to 50 degrees in the mountains.
Ever since we back-country jeeped Death Valley in 2010, we’ve marked the park as one of our favorites. So this year we decided to return. Except this time the low spring rainfall didn’t provide the abundant desert flowers we photographed on our last visit.
Take a look at the vibrant Lilacs in 2010 compared to the simple leaves in 2012
The leaves seemed wilted under the mid-day sun, the heat like an oven suffocating the lowest elevation in North America. What amazes me more than the elevation remains in Bad Water Basin. It sits beneath the thick layer of salt we were standing on in the photo above. In any given year, locals can expect 150 inches of evaporation for every 1.5 inches of rain! That astoundingly high ratio explains why this climate sustains its aridness. Not to mention why visitors must carry 2 gallons of water a day. Much to my dismay, I didn’t drink enough fluids. I suffered from heat stroke and had to rest under this arch while Kai continued walking the remaining ½ mile to a seasonal waterfall. (LOL, no water there either.)
Thankfully, I surpassed my nausea enough to camp overnight and hike Ubehebe Crater the next morning.
That steep and scary hike followed the Artists Drive where we swerved our little hatch-back rental around a way tamer road than the rutted out dirt trails we jeeped on our last trip. Still, we caught a thrill zooming up and down the numerous curves and dips.
Before we departed the park, we spotted a coyote. More like he spotted us. He halted right outside our car door. When I opened the window, I feared he might jump in. Fortunate for us, he remained on the berm staring us down as though we’d stashed a bag of cookies in the trunk.
Don’t get anxious. He won’t bite you, he’s just looking for some food. Despite his cute begging eyes, we left him hungry so we could arrive in Pasadena, CA before rush hour hit. We visited with my sister and her husband, stuffing our bellies full at the Korean Barbeque. Yep, those delicious rice-cake rollups filled with tangy beef and veggies had me salivating for more.
Cooking with a table-top grill granted us license to play with our food!
I ate six of those rice-cake rollups. Enough to keep me full our entire drive to San Francisco the next morning. We stayed with family friends. Their house in Berkeley sports views of the Golden Gate Bridge. On clearer days, you can make out Alcatraz.
Twice we’ve explored San Francisco and braved the normal tourist attractions. This time we determined to retain our sanity outside the crowds. We cooled our feet two days in Berkeley, watching sunsets over the bridge, chatting with our friends. On the weekend, we drove inland to a cabin overlooking Napa Valley.
Hess Vineyard had some good white wines. We enjoyed a few glasses over dinner at Bistro Jeanty.
After food coma set in, we walked around downtown Napa. We spied the restaurant used by season thirteen of the bachelor. Seeing the celebrity location sure made the jaunt worthwhile even though I wasn’t a fan of that particular season. Reality TV doesn’t have the same romantic ambiance we felt in each other’s presence. Nine years and counting, I never imagined love could treat me so well.
The remainder of our vacation we spent in Vegas where I haven’t been since 2006. We joked if we conceived at the Cosmopolitan, where we stayed, we’d leave the child in our hotel room. Because as the saying goes, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Just kidding. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, we aren’t preggers…yet. But we did capture a remarkable photo of lightening over the strip.
Who would have predicted a thunder storm in Vegas, a rare sighting indeed. Less so than the time lapse video we took of the view outside our hotel.
Click on link below.
If you have visited Vegas you know power walking the strip in mid-afternoon does not do a body good. I perspired half a dozen cups of sweat the entire six miles from Cosmopolitan to Circus Circus. There and back, the sun baked my pale cheeks lathered with sun block. Good thing I remembered to put it on, otherwise my skin would’ve blistered like boiled lobster. And I would’ve needed to throw myself off this gondola at the Venetian.
Or at minimum asked this mime if I could hop in his water fountain.
Luckily, I minded my own advice about sun-safety and survived the vacation without any major hic-cups. From there, a short skip and a jump took us to the airport. Then we arrived home. Granted we haven’t planned any large vacations this year. Instead we’re slipping our legs into the lake, enjoying sips of lemonade as wedding bells jingle in the distance.
Here’s to a relaxing summer, my friends. Best wishes until my next post.
Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless. Betrand Russell, atheist.
The forest calls for me and I answer with a chorus of cries. Who says I can’t run free, can’t climb the branches until I see my heaven? My heart yearns for acceptance, for love. Yet I am tethered to this life, this family who suffocates me, entrenches within me roots of despair.
Will I ever deserve happiness?
I cringe, covering my ears feeling them pop as the plane lands. Engines on either wing to my right and left deafen me. Sounds so loud I fear my brain might explode. Even the gum I chew can’t alleviate the banging in my head. Migraines must be normal when flying cause mine won’t go away. My first time on a plane, and I already loathe it like I knew I would. I didn’t want to visit father here in South Carolina anyway. But Grandmother bought us the tickets. She asked mother to reunite with father as if nothing happened.
As if father has suddenly changed. Yeah right. Easy for grandmother to forget all the injuries he inflicted on us. She didn’t have to live through his torture.
He still harms the deepest parts of me with constant shame, images that plague my nightmares.
Please don’t make me see him again. Tell mother to bring us home and never look back.
“Here, let me help you with that.” A man heaves our black carry on down from the overhead carrier and hands it to mother.
She smiles at him. His pudgy face brightens while his lips upturn in a grin as jovial as Santa’s.
He seems gentle way nicer than father.
Maybe if I find a boyfriend for mother she will stop sobbing at night about her failed marriage.
I shuffle behind my older sister to the aisle then tap the man’s shoulder. “Are-are you married? Cause my mom isn’t. She wants a new husband.”
Mother frowns at me.
“You shouldn’t have said that.” My older sister elbows me.
I hang my head, glimpsing at the reflection of the man in my saddle shoes. His thinning hairline bunches up in what seems a flustered expression. Nothing comes out of his mouth. He turns away from mother then lopes toward the aerial exit as though she is covered with boils and he can’t flee her fast enough.
Jerk. I glare at the man’s back, wanting to smack him. It’s not mother’s fault she married the wrong man. She needed to escape home for some reason she won’t reveal. Sure she shouldn’t have stayed with father so long. I blame her for not seeking out assistance earlier. Still, she’s trying really hard to support us now.
I can’t stay mad at her. It wouldn’t make anything better for her or me.
“Come on. Not too much further.” My older sister ushers me past the aerial gate.
I lace my fingers into my younger sister’s, my other hand interlocked with mother’s.
We progress into the airport huddled together like four seals clustered on a crowded beach. Flocks of people herd down a wide escalator. We tread onto it after them, our attention aimed at a set of doors below.
Behind the glass, I spot father pacing back and forth in front of the baggage claim. His knees judder and his eyes twitch, making my innards pretzel. Memories swirl around my mind, a few of them fuzzy, most of them clear and vivid. Scary, so scary I think I might vomit, faint or die from fright.
He’s going to-to hurt me. My legs shake on the escalator, my stomach wrenching up to my tonsils.
Mother presses my fingers slightly. “It’s okay. It’s just a visit.”
No. It’s a trick. He’s manipulating us, scheming against you. I watch mother’s eyes, noticing a flicker of joy, a smidge of sadness. A mix of emotions that confuse me, exacerbate my nausea. She can’t want him back. She can’t!
I pull my hand from hers, darting my gaze from hers to his. The glass doors slide open, letting us through to him.
To that monster!
He appears to peek through my jean shorts, drag off my white blouse, fondle me here in public. Panic spirals through my veins. I can barely walk toward him. My feet wobble beneath me each step I take.
“Hurry up.” Father’s voice scissors into my flesh. I stand immobilized, unable to breathe.
“Don’t make us late for our celebration service.” He tugs me forward then cinches his hand around my wrist until my bone hurts. I wince, looking over at mother and my sisters retrieving our suitcase. They don’t seem to hear me whimper above the squeal of the revolving platform. Or if they do, they don’t pay attention.
They completely ignore me.
Listen to me! I need your help!
Terror paralyzes me when he bends down and whispers, “You’re asking for it.”
Air wheezes out of me. I feel as trapped as Eliza Jane.
Eliza’s spine pricked, a pain that niggled from her neck to her tail bone. She swept the back of her hand over forehead. Sweat dribbled from her brow and dripped on what looked like a dock floating beneath her. What in the world? She spotted a pod of bulrushes ahead, her thoughts dense with questions. Just a few minutes ago she had nearly gagged on fumy fog in her living room. Now the fog had disappeared leaving a dock encircled by this weird lagoon. Or maybe it was a pond. Either way, her new location seemed way less safe than her house.
Waves slapped against the dock’s wooden slats. The motion jiggled her thighs as she rose to her knees. She peered between the bulrushes and spied a needle shark. A gasp flew up her throat when it leapt. Its three-foot-body, slimy and black, arched its fangs snapping at her. She lurched back, tipping sideways almost falling off. The shark missed her by an inch then splashed in the water on the other side.
Where it wouldn’t remain gone for long. Needle sharks were notorious for stalking their prey miles and miles without relent. If only she could return home. She pinched herself, hoping she had fallen asleep and would wake on her couch. No such luck. The pinch stung.
She had to think, think, think. Her fingers dug into the dock, the only thing keeping her alive. Nowhere else to go. She couldn’t fly with her broke wing or dive in the water to become fish food. Nor could she stay here, wherever here was. She scanned the water looking for a portal some mode of escape.
Her pulse quickened through her veins when the shark’s spindly dorsal fin emerged. It rounded the dock in a clockwise circle, inching closer and closer. Eliza folded her legs to her chest, and bent her head over her knees. A scrunched position would help fend off the shark, for a bit.
Muffled words echoed in the air above. “Raise your eyes.”
Eliza did as the voice requested and found herself staring at her cat, Tito. He drifted down from the sky and landed beside her on the dock.
“How did you get here?” Eliza kept one eye on Tito and the other on the shark.
It swirled upwards and jumped.
“Watch out.” Eliza’s scream bounced off the dock where Tito’s fur morphed to a Wildacreep’s bear-like body. His head grew to the size of a gargoyle, his feet speared with claws.
Shock stunned Eliza. News to her that Tito was a Wildacreep. Worse, she was in his presence where he could eat her. Chills bristled her skin as the dock splintered beneath them. She plummeted toward the shark’s waiting fangs. It widened its mouth and swallowed her whole…
I yank at my seat belt, wrestling to release it, to get out of the car.
Don’t let him drive. I want to scream to mother who passively waits for bad things to come our way.
Dread twists within me once father shuts the driver’s side door. He slouches in the seat, his smirk clear in the rear view mirror. It’s happening again like all the times before. He’ll run out of gas. My sisters, mother and I will shiver or sweat in the car, experience sun stroke or hypothermia while father walks miles to the nearest gas station. Hours later he’ll return saying he’ll never do it again.
Liar. He always does it again.
And this time I will die compliments of mother whose inactiveness has placed us in danger once more. My lips squeeze together and if I open them right now I might bite a hole in the passenger seat. I hate everyone who ever claimed to love me. Even Jesus. He could’ve frozen time, offered me a normal life.
But no, we have to live poverty, choose our furniture from of the trash. Have a dead beat dad with Schizophrenia. Go to school in rags that other kids laugh at. Who says I can’t run free! Mother? Father? Jesus? You? Gosh dang-it, am I the only one who understands? Doesn’t anyone care?
See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. John 3:1
Defining yourself in spite of the tragedies you’ve faced is the most important thing you will ever do. But for the abuse survivor, finding your purpose can prove that much harder.
You may feel undeserving of happiness, of a good career, of love. No matter how many different passions you try your hand at, you may say, I’ll never be good enough. I might as well give up. I have nothing to offer to anyone. I have no purpose.
Sometimes depression may hit so hard you can’t reach out of the rubble to see the light. And that’s okay. You have my permission to carry your wounds around until you feel healthy enough to deal with them. Meanwhile, try to fill your time with peaceful activities and positive relationships instead of things.
A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree. Proverbs 11:28
But if you’re in a bad place in your life, don’t try to fix it alone. Seek out a therapist should you find yourself trapped by depression, anxiety or addictions. Food, alcohol, or drug related binges can really mess up your life. Remember just because you go to counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy. That’s just an imbecilic view the world has publicized.
Therapists often say those who need counseling never go. Others may dismiss therapy for fear others may belittle them or tell them, “Geez, what’s wrong with you? Your life must be pretty crappy for you to go to shrink.”
That snide commenter deserves a hefty whack in the face along with bar of soap. Let’s clean out their filthy mouth. The healthy most often seek counseling, not the unhealthy. Your sessions could last upwards of ten years or less than six months. Choose whatever time span works for you and take pride in the value you are adding to your life.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
As I roam past life’s turbulent trials, bring me comfort in my darkest moments. Pour peace over my pain.
Wind rattles the kitchen window as I crouch beside the counter. I peer through a tiny crack in the wood. An army of ants marches in and out, carrying crumbs, remnants of our two square meals a day.
We’re on welfare now. Five hundred dollars a month buys us this low-income town house and a few luxury items like my new penny loafers. I skate my finger from toe to heel, the leathery material as snug as a glove, my happy shoes, my treasure.
Sometimes I feel I can accomplish anything in my shoes. I could overcome all my fears if only father stopped living in my head.
His voice echoes inside me. “Satan’s Child. I rebuke your demons.” Pain shoots down my spine where I remember him hitting me.
I swallow a shriek, my knees shaky when I stand. My gaze wanders past the kitchen to the hallway where my older sister kisses a boy.
They linger beside the front door, their lips smashed together. I don’t understand why she enjoys that, why she invites him over, why she hides his visits from mother. Some days I come home from school and my older sister and her boyfriend are hopping beneath a blanket like two bunnies. They make noises and ignore me completely.
Meanwhile, I’m stuck walking my younger sister home from day care, making sure she stays safe and fed until mother returns after dinner. Of course my older sister, only thirteen years in age, sends her eighteen year-old boyfriend away before mother arrives.
“Come over tonight after school.” My older sister combs her fingers through the boy’s blondish bangs.
“How bout you come to my place instead.” He pecks another kiss to her mouth, the acne on her cheeks reddening.
She pulls back then glimpses over at me. “Do me a favor. Take care of our sister tonight.”
As if I don’t already. I inwardly roll my eyes.
“It’ll be our little secret.” She ruffles the top of my head, intensifying the anger inside me. I should just tell on her. But she’s gone through so much. I can’t bring myself to dishonor her trust when she shares memories about father.
At night, he bothers me. I sleep restlessly worrying he might walk through the door and beat me to death.
Yesterday, I thought I saw him in our yard. His black hair and mustache frightened me on that man’s skinny face. Later that evening, someone sent a pizza to our house. We asked who paid for it, but the delivery boy didn’t know.
Scarier than that, father’s favorite toppings covered it. Onions, olives, green peppers, hamburger. He could’ve poisoned the pizza so he could regain control over us. Wouldn’t surprise me since grandmother recently discharged him out of the hospital. She hopes we’ll become a family again.
I don’t want father back in our lives. Nor did I want to eat his pizza. But I choked down a slice because mother made me.
“Catch you later then.” My older sister ushers her boyfriend out then halts in the doorway ahead of me. “Don’t just stand there. Get ready or we’ll be late.” She wears a perturbed expression, a sadness that remains even in her boyfriend's presence.
I sense her sorrow, the loneliness in her eyes. It must lurk inside her the way mine does.
I tread to the closet and grab my jacket. The sleeves seem to have shrunk. They cling to my arms, the cuffs stopping two inches above my wrists. My younger sister could probably fit into this perfectly.
Yet, I can’t ask for a new jacket. We can’t afford it. I’ll have to wait till next fall’s school shopping day. Until then, my penny loafers will bring me cheer. A pair of shoes I chose from the Salvation Army, the only store we shop at.
“Remember to lock up.” My older sister pins her gaze to mine.
“Y-yep.” I follow her onto the sidewalk and wiggle the key in the lock. It clicks, telling me no one can enter to take our belongings. What little we have, we cherish. We hold our treasures to our hearts as tightly as Eliza Jane does.
A wave of panic streamed through Eliza as she neared her front door. Her escape from the sea seemed too easy, too safe. Safety didn’t apply to Wildacreeps who used portal-hoping as their mode of transportation. They must have brought her here through that water-sucking tornado. What other reason would explain her sudden arrival back home?
She chewed the remainder of her nails off, while rain pelted down on her. Cold and wet, chilling her more than the ocean. She scrutinized the door as though it might grow fangs and bite her.
Her fingers trembled. Her breaths wheezed out of her. Dryness lodged in her throat.
Seriously, she needed to get a grip on her fear otherwise she might always feel enslaved by Wildacreeps. She inhaled repeatedly then grasped the knob and turned.
Her living room sat before her, trimmed with blue wall paper and accented by a leather couch. Everything appeared unchanged from when she left it except for this hazy mist in the air. It ghosted closer to the furniture, its smoky tentacles reaching around her with each step she took past the entrance. She coughed, her lungs full of the mist.
“Mom?” She called out. No one responded.
The mist clouded over her living room. Her vision blurred.
Her pulse began to patter along her wrists. Maybe this wasn’t home. Maybe they’d taken her somewhere else…
Sunlight peeks through the clouds, making me squint as I run down the sidewalk.
"Hurry up." My older sister yells to me. "Only five more minutes."
I run faster, trying to keep up. But my legs are shorter, stubbier, not as fast as my sister's. Her feet carry her past the sidewalk and the trailer I used to call my classroom. She halts just outside the brick building I now spend my days inside. Those stark walls surround me, contain my imagination in an unbreakable jar where moments drag by. I would rather dream of my new world called Jatheca.
A planet in a faraway galaxy where unicorns and mermaids and giant blue dinosaurs dwell.
I will lead my Jathecians, a furry-cat species. Give them all food and clothes and housing for free.
Outside my golden tear drop castle, purple mountains will soar up to yellow hued skies.Vibrant rainbows showing every color will bring good fortune to myJathecians.
For once in my life I will not go hungry. Not be cold. Not feel pain.
My reality will cease to exist. I won’t have to remember that I turned ten last Saturday. Another year come and gone, void of happiness. Except this time I had cake, a two layer chocolate chip jiffy mix concoction. I savored the pink hearts dotted on the gooey frosting. It almost made me cry especially since the one cake made for me while I lived with father was on my seventh year.
All day I tried to please him. But I had a moment of weakness. I read one of the books my aunt had bought me. Father found me skimming the pages.
He beat me. Didn’t let me eat my cake.
Tears formed in my belly that day. They haven’t gone away. Even now, bitterness laces the empty parts of me, gloom I still taste in my mouth, still feel in my stomach.
Please. Someone. Listen to me. Give me a place to cry.
I meander inside my classroom, watching the other kids mill toward their desks.
They pull out their textbooks covered in glittery paper.
Pretty compared to my grocery-bag book cover. It’s plain and ugly just like me.
Teacher flips to the first page, her bracelet clanging on the side of her chair. “Chapter one. Aztec Villages…” Her words drone to the rear of my brain where my memories seem out of control.
Once my sister and her boyfriend got naked. I saw them in her bedroom, it made me think of father touching me. I almost vomited.
Can you explain what’s happening to my sister? To my family? To me?
“Stop day dreaming.” Teacher scowls at me, tapping my desk. “Read.”
I muster my courage, raising my quiet voice. “M-mud h-huts w-were ad-adequate h-homes.” My speech comes out in slurs.
The kids break out in laughter.
One girl smirks at me, the fourth grade loser.
When the teacher isn’t looking, that girl leans toward my ear. “Where did you get your shoes? The trash?”
Her taunts travel to my heart. I sniffle back a cry, clinging to the comfortable solace of my loafers, my treasure. Someday I will find a friend, I will have worth. Someday.
O Lord, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear? Even cry out to you. “Violence!” And you will not save. Why do you show me iniquity and cause me to see trouble? Habakkuk 1:2
Spread wisdom throughout my body so I may reach my goals.
So I may make thoughtful choices.
So I may find solace in the heavens.
There I gain my help, my safety, my hope.
There my purpose remains whole without criticism, without condemnation.
For my heavenly father loves me unconditionally as a bride adorned before her groom.
He offers me salvation, a happy future.
A majestic palace where no one can harm me.
Where I will never go hungry.
All sadness will depart me.
Golden streets will pave the paths I run.
Meadows of lilacs will surround me.
Warm breezes will waft through my hair.
Fragrant spices will drift into my nostrils.
A beautiful vision of a realm resting beyond my understanding.
Because mysteries dwell in the presence of my heavenly father.
He doesn’t disappoint.
His magnificence transforms my failures into blessings.
Without him I surrender to my fear.
My feelings may thrust me into depression.
But with a gentle nudge from Him, my friends, my husband, myself I can rebuild the ruin within me.
Never doubt yourself. The power you have to change your thoughts is stronger than you realize.
I am now posting bi-weekly. Tune into to my next blog on March 23. Have a blessed weekend, my friends.
“I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3-4
Memories hollowed out in the corners of my broken mind. Forgotten forever, buried deep beneath a mound of clay. Flowers sprinkled over me, dirt cold and stark. I’m suffocating.
“Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and the won’t pick-up toys cure.” Teacher scoots closer to us, her chair a bouncy green lazy boy I call a throne.
Sometimes I sit on it during silent reading time, pretend I am queen. My castle encircles me, a protective fortress bordered by an army of white knights. They wish to serve me, respect my thoughts and give me a home with scalloped towers rising just below the sky. A canopy of orange hues emblazoned, twinkling in my eyes. There I am innocent. There I am loved. There I can play without fear of him.
“Move. That’s not your spot, stinky.” A girl whispers behind another kid.
“T-teacher said-said I could sit here.” I cross my arms over my middle, my knees glued to my floor mat.
“Retards sit in the back.” She yanks my braid then smirks when a boy shifts his mat behind me.
He pokes his thumbs into my ribs.
I elbow his knees.
“Ouch.” His yell gets teacher’s attention. “She’s being mean.” He scowls at me.
Teacher frowns then points me to the back of the class circle. The punishment area where only naughty kids go, or retards like me. Nothing good about me. Forever hated, forever unwanted.
I sag down, the space on either side of me vacant, empty like the hole in my heart. Tears burn behind my hands, the liquid salty in my mouth.
I wipe my face with my palm, and sniffle into my sleeve.
“Every child in town is a friend of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's but she knows very few of their parents. She says grown-ups make her nervous. For the first year after she built her house…”
Teacher’s voice blurs in and out, blending into the rain drops tapping the window panes. Bleak. Less dreary than our classroom, a prison confining me, squashing my breath. Wish I could climb into the story with Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, that sweet old lady who often brings a smile to my lips. She’s part of the imaginary world, one that seems to fade more each day. In its place, reality has set in, an infected ache haunted by my past. Hiding in my pain seems the only answer.
I’m ignored by everyone, even mother. She’s quieter now that we’ve moved into a low-income town-house. Most days she doesn’t come home from college until eight or nine. By then, she’s too tired to spend any time with us. She sends us to bed so she can study, so I can cry myself to sleep.
Maybe I would be better off dead. No one would miss me except my sisters. They need me, so I’ll stay alive for them, to care for them, to nurture them as if they were my children.
Soft patters on the glass dwindle to a trickle as the rain stops.
Teacher motions us to the classroom door. “Time for recess.”
I pad toward my cubby and tug on my pink downy coat. The sleeves are too short and the zipper often sticks, but at least it’s warm. A big improvement over my last two coats which never kept the wind out.
“Stop day dreaming, stinky.” The girl with the cubby beside mine slaps her scarf against my cheek.
My shoulders slump. I mill behind the other kids then trudge down the steps of our trailer classroom. It’s set away from the rest of the school. A haven separated by a hill covered with what remains of the snow.
“Last one out’s a rotten egg.” A boy sticks his tongue out at me then sprints up the hill.
I run after, my legs too bony and short to keep up.
“Retard's a rotten egg.” The other kids pass me, sing-song taunting me.
My heart sinks more. I head in the direction of the woods behind the playground where I often go. Alone but content to imagine adventures without reproof. Sunshine breaks through the clouds and blinks on the play structure I tread past. It spans ten feet above me taller than a scary giant. And way more terrifying now since my younger sister fell from the top of it last week.
Doctors stitched a laceration on her brow. She had a concussion for almost three days and couldn’t go to school. Mother had to miss class. Her grades could have been compromised, made worse by the overwhelming hospital bills. Too bad the government hasn’t approved our healthcare yet, otherwise we could have more money for food.
My stomach grumbles, a cavernous hunger as relentless as Eliza Jane’s.
Crisp air filled Eliza’s lungs, renewing her breath for another ten minutes of life. She leapt beneath the breakers, the water dark and ominous. A sea filled with monsters way scarier than Wildacreeps. Who knew if they had followed her. These past two days had lapsed with bouts of delirium and complete luck. Such a wonder she’d survived near starvation through a handful of almonds. The dehydration had since past thanks to the rainwater she’d collected in a vacant pop bottle.
She patted the side of her skirt, feeling for the bottle. Its waxy plastic slid under thumbs. A few more drops wouldn’t last long. She’d likely die or drown before she made it out. Rather strange that she’d popped up in this mystical dimension, one she’d never learned about in Magik School. Not surprising since her teachers hadn’t allowed her to research her keen interest in multi-dimensional leaps. Perhaps she should’ve taken the initiative herself. Then she would know where to look for the cross-over portal.
She dove deeper into the channel, willing her breath to prolong. A lung-capacity charm she’d absorbed from aquatics class. Frustrating she’d never perfected it to the level of marine champions. Some could sustain lung-capacity for over three hours truly impressive compared to her ten minutes.
Light peeked from the coral reef a distance below. Probably another hole and empty like the last one, yet definitely worth checking out. She swam closer, her arms heavy from the continuous exertion. Her muscles might not carry her much longer if she didn’t take a break soon. But locating a boulder, a rock, something to rest on didn’t seem possible. The open sea wasn’t exactly swarming with areas of leisure. Nor was she safe to exit the water for extended periods of time. Too much danger could lurk near the surface. She wouldn’t become a Wildacreep’s or any other monster’s mincemeat pie.
A glint of yellow, gleaming from the reef struck her eye. She slunk toward the color. Vibrant rays intermittently shinned on her face, making her squint. Her heel hit the corner of the reef. Churning reverberated below her. She braced her weight on the reef. Water twirled up.
No, they wouldn’t take her. Her pulse pattered along her wrists. She clawed at the breakers, trying to escape them. A tornado of waves swirled around her, sucking her downwards…
“You're ugly. Go play somewhere else.” A boy flings a snowball at a girl running down the play structure.
The girl races my way, fright splashed on her face. She has to be my sister’s age. Five years younger makes her more susceptible to these bullies.
A swell of pride surges up my stomach. Maybe I can’t delete all the times father hurt me, or prevent my sister from getting hurt but at least I can defend this girl. I move in front of her, shielding her from the boy. She rests her head on my back as I scan the playground, waiting, hoping for someone to intervene.
A lone recess teacher looks our way, but ignores us. Guess our protection is up to me. Though I don’t think I can stand up to this boy.
He halts before me, his pudgy mouth furled into a scowl. “You’re asking for it, Niger lover.”
"S-stop it." I stand my ground determined to guard this girl I don’t even know. My legs shake beneath me like Jell-O as a group of other kids trail closer. They pick up stones from beneath the dusting of snow and encircle us.
“P-please.” I reach my arms behind me and wrap them around the girl. “J-just leave us alone.”
“Not gonna happen.” One of the kids shouts.
The first stone hits my shoulder.
I wince. A cry rises up my throat.
“Get the clue, Retard. Stay with your own kind.” The boy tosses a larger stone.
I screech when it sinks through my pants. Pain rushes down my knee.
One of the kids snickers.
“That’ll teach you.” The boy snarls in my face then walks away, leading the others behind him.
My hands tremble as I turn to the girl behind me. She stares at me, an unspoken thank you on her lips.
I hug her, cringing at the blood now wetting through my pants.
My gaze meets the recess teachers’. She rolls her eyes then pivots in the opposite direction. I want to smack her.
How dare you! Making children fend for themselves.
I stare down at the girl wondering if others always mistreat her. Surely this wasn’t the first time, but I hope it’s the last.
Do unto others as you would have them do to you. For this sums up the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
Everyone knows the golden rule but for some it is too difficult to follow. The girl I defended and later befriended moved from our small town shortly after my third grade year. I missed her greatly, and worried she would face racism again. She didn’t deserve what she endured from others. I wish that beautiful little girl now has a good life, one filled with happiness and success, one without bigotry. A sad crime that does not belong in our nation, our world. Those who judge will be judged if not here in another lifetime.
Display compassion today. Lend someone who has done you wrong your time, your ear, your friendship. Give peace a chance.
I dedicate my blog this week to my Mummi.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. John 10: 27-29
Angels must have kissed her in the womb. Blessed her spirit with generosity, forgiveness, a tender heart for the wounded and neglected.
No mother, grandmother, great grandmother or wife displayed more compassion than Mummi did. A woman of grace and peace, four beautiful children, seven gifted grandchildren, and a sweet little great grandson.
Meals made from her hands adorned her table for all who entered. She paired her Pulla Danishes with coffee and long talks about travels and memories of far off places. Visits often ended with a hug, an “I love you,” a prayer for safety and happiness during the week. She stamped her words of wisdom on those she cared for, without judgment or condemnation.
Her testimony, sad yet inspiring, exhibited the trials she had conquered with the Lord’s help. This patron of God, an immigrant from Finland, miraculously healed of tuberculosis, floated up to Jesus this week.
Our heavenly Father has welcomed her home with open arms into his palace of majesty. Glorious and serene beyond any castle we can fathom.
Golden streets must pave the paths she treads on. She must wear a crown of pearls and sapphires on her head. Her fingers, warm and gentle, must tend her garden, a grassy field of peonies. Pink and delicate, smelling of clean silk dried outside in the warmth of the sun.
Tell me you see her there, the jubilant smile on her face so full of life. She sends wishes for us, butterfly kisses, a hope of an ethereal kingdom where we will someday meet her again. Praises to the one who sits on the throne, guarding our Mummi, treasuring her in honor of the way she lived here on Earth.
Painting in memory of Mummi
For I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. John 11:25-26
Clothe yourself with blessings today. Count them one by one, offering thanksgiving to the life you are fortunate enough to live.
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, its jealousy as enduring as the grave. Song of Solomon 8:6
Remember me when I am old and gray. Promise me you will keep me in your thoughts, honor my ashes with honesty.
Old people gawk at me, a wave of nausea thick in my belly. Rather strange that I feel this way, considering singing is one of my happy activities. Never in any of the nursing homes or churches have I experienced stage fright. Something must have gotten hold of me, difficult to determine what. My fingers quiver as I draw the microphone nearer to my lips. “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God. I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood…”
More words flow from my throat, phrases I want to believe for myself, but I know the truth. No matter how much I wish for a place in heaven, Jesus won’t take me. Not after the way I wore my hair in braids when visiting father. Grandmother yelled at the doctors, told them that father had no business remaining in the hospital. They might release him. My nausea intensifies, my brain faint in my head. The melody lingers to a close.
Pastor steps up the stairs while I return to my pew. A smile cracks on the gray haired woman I sit next to. She’s my pretend grandmother, way better than my real one. Painting and cooking and giggles fill the times I’ve spent with her. She lets me use my imagination and dance in pirouettes. I even found a giant caterpillar once, crawling beside the barn on her farm. Six legs extended from its belly to the grass.
It appeared to grin at me, the sunlight warm on my face. I folded it my palm and gently petted the tiny hairs on its back. It wiggled, tickling my flesh.
“Looks like you found a friend there.” My pretend grandmother gave me a cup and a piece of aluminum poked with holes. Inside, I placed the caterpillar, offering it glossy leaves. It munched them up in less than two days. That little green companion continues to grow each time I look at it. Someday, it will sprout wings and soar into the sky away from me.
I glance at my pretend grandmother’s hands, wrinkly and worn, plastered with distended veins. Yet agile enough that she had no trouble stirring the dough for the chocolate chip cookies we baked yesterday. We formed them into little balls then dotted each with three M & M’s. And oh my, when they were done, they tasted richer than banana cream pie. Chocolate must be my new favorite treat.
I shift to the edge of the pew, the velvet cushion soft beneath me. A bed of roses where I can rest, ignore Pastor’s sermon while I disappear into the background.
“If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Pastor plants his hands on the podium and seems to zero in on me. “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
My mouth goes dry. I want to plug my ears, refute Pastor’s statement.
You don’t have a clue of the treatment father doled out to my sisters and me.
Father has never apologized or acknowledged his maltreatments of us. Nor does he deserve my forgiveness. So what if Jesus says I should turn the other cheek I’m not giving him a free pass. He’s not the one who has to exist haunted by my distressing memories. I block out Pastor’s words, my belly still twisted in knots like Eliza Jane’s.
Darkness hits Eliza’s eyes, distorting the space around her into a hazy blur. She winced when she braced her fingers on carpet fluffy in a familiar way. Weird. Pain sizzled down her wing, quite possibly broken. Maybe fractured beyond repair. Not much of a surprise since her landing had knocked her out for who knew how long. Worse, she couldn’t see a thing.
She felt around on the ground with her other hand. Her pinky bumped a metal object. Light illuminated from it, revealing pink pastel walls similar to those in her bedroom. Except these shimmered and the canopy above the bed appeared to fade in and out. She hobbled to her feet, her toes all tingly within her shoes.
“Sleepy feet won’t do. Won’t do at all.” A voice hissed from the floor.
Eliza dropped her gaze. A purple salamander slunk toward her, his forked tongue slithering between his lips.
“You don’t stand a chance without your sea legs.”
“Sea legs?” Seriously he must have misplaced his noggin. “Mind explaining what you mean.”
“Seaweed makes good salve.” The salamander circled her, weaving in between her ankles. “Follow the black dye and you will exit the dark.”
“You’re not making any—” Cracking fissured down the wall. Liquid trickled through.
“Go. Your time ends.” The salamander smacked her shin with his tail.
She darted across the room and heaved the door open. Water blasted out. It shoved her backwards…
Whispers flood the children’s chapel, infiltrating my ears as I reach the last step. I nearly trip trying to catch up with my older sister.
“Tag along stinks.” My older cousin shoots me a snarky leer. “No wonder she can’t any make friends of her own.”
He’s right, no one wants to befriend me. Give me the lead in the church play and maybe others will notice me. I hold my chin up, hoping for the best as I gather round a group of kids. One of them has short cropped hair, a girl that unnerves me, insults me on any occasion she can.
“I’m perfect for the part.” She tossed her head back, her pink bow tousling toward her brown bangs. “Bet you can’t say the same.” She sticks her tongue out at me.
“Y-you don’t know what I’m capable of.” I near the felt board and glimpse below a gold thumbtack. Names fill the top of the page, none of them mine.
“Told you so.” The girl jabs her elbow into me. “I’m Mary. You’re just a stupid shepherd.”
My jaw trembles.
“Poor, tag along.” My cousin pokes me in the side. “Has to dress like a boy.”
Yeah, an ugly smelly boy with a pee colored sack, that’s what I’ll get. Not the pretty purple dress Mary wears. Nor the songs she sings. Always the outcast, the unwanted nobody without any semblance of normality. I would give half my body to live in a family that cared about me. To know Jesus would give me a home when I die. So I won’t wither away, ashes to ash, dust to dust. Nothing left of me, no good to pass onto others.
“Your loss. My gain.” The girl sing song taunts me.
I glare at her, wanting to pull all her hair out. Yank the strands one by one until she cries as I am. My heart beats faster when my thoughts become more sinister, more gruesome. I gulp back a sob. Fear coils through my belly. I’m becoming just like father.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Psalm 37:7
Last Tuesday, my husband’s grandmother (Mummi) had a massive heart attack.
I called my sister on Thursday morning, right after my sister-in-law informed my husband and I. We prayed together that God would restore Mummi's health. Her body remains weak, her oxygen levels low. Carbon dioxide won't leave her lungs. Keep her and our family in your thoughts and prayers as Doctors say she may not survive.
Her trauma has left me with an appreciation for life, how quickly mine could end, what mark I will leave on the world. Whatever path we take, we must appreciate the moments we have. During this journey, there are ups and downs. We each experience our own share of trials and heartache that makes us doubt our purpose, our existence.
But we can't let our uncertanties control our behaviors or moods. Should you find your worries spiraling your happiness out of control, squash those inner conflicts any way you can. Try eating a balanced diet to rebuild your immune system. List all your positive attributes (yes you have some, everyone does). Focus on those positives when you feel yourself sliding into that pit of self-contempt. If this doesn’t work go for a walk, even ten minutes will help raise those endorphin levels.
Remember, we impact others through our choices, our actions. God made us as a beautiful example of His majesty. Nothing we do can separate us from His love. He knows our innermost being, the parts unknown to anyone else, parts we ourselves might not comprehend. We must embrace our identities, our faith with open arms. For in His strength we find peace.
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 23:18
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light. Matthew 11:28-30
Ugly sores plaster my heart, festering atop ruins I can’t delete. Feed me, clothe me. Shelter me from the loneliness breeding within.
“Three. Two. One. Go.”
My fingers tremble as I shuffle through the satiny pages. Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges…
Come on. Come on. Don’t lose at the only thing you’re good at.
Crinkling sounds beside me, my cousin almost bypassing me.
“Hurry up.” My sister elbows me, her seat belt shifting when the van hits a bump. “Two more books to go.”
My pulse thuds in my neck once my cousin reaches Isaiah. That little engine has a better chance of dodging a bullet than I have of winning this Bible drill.
“Got it.” My older cousin peers at me out of the corner of his eye, a smirk spread on his lips. “Told you I was faster.”
“Don’t be mean.” My younger cousin kicks the back of his seat.
“I’m telling mom.”
“Stop fighting.” My aunt shoots us a frown through the rearview mirror.
“She started it.” My older cousin points at me.
I hang my head, my mouth sealed shut. Even if I refute him, he’ll find a way to get me in trouble. Might as well keep quiet. Take the blame, again. It’s always my fault. Tears form beneath my lids.
“Cry baby. Cry baby. Cry baby.” My older cousin flicks his finger against my knee as though I were an annoying insect.
Unwanted every moment, every day. Teachers and mother and aunt stand by while my cousin and classmates bully me. Forever taunted no matter how many good choices I make.
Sobs gurgle up my esophagus. I swallow them, my gaze aimed at the Bible passage.
Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. Psalm 39:7
Complete baloney. Jesus may have rescued me from Father, but I don’t see Him freeing me from this pain inside. Nothing here to live for. Drowning my sorrows in Eliza Jane’s story seems my only relief.
Howls echoed a distance behind Eliza while she fluttered past a clearing. Her heart pumped quicker with each flap of her skinny wings. She squinted through dark clouds, her hand cupped to her mouth.
"Tito. Tito. Give me a sign.” A meow, a whistle, something to tell her Wildacreeps hadn’t caught him, her cat, her best friend, a fairy familiar.
She landed adjacent a grove of trees, her breath visible in the air. Cold wind whipped around her as loud as the howls coming ever closer her.
“Try and outrun us and you’ll make us hungrier.” A guttural voice cut through her veins.
She jumped, her wings trilling her upwards. Tree limbs encircled her, getting smaller and smaller as she soared higher. Flying worked only for a time. Unfortunate for her she couldn’t do it for much longer otherwise she’d extinguish her power.
“Tito. Tito. Show yourself.”
A branch jabbed her waist. She lurched sideways. Her left wing smacked pine needles and tore down the middle. She descended. Pain stabbed her flesh as more branches sliced into her.
“Get her while she’s hot.” Hairy forms sprinted between the trees.
She gasped her back thudding against the ground.
“Brand my name into her carcass.”
Dread coiled through her neurons. “No. You can’t have me.”
She leapt to her feet almost tripping on a root when she dashed into a field. Bulrushes taller than Elephants engulfed all sides of her. Cattails wouldn’t hide her for more than a minute or two. Too many Wildacreeps chased after her. They wouldn’t stop no matter if they died.
Glowing flickered atop a patch of weeds ahead. She rushed closer. A hole appeared beneath her. She plummeted down arms and legs flailing…
“Be happy even if you don’t feel it.” My sister waves me out of my seat. I latch onto the van door and hobble to the pavement.
Sun beats down on the pale roof of a giant building. I blink at its glossy windows, straining to catch a view of father. He’s locked inside where he can receive treatment for his Schizophrenia.
“You’ve chained him in hell.” Grandmother tramps away from her car and closes in on aunt and uncle. Mother grasps my hand, holding me against her side.
“No daughter of mine will betray her brother like this.” Grandmother’s eyes appear to darken within their sockets. “Pernicious Anemia that’s what he has. A few vitamins and he’ll be healthy again.”
“I’m through discussing this, mom.” Aunt motions us forward.
I trudge after, no part of me eager to see father. But no one listens to me. I’m a child, not an adult. Wishes won’t change Grandmother’s attempts to free father from the hospital.
I don’t want him back in my life. He hurts me worse than bee stings. Deep scrapes. Scalding water. Monsters that look like father swamp my dreams. Every night I struggle to sleep, fearing he will smother me until I can’t awake.
Yet, somehow I’ve survived, smiling through the tears. Pasting on my happiness. Everything’s not fine. Not fine at all.
I wander down a hallway, my sisters following on either side of me. Onward we march as if we joined a parade. Tiny toy soldiers cloaked in dresses and blouses, our pig-tails braided with bows at the end.
I stare down the hall, catching a glimpse of a nurse deviating around us. Mirrors seem to form on the walls, reflections of me scrutinizing even my bones. What I wouldn’t give to love myself, to have one positive view about my life.
Why do I feel this way? Can you help me, heal me? Be my angel. Be the friend I need.
“Wait for him here.” A nurse ushers us into an activity room filled with ten random people. Some mill around aimlessly, their white robes matching the walls. Others talk to themselves as father does.
“He doesn’t belong here.” Grandmother rises to her tippy toes, looking straight at the nurse. “Release him at once. I’m his mother.”
“I’ll speak with the doctor. He’ll address your concerns.”
Please! Don’t let him out of this place. He can’t harm me if he stays.
“Believe it or burn.” Father’s voice slices into my brain. I spin left.
Chills prickle my spine as Father enters.
“You’re all going to hell.” He jerks away from his escorts then wanders towards us, his face as stony as slabs of steel. “Sinners surround me.”
I shuffle behind mother’s skirts, counting the seconds before we can leave. Depart at once and never return.
“Reunite our family.” Father widens his stance, his arm held out to mother.
Her legs seem to quiver beside me. I want to soothe her, tell her she doesn’t have to listen to grandmother or father or anyone.
Except she reveres him as if he has this power over her. Beyond my understanding why she decided to come here in the first place. Let alone bring us with her.
I step back, my heels bumping into Uncle’s boots. He draws three chairs out from under a table and slides them close to my sisters and me.
I lean my thighs on the seat. A sharp pain shoots in my chest, when Father’s eyes move to mine.
“Young ladies must cover their ears.” He yanks my braid.
I wince, fears of beatings ingrained in my thoughts. Nausea roils in my stomach tighter than the knots I endured when he undressed me. I wish to disappear, sprout wings and fly away. Soar little bird, find a new home to mend my heart.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12
We can hide our true selves behind a mask of good works. Yet our insides will never become clean by just washing our bodies. Our subtitles may remain silent, but someone does listen. I used to pray for an angel to come, to hug me, to talk with me. But that didn’t happen. At times, I thought I might die from my brokenness, my low self-image. That didn’t happen either.
On Saturday, as I lay in bed meditating in prayer, tingling zapped down my body. A voice as clear as day resonated through me. “See, I told you. I would give you a way to share your story.”
All the years I wished to speak and here I am today pouring my heart out to you, my friends. Hold tight to the desires of your heart. Blessings don’t come overnight.
He makes all things beautiful in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
Healing derives from releasing the anguish my father and grandmother inflicted on me. As they both now live incapacitated, I could walk away. Curse them to rot in hell. Except I would never gain anything save bitterness. I might wallow in a cesspool of despair if I didn’t choose to forgive them.
Release the void and step into the light. I can minister to my grandmother, uplift her spirits and create new memories with her in her last days of life. A smile crossed her face when I sauntered into her room last Friday. Cheerfulness displayed on a woman who barely remembers my name. Her mind remains so infested by Alzheimer’s she can’t feed herself or stand to her feet. In her eyes, pain lingers. Secrets, pride, shame, a traumatic childhood hidden in the back her mind.
Should she pass tomorrow, she will die without making peace with her past. Inner turmoil I have surrendered to my heavenly father. He infiltrated my memories through intercessory prayer a few days ago. I watched him hovering over me while a classmate bullied me until I cried. Tears dripped down my cheeks, slashing what remained of my self-esteem. Hopeless to the core, believing I would never measure up, Jesus told me “You are good enough for me.”
He bought me the Cinderella gown we couldn’t afford, healed the cat I lost and danced with me at my wedding.
Video Stevin Curtis Chapman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLYxtuC0oRk&noredirect=1
No longer will I live the agony I suffered. I tend my wounds and nourish myself with fresh bread and water. Fruit He produces in me trancends my life as I lend compassion to others. Ties to my painful past can become overwhelming with the spiritual battle that wages every day. But we can lay our burdens on the everlasting love of the greatest healer ever known to man.
For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. Proverbs 14:13
Turmoil as vicious as a lion claws through my blood stream, feeding on my innards, knocking me to my knees. Yield not to my words. Instead continue on my mute crusade.
“Hush little baby don’t make sound. Mama’s going to buy you a mocking bird. If that mockingbird won't sing. Mama's going to buy you a diamond ring…” I rock Lucy to and fro in my arms, combing my fingers through her blonde yarned braids. Her lids flutter shut, the walls around me white, bleak, empty like me.
Numbness funnels into me when sobs escape her. But I don't soothe her like I normally would. I just sit and stare. Affection I once had for her has transformed into a hollow cave, void of light, void of feeling. A dungeon I can’t escape, dooming me to eternal captivity.
My calves brush the carpet while I settle Lucy in her crib. Yesterday, she cried waking our cat, Tiger. My new friend, a cherished animal with grey stripes. I didn’t like that Lucy disturbed his slumber so I spanked her with a wooden spoon. My behavior scared me worse than father’s beatings as if I could become a monster like him. Tough to understand what has happened to me, why I have changed. Perhaps Eliza Jane can show me where I disappeared.
Dank musk swirled into Eliza’s nostrils, intensifying her nausea. She exhaled, her breath visible in the darkness. Water dripped from a stalagmite above as she tugged on the rope binding her arms and legs together
“Be still.” Tito leapt onto the rocks adjacent her, his tail swishing over her thigh. “They surround us.”
“Cut those onions smaller.” Mumbles of Wildacreeps became more coherent. “Add salt and pepper to flavor the fairy stew.”
Chills swept across the nape of Eliza’s neck. “I hope you know what you’re doing.” She shot Tito a side long glance.
“Give me a break. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I’m inept.” He batted a paw across her binds, his claws distended.
Sparkly powder emerged and hazed every inch of her. She suppressed a cough, her lungs swamped with fairy dust.
“Wait for it.” The powder cleared, revealing emptiness where Tito had sat. “Follow my lead.” His voice quieted when the ropes released from her.
Footsteps echoed from a room beneath the base of the cavern.
She scooted back, her pulse thumping at the speed of six galloping horses.
“Come out. Come out where ever you are.” A low growl escaped a tall hairy beast stalking up a ladder. He prowled on all fours toward her body now shrouded in invisibility.
“Slowly now.” Tito whispered in her thoughts.
She stretched to her feet and climbed higher to the top rock.
“A little farther.”
Moonlight streamed through a small crack in the ceiling, casting reflections of a Wildacreep on the stalagmites.
He sprang up, his eyes as red as hot coals. “Conceal yourself all you want, your stench reaches me.” His bony hand latched onto her ankle.
Her stomach knotted in pretzels.
“Change now, Eliza.”
“I don’t think so.”
A flash of light blasted through her. She gasped…
I plant a kiss to Lucy’s brow. Sharp howls reverberate through the walls followed by stomping on the stairs.
“I told you not to let him out.” Uncle sounds angry as if he might hurt someone. That’s how father reacted in his rage.
I push the door ajar, tiptoe down the stairs and exit the house. Uncle crouches over Tiger now yowling on the grass. A pool of blood flows from his neck half severed off.
My older sister runs out, her hand covering mouth.
“Go back inside.” Uncle points to the door. “You shouldn’t see this.”
But I want to mend him back to health. “A-a doctor can cure him.”
“No, he’s in too much pain. The vet will put him under.”
“You-you can’t kill him. He’s too important to me.” Tiger didn’t deserve to die just because Uncle couldn’t control his anger.
Uncle wraps his arms around me. A warm hug meant not to violate me but to comfort me. “These things happen. We couldn’t stop that car from hitting him. He’ll go to heaven and we’ll see him again someday.”
No chance of that transpiring. Jesus won’t take me after what I did to Lucy. This is my punishment. Tears trickle down my cheeks clear to my quivering chin. Might as well face the facts, I’m a demon possessed sinner not good enough for heaven.
Uncle rests Tiger into a box, a coffin tinier than the cherry blossom one I’ll have.
Burgundy flowers drop from the sky and twirl around me. Cinnamon flavored, laced with honey and spice. A comfortable place to sleep softer than the mattress I share with my younger cousin. Except she wets the bed at night and makes my pajamas all soggy. I don’t want to tell anyone or she will feel bad about herself. She can’t help that she has a weak bladder. Nor will I penalize her for her condition.
Uncle sets the box in the back seat of his van. “You can come with us and we’ll send him off together.” He motions us forward.
I trudge after my older sister and older cousin. We pile in the van, our gazes fixated on the white box. A symbol of how short life lasts. Death could come at any moment, toss me into the lake of fire. Away from my sisters, my mom, and Tiger.
My shoulders sag on the seat when we pull out of the driveway.
“We’re almost on empty.” My older sister gestures to the fuel gauge, her face etched with uneasiness.
Cramps wrench my stomach until I think I might throw up. I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the number of times father ran out of gas on the freeway. Often he would walk a mile or two to the nearest gas station while we waited on the berm. Cold and tired, we would fearfully glancing at the traffic speeding by.
Once we drove through a blizzard on the way to grandmother’s house. Our car stalled on a snow covered bridge.
A semi honked behind us, sliding on the ice.
I closed my eyes, a scream lodged in my throat. Any minute and that semi could slam into us, pulverize us into minced ham.
My skin prickled when more bleeps blared in my brain.
Screeches sounded from my sister.
I scrunched my fingers round her hands, one eye peeked open. The semi rolled past, its tires brushing ours at a distance so close I could have reached out and touched its cab.
But I didn't. Safe to say we survived. No thanks to father, a mean spirited man who continues to haunt my thoughts. Pull me deeper into this cocoon I might never escape.
I kept quiet and my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. Psalm 32:3
Silence kills but speaking heals. Toxins can build up in the survivor’s body if they don’t seek treatment to deal with their memories. They can suffer ramifications, both physical and psychological akin to those who have experienced torture.
Torture ruptures boundaries. It is one of the most intense forms of human rights abuse, occurring in the context of relationship, and with the intention to inflict pain on the body. (Amber Elizabeth Lynn Gray; The body remembers)
Gray points out Dance and Movement therapy as a beneficial recovery technique. Though I’ve never tried this method, I would like to share Gray’s success in one of her patients as it touched my heart.
Rita is a 38 year-old woman from an African country, where she was imprisoned, raped and tortured intensively over a period of one month due to her brother’s political beliefs. Her brother was shot and killed in front of her. His brutal murder was also witnessed by both his and her children. She was then dragged down the street in front of the children, thrown into a truck, and taken to what she described as a “barracks.”
She remained there for one month, until a co-worker in a crafts cooperative negotiated her temporary release, helping her to flee the country. She was repeatedly raped, beaten, kicked with heavy boots, and dragged across rocks while in prison. She had no access to food, water, or sanitation, and was left to lie on a cold rock floor without clothes or coverings.
When she arrived in the United States, she reunited with her husband who had also fled political violence. She came to see me a year later. At her initial intake session, she described herself as extremely depressed. She experienced unbearable pain in her left shoulder, arm and neck, and could not work for more than a few hours a day due to this.
Weeping occasionally, Rita spoke of the pain she felt at leaving her children.
I asked her to describe her pain, and she responded with “a pain outside my body.” As she said this, she made frequent gestures to her heart with her left hand.
“It’s like the pain I feel in the left arm and shoulder.” She described this area of her body
as disconnected and broken. “The pain seems to move farther down my arm, as if it wants to leave.” She rolled her shoulders bringing herself to a more erect and supported posture. A slight smile emerged as she said “I can breathe better now.”
The following week, she recognized that the work we had done had “opened something up.”
She shared a dream she had about a village healer from her childhood, a medicine man who pressed hot leaves and earth into villagers’ flesh to ease illness and pain.
Throughout sessions occurring in the third and fourth months of therapy, she described her heart as full of “poisonous pus,” and that she wanted to be rid of it. As she shared this image with me, she also shared that she had recently spoken with her children for the first time since leaving them. In previous phone calls, she had been unable to speak because of her intense grief.
In her second to last session, Rita entered the room exuberantly, throwing her arms above her head and proclaiming, “I came here to tell you I’m not going to die anymore. I’m going to live!” Her gait and posture were more normal; she was sleeping better, and her eyes were brighter. She thanked me for helping her to “find her body again.” (Amber Elizabeth Lynn Gray; The body remembers)
The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. Matthew 6:22
Should you stumble on your path to peace, pick yourself up. Embrace the strength inside you. You can conquer the pain.
Here’s a big sloppy thank you to, Casey Wyatt for nominating me for the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award.
Stop by her blog www.caseywyatt.com and send her well wishes.
Cheers to you my friends, you have given me a chance to open my heart and my mouth.
Let freedom ring!
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you with me that you may also be where I am. John 14:3
Stars are my friends. Tiny twinkly diamonds where faeries shed joy onto all who need hope. Fortunate for me some of my wishes have come true. Others, I play the patience game.
“Playground’s just a little farther.” My older cousin looks back, his blue eyes glinting off the mid-day sun.
I like his eyes better than he likes me. My older sister pedals faster while I straggle behind. Always last, always clumsy and uncoordinated.
Almost ten years old and I can barely ride a bike. Pathetic compared to most kids my age. Another fault others can tease me about. Even uncle had a hard time teaching me.
My legs wobble while I maneuver the handle bars as striped as candy canes. A little red bike I call Ester the flaming dragon. Best, I don’t have to share her with anyone else. Nor can father take her away from me.
Mother says he’s in an institution where doctors can heal his schizophrenia. If he gets better, we might have to live with him again.
My stomach churns. I hope he doesn’t recover. We’re much happier here with aunt and uncle. No matter if I wonder whether we’re taking up their space. They want mother to go to college so we can move out.
But we don’t have money to pay for food or clothes or rent. We’re penniless due to my actions. Everything we buy comes from aunt and uncle. It makes mother feel she can’t contribute.
Last night she made tamale pie, a southwestern recipe from her upbringing. Olives, beans, rice, corn, and tomatoes combine together in a dish I find scrumptious. None of my cousins enjoyed it. They turned their noses up as though it weren’t good enough for them.
I don’t understand people who dislike food. Don’t they know how much I starved, how many days I went without meals, without as much as a piece of bread. Obviously I am alone in this. No one can relate to me except me.
A car honks behind me then swerves nearly hitting me. I slam the brake down. My tires screech on the pavement, my insides coiled into a tornado.
I tip sideways, landing on my elbow. Blood trickles down the back of my arms where a huge scrape burns. I bite back a shriek as older sister halts a few feet ahead.
“Come on slow poke.” My older cousin appears to laugh at me as if he secretly wanted me to fall. “Next time we’re not taking the tag-along.”
My shoulders sag. I’m not wanted. Never wanted. I pick up my bike and push through my blinding tears. Crying won’t fix my stunted feet. Nor will my saddle shoes make me run evenly. I’ll just have to wish harder. Faeries might bless me.
Maybe next week when I start school kids won’t call me duck walker or retard, or stinky. I won’t have the same bad luck that Eliza Jane had.
“Tell him how it is, Tito.” Eliza flailed her arms and legs, tugging at the rope binding her ribs. It cinched as taut as a girdle when Wildacreeps lifted the log she dangled from. Rain drops pelted her face while they carried her past a thicket of trees. Her jacket clung to her stomach, water dripping onto the gravel below.
“Humpty dumpty sat on a wall.” The Wildacreep holding her foot end stretched the rope further. “Don’t make a move or you will fall.”
“Harm us jackals and you will face much calamity.” Tito struggled to release himself from the tethered collar they led him on. His pointy cat ears twitched after each rain drop. “Faery families don’t tolerate you vicious captors.”
“You’re a funny familiar.” The Widacreep glanced from Tito to Eliza. “I had a persnickety cat once. The only time she comforted me was in my belly.” He licked the tips of his fangs.
Eliza’s skin crawled beneath her jacket when their red eyes zeroed on her. Ew those Wildacreeps. They used merciless tactics on their victims—how quick could she escape them? Probably not fast enough considering she had a clumsy left hook. Besides, these ropes severely restrained her range of movement. No wonder mother had told her not to let Tito out of her sight.
If only she hadn’t crashed her bike, maybe she and Tito would be safely at magic school now. She’d put up with other faery kids teasing her over becoming a Wildacreep pie.
The one clutching her front leered down at her. “Minced meat in a sherry sauce. Sounds like good eats to me…”
I lay my bike on the grass and wander after my older cousin and sister. They race toward a metal tower, leaving me behind like a lost puppy. Except I would have stripes on my back thicker than the ones a tiger has.
I would roar and make everyone around me listen to my words, my thoughts, my horrible memories. Scatterbrained pain that lives inside me replaying without my consent.
I grab the bottom rung of the tower and climb up slowly to where sister and cousin sit.
“Cat’s do it the same way as humans.” Cousin curves his hands down then jumps one palm atop the other. “Boys have penises. Girls have vaginas. They hop on each other. That’s called sex.”
My belly twists and turns as my sisters face pales. I gulp down a lump of saliva. Father has a penis. He showed it to me, made me touch it. I felt almost as icky as I did when he groped my privates.
Did we have sex? Can you tell me?
I draw the edges of my skirt closer to my knees, wanting to hide my legs forever.
No one can touch me now. Home that’s where I am. Safety will never leave.
I want to believe my thoughts. But I can’t. I still feel his hands on me, his eyes boring straight into my soul. He won’t go away no matter how much I tell him to leave. Deep within he waits to hurt me, add to my scars, drag me down until I can no longer stand.
I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. Leviticus 26:6
Emotional and psychological damage from abuse lasts years.
I still bear the scars to prove this.
Time does not remove those memories. Shame, sadness, anger, and withdrawal can ruin your life if you don’t seek treatment to restore yourself.
How do you remain positive when you feel so pessimistic?
For the lonely person struggling to recover from past victimization this is for you.
You are a survivor! Now you need to learn how to become a thriver.
First, know you are not alone.
Many children, teens, and adults have endured abuse.
What you do afterwards will determine your outcome.
Find a support system.
A spouse, a counselor, a pastor, a family member, a close friend, a group of people who care about you. You will need someone to lean on.
Validate, understand, and modify your negative thoughts.
Oftentimes a survivor will identify herself/himself as worthless and unlovable.
You may experience intrusive thoughts such as; I can’t do anything right, I’m a burden, I’m a failure, I push people away, Everyone hates me. The list could go on and on and you could become suicidal.
Intervention is vital if you have reached this point. A therapist can help you comprehend and alter your self-loathing patterns.
What in your past triggers your negativity? Use those experiences to validate and understand your thoughts.
Motivational self- talk can empower a survivor to teach herself/himself to think more positively.
Re-building your self-image and self-esteem requires patience, determination and a willingness to change. Recovery will occur at your pace in your time.
Seek out mood boosting activities.
Writing is a cathartic outlet for me. In my poetry, novels and journaling I can express my deepest emotions and struggles without fear of reproof.
Forms of art, painting, sketching, quilting, knitting, scrapbooking, these open-ended escapes can offer comfort.
My own religious faith has also alleviated my distress. Receiving prayer from others has enhanced my belief that I have a God who loves me.
“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted. You encourage them and listen to their cry.” Psalm 10:17
A helpful website:
(Adult Survivors of Child abuse) http://www.ascasupport.org/
There, you can read testimonials from other survivors or even submit your own story. Support groups and instruction manuals are also provided.
Whatever you do, don’t lose hope.
Never repress your memories and thoughts or downplay what happened to you. Avoidance of your anger, depression, and pain will intensify your problems.
Releasing the garbage grants opportunities for optimism to flow.
Be proud of the beautiful courage you have within you.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. Romans 8:18-19
You can use your inner strength to heal.
Remember, we are victims to no one.