I have two very distinct memories from my early childhood; a nightmare where I was laying on my couch watching static, sobbing and everything was in black and white and I knew I was alone and no one was ever going to come back to me. The second is a new years party that I went to with my cousins. I remember coloring with magic markers on the way there, and playing hide and seek with all of the other kids. I was one of the youngest there - probably around 4. So the oldest boy was with me and helped me hide. He took me into the bathroom and turned off the lights. He stopped when the door opened - but whoever was seeking didn’t see anything.
I moved around a lot and stayed with different relatives when I was very young while we were in the process of moving to South America, and later Texas.
When I started noticing my family didn’t act like my friends families, My dad barely came home early enough for me to see him anymore, and on weekends he left to play golf or had other stuff to do at the office. My mom and him never talked they only communicated in the form of post its to remind each other to do the mundane tasks of everyday life.
Once when I snuck out of bed to watch TV at around 2 in the morning, and I heard someone come crashing down the stairs, and I was so scared I was going to get in trouble, and but it was my dad. I hadn’t seen him in about 8 days, because he was “so busy at work”. He looked at me and grabbed my arm and pulled my into the spare room with him, then he fell on the bed and told me to cover him and then he threw up all over me. I was 9.
After that I really began to pay attention to things changing. Another night I heard a chaos that woke me up coming from down the hall. I went out to see my dad passed out over the threshold. My mom screamed at me to go back to my room, but I didn’t know what was happening and nothing I could think of could explain his condition. I remember thinking that if there was a word for worse than sick, he would be it. And that’s what I thought he had - a cold…or a flu or something temporary.
My grandparents are very wealthy people but they wouldn’t support her to fulfill even our basic needs of groceries and gas to get us to school. They didn’t want to believe that my dad had started drinking again. He had been an alcoholic for a long time, but my mom told him to stop or she would leave him. So he stopped, but he never got help for himself, he never thought he needed it. Even if he knew he had a problem, he never admitted it.
I was extremely devastated when I my mom told me my she and him were not going to be together anymore. Although I knew it was coming.
When my mom told me that they were splitting up, he was already travelling back and forth to Newfoundland for “work”
He moved to Newfoundland semi-permanently after that, and Scott and I went out to see him there once. He moved back to Calgary, and into a couple of different houses. He also started dating a woman named Kim. Near the end, I guess she had taken over all his priorities, other than himself, of course.
At this same time, my mom had been secretly working so we could afford to go to my cousins wedding in Toronto. If my dad found out, he would not have paid any child support, and my mom had already used up her RSP paying for groceries and rent. So, my brother and I called him just before we left, telling him that we were going to Edmonton for a couple of days to visit my mom’s parents, and he said that was fine, to have fun and he’d see us when we got back.
That never happened. He disappeared, no one in my family or his knew where he went. The company that he used to work for wouldn’t tell us anything about where he went, so all I really knew is that he was alive. Maybe. Years later I learned he was living in Saudi Arabia. I don’t know if he’s still there or not. I don’t know anything about him. Sometimes I forget what he looks like, and I don’t know if I should try and remember, if that will help at all. I like to think I’ve forgiven him. I can’t undo what the process did to me though.
I know everyone told me it’s not my fault - counsellors, family members, friends - but I thought about it all the time, and after a while its hard to imagine the reason he left could be anything or anyone else. I felt like if I was a pretty, more athletic, more outgoing daughter, the one I knew my dad wanted, he wouldn’t have left.
I was “daddy’s girl”, and he always called me “Pete” short for petunia - his favourite flower. He treated me with what I thought was love. I trusted him a lot. I know he had hurt our family, but I still loved him so much. When he disappeared it felt like everything he had ever said to me and every minute that we spent together left with him. When someone tells you that they love more than anything for 13 years, and then the leave you, it compromises and twists everything they have said to be a lie
I have horrible self esteem. I feel like I can’t trust anything that anyone says about me, or take anything to heart. I feel worthless all the time, and cringe whenever I look in the mirror. I know I should respect my body because it is from God - He created it - but I feel separate from it, and since I am worthless - my body doesn’t matter anyway. I know this is very VERY messed up way of thinking. And I comprehend that there is a healthy way to think and act and treat yourself, I know the steps, I’ve heard everyone’s opinion (who I had to tell) on how to be healthier. I don’t think it’s depression, because I still can function, I can still be with people and have fun, and I don’t want to label myself as being depressed, because I don’t want people feeling sorry for me. But there is a difference between comprehending that you can be healthy and believing it. And I do want to believe it, but I think it will take time.
I still feel this way. I feel like I’ve gotten the same thing from my dad. Which is a scary thought. I never want to make anyone feel the way he made me feel. I want to run away from everything, and I don’t want to face any of my issues.
I started my relationship with Christ at Salem Acres Bible Camp in 2005. I was a stupid kid. I thought I was such hot shit. I didn’t want rules or restrictions, and that’s what I thought Christianity was. I had already started doing things at 14 that would have killed me pretty quickly. Or caused me to kill others..my babies. What attracted me most to this relationship (as I learned that is what it actually was) was that I would have a father again. A father that would never leave me or forsake me and loves me no matter what I think of him or what I do to others who love me.
My school years seem like a blur to me now. I remember that grade 9 was my favourite, and the beginning of grade 12 was the worst. I so was not taking my relationship with Jesus seriously. I honestly didn’t care at the time.
On July 5, 2008, my one of my best friends died. His name was Thomas.
I loved him dearly.
You never know the extent of what you feel for someone until they are gone. Everything after that was what I had heard it was like. Grieving, that is. I cried until I couldn’t breath. I cried for weeks and weeks, until I simply stopped. Then I felt nothing. I was in a haze of everyone asking me if I was alright all the time. I think the most frequent and consistent lie I’ve told in my life is “I’m fine”. Everyone kept giving me these tragic looks and asking me if I wanted to talk about but I just wanted to get over it. I wanted to stop crying everyday, and see his family. See his mom and sister and not only think about how much he looked like them. Or hang around his dad without thinking how much he acted like him.
I was angry at God, but not angry in the same ways that other people have described being angry at God for a loss. My sadness overtook my anger. And after a while, that sadness somehow turned into disbelief. It still doesn’t seem real. And it still sucks. A lot.
I started my first year at University in the fall ‘09 term. I was extremely uneasy going into it, and the year turned out to be me trying to act like I had matured and was ready for everything, but I just ended up making bad decision after bad decision.
I had partied in Jr. high and high school, but I went to camp every summer and I got that “spiritual high” and you think you’re going to turn your life around, you think that everything will magically change as soon as you want it to. So I muddled through life at home, in high school balancing my Christian friends and activities with my non-christian friends and activities.
But for someone who was trying to be so mature, I acted like an idiot. I skipped almost all my classes, I relied on alcohol, drugs, sex, cigarettes, I dealt with my emotions by avoiding them - I opted for physical pain rather than emotional. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I did anyways. I don’t know why I think I deserve anything. I like to make up excuses, because the thing I hate most in the world is getting in trouble, so I kept making excuses for myself, to prevent my “conscience” from taking over, I hid it from my mom well, I hid it from my church well, I tried to hide from God, but we all know how well that works.
No one knew what I had been doing, except for my “friends” at U of C, and that’s who they thought I was. When I think about myself, I feel disgust. Disgust with my outward appearance, disgust with my addictions, and things that I have done, knowing full well what they can do to me, and I do them even though I know better, then I act like someone who is righteous, and judge other people for their sins too. I have no right to judge. What makes me feel so entitled? Why is there the sense that I deserve so much, and that I can step over other people, who are exactly the same as me in God’s eyes, to get what I want? I know God’s love and grace should have been sufficient for me, but I felt so worthless. I can tell other people that God loves them no matter what they’ve done, and I can sound very convincing, and I believe it for them, but because I knew what I had done in the past, and what I am still doing, I couldn’t comprehend why he would forgive me.
I’ve been very dependant on darkness throughout my life. It’s my comfort zone, my escape. In darkness, nothing matters so you never have to do anything for anyone else. You can just rot, be still until all of you disappears. And you know the outside world will be concerned for a time, but ultimately they’ll be okay. If they really knew who I was they wouldn’t want me in their lives anyways. I’m broken, gross, disgusting, scorched, and full of sin. What have I done? I don’t think I will ever fully know all that I have done, simply because there is so much of it, and I can’t remember it all. I cannot account for it all, and I‘m scared for the day I will be accounted for everything because these are only the first 18 years of my life.
I have had many luxuries that many people go without. Things I supposed would make my life easier. They make life easier so you can concentrate on making yourself happier. But the world tells me that happiness can be packaged, bought at a set price, whether it be money, your skills, your body, and when it breaks down, a newer more improved model of happiness will be readily available - and I can’t afford it. And so the cycle continues. But I’m also blessed with the knowledge that there’s more to life than that. There’s more than just personal satisfaction. We were created for a purpose, and with love. I can’t imagine where else I’d be or what else I’d be doing without that knowledge.
This relationship I’m in, it hasn’t been easy. I mean for me. Why is it so hard for me to love someone, consistently, unfailingly, a love that we all dream about, a love that He gives us without question, why can’t I just love Him back like that? Why can’t I love myself? I make things so complicated - but Jesus simplifies them. Why do I have to waste time being angry, or disappointing Him, when all he’s done all my life is love me? And loves me enough to give me the choice to love Him back? Mind - blown.
I’m currently living away from home, attending a discipleship school. I am learning how to live life that is truly living. I think I was trying to take on my journey with God alone, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so afraid to be changed, to be pulled out of darkness and be exposed to that temporary blinding brightness of light. The Light of the world.
I know that Jesus does not promise that my life will be any easier following Him. He knows it will be hard. He was human, he knows our struggles with pain, betrayal, temptation, frustration, anger, grief. He was here. He struggled. He doesn’t expect us to go through ours alone. It is so hard to see love when you don’t think you can seek it anymore.
I know that I have never been unloved. Yet I am constantly frustrated with not being able to know what is going to happen in my own life. Things have hurt me, have broken me, have lied to me, have dragged me into darkness. It’s hard to reconcile the suffering of the world with an omniscient yet completely good God. This has been one of my biggest struggles.
“if God is so good why does he allow all the bad?”
He does not allow it. God despises our hatred for each other, our idolatry of temporary, ultimately meaningless things that are not of Him. We were created for relationship and love. We were made to be stewards of the earth and take care of one another. I cannot claim a stake at my own future with my own life, because truly, it was never mine in the first place. It is a gift. Our spirituality and physicality are distinctly unique, for a reason, than the rest of creation, from rocks to angels.
God made love. God is love. We were given this choice to love in a world full of hate that we caused in the first place. Why did God create us with choice? I have no idea. I’m not God. But He probably saw more worth in our choices than to create a world full of monotonous robots that He bent to His every whim. We try to put God in a box. A lot of boxes actually. But he cannot be contained. If we could even eventually understand all that God is, He would cease to be God. There still is enough to learn over my lifetime - and I look forward to, not every minute, but all of eternity that I will spend in Paradise with my Father.
He is bigger than any of us can truly fathom, yet He still maintains a personal relationship with all of us. Well, He wants to. It really is our choice. I have chosen to love as He loved me first. And let me tell you, I have never experienced anything so relentless than the love that my God has for me.