I grew up in a fundamentalist religious group in Canada until I turned ten and our family moved to Los Angeles. Our world in Canada was all white with a “Truman Show” atmosphere. I experienced a traumatic culture shock after we moved. I didn’t stand out as being different in our sheltered prairie town but in this wild chaotic world my shallow roots soon dried up.
I didn’t realize that I had some of my dad’s traits until I became a teen. I was socially awkward. I lived in my own “fishbowl” world. I observed the world silently,and internalized the thoughts I couldn’t express outwardly. I was seen but not heard. I didn’t know I was “different” until I was told I was.
The school I attended in Orange California, was a private religious school, The children at school pointed out my social awkwardness accompanied by choice bully words. At this school I began to question some of the core dogma and doctrinal beliefs taught both in the church and in my family.
My family started to split at the core until cracks grew so wide we all fell in. That was the beginning of my catastrophic suffering. My mother wanted her freedom from my sisters and me, and the stifling control of my father. My sisters and I were all institutionalized for years and I was placed in different foster homes.
I soon heard the message that Jesus was not the inviting soul-filling person I had read about in my children’s bible. I had put my trust in Jesus with a pure innocent child-like faith and it was eroded by rules demanding adults. The lies that crushed my spirit were condemning and contrary to the image of God I was created to be.
I have suffered layer upon layer of trauma that shaped and formed me into who I am. Gang raped as a teenager, my sexual security was eviscerated. I was left with a gaping wound in my soul that could have crushed me. No one ever spoke to me about what happened, so I silently suffered without support or validation. I was pregnant and rejected by the “church.” I joined a toxic christian religious cult my sister invited me to, when I had nowhere to turn as a young unwed mother. I tried to fix my circumstances by marrying twice. That didn’t work and I began searching for the Jesus of my childhood. I didn’t find him in the church.
It took many years of deep soul searching and intense counseling before I began to accept who I was. A beloved child shaped and formed by suffering into the image of God. I have learned with a lot of hard work, and still am learning, the skills of how to socially interact with my peers. The body of Jesus believers where I gather now became a safe place to heal. A group of senior writer friends became a family where I can share my story safely without judgment. I began by writing my cathartic tale of suffering, but I’m beginning to blossom into a writer with a story of how I’ve overcome through much suffering. The suffering is part of me and has transformed me.
I dropped everything to take care of my ailing mother as an adult. I lived in the beautiful state of Washington for five years and then stayed four more years until I sold the house she left me in her will. Six years ago I walked with my father to the end of his path.
I now know for certainty that the kingdom of God within me is inviting others into wholeness.