I am teaching a writing class in the local women's prison. I asked them to write their stories about their lives and hope to share some of them with you (with their permission). This is from a woman named Helen.
My story is one of confusion. I am the product of a rape. My father was a family member with a long history of child-molestation. I was alienated and abused, physically and mentally. I was always an outsider who tried to fit in. I have no real relationships with any of my family members. I love people, laughter and motivating people. I don't run from problems... I face them.
I did have an issue with a low self-esteem. I was deliberately kidnapped and assaulted by friends of an in-law who thought I was a goody-two-shoes. I've cut all ties with my family - meaning I do not see them. I had a misconception about what love was. I wanted marriage and children, but used to have these seriously bad dreams of a child of mine being harmed or hurt by family members. I was burned with irons and teased with rats, chased through the house with a huge bloody fish head. I am working to get control of my life. I've met someone who has had a similar life experience.
I am a Christian who believes in and follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. My life is not together. Yet, I've given my heart to a man who is serving time in a prison. He wasn't there when we met, but shared his past with me. I forgave his mistakes but he's doing time so he'll not have to face or endure any more parole officers. I have never had a home, or a much of anything. I want and deserve one. I want to share my life with D.G., but I have herpes from being raped (once at 13 and once at 17 years of age). Many people have listened to my story but how do I put things into perspective? It hurts to always reach out to my family but they never call or write me. I've always tried. I pray for them, and I care for them. I don't want to turn my back on D.G, but I recently wrote a letter telling him the truth about my sickness. I was also using his last name on the letters I wrote him. I recently acknowledged that I was living a lie. It wasn't honest and came to the conclusion that if we start our relationship out on a lie how many would follow later?
I'm just starting to learn that it's important to pay my bills and be responsible for what I say or do. It's hard because I've survived so much. I beat Polio, cancer and diabetes, and I used to have blackouts (without any medical findings to explain why). I also had a mild stroke and now have to relearn a lot of the basic things I should already know. I have good days and bad days where I doubt that I have a right to a good life. I am active in my church, still experience feelings of not belonging or fitting in. D.G is a few years younger than I am. He comes from a family of people who never accepted him. So he's been relatively alone too. He has long standing friends. I, on the other hand, keep people at a distance because I see through their phony acts.