“I would rather pay for someone’s abortion than pay to raise their child for eighteen years.”
That was a comment that came across my news feed on Facebook the other day. It is a false argument to claim that welfare children, wards of the state, or children that are born into abusive families/situations would be better off aborted. I know because I was an abused welfare child.
I did not choose the life or family that I was born into. I did not choose my status or circumstances. But I do know that all children deserve a chance at life no matter the situation, and I am so thankful I was given that chance.
Let me start from the beginning and add that this is MY life the way I see it. I do not blame, resent, or hate anyone that was ever in my life, including my mother. God had a plan for me. And even through all the bad, His will was done for His glory.
It began when my mother married her drug dealer in order to score free drugs. I guess that’s a perk of being married to a dealer. Their marriage didn’t last long, go figure. They separated and ultimately divorced while she was pregnant with me. Being a single mother with a desperate need to be loved and a daughter in tow makes you an easy target. Some were looking to abuse her low self-esteem, some were looking for a “partner in crime” (literally), while others had eyes for her pretty, young, blonde daughter.
My childhood was an endless (so it seemed) struggle. We moved constantly, usually in the middle of the night to evade landlords looking for months of back rent. We lost possessions and precious childhood memories in the process. I attended a different school every year until sixth grade. I was the child that smelled like cigarette smoke, struggled to focus during class, and had very few friends, if any at all. We used food stamps and stood in line at the welfare office to get our box of government food. We took the city bus and walked everywhere. I am thankful that I never had to live in a homeless shelter. I’m thankful for the times I was able to live with my grandmother.
During these early years there was a particular man involved in my mother’s life who was extremely abusive. He had fits of rage. I remember looking into his eyes during one episode and seeing pure evil. Sometimes I was unable to go to school or even see my grandmother because of the bruises. There were so many times that school and sleep were my only refuge. I was just eight years old when I began to think that it would be best if maybe I didn’t wake up. There had to be something better out there and heaven had to be it. Even though religion wasn’t really a part of my life at that time, I believed in heaven. Little did I know that I could have died at the hands of this abuser.
One day we were walking to the store and I was pushing my sister in her stroller. I kept popping up the front at every sidewalk entrance. He yelled at me and said I didn’t need to do that. At the next sidewalk dip I didn’t do it, the front wheels caught and the stroller tipped. He lost it; he picked up the stroller and hit me square in the face with the back of his hand. He struck me so hard I flew back into a big metal garbage can, hit the back of my head and lost consciousness. Everything just went black. The first sense that came back to me was my hearing. At first it was ringing and then I heard someone scream “Pick on someone your own size”. I can only assume it was from a passing car. He dragged me off the ground and made me walk as fast as I could back home. I don’t remember getting home. I remember waking up in my bed. He had friends over and their children who I knew had come in to tell me they were sorry I was sick. I just remember I couldn’t stop crying.
Hindsight is 20/20. I’m glad I woke up. Even through all of those years when I felt so hopeless God had a plan. Did He want me to suffer that abuse? Absolutely NOT. He created me to be a fighter. I had a stubbornness and fire deep within my soul. I used to daydream about the moment when I would be older and I could finally fight back. Honestly, those revenge fantasies are what got me through many of those encounters.
The day finally came when that man exited my life. Just to make room for something even worse. I began being groomed for sexual abuse when I was ten years old. I didn’t know it at the time and I welcomed the kind and loving attention. You see, predators are very skilled in manipulation. I consider this abuse the worst because even though I had already experienced “bad touch” during my life this was twisted and damaged my soul. My sexuality had been awakened far too early and I felt contaminated.
After that my mother gave a wholehearted try at the straight and narrow path without a man or drugs and life was good for a while. We had food to eat, a place to live that had electricity and for the first time I was going to the same school for a second year. She threw me a big golden year birthday party. A golden year birthday is when you turn the same age as the day of your birth. For me, I was 12. I got to invite all the girls in my class. We had sub sandwiches and sundaes. We stayed up all night and I had so much fun. And for my 13th birthday I had my very first co-ed party. If I could go back I would stay in those moments longer and appreciate them more because life would fall apart all too soon after.
Everything went back to the way it had been, almost like it had never been good at all. All it took was the wrong friends, yet another man, and drugs. By the time I was fourteen I was raising my sister, doing all of the cooking and cleaning while trying to maintain good grades. I tried running away. We lived with an Aunt for a while but ended up back with my mother.
We were borrowing electricity from a neighbor via extension cord from one window to another. We didn’t have food to eat. I was stealing maxi pads and food from the store. One time I had to beg a friend to give my sister a can of spaghetti-o’s so she didn’t go to bed hungry. I only ate my free lunch from school and any left overs my friends gave me. Finally one day I was just spent. My only pair of jeans were soaked with menstrual blood because I didn’t have any pads left. My mother went on a rant about her needs and how I was to provide for them. I was done. I decided that life was never going to get any better. The only thing I would ever have control over was the choice to live it or not. I decided that day it would be the latter. I swallowed fists full of extra strength Tylenol and called my boyfriend to say good-bye. He wasn’t home. However, his twin brother saved my life that day, because yes, you can die from too much Tylenol. It’s just a very slow and painful death where all of your organs shut down one by one. I look back now and am so glad I lived.
Not all of my memories are bad. I remember when I was three I convinced my mother that I could read because I had memorized all of Cinderella. The jig was up when I said a word before I turned the page. She made me pick a different book. It was about a Bear that had a Halloween party and made so much popcorn it burst through the windows. I wish I could remember the name of it. I remember dinners and Christmases at my Grandma’s house. I had a Papa that loved me. (I was seven when he passed away.) And though misguided as she was, my mother did love me. These are just a few of the memories I hold on to.
So, what’s the moral of the story? You’ve seen the good, the bad, and the horrible of what my childhood was. I stand (or sit on the couch with my laptop) here to tell you I am glad I lived it. I am glad that God created me to be a fighter. That he healed my broken soul through the love and blood of His Son Jesus. He sustained my life even before I knew Him. I’m thankful He brought a wonderful, stable, God fearing man into my life that saw past my brokenness and was patient while I struggled and healed.
After 18 years of living on welfare and having an abusive childhood I am a contributing member of society today. I vote, pay taxes, volunteer in the community, and try to spread a message of hope and change to others. (The God kind not the Obama kind.) The two most wonderful things about my life are that I get to be the wife to a man that truly is my other half, and I get to be the mom I always wished I had.
*Oh, and by the way that boy I called to say good-bye has been my husband for over 15 years now and we now have four beautiful children.
Guest post by Melaina Lausen.