This week’s blog is a difficult one for me. I don’t often talk about my childhood because it was very hard for me. I know there are way too many who’ve been through far worse. For them, I’m truly sorry.
I never regret anything because I know it has all worked together to make me the woman I am today. Since I don’t regret who I am, why would I regret the fire I drove through to get here? I used to say I only tell my story to the women in prison. I thought they were the only ones who could really relate. I’ve since learned there are so many who went through the same, or worse. What I have found over the years since I began talking about it is every time I share, I heal more. Every time I’ve shared, I’ve had numerous people come to me to open up about what happened to them. That’s why I open these old wounds — to help others heal too.
I was born in 1962 in the US when a child born out of wedlock was frowned upon. When my mother’s pregnancy was found out, she was to be sent to stay with her aunt until I was born, and then given up for adoption. My mother was defiant and refused. My grandfather then offered my father my mother’s inheritance from her Aunt Laura if he would marry my mother before I was born. They married. My father named me Laurie Lynne and I loved him very much. My mother was hateful to me. She had two more children with my father. The second, a boy, was loved and we all knew it. After my brother a girl (the ‘baby’) came along she also, was truly cherished. I was forever the unwanted, but my father loved me, he told me I was special as his first-born child.
When I was five, my parents decided to divorce. I was absolutely devastated. The only one I felt who really loved me was leaving me, which began my struggle with abandonment issues. My mother then had my name legally changed to Laura Jean. I’m sure you can piece together the significance. She re-named me after the aunt whose inheritance she lost due to my very existence and my middle name after my grandmother. I loved my grandmother, but my mother fought with her all the time and was just as hateful to her as she was to me. So with this, I was branded with more negativity to walk through life, and this all before I was six years old.
Once my father left, the beatings began. The incidents and details are not as important as their effect on me. As a child, we try so hard to please our parents, but no matter what I did, I always did it wrong. She was a religious zealot but with a twisted view. She would skew The Word to suit her and use it against me. She regularly let me know I was going to hell. She one time literally beat me with a Bible. I tried to run far from the God she had led me to believe was so full of wrath and judgement as to allow her to do these things to me. When I was in third grade, she had beaten me to the point I could not sit down. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Snyder, (I adored that woman) kept reprimanding me because I wouldn’t stay seated in my chair during class. She took me to the office where it was discovered I wouldn’t sit down because it hurt too badly. I was taken to the counselor where the extent of her abuse was learned. My mother was informed that it was to end. It did. However, that was when she perfected the verbal abuse. I often wished I could go back to the physical. The phrase, “The tongue is sharper than a two-edged sword” was surely speaking of her. The venom and poison that woman could throw at me should have severely and permanently damaged me. Instead, I found Christ and learned the truth; God would never leave me nor forsake me and loved me so much, He would have sent Jesus to take my place even if I were the only one to accept His free offer. Wow! That was a love for me I knew no one else was capable of. I continued to be cut down, berated, belittled and verbally abused, but in my mind, I learned to distance myself from emotion, and her in general.
By the time I was nine, I was responsible for taking care of my siblings and my mother. I did the cooking, cleaning, babysitting, earned money for the family, and continued putting up with her abuse. When she couldn’t control herself, she reverted to physical as well. When I was eleven, we moved to a different house that had to have a new well drilled. The cost was impossible for us, so I had to haul water from a neighbor’s water pump across the road for everything from drinking, to bathing, to even flushing the toilet. That was a never-ending chore. I had to heat the water for baths every night for my siblings and myself. My mother predominantly stayed in bed. I went to school, came home, helped with homework, did my homework, did all the household chores, made the meals, fed everyone, cleaned up, dropped in to bed, and did it all over the next day.
When I was twelve, I came home to my grandparents, my uncle, and our past babysitter. My mother had attempted suicide and was taken to a mental hospital. My uncle took my brother, the babysitter took my sister, and I stood there with no one willing to take me. My grandparents decided since I was self-sufficient, and they wouldn’t have to do much more than put a roof over my head, they would take me. I only had a hint of possible love when I thought how much God loved me, but I began to wonder why He would love someone like me, someone not even worthy of a loving family
By the time I was thirteen, my mother had been released from the hospital. My uncle kept my brother and my sister had been put in to foster care. I returned home with my mother to care for her. She again attempted suicide, re-entered the hospital, but this time, I stayed on my own. I would drive the family car back and forth to my grandparents’ house on the back roads to do my laundry and get my groceries. I was taught to pay five dollars on each bill that came to the house out of the disability check my mother got. I visited her in the hospital and saw some scary stuff! There was a good reason some of those people were locked up in there. Over the next three years, periodically she would get out, come back to live with me, attempt suicide again, I would find her, then call the ambulance to take her to the hospital again.
When I was sixteen, by a string of events my sister was returned to me. We lived alone for some time. One afternoon, our mother walked in and informed us we had to pack our things, that she had sold the trailer we were living in and the new owner would be there within an hour to haul it away. She was going to move to another city. I told her I didn’t want to move since I only had a year and a half to go in the only school I’d ever attended. She showed me the error of my thinking. She was not taking me with her; I had to find somewhere else to live. My sister threw such a fit that our mother agreed to take her with her. She was soon back in the foster system. Thank God for His faithful people. My best friend’s parents agreed to let me live with them until I graduated.
As an adult, I have since forgiven her. It finally occurred to me I was trying so hard to make a woman love me who just couldn’t. When I stopped expecting a different outcome, I came to terms with it and found the ability to forgive. However, when her poisonous personality continued to pour out on me and began to overflow on my child, I removed her from my life. I once had a pastor friend help me with the struggle of the Bible’s instruction to “…honor thy mother and thy father.” He asked me, “Who is your mother?” I told him the three women who had been motherly to me. He then asked if I honored them. I emphatically answered, “Yes!” He said then I had been doing as instructed. I told him that I’m told to “turn the other cheek.” He said, “And sometimes we have to keep our cheeks out of the way.” I chose to completely remove my presence from her entirely.
I did go through years of therapy to heal. I am a new creation in Christ these days. So you see, all things do work together for the good of those who serve The Lord and are called according to His purpose. If you need someone to “talk” to, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the Subject line please say, Your Blog Post, so I can make sure it doesn’t go to spam/trash.
Please, above all, KNOW you are loved, worthy, and valuable. Be the blessing you really are!