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All posts for the month November, 2012

The rock years

Published November 29, 2012 by Chloe Madison

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Years passed.  I still loved God and prayed for his help every day, but couldn’t have felt farther away.

I felt closer to the music.  Closer to the lyrics and the people who wrote them.  I began going to concerts and experiencing the thrill of live music.  During one of my first concerts, I was approached by the bass player of the band after the show.  He asked me if I wanted to go get dinner with him.  We wound up on South Beach at a pizza joint.  I had never really talked to a guy in a band before…but this guy was so casual about approaching me and talking to me that it seemed normal.  We began to date…or so I thought.  Well, we really did date and see each other for several months.  But, as I would learn, in the world of rock music, there’s no such thing as a monogamous relationship.  At the time, I had no idea.  He would call me all the time…each time from a different city.  Every time he was in the state of Florida, no matter how far away, we’d arrange to see each other.  He’d bring me backstage at different outdoor concerts where lots of other bands were playing.  I got to meet tons of other musicians who I had long adored.  I became sort of superficial friends with these people.  We were friends, but we didn’t know each other very well.  I extracted every ounce of meaning I could from these friendships though, since it was all I had.  Once I realized that we weren’t exactly in a monogamous relationship, I broke things off with him, explaining that I wasn’t like that.  He said that’s part of what he loved about me.  But, that was it.  We kept in touch for years through email and occasionally seeing each other at shows throughout the years.  His band blew up and he became incredibly famous.  Now, he’s married and has a child and I couldn’t be happier for him.  🙂

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Getting ready to play at Woodstock ’99

Meeting people backstage during our short lived relationship opened the world of rock music up to me.  All the years of listening, singing along and playing guitar…and here I found myself standing on the side of the stage, watching these various artists perform.  They momentarily took me out of my prison of depression and put me on a temporary high of music, glamor and partying.  Let’s get this clear right now.  I never did drugs and no, I was never a groupie.  I witnessed those things…rampant alcohol abuse, drug use, random sex with girls who would appear out of nowhere.  When I dated the guy in the band, he warned me to be careful of people…that because we were together, he said, people would try to use me.  I thought he was being silly and paranoid and all but dismissed what he said.  But, I kept it in the back of my mind…be careful, don’t get hurt again.

Like I said, I learned from him that there’s no such thing as a monogamous relationship for a musician.  I never got into another relationship with an artist again.  I had random times of partying a little too hard, perhaps a little too much drinking and I’d make out with someone…but that was it!!  I got to meet and party with Korn multiple times.  You can imagine how giddy I was inside…of course, outside, I was trying to play it totally cool.  They offered me weed and I said no.  They countered with “but this is Korn crypt, you’ll never have anything better”.  I told them I never smoked before and they responded with “Great!  Even better for this to be your first hit…c’mon, you’re with Korn, man!!”  Yeah, I was with Korn.  But, I passed.  I was told I was messing up ‘the rotation.’  At the time, I had no idea what that meant.

I loved going to concerts.  It was my time to come alive and enjoy myself, if only for an evening. Every time I met one of my musical idols, I had an even better time.  Knowing these people and even simply meeting them, made me feel important.  It was the first ounce of importance my soul had felt in years.  I went to hundreds and hundreds of concerts over the course of 15 years.

A friend introduced me to a guy who was in a local band.  I heard my ex’s words ringing in my head, “be careful…people will use you”.  I thought he just wanted to use the people I knew in the industry to get his band signed.  As it turns out, he went to my high school…but with my little brother!!!  He seemed super cool and we continued to hang out.  We eventually became best friends.  I’d do merch for his band at all the local shows.  Doing merch means selling their merchandise, manning the table, selling CDs, t-shirts, hats, hoodies, etc.

It was around this time that I found myself longing for God.  I was pining for my long lost relationship with God, my Father.  I mean, I did have a relationship with him…it just felt distanced.  I had no desire to go back to church, but I had a desire to fully reunite with God.  I prayed a quick prayer that God would then give me the desire to go to church.  I thought listening to a sermon would be the best way to get pulled back in with the Lord.  But, I needed the desire to actually go.

By the following Saturday, I had an undeniable, burning desire to go to church.  Well….who woulda thunk it?  😉

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‘Battle axe with locks of curls’

Published November 29, 2012 by Chloe Madison
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Kirsten Dunst in ‘Interview With A Vampire’

Being raped by Joe and even more, the abortion served as the catalyst for the great depression.  I was alone with only one friend who knew what had just happened and who stood by my side.  The guy I was in love with had abandoned me, disgusted with me.  My friend was dealing with her own issue…her boyfriend (my roommate) had just decided to move back to Sweden and left.  She was devastated and had no one else to confide in.  We became best friends…although not the healthiest of friends.

I was disgusted by her, actually.  She had crushed on Joe.  Even after what happened, she asked me one day if I wouldn’t mind if she hooked up with him.  I was stunned!  “Are you freaking serious?  What the hell is your problem??” I responded.  I couldn’t believe that just because he was good looking, she was willing to overlook him raping her friend.  So, even though she was my only close friend at this time…I knew I was truly alone.  She really didn’t have my back after all.

My downward spiral was quite ugly.  Everything from my childhood came back.  I had never officially dealt with being consistently raped as a 9 year old.  I had never dealt with what my dad did.  I had never really dealt with my dad’s death and the fact that I still felt guilty for ‘causing’ it by wishing it.  My support system within the church was gone, my relationship with God, my Father, had waned.  Most of the men I had a relationship with had screwed me over somehow.  I spiraled completely out of control.  I dove into the rock music…I found the lyrics related to me now, the angst in singers’ voices resonated with me.  Instead of focusing on the Bible, I focused on the lyrics to rock songs.  They understood me.  They felt my pain.  There was a magical, yet nonexistent relationship and understanding between rock songs and I.  I kept playing my guitar on the streets, now with more gusto and more emotion.  I wrote songs, I wrote various little odes.  I will publish some for you…they are terribly sad.

I lost interest in one of my most favorite things: eating!  I became anorexic.  I was depressed for years, anorexic for years and suicidal.  I made several half hearted attempts.  They weren’t ‘attention seeking’ as people might like to label it.  No one knew about it.  I did it in secret and in private.  I remember the last time quite well.  I cut…with a piece of glass that I called myself.  I was in fact, broken.  I was nothing but broken pieces, broken glass…piercing, slicing, hurting everything it touched.  And in fact, I did feel as if I messed up everything I ever laid eyes on.  My life was sh*t.  I was sh*t.  I had done the worst of the worst in terms of sinning.  God clearly didn’t love me and was pissed at me.  I felt like He wasn’t interested in helping me because I had sinned so badly.

I just…wasn’t worthy.  Of anything.

I was super skinny, never ate and worked out like a madman.  I think I was punishing myself by not eating.  After all, it was one of my greatest joys in life.  I could barely function.  It was all I could do to muster the strength to drag myself out of bed and into work in the mornings.  I dropped out of college and didn’t finish my Master’s degree.  I could barely survive.

My depression was deeper and wider than any ocean on earth.  I was literally depressed for nearly an entire decade.  A DECADE!!!  This was no joke, no ploy for attention… the worst things had happened to me and I had done the worst things…and I just couldn’t bear it anymore.  At the age of 9, my life went down the toilet.  I just wasn’t meant to be.

I clung to music, if nothing else.  I found lyrics that echoed my soul’s cries.

Mudvayne’s “Skrying”:

“Battle axe with locks of curls,
Introverted…

Do you remember the bedroom,
Was it your cell or was it your tomb…

Children, learning the secret knock, a nickel
To enter that place,
The place you would go to make things okay,
My cost, the price of a broken doll, can you
Remember that place,
The place you would go to take pain away?”

The line “battle axe with locks of curls” makes me picture a little girl with blond curls ramming her head against a wall, like she’s been so destroyed by abuse that she’s now self-destructive.  The line about the bedroom being your cell or your tomb resonated incredibly with me.  I asked myself that every day.  Was the abuse that occurred in the bedroom a temporary cell?  Or was it going to kill me, eventually becoming my tomb?

I loved the release that listening to Korn gave me.  I related to the lyrics, the pain and agony and felt better…even relieved after listening and screaming along with the singer, Jonathan Davis.  Turns out he had been raped as a child too.  No wonder I connected…

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Korn’s “Daddy”

“You’ve raped!
I feel dirty
It hurt!
As a child
Tied down!
That’s a good boy
And f**ked!
Your own child
I scream!
No one hears me
It hurt!
I’m not a liar
My God!
Saw you watching”

To this day, that song brings me to tears.  At times, I tried to share it with people.  I didn’t want them to think Korn was this evil rock band, like people want to label all rock bands.  If your children relate to these lyrics, you should be scared.  And you should inquire with them what it is they relate to.  They might just need your help.

Blueberry Muffin

Published November 29, 2012 by Chloe Madison

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I had to leave the church, but I didn’t want to leave God. So I went on another missions trip, this time to the Philippines.  It was one of the BEST summers of my life!!  I was definitely on a spiritual high.  I loved everyone I was on the team with, I loved the Philippines, I loved God, I loved serving people and I loved being back in His will.  God had forgiven me for what I had done and it felt amazing to be safely back in the palm of His hand.

After I came home from the Philippines, I realized it was high time for me to move out of my mom’s house and into my own place.  I had separated myself from my beloved church and subsequently, from the invisible support system that I had there in the body of fellow believers.  I didn’t quite realize that yet though.  I felt confident of life in general, as I was newly home from spending several months abroad doing missions.  I was on a ‘spiritual high’.  I moved into a well-known touristy kind of location in Miami named Coconut Grove.  Not only was it trendy, beautiful and set on the ocean, but it had quite the active night life.

There was this odd, young culture of people who lived in the Grove…they were called Grove Rats.  I found them to be an eclectic and overly welcoming group who shared an interest of mine- music and playing guitar.  These ‘kids’ hung out on the streets until the wee hours of the morning, sat in a circle, smoked cigarettes incessantly, played music and sang popular rock songs.  I found their company so enjoyable!  Not only was I learning to become a better guitar player, but I was enjoying a loud group that I could sing to my heart’s content in.  You see, I’m a TERRIBLE singer.  Like, REALLY terrible.  I’ve always joked that it’s illegal in 7 states for me to sing out loud.  And yet, I adore singing!  So, I found that I could hide in this crowd singing as loud as I could because I’d be masked by the 8-12 other singers.  Plus, these were the most nonjudgmental people I had ever encountered in my life.  They really wouldn’t care if I couldn’t keep the tune.  As I got to know the Grove Rats more personally, I found some of them to be runaways literally living on the streets and some were simply bumming around.  I encountered one guy who was a runaway who I thought was kind of a genius.  He ‘lived’ on one of the close uninhabited islands.  He’d swim to and from there on a daily basis and when he was in the Grove, he’d hide his stuff by climbing a tree and concealing his backpack up in the tree.  He stayed around for a few months and then moved on.  There were a group of these kids who got together and pooled their tiny incomes from minimum wage jobs.  They got a studio apartment together.  I was asked over once and was shocked to see not a stick of furniture, but instead a bunch of sleeping bags overlapping each other on the floor.

Anyway, I found a roommate in another passer-by…this one a chef from Sweden.  He and I rented a 2 bedroom apartment in the Grove and split the rent.  At this time, I was still in college working on my Master’s degree.  I was a substitute teacher by day and a waitress at a diner in the Grove by night and on the weekends. I also had a ‘third part-time job’ and that was playing guitar on the streets.  Whether these Grove Rats were around or not, I saw that if you played guitar and kept your guitar case opened, people walking by would occasionally drop dollar bills in.  I was living on my own and was too proud to ask my mom for financial help.  From my 2 jobs, I could pay all my bills…my rent, car, gas, insurance…but I consistently had nothing left over when it came time to eat!  So, I’d sit on the street, strum a few tunes and when I had received about $10, I’d stop and go use that money to eat with.

I fell in love with another guy who hung out with the Grove Rats.  He wasn’t one of them.  But, wow…could he play guitar and sing!! It was almost like a serenade whenever he came out for the evening and joined the group to play.  Actually, when he was there, he was automatically the leader…everyone saw his talent and respected it.  We became very close friends and during that time, I fell in love with him.  Unfortunately, it was unrequited love.  😦

About a year after I moved into the Grove and began hanging out with the Grove Rats, a very attractive Lieutenant from the Coast Guard moved into my apartment complex.  From day one, he made it very clear that he was attracted to me.  But, as I was enveloped in my feelings for my guitar playing singer, I really found that I had no feelings at all for my new neighbor.  His name was Joe.  Joe’s hitting on me was relentless, yet fruitless for him.  When he was sober, you’d never know that it bothered him as he constantly played it cool.  But, when he drank, he became a mean spirited and critically outspoken person.  I learned quickly to stay away from him when he drank.

The guy I was in love with left for the summer.  He left the country to go visit family.  Another neighbor in my apartment complex was moving away, so we had a going away party for him.  As we lived within walking distance of bars, it seemed harmless.  We’d go have some drinks with no worry of having to drive home.  At this point, Joe hadn’t talked to me in months because he was mad that I wouldn’t respond to his advances.  I didn’t really care and thought that even though Joe was going to the bar, I would just hang out with my friends and could pretty much avoid him.  We had several drinks and were enjoying ourselves greatly.  I started to feel tired and told my roommate’s girlfriend that I was going to walk home.  I declined her offer to walk me home as it was only a few blocks away.  I said my good-byes and left.

Before I even reached the road outside the bar, Joe was by my side…….

………….

………….he completely ignored me for days.  He lied to mutual friends, telling them he walked me home that night and that was it.  He said he had left me alone in my apartment.

Over the next few days, he refused to even acknowledge that he knew me around the apartment complex.  And shortly thereafter, my worst fears were confirmed.  I was pregnant. 

I confronted Joe.  He began yelling at me that I was psycho and crazy and he never did anything and nothing ever happened that night.  He lied, saying he had no idea what I was talking about and he walked away.

Here, I was…pregnant.  The last thing in the world I wanted to do was to piss God off again and kill an innocent life by getting another abortion.  I just couldn’t do it.  But this was Joe’s baby.  And Joe was Asian.  The baby would certainly come out looking at least a bit Asian.  I could carry the baby for the duration of the pregnancy and give it up for adoption.  But, I knew myself.  I’m such a sap that if I carried a baby for nine months, there’s no way I could give it up.  I’d keep it.  And if I kept the baby, would I lie or tell the truth?  Do I eventually tell my child that your father raped your mother?  How would that devastate an individual, knowing that they are a product of rape?  Or do I lie to my child and come up with another story?  Either way, I would have to look my rapist in the face on a daily basis.  If I have an Asian looking baby, how could I not see my rapist’s face every time I glance at my child?  What’s worse…is that even though he was denying everything at the time, I had this horrible fear that he’d want visitation rights.  What the ?!?!  I’m not sure where that came from, but that was something I was really worried about.  I thought I’d have to coordinate with my rapist for the rest of my life over him visiting our child.

It seemed like no matter which way I went, it was a lose-lose situation.  So, I took the coward’s way out and decided on an abortion.  I again confronted Joe, demanding that he help me pay for it (as I didn’t have the funds to pay for it myself).  He accused me of lying about being pregnant and demanded proof.  Big. mistake.  I took yet another pregnancy test.  This time, I opened the box and laid it flat.  I opened the pamphlet of directions inside and laid it flat.  I took those two items, the test itself and a staple gun and waited until I saw Joe leave his apartment.  Then I darted up to his apartment door, opened up the box the pregnancy test came in and staple gunned it to his front door.  I remember my hands were shaking as I stapled the opened instructional pamphlet.  I was glancing over my shoulders left and right as I was terrified he would be back any second. Finally, I stapled gunned the pregnancy test to his door, which declared I was pregnant.  I ran downstairs and darted into hiding in my apartment as quickly as I could.  I was shaking from head to toe.  But, I was so pissed off at him for what he did…and on top of that, for him accusing me of lying.  In the midst of a tragedy, for a fleeting moment, I felt proud for momentarily standing up for myself.

I had the abortion soon after.  I didn’t have the money to pay for full anesthesia.  So, I got what they referred to as ‘twilight’ anesthesia.  They described it as lightly sleeping.  I have a memory of waking up in the middle of the procedure, feeling my insides getting sucked out.  I jumped up and screamed and startled the attendants.  They jumped on me and held me down and I don’t remember anything after that, except waking up after the procedure was over.

I felt terrible.  I couldn’t believe I had just taken another life.  I couldn’t believe I had just been raped AGAIN.

The guy I was in love with came home from being out of the country only days after the procedure.  He was the second person I told what happened.  His reaction wasn’t at all what I expected.  He literally seemed disgusted with me.  Shortly afterwards, he told me he wasn’t really interested in being friends with me.  I was devastated.

The guilt from what I did was consuming me and killing me from the inside out.  When Joe delivered a personal check to me for half the cost of the procedure, I looked at it as genuine proof – this was his admission of guilt.  I only saw him once after that.  We passed in the parking lot…I was walking into my apartment after driving home and he was walking across the lot to the garbage dumpster, carrying a vacuum cleaner that he was throwing away.  It was the only time he ever spoke to me afterwards.  He made a crude joke that he should have used that vacuum cleaner…it would have been cheaper for him.

My anger boiled and brimmed consistently.  Once, in a lame attempt at lashing out, I threw a blueberry muffin at his sliding glass door on his balcony.  Sure enough, the next morning, that very same blueberry muffin had been smeared all over my car.

About a year later, I found myself trying to get over things still.  I thought I needed closure and needed to stand up for myself and confront him by saying the words “I know you raped me” to his face.  Because he was a lieutenant in the Coast Guard at the office in downtown Miami, getting a hold of his work number wasn’t difficult.  I called his work and asked for him.  I asked to briefly meet up with him.  He said he would…and I think he did so, just because at the time, he was alarmed that I contacted him at work.  He told me to meet him at his favorite restaurant in the Grove.

I did.  He didn’t.

It’s the only time I’ve ever been stood up.  As I was sitting there waiting for him, I was trying to maintain my nerve to say what I wanted to say.  The more that time passed, the more I began to realize he wasn’t coming, and the more anger set in.  Since I knew this was his favorite restaurant…a favorite place of his to take girls, I decided to write a warning to his female companions.  I went into the women’s restroom and carved into all 3 stalls on the back of the doors “Joe K— is a rapist”.  I went back several days later to make sure my work of art was still there and to make it stand out a bit more.  I took a black permanent marker with me and colored inside the carvings.  They’d have to sand that off to conceal it.

That was my last jab at him.  I’ve periodically kept tabs on his location.  He moved back to Minnesota and went to Law School.  I wondered what that was all about and thought that perhaps he was paranoid about his law breaking and needed to know how to best defend himself.  According to Linked In, he’s supposedly in Afghanistan now.  Good.  The farther away, the better.

Part 1, Still continued…

Published November 6, 2012 by Chloe Madison

I kept going to church with Cam.  It was my safe place, my refuge.  I was learning to love God and to love others.  I was learning to focus on the joyous experiences in life and to love those who were hurting. I clung to those beliefs, that church, that youth group and those kids. I could be my silly, tomboyish self and was still loved.

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I also had my first boyfriend during this time.  He was my first real love.  His name was Paul Love. Isn’t that the best last name? He was like McGyver to me.  He could do anything, knew random facts…he was kind, gentle, thought the world of me and was a romantic. I learned what love was like with him.  We had a pure relationship, no sex, no lusting.  We simply adored each other and were deeply in love.  We spent a few years together and at that age, it’s like being together forever.  We wound up breaking up and he married his very next girlfriend right out of high school.  He disappeared off the face of the earth and as we unfortunately lived back in the days of no cell phones and no Facebook, we lost touch.  But, he will forever hold a special place in my heart.  To this day, I still look at aged pictures of us and read old, worn out love letters from him.

 

Australia…

In high school at the age of 16, I went on my first major missions trip.  Cam was on the team, which made it feel safer.  We went to Australia to build a camp for the kids there.  Do you remember the last few days of the school year?  The last couple of days are usually reserved for final exams and are sometimes even half days.  It was one of those last few days, right before I was to leave on the trip that I think I had an encounter with an angel.  This man came to visit my teacher…she recognized him as he was a former student and she chuckled as he explained that he was in seminary.  She said he was such a terrible kid in her class that she was surprised he was following God.  She pointed me out to him, stating that I was about to leave on a 2 month long missions trip.  He asked my teacher if he and I could talk privately out in the hallway.  She let us go outside and talk.  He said he felt like he needed to tell me something.  He wanted to tell me how to cast a demon out. Inside, I freaked!!  I thought ‘this man needs to get away from me!! What a weirdo!’  But, I heard him out as I kept casting a longing eye toward my classroom.  He told me three things were important.  The first was that “the name of Jesus Christ” had to be used.  The second was that we had the authority as children of God to do this and that our faith facilitated its effectiveness.  The third…. well, I can’t remember the third one to save my life.  😦   He asked to pray with me and over me and he did.  I never saw him again.

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I left on my trip and within weeks, found myself face to face with demonic possession. Her name was Grace.  She was a frail looking 14 year old girl who acted terrified of everything.  At first, we didn’t notice anything was really wrong.  She was covered in sores from head to toe, wore her frizzy, blond hair down in her face and over her eyes, and was thin and pale.  She threw up every, single day as we opened our Bibles to do our daily devotions.  She was timid, but had an amazing ability to draw.  The guys on the team would flip through her sketch book in awe of the ‘cool’ creatures she drew.  I caught my first glimpse of her art and asked to see more.  I remember thinking it was odd for a girl to draw such scary, scaly creatures in caves.  We first knew it was real when one of the team members saw ‘it’ with her own eyes.  One evening, we were bumming around our tents as the sun was going down.  I heard a shriek and looked up to see one of our team members running wildly toward her tent, which she dove into head first.  I ran to her, along with several other kids to see what was wrong and how we could help.  She was pale white, shaking violently, weeping hysterically and could only mutter Grace’s name.  I sat back, wondering where Grace was.  I looked around and saw that she appeared to be on the ground in the middle of the field.  A few of our leaders had huddled around her.   I went over to see what was happening, but they wouldn’t let us near her, so I went back to our hysterical team member to find out what happened.  She explained that she saw Grace on her knees in the field, looking up toward the sky.  She saw another figure floating up in the sky, reaching down and strangling Grace.  She said that at first, Grace was grabbing it’s hands that were around her neck and appeared to be trying to fight it off…but then, she gave up.  Her hands dropped to her sides and the figure appeared to be winning.  That’s all she saw.  From there, it was made clear to us that we were dealing with something else.  A few days later, I talked to Grace privately and asked about everything.  I asked about her drawings.  ‘It’s things and places they show me’, she said.  I asked why her hair was in her eyes and covering her face.  She shrugged that she didn’t really know.  I asked her if I could cut her bangs and she agreed.  I asked her what she thought caused this.  The only thing she could only think of was playing with a Ouija board when she was younger.  In retrospect, it all added up.  The sores on her body, the throwing up as the Bible was opened.  She explained it herself, ‘it won’t let me read the Bible’.  Things seemed to happen more at night.  One night, I remember my tent-mate frantically waking me up.  I heard screams and animal roars.  ‘It’s Grace!’ my tent-mate informed me.  I flew out of the tent and came to a screeching halt.  I saw multiple people huddled inside and half outside Grace’s tent, Grace flailing and thrashing around, animal roars coming out of her mouth.  Two of our leaders were commanding the demon to leave her as they were trying to hold her down.  Her eyes were rolling into the back of her head and she was yelling out in a deep, male voice incomprehensible things. Just then, from Grace’s thrashing about, a lantern got kicked over against the side of the tent.  Within seconds the tent was up in flames.  Everyone got out safely, but we were petrified.  Nearly all of us had commanded the demon out in the name of Jesus Christ, but it didn’t seem to be working.  On another evening, we had gathered outside for prayer…a special prayer time to specifically pray for Grace.  We were in a circle and taking turns praying out loud.  I heard a low rumbling that came from a distance and seemed to get louder and closer.  A great wind came rumbling across the field and blew a giant metal pot off its hook in our outdoor kitchen and flung it into the center of our prayer circle.  We literally had to duck out of the way! It seemed to be angry that we were praying against it and it was displaying a threat as it showed its control of nature.  It wasn’t until halfway through the summer that I remembered this man and what he tried to tell me.  Over the course of the summer, our leaders took her to multiple exorcisms in Australia.  None of them seemed to work.  It wasn’t until the end of the summer that she came to us all, looking like a completely different person.  Her face seemed to glow and she couldn’t hide her smile.  She said she must not have been giving herself 100% to Christ.  She explained that she prayed, offering 100% of herself to God…and it was then, that moment, that she realized it was gone.  I went home from that summer in Australia so joyous and relieved that God had rescued Grace.  My faith was now cemented.  When you experience things first hand, when you hear a man’s voice and animal roars come out of a 14 year old girl’s body, when you see her throw up on cue of an open Bible…it cements your belief.  I was back at school only days after returning home.  I had the same teacher again, but for a different class.  I couldn’t wait to tell the guy she knew about what happened and that I was thankful he told me how to handle it.  I asked my teacher the name of the man who visited our class and how I could get in touch with him.  She acted like she had no idea who I was talking about.  I reminded her that he was a former student, was in seminary now and used to be a bad kid.  He was only here, visiting her class just two months ago.  She couldn’t think of who I was referring to.  I asked her repeatedly, tried to jog her memory and years later, I was still asking her…’you really don’t remember that guy that came to visit you??’  She’s not a Christian, but she joked that perhaps he was an angel.

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After high school….

As I found myself graduating high school, I felt good and stable, even though I was too poor to go away for college like all my friends.  I stayed home and went to the local community college.  I stayed on with the youth group as a volunteer leader and was able to prolong my joy and my stay in my safe haven.

I met my next boyfriend at the time.  He was the temporary youth leader for the youth group. We fell in love and were together for a total of 4 years.  At age 18, I had willingly made love for the very first time.  And the very first time, I wound up pregnant.   We were scared, but excited and longed to do the right thing.  As we discussed how to tell our parents, he said…”well, I was already wondering if you were the one.”  As he clarified what he meant, he expressed wondering if I was the one that would one day be his wife.  We decided that we’d get married and have the baby.  Having the baby was never a question, just whether or not we should get married.  His parents were out of the country, so we approached my mom first.

To say she flipped out is toning it down. She demanded we get an abortion and opposing her was not an option.  Marriage was out of the question as well.  And to my surprise, she got me out of my college class early one morning and drove me straight to an abortion clinic.  She had already arranged for everything and it happened that day.  I mourned the loss of my child, but in my 18 year old, immature brain, I told myself that the very next child I would be pregnant with would be the same one.  I rationalized that I was just postponing the birth of our child.

The reality of what we did didn’t hit me until we broke up.  I didn’t find out until after we broke up, that he had fallen for another youth counselor at the church. Apparently, he lied to her and told her we had broken up when we didn’t.  But, when I lost him….that cemented the loss of our baby.  I realized that baby was never coming back again if we would never be together again.

As he was at church and she was at church, going to church became agonizing to me. Seeing them together hurt me more than I could express.  I felt so betrayed and thrown away. To make things worse, my church betrayed me next. I got called into the office of one of the pastors. He told me that my presence in working with the youth group made my very recent ex and the girl he cheated on me with “uncomfortable.” Ha! Made them uncomfortable?! I sat and listened as he explained to me that since the two of them were on staff and I was just a volunteer, that they would like me to stop volunteering. Hearing those words were like a hot knife slicing my entire torso open. I was in shock and was incredibly hurt that I was being pushed away from volunteering with the kids. That was one of my biggest joys in life. I walked out of that pastor’s office with my legs feeling numb…I was stunned. I never showed my face again in that youth group…and I decided to never show my face again in that church. I felt so ashamed that the pastor had asked me to stop being a volunteer. It made me feel like a complete and utter failure, completely and wholly unwanted.

 

Part 1, Continued

Published November 6, 2012 by Chloe Madison

I think only a year or so passed from the time my neighbor moved to the time that it happened with my dad.  I had time to think over and over again about what had happened with my neighbor.  I realized it was wrong and that he had done something really bad.  Imagine my confusion when something very similar happened with my father.

It happened only one time.  One night, he was up late and we were watching TV in the living room.  I remember him asking me to come over to the couch where he was laying and he told me to do certain things to him.  I didn’t want to do it and tried to act like I was caught up in watching the TV and would forget what I was supposed to be doing.  He kept redirecting me.  Over and over.  😦   It reached a point where I couldn’t compose myself anymore.  I began shaking uncontrollably.  I tried to hide it at first, but I was so terrified that I had no control over the shaking.  Then, tears began streaming down my face.  But, I kept my face turned up toward the TV and away from him.  I thought maybe he wouldn’t notice.  Shortly thereafter, he told me to go wash up and go to bed.

My next memory is of the very next day.  I was riding in the car with either my mom or my dad (I can’t remember which) and we were going over to my grandmother’s house.  I was staring out of the window, doing my best to avoid looking at whoever I was with.  I remember after some time of silence, they said “We don’t talk about things like what happened last night.  Some people might not think that’s OK… so we don’t talk about that to anyone.”  I can remember the exact spot on the road where we were, where I rolled my eyes at what they said.  They lied.  I knew it. Of course people won’t think it’s OK! Duh. Even though I can’t remember if that car ride was with my mom or my dad…either way, it was destructive to my safety and my being.

But that was my cue to keep quiet.  And I did.  I didn’t talk about either of those two events for nearly ten years. But, I had this momentary hatred towards my dad for betraying me, for not keeping me safe, for hurting me, for exposing me to more abuse than I had already sustained.  So, I wished him dead.  And within a few years, he had died.

Life, Continued…

Life after the incidents continued.  My best friend’s name was Cam.  She had beautiful, wavy blond hair, tanned skin, curly, long brown eyelashes and big brown eyes.  She also had the best personality, full of joy, friendliness and love.  I started going to Cam’s church, which was a Presbyterian church…and definitely not Catholic.  Since I was raised Catholic and went to a Catholic school, I was extensively taught about the religion.  Certain things didn’t jive well with me.  One was the fact that we had to confess our sins to a priest.  And no, I didn’t have an issue with confession because of my previous awkward confession to the priest.  I knew there was a verse in the Bible that says “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).  So, as a child, I just didn’t understand why the confession to the priest was necessary.  I was also confused by us praying to the Virgin Mary.  I was taught that Mary was a human being, chosen by God to be the earthly mother of Jesus.  Of course, that makes her special in my eyes.  But, shouldn’t we pray to God, to the trinity?  Not to someone who was a simple human?
There’s nothing wrong with the Catholic faith, but the few minor things I questioned, even as a child, were what I found was different in the Protestant faith.  I wound up really liking Cam’s church and in particular, the youth group.

I was initially completely weirded out by people there. I mean, these kids hugged each other and squealed when they saw each other. It was not at all what I was used to.  I recall the first time one of Cam’s friends hugged me as she was first introduced to me.  I mumbled “get off me” under my breath and didn’t budge.  I didn’t hug her back, didn’t smile…there was nothing but my rude comment.  She pulled back with a bit of an alarmed look on her face…but then, bobbed her head and went on about her business of hugging everyone who came through the door.

I knew this was a new world.  But, even though I was the outsider and felt I didn’t belong, I could see that this was a good world.  And Cam was one of the kindest human beings on the planet.  I knew that she loved it there and so that reaffirmed to me that this place was safe.

The reason Cam had invited me to her church youth group in the first place was because she felt bad for me because my dad was dying.  He had colon cancer and refused to get treatment.  He was petrified of doctors and hospitals. So, even though he had been sick for a while and knew something was wrong, he spent so much time refusing to go see a doctor, that it was too late when he finally did.  The doctors said that if he wouldn’t get surgery or chemo, then there wasn’t much they could do for him.  They even said it would be pointless for him to be in the hospital, that they could send pain medications with him and he should spend his time at home with us.  I have a few great memories of this short time.  I remember him coming to get my brother and I out of school early- just so he could take us fishing.  He would sneak us to Dairy Queen on the way home as long as we promised we wouldn’t tell mom.  I was in middle school at this point and was always worried about him while I was away from him at school.  I remember loving my shop teacher for letting me out with a pass every single day to call home on the pay phone in the hallway.  I just wanted to check in and make sure he was OK.  He wasn’t doing that great at home.  He had turned yellow.  The cancer was still spreading and had hit his liver.  I remember being home alone with him one day as he had a vomiting attack.  He could barely pull himself out of bed, but he did and in his underwear, he headed straight for the bathroom.  He was leaning over the toilet, vomiting.  I was about 11 or 12 years old and didn’t know what to do.  So, I tried to comfort him.  I stroked his bare, yellow back.  He immediately swatted behind himself at me and yelled at me.  As an adult, I now realize that if you’re nauseous, you don’t need someone rubbing your back as that can exaggerate the feeling.  But, at the time, I didn’t know that and it hurt my feelings terribly.  I was just trying to help and I got yelled at.  I couldn’t help anyway…I was absolutely helpless.  There was nothing I could do for him.  All I could do was just stand there and watch him slowly deteriorate and die. And to make matters worse, I never forgot about my wish.  My wish that he was dead.  Because yes, I believed that I did this to him.  I thought I made my dad sick and made him die.

Cam’s youth group had a summer trip to a Christian camp in North Carolina.  She asked me to go and had even drawn a map of the camp as she was excitedly explaining all the interesting places to me. I kinda sorta wanted to go, but didn’t want to leave my dad.  He wasn’t doing well and I couldn’t live with myself if he died when I wasn’t home with him.  But, my mom thought it would be a good idea for me to get a break and as it happened, she wound up shipping both my brother and I off during the same week.  I went with Cam to the Christian camp and my brother went off to a boy scout camp.  On the bus ride to North Carolina, I remember having a little break down as I explained to a church counselor that my biggest fear at this point was my dad passing away while I was gone.

So what do you think happened?  The very next morning, I got a visit from a camp counselor who said he was taking me to the airport.  I had to go home and he wouldn’t tell me why.  But, I knew.  My aunt met me in the airport and flew back home with me.  My mom picked us up at our home airport and I knew I was acting strange… I recall her odd glances and even shocked myself a few times.  I remember being so happy, so peaceful.  But, how was that possible??  My father had just died. Why was I so joyous and talkative?  Part of it was that it didn’t quite hit me until I saw his lifeless, cold body at the beginning of the funeral.  That was the point in which I burst out into tears.  I became so hysterical that my mom slipped me a white pill that she had broken in half, which she said would calm me down.

After my dad’s death, my mom refused to celebrate her birthday or Christmas.  My brother and I would throw her surprise birthday parties and would invite family members over.  At Christmas, we begged my mom to get a Christmas tree and she refused.  It made us so sad.  When I got my first car, I continued in my mission to have Christmas.  My brother and I would find out when my mom was working late and we’d go to the tree lot and buy our own Christmas tree.  Our mission was to have the tree home, fully decorated and lit up before my mom came home so we could surprise her.  We’d have all the lights off in the house and then we’d flick the tree lights on just as she opened the front door.  It made her smile for a few seconds, but then she’d be sad again.  We did this year after year.

Part 1: Three Times Is A Charm

Published November 6, 2012 by Chloe Madison

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Part 1: Three Times Is A Charm

The Beginning…

My life has very literally been a roller coaster ride.  I’ve had some of the most amazing highs and some of the most utterly depressing and destructive lows.  I want to take you through my worst lows so that you can fully experience with joy, the depth of my best highs.

My early childhood was normal enough…we were poor, lived in a bad neighborhood and my parents struggled.  But they loved each other and they loved my brother and I and that’s all that really mattered.  When I was 9, I had my first encounter with a sexual predator.  He was a neighbor and he was around the age of 19.  I played with his little sister and spent time over at their house quite a bit.  My first memory of any violence from him centered around grasshoppers.  My mom used to pay us to get rid of the grasshoppers in the yard.  Little ones earned us a dime and the giant ones got us a quarter.  My mom wanted us to catch the grasshoppers and kill them.  But, I didn’t have the heart to do that.  I love all living things!  So, I would catch the grasshoppers, put them in a mason jar and carry them down the street to my best friend’s house where I’d release them in her yard.  I’m sure her mom loved me for that!!  🙂  One of the times I carried a jar of grasshoppers down to my friend’s house, he was there in the yard. He was tall and lanky and had brown hair, brown eyes and crooked teeth.  He knew that I was trying to save the grasshoppers.  He waited until I dumped the grasshoppers into the grass, then he jumped up and stomped on them all.  I yelled and tried to push him off the grasshoppers, which only seemed to enrage him.  The next thing I know, he’s got his hands wrapped around my neck and he’s choking me.  My friend’s mom came running out of the house and started screaming at him.  It wasn’t until she threatened to call the police that he dropped me and walked away.  I was terrified to walk home.  My house was at the end of the street, my friend’s house was at the other end and his house was right in between.  I’d have to go right by his house to get home.  I don’t recall how I got home that night, but I do remember my mom coming down the street to get me.

 

First…

I don’t remember the very first time it happened.  Perhaps that’s because it happened so many times. I’ve actually lost count. I’d say it occurred over the period of about a year or two. I remember specific times- several times in his house when no one was home, once outside in the high weeds, and the last time.  The last time, I was so proud of myself.  This time, I decided I should act like I would play along with him. I told him I would…I tried bargaining.  I said that we could play hide and seek and when he found me, I’d do what he wanted.  It was what he was going to do to me anyway. I remember hiding in a tiny cabinet just above the floor in his kitchen.  I picked the kitchen because there was a back door there.  In the dark of the cabinet, I heard him come through the kitchen looking for me.  I also heard him go into the next room.  I made my run for it! I flung open that cabinet door and darted out of the back door so fast that I thought I’d trip over my own feet.  I don’t even remember jumping on my bike, but I did.  I have a very clear memory of pedaling down the street as fast as my little feet could pedal…away from my home…panting and out of breath, as I kept frantically looking back over my shoulder to see if he was chasing me.  I got away.  Shortly after that, he moved.  Thank God.

Obviously, I felt ashamed of what happened.  I did not at all feel like I could go to my family.  I was terrified I would get in trouble.  I don’t know why I ever thought I did anything wrong.  I remember looking up the word ‘rape’ in the dictionary.  I mean, I thought I knew what it was and I thought that’s what had been happening, but I had to make sure.  I never told anyone except a priest.  I was in the 4th grade at a Catholic School and we had to do mandatory confessions to the priest every now and then.  Even though I knew I was forced, I still thought I had somehow sinned.  So, I confessed.  I didn’t quite know how to say it to the priest, so I said “I almost had a baby.”  Little did I know, that at 9 years old, a girl’s body isn’t ready nor is capable of conception.  But, I didn’t know that yet. I just knew that’s how people had babies so that was my way of telling the priest. I remember thinking he didn’t believe me…or that he thought I didn’t know what I was talking about.  Usually, for minor sins, the priest would tell you to say a prayer or two.  For major sins, the priest would tell you to say 10 or 20 prayers.  This priest told me to say 2 prayers.  He must have thought I didn’t know what I was talking about.

I also remember avoiding my mom.  It was shortly after that time that she tried to teach me about the birds and the bees.  But, I thought she knew about what happened with my nighbor and I thought she was trying to bring it up.  So I ran away.  Literally, every time she tried to talk to me about the birds and the bees, I took off running outside.  I remember climbing trees and hiding up in the trees.  I was so scared…I thought if we had that conversation, that’s she would somehow know and I’d be in BIG trouble.

But, deep down I knew I wasn’t at fault.  I knew my neighbor was a bad man.  I knew what he had done was illegal and immoral.  I knew all that…until my own father did it too.