High School graduation

June 2001- Graduation.

I did it, I somehow fooled the pastors with my 2500 word essay that I was spiritually ready to graduate. I wrote that my plans for the future were to keep working for the painting business in the church, and go to Institute. Institute is the bible study that my parents have been attending since it started. The pastors and elders are teachers. It is presented to us as their version of bible college. I have only heard trouble coming through the walls when I babysat. A lot of yelling and someone always getting in trouble. They charge $250 a month, per person.

I knew that this summer I would be moving out of my parents house, and into the basement of the church. Although I am not excited about this, I know that it is what is expected, and I would rather not fight. Not only was I informed by the pastors, but also Dad has been prepping me for years by telling me that as soon as I turn 18 I will move out. I used to think he was kidding, but he repeated it a lot. I felt like it wasn’t my choice.

I graduated on a Sunday.

Sunday afternoons we played baseball on the church baseball team. My position was right field. I loved to play baseball, it was challenging, fun, and good exercise. I felt like I had a strong throwing arm, and felt like I could keep up with the guys. I was the only girl on the team.

This particular Sunday I was up early to help with Kids Club (the Sunday school), I helped kids on and off the bus, played games with them, and sang songs. After Kids Club it was time for baseball. Dad and Brother were on the team with me as well as the other men from the church. We rarely stopped anywhere after baseball, but today we were extra thirsty so Dad drove us to the Safeway in town for Gatorade. A random stranger called to us in the parking lot. They had five extra tickets to the Mariners game for that afternoon, 100 level, right behind the Mariner dugout. We had to hurry, and would barely make it back in time for graduation, but we decided to go! There was five people in our family. I felt like that person was an angel in disguise. I had been nervous about the graduation, and to receive this gift made me feel so happy! We went to the game, I got my glove signed, and went to graduation with hat hair.

The graduation went. There was some songs, and all three of us graduates went up and spoke. We talked about what we had learned in school (spiritually of course) and what our plans were for the future. I was looking forward to volunteering in the school and working. I looked out at the audience and saw many faces of my family members. Some I had not seen in a very long time. I was having trouble reading their body language. The discomfort was obvious. One person got up and walked out. I knew they didn’t like the church, or the pastors. I just didn’t know what to do about it.

I knew what my life was to become, because I had seen other girls graduate before me: shortly after high school I assumed Charlie would propose (because 18 is the lowest legal age), we would marry in a small ceremony probably someone’s basement, and immediately start having kids. I would stay home with the kids and raise them in the church. I never stopped to think if this plan was what I wanted. I had accepted the repetition as reality.






The anger can be so disrupting. I can be sitting quietly when it bursts into the room. I give into her, dance with her, allow her to be seen. I get outraged, so mad I want to scream until I am empty.

Tonight was one of those nights.

I am so angry at these people that held us all back. When I say “us all” I mean my family. Many times I will tell myself comforting things such as “there is no alternative reality” and other bullshit like that. But sometimes I just want to give in to the rage. My entire time spent in that school, I was made to feel stupid. I watched as the leaders bullied my parents. I watched my parents slouch with the weight of feeling stupid and inadequate. For 17 years I watched this. When I was 15 I was finishing up high school curriculum. I should have gone to college then! But no! I was stuck in a basement with seven babies and a rotating door of abusers.

After having already spoken out about the abuse at 14, I said something again at 18 years old. I was working in the “school” that the church ran. I was immediately ‘fired’ from my position because I was the “other woman”. I was a poor example for those kids. I felt like my heart was ripped from my chest. All I ever had wanted to do was to be a teacher. I decided that day that I would kill myself. There was nothing left to live for. That afternoon was silence, no abusers visited me that day. Mom rotated through the door. There was pleading in her eyes. I knew she knew it was not my fault. I could not look at her, I wanted her to leave me to die. She looked at me anyways as my gaze fixed on the floor. Mom told me she knew it wasn’t my fault, she knew who my abuser was, and that it was happening to her too.

I couldn’t leave her.

My Mom was made to feel stupid, and inadequate. She spoke in an intelligent way and they didn’t understand her. My Mom was smarter than any of those leaders, but they broke her spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

All my life, I have wanted to be a teacher, a mother, and raise animals.

It’s not too late.