God’s Perfect Timing……
God has perfect timing. He is never late. He is never early. He is never in a hurry. He is always on time. On His time. The hardest part to remember is that our time isn’t necessarily His time. Many times God will use other people to tell us something that we need to know. The humor in this is that sometimes the very thing God is trying to tell us is the advice we give to the other person. You could call it an epiphany, an ah-hah moment or do like I do and hit yourself in the forehead and say “DUH!”
My duh moment has been long overdue. I have been trying to help a friend who has been through some very traumatic incidents of abuse in her life. We were talking about her going back into counseling. We have come to the conclusion that she has dealt with the acts of the abuse but not the emotional issues of the abuse. She never got angry.
Where as she didn’t understand the need for her to be angry I do. The anger part of dealing with any type of abuse is all part of the healing and grieving process. The anger is a scary emotion to handle. It is like letting the genie out of the bottle and loosing the stopper. It isn’t just the anger of the moment that comes oozing out of the bottle but all the anger. Women deal with anger differently than men. Men are able to compartmentalize their emotions. Where as women…well we are all tied up in knots with our emotions. It is all connected. It is difficult for women to separate their anger…when we are angry it is usually at everything. Everything comes rushing out, according to my geeky, psychology degreed hubby.
It has been an interesting walk down memory lane this week. I have shared some of my testimony with my friends but this is a little more open and I have been encouraging my friend to do so and figured what is good advice for the goose must surely apply to the other goose.
Who and what we are is a sum of our experiences. Hopefully we are changing and growing for the better. Our character is usually molded whether it be for good or bad by the time we are but 6-7 years old. What we become is also impacted by those who choose to become involved in our lives and choices we make to change our path. Everyone has an impact on those around them. How does someone combat so much ugliness in their lives? They choose to do so….they choose to take what little good was placed in their path by a God who was trying to show them that all is not that way, that they were valued and loved by the same God and Heavenly Father that they, at a young age, had given their heart over to……and yes. God did take care of me. I don’t know where to begin with this story, but to truly understand you must take a walk back through my childhood to understand. This is all relevant to the story. If you don’t want to read more stop here. None of this is a secret to my family and some very close friends but it may make another uncomfortable. It does deal with abuse.
I was born in Ohio and lived in a little town there sandwiched between Newton Falls, Warren and Youngstown. My memories are foggy because I am remembering them through they eyes of a child. Looking back now I see that I softened the memories a little. Took some of the edges off. This way it wouldn’t be as bad as I know it was. We started out in the old project section of the town we lived in…at least that is what it was called when I was a little girl. We lived in a section that was a hop skip and a jump from the elementary school.
My mother and father divorced when I was three, my brother 2 and younger brother not quite 1. I don’t know all the details and now that my father is no longer living it is a moot point. I learned enough of what I needed to know from him just before he died in 1992. My siblings and I ended up living with my father due to circumstances that he felt required him removing us from my mother’s care. My Aunt and Uncle (father’s brother) cared for us for a while, I guess it became too much for them. My Aunt’s health was not always the greatest. I loved them and have very fond memories of visiting at their home. It has a huge pond in the front yard and we would ice skate on the pond in the winter time.
My father met my stepmother not long after she had moved to our little town from West Virginia. They became involved and she became our babysitter. My father married her not long after that and we had a new baby sister from their union.
My stepmother and I didn’t hit it off. The problem was that I looked too much like my mother. At least that is what I was told. I remember getting invited to a birthday party when I was five years old. This was back in the day when the type of wax used on the floor would turn yellow and had to be stripped. I was not permitted to go to the party because I had to stay home and strip the kitchen floor. It wasn’t a big kitchen but when you are only five and down on your hands and knees with a “pari” knife, as she called it, scraping the floor it looked endless. The kitchen door was open and I sat on that floor scraping away watching all the other kids playing at the party.
She had an unusual sense of justice, much of which came from her own upbringing, her own lack of being parented as a child. Since I was the oldest of the four, I would receive the most punishment. Depending on what was done by my two brothers and sister I would receive double their punishment since I should have prevented them from doing what they did in the first place. When we were “punished”, it was being gotten out of bed after my father had left for work, stripped down to our underclothes and beat with a belt or what ever she could get her hands on at the moment. The boys might get hit once or twice but I would get beaten endlessly. You see I would get it the longest because the only thing I could control was whether or not I would cry. It became a battle of wills to see how long I could hold out before crying. The older I became the stronger the will and I refused to give her the satisfaction of seeing me cry….ever. Which meant the “punishment” would last a couple of hours if need be. It would seem to my child like perception to go on for ever. I just know that I was always covered in bruises and sometimes cuts from the shoulders down. It was rare that she would actually strike us in the face. That was too obvious.
I was about 9 when my father moved us into a new home in a development by the middle school. I still have a brother, sister and cousins that live in the surrounding area but I can’t tell you where they live….not because of the internet being what it is…I just don’t know. The last time I was there was over 30 years ago.
Nothing was done to prevent what was going on. The neighbors knew if they got too involved it would just make it harder on us. Back in the 70’s social services didn’t step in like they would today. Teacher’s turned a blind eye. Every once in awhile someone would step up and try to help but it always made the beatings worse.
I would still, occasionally, catch myself flinching if someone raised a hand towards me up until my 20’s. I loved sports in school but flinched too much to play anything. I played a few things but had to quit due to another story…Yes, it gets better. I managed to survive by pushing myself hard academically. That and it was the only way to get my father’s attention. I played trumpet but the only way he knew was that he had to endure my endless practicing….I often wonder if I chose such a loud instrument to irritate him. I actually liked playing the trumpet and became quite good.
I had this one friend, who through all of that was very dear to me. She knew what was going on and her Mother allowed me to use there home as my escape when I needed to hide . There is more to what was going on but no need to bore you with that story right now. She was my best friend. She and my daughter share the same name. My daughter carries it as her middle name.
My friend was cool. She had all the Donnie Osmond posters in her room. She had the purple socks. We would lay in the floor in her room or on her bed listening to Donnie Osmond records. I wonder if she remembers singing “Puppy Love” to her hairbrush. She was cool and she liked me and I was her friend. That was all that mattered. I had this image of myself being shy and quiet and uncool. I played chess with Mr. K , got accused of playing footsie with Mr. S during a science test….(I rock my feet and since my feet never touch the floor they kept kicking him at the lab table.), got paddled by Mr. B (female teacher in his place) for not having my homework one day………If he only knew.
My last memory of her was when I was 12. It was the last beating I had gotten. I don’t know if she ever found out why I had gotten beat so bad but it was over a stupid box of cereal. I won’t go into too many details, but needless to say I was one mass of bruises and cuts from my head to my toes. I knew it was coming though. My father was upset because while they were gone, someone snuck into my parents bedroom where all the food was kept and ate dad’s cereal. He wouldn’t have enough to eat the next morning. Anytime dad yelled at my stepmother….It was going to be a bad morning, especially since he left for work around 4:30 am. My brother was getting whipped pretty hard but I knew he didn’t do it….so I said I did to protect him. He was kicked out of the bathroom and for the next hour or so….I got it with what ever she could reach in the bathroom that morning. It was one of the few times I remember my brother actually standing up for me at school even though I was a grade ahead of him. My stepmother sent me to school that morning with long sleeve shirts on. I was still crying and sitting on my trumpet case waiting for the school doors to open and my brother was standing with me. My younger brother was still in elementary school at that time. Some one walked up and called me a crybaby. My brother jumped down their throat. Other than that….he was the one usually doing the hurting. His mantra was only he could beat me up…..typical brother stuff if he hadn’t been so sadistic. He genuinely enjoyed hurting and breaking my bones.
I was so upset. I remember starting to cry in front of my friend. Our homeroom teacher, Mr S looked at my friend and wanted to know what my problem was….She told him to lay off me. We went into the bathroom and I told her what happened. Later that day the school nurse showed up at the middle school. I remember being pulled out of class by the nurse and taken to the restroom where I started to peel off the shirts. The last shirt was stuck to my back from where the blood had dried. My brother and I were told we couldn’t go home. We waited at the school for my parents to show up. I cannot even begin to describe what was going through my head…….waiting for my dad to get off work and pick my stepmother up from home was scarier than getting the beatings.
Since I have reconnected with my friend and her mother…some other things have come to light. Things I was not aware of. My friend and I had been close since the third grade. She had seen my body in all of its many bruised phases. She tried to honor my request of not telling anyone because she knew it would be much worse for me. Until that day.
She ran from the school. She was so frightened by how bad I looked she was afraid the next time I would be killed. Her words, it was beyond horrible. There was no spot that wasn’t bloody or bruised….including my face. Somewhere there are pictures of me and I am so glad I don’t have them now. I don’t think I could handle looking at them. She went home crying hysterically to her mother. She told her mother that they needed to call the police…the next time I will be killed. It was her mother that called the police. It was the police that sent the nurse to the school. Her family wanted me. They tried to have the police bring me to them after the interviews. They left me with my parents. The interview with the police, principal, social worker and nurse degraded into an argument over maybe they needed to provide more food for us. Yeah right…..We lived on mostly bread kept in the basement and whatever condiment she bought on sale to have on the bread. I kept saying I didn’t care about the food….I didn’t want to get hit anymore not like that. The grossest to me was the tomato soup poured over ripped up bread. It would become slimy and to this day I cannot eat any kind of bread or cracker in my soup. It makes me gag.
That was the last day I saw my friend. She never knew what happened to me after that. She and her mother tried for two years to find me. They were told by the police that my family wouldn’t find out who called. My dad was a former police officer…He found out. He threatened my younger brother and they refused to tell them where I was. She finally cornered him in school and told him that all she wanted to know was if I was safe. He told her I was in Virginia and they wouldn’t be able to find me because my name had been changed.
In my mind I had separated the meeting in the principals office from the time my Aunt and Uncle picked us up to bring my other brother and I to Virginia. I had assumed that I finished the last week and half of school. Then I remembered what happened.
We left the school after the meeting and my father was angry. We pulled out of the school and headed out towards Newton Falls. There was a home for kids that he took me to in the hopes of leaving me there. They wouldn’t take me unless dad went through the court system which he wasn’t willing to do. He lectured me the whole way home and how I had shamed him. How dare I cause his wife to be charged with abuse. He would no longer be able to hold his head up as a former police officer in our little town. We still had three days of school that week and then the following week and school would be over. The next day instead of going to school I was relegated to the basement. I was kept there until we were picked up for vacation with my grandparents. My friend and her mother kept coming to the house looking for me.
When we arrived in Virginia my mother was here with my new two year old sister. My mother found out what happened and pursued custody of my brother and I. She won. the day we walked out of the courtroom my mother pulled me aside and told me that I was a strong little girl. My brother and baby sister needed her more than I did. She was expecting me to be able to handle all of that. I was left with my grandfather while she and my brother painted the town. We lived in a beach town and there was a nightly boardwalk and carnival all during the summer. I was devastated that day. Like everything else I buried the hurt. When I called my father to ask for some of my things he said I was dead. I no longer existed.
I am going to stop here for now…….I have been dealing with anger. Anger that has been kept suppressed for so long. I am not comfortable with these feelings and have been trying to find a safe place to deal with this…….
I will continue tomorrow and share the blessings from this…..for when God is in control there is always redemption …..I know I need the anger to finish the grieving that never took place. Getting this out is helping me to deal with that anger without it affecting the rest of my family.
(To be cont’d)