Identity

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I have been rejected, blamed, humiliated, and hated in so many ways. Although I am in a place now where I don’t take the words and accusations so much to heart,  it still crosses my mind what makes me such a desirable target. Why am I hated? Why am I rejected? What about me is so ugly and detestable? I can look objectively and see that the problem existed long before me and I am not the center of it, but also in my reality I’m called worthless disgusting and evil. I can still hear the words screamed in my ears, “I WISH YOU WERE NEVER BORN!” Still hear the string of foul language thrown in my face and how he described me as “that evil monster”. Not a human being with a soul, but a monster. A thing. A ‘that’.

Most people don’t fully know me or what my life is like. I’m cryptic either by choice or by nature. The truth is if you see anything in me it’s because I want you to. I am not careless. I operate my connections with precision.

Even those I consider close friends don’t know the extent of what goes on in my house with my family. They don’t know the intensity of the darkness that they succumb to, that I have also been taken by many times. I wonder what others hide. What is hidden in their soul buried away from sight but felt deeply reverberating  in their being?  Who has felt pain as I have? Been hopeless in the depths of loneliness as I have? Like me, have they found a way to appear brave in a face of all chaos? I am reminded of Psalm 3:6 where David says, “I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on either side”, because I’m bombarded by so much every day from almost every angle and it just keeps coming. Yet I push forward. I push with whatever strength and power I have and often others don’t want to come with me and they scream and punish me, but I refuse to be left stagnant and sink back into despair. God meant for us to receive change and healing and nothing frustrates me more than when people cling to their misery and roll in their dirt despite the answer being so clearly in front of them. I hate drawn out melodramatic episodes, and I’d rather get to the point calmly and intelligently while avoiding nothing.

I am past despair, past loneliness, even past fear. Volatility has been replaced as I come to understand God more.

Colossians 3:8-10  ‘But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.’

Instead I’m filled with something that feels like fire. I’m putting my hand up and yelling ‘No!’ I’m tired of being identified with brokenness. Identifying with the consequences of others wrongdoings. I am not broken. I am not a mistake. I AM mistreated. I am God’s child born of love, and I say enough!  I’m sick of the pity in people’s eyes as they look at me. Scrutinizing me like I’m fractured naive and about to lose it. As if I’m an injured animal rather than an intelligent being to encourage. I don’t need pity! I am a human being created in God’s image with an able mind and strength in my soul! I am created and animated by love, and love is the fabric of all things in and outside of time. This world is not black and white but full of color. Nothing is simple except that God is love and He is the reason for all.

I’m hesitant to communicate what my family does and is because it always changes how others see me and their expectations of me. That’s not who I am. That’s what I deal with. They see my problems and not me. They see what life has dealt to me, and so I am a problem. Oh, if the cards were different… and it could have so easily been different for anyone. It is not a choice I have made, but a life that has been thrown at me with great force. I can only work with what I’ve been given. Since the beginning odds have been against me. From the time I was almost aborted and then born out of wedlock, something or someone has always been trying to destroy me. I’ve searched for answers, I’ve cried out in agony from the blackened destruction in me, the infinite blackness of any empty soul. God gave me worth. I had no purpose until He gave me one. He made something out of nothing and made me His. My identity is in Him and Him alone.

It’s for this reason that I can tell my story without accepting shame. I am not less than anyone, nor am I superior, and no action can change that.

On Sunday September 8th I was dressed and ready for church as usual. I didn’t make it there. The previous night as I lay in bed I heard the rumbling of an angry voice on the other side of my wall. My dad causing confusion. I know his script well, and could fill in from the scattered words I heard. He’d be playing the victim while manipulating whatever weaknesses he found in his target. Knowing it all so well I chose to tune it out and fall asleep. A surprisingly easy task for me. I can tune out any stimuli consciously or subconsciously. I sat on the couch that morning waiting for my mom to finish on the phone with my grandmother so we could leave. She was crying, which confirmed to me what happened the night before wasn’t my imagination. My dad came in and watched us; a looming presence in the room. I watched him just as carefully tensing at every movement.  He listened with intensity to the conversation between my mother and my grandmother. Her voice came through clearly from the other end as she said, “He needs to get a job. He’s the man, he’s supposed to work.” My mother’s eyes grew wide in fear as she looked to my dad and then me. His reaction was instant. The menacing screams of rage. “Stay out of it! Tell your mother to stay out of it!” He bent down to the mouthpiece still held next to my mom’s head. “STAY OUT OF IT! This is between me and your daughter!  MINE not yours! I’m SICK of you and my father in law. Always budding in on what’s MINE!” I couldn’t help it. I laughed. The outlandishness of his statement was too much. He’s been pushing my mom to get a job even though he hasn’t worked in three years and my grandparents are paying our rent. He didn’t seem to notice as his attention was still on my mother, terrified and shrinking into her chair with the phone tucked under her ear. I heard my grandmother say, “I don’t have to take this. I’m hanging up.” My dad glared down at her. “Don’t talk to her anymore! This is none of her business! It doesn’t leave this house! I don’t want to hear any of your sh**!” Joshua my youngest brother was there at this time because he came to see what was happening. “Shh, please!” My mom begged, motioning to Joshua.

“I DON’T CARE!” He screamed louder. “I DON’T CARE!” He finally turned to me. “This one. I don’t want any of her sh**! F***ing tired of it! Her using God to be all goody goody with her f***ing church!” He was still talking to my mom, but then switched completely to me. “You think you’re so great with God! You’re a dirty little b**** no better than I am! You don’t trust me at all!”

“Because you’re a drug addict!” I screamed in return as emotion rose inside of me. “You were my father! I am your child! You were supposed to protect me!” That was the last of my yelling as I took hold of myself and remained calm.

He scoffed at me. “My child… I REGRET EVER HAVING THAT CHILD!” He got close to me raiding my space. “You think it’s just me? Your mother didn’t even want to have you! She almost aborted you! I SHOULD HAVE NEVER HAD YOU!”

“Why don’t you kill me now? If you wanted to kill me then, what’s stopping you now?” I asked firmly and boldly without losing my temper which he hates because I hold some control. He sputtered a few curse words, gathering his next round of hatred. “Do it!” I dared him. “Kill me! Grab something and do it!” I smiled despite myself. “Do you know how easy it would be?” I shook my head. “I don’t hate you.” I said more softly. “I feel sorry for you. I know your life has been terrible. Even so I cannot have a relationship with you as long as you’re like this. Right now you’re proving even more that you have no control over your emotions and I can’t trust you.”

He threw this off, acting like I never spoke. “You think anyone loves you?! You little brat! You offer nothing! You’re worth nothing! You have NOTHING to offer this family! You are my biggest regret! I wish I could live without that evil disgusting MONSTER! I WISH YOU WERE NEVER BORN!”

“NO!” My mom screamed in horror, even though she has said something similar to me in the past more than once… I know she was not in her right mind at the time just as my dad is not in his right mind. Even if the mindset he has is his permanent one he is wrong and lost and he doesn’t know what he’s saying. I think of Jesus as he died on the cross and he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

I was silent, letting his empty words shoot at me, knowing nothing I said would change anything. He did not need my input as he still went on for 45 minutes, banging things, stomping, and threatening me. “I don’t want you here!” He said. “Your birthday is coming up in couple weeks. As soon as you’re 18 you’re out of here! You’re gone!”

I purposefully looked him in the eyes. “Alright.” I said simply.

“I’m not letting you stay here! You’re leaving!”

I nodded. “Alright.”

He searched for more fuel for his argument, unsatisfied.

I continued, “but know that everyone including the law is on my side. Even your mother is with me because I have never broken their trust.”

The phone rang.

My mom timidly answered it.

“Who is that?” My dad asked. “Who is it?!”

My mom shook her head. “N-nno one.” she trembled and scampered to leave the room. I chased after her seeing the opportunity to escape. I felt remorse for them. Both of them. “I’m sorry…” I told my mom, thinking of how stuck they are in their own confusion. “Why are you sorry?” She seemed shocked. I cried, unexpected to myself. She hugged me, which doesn’t happen often. “It’s not true.” She sobbed. “You’re not what he said. You’re beautiful, pure, kind, and gentle… and so thoughtful, helpful, and talented. Everyone loves you.” These moments with my mother are so very painful, knowing at any moment she’ll lose her collective thoughts and her opinion of me will change. She pulled away “The police are coming!” She whispered urgently. “No, what did I do? He’s going to kill me!” The true terror in her eyes is haunting and unforgettable. She had reason to call the police with his history of drug abuse and violence. Fear is not unreasonable. She also knew from experience that they would let him back in the house as soon as the questions were over and he would have control again.

I answered all their questions and they stayed until we gathered some things and had a safe place to go for the day.

The next day I woke up and started my first day of homeschool co-op at MEC. I have amazing dexterity in fulfilling whatever is required of me in the present moment. I adapt myself to whatever is environmentally necessary. It seems absurd that I can flip through major life issues and trivial school problems with such ease, but I’ve had to. I go along with the game of what everyone else is thinking about, and I come home and have real life. I sat through my biology lecture, made new friends, auditioned for the musical, and apparently made a good impression on a new kid who asked me out. (I said no) It’s all so trivial, yet in it exists safety. I’m glad others can fully exist in that safety even though I do not.

When we came home my dad locked himself in the house and was high on bath salts. I took a crowbar and broke down the front door that was previously broken down by the police on one of their visits. My siblings hid in Christopher’s room as my mom went into the bedroom with my dad to try and “reason” with him. What I’ve described so far is pretty shocking and difficult, but what happened next is too raw and explicit to write down. I cannot relay what was said. I stood by the door, crowbar still in hand as my weapon. On my phone were already the numbers dialed ‘9-1-1’. I waited and prayed, thinking about the consequences. If he was allowed to come back and he knew I was the one who turned him in it would be terrible for me. I breathed deeply and pressed the dial button.

I ran outside and directed the police cars to my house. A team of people came in and took him away. They brought him to the hospital overnight. He was allowed to come back the next day.

On Thursday morning his parole officer was informed and made a visit. She walked in on him playing cards with Jesse like nothing happened. I was asked more questions, and they searched the house. He was arrested within the hour and brought to prison.

I don’t know what will happen now. I don’t know what is happening.

I do not feel overwhelmed, or afraid, or angry, just a deep dull sadness coexisting with a burning hope and the overwhelming need to keep moving forward.

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