I was born in Endicott, New York into a young family struggling to make ends meet and we lived next door to my paternal grandmother and grandfather until at the age of two, when we moved to Kent, Washington. We lived in Washington until 1969, (Dad worked at Boeing.) then we moved back to Endicott and moved into my paternal grandparents home. Within a year my parents bought a farmhouse in West Warren, PA and we moved in while they fixed it up and dad worked at a local police station in Owego, New York as a patrolman.
Because of work requirements, Mom and Dad had to sell the house in PA, we moved into the village of Owego, NY into a duplex in town that my parents bought. They fixed it up as we lived there and rented out the upstairs. We lived there until Debbie (my older sister) and I finished high school. Dad changed his employer to the Sheriff’s Department – leaving the police department and worked there until he retired. Mom left us when I was about 15. She took my little sister and left my older sister and I with our Dad. She moved back to the Seattle area where she grew up. After many painful events and time had passed, my Dad remarried and moved.
My childhood was riddled with sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse. I was not shown unconditional love as a child, that I remember, and my parents were in so much pain, unhappiness and infidelity that our home was not safe or a peaceful place to live. I have forgiven my parents, and I only share these facts to help others – maybe another can relate. My parents and their parents were not Christians. At an early age, I asked Jesus into my heart because I understood He loved me. I did not feel loved as a child. I seemed to get in trouble for breathing. (An exaggeration.) As I went through many terrible events, I would cry out to Jesus and pray for help. It seemed like the loneliest and most painful place was in my heart. I cried so much, hurt so much and laughed to hide it all. I was in trouble all of the time for things I did do and things I did not do. It didn’t seem to matter. I struggled to understand and wanted to be loved by my parents and sisters so badly – that it hurt. I hurt. In 7th grade (13 years old) I had a lot of pain in my upper shoulders (especially the right side) and back so severe that my parents finally took me to the doctor and the doctors thought I had tumors in my back. I went to a heart and lung surgeon, doctors and chiropractors. The pain increased throughout my entire body and between that and endometriosis, I could not take gym classes all through school.
My paternal grandmother always showed me love, since I was little. My paternal grandfather sexually abused all of us grand kids. I told my parents but the fact that he would do such a thing – boggled my Dad’s mind. After some counseling, he finally confronted his father, whom denied it. I was accused of lying even though my sister and cousin also were molested by him. The family kept the secret in a closet – door shut. Couldn’t talk about it. (Halloween came up after Dad confronted his father, and his father got Debbie, my older sister, a Cinderella costume for Halloween and me a Devil’s costume.)
Home life was volatile and I was beaten by both of my parents. My older sister was slapped once by my mother but she slapped her back and that stopped my mother from abusing her further. My little sister was too young to be beaten – just a baby. I believe they took out their frustration and anger toward each other on me. I lost all respect for my parents and care for them – as much as I wanted their acceptance and love, I didn’t like them at all. I was rebellious and did not even know it. When I went home after school, I was afraid of what I had done wrong and what I was going to get in trouble for doing / saying. How was I going to be disciplined or beaten or yelled at today? My stomach was in knots as I walked home from school and at times I threw up. I was peculiar and didn’t know why. The local kids at the bus stop in Jr. High beat me up. The kids in school beat me up – they said because I wore funny looking clothes. My mom worked at an old ladies store making alterations and would buy sale clothes and alter them to fit us. I wore dresses and dress clothes while all of the other kids wore jeans.
Feeling unloved and without many friends, I searched for love in Jesus – going to church with my best friend’s family. Julie was my best friend and I loved her very much. She was more than a friend to me, more like a sister. I enjoyed spending time with her and her family – they were so kind to each other and had fun together. They seemed to love me. It was nice. I loved Jesus and wanted to know Who He was, is and will be. After going to church with them for a while, Church was a town away and I do not recall why, but I stopped going with them.
Dad didn’t seem to ever want to spend time with me, from as long as I am able to remember. When I was young 2 or 3, he said I talked too much and preferred to spend time with my older sister, over me. I asked him over and over why he would not take me places and play with me. I would ask Mom. She told me to ask Dad. Dad used to joke around and tell me I needed a cork put in my mouth. (The flour and sugar decanters had cork in the tops and he said they were not big enough for my mouth.) I was jealous of my older sister because Dad preferred her over me. It seemed that everyone did. He spent time going places with my older sister, when he did go places… until my baby sister was born – Dad adored her. She was nine years younger than me. My older sister did not want anything to do with me (birth order?) and she acted like she could not stand me my whole childhood growing up. If she begrudgingly walked down into town with me into Owego, she would go into Newberrys and buy french fries – would not share them and would not walk with me down the street. She would tell me to walk ahead of her or behind her but she didn’t want to be with me. I had so much fun with my little sister. She was like my dolly. I loved her and she loved me. We played and we laughed a lot – until she was taken by Mom to Seattle when she was six and I was fifteen. After that, I remember Debbie going to college in Potsdam but not much else.
My parents were not Christians. My Dad said he was an atheist like his father and Mom took us to church when we were very young a few times but she said they were more concerned about her clothes and gossiping then Jesus, so we did not go anymore. I did memorize a couple of scriptures at that time, which I have held onto all of my life. Both of my parents are still unbelievers and as far as I know, my older sister is also. My little sister gave her heart to the Lord years ago and her and her family are all believers – thankfully! We are still praying for the rest of the family to come to know Jesus..
During my childhood, we took a couple of family trips to meet my Aunt Mary and Uncle Roger in Bellevue, Washington (Mom’s brother and family). The first trip was to Pelican Rapids, where I gave my life to Jesus on August 8, 1973 (11). Aunt Mary told me how much Jesus loved me – that He died for me. I was so happy to be loved!
The next trip in 1976, I was 14, and we drove out to Bellevue, WA. We stayed with my aunt and uncle – I loved to go there and visit them. I always felt loved and safe. Aunt Mary would take me to church with her and I was able to worship Jesus. While there, at a praise and worship night, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I was so excited and happy! I felt so much love within me and was really happy! I felt love for everyone! I love the Holy Spirit! I love Jesus! By this time, the pain in my body was pretty bad and the back pain was severe. While there, I went to my Uncle Richard’s Mom’s older brother) chiropractor for treatments on my back, which increased the pain in my back so I stopped going and went to church with Aunt Mary. My parents left me there for the Chiropractic treatments and I was to fly home after. I had so much fun staying with Aunt Mary and Uncle Roger. I loved my cousins and they had such a nice family. I loved being loved and not getting in trouble all of the time.
A handful of times over the years, I had odd occurrences where I would feel like I wasn’t there. I would almost fall over, feel “dizzy” and have to sit down to get over it. This was so odd. I didn’t know what it was or understand it.
I took lots of aspirin to help with the pain I was in. I took generic 100 mg. every four hours or more. One of the chiropracters told me I could take as much as I wanted to help with the pain. Nothing helped the pain I was in. I went to more chiropractors and neurologists over the years with no diagnosis. (Finally, I was diagnosed in 1988 with Fibromyalgia but for some reason, I knew I didn’t have it. They could not find anything wrong with me. I knew I was fine even though I felt pain all of the time.)
My teens were hard and at times, I felt I was going crazy. My paternal grandmother was teaching me how to read playing cards, her sister came over reading tea leaves and we always read our horror-scopes – yes I am being funny. Their mom (my great-grandmother) read tarot cards. They had a hard life and Grandma shared with me what her life was like growing up. (A very sad life. Her Mom was practicing witchcraft while watching Oral Roberts and sending him money. Grandma thinks she believed in God – I didn’t know her to be able to say. Grandma’s father was a very mean man – an alcoholic and treated his kids, wife and family terrible.
One day Mom was beating me up (I do not recall why.) and I made a vow (I didn’t know what this was.). I told her I was never having children because I never wanted to hurt my kids the way she was hurting me and I never wanted to be treated the way I was treating her. She told me that was an awful thing to say – I was tired of hurting. I never wanted to hurt anyone.
Mom left us when I was 15. She wrote letters to each of us. Mine was under my pillow and Dad’s was in his medicine cabinet so when he got ready for work he would find it. When Mom left, I felt rejected and abandoned but also relieved that all of the fighting and beating was over. Mom and Leslie were gone and we didn’t hear from them. I found out she was going to live with her mother but she told her to go home to her husband. (I was told.) Mom went to live with Uncle Roger and Aunt Mary. I found her and on the phone begged her to let me come live with her and she told me no. (More rejection.) Dad, who dated women after his shifts at work, was not home much – except to sleep. Mom had my little sister for a year or so and then sent her back to live with Dad and us for another year. Dad said that Mom told him, if he did a good enough job taking care of Leslie, after that year she would give him full custody.
After that I began dating and eventually thought I was in love. In my senior year, I slept with my boyfriend and got pregnant. Shortly after, I had an abortion. I told my dad I was pregnant and he told me to have the child. If I “screwed around” I had to pay the price. I just could not have a child. That boyfriend drank scotch everyday and his parents were alcoholics. I knew my life would be awful if I married him.
One year was up, Mom sued Dad for custody and subpoenaed my grandfather and grandmother as unfit grandparents to try to win custody of my little sister, Leslie. It was an ugly court case, (Grandma didn’t know about Grandpa and the molestation.). I testified against Mom because of how I grew up and I didn’t want Leslie to be treated like I was. My thoughts were at least Dad loved Leslie and adored her. He would love and protect her. I barely graduated high school because I missed so much school due to morning sickness that I thought was the flu. My boyfriend dumped me for his high school sweetheart. I was so depressed due to rejection over and over again, I tried to kill myself twice. But God.
I searched for happiness, love and peace but not in Jesus.
I did not know how.
Earlier in my childhood, since no one in my family knew Jesus – when I talked about Jesus, they made fun of me, especially when I spoke in tongues and prayed. I kept my time with Jesus as quiet and between me and Him as I was able. They thought I was only going to church with my best friend for “social reasons”. Aunt Mary was the only one I could talk to about Jesus but 3,000 miles of separation and long distance phone calls made our conversations rare. I did not have worship music so I sang the top 20 songs from the radio to Jesus (when I wasn’t singing Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow songs). I sang to Jesus as He was the love of my life. I went on walks alone to talk to Jesus and pray, pouring out my heart to Him. Oh the pain with me was excruciating at times. I did not know how to handle it. I read my Bible but didn’t understand it. It was a very hard time growing up and especially in my teens.