Trigger warning: Before reading this post, please be aware that it contains references to childhood rape and other experiences of abuse and rape.
I’ve never had an opportunity to share my story with anyone but it feels like time to put it to rest once and for all. Maybe writing it all out will make room for clarity.
I grew up in a cult. My mother married a sick and violent predator. She took my brother and myself to live with him and his three children from a previous marriage. I was the youngest of five, maybe a year old.
We attended the “church” (led by a man who now runs a telemarketing business, go figure) twice a day, rain or shine. We were beaten, choked, dragged by our hair, to the alter of this person who was taking 60% of my mother’s paychecks (she was the only one who worked, while my stepfather, I’ll just call him Bill, watched the kids). Apparently we needed regular praying over, and exorcisms, for our sinful shortcomings, i.e. failing to perfectly memorize selected bible verses, speaking out of turn, defending ourselves in any way, not properly setting the table or making our beds. We lived in a two-bedroom trailer in the beginning, so between us all it was near impossible to keep up. We were perfect little soldiers in no time, but this only led to being beaten and berated for such trivial offenses as accidentally dropping a piece of silverware on the floor, sneezing or laughing too loud, or asking for something to drink. The beatings only got worse over time. I started blacking out at the age of four after a particularly heinous bruising I got for crying at night because I missed my mother.
This is around the same time one of my older stepbrothers tried to ‘show me what sex was’. We got caught. I was moved into the living room to sleep on the couch for the next twelve years. I felt completely disgusting and exposed. And being out in the open like that, I became the main target for bullying. We had moved into a slightly larger home by this time so the other children shared rooms. I was sharing a room with my step brother up until the incident occurred.
The pressure I felt was so intense that I lost my ability to speak, at least at school. I could still talk at home when I had to. If any teacher or student tried to make me speak I could only burst into tears and/or storm away to hide in a bathroom stall. This behavior only served to attract bullies there as well. One girl used to stab me with her pencil over and over during science class, my face getting redder and redder. She’d only stop to get up and glare at me while she sharpened it. I started duck taping washcloths to that area of my leg. They went unnoticed as I wore the baggiest clothes I could get to tie around my waist because at a whopping 100 pounds, I thought I was obese. I developed an eating disorder, subsisting mostly on soda crackers for years.
By the age of nine I was experiencing some kind of OCD. I washed my hair nine times every shower, counted everything in groups of nine. Everything nine, because for reasons I can’t recall I had the notion in my head that it would protect my mother. When she was home from her continued schooling and work, it was only a matter of time before Bill was screaming threats to kill her. We ran nine times, to women’s shelters and aunt’s houses, before I stopped counting, and stopped believing her when she’d promise we would never go back.
Also at the age of nine, I discovered alcohol. I didn’t know how to drink, so my first attempt was chugging an eight ounce glass of straight rum, followed immediately by projectile vomiting while my step sister held my hair back as I laughed and cried ‘im too young to die!’
After all the sickness though, I did feel a little better. I started stealing mad dog 20 20 from the convenience store on my way to school every other day, and using it to fill a frutopia bottle. This, combined with a pillow stuffed in my backpack, was the only way I managed to suffer through middle school.
I had no friends and my teachers thought I was retarded. Except one.. he was always nice to me. I started hanging around after class. He had a parrott that he brought with him sometimes. It seemed like he could see something was wrong, but he never asked.
He would tell me I was pretty and make me blush, stroking a finger across my face. When he put his hand on my leg, I stopped going to that class. Then I started skipping school all together before dropping out, with my mother’s consent, at the age of fifteen, and getting a job.
The alcohol helped with the talking problem some but it was a delicate dance. I can still pound a quart of tequila with absolutely no visible signs of intoxication. But it wasn’t enough. I quickly discovered Xanax and painkillers through the older people I worked with, and fast became addicted, eventually graduating to the syringe. I began dating older men and eventually ran away with one, (I was 16, he was 22) when my mother and Bill sold the house and used the money to move to Jerusalem with the church to do “missionary work”(….)
Still cracks me up.
Anyway, those of us who were left behind were forced to find other accommodations. We could go live in the ditch for all they cared. They were doing God’s work.
My addiction became more and more severe. I was in and out of jail, Baker acted and sent to the psych ward multiple times for attempted suicides, and overdoses. It’s a genuine miracle that I survived. I totalled three vehicles, my heart stopped twice, and I was raped and left on the side of the river.
But I never lost my sense of self. I tried very hard to destroy my own mind and body because of the self hatred that was handed down to me, but my spirit never died.
Fast forward ten years and I’m in yet another abusive relationship, struggling to stay sober, working my a** off while handing over my paycheck to a controlling partner, and secretly drinking all day. Then one night, I had just had enough. I got in my shi**y little Acura and I was gonna drive it into a wall. I saw one and slammed the gas. Drove straight into that mfr. It turned out to be quite thin but it still destroyed the front tires. I got out and walked away with nothing but my wallet and never looked back.
I went to work the next day and told my boss what happened and she let me stay in one of her spare rooms. I worked, and fasted, and rewired my brain with cheesy positive affirmations all day and night. She was soon after diagnosed with stomach cancer, and passed away. I took what I had and moved to California to work on a pot farm and cut ties with my past, tossed my phone, and focused on existing in the moment. I had a couple of psychotic breaks during the healing process, including, but not limited to, auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions,and dissociative spells. I fell off the wagon a few times, nearly died once more, and got into a bit of trouble with a cartel, but I made it back alive. And my addiction was gone.
I cried for months. Every day. And forget about smoking weed, I’d just be glued to the floor in tears for hours on end. That lasted over a year.
But yesterday I hit a joint, and took a drive, and I heard someone’s music playing, and it felt like velvet in my ears, and I walked down a trail in the woods, and found a hollowed out tree split in half at an angle to the ground, and smooth inside, and I slid down it like a slide. And I did cry, but it was for beauty that had waited so long to be noticed.