READ THE FIRST THREE CHAPTERS OF
Snowflake Princess Bride
Introduction – A Snowflake Princess Bride
What is a Snowflake Princess Bride? How does a girl become one? Is she required to live atop a snowcapped mountain? Does she need a long lineage of royal blood? Must a great crowd of royal subjects come from every province and present her with gifts the day she is wed?
When we think about a princess, a picture forms in our mind of everything wonderful. We think about all the things we’ve never personally experienced. We imagine a perfect life, one without pain or suffering. We see a life filled with laughter, pampering, love, and comfort. Everything we have ever desired for ourselves, we imagine that a princess experiences. She is adored, worshipped, wanted, and blissfully happy. Her life is a continual whirlwind of wonder and excitement.
Our view of her is clouded by our own desire to live a perfect life. We want to live the fairytale we see in the movies or have read about in books. A princess is always the most beautiful creature in the story. She is the one who receives everything she has always dreamed of. She is the center of the story. But does this really describe a Snowflake Princess Bride? Is our view of her correct?
Is she a person of privilege, comfort, trust, and love? Perhaps our view of her isn’t her reality at all. What if her past was filled with rejection in a big lonely mansion? Perhaps she spent her life waiting for her royal parents to pay her some attention. Perhaps she waited each day for them to come to the cold, drafty side of the castle and display their love. What if the castle servants were the only people who cared for her and showed her kindness and comfort?
How lonely it would be to long desperately for your parents to come and show you love—to wait day in and day out for your parents to come, only to be continually disappointed. It would be heartbreaking to find so little consolation in servants who are only available because they are required to be there—servants who care for you, but go home to their real families each night leaving you behind.
This certainly doesn’t fit the picture in our minds when we think of the word princess. We don’t see a lonely, heartbroken girl with servants as her only picture of love. But is this the story of a Snowflake Princess Bride?
Maybe she is more like the story of Cinderella, a beautiful girl who leaves her glass slipper behind at the ball, who runs out the door at midnight but is searched for by the handsome prince. Doesn’t that sound glamorous? It is every girl’s fantasy to be sought after and searched out by a prince.1
But we forget that the girl in the ball gown wasn’t who she presented herself to be. She was a princess who was made to sweep the dirt off the floor of her stepmother’s house from morning till night. Her royal linage was hidden from the world and she was forced to serve those who wanted her crown. She was a girl with royal blood made to live like a servant, a girl who no longer knew who she really was or where she really belonged. She had been bullied, degraded, and made fun of most of her life. Her stepmother and stepsisters were self-centered and cruel to her. In jealously they demeaned her and devalued her. Envy had grown so green in their hearts that their selfishness had taken total control of their lives. In their selfishness, they were bent on destroying any remaining remnant of royalty from Cinderella’s memory. Most of her life was not so glamorous. Most of Cinderella’s life was filled with pain, loneliness, and cruelty.1
In the end, Cinderella did find her prince, but in real life, finding a prince doesn’t always equal happily ever after. Nor does it erase a painful past.
Maybe the Snowflake Princess Bride also found herself erased from the memory of those who cared for her. Maybe she was thrown aside like an old shoe. Or possibly, she lost her parents too early in life and other people’s envy and greed destroyed her destiny.
Envy and greed can corrupt the best of people. Envy grows in people like a cancer until it fills them up. It breeds bitterness, which embeds itself in the fiber of a person’s soul. A seed of bitterness doesn’t just stay a small little seed; it grows roots. Those roots are continually fed by envy, and a darkness is spread through the person’s very being. With every envious thought, the darkness spreads until they are completely corrupted.
People corrupted by bitterness are void of the impact of their selfishness. They hurt people without a feeling of regret. Their envy has established itself so deeply that their hurtful behavior to others is justified.
Maybe the Snowflake Princess Bride is like Cinderella and experienced the hurt of others corrupt by envy and bitterness. Maybe she lived with the pain inflicted by others.
Worse yet, maybe she has no royal blood at all. Maybe the Snowflake Princess Bride is an ordinary girl, from an ordinary family, who lived an ordinary life. Or maybe she is a peasant girl from a destructive and dysfunctional family who lived a tortured life. Maybe she is the daughter of thieves, robbers, or murders.
Can a common girl with peasant blood even become a Snowflake Princess Bride? Can an ordinary girl rise to royalty? Can a girl from the seedy side of town learn to be a Snowflake Princess Bride?
Is it possible for someone of lowly birth to step up and be royalty in more than name only? After all, she has no royal blood. Her family doesn’t carry royal heritage or live in the world of autocracy. She wasn’t groomed for royal standing or taught to be the daughter of a king. Can it happen?
The happy scene of what the life of a princess looks like is so implanted in us that sometimes we can’t see the real picture. We can’t imagine the idea of an un-royal lowly girl becoming a princess. We root for the underdog but we don’t really believe the underdog can succeed.
Happy endings happen all the time in fairytales. The prince meets a beautiful girl named Cinderella. She seems to be the least likely to capture the heart of a prince. She dresses up in a magical dress and goes to a ball that people say she doesn’t belong at. Leaving behind only her shoe, Cinderella runs out of the ball at midnight. Back to her common life, she gives up the idea of living as a princess. But the prince can’t get her out of his mind, so he does everything he can to find her. This mysterious woman who left behind her glass slipper has captured his heart and he must have her. Cinderella’s destiny becomes reality as she slips into her role as a princess bride.1
We love the story of Cinderella. We want to believe in her fairytale. We want to believe that happily ever after can exist.
Snow White is another princess bride we fantasize about. This common girl with great physical beauty lived in a house in the woods with seven dwarves who loved her. However, a bitter queen who hated her severely pursued her, poisoned her with an apple, and put her into a deep sleep. Only the kiss of a prince could awaken her from her slumber.2
The prince rides up on his white horse looking regal and handsome and kisses the sleeping beauty. Only true love can save the sleeping princess. The angry fairy that has cursed her is outwitted by true love. What a great story! True love wins out.2
Fantasizing about happily ever after makes us feel good. We like the stories, princess brides, and true love that wins in the end. Fairytales seem to show us the best of what life can be if we just persevere and overcome. And in the end every princess always lives happily ever after.
But fairytales are just fantasy; they don’t really come true. Or do they?
Maybe they do. Maybe they are just framed differently. If we reframe the fairytales and look at them a little deeper, we see the reality that each character’s life wasn’t as grand as inferred in the tale. Someone often treated these women cruelly. They each had a time of heartbreak and disappointment.
Their lives were difficult and sometimes heartbreaking. We just skip right over the bad parts and remember the good when we think about fairytales. We see the end as a win and call it all good. After all, they embraced their happy ending.
I believe life is much like those fairytales. There is bad in life, but also good—and if we make the right choices, there can be a happy ending. If the handsome prince we fall for is Jesus Christ, a happy ending is imminent.
I have seen God make a happy ending become reality in my own life. In fact, he taught me that my identity was that of a Snowflake Princess Bride. He changed me, a common girl with peasant blood, and grafted me into his royal lineage. He called me to a marriage with the King of kings. He asked for my hand and I became his royal bride—a royal bride created just for him with a unique purpose.
But I am not the only person that he has called to be his bride. He has called us all to himself. He is the bridegroom and we (the church) are his bride. Each of us is called to be an heir to his throne and specifically designed to fulfill a purpose.
We each have a unique gift that has been placed within us. We are to uncover that gift so it can become part of who we are and how we glorify God.
As you walk through my personal journey of how God showed me my identity as a Snowflake Princess Bride, and learn more about what a Snowflake Princess Bride is, perhaps you will decide to take the journey yourself.
After all, you were made for it.
A Heavenly Father
Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay,
you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 NIV
Each of us comes into the world the same way—with a loud cry as we exit the womb. If lucky, we have a set of parents, not just a single parent. Along with the biological parents, there is always one other person waiting for the arrival of a child. That person is our heavenly Father.
We don’t generally consider God being present at our birth or the role he plays in our arrival. I’m not sure why we don’t think about him awaiting our delivery. Maybe we think he takes notice of us when we are old enough to take notice of him. Or maybe we just think he cares for us when we reach the age to care back. The truth is much different. God is not only aware of our birth—he is waiting for it. He is part of our lives even before we are born.
Before the beginning of time, we were known to him—but not just known to him, planned by him. Our Father in heaven planned the time of our birth, what century we would be most effective in, and what place in history we would give him the most glory. He planned what we would look like, what our physical features would be—what color our eyes would be, our height, our weight, and our build. He planned our gender and our geographical placement in the world. He even planned how many hairs we would have on our head.
Personally, the count of my hairs couldn’t have been too difficult; I didn’t have any. I was as bald as a queue ball when I was born. Maybe he counted my peach fuzz.
Anyway, I believe heaven probably looks something like this the day we are born:
Knowing we are about to enter the world, God the Father paces back and forth in anticipation. Waiting for the big event has him so excited that he’s a ball of energy. Being light himself, I imagine that the light gleaming off him in every direction is mesmerizing and glorious. Today, he is not just his ordinary demeanor of illumination. No, today his light exudes more than usual with a joy and warmth felt all over heaven. Someone he adores is coming into the world.
When we finally enter the world, God’s mouth opens wide and a loud noise of rejoicing is heard throughout heaven. He is so overcome with excitement that all he can do is sing. As he belts out a song of gladness over us, all the angels join in. The heavens are filled with music of celebration. Maybe the angels even break out in a dance. With joy so overwhelming, maybe their feet just can’t help it.
Have you ever had that happen to you? Have you ever been so filled with joy that you couldn’t stop your body from moving and your feet from dancing? Why wouldn’t God the Father also feel that way? If he puts that kind of joy in us, why wouldn’t he possess it also? I like to think he experiences joy the way we do. After all, we are created in his image. Doesn’t it stand to reason that his emotions are part of the image we embody?
I am sure God feels joy when we are born and pain when we are hurt. Most people say when their children are born they feel a kind of love that is unlike anything they have ever experienced. It’s an overwhelming kind of emotional love that makes your heart swell and feel like it might come out of your chest. Can you imagine your heavenly Father with that kind of love for you?
Take that feeling and multiply it by thousands and you might grasp a better picture of God the Father’s love for you when you were born.
MY ORIGINAL PICTURE
I didn’t always believe this picture of God. I didn’t always think my heavenly Father had his eyes so closely fixed on me. I was one of those people that didn’t picture God as being aware of my birth. As a small child, I had no real concept of who he was. When I was old enough to have a childish understanding, I believed what I was told about God.
Most of us develop our picture of God from the adults around us. We have a childlike imagination and a childlike acceptance. Therefore, when we are told anything about God, we see it in our imagination as somewhat animated. To me he seemed so big and superhero-like. I compared him only to the simple understanding I already had of him. He was this illusive ghost-like giant that hid himself up in the sky.
I also had a very limited and simple understand of prayer. As any child does, I looked to the adults in my life for understanding. I understood that you asked God for the things you wanted in your life and he would give them to you. God was like a genie. You made your request and he granted it.
So, when I was told to pray certain prayers at night before bed, I did just that. I believed the prayers I was told to pray would reach God and he would give me exactly what I wanted. I believed the prayers I prayed requesting God to save my family would be answered. I prayed and believed that my parents would reconcile and be together again. I had a picture in my head of my father returning home and moving back into the house. My mom and dad would love one another again and we would be the family we once were.
Each time I knelt beside my bed at night and prayed, “Please bring Mommy and Daddy back together again,” I believed God was listening and it would happen.
Those prayers ultimately went unrealized. My parents didn’t reconcile. My father didn’t move back into the house and my mother didn’t decide to love my father again. God didn’t bring my parents back together and restore my family.
As time passed, I came to believe that my prayers had fallen on deaf ears. My father had a new woman in his life and my mother a new man. The prayer I had prayed about my parents reconciling hadn’t worked. God hadn’t listened.
I became angry about it. I was mad at God for not granting my request and bringing my family back together. I had innocently asked for something he couldn’t force to happen. I didn’t understand that God would never force people to do things they ultimately refused to do. I had asked him to bend the will of my parents to my own will. So, when he didn’t force the situation and my family stayed broken, I was angry.
How could God leave me in a broken home? How come God didn’t hear me? How come God didn’t fix things? Everyone said to pray and God would fix my situation, but he didn’t. I believed he was absent when my prayers were traveling up into the sky. Maybe he was busy with more important people’s prayers. Maybe he didn’t care about me, or my prayers.
SO MANY QUESTIONS
So many different questions fill your mind when you have a limited understanding of God and how he works—especially when you are a child and you feel like God doesn’t hear your prayers.
First, you question why. Then, you begin to come up with your own conclusion, and usually it is wrong. That’s what happened to me.
In our family, there wasn’t much conversation around my parents’ choice to split up. There were no talks about God and how he worked. There were no conversations about how we were feeling. There were no discussions about what was happening. In our family, we simply put on a happy face and pretended that everything was all right. We ignored anything bad and pushed aside pain. I learned to deny my feelings—to put them away and forget about them. Because of this, I was left feeling confused and frustrated.
It was odd to have something so devastating happening while everyone acted so happy, like nothing terrible was going on. I guess in their world it didn’t seem like the world was ending. But in my life, the world had blown apart and the two people that were my security were on opposite ends of the universe.
The car I had waited for at the end of each day no longer arrived every night. I was no longer able to run screaming “Daddy!” as he entered the yard after work. The things I counted on as my security and stability were yanked out from under my feet. Through it all I learned not to trust my feelings, not to trust myself, and not to trust my own perceptions.
FRUSTRATION TURNS TO ANGER
As I was left to come to my own conclusions about why God didn’t answer my prayers, my frustration became anger and my anger turned to unbelief.
By the time I was fourteen, I had concluded that there was no God. How could there be a God that would allow a child to endure so much pain?
My pain and lack of understanding led me to the conclusion that God did not exist. If there was a God, he would have kept me safe. A loving God wouldn’t have allowed a helpless child to be hurt so badly. I thought if God was real, he must not be very nice. He must be cruel and uncaring because a loving and kind God wouldn’t stand idly by while a small child was hurt. Would he?
How did I arrive to this place? How did I change from a bouncing bundle of hope to an angry teen? I came into the world like everyone else. What had caused me to decide there was no God?
A Common Child
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16 NIV
I came from common stock, a lower-middle-class family. I say lower- middle-class because my father came from a poor family and my mother, although middle class, had been spoiled into thinking she was more than middle class.
My disillusionment started early—five years old to be exact. I had barely started kindergarten when my parents decided to throw in the towel. At that time, I only knew one thing: my daddy was gone, and I missed him.
I can still visualize the old truck pulling into our driveway. He was there to pick us up for a visit. I would run into his arms, filled with giggles and glee. My heart still pains today when I remember him leaving us behind as he drove away after his visits. Every departure was painful. Every goodbye ripped out a piece of my heart. I would beg him, “Please don’t go.”
Although my parents’ lives mended easily enough after the divorce, mine did not. I desperately missed my father. I lived for the times when he would pick up my sister and me. We would wait to hear his old truck roll into the driveway. He didn’t have much money so he couldn’t take us anywhere special, but it really didn’t matter. Skipping rocks at the lake, singing silly songs, collecting frogs, and fishing—that was enough for us.
I remember laughing till our sides hurt as my father made that old truck weave back and forth, shifting us from side to side. First, we would slide to the right until we would run into the door panel and then slide back to the left ending up at his side. Just as we thought the carnival ride was over, he would hit the gas at the top of a hill and make our stomach flip like being on a roller coaster. At the bottom of the hill, we would shout, “Do it again!” and he would begin the hunt for another hill.
We were with him and we were loved. Life felt happy. In those moments life was pure and problems didn’t exist.
Like most children of divorce, I didn’t understand the reason for my parents’ split. Because I didn’t understand, I took on the responsibility myself. Deep in my heart I believed it was somehow my fault. I believed I had somehow caused my parents to divorce.
Just like every other child, I thought everything revolved around me. And, like every child of divorce, I carried the blame for what was happening.
I looked to my parents for answers, and I was given instructions to pray: “Ask God for your mother and me to be back together.” So that’s what I did, I knelt by my bed each night and prayed, “God, please let Mommy and Daddy get back together.” Instead of the prayers helping, they seemed to do nothing. Not only were my parents apart, but they were moving further away from each other. God had ignored my nightly pleas. I could only rationalize that God didn’t care. With every unanswered prayer, my heart grew more unbelieving and angrier toward God.
Within a few years my parents had both remarried. By the time I was eight, I had four parents instead of two. As with most divorces, my mother became the custodial parent. My sister and I lived with our mom and stepdad and were occasional visitors at our dad’s new house. There was no place for us in Dad’s new home. We had no bedroom to indicate we belonged there, only a sofa bed to sleep on. Nothing at his new home said we were part of his new family. This was our new reality, our new relationship with our father. Instead of running to him every night and inundating him with our stories from the day, we became visitors in his new life.
When I visited, I never felt unwanted or unaccepted by my dad’s new family. As time passed and we became used to our new life as children of divorce, we settled into our new routine. Going to Dad’s became an adventure. There were new and different people to begin to love. My stepmother was good to me and had plenty of love to share. I gained two new siblings as playmates: a sister three years younger and a brother six years younger. I was no longer the baby. My spot as “Daddy’s baby girl” had been given to another child. I wasn’t angry or resentful about it; I had enough room in my heart to love more family.
Things were good when we visited. I remember catching tiny little toads with my two sisters out on the side of the house. One day, to our excitement, there were hundreds of tiny little toads. In our exuberance to catch and keep them, we swindled our little brother’s toy wagon from him and pulled it to the side of the house. For what seemed like hours, we caught toads and loaded them into that wagon.
Despite the warnings, we were sure that our wagon filled with toads would still be full and available to play with the following morning. What we hadn’t thought completely through was the tendency of toads to hop. Toads, even tiny toads, can hop high and far. We found this out the next morning when that wagon was empty and not one toad was to be found. Though we searched the entire yard, those toads were long gone. Not only did those toads hop out of the wagon, they had hopped as far away from us as their tiny legs could carry them.
My dad’s old truck pulled up into our driveway less often and as time ticked on, the visits to my dad’s house became less frequent. I probably would have experienced family in a much different way if our visits had continued.
I don’t know all the reasons behind our visits becoming less frequent. I only know that our visits eventually stopped altogether. Every story has two sides, and each person has their own version of the story. Of course, I have heard the story explained from both my parents. Most often the real story lies somewhere in the middle, so I reserve the right to remain neutral. The only story I know is my own. I know the story from the perspective of a child living through it. From everything I have learned as an adult, children are the ones hurt the most when their parents divorce. There is always some regret on both sides. I have no blame to place on either of my parents. The divorce happened and human mistakes were made. Divorce always carries with it mistakes. Like the saying goes, “hind sight is twenty-twenty.” We only see what is visible at the time, but looking back, we often see it differently. We do the best we can with what we know at the time.
FROM A CHILD’S PERSPECTIVE
To me there seems to be a correlation between my mother’s remarriage and the decline of visiting my dad and step-mom. My parents have been elusive about their feelings and actions after each committed themselves to a new partner. I assume there were ill feelings toward the other from both parties. I have heard stories by both parties that paint the other in poor light. Personally, I believe they probably both did things they wish they could go back and do differently. My choice to write about it isn’t to put blame on one parent or the other. It is to show what happened from my perspective and how the choices they made affected how I thought and what I felt about myself.
Whatever the reason, our visits to Dad’s house stopped completely, and eventually my stepfather adopted my sister and me. For the adoption to take place, my real father had to give up his parental rights. Fighting the adoption would have required bringing the substantial amount of overdue child support current. Instead of fighting to retain his rights, he surrendered them and allowed us to be adopted. In my mind, however, he gave me away. He had sold me for a price.
It would take years for me to reconcile why he made that decision. My father’s choice to abandon me was one of the many daggers that shattered my heart. It tortured me. I spent the next decade thinking I wasn’t enough for him to fight for. My pillow was stained with painful tears for what now seems like a lifetime. I thought he took the easy way out to relieve himself of the financial burden he was under. I thought it had become too difficult, so he bailed on me. Was I worth so little that my own father could walk away from me? It took a long time to find healing and see myself as worth something.
It amazes me now as I write these words how the devil was at work so strongly in all our lives to destroy each of us. My father would live with regret, and my mother would be consumed with guilt for picking a new man who would harm her children.
And I believed the lie that I was worthless.
TRUTH BRINGS HEALING
I now know that my father lived with regret from his decision to let us be adopted, and discovering this helped me in my healing process. It helped to know that he didn’t enter that decision lightly, like I meant nothing to him. It helped to know that he thought he was giving me a chance at a new life where I would have a family with two parents. He thought he was doing what was best for me by stepping aside.
His decision reminds me of what a parent does when they know they can’t care for a child and decide to put it up for adoption. They put their own selfish desires aside, face the reality that they can’t be the parent they need to be, and give their child to someone that can provide what they cannot. Realizing this gave me a different perspective and helped me understand that the decision my father made was a difficult one. It brought healing to know he had always loved me and a day hadn’t passed that he didn’t think of me.
That truth helped my healing process, but most of my ability to move forward in my healing came from having a heavenly Father who wanted me even when I felt unwanted. God’s love put a salve on those old wounds. Knowing I am acceptable in God’s eyes has made me feel acceptable and important in my own eyes. I know now that my worth is not determined by whether my earthly father could be in my life. I know that I was beautifully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the universe. He calls me acceptable, and that’s enough for me.
WE ARE ALL IMPERFECT
My parents made mistakes like all parents do. They made mistakes because they were human. They are imperfect people, like we all are. They didn’t have all the answers any more than I have all the answers. They made mistakes that hurt me because we all do that with our children.
As a parent, I have made many mistakes that I wish I could go back and repair. We try to do the best we can with what we know. Sometimes we do things in life that are wrong and hurt others in the process. The answers to our hurt feelings and our pain are simple, but they are never easy. Healing from deep hurt takes forgiveness. It takes letting the hurt feelings go and forgiving those who have hurt you.
I still experience hurt at times by my parents, my current husband, my children, and my friends. When someone hurts me, I have a choice to make. Will I forgive, or will I let the wound inside fester and turn to bitterness? It’s not easy to let go of hurt feelings. It’s not easy to let someone off the hook for what wrong they have done. But I have found that when I go to God, choose to forgive, hand him my pain, and ask him to heal it, he does just that. With forgiveness comes healing, and with healing comes peace.
A NEW DADDY
After the adoption took place, I was actually happy. I had a new daddy, a new neighborhood, and a new house. There were tons of kids to play with in our new neighborhood, and right down the street I found a new best friend. We even lived across the street from a cul-de-sac—the best place in the world to play a game of kick ball. I had it all. I had a great family and a great new life. I can remember skipping down the street one afternoon thinking I was the luckiest girl in the world because I had a daddy again.
When I finally had a family that seemed to be whole, I was thrilled. For a few years, I had the dream I desperately wanted. I had a family—a mother and father who both wanted and loved me. I could move forward in the new security a family provided.
Although there was still loss from separating from my real father and my parents had split up, this new daddy made me feel wanted and showed great interest in me. He spent time with me, played with me, and bought me special gifts. I felt special to him. I trusted and loved him.
What started out as a dream come true turned into my worst nightmare. The unthinkable happened. While my mother was out of town caring for my sick grandmother, my new daddy crossed a line in our relationship. He took me, a ten-year-old child, into a world I knew nothing about. I had been groomed to trust him so he could ensure my positive response to his sick needs.
His first request sounded innocent enough to me. He patted his leg for me to hop up on his lap, and said, “Come up here and snuggle with me.” I thought I was climbing on his lap to be shown the affection that every child needs. I happily hopped right up there and snuggled into his chest. He wrapped his big, strong arms around me and pulled me in close. What started out as a safe and reassuring moment quickly became uncomfortable and strange. The idea of snuggling changed for me that day. It became something dirty that I wanted to stay far away from. It has made snuggling a difficult thing for me. I can hold someone in a hug for short stints, but long embraces now trigger something in me and make me feel uncomfortable.
The things that happened on his lap felt awkward and wrong. His hands caressed me. Starting with sweet love caresses on my back, he slipped his hand under my shirt, which felt a bit awkward. When he moved to the front and caressed my breasts, my insides began to cringe. I was confused. What was happening? With slow, easy strokes he moved his hand down between my legs. As he touched me in places that no man should touch a child, I began to feel anxious. I could feel his excitement growing under my bottom with every touch of his hand. He said soothingly, “It’s ok, Daddy’s just trying to show you he loves you.” Though he proceeded to tell me that nothing was wrong, I felt how wrong it was in my heart. An ugly feeling washed over me as his hands continued to explore my young undeveloped body. It would be many years later before I discovered what that feeling was: shame. It was horrible, dirty shame that I felt that day. I felt dirty and bad.
The kind of love he showed me was the kind only a grown woman should receive from a man. After the first advance, the encounters became more frequent, progressing as he introduced more sexually explicit acts. Touching me and making me touch him was how it started. He would come downstairs to my bedroom, lay me down sideways on my twin bed so my feet hung off the side, pull my shirt up and masturbate until his semen sprayed onto my stomach. Then he would pull my pants down and touch me, asking me sexually explicit questions that I didn’t understand like, “Have you ever experienced an orgasm?” I had no frame of reference for the questions he was asking me. He was doing things to my body that my young mind knew nothing about.
Each time he would introduce something new that I had never experienced. I was at a loss to what was happening to me. As the touching progressed to sexual acts, I was more confused than ever. I knew that what he was doing was wrong, but he told me it wasn’t. To add to the confusion, I was told not to tell my mother because it would hurt her.
I lived in fear of his footsteps and was always alert for his arrival. Would he come down those stairs into my room today? Would it be tonight when I slept? He had become so brave that he would even approach me during the day when my mother was home. With her just upstairs, in the middle of the day, he would sneak into my room.
Each time it would happen, I would hide inside myself. I would go to a place inside my mind that was safe. Gratefully, God gave me a way of detaching myself from my body as he used it for his sick pleasure. I went far away out that basement window while he used my body. I was outside in the yard or down the street with friends. In my mind, I could be somewhere else. I could be somewhere that didn’t include my stepfather abusing me.
Although detachment was a useful tool as a child, it would not be as useful when I became an adult. The ways I learned to cope as a child would stay with me and become stumbling blocks to maintaining healthy relationships. All the ways I had learned to defend myself as a child would have to be unlearned as an adult, if I were to experience healthy relationships.
THE TRUTH COMES OUT
I was the one that finally ended the sexual abuse. As the pressure built, so did my twelve-year-old hormones. Dealing with the confusing emotions inside became increasingly difficult. Frustration frequently gave way to tantrums. Finally, one day after an argument with my mother, in a fit of rage, I wrote a goodbye note and ran away from home. I don’t even recall what I had gotten in trouble for that day, but I do remember what the note said: “I hate you and I’m never coming back.” I just wanted away from it all.
I ran to my friend’s house down the street. Through uncontrolled sobs I told her mother I could never go back home. I remember the desperation I felt that day. I was determined not to go back to the secret life he had forced upon me. I begged her saying, “You don’t understand. You don’t understand! He hates me. Please, I can’t go back there.” As hard as I tried, she couldn’t comprehend my frenzied behavior and tried her best to calm the pre-teen drama in front of her. By the end of the evening she returned me back home to my parents.
In the house, I went and was sent directly to the bathroom to take my bath and get ready for bed. It was a school night and the routine was always the same, bath and then into bed. While still trying to stop my tears and recover my composure, I sat soaking in the bathtub. Only minutes later the door opened and there stood my mother with my stepfather behind her. “If you hate us so much, we will put you somewhere where you can be happier!” my mother said. I spoke the following words with hate in my soul that evidently showed in my eyes: “I don’t hate you! I hate him!” My words were tear-filled and full of pain. I saw a look of question and confusion come over my mother’s face. She turned and asked my stepfather, “Why does she hate you?”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” he replied. A discussion between the two ensued as they left me behind still sitting in the bathtub.
Later that evening when my mother came down the stairs looking for the truth, I spilled the whole story. My sister was in the room, listening. Pain and death entered my mothers’ eyes as the story of abuse filled her ears. The man she loved had done the unthinkable and sexually molested me. Betrayal of the worst kind had entered her household. Surprisingly, my sister admitted my stepfather had been abusing her, too. My mother left the room as calmly as she had entered it, but her eyes revealed she was far from calm inside; she was broken. She knew her children had told her the truth.
I was not alone that night. My sister had been touched by his ugliness too. That night, she was not only my sister, but also my protector. She would stay awake, she said, and keep us safe.