Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality: Jessica’s Story, Part Three

Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality: Jessica’s Story, Part Three

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In this series: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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"I didn't know it yet, but it was the first day of the rest of my life."
“I didn’t know it yet, but it was the first day of the rest of my life.”

I got older and middle school went by and it was time for high school.  My freshmen year, I met a new set of friends. They were the goth kids and they were awesome. All fucked up, suicidal, death metal freaks, but they were still christians.

My parents hated these kids.

At one point in time, my mother accused them of turning me into a lesbian because I didn’t have boyfriends. Never mind that I was not allowed to date and every attempt had ended brutally at their hand. It didn’t matter these girls were straight. I was hanging out with these strange girls and they were making me a lesbian.

When that tactic didn’t work, my mother tried to convince me that they were witches. She even had our pastor come visit and lecture me on the “appearance of evil.” They appeared evil. This didn’t work either, I was prepared with verses to counter his. When that failed, my parents decided they were going to put me in a girls’ reform boarding school. They wouldn’t take me. I had bad grades, but I was good kid. I didn’t smoke, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t drink, I didn’t skip school, I wasn’t having sex. With the exception of my grades, I was a perfect teenager. I never once got in trouble at school.

I did not misbehave until the stress broke me.

The stress of all the pressure and the attempts to separate me from my only friends and still regular beatings with a belt, drove me to self harm. At the age of 15 I started cutting myself. My mother’s tactic for dealing with this was to hypothetically lecture me on how stupid it was to cut yourself, but she never actually acknowledged that I was doing it.

I cut myself for 3 years without anyone ever trying to stop me.

I made a couple more normal friends as well in high school and my senior year, I started attending church with them. It was there, a senior in highschool at the age of 18 that I met my future husband, but I didn’t know it yet. Honestly, the first time I met him, I thought he was giant ass. We had an argument on tithing in youth group. He believed there were legitimate financial reasons for not tithing. I did not

A month later, the church held a camp out. I had to beg and plead at the age of 18 to be allowed to attend a camping trip where boys would be present. Never mind that all of the adults were going too — there would be boys!

On that trip, my mother’s worst nightmare came true. I met a boy. An older boy.

We had our first date, he took me to a movie. I had to be home at 9 pm. She told me that she wouldn’t stop me, but that it was very inappropriate that Brian hadn’t come to ask my father for permission to date me. Before I could see him again, after this date, he would have to come meet my parents. So the next Saturday, I had him over for lunch. I had to show that I could be a good house wife. So I had to top to bottom clean the house and cook the entire meal by myself from scratch.

This wasn’t because of  Brian. He didn’t care.

My parents however, thought this was going to be a traditional Christian courtship and if I didn’t show off my womanly skills, he would find someone else.  Lunch went fine, and my partly tattooed 20 year old boyfriend showed up. Begrudgingly, my parents gave their consent, mostly because I was 18.

Sunday, after church Brian and his family invited me to go play miniature golf. I called my parents to ask permission and they gave it, even though they didn’t sound like they liked the idea. I stayed all day, had a wonderful time and made sure I was home by 9 pm.

When I got home, all hell broke loose. My parents hadn’t told me, but they had wanted to go grocery shopping that evening, but they would not leave the house while I was gone with my boyfriend. I had a 5 minute screaming match at the front door because I was home on time and they never mentioned I needed to be home sooner.

Sobbing, I walked to my bedroom and opened the door.

My bed had flipped upside down.

All of the clothes from my dresser had been pulled out and thrown on the floor the clothes were ripped from my closet and lying on the floor. My beside table drawers had been ripped out and dumped. My room was in shambles.

I turned around, walked out of my room to the kitchen, got a drink of water and my mother came in. She pointed to a pile of clothes on the floor and said, “You need to put these away and clean that awful mess in your room.”

I snapped and started screaming at her at the top of my lungs. My room had been spotless, I wasn’t putting away a damn thing (it may have been the first time I had ever sworn) and she needed to fix what she had done to my room because she had no right.

Then I heard the door knob.

Dad was home, I didn’t know dad was home.

For some perspective. I was 5 ft tall and weighed maybe 120 lbs. My father had almost a foot and more than 100 lbs on me. My stomach sank and I started running for the front door. He caught me and slammed me into the fridge. I pushed him off me and started running the down the hall to my room. He caught me again. I slapped him to try to get him off me. He swung me around and started choking me.

My mother screamed.

He let me go and I locked myself in my room. He told me through the door that I was no longer allowed to leave the house unless it was for school. No church, no extracurriculars, nothing. Then he hid the phones and went to bed. I couldn’t call the police, I couldn’t leave because they had set the alarm and even if I could get out, we lived almost 8 miles out of town and it was cold.  I sat on my bed holding my baseball bat all night waiting for my dad to come after me.

The next morning, after no sleep, I packed the $20 I had to my name and a couple changes of clothes into my backpack and got on the bus. I never went back home. I didn’t know it yet, but it was the first day of the rest of my life. It was only going to get better from here.

After school, my youth pastor picked me up and drove me to a battered woman’s shelter. The next day, the police tried to get my parents to release me the rest of my clothing. They refused and I declined to press charges. Between the church, my boyfriend and the shelter, they replaced everything I owned. I had never had new clothes before. All of my clothes came from goodwill and the dav. They looked awful, they were torn, and I only had two pairs of jeans and a couple shirts anyway. I ended up better off in that respect.

I endured several months of harassment. My parents tried to find the shelter I was staying at. Also had one very failed attempt at family counseling.

I ended up staying at my youth pastor’s house and dropping out of high school.  I couldn’t maintain a full time job, school, and my church duties — and, for the first time, a social life. About a year later, Brian and I  married. Now, almost 10 years later, my husband and I are happy, non-believing parents to three beautiful children.

Over the years, I have tried a couple times to form a relationship with my parents. However, it never worked out and I eventually ended up cutting them out of my life entirely. I am happy, healthy, and I have the family I never thought I could have.

My children are thriving in public school and the difference between them and myself at their age sometimes hits me like a brick wall. They are happy, they aren’t afraid me or my husband and they love it when daddy is home. They have friends and all three are such different people with distinct personalities. The monster in the closet isn’t a demon coming to possess or kill them. And when they do get scared, they come running to mommy instead of freezing in fear unable to move.

They are loved and can be themselves.

I think that is all any child ever really needs.

End of series.

Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality: Jessica’s Story, Part Two

Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality: Jessica’s Story, Part Two

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In this series: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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I showed up for school with my back pack on, my lunch packed, my patent leather white dress shoes and my frilliest pink dress.  I marched straight up to the first girl my age, stuck out my hand and said “Hi, my name is Jessica and I think we’re just going to be the best of friends.” She laughed at me, and walked away talking about me to her friends.

I was completely socially inept.

I had never been around other children. The only other child that I had been around regularly was my older brother, so I acted like my autistic older brother.  Every time I spoke, I would compulsively say what I had just said again under my breath to listen myself say it. Literally every sentence. Until the other children started making fun of me for it, I had never realized that other people didn’t do that.  It took me over two years to break that habit and I still do it in my head to make sure what I just said didn’t sound stupid. No one played with me and no one spoke to me except the teachers.

That was just the social aspect. I was capable of all the grade level work the other children were doing, except the math.

However, I had never been in a class room.

When I did my work at home, I would sit at the table, read my books, do my work sheets or tests and then I was done for the day.  It usually took 2-3 hours. I knew nothing about school. My first day, I got in trouble for answering the questions when the teacher asked them. After a couple questions, I realized that the other children were raising their hands and being called on. However, it was too late. I lost my recess and had to write “I will not speak unless spoken to” 150 times. My hand ached and I didn’t speak in class again for weeks.

After the first 9 weeks, I found out that I was failing school. I aced all of my tests but I wasn’t doing any of the assignments I didn’t have the attention span to pay attention in class. I had never had to pay attention for that long before, so I didn’t hear any of the instructions. I didn’t understand, I was doing everything I was asked at school. As much as I heard before I involuntarily spaced out. What I didn’t realize is that I wasn’t done when the day was over. I was supposed to be doing work at home too. I was beaten  for flunking, but no one told me what I was supposed to do to change it. My mom had checked out of our education as soon as the homeschooling was over.

Finally, after failing my 2nd nine weeks, my teacher started paying attention and realized what was wrong. I didn’t know how to be in school. She kept me in at recess (I didn’t play at recess anyway) every day for a week and taught me how school worked. She explained homework, she moved me to the front row so she could work on keeping my attention. She explained why everything was the way it was and I finally started catching on.

Socially however, was another story. I had no friends. No one would speak to me.

It became even worse after I tried to start a conversation about demons at the lunch table.

My grades came up the first half of the 2nd semester and after that, I could no longer make myself care. I didn’t belong at home, I didn’t belong at school, the kids were afraid of me, my parents hated me. I had no reason to exist. I stopped doing anything that I did not want to do. I was never going to measure up to the expectations of my family or my peers, so trying was useless.

At the end of the year, my teacher informed my parents that I was not ready to progress to middle school and I was held back to repeat my 5th grade year. This of course was an abject failure. I had humiliated my parents.  What would the other people in town think? This was always very important. My mother cared deeply about how she appeared to the other people in our small, entirely too nosy town. I went back to school the next year and did nothing at all. I did what I had to do in class so the teacher wouldn’t yell at me and got beatings at home for the straight D’s and F’s on my report card. I didn’t care. They passed me anyway.

In Middle School, the social aspect of school started to become easier. I made some friends, yes they were the other weird kids, but they were my friends. The age of 12 brought new difficulties with it. I was starting to be interested in boys and this was unacceptable. I was allowed to go to school, but I was not allowed to go to any school social events. Dances were immoral and there was no reason to be pursuing boys until at least the age of 16 if not 18. Sports were a frivolous waste of time, so I did not need to go to those events. Still, they had to let me do something, so middle school began my years of church lock ins and Bible camp.

I will come back to church events.  First I would like to tackle the ideas of privacy and sexuality.  In the sixth grade, I had my first “boyfriend”.  It was completely innocent and consisted note writing, sneaking phone calls and holding hands in the hallway.  It was in stark contrast to what I had been taught.  I was taught that boys were only after sex and that dating was unnecessary and immoral.  So even this completely innocent venture into crush land got me in more trouble than I had been in my entire life.  I had been writing a diary, but I had kept it secret.  I was not allowed to have secrets from my parents.  I accidentally left my diary in room one day and my mother found it.  She went through my room on a near weekly basis.  Something she never did to the boys. I was the one that had to be kept pure. My life went on like this until I left when I was 18.  I would try to have some semblance of self or privacy and it was be swiftly and harshly be stomped out as soon as it was discovered. My thoughts were not my own. I was not allowed to be different, I had to fully give myself to Jesus and my parents.

Church events were the only time I could really be a kid. At the age of 7, I was “saved” at our little baptist church.  However, I didn’t have an emotional coming to Jesus moment. I was sitting in the children’s section. The alter call started and I had never paid attention before. The pastor asked if there was anyone in the room that had never accepted Jesus. I hadn’t done that. So I put up my hand.

Now I have express the sheer lack of emotion in this experience — I had no idea what I was doing. The pastor asked if we had done something and I hadn’t. He was a man and spiritual leader, so I had to do what he said. I would have had the same response if he had asked me if I had brushed my teeth that morning. I went down, I repeated the prayer the lady had me say, and I was done. I did what I was told and then I tried to go sit back down. They wouldn’t let me.

I had to stand in front of the church.

Everyone was cheering, my mom was crying.  I had no idea why. The next Sunday I had to get baptized. At some point in time, I realized that I was supposed to have had an emotional response to this event, so I faked one and played along because for once, people were proud of me.

In middle school, I went to my first church camp. It was wonderful, all the kids were just like me and we got along wonderfully. I didn’t realize until many years later that the reason we got along was because they were all just as socially inept and weird as I was. Still, it was a release. Everything was great, except worship service on the 3rd day.  We had been having Bible studies, music and praise, but they didn’t have the first alter call until day 3.  We had a long lesson on hell and suffering. Then they outlined the steps of salvation. I had an emotional break down along with about 30 other children. I hadn’t been saved, not properly. I was going to burn in hell. I crawled, sobbing down the isle to the front and terrified, I accepted Jesus. Properly this time. I had such a sense of peace.

I was on fire for Jesus for the rest of the week.

Unfortunately, the assurance wore off and a new sense of terror joined the terror I had about demons and the 2 am hour when my father came home from work. I still wasn’t saved. I had doubts and I was told Jesus would take all my doubts away when I became saved. I must broken, why can’t I get properly saved? The scenario of tearfully crawling my way up to the stage repeated its self at nearly every youth event I attended until I stopped attending youth events at 18.

It never worked.

I never felt saved and it was a constant torment.

To be continued.