Still Water Runs Deep: Beneath the Surface
The rental house I grew up in was disheveled, with piles of rusty steel and garbage thrown carelessly in the yard. That house is reminiscent of a major part of my childhood. Its interior was cluttered with books, suitcases, antique music equipment and the living room littered with gambling tickets. The garage was empty because mummy sold the car when she couldn’t afford to pay for the insurance due to her gambling habit.
When I was in secondary school I always came home to mummy fighting and cursing my step-father or cursing about the aspects of her life she didn’t like. The times she wasn’t like this, I remember her lying on the couch. She always looked the same; frowned lips, scraggly hair and worn T-shirts. She was overcome with depression and this prohibited her from cooking or taking care of my family and our home like I thought most mothers were supposed to.
My biological father didn’t stay with her or for me. People would tell me that I look like him so I assumed that she saw me only as a reminder of him and this was why her demeanour and treatment toward me was one of sadness or bitterness. I grew up so afraid in my own home especially when mummy would talk to me. Sometimes, she would look at me getting ready and say to me that I wasn’t pretty or smart. I remember one time my neighbor told me that I was a princess and she replied by saying that I was the princess of something that sounds like fit. I can’t remember why she was so angry one day but she screamed at me and began smashing glass ornaments to the floor.
Another time I had gotten injured and my step-father ignored me so I called the ambulance. When mummy came home she told the ambulance driver to leave and she drove me to the hospital, cursing me for most of the way. She still tried because at least she took me there. For most disruptions in the household my step-father didn’t intervene because most likely he would have wanted to avoid an argument with my mother. At nights, when I would try to study he would tell me that his indoor birds needed sleep and then turn the lights off while I was sitting on the dining room table. The only time I felt like I had some form of hope and peace was when I attended church because at school the children made fun of me every day.
I didn’t have privacy at home because the house is incomplete, so the bathroom floor is where I spent a lot of time crying and praying. I shared a room and a bed with my sister who mostly kept to herself and hardly talked to me, so I would turn to my side, put the curtain up and talk with God through the window. Talking to Him while looking at the night sky gave me so much peace. I have led a very painful life because of the actions of my family but I am not perfect either, since I resented them and wished that I belonged to another family. I thought that it was so bad that I moved out when I turned eighteen and lived with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Staying there was nice but only for a moment because my uncle wanted to pay me to have sex with him. God protected me from him but after that I moved to another aunt’s. My parents found out that I had moved again and asked if my uncle did anything to hurt me but he didn’t and they asked me to come back home in a police station. I did and although it was not comfortable or easy, I was physically safe.
After secondary school I worked for a year and then God prompted a friend of mine to encourage me to sign up for UWI. I thought, “There is just no way someone like me could ever go there”. When I got accepted into UWI my mother told me that she wasn’t going to help me and that she hoped my money finished so that I would have to drop out. God is faithful and so He sent another Christian young woman to encourage me to go and drop in my other documents and advised me to take the H.E.L.P. loan, which I took twice to help me to get through. On campus though, I felt severely depressed, frantic about my future and ashamed of my home. My only escape at that time was my friend whom I thought I was going to marry and with whom I’d have a secure future. But, when he spoke about us being in a relationship, I realized that I was too scared to love. After what I witnessed a marriage and a home to be I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that type of structure or anything close to it. He eventually got over me and I was officially left with nothing as my 3.32 GPA had plummeted to 1.47.
After much praying and spending time with God, He healed me from that friendship and changed my parents’ hearts toward me, as well as mine to them. They began calling when I was in UWI, started giving me food and after two years began paying my rent. Though I thought it inconceivable God helped me to forgive and love them even when it was difficult. We communicate much better and more often now. On Christmas Day 2013, my family and I found out that we would be evicted by a cousin of mine. We live in my mother’s brother’s house. After seeing mummy’s hair fall out and seeing how she handled things irrationally because of fear I was deeply saddened and started asking for extensions to complete research papers and for some courses to be de-registered. My pastor, whom I much later called for support, never called me back or visited but God gave me the understanding to forgive her too. God used people in the same family and from another church to support me in prayer, with finances and who would even call and check up on me often.
During this time, God also blessed me with a $17,000.00 grant from the government. He exposed my family to His love from the church that supported me and through Jesus my family and I got closer. After asking Him, He caused my uncle who was evicting us to change his mind. My GPA even went up to 2.52. Mummy sees me as more than a remnant of painful her past now, which was aided by the ways in which God helped me to demonstrate care for my family when we thought we would be evicted. On Valentine’s Day 2015, for the first time in my life my mother told me that I looked pretty and then I spent a really awesome day with my sister. My relationship with my father has now gotten so much better that we talk and laugh very often. God has taught me that nobody’s life is picture perfect and we all sin, but forgiveness and love for your family, no matter who they are makes life sweeter.
My past no longer feels heartbreaking but I see it now as a time when God taught me about His character and I am no longer scared of my home because He has proven that He is worthy to be trusted. If you’re like me and grew up the way that I did or can even relate to it, please know that God’s love is transforming and it makes you a better and stronger person. It won’t always be very easy; sometimes transformation will hurt but I promise that He will be with you every step of the way. Always remember that no one ever calls the Phoenix dirty because it came from the ashes; it is only called powerful because it rose above it. With Jesus, we make it too.