Philippines

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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.

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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.