Monday, February 27, 2012

Blissful Escape Part VI

 “Will you marry me?”
Jonathan magically appeared in San Diego to witness the return of his brother from military duty overseas. We had barely seen each other in the past year after I threw out his love letters, thinking I had lost him forever; ironically, he did the same when he left for college.
He was my first love and still in my heart. We were married three weeks later in the small church in which I was raised  and moved to another city.  I would NEVER have to live under my father’s roof again !
I was filled with a sense of hope.

When I moved with Jonathan to Palm Desert I felt liberated. We both found jobs and began creating a life together. We lived near his family so we visited his mom, dad and brothers frequently. Doris, his mother, started a church in her home during this time. I was thrilled to have a new mother who paid attention to me, taught me how to cook and supported me in my marriage to her son.
During the next two years I rarely visited my own family.
Within a few months, the home church became the focal point of our lives. I thought we should be doing more to strengthen our relationship than attending church together. The beginning of a pattern of angry outbursts occurred one evening when I begged Jonathan to stay home with me rather than go to another meeting. I said that I wanted time alone with him, that I didn’t feel loved. He told me that he would always love me; then he left for his mom’s. I felt unworthy of his love. All I wanted to do was please him; I knew I had to try harder.
At the age of 19 I felt inferior to my husband. He seemed smarter, better educated and more spiritual than me. Whatever he decided became my choice. I followed his lead and dutifully joined in the services. Because of my musical abilities, I lead music and songs. Jonathan and his brother played guitars during worship.

We were taught by the traveling ministers who came to preach that we should not use birth control; it was against God’s plan for our lives. I had an ectopic pregnancy only two months after our wedding. I became pregnant again the next month. After six weeks I was hospitalized with pernicious vomiting, kept in a dark room for a week with no visitors, music or TV. I was told that I had a “nervous condition.” I was too ill to work.
The final trimester of my pregnancy went smoothly; I focused solely on the child growing within me. I was taught by the elder women in our church that it was more Godly to have natural birth and eat whole foods. My husband was a zealous evangelist and shared our beliefs with women. I did everything perfectly as I was told. When Faith was born I was so proud of myself and thrilled to have a baby to love unconditionally. She was everything to me.
During this time I genuinely embraced our religious beliefs; after an elder woman prophesied over me at a meeting I spoke in “tongues” for hours.  Shortly after, Jonathan was anointed as an pastor; I was certain we were on the right path as a family.
I felt safe and filled with love for Faith.
I was blind to the fact that the group was controlling every aspect of our lives . . .

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