I was born and named, but I wasn’t supposed to make it. I was loved and claimed, but still, I wasn’t supposed to make it. I was born In West Philadelphia to a seventeen year old girl who suffered from epilepsy, and a father who had a drug, and alcohol addiction. Due to her illness, my mother only lived eight months after giving birth to me. I never knew her, nor could I remember seeing her face, yet, I found myself crying for her many nights. That void in my life was supposed to destroy me, and I wasn’t supposed to make it.
It was March 5th, 1975 when my mother died in her sleep. You can say that my father died that day also because he was the one who found my mother in her forever rest. He was so hurt, traumatized, and depressed to say the least. Drugs and alcohol replaced me, and in that brief moment I was mother and fatherless. I know that it must have been very hard coming in and finding your wife dead a week after you celebrated your 1 year Wedding Anniversary (February 23). Unable to deal with the pain, he continued in his addiction and sold his soul to lust and drugs. He remained in bondage for my entire childhood. I grew up without an example of an honorable man in my life. I searched for love to replace his, yet, I only found pain.
I was raised by my mother’s mother and she did the best that she could. She raised me along with my two older male cousins. My aunt died six months after my mother in the same year! She was only 23 at the time of her death. My grandmother lost two children in a matter of months. When she took all of us to raise she was 62 years old. Grief became a way of life for her, but she was very strong. She had to be. She was raising an eight month old baby, a three, and a five-year old!
When I turned 13, I started to seek love elsewhere because my grandmother no longer accepted me for who I was, or who I was becoming. She said things to me at times that caused scars no one on earth could heal. For example; I was called a slut when I was still a virgin. I searched for anyone and anything to fill what she emptied. What did I find; I always found myself in pools of pain. I then began to try to drink my sorrows away with alcohol.
When she couldn’t do anything else with, or for me, my grandmother sent me to live with my father. I was 14 years old when that happened. My father had been clean for a while and everyone thought this would be better for me. I had maintained an F average all that prior school year and my grandmother was at a lost. Living with my father was very depressing, so, they allowed me to return home to Philly at the end of the school year. I went back home and my father went back to drugs. The truth was, no matter where I was I was going to be unhappy. No friend would keep me, no guy would love me, and not many would accept me. I just wasn’t supposed to make it.
I can still hear the strong, yet, powerless voices, “Why bother going to school, you’ll still be dumb? You ain’t worth s#*t, you never were, and you never will be!” It’s funny how you start to believe others and their opinions become your facts about yourself. If for a second you start to believe you are special, and important, you quickly tell yourself you’re lying. I mean, everyone can’t be wrong, can they? Then, your goals seem unobtainable, and your dreams seem unreachable. You have this strong desire to strive, but because you’re so drained from all the ridicule, criticism, and being unaccepted, you lack the energy you need to climb the steps to success. That was me, I had so many dreams. At times I believed in myself and my peers did also, it was when I stopped receiving acceptance from my grandmother that I mentally shut down. When I knew she couldn’t stand who I was becoming, something within me gave up and died. Self-worth had stood at the doors for many years until it finally left the building.
I know she did her best to love me, but there were times when she would get so frustrated with me that she would lash out (in between the objects she would throw at me) with harsh and hurtful words. “Slut, whore, tramp, dumb, fool.” These words were supposed to remind me of who I was. I wanted to believe different, so I searched deeper and harder for someone, anyone to make me feel better about myself. Being loved and accepted was all that mattered to me. I grew to nearly hate my grandmother because she didn’t display her love in a way that I could see. I searched for a love to replace hers. The pain from that only led me to attempt suicide.
In my early teen years, my older cousin became addicted to drugs. My father was one of his role models. He stole everything from phones, to bus passes, irons, vacuum cleaners, to the meat in the freezer. If I spoke up, I was beat up. I can count two black eyes, and many horrible nights. I hated my grandmother for allowing him to live with us and hurt me so bad. I thought she must have loved him more because she didn’t protect me from him. My cousin sold his soul to drugs and died at the same age as his mother (23). I began to feel a little safer with him gone sad to say.
On my search for love, I found a guy who was not what, or who he said he was. All I wanted was love, and all he had were lies. I believed that it was possible for someone to see good in me. I believed that it was possible for someone to love, and accept me for who I was. I believed it was him. His lies made me feel wanted, special, important, needed, and somehow complete. Although our entire three and a half-year relationship was built on lies, it caused me feel nurtured in a way. He was the first and only guy that stayed around after sexual intercourse. And although he did something every week to cause me to want to leave him, he would promise me he’d die without me. He would fall to his knees begging, crying, (literally) and promising me he’d change. His words were powerful, but it was the tears that led me stay.
After about six months into our toxic relationship things got real crazy. Abuse became a normal way of communicating. I can’t even remember the first hit because there were so many fights. Being as though I was raised with two boys, I was not afraid of being hit by a male and I always fought back. He pushed, I kicked, he slapped, I scratched, he grabbed, and I punched. It was terrible. I didn’t realize that I was reliving the life that my mother and father had. The dysfunctional cycle was being carried on by the next generation.
Even after all of the disrespect, fighting and cheating, I stayed. His verbal abuse caused me to believe that no one else would love, or accept me; no one but him. He also used verbal abuse to tear down any traces of self-esteem or self-worth that I may have tried to reach for. With all the different STD’s he had given me, I began to wonder, “Why would someone else want me?” We’d break up almost every two months or so and end up right back together. Hit after hit, fight after fight, other girl after other girl. I cried, and cried many days and nights yet, I lacked the strength and courage to leave. I use to pray that I would just die and never wake again. I wanted to escape but didn’t know how. I had what it took to leave, but I choose to stay and believed his lies.
I moved into my own apartment with him when I turned 18, but as you can imagine that didn’t work out. After a girl came to our apartment asking to see him I had to leave. I was lying awake at night planning how I would murder him in his sleep. I left, yet I didn’t separate myself from him totally and at the age of 19, I became pregnant. At that time we were not going together, but we still slept together. I had decided not to keep my baby because I didn’t want anything to keep us connected. I made three different appointments to have an abortion, but due to financial issues, it never took place. By the time the money became available, I was already convinced by his tears to keep our baby. I thought it was rather strange that he wanted me to keep our child. You see, when I was 5 months pregnant, he had no problem putting his hands on me.
Being the fool that I was, I took him back and nothing changed. Throughout my entire pregnancy, he had unprotected sex with numbers of females. I was not in the dark about his cheating, I cried nearly every day. Only God kept my son alive and healthy, because if it was left up to my stress, he might not have made it. I regretted keeping my baby at that time because more and more I realized that I would be doing everything all alone. I knew I had to run from that relationship. It was only a matter of time. My poor grandmother had to watch another abusive relationship all over again and she hated that I wouldn’t listen to her. This caused us to argue almost every day.
After having my son, I began to feel needed, loved, and accepted. My son brought me strength and joy. More and more I started to believe that I was a beautiful person, and that it was possible for someone to really love me. The love that I had for my son was not shared by his father, so that made it easier for me to leave him. One day he became so unattractive that I couldn’t even bear to see his face. So, after one more night out of him cheating on me, it was finally over forever. (Or so I thought.) I wound up pregnant again by him. I decided that an abortion was the best option five and a half months into the pregnancy. I left him for good shortly after that. That relationship was another trick that was supposed to destroy my life, my confidence, my dreams and my being. I was supposed to either, die by his hand, or commit suicide. I wasn’t supposed to make.
The struggles, pain, and obstacles that lied in front of me were endless. It took another year before I could fully get this fool out of my system. When I received enough physical, verbal, emotion, and mental abuse, I moved on to a few more abusive relationships. I didn’t stay around as long though because I began to know, and not just think that I deserved better. While living in Rock Bottom, I tried things to lift me high like, weed, alcohol, dust, Xanax, volumes, and prescription cough syrup. I thought being so high could keep me from feeling my pain. I can remember four car accidents, but there may have been more. I wasn’t supposed to live through all of this in the devils eyes. No, I wasn’t supposed to make it.
When my grandmother died in July of 1996, it was time to answer the Lords constant call. It was at her funeral that I chose to surrender my life to Him; yet, I still had a far and long road to travel. Somehow, I remained in bondage, and the devil kept getting victory instead of GOD. Then when I hit the bottom of rock bottom, I was freed. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired; I really understood what people meant when they said that.
While I was in a homeless shelter, I received some very serious counseling. I realized that my real problem wasn’t my issues with men or sex. The problem was, I had made ACCEPTANCE my God, and my Lord was not going to settle for 2nd place. It wasn’t easy, and I had fall after fall. Yet, staying in His Word (The Bible), Church, Bible Study, Revival, Ministry, Sunday school, Biblical Education Classes, Prayer Meeting, Fellowships, and on my knees, I learned to put God 1st over everything and kill my flesh. That is, refuse to give in to its unhealthy desires. As time went on, I was actually kicked out of the homeless shelter. When my life started to change, it was difficult to stay in tune with their program and put my priorities first. I was really busy. But God used that experience to prepare me ready for the next phase in my walk with Him, and I have not looked back since. I learned that I had to not just say I was a Christian, but truly be a Christian. Now, I have a wonderful best friend, (who is also my husband) and an awesome son and step-daughter! We own our home in a beautiful suburban area, and I am walking in Gods light, shinning everywhere we go! And despite the odds, I MADE IT!
©Lisa A. Gore