Some things that happen to you growing up, you can never forget! They are etched into your memory by extreme fear and sealed with intense pain … beyond anything a child can ever give words to.
My dad was an alcoholic as long as I can remember and my mother was totally and completely dedicated and infatuated with him. I guess as a child it only started dawning on me that my life was different from other kids when I started school at 5. Every few months my parent’s daily arguments would escalate into something much more sinister and evil. During one of these arguments (I was 6) my dad was so drunk he pulled out his revolver and threatened to shoot us all. My mom rushed us to our neighbours where she left us terrified and in anticipation of seeing her ghost coming thru the door at any time… The police and family were called and thankfully the situation was resolved without anyone being killed. There were too many of these incidents than I care to remember.
During my primary school attendance, lists were frequently drawn up of all of the house’s contents and we would be sat down and told that they were getting a divorce and that we had to choose who we wanted to stay with! If that was not bad enough the school would also be involved by my mother … so there was no escaping the Teachers looks of pity and soft whispers as you passed them by. Also during this time, I was sexually molested by a much older friend of the family and my older cousin. My sister and I told my mom about it, but she said we were lying and to stop looking for attention. Almost every day I wished my father would die… So I grew up knowing that there was something VERY wrong with me! The little girl inside of me kept on screaming for love and acceptance; hoping and dreaming that someone will come and take me away and help me to feel wanted and unconditionally loved. NOBODY ever came….
Eventually when I was in grade 10 my mother gave my dad a choice: Either he went for treatment or she was going to divorce him. He chose the booze! She divorced him, hoping that it would make him change his mind. She still loved him more than anything in this world! Four months after the divorce was finalized, during the early morning hours of Friday the 13th of March, he committed suicide! He gassed himself in his ‘bakkie’ opposite a grave yard entrance. I was 15 at the time, my sister 17 and my brother 14. My mother was devastated! At first I was relieved that at last he was out of our lives … but then my own personal guilt started haunting me for wanting him dead for so long and seeing how terrible it affected my mother, and thinking somehow I made it happen! He was my father after all!? My mother spent the rest of her life a bitter cynical women finding solace in alcohol. Never re-marrying and ending up living with us in a granny flat as a hermit. My sister wanted nothing to do with her and my brother seldom visited. She died as she has lived.
Last month I turned 44 and am still fighting my childhood ‘ghosts’! I learned to keep these experiences mostly to myself, as very few people (incl. my husband) really wants to hear or even try to understand. They look at you as if it shouldn’t matter anymore. This is my own personal battle; the scars thereof only fully known by God. So every day I awake to remind myself of God’s promises in His Word: Lamentations 3:22-24
“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassion’s fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, Therefore I hope in Him!”
To all foster parents and others that have committed their lives to helping hurting children, I can but say THANK YOU for being there for them and for loving them unconditionally!