I just turned forty and I am finally at peace. I have been granted a new start, a renewed hope. You have to understand though, a little over a year ago I was more than dead.
I was born on the 20th of June, 1972. Independent, spirited, smart and athletic. Strong, charismatic with genuine ideals. Courageous. Lovely. Laughing. Striding thru life with confidence and ease, always knowing the next step. Assimilating to new cultures and achieving status. I accepted my failures and tried harder to overcome. Never questioning my soul, never losing hope. Who would have expected that I would end up losing myself?
Everything happened gradually at first, slowly picking up speed, magnitude and momentum until I was left in pieces: a failure, broken, ashamed. My relationships were shattered and I questioned not only my faith but also my sanity. I hated myself. I was guilty. If only I could have been a better person, if I could have been stronger, if only I could get it right. But it was too late and I was left wondering, “How did I become this person?”
Knowing it was all over, my soul laid down and waited for my body to die. I no longer had dreams. There was nothing left. It was my fault, everything was – my past had been right.
That was before Sunday, December 18, 2011, the first time the thought of living actually crossed my mind. It was a beautiful, crisp sunny day and the sun seemed to penetrate my very essence. Throughout that next week leading up to Christmas I began to see my life as a possibility. By New Year’s Day I understood that I needed to get up and live.
My major social groups consisted of my family, my church and my job; each of these groups was in turmoil.
I was surrounded by dysfunction and hardship growing up but I truly believed that there was something more for me. Then in May of 1994 I got married. I fell in love with a good, honest man who had integrity, came from a strong Christian family, and yet let me be who I was. What I didn’t know that he was not whom he seemed to be, I’ve learned this true of most people. Growing up he had been socialized to adopt outward attributes, to please his parents and conform to their religion, constantly hiding his true self. We struggled. He lied. He was unstable, unreliable and unfaithful. His moods and actions at home were different than he presented in public, I didn’t trust him. He was abusive. We sought help from the church, he played his part and they blamed me. I suggested divorce, begged for separation – anything. He was furious, as was the Church — that’s just not what you do. God hates divorce. You stay together, even if it is destroying you daily. Forgive and turn the other cheek. Maybe this is what I deserved. I was alienated and avoided.
In March of 2005 I was sexually assaulted while at work, an emotionally torturous attack. I hurt, my husband cared only about himself and was not supportive. His ego and pride was threatened because our status, that of the good Christian family, was shaken. It did not appear like it should, like his families did.
I was not raised going to church. I remember going now and then. I went more when I started attending College, becoming more involved after I got married and had kids. I was just who I was, I was truthful and honest about my imperfection. I never felt like I needed to fake something I was not; I didn’t know that threatened them. I played bass and sang on the worship team, taught Sunday School, helped friends, led Bible Studies, and even serving as a certified Biblical Counselor, but when I was sexually assaulted, I was once again told it was my fault and was shamed. I was told it happened because ‘my personality was a green light’, I disagreed. When he was discovered watching porn on our son’s computer, a pastor told me, “controlling women cause this.” All bullshit.
I was stigmatized and labeled as having a ‘Jezebel spirit’ because I was unwilling to submit and be obedient to the patriarchal hierarchy. The dominant ideology was that they were right, I was wrong, they were going to heaven… I was going to hell. They knew better.
I started working at MSU in 1999. It was more than a job really, it was a mission. I believed in what we did and felt it truly made a difference. I loved my job and my job loved me, review after review I received above excellent accolades. In 2005, even though the University’s policy specifically prohibits it, my boss hired his wife to be his subordinate and my supervisor. Her severe narcissism coupled with his inability to honestly address things caused the office to implode. I had worked on campus for nearly twelve years but without a undergraduate degree I was not able to apply for jobs that had a similar pay scale; I had the experience, I just didn’t have the credentials. I couldn’t just quit, I couldn’t afford a pay cut – I needed the money and benefits. Stuck again.
The two other employees in the department left, I contacted my union. They smiled and nodded, doing nothing – hoping I would go away. Two years later they eventually transferred me to the Dean’s office. Even though they had a policy and agreed what was going on was wrong, they had no plan on what to do to change it. My daily abuse, once again, didn’t matter.
Everything that had happened seemed so personal: no one cared.
My goal is to redeem this story for me. To find a way to back. Somehow.