This story is not one that I freely tell. As of right now, only three people have heard it. When I shared it with my pastor, he pointed out that none of this was love. At 25, I had never experienced real, true love.
So here we go.
When I was around 5 years old, my mom invited her dad to stay with us. I didn’t know until I was a teenager that he actually has seriously abused her in ways I can’t even fathom. She had three young daughters and still invited him to stay. One night, he went out drinking and I was all excited about the air mattress he was sleeping on. So, I asked if I could sleep there that night. She agreed. I won’t get into detail, but certain physical things happened that I suppressed for quite a few years. When I managed to get up I just said “I think I should go to my room now…” and ran away.
I know growing up I was known as “the neurotic child”, I wasn’t comfortable with most people and I had a hard time making friends. I didn’t understand why the other kids acted the way that they did.
When I was 12, my family started going to a really toxic church. What was more toxic was the way my mom made it our entire world. The pastors were everything and the church was where we were almost every day of the week.
At 13, my suppressed memory hit me. It had come up a few times before, but I couldn’t push it down this time. It kept hitting and hitting. Around this time, the pressures from the church and not fitting in took it toll and now this memory was on my mind all the time. So I started to self harm (cut myself). I would do it nearly daily and would continue to do it for about a decade – into my 20s.
I went to my pastor and finally told someone what had happened to me as a kid and showed him that I had been hurting myself. He asked me who I had seen self harming and told me I was just copying someone else. He also told my mom what had happened to me and at home she said “Oh, that’s all he did to you? Ok.”
But my self harm was everyone’s focus. Occasionally, I’d have bouts where I’d stop eating. It was too much. But, in the end, people were giving me some attention and it was more than I’d ever gotten before. So my past abuse and my self harm became my identity. When people weren’t talking about it, nobody cared about me.
I got my first job when I was 16 and I clearly remember being shocked that the people I met were so nice. They weren’t Christians but they also weren’t the depraved, lost, hurting people the church had warned me about. I also met a guy. I went home to ask my mom for rules to group date this guy and told her I kissed him and she lost it. She yelled at me until she told me to get out. So, I called the only non-church friend I had and moved there a few days later.
I tried to still go to the church-school and to the church. But the pastor/principal pulled me aside on my first day back and said that I wasn’t welcome there anymore and warned me that I was very likely to be raped if I left.
Things got really dark for me at this point. I felt like I was trash. My first time having sex was with that guy, he made it clear that it was expected and had me do things totally inappropriate for a first time. When he was done, he literally told me to go home. That was it.
So, I started seeing guys.
I went to a party when I was 16 and told a guy who was interested in me that I had a boyfriend and I wasn’t interested. I got very drunk and woke up in his bed with bruises all over me and no memory of the night before except falling a lot when I was trying to walk. My friends all abandoned me because I said that I didn’t consent. I lost my boyfriend.
Soon afterwards, I started talking with the man who would become my husband. He was very sweet and visited me to take me to prom. I was over the moon. But the first night, he showed up at my window, climbed in and expected sex. So, I gave in. His entire visit was him having me do things with him in semi-public places for the thrill. But, it was finally someone who wanted to be with me. Finally, someone to love me.
I moved in with him a couple months later and we got engaged. I had left my family and was relying on him, so when I found out he had cheated, I really felt like I had no choice. We got married.
Marriage was rough, there were good times, but I did most of the work. We had two gorgeous kids, but he really mistreated our son.
In the end of our relationship, he was pushing me into sex acts I didn’t enjoy. That eventually turned into swinging, which I also didn’t enjoy. Soon afterwards, he was trying to sell videos of me, promising I would do extremely demeaning things for no money. He even agreed to have me set up an “arrangement” with a man, basically, sex for money.
Once I finally escaped my marriage, I was so desperate for love, any kind of connection at all, I was having sex with anyone who would have me. I distinctly remember a week with 5 different guys.
And that’s the story. This is where it gets good.