Monday, May 29, 2006

Ongoing saga

Recapping my childhood—early years of moving from place to place—Navy base to Navy base... all pretty much a blur except for photos that jog my memory of the stories my mother told. Jesus was a friendly adult who was fond of children, indulgent and interested, much as many of the adults I knew. I was already learning that relationships with adults were far more satisfying than with my peers.

Communion was a perfect cube of white bread and little party drinks in tiny cups. Baptism was a ritual both scary and exotic—a huge see-through pool, where people descended in white robes, and were dipped backwards like tango dancers. This was my Grammie's church—Southern Baptist. I was six. One of the stories from that time was that the church elders informed my mother that I was taking communion illegally since I had not been baptized (in the dip and dunk sense). My mother was outraged. I had been christened in a Congregational church and baptism was baptism. I was indeed eligible to receive, and if they said anything more, we'd take our business elsewhere.

But it didn't matter for long, because my Dad had called that night from Guam to say he was divorcing us. Since we'd been living with his mother, (a tricky spot she was in) we moved. First, to a crummy apartment down the street for three months, and then to Portland, Maine: to my mother's parents. Nana was a Unitarian and her church didn't have a cross or communion. I missed the little party drinks.

My relationship with Jesus was sustained by the Roman Catholic Church. When we moved, it was the dead of winter and a parochial school was right across the street from my grandparents' apartment. I attended The Sacred Heart of Jesus for half a year. The nuns were incredibly kind to me. I was a skinny, sorry little protestant, whose daddy had left her, with an incredible memory and a voracious appetite for the catechism—what wasn't to love? The sisters would scold the boys who hadn't studied with "she knows her catechism, and she's not even Catholic."

I was learning to love music. Although Nana was a Unitarian, she knew lots of songs: ballads and gospels and hymns. She taught me many of them, and we'd sing together. The Hit Parade was a favorite TV show, and I'd memorize the songs and sing them in school at Show and Tell. Once I sang "A Secret Love" and the sisters were convinced I was singing about Jesus. With their nurturing, I was trying to bloom.

I was also being molested on a regular basis by my grandfather. Nana, who was supposed to be babysitting, was a gambler. She'd be off at Bingo. I became withdrawn, and played alone in my closet. I made a pretend apartment for myself and my dollbaby, safe and hidden from the dangerous world outside. (To this day I'm still a cave dweller, at home in dark cramped spaces.)

Those years are also blurred. By sixth grade I wa "acting out" although neither I nor anyone else knew exactly why. Just as life was becoming unbearable, we moved, my mother and I. To New Hampshire—to a new life in a small rural town. I left all the bad stuff behind and started over. Starting over was definitely becoming a habit.


A said...

This post definitely touches some chords with me. I don't know what I would have done, or what I would do without that starting over habit. I call it mercy...grace...a great gift, a lifesaver.

Actually I do know...I would be dead.

Pilot Mom said...

My heart breaks for you, CJ. No child should experience those atrocities. I agree with A above, moving was a great gift.

kpjara said...

I thank God for you and for your story. I will never understand how anyone could harm a child in any way; physical, mental, emotional, yet I know God will deal...even when we can't.

Thank GOD for the move~!

HeyJules said...

It's heart wrenching what we go through at the hands of sin, isn't it? I bleed for you, CJ and praise God that He got you away from the hands of that man.