When my parents divorced, my mother was granted custody of my brother and I. Around the age of 13, I told her I was leaving. I needed out and I got out (read ‘He came to kill, steal and destroy..”). I packed all of my belongings and I left the blended family of 6 and went to live with my father and stepmother.
My father had remarried around the same time as my mother had; her name was Christa. I had a very strong attachment to her. She loved me like her own, but this is another story.
It was a completely different atmosphere. I felt like an only child at my father’s house; for they did not have any children at this point.
There was no swearing.
There was no abuse.
There were chocolate chip cookies and homemade bread.
There was a lot of religion.
In the beginning, this house felt like ‘love’.
I was no longer forced to wash dishes for three hours at a time; while they were inspected by Satan and thrown back into the water with force. I was no longer called names.
I felt loved.
I felt welcomed.
I felt noticed.
For a few years I was able to ‘just be a kid’.
Although I was expected to attend church with them on the Sundays’ that I was not visiting my moms’, I never felt like they tried to push their beliefs down my throat. Originally, it was my choice.
Over the years, many people have preached to me; many people have quoted the Bible to me. I always found this ironic because many do not understand that I probably know the Bible better than the ‘preachers’. To this day, I can still quote scripture as well as the quoters themselves. I know much more than I say…
I remember the church family. They were very welcoming. Everyone was so nice and ‘loving’. It made it easier to look past the strange things that I did not understand; the things I questioned within.
I craved love.
I wanted to be accepted.
They welcomed me with open arms, at first.
I remember I desperately wanted to be part of this love. It was unlike anything I had experienced before.
I considered attending the Christian school that was run by their church. I spoke to my dad and stepmom about this. I remember how happy my stepmom was.
Around this time, we also held prayer meetings in our home; every Wednesday night. There was church every Sunday and most Sundays, we attended Sunday night service as well. There was a lot of church. It was a non-denominational church. It was a ‘Full Gospel’ church. It was fundamentally Protestant, or Evangelical, or Pentecostal; I’m not exactly sure. There were some strange things that occurred. There were a lot of strange things that I had never seen and to this day, I still do not understand.
I made the choice to leave my small, public, rural school shortly after the start of 7th grade.
Things were a little different at Christian school from public school; as one could imagine.
Uniforms consisted of skirts or dresses for the girls. I never had an issue with this because I have always embraced my feminity.
There was chapel every morning prior to classes.
We were taught creationism; something that was not taught in public school.
I remember most of the students at this small private school. They were very welcoming. I made friends easily and quickly.
I remember how badly I desired to cheerlead. We only had one sport at our Christian school; soccer. I proposed a cheerleading team for the soccer team. My proposal was evaluated and approved with conditions; the skirts had to be the length of our knees. Modesty was not under negotiation; it was a requirement.
I chose to learn their beliefs.
I wanted to understand their faith. Their faith seemed so steadfast; so rock-like.
I will tell you that there were a lot of rules while living at my father’s house.
I was not allowed to do much. I was very over-protected.
Around the time I turned 15, there was a major shift.
I started wondering. I started questioning. My questions were not answered. My questioning was seen as rebellious. I was considered a ‘strong willed child’. I was told it was a spirit that needed to be broken. I do not agree with everything I was taught, but this is another story.
I was brought up Catholic for many years until Catholicism no longer served my parents beliefs or wants. I was baptized Catholic as a baby. I made my First Holy Communion and I was made to attend all of the classes.
When my father remarried, he adopted my stepmom’s faith. It was a complete 180 from Catholicism in many ways. Over the years, my mother no longer practiced Catholicism and searched other avenues.
I remember my stepmom talking to me about my mother’s beliefs. I remember my confusion and I remember wanting to understand it for myself.
I remember going to the library that was next door to my house. I remember obtaining books to try to understand why they thought my mom was practicing evil. I needed to understand what ‘evil’ meant and I wanted to understand it for myself; not just the explanations I was given.
This was very frowned upon. Questioners are watched very closely.
Gavels came down; hard. Lines were drawn.
I remember I was no longer given choices. Once I said I believed in their faith, the rule bar was brought to an unrealistic expectation. The fundamentals of this religion are often forgotten by those that practice it; perhaps not for themselves, but when it comes to the judgment of others. Love is forgotten. Grace is forgotten.
I was not allowed to question. I was not allowed to listen to secular music. Getting caught listening to secular music meant consequences. Not singing in church meant consequences. Reading books about other religions meant consequences.
I became so confused. Suddenly it felt like everything was being forced on me.
I remember the confusion. I remember being taught about free will and yet there was no longer free will.
I remember my stepmom’s words. She was very angry with me.
“You think you can make it without God? (She laughed) Let me tell you something little girl! I was prettier than you, I was smarter than you, I was more popular than you and I did not make it without God.”
I remember I cried.
I no longer trusted this house.
I no longer trusted this love.
I no longer trusted this faith.
I had no idea what I believed in; I was so confused.
Religion took over at my father’s house.
I was in 9th grade at that Christian school. The ropes were pulled very tight. I tugged back. I was expelled from Christian school two weeks from the end of the school year, but this is another story.
The shit hit the fan. All the love I thought I had and known felt like a lie.
I was given a choice.
“You can stay here and be grounded for two weeks or you can go back and live with your mother.”
I was scared to return to my mom’s house. She had recently left New York State. She had moved to Virginia. She was still married to Satan. I was not a fan of Satan.
There was a lot at stake; I knew this. I cut my losses and told them I was moving.
I knew I was older. I thought I could handle Satan at this point in my life. I packed my bags and moved to Virginia, but this is another story…
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