Image via WikipediaBy Neal Stone
One of the hardest things to deal with, because of my disability, is I had no skills, talent and not much of a personality. This made my life difficult when it came to trying to fit in.
In the 79/80 school year we finally were able to move into the new church building and the school which was in the basement. It was at this point things would take a weird turn in thew church and my family. My step-dad would marry my mother and start to demand to be called dad and be treated like dad. On top of that he ate up everything the pastor preached and would become real strict at times.
The church would become very cult like and we would be in constant fear. Fear that if we stepped out of line, even in the smallest way, we would be exposed in the church and rebuked. The pastor was one of those scream, yell and kick the pulpit types.
We would have at least 3 church splits before I quit years later. There would also be midnight secret meetings to discuss who was to be thrown out of the church and discuss other things about how the church was to be run. I would see people sell their homes and donate $100,000 to the church. A few months later the pastor would be bitching about a $600 power bill that was six months overdue. No one ever knew where that money went.
In one service we had a meeting after the church service. The pastor got up on the stage at the front of the church and stated something like “If you are going to serve God in this church come up and kneel before me now...”. People went in throngs and kneeled before him. It was creepy.
I would spend the rest of the school years being picked on by the PK (pastors kid) and anyone who was his friend. I wanted to be a good Christian but had no idea how. Any attempt to try and fit in and do right would result in me being pushed away.
My family was hated by this church. If they visited they were treated bad and made to feel unwelcome and the we would be told that they needed to get right with god. What the hell?! On top of that we were told we were worthless sinners and our only right was to burn in hell. I had no self-worth as it was and this didn't help at all.
My step-dad would turn out to be a dishonest person. In one case he needed a lot of money to go on a church trip to Israel, so he prayed for the money. I won't go into the full details, but the money came in and it really wasn't his to use. He cashed the check and used the money even though it belonged to someone else. He and mom would find ways to justify it and “make it up” to the person. My mom is the kind who will convince wrong is right if it fits her agenda, or will convince you what happed didn't happen or visa versa even though the opposite was true. My mind would be f***ed with at every turn.
Twice I cheated in school and got caught. I would get hit with the "There is no excuse" clause. I really tried to get assistance with the problems I was having, but got ignored or got told different ways by different people. It really confused me.
When the school first started, I was sitting at my desk and really had to pee. We weren't allowed to leave our desks without permission so I raised my hand and sat there. Finally it was too late and I just let go and pissed myself. Then the teacher finally decided to come and see what I wanted. I ended up riding my bike home in wet pissed clothes. No one offered me a ride.
If we missed church we heard about in school the next day. No one came to us one-on-one. We got chewed out right there in front of everybody. The pastor got his kicks this way so he could prove how tough he was.
We were controlled at every turn. There were big gossips in the church and my family was a favorite subject. If you went to a movie or did something the church was against, some little spy or tattle tail was ready to expose you and the pastor would expose you in front of the whole church.
We were controlled and brainwashed at every turn.
Finally it came to my last year in school. It was the 82/83 school year ans I was a year and a half behind on my work and in order to graduate I had to complete that plus my regular work. I was given permission to work ahead. I worked hard and fast. Everyday after school I worked and worked.
Before the school year began (summer 82) I went to see the doctor in Seattle about my Epilepsy. After doing a few test and a CT scan they determined I no longer needed medications and was Epilepsy free. I would spend my last year being weaned off the meds.
During the spring we had some event that required getting sponsored and going to stay a week at a dorm at a college for a big A.C.E convention. Kind of like and Olympics, talent show all rolled into one. I didn't have anything to present but wanted to go. I wasn't able to get enough sponsors, however an elderly couple really took me under their wing and paid for the trip. I don't remember his name, but his wife's name was Doris and was the sweetest lady.
On the way home we had ordered dinner at a restaurant and somehow I had lost my money so someone bought me dinner. I went to the bathroom and the PK was right behind me, he cornered me and proceeded to berate me in front of his cronies. I went off on him and then to my surprise one of his buddies also got on his case. I was happy all the way home.
I finally made it to the end of the school year and I was able to complete ALL my work and was set to graduate. I invited everybody even people who no longer attended the school or church. My siblings didn't come for obvious reasons, and I understood their choice. No one else showed, either. I wasn't very popular. Oddly enough, I would discover that I did make a difference, unknowingly, as years later I would encounter people who were kids in the school, to whom I gave Hot Wheels or solved their Rubik's Cubes. These small acts of friendship were enough to make them feel welcome and included. Oddly enough I provided others what I could not attain myself -- a feeling of belonging.
The next year PK graduated, and everybody came. Even the people I had invited to my own graduation, who had bitterly quit the church and school, showed up. I felt so deflated and let down.
One positive in my own graduation was Doris of the retired couple that took me under their wing. She did painting as a hobby and made a special painting for me of an ocean scene with a lighthouse and a boat off in the distance. She titled it “Bright Future.” It wouldn't be till years later that I noticed the title. To this day the painting is my most prized possession and is always treated especially careful when I move to a new place. It is hanging not to far from me now as I type this and is a constant reminder that there is always someone out there who can see you for who you are and believe in you when no one else will. I think she knew I would someday amount to something.
Eventually I would stop going to this church and the pastor and his family moved away. Slowly, and very slow it was, the cloud would start to lift. In 1983 I was given a ten speed bicycle for Christmas and a new chapter in my life would begin.
Next, Part 5. My Story – The Great Escape