Wednesday, June 25, 2014

a woman's worth

nikki said, "You should do it."

tell my story.

i'll tell you the best i can. what i remember some 23-24, oh, 30-some, years later.

i don't know for sure if i can say WHEN my story begins. birth? age 5? 10? 13?

i was the little girl who grew up with a mother who worked hard taking care of us, who loved us immensely. and i had an alcoholic father who was not usually home, but when he was, it was a nightmare. he never abused us kids, per se. not physically. emotionally he did. words have stingers, and the hurt doesn't heal quickly. but we saw what he did to mom. how he hurt her. physically, emotionally, verbally, financially. and how he mocked her. i learned what a woman was worth. it seemed to me, not much.

though i wanted MORE. i thought as a 5 year old, that i would grow up and i WOULD HAVE MORE than that. it is no wonder that i wrote in my Cabbage Patch Kids journal (IN FIRST GRADE) that when i grew up i desired to be an artist in Greenwich Village. i dreamt of a loft, all my own. no husband. no children. just me.

i had crushes on boys from a young age. *note* i was never sexually abused by anyone, to be clear, until i was 13.* .. i thought boys were so cute and wanted to kiss one ( a certain few) badly. madly. i chased them around the playground and passed notes. i got chubby and got a bad, short haircut in 4th grade. the boys didn't think i was cute. i was smart. the teachers singled me out. i was "the brain" and "teacher's pet." i developed low self-esteem. i hated myself. i thought i was ugly. ... so the little girl who rarely spoke in school because social situations were terrifying, began to withdraw. i stayed inside. i read books. i still had crushes... and there was that boy who only talked to me in secret, so his friends wouldn't find out he liked me.

forward to age 13. when i grew a couple inches and started to thin out and develop. my hair was longer. i suddenly felt great about myself. threw insecurity aside (oh, it was still there, underneath it all) and became a confident, sassiER teenager. it seemed the boys really liked me now. but, i had no social skills, you see. growing up, into this new person, was scary territory for me.

when i was 13 i went with my friend to the movies. we were dropped off there. her male cousin met us there. he was 12. i was molested by him in the theater, in the back row. he touched me in places i had never touched, never even thought about. but i was ashamed. i told no one. a few months later i was at her house. no parents home. she didn't tell me HE was going to be there. but he was. they stripped my shorts off. she held me down between her mother's bed and the wall while he spanked me HARD. i screamed and cried and pleaded. i still told no one. i never spoke to her again. she tries to friend me on Facebook. what a joke.

so imagine what i thought a woman's worth was by this time. just imagine.

when i was 14, someone suggested i go to Youth Group at a local church. i wasn't even religious. but i went. oh, how we are influenced when we are young. ... there was the cutest boy there! wow, i thought. i pursued him. he had to be nice, right? his family was 'churchy.' respected. we flirted. we laughed. yay! a real boyfriend! he was so nice. until we started going on dates. until phone calls. and car rides. and church events and school events and fairs. he wanted to know who i was with. best to be with HIM. where i was. where i was going. i was to be quiet and not talk back. he was big for his age. tall and strong. i was a little size 5. he would hold me down. bruising my wrists. pinned my legs. my Betty Boop watch broken. (mom gave that to me.) pantyhose torn. hair pulled. bruise on my neck and cheek another time (c'mon, i was just playing. just hickies. geez. what's the big deal? tell them that _______(a girl in youth group) accidentally hit you.) yeah. i feared movie theaters. where i was assaulted by him as well. and truck stops. and his parents' van in the church parking lot. my "first time," i remember, i was told i had to. i could not go home. he would not drive me home. he would not release me. until we did it. i was frozen. i died. over and over again i died. learned to please him. i turned off everything, tuned out. i was a zombie. a sex "slave." for a teenage boy. did what he wanted. he told me i was fat. my dreams were stupid. i would follow him to the college he wanted to go to. ...

why didn't i tell someone? you might be asking yourself. i tried to tell the youth pastor. and his wife. i did. they brushed it off. said i was being unreasonable. they did not believe me. i was beyond ashamed to tell my mother. i didn't want to crush her. i thought she would be disappointed in me. i was almost 16 when i got the courage to leave him.

all of this, of course, set me up for all my relationships thereafter. a woman's worth. i received no therapy. well, i tried to go to a psychologist in my 20s for a brief period. but she wanted to place blame on my mom and suggested i take long walks. that would help.

young women, and men, you are worth EVERYTHING. you are special. you are beautiful. you are a gift. you are intelligent. you are SOMEONE. you ARE loved. you are a loving person. when a boy (or girl) wants to control you, says demeaning things to you, makes demands, talks about or touches your body in any way that makes you uncomfortable or scared, RUN. i don't care if you don't have a car or can't get a hold of someone to come get you. GO. this is not a person who loves you. they have no idea what love is. they need to feel superior. GET THE HELL AWAY from this person. don't let your Spirit be crushed. for it will be. don't let them take what is Yours. you are BEAUTIFUL. your body is yours. your mind is yours. your SOUL is yours. love yourself. and you don't need to be ashamed. there ARE adults who will help you. who will listen. tell them. keep telling until someone helps you. you don't have to be alone in this. i know it's hard -- don't be afraid. you are strong. GET AWAY.

i know that NO MATTER what happened to me growing up. how my life was. it is NOT my fault i was abused. i did NOT ask for it. i did NOT want it.

no one ever sat down and talked with me about relationships or sex. intimacy. love. i didn't know what a good, healthy relationship could be like. i want MY children to know that. i hope i can teach them and show them all about love.

i think too that when i was younger, in those days, kids and teens were left unsupervised more than they are today. parents were rarely ever home back then.

so that is some of MY story. not all of it. not my 20s or 30s mentioned. but this is enough for now. enough for people to see that this happens. and i hope i can help stop it.