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HOPE BLOSSOMS
Christianity Oasis Ministry has provided you with this Hope Blossoms book with Hope Blossoms message. This Hope Blossoms book and Hope Blossoms study with Hope Blossoms story looks into Hope Blossoms message and asks what does Hope Blossoms mean, who does Hope Blossoms verses affect, why is Hope Blossoms important, what is the Hope Blossoms message and how does the Hope Blossoms message affect you. Understanding the Hope Blossoms message is very important and knowing what the Hope Blossoms message means can help you to understand many things more clearly. Let us delve into this Hope Blossoms book and find what this author has to share on the subject of the Hope Blossoms message in this Hope Blossoms book, shall we?


 

 

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PATH OF HOPE

 

CHRISTIANITY OASIS

PRESENTS

PURITY PUBLICATIONS

 HOPE BLOSSOMS

By Pine

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER ONE
CHAPTER TWO
CHAPTER THREE
CHAPTER FOUR
CHAPTER FIVE
CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER SEVEN
CHAPTER EIGHT
CHAPTER NINE

 

INTRODUCTION
 

This is my story as I remember it. I’ve tried many times to write it out, but the words wouldn’t come out. This time I wanted to write it because maybe there is someone out there who will read it and find a small amount of hope. To give someone a reason to hang on to their life and not give up. God took my life from the ashes and turned it into something beautiful and He can do the same with yours too. I would have never imagined that God would have desired to reach down and pull me out of the place of darkness and despair that I was in and give to me a beautiful life, worth living.

This was my favorite verse and it helped to teach me how to love as Jesus loves.
It's a verse that God used to build my family and home which became a place packed with love.

 

1 Corinthians 3:4-8 in NIV

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self–seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

          As a child, I lived next door to my Grandma, who I called Mema. She was the only essence of Jesus that I knew. She was the only who hugged me and told me that she loved me. When the men inside would start smoking pot, doing drugs, drinking and fighting, she would take me outside to the porch swing with her guitar and sing to me. She would sing old Gospel songs such as Amazing Grace and Old Rugged Cross. She would stop and tell me what and who those songs were about. I was so rambunctious that I did not really sit still long enough to pay attention. Grandma was a strong woman. She had a temper too. Especially when someone messed with the kids. I guess I'm a lot like her.

          I felt my family was normal. We had good times mostly. My dad had a temper and he drank occasionally. He was emotionally and mentally abusive to me, my oldest sister, and my mom. I had two other sisters who were favored by my dad. They could do no wrong in his eyes. One was just a baby and the other was a year older than I was. I called her Daddy's Little Angel. The name had to be said while rolling your eyes and with just the right tone voice. She could do no wrong. She deserved to be daddy’s favorite because she was a very well behaved child. She loved to read and help our mom cook and clean. That is just the way it was. For the most part we were happy. Until my dad started to drink more and more. Then our family was thrown into a whirlwind of abuse.

          On Sundays she'd turn on the TV and we'd watch Jimmy Swaggart. Sometimes I'd stop being rambunctious enough to hear what he said. I turned and ask, "Really Grandma is that true." She said, "Yes it is." She would tell my mom to take me to Church. Mom always had excuses. One day she took me and my sisters. It was spring time. She pulled out a new dress. The dress was used but new to us, though plenty worn. It had a bonnet. I loved the bonnet and fought my sister for it. Since I was making such a fuss, my sister got to wear the bonnet and I got the dumb dress. I was not happy to have to wear a dress and would rather be in my jeans.

        Off we went to Church. A few times in the car I tried to rip the bonnet off my sister's head. Getting some hair of hers in the process and she would scream. Mom would say, "If you can't behave you can stay home with your dad." I knew that I didn't want to be alone with my dad. I learned at Church that Jesus was special. The people there were so nice. My fighting with my sister didn't stop in the car, I continued to fight with her in Church, and we left Church earlier than I had hoped because of me. Mom was not happy with me. This time, when she told my dad what I had done wrong he laughed and said she should of known better than to take me to Church and that she shouldn’t go back to Church. I was surprised. I wasn't going to get a beating for misbehaving.

          Other adults that made a difference in my life were my aunt and uncle from Michigan. I often had a dream over and over that I was moving to Michigan without my family. There was darkness all around me and a light shown on my aunt and uncle. My mom was talking to them about the trip. My dad was not there. There was a stack of stuff that needed to go. I didn't know what it was. Though I knew it was mine. I kept thinking that I had over packed. I have to pull my weight and pack my stuff in their vehicle.  I don't recognize this stuff as mine. I was worried that I would do something wrong and my dad would come out of the darkness and beat me right in front of my aunt and uncle. I would be so embarrassed if he did. Later in life, I did move to Michigan just like in the dream, without my family. My dad didn’t do anything to help me get to Michigan. Just like in the dream, he wasn’t there. I came out of darkness and into the light in Michigan through the help of my aunt and uncle, just like in the dream they were in the light.

          You may have gotten the hint by now that I wasn't the best behaved kid. I was told that I deserved the punishment that I received. I believed that I was such a bad kid and that I deserved them. Now, I know NO kid deserves to be beaten like I was. Besides, the beatings I received, my dad would do things like make me set at the table alone until I could recite the alphabet. How does a child learn the alphabet alone? I would set for what seemed like hours trying to recite the alphabet while he yelled at me. “What’s wrong with you?“ “How stupid can a kid be?“ “You’re an embarrassment to me and your mom.“ “You’re a mistake.“ “You should of never been born.“ All this time he was yelling these type of words at me, I’d be crying while trying to say my alphabet. Same with tying my shoes. I had to set with my back turned to the TV and learn to tie my shoes alone. He showed me how to tie them once then it was up to me to set there and figure out how to tie them. While my sisters watched cartoons. They would laugh so loud that I'd turn to see what was funny and his fist would come down on the arm of the chair right beside my face. I could feel the breeze from his fist on my face, it was so close. I would jump and start to cry. He'd yell and threaten to spank me.

          Sometimes my dad would be playful. Playing a game of wrestling or tickling. It would always turn into him getting so ruff that I'd cry. Then he'd get angry. Mostly he'd threaten and yell so I'd go run to my room. I remember my mom yelling at him to stop because he was hurting me. He would say, “Ah I’m just playing. I didn’t hurt her.“ Mom pulled up my shirt to show him how red my sides where from his tickling me with his whiskers. It was like a rug burn all over my sides. The next day my sides hurt to touch.

       Another game he played was that he would run the end of a metal clothes hanger up the bottom of my foot. If I didn't flinch it pleased him. So I learned to not flinch. He also made me do brave things. If I was brave it pleased him, if not he would yell at me and tell me I was worthless and an embarrassment to him. So, I was brave as I could be. I would walk through the dark, outside all alone. Facing what ever was there in the dark so I could please him. I would rather be attacked by a wild animal or bitten by a snake than to disappoint my dad. I walked to the furrowing house in the dark, all alone to shut the light off. He was pleased.

          I didn’t know it, but he was following me to protect me if something did come after me. He said he heard things in the weeds and was himself afraid it may be a snake. He was pleased that I just walked right past the noise without showing a bit of fear. He was only pleased for a short time tho, it soon wore off and I was once again a disgrace. My mother would yell at him, "Why did you make her do that. That was so dangerous. What if she had been bitten by a snake." He laughed and said, “well she wasn't.” Trying to please him by being brave came to an end during a flood when I was about ten years of age. We went to the river to look at the rising water while standing on a bridge. My dad told me to look over the edge so I did. The raging waters were just a few feet from the bridge. He grabbed my ankles and held me over the bridge upside down. Branches of downed trees were flying past me in the raging water. I screamed and kicked. He yelled at me to stop kicking or he'd drop me in. I was so scared I couldn't help but to kick and scream. I could feel the cold air off the water against my face. I could almost see under the edge of the bridge. The sound of the violent waters was so loud in my ears.

          Then I heard my mother scream. I could see him laughing. She started to beg him to please let me up. I was kicking so badly that he couldn't hold onto my legs anymore. I felt my legs slipping through his hands. He grabbed my waste and pulled me back up. I was never so glad to have my feet on land. My cousin was there with us. He asked her if she wanted to be held over the bridge. She said sure and he did. She held perfectly still. She didn't kick or scream. He pulled her back up. Then told me that is what he expects out of me. He was disapproved of my fear. I felt rejected because of my fear. That was the moment I stopped trying to face my fear for his approval. I knew I could never accomplish it.

       I sat in the car shaking with fear. My mom and him shared words then she sat in the car with me. It was a quiet ride home. My sisters didn't even speak. I kept thinking, why didn't I just hold still. Why did I have to scream and kick. My sister whispered to me words of encouragement which meant a lot to me. My cousin bragged on how she did just as MY dad had wanted. SHE had his approval. I asked her how she could have been so brave. She said she's learned to close her eyes and think of being in a different place when her dad does things to her. Later, I'd realize just what she meant. The things my uncle did to her were far greater than what my dad had ever done to me.

          We were surrounded on three sides by a National Forest. I played in the woods a lot. I even had invisible friends in the woods that I spent hours with. My aunt would tell me to not go in the woods or the Momo would get me. Anyone growing up in Missouri may know about The Missouri Monster. I said the Momo was my uncle. To me, my cousins dad was a monster and I didn't even know the things he did to my cousin. I was scared to death of him. I decided I'd rather face the Momo alone in the woods than run into my uncle alone in the woods. I didn't know what he'd do to me, but I knew it wouldn't be good. I stayed away from him.

          My mom started taking us to Church. My dad stayed home and drank. During Sunday school we sat in a circle in a small room and took turns reading from the King James Bible. Reading was so hard for me. Plus I didn’t know many of the words. The kids made fun of me. The kids would complain it was so boring. Sometimes it was. Occasionally, I would understand something that was being read. I would want more. Even if it was hard to understand and the other kids were bored and disruptive, I kept going back. I wanted to be in that place with those people. The adults, not the kids. Even if I didn’t fit in and even if I didn’t understand what I was reading, I wanted to be there.

          One of the boys who had gone to that Church his entire life was making inappropriate shadows on the wall. The teacher couldn’t see them. I was totally disgusted with him. I remember thinking how could he sit in this place and misbehave like that. He snickered and continued. Then the teacher caught him. I was so happy he’d get into trouble for disgracing Gods house, I laughed. The teacher thought I was involved in it too because I laughed, so I was taken to the Pastor. Where I was chewed out for misbehaving. I was upset that they thought I would do something so disgusting. They told my mom. She was completely embarrassed and ashamed of me. We quit going to Church again because of me. I felt I couldn’t do anything right.

          I had an invisible friend who was an Indian. In the winter, we played under a pine tree. The weight of the snow bent the limbs over so no one could see me when I was underneath. I played there for hours every day. Until one day, I heard huge foot steps approaching. My invisible friend heard them first and said she had to go and told me to run too. I didn't run. I stayed there to see what it was. After all, I was brave. It came straight toward the tree and walked around it. I began to wish I had of ran. I was so scared that I thought I was going to wet my pants. It stood beside the tree for a time and then turned and walked away.

          I heard it’s footsteps walk down a path then it seemed to take wings and go up into the trees. I had this feeling it didn't hurt me because of my father. I climbed out from under the tree and looked down the path. Nothing was there. I looked up into the trees nothing was there. I turned and ran home as fast as I could. The tree limbs slapped me in the face, scratching me, snagging my hair. I kept looking back but saw nothing. Running up the steps to the house, I flung the door open and ran inside. I was out of breath, scared to death, and shaking. My mom's mouth dropped open when she saw me. My face was bleeding from all the scratches. I had twigs from the trees stuck in my hair. I told my mom what happened. She told me NEVER to go into the woods again!

          Of course I didn't obey her. I couldn’t live without the woods. I was not going to let my fear get the best of me. I kept going back to the tree to meet my friend. For a week she was not there. I started talking about her nonstop to my family and to my friends. People would say it's just an invisible friend. I'd argue she was real. To me she was better than a real friend. I knew she wasn’t a real person, but she was real. We could talk and play. As time past, I began to worry the thing in the woods got her. Then one day she was there. I was so happy to see her. Then I was angry and yelled at her, "Why did you leave me!" She told me of how she had to obey those that were over her and they said whenever this one comes near to run. I yelled at her and told her she needed to be there for me.

          She started walking away and turned to look at me. Her hair stood on end and her eyes glowed. She said she will go where she pleases and I'd better pray she doesn't come back. She headed off towards my cousins house. I ran home again. Out of breath when I got to the house my mom saw me and said, “You went back into the woods again didn’t you. I told you to stay out of there.“ I wasn’t going back into the woods again. I decided at that moment my friend was only my imagination! She was not real! I couldn’t accept something that could do that as being real. My cousin started talking about her invisible friend that she met in the woods, who was a young Indian girl. They played together every day. I tried to warn her that she is not what she appears to be. My cousin said she didn’t care she was still going to play with her.

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

          I knew I was in for it when dad got home after I saw my report card. An F! I begged my sister not to tell our parents that report cards were out. She had all A's. So of course she was going to tell them. I hid in the closet from my dad. I sat on a black box that belonged to my oldest sister who was away at college. She kept her books about magic in there along with her other treasures. As I sat there, I felt like someone was in the closet with me. I was a bit afraid, but wouldn't come out of the closet. I was more afraid of being found by my dad. Finally, I pulled the clothes that were hanging, back to see who was there. No one was there. The feeling didn't go away. It was so strong the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I wanted to run. Then I thought of my dad catching me so I stayed. Finally, I stood up and searched the closet looking to see who was hiding in there with me. No one was there. I was even more afraid. I opened the closet door and started to leave. Then I heard my dad coming in the house.

          So I closed the door and sat down on the box. I covered myself with the clothes. I could hear him praising my sister for her good grades. Then I heard him ask where my grade report was. I heard my mom talking quietly to him about my grade. I heard him ask where I was. I heard foot steps coming down the hall. I heard the bedroom door open. Through the crack in the closet door I could see him standing there right in front of me. The door opened. His hand came into the closet, through the clothes and grabbed me by the collar, picked me up and pulled me out of the closet. He stood me to my feet and yelled in my face.

          I didn't respond because I was so afraid that I couldn't talk. He was yelling so loud that I couldn't hear what he was saying. He started to shake me. I still didn't respond so he picked me up in the air by my collar and shook me. He seemed to have shaken me forever. I remember my head and arms flopping like a rag. My head went backwards and everything went black. I stopped feeling. I felt no pain anymore. I could tell he was still shaking me. Everything was in slow motion. It was as if it wasn't me he was shaking. His voiced seemed to be so far off that I could barely hear him. I could tell he was angry and me not responding was making him even angrier. I went completely limp.

          My head dropped forward, I heard a crack, my mouth dropped open, my arms went completely limp. I had no fight in me. It angered him more. He began to bang my head on the wall over and over and over. Each time I saw red and yellow streaks. It felt like electricity was coming from the spot of impact into my brain. He said, “Take that! This is what you deserve, This will teach you to treat me this way.” I thought I had better do something or he’s just going to get madder at me. I regained strength in my neck. I lifted up my head and opened my eyes. As he held me in the air, he said that I was no good and a disgrace to the family. He threw me across the room. I landed in a heap against the metal part of my bed. There was a pain that shot through my leg where it had hit the bed. I grabbed my leg and started rocking, and started crying "I want my Mema, I want my Mema.”  I knew my Grandma would stand up to my dad and make him stop. He told me to shut up. I cried softer, “I want my Mema. I want my Mema.”

          He stepped towards me and told me to stop calling for that old lady. If she came down, he'd kill her. I jumped up into my bed and covered my head with a pillow. He came over and started putting pressure on the pillow saying he should kill me now so he wouldn't have to put up with me anymore. It became harder and harder to breathe, until there was no air left. I wanted to squirm to try to get air. I thought he’d break my neck. So, I laid there lifelessly. It felt like my lungs were going to burst. I remember thinking I was going to be leaving my grandma and she was going to miss me. I wanted to tell her goodbye. He pushed down so hard I thought my head was going to be crushed.

          Then he let up and walked away. He told me never to embarrass him again with bringing home a bad grade. I didn't get up. I laid there with my head under the pillow as still as I could be. I was afraid he'd turn and come back if I moved. My mom said, “Is she still alive? You may have suffocated her.” My mom didn't come check on me though. He probably would of hurt her if she did. From under the pillow there was a small corner where I could see light coming from the window, some air was coming in. I was so thankful for that little spot under the pillow where I could get air. I lifted the pillow just a bit so get more air in. From that spot, I could see the forest out the window. I wanted to jump out the window and run away into the woods. I would rather face the things in the woods than to live in that house. The Momo or the big thing that my invisible friend was afraid of. I thought my dad would find me and kill me right there in the woods. He might call my uncle and tell him I was in the woods and my uncle might come find me.

          So I stayed. I laid there through dinner. Mom fed my dad. Then when he was content she came to check on me. When I saw her I started to sob. I clung to her crying over and over, “Please don’t let him hurt me again. Please don’t let him hurt me again.” I could here him starting to get upset and yell. He knew my mom had come in to comfort me. It angered him. She hushed me and told me to lay still till morning. Just like I had been doing, so he’d leave me alone. I did exactly as I was told. As she left the room I reached out to her crying, “Please don’t leave me. I’m scared. I‘m scared, I‘m scared.” She turned and told me to hush or he‘d come back. She shut the door behind her. I laid there as still as could be. My pillow was wet from tears. Over and over I whispered, “I’m scared momma, come back.“ Finally I fell asleep.

          I remember dreaming of jumping on clouds that were puffy like my pillow. A bright light shined down on me. I laughed and giggled as I jumped from cloud to cloud. It was so much fun. Then I saw a darkness under the clouds. Black arms came out of the darkness, trying to catch me. They had long sharp finger nails. I would become afraid and look up to the light and said, “Help me, help me.” The person behind the light said, “Don’t be afraid child, I will take care of you.“ He held out his hand and made the black arms with long fingernails go down where they couldn’t reach me. Then I’d start to play again on the big puffy clouds again. When I woke up it was dark in my room. My mom came into my room and rubbed my face lovingly. In a hushed voice she said, “You’re awake now. Are you ok?” I wanted to get out of bed to join the family. She said that I had better not. I should stay right there for the night. Maybe tomorrow I could come out.

          That night as I laid in bed, I all of a sudden felt something was in the closet. I looked over and saw nothing there. My sister got out of her bed and ran to our mom. Mom brought her back to bed, tucked her in and said to her, “See there is nothing in the closet..” I remember thinking she felt it too. Every night I had a feeling there was something there in the dark. I looked every night to make sure nothing was there. A few weeks went by. I had that feeling it was there, so I looked at the closet. The door was open and I saw a figure standing inside the closet. A tall black shadow of a man. I closed my eyes and told myself I was seeing things. Every night after that, the figure of the man was there. Then one day it had moved. It was closer to my bed. I hid under my blankets. I asked my sister if she saw it. She said not to talk about it. She told me if I saw something to tell it to go away in Jesus name and it would. Her bed was closer to it than mine was. I watched to make sure it didn’t get her. I got use to it being there and could sleep as long as it didn’t move.

          Every night before I went to sleep I'd make sure it was in the same spot. Then I'd pray for it to leave in Jesus name. I prayed that over and over and over. Not only did it not leave it would occasionally get a little closer to my bed. Until one night I looked and didn‘t see it. Fear gripped me as I scanned the room for it. “Where was it!“ I said to myself, “Where was it.“ I kept looking for it. Finally I decided it must of left. I sighed relief as I thought it was gone finally. I rolled over to go to sleep. I felt like someone was standing beside my bed. I opened my eyes. There is was! I stopped breathing as I was gripped with fear. It was right beside my bed. Only a few feet from me.

          The tall dark shadow, with no eyes and no mouth, leaned over with his arms stretched out towards me as if to kill me. I was so afraid that I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t talk. I couldn't run. It had me where it wanted me. I decided if it was going to kill me it was going to kill me. With a deep breathe I rolled over, turning my back to it and said, "Go ahead and kill me. I'll go to Heaven. Otherwise, just leave me alone." I waited for it to kill me. I waited and didn’t feel anything. When I didn't feel anything, I rolled over to see why it hadn’t killed me. It was gone. I never saw it at night in my room again. It was only there to scare me. It had no power over me. When the fear was gone, it was gone.

          At school I tried my hardest to stay out of trouble and to get good grades. Because of my being dyslexic, I couldn't read very well. My eye sight was getting bad fast so I couldn't see the board. I would get new glasses, then in a few months they wouldn’t be strong enough for me to see the board. The letters appeared to be backwards, upside down and even seemed to move on the pages. My mind would drift off so I had no clue what I just read. I missed much of the instructions that the teacher had given because I was daydreaming. A friend introduced me to cheating. Like an addiction I cheated on everything. All my friends became tired of my cheating so they quit being my friends. Then my mom started doing my work for me. She didn't want me to bring home a bad grade.

       I went to my grandmothers house often to see her and to play with my cousins. They lived next door. I was told if my sister wasn't there with me, that I couldn't go inside. My sister didn't want to go inside grandmas that day, but, I wanted to. So, I disobeyed and went inside and sis ran home. Inside the house my cousin and I went into her mother's room where we jumped on the bed. Uncle came home. He lived with grandma.  "Well, well what do we have here," he said as he looked at me. I was afraid of him and sat down on the bed. He started telling me sweet words. Pretty soon I wasn't so afraid anymore because I heard words from him that I didn't hear from my dad. He treated me like I was special, loved, and wanted. He told me I could be like one of his own kids. I could sit on his lap when ever I wanted to and he'd treat me just like he treats his own. He touched me gently.

       I smiled at the thought of being a part of a different family. He said, "Let me see you jump on the bed some more." So, I happily jumped on the bed to please my new friend. He told me he'd like to watch me even more if I took off my clothes. My cousin grabbed my skirt and took it off. I screamed and cried. He had started smoking a joint and began blowing smoke in my face. He held me down while my panties were pulled off. Whenever I'd fight back, he'd blow pot smoke in my face. I sat curled up on the bed half naked and so embarrassed. He told me that if I wanted my clothes back, I'd have to work for it by jumping on the bed for him.

       The room was filled with smoke. I began to not care if I was half naked and jumped on the bed with my cousin. Until I started getting sick. I laid on the bed feeling like I was going to throw up. I fell asleep or passed out. When I woke up, my uncle was molesting me. I started to kick and scream. He stopped.

       I'm told my uncle had pot fields growing in the woods behind my house. One day my dad came home so very angry. I wasn't in the room with him but could feel his anger growing. Even though I knew I'd get beat for running, I ran. I ran down the steps and out the back door. I could hear him running after me yelling that when he caught me he would break my neck or slit my throat with his hunting knife. He'd leave my body in the woods and no one would find me except maybe my uncle. My uncle wouldn't turn my dad in because my dad had too much on my uncle.

       I kept running. I saw someone in the woods so I stopped and turned around. No one was there. But my thoughts were that my uncle was watching me. I heard my dad so I ran deeper into the woods. I saw my uncle again. When I stopped and looked no one was there, but I thought I could see him behind a tree. To be safe, I ran in the direction of the barns. The barns were on the edge of the woods. When I got near the barns I saw many men in the woods. They were coming towards me. I knew they were all going to hurt me. I froze. They looked towards where my uncle was. He motioned them to go back. I looked at the men and one second they were there and the next second they were gone. They were hiding behind the trees. My uncle kept coming towards me. He had a knife between his teeth and something like a leash in his hand.

       I ran and hid in the barn. I curled up and started rocking back and forth singing to myself. I saw a figure of a man pass the window right beside me. I realized I didn't lock all the doors to the barn. Then I heard my dad yelling at my uncle. "What are you doing here! Get off my property! You and your drug dealers! Get or I'll call the cops on you." I could hear my uncle laugh at him. More words were said and my uncle left. My dad stood around for a few moments. Then he left.

       The next day my cousin told me her dad asked where our hiding places are in the barns. She told him of the loft and how we move the hay bails around to make hiding places.

       I kept going to the woods to hide from dad. But the woods wasn't safe. Many times when I thought I saw my uncle when hiding in the woods, I'd run. Then someone would come. And I'd be safe. Then my cousin would tell me the next day her dad saw me and she'd tell me what he said I was doing. Where I was walking or sitting. Sometimes we don't know of what God saves us from.

 

 

CHAPTER THREE
 

          My oldest sister who was my idol invited me to a séance. I thought oh how cool my big sister wants to do something with me.” I was so excited. I asked what a séance was anyway. I was all for it, no matter what it was. I felt like a big kid doing adult things with my big sis. We went into the bathroom so she could lock the door, just in case someone wanted to know what she was doing, she could hide the evidence before unlocking the door and letting them in. We sat on the floor. A candle illuminated our faces. She held my hand and asked that any spirits that could hear her come into the room. I was looking at her and I noticed something black come through the door and stand behind her.

          I looked up at this huge figure. My mouth dropped open. I couldn't talk. I was stunned with fear. She looked at me and screamed my name. With my hands still in her hands she shook me. I looked at her and her hair on her neck was standing up. I could see goose bumps on her neck. She blew out the candle and said she was done. Turned on the light and opened the door. I sat there frozen. My mom came down the hall and looked at me setting there with my mouth open and my hands still just as when I was holding hands with my sister. She asked me what my sister had done to me. I just stared at her. I couldn’t talk. She ran after my sister yelling, “What did you do to her.”

          At night I would hear foot steps coming up the stairs. I asked my mom why she was down stairs in the middle of the night. She said she wasn’t. I argued she must have been. My sister said, “Yeah Mom I heard you come up the stairs in the middle of the night too.” She said that we were just hearing things. Hearing these things continued for weeks. Until I had enough. One night I heard the foot steps. I got up and went to the stairs. I grabbed the handle of the door as the foot steps got closer and closer. I started to turn the door handle. I remember thinking it may be my uncle or was it my dad? Was my mom lying and it really was her?

          The footsteps were near the top of the step. I flung the door open. A damp cold breeze blew past me blowing my hair and taking my breath. When the breeze stopped, I could see no one was on the stairway. I felt like I was standing face to face with a man who I could not see. Goose bumps ran down my neck, down my back, and down my legs. Though I was afraid, I stood my ground. I felt like this man ,who I couldn’t see, turned around and walked down the stairs. I shut the door and went back to bed. We never heard the foot steps on the stairs again.

          The spiritual world is not something to play around with. I would later in life learn Ouija boards and speaking to spirits was not just fun and games. Some people use the spirits to guide them, give them direction in their life’s decisions. Some try to help the spirits as if they are lost souls. Those spirits do not want what is best for you, like the Holy Spirit does. Those spirits are not what they appear to be. Just as my invisible friend appeared to be a sweet girl. When the time came her true identity was revealed. I learned the best spiritual guide, is the Holy Spirit. He’s the one who cares for you and will guide you into the right direction. I don’t like talking about them because I do not wish to give any glory to them. I prefer to talk about the Holy Ghost and give him all the glory.

          One night while my dad was punishing me, my mom stepped in. He began to hit her instead of me. Pulling her hair and saying degrading things. It was my fault my mom was being hurt. I was the one who deserved to be punished not her. It pained me to watch. I ran to my room where I could still hear them. He yelled at her, “What do you want me to hit you instead, How do you like this!“ She screamed for him to stop. “Are you ever going to step in again,” He yelled. “Now I can go finish what I started.“ I heard him walking down the hall towards my room. My sister sat on her bed. He glared at me. Then in a nice voice asked my sister what she was doing. “Oh your homework. You are such a good girl. Too bad your sister can’t be more like you.“ He looked at me again with a glare then left the room.

          My mom put me in the bath tub to ease the pain of the beating. She took a wash cloth, wet it in the bath tub and put it on her own face. I could tell she was hurting too. She snapped at me that I was never to mention this and I was to forget it had ever happened. I hated my dad for doing this to her. The next day on the school bus a kid made a remark about my mom coming from Mars. I decked him. He turned and disappeared in the crowd of kids. Later that night my dad got a phone call from the boys dad. I had to go apologize for hitting him.

          My dad drove me over to the boy's house. I stood in front of the boy and his dad. While the dad chewed me out. “What kind of girl are you to hit a boy?” “What do you got to say for yourself! Aren’t you going to apologize?“ I wouldn't apologize. I glared at the boy and shook my head no. No one was going to bad mouth my mom. My dad grabbed me by the neck and told me to apologize. I said I was sorry, but deep inside I was ready to defend my mother against anyone who talked bad about her. Except my dad. He was too big and to strong.

          News spread through school of how I had blooded the boys nose. No one messed with me after that. Boys would pick on my sister. One boy who was bigger than me was making her cry. I stepped in between him and her and stood up to him. He stepped towards me and said, “What’cha gonna do about it?” I remember thinking to myself “What am I going to do about it. This boy is bigger than me.” I couldn‘t step out of the way and let him hurt my sister. I stood my ground. A smaller boy whispered in his ear that I had blooded this boys nose on the bus. The big boy's mouth dropped open and they both backed away. Then turned and ran. I wasn't a bully. I stood up for the meek and the weak. I wasn't going to stand and watch someone who was weak be hurt. Finding this new source of strength made me even braver. Later in life this bravery would cause me much pain.

          By fourth grade, I learned to block it all out when I was being punished. I would close my eyes and concentrate on being in another place. I don't remember what I did to deserve the punishment this particular day. I don't remember the pain, I only remember he had a hold of one arm and has hitting my back side with something in the other hand. I felt like my arms were going to fall off from being shaken so hard and for so long.

          The next day I went to school and sat down at my desk. It felt like I sat on a bunch of knifes. I stood right back up. I rubbed the backs of my legs and looked in my chair to see what I sat on. Nothing was there. My class mates gave me a funny look. So I smiled and started talking to cover it all up. They could never find out I was so naughty, that I had to be beaten like I was the night before. If I was a good girl like my sister, it would never have happened. She was perfect. Of course I know no one is, but she was so close. She was Daddy’s little angel. I could almost see her halo glowing. She was happy living in the box. I had to live outside the box. If someone said don't touch that I'd say, why. Then I’d touch it to see if it was true.

          I loved adventure. I loved to run, jump, climb, and explore. The class room offered none of that. The morning bell rang, so I sat down again, and once again I felt the pain on my legs. I stood straight up again. It hurt way to bad to set down. The teacher asked if I needed something. I was hurting to bad to speak so I shook my head no. She said to sit down then. I sat down and was straight back out of the chair again. The teacher asked again if I needed anything. I shook my head no. She said to sit down then. I sat carefully with my hands under me to push myself up so I didn't have pressure on my legs. I tried to lean back but it hurt when my back touched the chair. I could only hold myself up for a few minutes. My arms were getting to tired. I had to let myself down.

          As soon as my legs touched the wooden seat of the school desk, I stood right back up again. The teacher sighed and told me she didn't know why I was being naughty today. She saw no other option but to send me to the principal's office. I stared at my tennis shoes and the tile squares as I walked down the hall towards the office. The entire way, I was thinking of how I was going to get another beating when my dad heard about this. The principal told me to have a seat on the bench. I sat down on the wooden bench.

          Then shot back up straight as a board. I was terrified to disobey him, but the pain on my backside was so bad that I couldn't set on the hard bench. He glared at me and said sternly, “Sit down!“ I sat down carefully trying to hold myself up off the seat. I leaned back and my back touched the back of the chair. I cringed from the pain of the chair on my back. My hands slipped and my legs touched the bench. I stood up as straight as a board. My eyes wide with fear, and my eyes were tearing from the pain.

          The principal said, “You disobeyed the teacher and now you disobeyed me. I see no other option but to paddle you.” Because kids had been hiding things in their pants to absorb the spanking, the new rule was that we had to pull our pants down. I pulled my pants down and bent over to receive my paddling. He walked up beside me with a huge wooden paddle. He pulled the paddle back then stopped. I waited for the paddle to come down. He saw the reason that I couldn't sit at my desk. He picked up the back of my shirt and saw the bruises ran all the way up my back. He told me to pull my pants up, that I wouldn't be getting a spanking from him today. He asked who did that to me. I said I don't know. He called my parents. I started to cry. I figured my dad was going to kill me for this.

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

          My Mom came in. She was not happy to have to drive to town and take time out of her day because they couldn‘t make me behave. The principal chewed her out and threatened to have her sent to jail for child abuse. She asked what was she suppose to do. She has tried to stop him but he would only beat her and then me more. The principal told her if they ever were to find a mark on me again the state would take all the children in the household, not just me. She was told to give that message to her husband.

          On the way out of the office she leaned over and asked me if I told him anything. I promised that I didn’t say a word. She asked how he knew. The principal heard her whisper and walked out of his office. He told her about how I couldn’t sit down in class and how he was going to paddle me for not obeying until he saw the bruises. He said he was glad he saw them because to be paddled on top of those bruises would have been more of a punishment than a child deserved. He looked at me, then at his secretary, he said if he had of paddled me he would of felt awfully bad. He walked back into his office. I think he was about to cry. My mom left the school.

          The principal walked me to class. He gave me a talk on behaving in class. I walked into my classroom and watched as he talked in the hallway to my teacher. As she listened she stood with her hand over her mouth and shook her head. She came in the room and sat at her desk for a few minutes with a tissue over her eyes. I caused my teacher to cry. I felt so bad I began to cry. She started to give instructions to the class then saw me sitting on my hands to ease the pain with tears streaming down my face. Kids were asking me why are you crying.

          She came to the back of the classroom where my chair was. I looked down at my lap as I was afraid she was going to chew me out for something. She handed me a tissue. She put her hand on my chin and tipped my head up so she could look at my eyes. In a soft voice she said, “Now we will wipe away our tears and go on with our studies, but if anyone ever hurts you like that again please tell me.“ She allowed me to stand at the counter in the back of the room to do my school work. I didn’t have to sit down in my chair until the bruises healed. I got to stand up on the school bus too. When seats emptied I could lay in the seat on my tummy.

          My Dad was so mad when he found out his good daughter would be taken away too because of me. "Why couldn't they just take her (meaning me) and leave the rest. Then we'd all be happy," he said. “One big happy family.“ He came at me with his fists. My mom put her hand on his shoulder and told him, “No. The school would find the bruises and take all the kids.” They looked at my sister. The one they loved. My dad put down his fist, turned, and went to sit down. The punishments were mostly verbal from then on or he‘d almost hit me. He’d get angry and slam his fist into the wall right beside my head. He’d pound two fingers on top of my head until I had welts on my head. He’d slam his fist on the table right beside me but he didn't beat me like he used to..

          I tried so hard to do everything exactly like he said. "Do just as you're told and you will please him. Then he'll love you," I kept telling myself. I got in trouble for opening the freezer and getting the ice tray out, shutting the freezer. Putting ice in my cup then opening the freezer to put the tray back. He said I was to only open the freezer door once. His eyes looked evil and his voice snarled like he was ready to blow up at me. So I started getting ice out of the freezer just as he said. He blew up. I backed into the corner of the room. His fist hit the wall right beside my head. I cringed and started to shake. I was not to get ice out of the freezer that way. I was to open the door, get the ice tray out, shut the door, put ice in my cup, then put the tray back.

          My sister came to get a drink. She got the ice out and put it in her cup. Dad smiled and talked to her like a loving dad would. She didn’t get ice out of the freezer any different than I did. I realized it was not the way I got ice out of the freezer, it was me. I could not please him. I could not earn his love. So I stopped trying. I started to avoid him instead. I learned to hear his car coming from far away. I'd picked up my things in a hurry and run to my room. I spent every evening there. I learned to love homework. That was one of the few things there was to do in my room.

          On Saturdays, if he was hanging around the house too much, I'd hide at the edge of the woods or barns. Once he came to find me so I grabbed a shovel and started shoveling manure. He walked in and started to yell until he saw what I was doing. “Well you may make something of yourself yet.” Then he walk away. I thought, “Hmm, shoveling manure makes him happy.” So I shoveled.

          When my mom asked for grocery money, he went into an angry rage. To punish her for her request he would leave us at the store for hours. I remember going with bare feet and the pavement being so hot it burned the bottoms of my feet. By the time he picked us up the pavement was cool as the sun was setting. Another time we sat and sat on the sidewalk, waiting while he was at the bar. Finally we walked to the bar. Mom sat us four kids in the car. We could hear the yelling. First dad then the bartender. Mom came out and sat with us. It was dark when dad came out. He was drunk. He even bought my mom a car. I think so he could spend all day at the bar and not be hindered by a family.

          When I was twelve I started staying home when my mom went to the store. We never locked our doors because we lived so far from town. The only close neighbor now was my aunt and uncle as my grandma had passed away. It would be years later when I started to question why God took away from me the only person who hugged me and told me she loved me. My mom had left for the store as I slipped into the shower. Within a few minutes I heard the door slam and then men’s voices. I wondered if my dad was home early. Couldn't be. He never comes home early.

          So I shut off the water and locked the bathroom door. I heard beer can open in the kitchen. And the voices coming down the hall to stop right in front of the bathroom door. I recognized one voice as being my uncle's voice. I could hear them talking about me. How old I was, what I looked like, and who would do what. They tried the door and found it locked. I stood on the other side of the door trembling in fear and dripping wet from the shower.

          They searched and found a key. I held the lock with all my might. I was shaking so bad I could hardly hold onto the lock. Ten to fifteen minutes went by. My fingers were getting too weak to hold the lock any longer. I started searching for ways to protect myself with one hand while I held the lock with the other hand. The button almost popped unlocked so I put both hands back on the lock. Even with both hands I could barely keep the door locked anymore. I had to find something to protect myself with incase they got in.

          I let go with one hand and started searching for something. The lock popped open. I quickly relocked it and held with to hands. I could hear them on the other side of the door calling me names. They talked about how I must have been holding the lock. One of them slammed their fist against the door. “A feisty one,” one of them said and laughed the most evil laugh I‘ve ever heard. They had the most disgusting laugh. One said, “Hey someone is here.“ Then they split.

          I heard a car pull in. I stood there shaking and holding the lock until I heard my mom's voice call me. I slowly unlocked the door. She saw me standing there wet and trembling and asked what happened. I told her what happened. She said I was to never tell my dad or there'd be a war. She told me I probably did something to entice it anyway so I'd be to blame. “How could It be my fault!” I yelled. “I did nothing!” I stormed off to my room. To keep from my dads wrath, I told no one. I was just glad my uncle and his friend were gone and that they didn't get in. For a few years I didn't stay home alone again after that.
 

 

CHAPTER FIVE
 

          Things just got worse with my dad. I prayed he would stop coming home. Eventually he did. I was to blame for him not coming home, because I didn't come out of my room when he was home. I watched as my Mom tried to support us and keep a house over our heads. The electric would get shut off often. I could hear her cry herself to sleep and I wondered if I was really to blame. If I had tried harder would he have been happy and stayed home. I hated my dad when he left. I wanted him out of my life forever. I started speaking up to him when I saw him. I didn't care about his temper anymore. I was brave, just like he taught me to be. He was out of the house. My selfish angry words hurt him. I started speaking up to people more. My language had been filthy. My friends didn't want to hang around me because I spoke so filthy.

          At fourteen I met a guy. I was thrilled that he wanted to hang out with me. He was all I thought about. My mom tried to tell me he was too old for me. I didn't listen. He gave me attention. We started going to Church together and I cleaned up my mouth. After a few months he picked me up for a date. He had a friend with him and they both kept smiling at each other. I felt uneasy. I got in the truck anyhow. We started down a back road. I asked where we were going. He said, oh just driving around Then looked at his friend and they smiled that same sly grin again.

          They pulled out some beers. I had never drank and didn't intend on being an alcoholic like my father. I was not going to be like him. I sat quietly between the two guys as they drank. They kept offering me some and I kept saying no. Then my boyfriend said I was a wet blanket and was going to drop me off some place if I didn't. I asked where he’d drop me off at, hoping he’d say home. He said, “I don’t know maybe on this road or another road or at someone’s house.“ I couldn't stand the thought of losing the only one who showed me any love. So I took a drink, thinking that would please him and then they would stop pressuring me. No chance.

          They pressured and pressured until I was drunk. The rest is a blur. How his friend was no longer with us. How we got into a different vehicle. I do remember him telling me he wouldn’t take advantage of me because I was drunk. I didn’t even know what that meant. I told him I would let him. I remember the parking lot light. I remember him taking my pants off. I didn't even know what sex was. I knew I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to be here. If I said no would he hate me? Would he dump me right there in the dark? Would he beat me? I remember telling myself that I have to go through with it, just block it out, think of a different place. I closed my eyes and went to the place in my mind where I felt nothing. I had to try over and over to keep my mind in that place. I wanted to scream, but I could hardly breathe. I remember that same sly grin on his face when he told me I could put my pants back on.

          The next day I cried and cried. Why didn’t I yell. Why didn’t I fight. Why didn‘t I tell him that I didn‘t want to. Why didn’t I speak up. My mom was concerned for me. I wouldn't confide in her. I was afraid she'd yell and be disappointed in me. I was sure she’d say it was my fault. I told her that I just wanted to be alone. The phone rang and it was my boyfriend. I felt so dirty. He was happy to stay with me as long as I gave in to him. I thought why not, I’d already given in once. No one else will ever want me. I might as well make him happy. I drank more and more to cover the pain. "Just do what you are told so you can please him. Then he'll love you," I told myself. He would break up with me when he found someone else. Then when he was done with her, he'd intimidate any guys that I was getting close to so they wouldn't date me. After they ran, I'd go back to him. I felt I had no options and being with him was better than being alone. Each time he'd break up, I'd fall deeper into depression. No matter how often I did what he wanted me to do, he didn’t love me anymore. Actually he treated me worse.

          My mom was gone to the store. I found a razor and held it to my wrist. No one loved me. No one could love me. I was as my dad called me, worthless, useless, no good, a waste of time, should of never been born. As I started to slice with the razor I heard a voice in my head. “Think about your mom coming home and finding you here on the floor.” Then I thought, Hell couldn’t be any worse than what I was going through, do it and be done with it all. My Mom doesn‘t love me anyway. I chose to not leave my mom with a mess. I couldn't do that to her. I put the razor back, for now. Some time later I pulled the razor out again. I went to it where I wouldn't leave a mess on her carpet. The bathtub. I sat on the floor beside the tub, with one arm inside the tub I put the razor to my wrist again. I was determined to end it all. Then I thought of my sister coming in and finding my lifeless body. I couldn't do that to her. I cried and cried. I had to end the pain, but I couldn't because I couldn't hurt the people I loved. Even if they didn’t love me, I still loved them.

          I started to run. Usually, I would run 6 to 8 miles a day. I felt physical pain in my side when I ran. It made me feel alive. I felt nothing usually, so feeling pain reassured me that I was alive. I would walk to town, 10 miles to find town was as empty as my home, so I'd walk home.

          My boyfriend broke up again. Some older friends set me up with a guy. We were just going to ride around. He was drinking a bit. He started drinking more and more. We turned of to a gravel road. He was quiet. I asked where were we going. Just driving around he said. I started feeling I’d be better off to bail out the door onto the gravel road than to continue with him. Maybe I was just paranoid. Everyone said he was a nice guy. He said he had a headache. He needed to stop by his place to get Tylenol. I wanted to just stay in the car and wait. He told me I couldn’t so I got out.

          I wanted to stand outside and watch the horses in the field.. He said he had very bad neighbors who would hurt me. I needed to go inside. I looked around in the dark and saw no one. He said trust me they're there. I went inside but stood right beside the door. He looked at me and said, “I’d get away from the door if I was you. My neighbors will see you and come to see who my company is.” He put his beer bottle in the sink, leaned against the counter and continued, “I’d tell them oh just a pretty young girl and they’d probably try to drag you right out of here. No one would ever see you again.” “There wouldn’t be much I could do,” he went on, “there’s two of them and only one of me.” “Of course I have a gun.

       I could maybe get it out to defend you from them,“ he laughed. Looking behind me to see if there was anyone on the other side of the sliding glass door, I stepped away from it because I was afraid he was telling the truth. I stood on the opposite side of the counter as him, keeping the counter between us. He tipped his head a bit sideways and said, “Should I get my gun out? Do you want to see my gun?“ “No!“ I snapped quickly. He laughed. He got his Tylenol. I thought, whew he really did have a headache maybe we can leave now. I kept looking at the door.

         He surprised me by leaning over the bar and kissing me. Then he started to walk around the bar. I looked around for another door. The house was dark so I couldn’t see if there was another door to escape from. I asked if we could watch a movie and maybe kiss a bit then he’d take me home. He said he had other plans with me. He grabbed on of my arms, pulling me into himself and kissed me. He put his other hand up my shirt. I pushed myself away from him and he laughed as he walked towards me. I looked at the door. I wanted to run. I wondered if I could get it open and escape before he caught me. He must of known what I was thinking. He said he’d call his neighbors and tell them there was a young girl walking alone in the dark down the road. The authorities would find my body in the ditch the next day.

          Is that my way to end it all, at the hands of a violent man. I didn‘t want to die that way. I closed my eyes and went to my place in my mind where I felt nothing. Why didn’t I try for the door? There was a time when I think I could of said no and ran. I may have made it out. Why didn’t I at least try? I remember thinking just give him what he wants and I’ll be fine. I’m already used goods that no one would want. What’s the difference if I’m used by someone else. Why didn’t I fight? Why didn’t I even say no? I was always so brave. I was not afraid of anything. Yet I couldn’t fight men. I just gave in.

          I remember thinking just do what he says and maybe he wont hurt you. Maybe he’ll love you. All this time he was pulling me towards his bedroom. He pushed me onto the bed. I started feeling bravery welling up inside of me. When he took his pants down I would run for the door. He wouldn’t be able to catch me. I didn’t take my eyes off the door. I could still see the door from the bedroom. He leaned over and whispered in my ear, “If you get out the door, and you find your way in the dark to the road, what are you going to do when you see a car coming up behind you? If you wave them down to get help you may find it is me or my neighbors instead of someone who’ll help you.“ I turned my head and started to cry. Then he was on top of me. I missed my chance!

          Afterwards he said, “See what you made me do to you.“ I laid there cold, naked, and trembling. He fell asleep. I thought of searching for my clothes in the dark. I saw the outline of his guns in the corner of the room. I was afraid he’d wake up so I just laid there.. I laid there thinking somehow this was my fault. I didn’t know what I did, but I must of done something. Somehow I fell asleep. I woke up to him saying, “Hey, get out of my bed and get dressed. You’re dirtying my sheets.“ I got up and started putting my clothes on. He said, “How old are you anyway.“ I said, “sixteen.“ He shook his head and said, “Sixteen and already a tramp.“ I cringed. I didn’t want to be a tramp.

          He drove me to town and dropped me off at a local restaurant. I had no money. I was ten miles from home. I could walk to my dads. He lived near by. Then I’d have to admit to my dad I needed him. I sat down on the edge of a curb. He backed up his car and pulled up beside of me. He leaned out his window and said, “Aren’t you going to go in and call someone to come get you.“ I stood up and walked to his car. He sat back in his seat. I stuck my face in his window right in his face and told him, “My dad left us, my mom has no phone.” I snarled, “Don’t worry about me I can take care of my self.“ With an evil grin on his face he said, “I’ll bet you can.“ It sent a shiver down my spine. I backed away. He drove off.

          I could smell the food cooking in the restaurant. My stomach was so empty it hurt. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten. I looked at the restaurants sign in the window and decided I would just stop eating. I didn't want to eat. I walked across the parking lot. Someone yelled my name. I looked up and saw a group of my classmates sitting on their cars, talking in the parking lot. I didn’t want them to see me like this. One asked me if I was dating that guy now. With a disgusted look I said, “Him! How old is he?“ My heart aching inside of me. Someone said, “He’s 27 or 28.“ I was so disgusted I just turned and walked away. When my classmates couldn’t see me anymore I started to run. I ran the entire way home. I wouldn’t let myself stop. I kept feeling like I was going to fall down on the pavement, but I kept running.

 

 

CHAPTER SIX
 

          I got home and of course no one was there. No one is ever home. I slammed the door as hard and I could. I threw down my purse. I was mad. It was probably a good thing no one was home. I screamed and cursed and hit the wall. In a rage, I threw things across the room. Finally I settled down. I got in the shower. As I showered I repeated out loud to myself, “Sixteen and already a tramp. Sixteen and already a tramp. Sixteen and already a tramp.“ I hit the shower wall with my fist, leaned against it and started to cry. After I dressed I walked to the woods. I hadn’t been there in a long time. I sat by a pine tree and cried and cried. Tears didn’t help the pain that I was feeling. I looked up and screamed as loud as I could. I heard my scream echo throughout the hauler. I was angry. I hated myself. I hated that man. I hated my dad.

        I felt as if I had woken something evil in the woods. A spooky feeling came over me so strongly that I started to go home. I got to the edge of the woods and fear covered me as it began to run. I kept looking back. I thought I could see someone or something in the woods, so I ran faster. It didn't come out of the woods but it followed me home. I felt as if I had just made it home in time. Through the corner of my eye I thought I saw someone coming around the side of the house as I was running in the door. Once inside, I locked the door and went into the bathroom and locked that door and listened. I thought I could hear someone walking around the outside of the house and then a quick glimpse of a face in the window. Then my mom pulled in the drive. I'm just paranoid I thought.

       The next day at school my cousin told me her dad was sleeping in the woods waiting for a drug deal when he heard a girl scream. At first it scared him then he realized it was an opportunity for him. She told me how he watched as I ran across the field like a doe and how he chased me home. How It made him angry when I got inside before he caught me. How lucky I was that my mom pulled in when she did and how this angered him and she better watch out because one day he may hurt her for doing that.

        Another day I went for a walk down the drive way. When I got near the woods I heard and saw something behind some thick brush. I stared intently and nothing moved. I knew something was there so I kept looking. Then I heard and saw it as if it moved backwards. I felt what ever it was becoming angry. I knew I had to get away and now. I ran to the house and told my mom. She said there's nothing out there. My cousin told me the next day it was her dad and I was never to stare him down again or he would hurt me terribly. She said he watches our house and he watches me. Knowing I was stalked as a child is a very frightening thing.

          I stayed true to my decision to stop eating. Four days after I had stopped eating a police officer stopped me. He saw me walking and thought I was on drugs. The world was spinning as I fell over and hit the concrete. The police officer was going to call for an ambulance. My ex-boyfriend stopped and explained to the cop that I was just upset because he broke up with me. The police officer let my ex take me to my dads. He left me there alone. No one was home. My body started shaking. I was all alone and I could feel my insides shaking. I didn’t know what was wrong. I was afraid it would get worse. It stopped shaking. I was afraid it would start again and I‘d be there all alone. I didn‘t know what to do if I started shaking like that again. So I left and started walking. I walked home, no one was there. I gobbled down a piece of bread and a guzzled a glass of milk. Now what? We all had started seeing a black shadow figure in the house. Only this time it would be walking around during the day. I didn’t want to stay home alone. I was afraid I’d see it. I started walking back to town.

          My eyes were sunken in, with dark circles underneath, my ribs showed. I didn't care. My dad came down the road in his old maroon falcon. He told me to go home and stay there. He said that the cops had called him and told him to get me off the street. I was mouthy with him. I wasn't doing anything wrong, just walking. He asked me please, that it wasn't safe. I didn't care if I was safe. Maybe someone would kill me and I'd be out of my misery and he'd be happier. Everyone would be. He looked me in the eye and said, "Please I'm begging you to go home and stay off the street." I felt love and concern in his voice and I saw it in his eyes. I didn't know why he all of a sudden cared for me. He asked me to get in and he'd drive me home.

          He looked at the men in the ditch near by. They were catching snakes. The men kept looking up at me and then talking amongst themselves. My dad said I wasn't safe there. I had nothing to lose to those men. I had already lost everything. What did it matter if I was hurt by another man. I told him I wasn't afraid of them. He said, “You should be. You don't want to be hurt by them.” I rolled my eyes and got in the car. I knew deep down inside he was right and I didn’t want to be hurt again. He drove me to my mom's house. For once he talked. He didn't yell. He wasn't angry. I still didn't listen. I didn't care what he had to say. He left us. I hated him. I did as he asked and stayed home from then on. No more walking or running.

          My ex-boyfriend and I got back together. I didn't care anymore if we were together or not. I was completely numb. I continued to drink. A boy at school wanted to be my boyfriend. I told him I already had a boyfriend. He slammed me against the lockers. My books fell to the floor. He got real close to my face and said, “You’d better hope I never run into you outside of school or I’ll make you sorry you turned me down.“ He walked away calling me names. Names I wont repeat. I picked up my books and ran to the bathroom where no one would see me cry. I was glad I wasn’t going to be walking or running anymore. I didn’t want to run into him. I couldn’t stand up to people anymore after that. Something about what he said seemed to have stolen the bravery inside of me. I couldn’t stand up to people who did me or others wrong anymore. I came home at 10am one day and my mom said, "Good morning, I was wondering when you'd get out of bed." I thought, how could you not know I wasn't home.

          I started doing dangerous things hoping for an accident. I rode a dirt bike and a 4 wheeler with my cousins. They'd tell me not to do something and I'd do it anyway. I didn't care. Accident after accident and I still lived. I rode up a cliff and almost made it. I don't know what happened. I was at the top of the cliff. I think I sat up too soon. It all went so fast. I felt myself falling. I knew when I hit the ground that I had to move or the 4 wheeler was going to land on me. I couldn't move. Everything was black. Then the four wheeler hit me. The handle bar went into my rib. I remember laying there hurting thinking, why couldn't I have died.

          I could hear my cousins off in the distance. I wondered if they'd find me. They motors shut off. I heard them talking about not hearing the motor of my four wheeler. “Where could she be.” “Should we go get her mom.” “She might be hurt somewhere” I could hear them talking at the top of the cliff. I laid there unable to yell and I wondered if they'd come find me or just leave me. They started their bikes up again. I heard them leaving. I closed my eyes and thought, “Come back, come back please, don‘t leave me here.” I knew it was going to get dark soon and I couldn‘t get up. I closed my eyes and laid there thinking of the darkness coming soon.

          Then I heard a bike come back and my cousin yell, “she‘s over here.” They helped me up, put my 4-wheeler in their truck and chewed me out. I was too dangerous. They weren’t going to watch me kill myself. So they wouldn’t ride with me anymore. Every bump in the road caused excruciating pain. I held my side as we bumped up the rocky road towards home. My mom looked at me and said, "Did you have fun?" I just walked right passed her. My cousins came to the door to talk to her. I glared at them and thought, “You snitches!“ My mom listened to them then turned and looked at me. I had to leave the room so no one would see me.

          The pain in my side was almost more than I could bare. I went to the bathroom so I could lock the door. I looked in the mirror and half my face was black and blue. I wondered how come my mom didn’t see my face all bruised. I stripped to get in the shower. I glanced at myself in the mirror. My face was nothing compared to the bruise on the side of my body. As I looked at my ribs I thought, “Oh my God! Am I going to be alright.“ The left side of my body from the middle of my chest to my side, from under my arm to my waist was completely black. There was a huge lump where the handle bar went into my rib. It was turning bright purple. I showered and dressed and didn't speak of the pain or the bruises. I laid on my bed holding my rib. I slept for days. I realized my plan to end my life in an accident wasn't going to happen. I was only beating up the bikes. I quit trying. I tried going to youth group. I wasn't church girl material so was asked to leave. I was to naughty for them. So even Jesus didn't want me.

          My grades were suffering. My mom told me to get them up or I wouldn't be going to the ball games. Report cards came out and there was no improvement. When I got home from school there was an envelope on the table. Inside was five dollars and a note that said I could go to the ball game. She knew it was the only fun thing I had to look forward to and that she knew I could and would get my grades up. In the note she wrote these words: "I love you! Mom." I started to cry. I had never heard her say that before. She even gave me enough money and permission to buy candy. Since money was so tight the five dollars was huge. I did get my grades up. I went from failing to all A's. Except English.

          My dyslexia kept me back. My English grade was passing though. I even turning in every piece of extra credit I could. School became so easy for me. I could sleep through the classes and ace a test. I saw my dad and he said he heard about my grades and was proud of me for it. I thought to myself what you mean is you are glad I’m not embarrassing you anymore. What right did he have to be proud. When he left and people started encouraging me that I could get good grades, telling me I was smart, is why I was able to get my grades up. Today, in a wooden jewelry box, wrapped in a pink ribbon is that note from my mom telling me she loved me.

          My boyfriend went to California. Afraid of being alone, I begged to go. He gave in and let me. With days to sit in the car and think as I watched landscape pass by, I realized I had to make my life what I wanted it to be. Not to just accept things as they happened to me. That being alone time might be better than being with this guy. I remember wanting to get out of the car and just start walking home. I would of too. He must of saw it in my eyes. He said, “If you take off, I’ll call the cops and you’ll go to jail. So I suffered through the two weeks. Seeing the Red Woods in northern California was almost worth it.

          When we were back home he found another girl at a bar and broke up with me. I started getting over him and found a nice guy. We started dating. My ex chased him off. So I went back with him. He kept talking about all the other girls. I cried myself to sleep every night. I was an alcoholic by age sixteen. I never once thought poor me. This was just the way life was. Anytime I would start asking why my life had to be this way I thought of my cousin, who’s life was so much worse. There’s always someone worse off.

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN
 

          I felt there was no future for me. I cried till my heart was about to break. I felt God nudging me to give Him a chance. I sat up in my bed and yelled at God. I told Him that I'd give Him one chance and one chance only to fix my life or I was ending it. All at once, I felt a great peace like I'd never felt before. As if God had came in the window, sat down and was talking to me. I felt Him ask how my life needed fixed. I told Him that I was so lonely. I needed someone to love me. I just wanted someone who really loved me and would never leave me. I started talking about my boyfriend and if we were not suppose to marry that He would somehow break us up. That if we were suppose to marry that he would start treating me better and stop hurting me.

          I prayed for the man  that I was to someday marry. I said if my boyfriend was going to leave me God had to bring me the man I was to marry and soon because I was so lonely. I felt like God asked what I wanted this man to be like. I gave Him a list. That he would really love me, that he'd accept me as I was that he'd believe in God, that he wouldn't smoke, drink, or do drugs, that he wouldn't hurt me or cheat on me, that he would be there for me forever. I felt a nudge from God asking if it mattered what his personal appearance was. I smiled a quirky smile and said it doesn't really matter, but good looks and a nice body are good if He'd like to throw that in, that was fine with me. It didn't really matter what he looked like on the outside.

          I imagine God was laughing at bit at my silliness. I fell asleep with out crying that night. I was happy. For tomorrow God was going to change my life or I was ending it. I fell asleep thinking of the pond and wondered if that was how I would stop the pain. I woke up thinking of the pond. My option is still there in case God doesn't fix my life. I walked down to the pond. I hadn't been there since I was a little girl. I remembered all the times my dad would take me fishing. How I always wanted to catch the big one. One day I did catch the big one. Only my dad was spending too much time at the bar. It was three days later when he found out. I wouldn't let mom cook it until he saw it. By then it was too late.

          One more reason to be angry at him. I thought of the cow that chased me. He sat and laughed at me. It angered me to think of him sitting in the house laughing at me when I thought that cow was going to hurt me. I remember how he was angry at me when I leaped the fence and landed in the garden to avoid the cow. I had destroyed his onions. I remembered falling into the pen with the boar. How he pulled me out by my collar just in time. I wondered how he got from the house to the pig pens in time to save me. Wait! He saved me! He ran from the house to the pig pen to save me from that boar. Did he, maybe love me? Couldn’t be!

          Just that one time in my life when he pulled me out of the boars pen he held me, for just a moment as I cried. My leg bleeding from the boar teeth. He took that boar to the sale barn the next day. He lost money on it. For me! As I walked to the pond I saw snakes scatter every which way. It was a bit freaky to see so many snakes going all different directions through the dried field grass. I realized why he always went ahead of me to the pond. Why he would not allow me to walk with him to the pond. I sat by the pond with my head in my hands, shaking my head as tears poured. Thinking could it be possible my dad loved me. I never realized these things before. It was as if my mind was opening up to all the things he did that showed his love for me. I was seeing them through different eyes. I sat at the pond and saw glimpses of my dad's love for me for the first time in my life. To this day, I am certain God opened my eyes to see the love my dad had for me as a way of easing my pain.

          Maybe God even showed me these things as a way to help me stop the foolish acts of trying to end my life. Which didn’t seem foolish at the time. It seemed the pain was just too much to bear and I had to end my life. Not now though. Now that I‘ve seen my dad's love when I‘d never seen it before. My heart was starting to feel full. I didn’t feel empty or numb anymore. I thought, what am I doing down here at this pond all alone when I could be at home with my mom and sisters. I started walking home and even had a bit of a skip in my step and a slight smile on my face. I sat at the table at home and talked. I was kind to my mom and sisters.. They kept looking at me like who is this stranger.

          The next day my boyfriend came to pick me up. I got in the car and we took off down the drive. He stopped the car and burst into tears. I had never seen him cry. He said, "I don't know why but I'm breaking up with you." I smiled and said, "ok." He said, "Why aren’t' you crying, usually when I break up you cry. This time I'm crying. I feel like I love you but I'm breaking up." I told him if it's Gods will, we would be together. I smiled because I knew it was God answering my prayer. I had a peace about me, because I knew everything was going to work out. I wondered if I’d be alone forever. Because I didn’t think I was worthy of anyone’s love. I said, “Ok God you took this one away from me, now you have to show me the man I am suppose to marry.” If He didn’t, I was going to be ok some how. I just knew it.

          In the mail box was a letter from my aunt and uncle who lived in Michigan. Along with the letter were two round trip airplane tickets. My aunt and uncle didn't have the money for the tickets but felt they needed to purchase them and send them to us. This was Gods leading. God knew what was needed. He used these people who would listen. With my sister, I went to Michigan. My cousin picked me up at the airport. With him, he brought a friend. I looked at this friend and was immediately annoyed. He was to short, too husky, and way too hairy. He joked around a lot and that was so annoying. I hadn't laughed in years. Nothing seemed worth laughing at. I tried my best to get my cousin's best friend to want to stay away. I was rude and said things that were down right hurtful. He didn’t give up on me. He kept showing me Jesus. We went to Church. People hugged me. I remember thinking if only they knew who I was they wouldn’t touch me. They would tell me to get out of their building. They said they were glad to see me. They told me Jesus loves me. ME!

          After a couple times of hearing this I choked back a tear and quietly told one of the women that kept telling me these kind words that if she knew my past she wouldn’t be saying that. I told her I wasn’t a good girl like the girls in the Church. She looked me in the eyes, put her hand on my arm, and told me it didn’t make any difference to her what I’ve done in my past, she was glad I was there. She hugged me and I broke. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I didn’t want people to see me cry but It was like a fountain had burst inside of me. I cried like a baby. I was so touched that a woman who was so close to God loved me despite how dirty I was. There wasn’t a dry eye in the foyer. Everyone was hugging each other. I had never felt so much love and acceptance in my life. I was shaking from trying to take it all in. Part of me wanted to run out the door and reject it. To not believe it. I was ready to accept it. I needed it.

          After Church we went to my aunt's house for lunch. My cousin and his friend were reading jokes out of the newspaper. My sister and I started laughing. I laughed so hard I cried. Everyone kept saying it's not THAT funny of a joke. People were looking at us like we were crazy. The two of us laughed so much everyone started to leave the room. My aunt said it was because we hadn't laughed in so long that something broke through. My sides were hurting from laughing so much. My sister and I reached out and hugged each other. I don’t remember ever hugging my sister. After that I found his joking around funny. I started looking forward to his company.

          My aunt cooked dinner. I was so exhausted from all the crying and laughing that she told me to just sit and relax on the couch. At dinner, I put pepper on my potatoes. I liked my food black with pepper. My aunt saw what I had done and stood up. She said, "Oh dear! What did you do!" I started to shake, my eyes became teary. I let her down. I messed up and let her down. I didn’t know what I did wrong. I apologized over and over. She said it was ok. That if the pepper had spilt she'd get me a new plate of food. I thought wow she'd do that for me. I was so surprised. I didn't eat much because I was too afraid that I‘d do something wrong. My wrists were too weak to pour milk. So she would ask someone to pour a glass for me. I was so touched that she cared enough to ask and that others cared enough to pour it for me. I gained ten pounds in two weeks. Which was a good thing at the time.

          The two weeks flew by. It was time to go home. My aunt offered for my sister to stay with her. My sister had graduated already. She declined and wanted to go home. I began to cry. They said it was ok that my sister was going back home with me. I told them I wasn't crying because I’d miss my sister. I was crying because I didn't want to go home. I found Jesus there and didn't want to leave. People cared about me there. I couldn’t imagine going back to the life I had. My aunt asked my parents if they cared if I didn't come home. They said they didn't care and would rather I stayed. I took it that they didn't love me.

          I helped with dishes and laundry, cleaning the floors and bathroom. I did anything I could think of to make them like me so they wouldn’t send me back. My aunt told me I didn't have to help out, to go hang out with my friends and have fun. It made me smile to think of how she wanted me to have a fun life. I tried to do just as I was told to try to please them. Only this time it was different. No matter what I did they were pleased with me. It seemed to take very little to please them. I would mess up and an inappropriate word would slip out. I tried to control my smart mouth and self-centered attitude. If I messed up, they were not angry. They didn’t kick me out. They kept loving me. I lied and told stories even when I didn’t have to. Sometimes to get out of trouble, sometimes to make myself look important. They knew I was lying. They loved me and accepted me despite my sin.

          I got a car. It snowed one night so much that I couldn't find it the next day. The snow had completely covered my car. I had never seen so much snow. I didn’t think it was possible to get that much snow in one night. I went out with a shovel. Not wanting to bother them I didn’t tell them I was going to go find my car in the snow. I started shoveling in the area where I parked the car. People stopped to help me. I didn’t want to be a bother so I told them I was fine. When my uncle saw these people in his driveway he came out and asked what was going on.

          Later he told me those were people from the church. People who had dug their vehicle out of the snow, plowed their drive, and was headed along their way, that stopped to help me! Why? They were happy to do so. Happy to help. Me! I went inside and thought about all the help I had been getting. All the hugs. The people who were willing to just talk to me with out judging me. The acceptance even though I was used. I asked my aunt why would all these people care about me. I didn't deserve it. She explained to me that it was the love of Jesus in these people. They are passing it on to me. That maybe someday I could do the same.

 

 

CHAPTER EIGHT
 

          I had started to date my cousin's friend. I then told him my problem with alcohol. He said if I ever touched alcohol it would be over between us. I had never found anyone like him before that cared for me, respected me and treated me like I was somebody. Do just as you are told and you'll please him. Maybe he’ll love me and not leave me. I knew I was going to never have a drink again. I had to stop drinking. I made it the two weeks somehow. It was getting harder though. I started shaking and feeling like I had to get a drink somehow. I couldn't let my aunt know I had a problem. I couldn't let my cousin or my new boyfriend know I was having problems. I stayed in my room until it was over. I paced the floor. I remember feeling panicky, and desperate for relief.

          My aunt knocked on my bedroom door and ask me if I was ok. I’d say I’m fine. She said, “You’ve been in here a long time. You need to come out and be with people. You need to eat something.“ I couldn’t go out. They’d know I had a problem and send me home. I couldn’t control my anger. I wanted to snap at her, to yell. I couldn’t get angry with her. They’d send me home. I pushed the anger down as far as I could and told her I felt sick. She said if I need anything to let her know. She was so nice and so sweet. I was so glad I didn’t snap at her. I wanted to run into the other room and scream for help. I wanted to climb out the window and walk to town to buy a drink. I wasn’t old enough and didn’t know anyone who would buy for me there. All the people who’d buy for me were in Missouri. Maybe I should go home so I could get a drink again.

          No, I couldn’t go back to all that. I had to make it through this even if it meant getting help from someone. I wanted to climb the walls.. The room looked blurry. My stomach was so sick. I leaned against the wall holding my stomach and rocking back and forth. I trembled terribly. My arms we so weak and shaky. I curled up on my bed to help keep my arms from shaking. My legs started to shake. I somehow made it through. Maybe it was because while I was going through this alone in my bedroom my aunt and uncle was sitting together on the couch praying for me. I didn’t know it at the time. Later she told me she knew I was struggling and didn’t know how to help me so they prayed. They prayed me through it. I thought I had hidden it well. I went on with life without speaking a word to anyone about it.

          I started school and a job. I was overwhelmed to be taken from a small school where I'd been all my life to a huge school. To me it was huge. Three floors. People made fun of my accent. They treated me like I was dumb because I couldn't talk right. So I didn't talk much. I practiced saying words the way they talk. To get rid of my accent. I wanted to fit in. I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t a good girl to fit in the church group. I didn’t party anymore so I didn’t fit in with that group. I didn’t fit in with any groups.

          My ex boyfriend came to Michigan to try to get me back and to chase my new boyfriend off. Only this time it didn't work. My new boyfriend said if we were meant to be together I wouldn't leave. If I left we weren't meant to be. He seemed to have such a peace about it. I was surprised he didn't up and leave saying this girl's not worth it like all the rest of the guys did. It was then I knew this was the one. I told my ex to go home that I was no way going back with him. He went back and spread around how I lead him on, He said I broke up with him and crushed him. He told people that I said if he came to Michigan I’d go back with him then when he got there I told him I didn’t want anything to do with him. All lies.

          He took a gun in the woods because I had broken his heart. The entire community blamed me. They found him before he killed himself. When I returned home for a visit everyone was angry at me for hurting HIM! My friends chewed me out and called me names. Even my family questioned me. When I told them what happened some said they didn't believe me. I knew when I left home I wouldn't be back for a very long time. There was nothing to go back for.

          After returning to Michigan my alcohol problem came out into the open. People were telling my new boyfriend I was too young for him. So he broke up with me. With him gone why not drink again? I didn‘t want to party. I just wanted to be numb again. To not feel the loneliness or the pain in my aching heart. I had to work hard to hide it from my aunt and uncle. I blew it when after having only one drink I went to my cousins house to play cards. They could tell I had been drinking. I thought this was it, I was going to be sent back. I've let them down. They'll be angry. I found out otherwise. They said if I had a problem with alcohol they'd like to see me get help. They would even pay for it. I thought wow, you'd do that for me?! Why? I kept hearing they cared about me. People really cared about me. It was a new concept for me, a hard concept to accept. Even after I messed up, their love continued. Even after they saw I was an alcoholic. They still loved me. They loved me as Jesus does. Despite my problems and my sin they loved me.

          I got back together with my boyfriend. He also forgave me for drinking. He told me to get a handle on it and we’d be fine. If not it wouldn’t work out. I was done with it. Never to be drunk again. A year later, I was playing a computer game and he said he had an important question for me. I said ok, and kept playing. He said you need to look at me. I told him can't it wait till I win this game. He laughed and asked me to marry him. I was so shocked I lost the game. I asked if he was sure he wanted to marry me. He said out of all the women in the world he wanted me as his wife. I was in shock. Someone wanted me over everyone else. Wow! Could it be. I was so shocked I didn’t even answer him. I had never been happier.

          What would marriage be like? Would he hurt me like my dad did? I started pushing him to get angry. Then I'd push him farther. At the time I didn't realize I was trying to get him to hit me. I know this sounds weird. If you've never been through this it‘s very difficult to understand the need to be hurt. I didn't deserve to be treated well. If I felt the pain of being hit again I'd be where I was familiar. I didn't know anything else. To be loved and cared about was too good to be true. If he hit me I'd know life hadn't changed. I pressed and pressed. I could see his anger rising. I pressed farther and farther. He made a fist and looked at me. Through clinched teeth he said, "I won't hit you!" He relaxed his fist and asked me why was I trying to get him to hit me. That is when I realized what I was doing. I needed help. What kind of sick woman would try to be beaten. My heart melted as I knew I was safe with this man. My thoughts raced though. I wasn’t getting what I deserved. I hid it under a rug for now. Only later to pull it out again.

          We went to the Church to ask if they'd marry us. They asked me to take counseling before they'd marry us. During counseling I was able to forgive my dad. Letting all the anger and hatred go was a relief. I didn't realize it was weighing so hard on my shoulders to carry all that. After all, if God was willing to forgive him, who was I to hold onto it. I needed to forgive.

          Just before the wedding my dad moved to Michigan. I was less than happy to have him near by. I kept some distance. He went into rehab for months. I was glad. I couldn’t stand being under the same roof as him. Even though I had forgiven him. I was afraid he’d try to kill me. I tried to hide my fear from everyone. It would shame him if others found out what he did to me. If I shamed him he would not be pleased with me. He would lie and turn others against me to protect his reputation. He came to the wedding. I was glad he was there. I was safe in front of all those people. When he saw my mom, he left and got drunk. He didn't return to rehab. He returned to Missouri where he continued to drink.

          After we’d been married a year, I had a miscarriage. I didn’t know what was going on. My mom wasn’t around for me to talk to. I drove my husband's truck to the store for more maxi pads. I backed into a car. I sat in the truck as the people hollered at me. My head was swimming. I knew I needed to get to a bathroom or there was going to be a mess. The cop came. He acted like I was a stupid kid who needed to learn to drive. Then he looked in the window at me and asked me if I was ok. It was hard to admit, but I wasn’t. I said, “I don’t think so.” It took a lot to admit that I needed help. He called my husband. I thought he’s going to be so mad. I caused a wreck with his truck. He’s going to hate me. He’s going to leave me. He arrived and in the sweetest voice said, “What happened.” I looked at his face and saw he wasn’t angry. I said, “I don’t know,” and laid my head down on the back of the seat. I could rest knowing he wasn’t angry. He took me home.

          I laid down and slept and slept. I didn’t tell him my problem. I went to the doctor when I was strong enough. The doctor told me what had happened. I felt so dumb to have not known and tried to drive. My husband was gone down state for a temporary job. I went to the apartment and sat alone. All I could think of was I had a baby and now it’s dead. I cried and cried. I wanted so bad for my dad or my husband to hold me. I cried to Jesus and told him what I needed. I asked if he would hold me. I felt this warm feeling come over me. I felt like the room was glowing. I stopped crying and fell asleep there in my Daddy’s arms. I dreamt of a baby in the arms of Jesus. I knew my little one was safe and would be there for me when I got there.

          The doctors said we probably wouldn’t ever have children. Unless we wanted to spend a lot of money. He suggested adoption. I resigned to this fact. The child didn’t have to come from my womb. A child to love was a child to love, no matter where he/she came from. Two years later I was pregnant again. Six months into the pregnancy the doctor put me on bed rest. I was bleeding. I was going to lose the baby again. I cried my heart out to God. It would have been easier for me if He took my heart out than to take my baby. God granted me my desire and I was able to keep the baby. As I looked at her tiny little round face all smushed up and her jet black hair I remembered the baby in Jesus arms. She looked just like that baby.

 

 

CHAPTER NINE
 

          Things were going so beautifully. I had everything I had ever wanted. This was not the life I deserved. Somehow I had to receive what I deserved. Punishment. I was trying so hard to be a good Christian. Teaching Sunday School, doing bible studies with my kids and neighbor kids, going to Church every week. I hadn’t drank in years, I stopped cussing, I was a good person. I was trying to earn God's love. I knew it wasn’t enough and felt like God was not pleased with me. In this need to be punished for not being perfect I started pressing my husband to became angry again. I screamed at him. Cut him down. Anything I thought was not perfect about him, I shoved it in his face. I pushed and pushed to get him to lose his temper so he would hit me. He wouldn’t hit me. I’d throw things at him and scream at him. I was always telling him he didn’t love me. I was always waiting for when he would have an affair.

          It was too good to be true that he loved me, forgave me, and would never leave me. I felt broken because I didn’t feel like he loved me even though he did everything a loving husband would do. He couldn’t possibly love ME! My mind was so messed up. I wanted to be punished, yet I didn’t want to be punished. One day I was pressing him. He started pressing me back. His anger didn’t build, my anger did. I became more and more out of control. He wouldn’t hit me. He never hit me. My anger built until I punched him. I felt so bad. I hugged him so tight and cried, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’ll never do that again. Please don’t leave me.” He laughed and said, “If that’s all you got I’d rather you hit me than use words against me.” Hitting him broke something inside of me. My desire to fight him. I never wanted to hurt him again. The fighting didn’t stop, but it did become lesser volume and less frequent.

          Every time after a fight I felt so shameful of my behavior. I would try harder to not be that way. Trying to get him to hit me was like some kind of sickness ingrained in me. Self destruction. It may be easy for others to think what an awful person I am. How easy it would be for me to hide how I behaved from you. I could choose not share this part of my story. For all the women out there who have this need to receive the punishment they believe that they deserve, for all the men out there who have wives that push them and push them as if they are trying to get them to blow, I have to share. I know there are other women out there that always find the guy that beats them.

          There are other women who have the same ill way of thinking that I had. I still struggle with accepting forgiveness from God when I mess up. I’m still surprised when my husband forgives me before I can even ask him to. God is not done with me yet. The past has made a negative impact in my life. It may take a long time to be healed of all the things that happened to me. I know with God I can someday be completely healed. He‘s patiently and constantly helping me find healing.

          I attended a woman’s retreat. Where God touched my heart. He showed me I was forgiven and pure in his eyes. I felt him nudging me to accept the love the husband he gave me was trying to give. I remembered praying for a husband who would love me, never leave me, never hurt me, never have an affair, and be there for me always. God had given me that husband who was all the things that I asked for. God had answered the prayer I said when I was sixteen.

          Now I had to accept that this man was all those things that I asked God for. I had to accept that I could be loved, that my husband would never hurt me, leave me, or have an affair. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. How could I accept something that was so different than what I always knew. I realized by not accepting the love my husband was trying to give to me I was hurting him worse than I was hurting myself. The person I loved the most was the person I was hurting the most. They gave me a nail, a hammer, a piece of paper, and a pencil. I wrote on the paper I don’t trust my husband and I don’t believe he loves me. I took that piece of paper, the nail, and the hammer walked up to a wooden cross, with tears streaming down my face I nailed that sin to the cross.

          That night the group of broken women stood in the sanctuary and worshipped just as we had done often during that weekend. The pastor stood up in front and told us to turn around. Behind us stood others who had gone through similar weekend. Each one holding a candle in their hands. Throughout the weekend we had been receiving little love letters from people we didn’t know each one said, “God loves you and so do I.” These were some of the people who had taken the time to send the notes, to pray throughout the night for us, and to take the time to come sing to us that night. I was broken that people that I didn’t know would do so much for me. As they started to leave, I wanted to yell for them to stay. In the crowd I saw my husband. He kept looking at me and smiling. I started to cry.

          I wanted so bad to share with him what I had done for our marriage. I wanted to tell him that I believe him now when he said he loved me. I had to stay there one more night and he had to leave. There are people out there that love you even though they don’t know you. They care about what decisions you make. They don’t judge when you make mistakes. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past they still love you. I am one of them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be spending days rehashing over the painful past so that you could see that other people hurt too, but God is good and can make it better if you let Him.

          After that weekend I stopped trying to earn my way into Heaven. I still taught Sunday School and Bible studies. Only this time it was because I loved God not because I wanted to earn his love. No amount of work can earn God's love for us. He loves us despite our sins. We just have to reach out and accept it. To believe it. Just as my husband loved me whether I believed him or not his love was still there.

          A few years later at a Bible study my husband requested prayer for my dad to be able to stop drinking. I laughed and told them to not waste their time. They asked why. I said I'd been praying since I was a kid that he would quit. There is no use anymore. They said they would pick up on praying where I left off. Two weeks later, we got news he quit. I didn't believe it at first. We drove down to visit and he didn't pick up a bottle while I was there. He didn’t have any in his fridge. All his items with Budweiser on them was gone. He sat at home instead of going off to visit his drinking buddies. I was amazed at my new dad. We started to build a relationship. His health went down hill fast. He moved to Michigan to die.

          While he was in Michigan he found the Lord again. He asked me to forgive him for all the things he had done to me. "Sure Dad. I already have," I said. We spent many days reading the Bible together. He couldn't see well so I read out loud to him. We listened to Gospel music. We prayed together. I would drop the kids off at school and take my baby to Prayer meetings with Grandpa. Monday through Friday. Coffee and prayer. We started inviting people to come in to study with us. It was a blessed time. He was my best friend. This lasted for two years.

          Then he started hurting me again. One day I said he missed out on seeing people make baskets. I was completely surprised when he grabbed a hand full of my hair. A few weeks later after studying the Bible we were talking. Through clenched teeth he told me to leave. I asked him why. He kept telling me to get out. I couldn't understand why. I needed to know what I did that took away his approval of me. He looked at me and said he was having thoughts of ways to kill me. He was afraid he might strangle me, or stab me with a kitchen knife. He told me to leave before he did something he would regret. He kept looking at the kitchen counter where the knifes were. I grabbed up my kids and left. I didn't go back without my husband.

           I talked with my dad often over the phone. Some events took place that caused my dad to become absolutely furious with me. He told me how he felt it was normal to harm a child because he had often hurt me. He told me how he often thought of killing me so he understands how a man would want to harm a child.

          I was speechless as I had heard with my own ears what I had felt as a child. That my dad wanted me dead. He called me every name in the book. I was heart broken. I struggled to understand why he turned on me. I was confused as to how my protecting a little girl from abuse or even death made me the evil one. It was then I realized I had to cut off all contact with him. How could I? He was still my dad. My husband took the pastor and my uncle and went to talk to him. When my husband came home, he told me that I was never to see my dad or talk to him again. I was relieved. It was out of my hands. I would obey my husband and be released of having to continue a relationship with my father.

          I knew that I would not see him or speak to him again until he was too ill to hurt me. I also knew this was a battle not of flesh and blood, so I was able to forgive him. My family began to pressure me to go back to see my dad. “He’s changed,” they said. I felt guilty for not going to see him. I knew I couldn’t. I knew he could turn on me at any unexpected second. My family didn’t know what he had done to me.

          A few years passed. I thought of him often. It was a deep pain in my heart knowing he was so close and yet I could not be apart of his life. I saw him drive by once. I was so afraid he would stop. From then on I was in constant fear he’d one day show up when I least expected it. I was always watching over my shoulder.

          Then the phone call came. He was admitted to the hospital and wouldn’t make it much longer. I looked at my husband hoping for permission to go. He looked and me and said let's go. We headed to the hospital. He slept a lot that day. The next day I took my Bible. He asked me once again to forgive him. Of course I already had. We spent the morning reading from the Bible. He was awake and alert. We talked about the old days. It was like during the two years he was my best friend. Except visitors would see me and judge me for staying away. Two of my sisters came up from Missouri. We thought he was going to be ok. He was even breathing better than he had in a long time. I was worried what would happen if he was ok. I couldn’t go back to visiting him again.

          The next day he turned for the worse. Just before he took his last breath we found my oldest sister. She was able to talk to him on the phone. Though he could not respond. After he heard her voice he started letting go. That was the day that I could rest knowing my dad wouldn't hurt me ever again. I could stop looking over my shoulder. Even though he didn’t deserve it, God had forgiven him. He spent most of his life hurting people. He did nothing to deserve Paradise. Because of God's Grace and Mercy he was forgiven and so was I. He had entered Paradise, where he could be the person he would of been here on earth if the pressures from this world hadn't been so strong against him. Someday I will join him, where we will have a relationship the way God intended.

          This is my story. It had been a part of making me into the person that I am, but it is not who I am. I am a child of God who is loved and forgiven. I hope you too will choose Christ. He can and will answer your prayers. No matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve been through He’s there wanting you to give him a chance.

 

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