Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Straw That Broke the Camels Back



I just love the above picture. It represents how I felt the day I decided enough was enough. See all those guard dogs in the picture? Each one of those represented my dad. They all look menacing, like they are ready to pounce on that little duck. I was that little duck, wanting to high tail it out of that place called home in one piece.

One of the men in my dad's life was called "Howard". He was obnoxious, rude and disrespectful. He thought he could tell me what to do after he came down the stairs in the morning with hickeys all over his neck. At the time I think I actually hated the man which is even hard to write. Hate is such a powerful word but at the time I really did hate him. He was part of the reason there was so much chaos and turmoil in our lives. In truth, he was just one of many men to come in and out, he just happened to stay the longest.

At this point I was a junior in high school. I excelled at swimming and concert choir.  I swam competitively for a while and then got into synchronized swimming, which became an outlet for me. Our high school had it's own pool. Everyone had to take a swimming class at some point in their high school career. I loved hanging out at the pool. The instructor and her helper became a refuge for me. As I was learning all the cool tricks for water ballet I remember asking them to watch me over and over again as I was perfecting the moves. In our school the synchronized program was a really big deal. There would be a performance at the end of the year and it was stunning.  If you have ever seen synchronized swimming it is beautiful.

My older sister was the brainiac in the family. All the teachers I had knew my sister and she was a hard act to follow. She was in all the honors classes and really excelled. She was a pom-pom girl to boot. I tried out for the pom-pom team and blew the audition so bad it was embarrassing. Anyway, the swimming pool was my haven from the storm. My 16th birthday was coming up and I knew we would not be celebrating my birthday. Your 16th birthday should be a big deal, at least I thought so.

My dad had informed me that we would not be celebrating my 16th birthday. The message once again  was I had no value. I was not important. My older sister got a beautiful French provincial bedroom suite that was amazing. So why didn't I even get acknowledged on my 16th? This is the reason I grew to despise my birthday, even to this day it's hard which I know sounds ridiculous but it is what it is.

My swimming teacher became special to me. I had shared with her that my 16th birthday was coming up. She wanted to know what I was going to do. I told her that I didn't get a birthday that year. Back then I had learned to not talk about my dad so I just brushed it off. I told her it wasn't important. A lot was left unspoken. Somehow she must have figured out that I wasn't really going to get a birthday cake that year and brought me in a tiny little cake. I have never forgotten that kindness. It reminds me that one person can make a difference in the life of a child. Something so simple as a little birthday cake that probably didn't cost her much in money or time but it sent a message to me. I was not alone.

With all that as a back drop, my older sister by this point had moved out of state to go to college. She invited me up to spend a couple of weeks during the summer with her. It was touch and go as to whether my dad would even allow me to go but he relented and off I went by Greyhound. What started out as a couple of week vacation turned into a life altering event. My little sister wrote me a letter that would forever change my life. The letter and what she said next time.

In Christ Alone,



Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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