~

When I was 15 years old, my parents threw me out of the house. I went to the neighbor’s house because my best friend lived there and I didn’t have a clue what else to do. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was a young girl caught in a situation where there was no winning. Survival was the only goal.

To help me write about this experience and to fully understand it, I have decided to add details I’ve pretty much kept private for the past 8+ years. Yea, yea, I was in therapy tonight and it just feels necessary right now. I may delete it all later but we’ll see.

When I was 5 years old, my grandmother died. My mom had married her 4th husband not too long before Gramma died. I’d spent most of my life until then living with my grandparents and now I was with my mom and her husband. After Gramma died, some people came knocking on our door and convinced my parents to study the bible with them. I was 5.

I’d spent months believing that my gramma was up in heaven watching over me and looking up into the sky trying to see her. Then these people, who were Jehovah’s Witnesses, told my parents that the dead didn’t go to heaven and my mom and dad told me that Gramma was not in heaven at all. To say I was confused would be an understatement. I mean, here I was, this little girl who’d endured some horrible stuff at the hands of my grandfather and my gramma was the one who kept me safe if anyone was going to. She didn’t keep me safe all the time BUT if anyone in the house was going to do it sometimes, Gramma was it. I was devastated at her loss. Absolutely devastated. I remember the day my dad came home from the hospital and said Gramma had died. I ran through the house screaming and threw myself on the bed sobbing. I remember my dad picking me up and that’s all. I don’t remember anything else that happened that day and I don’t remember ever crying about my gramma again. I must have…but it’s gone.

So my parents began studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses. They became immersed in their study and I have no idea how I learned what I learned but I’m sure someone taught me. I don’t remember that. My parents were smokers and smoking was frowned upon by the Witnesses so my parents tried to quit. Anyone who has ever had an addiction of any kind can testify to how difficult this is. They wanted to get baptized but were told again and again that they could not because they were not doing what Jehovah wanted them to do re: smoking.

My parents went back east to visit my other gramma and got baptized anyway. Oy! They began smoking again in secret and eventually got “caught” and they were disciplined by the organization for their misdeed…smoking. My parents never spoke to another Witness after this and they never entered another Witness building either. They were shunned by the people in this organization because it was God’s will that they be disciplined. By this time I was 9. Here we’d been going to the Kingdom Hall for 4 years and had friends and suddenly, nothing. I didn’t understand at all.

When I was about 11 or 12 I think, I spent the night with a cousin who’s mother was a Witness and ended up going to a meeting with her. Someone asked me and my brother if we wanted to study the bible with them. I’m pretty sure we told them to ask our parents. Damn if my parents didn’t tell us to do it. So, here we were every week some guy we didn’t know came to our house and studied the ‘bible’ with us. Not really, it was a book and I couldn’t even tell you which one now but I do know my brother and I were gone alot. My parents would say “Let’s go eat.” and we’d leave and go to the restaurant we frequented and by the time we got home, the guy would have come and gone. We did get in trouble for it eventually. We moved when I was 14. By then, we were pretty well indoctrinated and although my parents did nothing in the way of religion, my brother and I went to every meeting. My parents insisted. How odd that is now that I think of it. By this time, however, I wanted to go. My friends were there and I felt like I belonged to something special and I had a family of sorts. My parents also used this organization as a disciplinary tool. Which brings me to the night I was 15 and got thrown out of our house.

Mount Saint Helens was working up to her big May 18th eruption. We lived at the end of one of the rivers that was controlled by a dam close to the mountain and everyone was convinced the mountain would blow and destroy the dam and flood the town we lived in. My mother wanted us with her. I told her I’d rather die with my friends. Drama from a 15 year old, imagine that. My mom was pissed. I’m sure now that she was scared too however I never got to see any of that. I got the anger. My dad came inside and got involved and that was all it took. Together they said “Get out. If you aren’t with us, you’re not one of us. Go find someone else to live with then.” So I left. I went across the street to my friend’s house and stayed there for hours and hours…crying and talking and unsure of what to do. An adult friend from our congregation came over and hugged me tight like I really needed at the time. It was very late when my mom called and told me to come home. By that time my brother had told my parents they were too flippin’ hard on me and it wasn’t right what they’d done and he came to stay with me.

We both went home. When we walked into the house my dad had two straight backed chairs set up in the living room and he made us sit in them. We listened to him talk for what seemed like hours. I have no idea how long it was but it was grueling. During his tirade/lecture we heard how terrible we were and how much god was disappointed in our behavior and how he was going to contact the people in charge of the organization and let them know how terrible we were and get them to do something in a disciplinary way to us. My parents didn’t even practice the religion but they had no qualms about using it to scare the bejeezus out of us.

More than once my parents used the tactic with me. Always I ended up begging for their forgiveness because I didn’t want to die and that’s what they told me was going to happen to me. After this particular incident my mom didn’t speak to me for days. It could have been weeks or months honestly. The treatment was the same, the length of it varied from time to time. 

Oh god, there’s more but I just can’t write it right now. Peace.

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11 responses to this post.

  1. Hugs.. right now HUGS… later words if I can find them.. but HUGS HUGS HUGS as many as you need right now.

    What was done to you was so wrong…

    Hugs

    Julie

    Reply

  2. That’s awful, just awful. You must be very strong to have had the courage to write this down and I applaud you.

    Hugs from me too.

    Reply

  3. Oh, Traci. I say fuck people who use religion to frighten and manipulate children. And I’ll also go out on a limb and say that IMO, God says the same thing. I am so very sorry this happened to you.

    Reply

  4. Traci, I had very similar experiences in my childhood with religion. It was one of the favorite weapons in my mother’s impressive arsenal – it still is. I know how it hurts. It doesn’t take the pain away, I know, but I’m here with you.

    Reply

  5. Religious abuse is one of the most reprehensible things I can think of. Religion lends itself to being used exactly that way though, with some sects more susceptible than others, and some that even encourage their members to behave that way toward their children. The whole thing makes my stomach hurt.

    I wish I could scrub from your beautiful self the harmful residue leftover from those experiences. Traci, they were wrong — your mom, her husband, that church, all of ’em — they were wrong. About nearly everything. I’m sorry it’s such a long road home, but at least you’re headed the right direction, and you’ve got friends along the way.

    Reply

  6. Wow. I’m just sorry that you had to live through all that. Yeah, you’re stronger for it, and all that, but no child should have to experience it. I’m glad you are able to share what ever you can. It helps you and others, as well. Know that there are many of us who would do whatever we could to hellp you find that inner peace. You amaze me.

    Reply

  7. I don’t understand all of that religious stuff. I simply don’t. Try as hard as I may, I cannot fathom duality in a God who loves us unconditionally. Hugs to you Traci. Sweet, sweet hugs.

    Loving you,
    Lighty

    Reply

  8. Posted by The Boston Pobble on Saturday, October 14, 2006 at 5:38 pm

    Loving you, my friend.

    Reply

  9. Religion has so much to answer for in this world of ours.Im sorry for what you had to endure , but i,m sure you are stronger for it.best wishes

    Reply

  10. I don’t know what to say. I have so many things running, as I’m sure you can imagine, but I have no idea where to start. So, I’ll just say this:

    God is more loving and forgiving than we can even fathom. Think of how much you love your children, and know that God’s love for us is infinitely greater than that. He would never do the things that were done to you. Never.

    The atrocities people will commit in the name of God never ceases to amaze and sadden me.

    Reply

  11. I’m also so sorry you had to endure this kind of thing. Poor little child!
    The fact you can now begin to discuss this should help with your healing.
    Perhaps your written words will comfort another who is going through the same thing.

    Reply

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