The following is a part of my story. While I try to be truthful without being explicit, there are things in my story which cannot, and should not, be altered for a softer read. Please feel free to comment with your own story or ask any questions you may have. Let’s start a conversation.
After I graduated high school, I was desperate for things to start getting better. But the thing this angry teenager learned is, things don’t just magically fix themselves when you become an adult-especially when you don’t do anything to improve them. Rapidly growing into an angry young adult, I began to try pretty much anything that wasn’t God to try and heal.
Like most baby adults, I made many poor choices. I started smoking, which actually did help with my anxiety, though never for very long. I stopped going to church. I did many really, really reckless things while driving, often risking others lives as well as my own-usually without care or concern.
Against my mom’s advice to enroll in a trade school, I decided to apply to a four-year college. Because my ACT scores were good, I had the option to live in the “Honors Dorm” as they called it. It required me to take a certain amount of honors level classes each semester, and there were slightly stricter conduct rules than the rest of the dorms. Keep in mind, I had never taken an honors class in my life and, very honestly, I was in no place emotionally to deal with living in a co-ed dorm. I didn’t last the first week of school. I got myself kicked out and barely completed the rest of the semester. I didn’t even go to one of my finals. So, as per the rule of my dad’s house-you either go to school or you get a job-I went out and got a job.
By June of 2003, I had gotten myself two, part-time, jobs: one at a donut shop and the other at a wing restaurant. It felt good to work. I have always enjoyed serving people and I am a fairly quick learner when I can be hands-on (Mom was, of course, right). My boss at the wing place really liked my work ethic and as the majority of his employees were high school kids, he was really interested in making me a manager. I was finally starting to get the hang of working both jobs, and the money was really good, but the promotion required that I quit my other job. I think it took me about a day to decide to take the position. I had dated one of the dough cutters, who was about twenty years older than me, and it hadn’t ended well. Plus, my boss at the donut shop was kind of a jerk, so I was ready for a less toxic environment.
Over the next few months, things seemed to be getting better. I was loving my new job, and I had begun coming to terms with the traumas I had experienced and uncovered. My parents began going to a new church and asked if I would go with them one Sunday. I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t as angry with God anymore, so I agreed. From the first Sunday, I was hooked. You see, they had a choir, and not just a choir, a good choir. It must have been around September or October, because they announced that Sunday that they were going to be beginning rehearsals for their Christmas program. I hadn’t been in a choir since high school and I was so excited to be able to be a part of one again. This church also had a college ministry. I wasn’t in college, but I was college-age, so it worked for me.
I began to slowly work my way back into the realm of Christianity, the Bible and believing in a God I wasn’t sure I was ready to trust again. I also was pretty convinced I was in no condition to be loved by Him. Trepidatiously, I began going to small groups, meeting with a few of the leadership girls one-on-one, and going back to counseling; trying to figure out what the condition of my emotional, mental and, most importantly, spiritual health was. In the midst of all of this, I began to wrestle with the fact of where my sexual attraction was. To my counselor, the facts were simple: I had been abused by men, from an early age, so it made sense that I would be attracted to women. But that, frustratingly, didn’t align with the truth I knew in the Bible. Nevertheless, I decided I would quietly pursue a homosexual lifestyle. Not that I had a clue what that meant or how I would even go about finding someone to date. I only told my brother and a few of my coworkers. As far as anyone knew at church, I was just wrestling and trying to work through these desires and feelings.
It was around this time that we hired a new guy at work. He was older than our typical employee, probably in his late thirties, early forties. I knew from the first time I met him, he was going to cause me a lot of grief. Every time I worked with him, he seemed to be trying to flirt with me. He would make little comments here and there, nothing you don’t hear in a restaurant kitchen, though. Really, at first, it didn’t bother me as I had no interest in him and I figured he was just testing the waters since he was new. But as the weeks wore on, I could tell he was really trying to let me know, he was interested. One night, as I was counting down the register for the night, he asked if I wanted to go to a club for some drinks with him. First, I told him I wasn’t old enough to go to a club. He responded that he knew the guy that owned it and he could get me in. I then told him I didn’t like clubs as they were too noisy and I didn’t enjoy dancing. So, he just straight up asked me over to his place. I finally just told him that I didn’t date men and I wasn’t interested in hanging out with him at his place. He seemed to take it in stride and left, but I would later find out, he wasn’t very good at taking no for an answer.
My shift on June 5th, 2004 had started out pretty well. I was working the closing shift and we had a good crew that night, so I was ready for a good night. I had worked with “Mr. Pushy” a couple of times since our conversation and he had seemed to be good with where things stood, keeping things mostly work related. This night was different. About half way through the shift, as I was getting ready to drop some wings into the fryer, and he whispered in my ear. “I know you want this big snake of mine.” He was directly behind me, so all I could do was drop the chicken into the fryer and start the timer. I stepped to the side and walked to the front where the cashier was. I told her what he had said to me and she asked if I wanted her to stay until close so I could send him home. The cashiers usually left a couple of hours before the rest of the crew as the night usually slowed down by then. I told her no, I could handle it and I walked out back to smoke a cigarette and gather my thoughts. I was the manager that night, so it was my call on who to send home. I decided I would just have a talk with him and see if he would agree to straighten up or be sent home. So, the three of us had a chat and he apologized and agreed to be cool the rest of the night.
When ten o’clock came around, I sent the cashier home and the night continued to go smoothly. When it came time to lock up, everyone had gone to their cars and I did my final walkthrough. By the time I walked out the back door, everyone had already left. Except “Mr. Pushy”. He was sitting in his car with the windows down, drinking a large can of Budwiser. I locked the door and walked over to his car. I urged him to go ahead and leave, as I was responsible for making sure everyone at least left the premises before I could leave. He asked if I would join him in his car. I told him I would not and that we both really needed to head out. I walked to my truck, got in and lit a cigarette, rolling the windows down. I sat there waiting for him to leave, thumbing through my cd collection, looking for some music to calm me down on my way home. I hadn’t heard him get out of his car, so the next thing I knew he was leaning into my truck, kissing me on the mouth and trying to shove his hand down my pants. As I pulled away as best I could he just chuckled and walked around to the other side of my truck. As he got in, I began hyperventilating, remembering my experience in high school. I couldn’t speak, fight back, I could barely breathe as he pulled me over to the passenger seat and raped me.
When he finished, he just chuckled again and got out and drove away. I was screaming in my head, but the rest of me was numb. I dressed myself and tried to drive myself home. But I couldn’t see through the tears. I called the cashier who had been working that night and told her what happened. She and her boyfriend came and picked me up and I spent the night-not sleeping-at her parent’s house. I got up the next day and went to my appointment with my counselor. At first I wasn’t sure if I could tell her what had happened. But I managed to get it out and she insisted I report it to the police. We had talked about how I hadn’t been able to tell anyone what happened to me when I was a ten year old, and nothing was done about the incident in high school. This was my chance to not only say something, but to have something be done about it! So, I agreed to tell the police. An officer came to her office and I told him what happened. He kept asking me if I had said, no to Mr. Pushy and I kept telling him that I couldn’t say anything. Finally, when I had finished telling him what happened, he said he wasn’t sure if they would be able to press charges because I hadn’t outright refused. I was still so numb and defeated, I don’t know that I even really understood what he was saying at the time. We went to the hospital so I could have a rape kit done and I had to go over the whole story again. I was exhausted by this point. My friend, the cashier, had met me at the counselor’s office to drive me to the hospital and back to her house when they were done. When we got back to her place I fell asleep, finally. I woke up to it being dark and my parents were there. I don’t remember them saying much and I just went back to sleep as they drove me home.
After a few days passed, I tried to go back to work, but I couldn’t handle it. I decided to quit and for a couple of months I just didn’t work. I spent a lot of time sleeping and on the computer. They had been unable to press charges, and I just felt totally defeated. I was depressed, angry, and exhausted. Continuing to attend church and see my counselor was the only thing that kept me going, I think. I definitely had thoughts of suicide, but I knew that God had something more for me than that. I wasn’t angry at Him this time; I honestly felt that He had allowed this to happen to me to wake me up and turn me away from the sin of homosexuality. So, I decided I would no longer try and explore those desires. It was very hard to walk away from though. I had felt that the only people I could really talk to about everything was the women in the lesbian chat room I had been a part of. My dad found out about the chat room and was super livid. He canceled my email account and forbid me from talking to them again. I felt lost. Out of place. But I knew he was right in his own way. I hated him for it, but I knew he was right. He also decided that after a few months of not working, it was time to get another job. No freeloaders in his house. I think he also felt I needed a reason to get out of the house instead of sleeping and ruminating in my room all day. I’m not sure he knew how to say that, of course, so I just felt he was being mean.
So, I went out and looked for another job. They were building a new Walmart, so I got on as part of a small crew that stayed behind in the old building and broke down the old store. We got to goof off a lot and had a lot of fun. It was the perfect job to kind of get me back into a routine, and it was a completely different environment than working in a restaurant.
I was finally beginning to start healing. But my journey to wholeness was still a long way coming.