Tuesday, July 10, 2007

On my 16th birthday...is that when it started?

On my 16th birthday, I stopped by the parsonage after a day of watching the Ganzer kids. The youth and education minister had invited a bunch of us to his house as a sort of impromptu party. But there wasn’t any cake, and we didn’t play croquet like I thought we would.

We played flag football. I wasn’t athletic and had never played any kind of football. But I didn’t want to whine.

Somehow, over and over again, I wound up face down on the ground with the minister on top of me. He was about 9 inches taller than me, and weighed a lot more, but somehow he couldn’t manage to just pull the flag.

It felt awful. He was all over me and always slow getting off. But I didn’t want to whine. I didn’t want to seem like a wuss. Besides...everyone else seemed to be having a good time.

Is that when I became prey? Is that when it started? I don’t really know.

The kids in the youth group used to play Twister. Somehow, every time my turn came, he would step in, and the next thing I knew, he would be all over me. Maybe that’s when it started...but of course, it was just a game.

Maybe it started when I used to practice the piano in the sanctuary. He started coming in to talk to me. I didn’t really mind, but it made it hard to get my practice time in. Besides, the reason I liked practicing in the sanctuary was because I liked the solitude and the full whole roundness of the sound going into the stillness. So after a while, I just quit practicing at the church as much.

Maybe it started when my dad had back surgery. The youth minister offered to let my sisters and I sleep at his house while my mom stayed overnight at the hospital. It was right after my 15th birthday. The three of us slept in a double bed with my youngest sister in the middle. Did he leer at me while I slept? Or worse?

Was there ever anything at that Baptist church that was just good and clean and wholesome? Or was every bit of it some piece of the minister’s set-up for sexual abuse?

Every memory I have is tainted....every retreat, every bible drill, every camp-out, every mission trip, every choir trip, every prayer group, every ping-pong game....all of it.

But even though the taint bleeds wide, it’s my birthday that always fills me with dread. Even the anticipation of it carries a dark sense of doom.

I don’t really know when I became prey for that Baptist minister. Probably sooner. But it was on my birthday that my brain imprinted a neural link to something really bad...and I think that was it.

1 comment:

Renae said...

I understand how awful it is to have your birthday marred by such awful stuff. Mine started on my birthday too, not subtly, and without question. Only it was my 18th birthday instead of my 16th.

My b-day is coming up next week. I'm taking it that yours was recent or is shortly upcoming. I hope you are able to do something to celebrate that at least gives you good memories to focus on instead of only the bad ones.

I know nothing will ever replace the awful memories. But you are doing a world of good for others that have been through the same thing, and maybe, just maybe, although painfully slowly, holding up a mirror that the good ole' boys are eventually going to be unable to avoid looking into. Don't lose heart!