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 . . .