“I’m in love!”
I met a boy at church camp in the beautiful Sequoias in Northern California the summer before my sophomore year in high school. We immediately connected on a spiritual level. I sat down to a piano in one of the chapels and he got out his guitar; I sang while we played music together. Taking every opportunity to be together during that week, we sat by the lake for hours talking. He didn’t try to approach me physically during that time; we barely even kissed. He was so quiet and gentle that I felt safe and protected in his presence. At the end of the week together I knew I had met my future husband.
The only obstacle was that he lived in LA and I in San Diego; he was 16 without a car. Thus began correspondence via letters for four years.
My heart dared to be vulnerable and accept love from someone whom I trusted.
Though I continued to involve myself with other schoolmates, my heart belonged to him. I felt loved for the first time in my life; home-life seemed a little easier knowing someone cared for me. I began to have a sense of hope about my future. I began sewing all of my clothes and finding ways to create income to pay for my wardrobe by babysitting, ironing, and cleaning homes after school and on weekends.
At home the feeling of impending danger always lurked. I tried running away a few times, thinking I could somehow get to LA where my boyfriend lived. My father always found me and dragged me home; my fights with him became more fierce and detrimental for me. My family ganged up against me and supported my dad. I was constantly placed on restriction for weeks at a time because I couldn’t bear the way he intimidated and controlled all of us. At a family party my sister asked if I wanted to spend the night. I was just six weeks away from my eighteenth birthday. My father refused to let me stay; I knew it was because he wanted to control and abuse me. My father chased me as I ran up her staircase. I fought him off, scratching and biting him but he eventually dragged me down the stairs to our car. He threatened to drop me off at juvenile hall. I took one look at my little brother and chose to cooperate in order to protect him.
Throughout high school I found many avenues of escape, joining clubs at school, and a citywide religious choir that performed many places all over San Diego; anything I could do to experience some happiness and to avoid the roaring lion that wouldn’t leave.
When my boyfriend graduated from high school, I attended his prom and felt like a princess until he shattered it with news that we should just be friends. I was crushed and cried myself to sleep for months. I filled my life with one sexual encounter after another though no one could repair the deep hole in my heart; I thought I would never get over him. We remained friends.
I was the soloist for all choir performances at school and my grades remained high. I was shocked when I was nominated as Homecoming Princess, wondering why anyone was interested in me, still feeling dirty and worthless.
When my senior prom arrived no one invited me, confirming my feelings of being inferior. So I invited my former boyfriend in LA to attend the event with me. Though it was still uncomfortable to be in his presence I found a new strength inside of me that overcame the loss of his infatuation for me.
After graduation my mother encouraged me to attend a Christian Music College in LA; I was relieved to leave my dreadful environment and felt that I was being freed from a tortured life. Before I left I threw away all my letters of correspondence with my LA friend. I was determined to let him go completely. I immersed myself in my piano and school, getting A’s in every subject. I discovered that I could write musical scores in my dorm without being near a piano and got excellent responses from my professors of music. I also joined another choir and was able to travel all over the state performing with them.
I felt free and acted completely out-of-control sexually for three months when I met an older man on campus. He swept me off my feet, took me to concerts, bought me gifts and wined and dined me. Ultimately it was all about sex . . . HIS way, painful and humiliating. I submitted to his abusive behavior because I craved his attention. He was a professor at the college; my roommate informed the Dean and I was required to come to his office to discuss my relationship with my new boyfriend. I kept his confidence and lied during the intimidating interview. Afterward I approached my roommate and threatened her life; I never saw her again.
At one point during our relationship we had a terrible fight because he belittled me. I tried to commit suicide by swallowing the only thing I could find, aspirin; obviously I was unsuccessful. Amazingly, I managed to keep up my grades and choir performances. No one knew the life I was leading.
When I returned home in the summer my mother informed me that she could no longer pay for my tuition. I panicked, knowing that I couldn’t live in the same house with my abusive father. My life was reeling out of control again; I wanted to die. Even worse, my college boyfriend officiated as a tour guide for a group of students visiting his homeland, Germany and involved himself with one of them.
I felt hopeless!
Then destiny knocked on my door and I opened it as wide as possible.
Crawling out of my prison, I found a new way of escape . . .