September 21, 2012 by Mathew
I always thought that the first time I shared my testimony in written form, it would be in the book that I am writing. But, the past few weeks I have felt compelled to start this blog and share my testimony here as well. So, what I intend to do in some of my upcoming posts is to write about my relationship with God and share my testimony concerning that relationship. In order to do that, I will need to set the stage by sharing a little of my background. This post is about as good as any to do that. Having already written the post that follows I would like to note that some people might find it somewhat unsettling. I’ve tried to make it as “PG” as possible and still give an accurate picture of what my time growing up was like. What I’ve written is clean, doesn’t have any foul language and, doesn’t have any particularly detailed descriptions of some of the unpleasant happenings of my childhood but, for some it might have the potential to act as “trigger.” I know that I found it more emotionally difficult and draining to write than i expected. I know it’s a long post but, I don’t think I could get it any shorter and share what I wanted to with you. So, here goes.
I had a significantly rough and unpleasant time growing up. It wasn’t all bad but, there was a great deal of it that was. My mom was an amazing mother. Some of my earliest memories are of her loving, hugging, and kissing my brothers and I. I remember, as a preschool aged child, her taking my brother and I for walks in the forest and picking bundles of purple wild flowers. I remember her cooking the most fabulous feasts every day as her children ran and played underfoot. I remember her reading Bible Stories to us and telling us that Jesus loved us very much. She was the mom of all moms. At least she was when she was sober. When she was drunk, she was a monster – a kid’s worst nightmare.
When Mom was drunk, she was an entirely different person than when sober. As a preschool aged child, being around her when she drank was a harrowing experience. When she was drunk, Mom would bite, scratch, hit, kick, scream, cry, rant and rave, and force alcohol down her small children. When she passed out we would go haywire; running free as birds out into the street and into our neighbors yards. We would raid the medicine cabinet to eat minty toothpaste and drink entire bottles of pink yummy Pepto. We would climb on top of the furniture so that we could touch the ceiling and pretend we were flying. Much of my childhood consisted of Dad forcing Mom to stay sober and her finding ways to circumvent him.
When I was in the fourth grade my father had been working away from home, in another state. He would come back every other weekend. This left lots of unsupervised time for my mother to go on a behemoth of a bender. It left lots of alone time for her to become mentally unhinged. It was during this time that she decided to run off with one of the vilest creatures I have ever known, a man who eventually became my stepfather. One evening when my brothers and I got out of school, she took us home, had us pack what we could into this guy’s pickup and, proceeded to kidnap my brothers and I away from my father. It took my dad several months to find us afterward.
For the next three years my brothers and I lived with my mother and her newfound lover. About ninety percent of the time my mom stayed drunk, which meant that most days she was verbally and physically abusive and was just plain out of her mind. Her lover was even worse. He seemed to single me out from the beginning. He took an acute dislike to me. All day, every day I faced an unending barrage of being humiliated and having my self worth and esteem destroyed by him. I was constantly told how stupid, dumb, worthless, fat, goofy looking and, clumsy I was. Then there was the sexual abuse – sometimes it was little things to humiliate me in front of others or because that’s all he could get away with at the time. Other times he substantially violated me and did a lot of damage. Much of the time, his hands and his eyes were where they shouldn’t have been and his words were degrading and grossly inappropriate.
The situation pretty much came to an end one evening when my mother came close to killing my brothers and I while driving drunk. We had a hair-raising, hundred mile an hour ride down dirt roads – complete with spinouts, crashes and, near misses. I had tolerated about all of my mother’s drinking that I was capable of. When we arrived at the house, I called her out onto the porch, away from my little brothers, and asked her if I could talk to her. I told her that she was drunk and had almost gotten us killed driving home. She insisted otherwise. She became enraged when I refused to agree with her and she called for her mother and my stepfather to come outside.
My stepfather locked the gate so that I couldn’t get away. My mom and grandma each took one of my arms and pinned me up against the fence, holding me in place so that my stepfather could beat me senseless. Had they not all been so drunk they might have been successful. I was only twelve years old and hadn’t acquired my size yet. Using my feet and legs to fend off my mother’s husband; it was several minutes before I finally managed to break free from my mom and grandmother. I ran from them and climbed the chain-link fence, tearing my favorite shirt and slashing my chest on the barbs along its top. Once I was free I called my dad and had him come get my brothers and I.
I never did live with my mom again. In contrast to her, life with Dad was wonderfully quiet and uneventful. Dad didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or go haywire on a regular basis. I didn’t have to worry about some vile creep walking in on me while in the bathroom and getting trapped in there with him. Life was fairly peaceful with Dad. That doesn’t mean that it was without it’s own pain and hardship though.
Dad lived in the middle of nowhere which, was exactly seventeen miles from anywhere. Most of the time he was out of work so we lived in poverty. He was also very strict and overprotective when it came to socializing. I wasn’t allowed to pursue friendships or relationships. It didn’t take much of the hardcore isolation and utter loneliness before most of my life started taking place within my own mind. Books, network TV, and my own rich active imagination became both my companions and my social life. I had already begun to function that way when I was living with my mom. I would hide myself away in books, TV, and my own imaginings in order to escape the insanity that was a part of living with she and my stepfather. The loneliness and isolation of living with Dad caused me to completely cross over into the realm of living inside of my own mind. If not for the company of my imagination, I would have gone completely nuts. It was during this time that I started forming my notions about marriage – from the seventh grade through young adulthood.
I did not know what to do with all of the hurtful things that had happened to me. There had never been anyone, adults or otherwise, to talk with about it and there wasn’t going to be anyone in the foreseeable future. Dad could not have handled knowing about the abuse. That was true then and it was true the day he died three and a half years ago. So I never told him. What I did was subconsciously pack away, for safe keeping, all of the hurtful stuff that had happened to me and the pain and damage associated with those things. That all could be dealt with later on in life when I found someone that I could trust to help me. Besides I had another factor that was becoming a serious problem to deal with. It was not long before the endless isolation and unbearable loneliness of life with Dad took a brutal toll on me. I suppose that’s how my desire for marriage came about.
I figured that someday God would give me a wife. She would actually enjoy being around me and hanging out with me. She would never leave me and I would never have to be alone again. I would always have someone to talk to, to be with, to go on adventures with, to share my life with. She would be the one person in this world that I could trust. At some point, she and I might unpack all of the damaging things from my childhood and together take care of them. I would reciprocate the favor back onto her and together we would become one. It was not long before marriage became the only thing I looked forward to in life, the only hope that I had in life. It became my greatest desire.
For most of my life now, I have had this desire for marriage. It is not a small or moderate desire but, it is something that has shaped and influenced every aspect of my life and continues to do so. It colors everything I think and everything I do. It influences the stories I write, the dreams I daydream, and the choices I make. It has always been that way. I honestly can’t remember a single night that I’ve fallen asleep and not had thoughts of marriage pass through my mind. To me marriage, and all that is a part of it, is the most beautiful, most desirable thing that God ever created and gave to human beings. While I no longer view marriage as the ultimate answer or the end-all-be-all of life that I did growing up, my desire for it has never once left me.
While I was growing up I came to the way of thinking that there would always be marriage between men and women. Marriage was the greatest thing God gave to us and Heaven was supposed to be greater than anything in this life. I naturally came to the conclusion that, not only would men and women be married to one another in Heaven but, it would be even better than the marriage we enjoy now. I just assumed that my future wife and I would spend all of eternity married to one another. In fact, I reasoned that if I didn’t find a wife in this life then God would have one waiting for me in Heaven when I got there.
It amazes me that in all of my years growing up attending church, I had never once heard anyone mention what Jesus said concerning marriage in Heaven. As a result, through my high school years and into my young adulthood the idea that I would spend all of eternity in Heaven with my wife became a fact of life for me. That knowledge became my hope, my strength, my refuge. It was how I weathered hardship. It didn’t matter what happened because someday I would be with my wife forever and everything would be ok.
When I turned 22 things were about to change. My mistaken belief in eternal marriage to a wife was about to be taken away and it was going to completely unbalance me. My world was about to be totally wrecked.
Well, that pretty much sets up the backstory necessary for me to give my testimony and tell how I came to have my relationship with God. So stay tuned to find out what happened next in upcoming posts.