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 . . .

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crawling Out Part V

“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 . . .

What Intimacy ?

“I am so sorry for not trusting you,” I cried to my spouse this morning.
“I know,” he replied.
“But it keeps me from being close to you,” I spoke through my tears.
“It’s okay, honey.”
My family annihilated my ability to trust anyone.
Another devastating effect of incest.

I was on my way to my kid’s home early this morning and started asking God why I don’t have desire for my spouse when he tries to be intimate with me. He is so good to me and loves my family; he is precious in every way imaginable. 
I heard the answer clearly.
My father literally stripped trust from my heart, and my mother betrayed me by allowing him to repeatedly do so.
My spouse has done NOTHING to deserve this distance that I create between us.

When I think about him while we’re apart during the day, I have an abundance of loving, desirous feelings  toward him. I want to be close to him; he’s quite adorable.
I am discouraged right now because I continue to discover new damaged parts within myself. I often wonder if I will really ever recover from all the effects of this incestuous violation lodged in the depths of my soul.
God only knows . . . perhaps LOVE will find a way to restore me to wholeness. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Awakening Desires Part IV

“You’re my favorite,” daddy said.
My stomach tightened and I immediately felt nauseous; his statement made me uncomfortable but I didn’t know why. I felt ashamed and dirty inside.
My level of shame escalated the morning of my first menstrual cycle at age eleven; I thought I was bleeding to death ! My mother was at work so I frantically called a friend’s mother and found out what was happening to me. She was so angry with my mother for not preparing me. I felt betrayed. She didn’t loved me enough to share anything important with me. When I returned to school I thought I was the only girl in my sixth grade class going through this painful and shaming experience !

I was attending a new elementary school because we had recently moved two miles north of our home. Dad bought me a brand new TV and placed a blue princess-style phone by my bed. I had my own bedroom and my own bed for the first time. I felt loved by my dad because he had never given me any gifts in the past. Much later I understood his motive. Our new rental home was much larger with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. I thought we were doing better because dad had a gas station and we had food in the refrigerator.
Nothing improved in my relationship with my mother. She ignored me the older I became except when I was performing musically in school and church. Otherwise, we had no connection; I didn’t feel loved and didn’t trust anyone.
I became infatuated with a boy in my classroom. I didn’t let anyone know because I thought I was too ugly and poor for anyone to like me though I was at the top of my class academically and was elected as secretary of my school.

Nothing I achieved gave me any sense of self-worth. On the outside I had the appearance of perfection, talent, and intelligence. However, it masked the inner turmoil and lack of self-esteem brewing in my soul.
Within a few years I was covering up my promiscuity, feeling ashamed of myself and not able to stop my behavior. I trusted no one so I couldn’t talk about it. I just knew I was flawed deeply and didn’t know why . . . .