No One Knows Who I Am
Growing up in the Church, everyone knew I was a pastor’s kid. I am thankful for the faith I have found in God, however, the church is full of imperfect people trying to live perfect lives while making the same mistakes as everyone else. I remember growing up and feeling so much pressure. “I can’t mess up. Everyone is watching. They’re just waiting for me to fail.” I began to learn how to present myself in ways that would be accepted. I would hide how my brother and I fight, how I hated how I look, how insecure I am, how I have panic attacks and don’t know why, how I feel like crawling under a rock and not existing. Instead, I presented the outgoing good girl who had good grades, didn’t curse, never pushed the envelope, and always did what she was told. This worked well in the Church and no one questioned it. However, outside Church walls was a different story. I was severely bullied for being a “goody-two-shoes” or a “teacher’s pet” and for being fat. No matter what I did, I was never good enough. I would always get bullied and there was always something I couldn’t tell someone. I would always be overweight and I would always be the daughter of a pastor.
I remember the first time I confronted my mom about feeling like “something is wrong with me”. I stated how I wanted to not exist and how I think I might be depressed. My mom replied, “I rebuke that in the Name of Jesus. I don’t want that for my daughter.” This was an attempt at my mom choosing to walk in faith, however, this resulted in teaching me another thing that I cannot talk about. The bullying progressed. I was physically and emotionally abused by peers at school and by my own brother. I remember showing up at school and having to explain the dry blood in my nose and the black eye I received from my brother. I began to believe what they told me. I am a mistake. I am ugly. I am fat. I am unwanted. The emotional abuse built up and eventually led to my first suicide attempt at the age of 13.
I became so eager of acceptance and deathly afraid of judgment. I continued to paint a picture that everyone would enjoy, meanwhile hating every inch of my being. I had my first boyfriend at the age of 17. We dated for nearly three years. I remember being yelled at and feeling like I did something wrong, so I would do what he wanted me to do. I couldn’t make jokes in public; I was too embarrassing. I wanted to be respected, but it wasn’t okay to keep my shirt on or to want to lay on my own portion of the couch or sleep in my own bed when I was at his place. I couldn’t talk about my faith or what I was learning in school because I was making myself out to be “better” than him, more intelligent. He knew he could control me through guilt. At the age of 19, he became my rapist. At the age of 20 I attempted suicide a second time. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hated myself. I felt so alone.
Later that year, I met a man who loved me for me. I could wear what I wanted, sleep where I wanted, and have the whole couch to myself. It didn’t matter what I ate, if I wore make-up, or if I wanted to die that day. I was always beautiful to him. He was my adventure buddy. We would drive down to the beach or to LA with no plans and hardly a twenty in our pocket and end up having the best time. As our relationship progressed, I noticed glimpses of controlling behavior and signs that he didn’t trust me. I couldn’t go anywhere without getting approval first, I could only drink one alcoholic beverage otherwise I was “turning into my brother”. He had a hard time listening to me. He wasn’t emotionally available and always turned the conversation back to him. Now, it’s not entirely his fault. He suffers from severe ADHD and Tourette’s. I know his mind wanders aimlessly and it is difficult to slow his mind down. I can’t be alone in a relationship that is meant for two. It has now been two weeks and two days since I ended our relationship. He is the only one I opened up to, who knew everything about me; even about the rape.
I have decided during this time apart, I need to work on myself. I need healing. I have not processed the rape and I have not processed the effects of my mental illness. I’m afraid. I am afraid of vulnerability and judgment. After all, no one knows me for me. Others hardly call me by my correct name. Few in my circle know I am a pastors daughter, and even fewer know about the suicide attempts. Next to no one knows about the rape.
This journal is dedicated to self-growth and healing. Welcome to my journey. Please, call me J.