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Oh no, no, no, no, no! It can't be! I thought as I stood there in the high school hallway listening to the doctor's voice on the other line of the telephone.
"Positive." he said. "Please come in and see me."
Oh, dear God. What have I done? What will I do? This can't be happening. So many thoughts were going through my mind. As I hung up, my heart raced; I felt lightheaded. I was only sixteen years old. How could this have happened? Well, I knew exactly how this had happened. The decisions and choices that lay ahead of me were just overwhelming. My first thought was that I would run away, but that idea, as good as I thought it sounded, was crazy. Where on earth would I go? Where would we go? This was an example of allowing the situation to determine where I was going in my life. At that very moment, as I questioned myself, I had already made a choice and a decision: I was keeping this baby.
... I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future (Jer. 29:11 New Century Version).
And so, my journey of uncertainties, decisions and challenges had begun. There was no question, or even a thought, about not keeping this baby. There was a life inside me; a small heart was beating as I stood there replaying my conversation with the doctor in my head.
"Yes, Christina, you are pregnant," he told me sympathetically. I couldn't explain how I was feeling, and I was too numb to cry.
A million things ran through my mind, and I felt like I was going to faint. I thought about my parents and my family. I wondered how on earth I was going to tell them about this.
I pictured myself saying, "Hey, Mom and Dad. You know, I just turned sixteen and guess what, I'm pregnant." No, that is not going to work, I thought. All my life, I never felt like I could confide or talk to my parents about anything personal. It was sad to say, but we never nurtured a relationship like that. Personal issues like boys, sex and self-esteem were unapproachable in our household.
As far as I could remember, there was never any sitting around with my parents and siblings to just talk about our days or whatever was going on in our lives. It didn't happen, ever. However, there were a lot of issues happening in my family. There were a lot of secrets, and Mom and Dad did not communicate openly about themselves, let alone family issues.
I felt Dad was a very quiet, unapproachable man. I always felt very awkward around him. Many times I did have the feeling to want to talk to Dad and tell him what was going on in our family, but I was told to make sure I never did or else he would have a heart attack and die. Well, that was not something I wanted on my conscience!
Growing up, there was much anger and rage in the family. So much yelling, loudness, and hysterical fits. I thought I was the cause of all this madness. There was something wrong with me, I reasoned. I recall my parent's relationship as cold, lifeless and emotionless, except for the anger. It seemed as if there were two families in one. The first family was when Dad was at work. When he was, the crazy insanity happened. Money was stolen, alcohol was replaced with water, and jewellery went missing. Mom would scream and yell and lash out at God.
I couldn't understand (at my age) what was really going on, but, for some strange, crazy reason, I felt I was to blame. As years of this insanity continued, I realized there were many problems in this family, and things were just not right.
And then there was the other side of the family: the one people would see. My parents would put on their "happy faces" in front of business partners or colleagues, and go about their fraudulent lives. But behind closed doors, it was a different story. I was often left home on weekends with my siblings, an older brother and sister, to care for me. Though that was the plan, they both had other intentions. My sister would go away to be with her boyfriend, and my brother would take this opportunity to have his "friends" over. I thought it was cool to be at a party with my brother's friends. And what a party indeed! There would be a lot of drugs and drinking at these parties. I was left unattended, often sitting outside on the front porch until four in the morning. I saw the drugs, the girls, the nastiness of what drugs, drinking and irresponsibility caused, and what followed. As I think back, I recall the anger welling up inside me, feeling hopeless and helpless to what was happening. Who could I tell? I had always hated drugs. One evening, when I was eleven or twelve, two family members were smoking marijuana on the back porch. I became enraged and opened the door to tell them to stop. They called me names, told me to shut up and go back inside, and said that it was nothing. I felt so angry and stupid. I felt the hatred towards them, to the drugs and to my whole self and my life, grow stronger and stronger. I tried to tell my mother what was happening after many weekends of the same craziness, but it was to no avail. Nothing was ever done. My Dad had no clue either. This lifestyle of our family continued like this for many years.
Along with all this baggage, I had another issue to deal with on my own: a horrific and terrible situation. For many years, two different family members sexually abused me. This abuse started when I was three years old. Sadly, our families got together very often. Every weekend, we would either be at their place or they would be at our home. These two family members, at different opportunities, would force me away to a private place and invade my body in ways that are unspeakable. As I remember these days, I cringe and feel great pain. I was alone; I was helpless in defending myself against these attacks. Week after week, year after year, abuse after abuse, my spirit was broken down, destroyed and lost. My childhood was robbed from me with the very first attack. As each day passed, I hated myself more and more.
During the ongoing sexual abuse, I was ashamed and felt dirty. Why is this happening to me? I would often ask myself; but the only answer I would get was that I was awful and that I deserved it. I often wondered why that was, and I questioned why I thought I deserved to be abused in such a manner. Year after year, the torture continued and I silently suffered. I became bitter and angry. Not only did I despise myself, but I hated everyone around me. I resented my parents for not knowing this was happening to me, and for not rescuing me and saving me from the agony that plagued me so many hours of my young life. This abuse has reeked destruction in my life and in the relationships that I have had. The effects that this abuse has scarred me with are many. My innocence was stolen from me. Growing up, I was unable to play with any of my dolls. I tried, but it soon led to a rage and hate bubbling within me that I would end up beating and destroying them. The abuse would then turn on myself. I remember being a little girl, of around five or six, and beating my own body; punching myself and hitting myself because of the anger I felt towards what was happening to me. I was angry that no one was helping me; I was angry no one knew. My goodness, if I could go back to that little girl, I would hold her, hug her and protect her. I would comfort her and bring her to safety.
After several years, the torment suddenly stopped. I don't know exactly when, but my abusers eventually left me alone. My spirit, or what was left of it, felt (to me) like it couldn't be fixed. The degrading encounters were placed in a file way back in my mind and I never spoke of it, ever. As time went on, how I felt about myself continued to worsen. I didn't think it was possible for someone to hate themselves as much as I did. I was convinced no one could ever love the monster I felt that I was.
The thought of taking my own life crossed my mind several times, and was attempted on two occasions. Thankfully, I was not successful.
I became very withdrawn from my family. I did not want to talk to anyone. I wanted to be left alone. The incredible anger and rage that bubbled up inside me was uncontrollable. I lashed out at home, fought with my siblings, and destroyed the house. My education went downhill. I couldn't be bothered with school or trying to make anything of myself because I felt unworthy to be successful in any way. I kept telling myself, I'm good for nothing except one thing, and that is for people to take advantage of me.
I hated life with a passion and wondered why God was allowing mine to continue. With the life I was leading, it was so hard for me to understand how there even was a God and why He was doing this to me. Anywhere I could find a place to put the blame, I did. It was everybody else's fault my life was so miserable and shameful. During those years, my parents had their own issues to deal with, and, deep down, I felt responsible for their unhappiness with each other. I often condemned myself for things that happened in my external world that I had no control of. My mere existence caused disorder and misery to others. I had absolutely no use for myself or anyone. Or so I believed.
So here I was, pregnant at the fresh age of sixteen. At times, I wished that I was stuck in a nightmare; but no, this was reality. Once again, I blamed God for doing this to me. Yes, it was His fault I was in this situation. What am I going to do? I asked myself. I can't explain what happened at that precise moment, but I made a decision: I was going to be the best Mom that I could be. I decided that I was going to do everything differently from my family. This baby was going to have everything I didn't have, and the abuse I suffered was not going to be part of his, or her, young life. I had no clue how this was going to happen, or not happen. I just told myself it would be different.
That decision temporarily lifted my spirits, but I still had to tell my family.
I was quickly brought back down to earth with the thought of telling my parents. Given our very difficult relationship, I could barely speak to them about day to day stuff -- how on God's green earth was I going to tell them I was pregnant?
Two months went by since I had found out, and with that came morning sickness that lasted twenty-four hours a day. Food disgusted me, and the smell of coffee brewing in the early morning twisted my insides. Trying to hide how I was feeling was getting harder and harder. I was so weak and tired. I was unable to eat a single thing; I couldn't even keep water down. Over the next few months, I lost a lot of weight. I could barely stand.
I was still attending school at this time; so, I would get up as usual and, when no one was looking, take a handful of my dad's vitamins and head out the door. By the time I would get to school I would be so violently ill that I would never made it to class. A very good friend of mine at the time was supportive to me. I filled her in on what was going on, and she did all that she could to help me. She offered advice and found some information about a teenage pregnancy place where girls could go for help. I made an appointment and she came with me to check out the place. It was a beautiful centre that housed teenagers. They gave them a room and offered many programs. At first I had decided, Yes, I'm moving in here! Again, the thought of running away had popped up; however, I now had a place to go. But something inside me didn't feel right. Here I was, making decisions and plans while my parents and family still had no idea of what was happening.
Little did I know, my mother was very suspicious of what was occurring. She was doing her own research, and was putting two and two together. I had written a letter to my cousin in which I confided to her my problem. She wrote back telling me she was glad I decided to keep the baby and not have an abortion. I kept the letter in my backpack. My "detective" mother went through my bag and read the letter. I can't even begin to imagine what she must have felt reading those words. Mom went one step further to confirm what she read and called the doctor who, in turn, gave her the answer she needed.
One Saturday morning I couldn't get out of bed, and my mother came into my bedroom and sat down. She said she wanted to talk to me. I was praying to God for her to leave because I was about to throw-up. Needless to say, she stayed. Mom came right out and asked me, "Are you pregnant?" Shocked with her question, I told her I wasn't. She asked me again. I said, "What are you talking about Mom? I'm not." My mother informed me that she had called the doctor the day before and he told her I was. I was speechless. What could I say? I could no longer delay the inevitable. I put my face in my pillow, ashamed, and cried. Surprisingly, my mom took the news calmly. I guess she had had the previous day to deal with her feelings (whatever they were). I felt relieved. Oddly, part of me felt like the weight of the world was lifted off of me, another part of me felt so upset that the doctor told my mother, and a whole other part of me was glad that I did not have to break the news myself.
My dad was away on a business trip at this time. Mom said she was going to tell him when he got back. My mother didn't even ask me what I was going to decide, it was like she already knew that my decision was to keep the baby. Late one Sunday night, my dad came home. I remember I was in my sister's bedroom while my poor mother carried out the burden of telling Dad that his youngest child was pregnant at the age of sixteen. I didn't know what to expect, since Mom took the news quite easily. How was this going to go? As I was lost in thought, I heard my dad yell, "Kick her out of the house!"
My heart broke, and I thought my previous idea of running away wasn't such a bad one. The thought of my dad coming upstairs to "give me a licking" crossed my mind, so I quickly went to hide under my sister's bed (though my dad never laid a hand on me growing up). I got halfway under and realized I didn't fit. Why didn't I fit? As the months went on, I failed to notice my boobs had grown! So there I was, half way under the bed with the fear that my dad was going to kill me.
My dad refused to speak to me for the entire week. It was a long, challenging week. If there had been another place for me to go, I would have gone. The uneasiness and tension in the family, and in our home, was so thick. I pretty much kept to myself and remained alone in my bedroom (coming out only to eat and throw-up). If I had been feeling better, it would have been easier to deal with what was happening. I was so nauseated and fatigued that I could not think straight. I mostly ate crackers, and drank chamomile tea and grape juice. The cravings for certain foods were overwhelming. My mom did her best to get me the foods I wanted, but after I ate I would spend the next two hours hugging the toilet. I became so weak that I could barely stand. At this point, the way I was feeling made me uncertain about whether or not I was going to live. I slept most of the time, and can't even remember thinking about anything or even caring about what was going to happen. Physically, emotionally and mentally, I felt that I just could not deal with this problem.
One day I was cleaning up my room when my dad knocked on the door. He came in and, without judgment or scolding, asked me one question, "Do you want this baby?" I answered that I did. He said, "Okay then," gave me a hug and walked out of my room without another word. That was his acceptance of the situation.
It all started to hit me. I sat on my bed and cried. I didn't fully realize, nor could I comprehend at the time, the heartache my parents felt. The shame I felt was no match for the embarrassment and upset my parents were going through. How were they going to face their family and friends? Here I was just thinking of myself, while, in reality, they were going to have to do the dirty work in exposing what an irresponsible teenager they had. My parents knew a lot of people; they travelled very often around the US, growing their business. Our home had revolving doors -- people were always coming and going. Unless my parents secretly decided to ship me away to a convent, or lock me up for nine months in the attic, my condition was eventually going to be noticed.
Excerpted from More of You, Less of me by Christina Lane. Copyright © 2013 Christina Lane. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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