In her book “Ignited by Truth“, Kaylee speaks from the heart as she tells of the pain of sexual abuse, domestic violence and depression and how she found joy, hope, peace and forgiveness through the darkness.
CHAPTER 4: A LIVING NIGHTMARE
After spending the school year with my sister, I returned home and began to face some of the worst nightmares of my life. I was only eight years old and totally unprepared for what was about to happen.
Not long after I’d returned home, I went to bed one evening as usual. I was awakened during the night by someone crawling next to my bed. I turned and saw my brother. Confused, I thought, “Why is he squatting next to my bed?”
Then he began to touch me in my most private places. I was frightened and didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing. Without a word, he left later that night. From that moment on I was no longer a little girl.
My brother returned the next night, and the next, and the next-and for the next several years. I didn’t know who to tell or what to do, so night after night I lay there frozen while he touched me.
And then another brother started offering me whatever change he had in his pocket to have sex with him. Again, I didn’t know what to do. And so he had his way.
I was filled with fear, guilt and shame from the first time I was molested. I thought everyone knew what had happened. From that first night, my past was blocked, shut down. I felt very far away from myself and closed off from other relationships. I became a people pleaser with no personal boundaries. I was unable to truly love people, and yet would do anything to make them love me. The Lord brought some kind people into my life during this time, but every good relationship and every moment of happiness were darkly clouded by this secret part of my life.
I had always been a tomboy. Many family members-and even strangers-had told me that, and I did not really like the image. After being molested, I felt like an “it”–not male or female, just a person. I had never thought I was a pretty little girl. People calling me a tomboy just confirmed my thoughts. And now the abuse. I developed a very poor self-image that stayed with me most of my life. I felt as though I didn’t fit in anywhere. I could not connect to the world or the people in it.
Another result of being molested was difficulty in expressing my sexuality with my husbands in later years. I would cringe with sex and could not enjoy it. I would like to recommend the book The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender to anyone who has suffered from childhood sexual abuse. I found a great deal of help there.
During these years I was living with my youngest sister, four brothers and my dad. My older sisters and brothers had left home and married. Even though there were still seven of us living together, I was lonely.
My dad had a hard time dealing with my mother’s death. In fact, he had been hospitalized for a while. Even though he was doing better at this point, he still didn’t want to cope with life without my mother.
Dad was a very proud man and did not like being sick or poor. We were living in a huge house that he really couldn’t afford-only because he craved the prestige. Instead of moving to a less expensive place, he struggled to make the payments.
My dad could have provided all of us with plenty of shoes-and the popular styles-if he had been willing to shop in some of the less expensive stores, but he feared that someone might figure out how poor we really were. So once a year he took us to a specialty shoe store in the local Rancho Corners and bought us a pair of Buster Brown saddle shoes. I hated shoes. Barefoot was my favorite transportation. But when I did have to wear them, I wanted to buy an in-style pair of shoes. One year Dad gave into my pleading and bought me a new style called penny loafers. At first I was delighted-until six months later when they were worn out and I had to wait another six months for my annual pair of shoes. I was so embarrassed walking through the school corridors with the soles of my leather shoes flapping and clapping and echoing in each classroom. When the end of the year came, I went back to those classic Buster Brown saddle shoes.
Dad worked for Triple A Insurance. Because his ongoing depression had affected his productiveness at work, he had been demoted. His demotion took him to the San Francisco office. He rode the train every day and worked long hours, often gone from six in the morning until six in the evening. I didn’t get to see him much. I had never been close to my dad, and he seemed further away than ever by now. It didn’t even occur to me to tell him what my brothers were doing to me.
Aunt Carol was a bright spot in my life during these traumatic years. She had come to our home to stay a while after Mom died and was there with us when my dad worked long hours. I thought she looked a lot like my mom, and she was my favorite aunt. She taught me more about how to cook and bake. When I was nine, we made raised glazed doughnuts as our first project together. They were so delicious-steaming hot and smothered in a powdered sugar glaze.
Looking back, I wish that I had confided in Aunt Carol about the abuse. My life might have turned out so differently. But I was embarrassed and ashamed and afraid she would think I was a terrible person.
Because of the sexual abuse I was experiencing, I felt different inside. I thought no one liked me. And then God brought Ms. Rainforth into my life.
I loved my teachers all through school. Some of them kept changing the grade levels they taught, and I would have the same one for three years. Ms. Rainforth was my favorite. She taught fourth, fifth and sixth grades. This terrific teacher always made a special effort to care for us and love us. She treated each of us with kindness and shared joy and laughter with us.
Ms. Rainforth took the time to call me special. She would call on me in class-no other teacher seemed to really care. Her loving attention made me happy. I felt like someone liked me, after all.
Thank God for great teachers. They are the stems of beautiful vines in a person’s life. I know now that Ms. Rainforth would have helped me, but at the time I couldn’t bring myself to talk to her about the nights. I wanted her to continue liking me.
At Christmastime, each of us kids received one gift. Well, usually that happened. Most years we all got a stocking filled with nuts, chocolates, oranges, a candy cane and jacks or some other popular small toy. I still have my Santa stocking. One year my brother Matthew waited and waited to hear his name called to come and claim his one gift, only to end up empty-handed. He didn’t tell anyone-just went without.
My best Christmas was the year I received a used bicycle. Two of my sisters Savannah and Ashton woke me up and held me on either side as I walked down the stairs to the living room. They must have thought I was going to faint. I think they were more excited than I was. I entered with living room, and there it was-my very own bicycle. I loved my bicycle, and it looked new to me. Wearing my pajamas, I rode it all around town that Christmas morning.
As my older brothers and sisters married and returned home for Christmas, they would all make a special effort to bring a gift to the kids still living at home. My oldest sister, Mackenzie, and her husband, Hayden (the ones I lived with for a year), would arrive Christmas morning-always with something wonderful to eat and a homemade item to wear. One year my brother Ryan and his wife, Abby, brought me a shiny red raincoat. I was thrilled. I thought they must surely be rich to buy me something so special. Ryan was my hero. He had a nice home and family and an important job, and he never forgot about the kids still at home. We had fun together and I knew Ryan and Abby liked me. Time with them almost made me forget . . .
My neighbor Natalie was the richest kid I knew growing up in Los Altos. At Christmastime, at least 100 gifts would be wrapped up under the tree for her. Natalie was my special friend, and I often escaped the horror at home by staying overnight at her house. And yet, I couldn’t even tell Natalie what was happening.
Sometimes Natalie’s cousin Keith would spend the night. He was so kind and sweet. As youngsters, we all slept together in the same bed. Natalie had a bad habit of bouncing her head up and down on her pillow until she fell asleep. Keith held his arm up in the air until he dozed off. And I rubbed my feet back and forth until I fell asleep. One time we had a bet going on whose process worked faster. And so Natalie bounced her head; Keith held his arm in the air, sometimes changing to the other arm when the first one got tired; and I kept twitching my feet back and forth as fast as possible so I would win. I must have not have won because I can’t remember who fell asleep first. I laugh now when I look back and visualize how silly we must have looked going through our falling asleep routines.
Natalie’s grandfather Popie was a genuinely caring person who loved his granddaughter. He built a cabin on the river and sometimes took both of us with him when he went fishing on the Russian River and Lake Oraville. Mr. Carter (Popie) was a carpenter and had built a bomb shelter next to their house on Holly Street. The shelter was so cool. We used to have slumber parties in this cement block room deep below the ground. All the girls in the neighborhood even threw me a surprise thirteenth birthday party there-the first birthday party I’d ever had.
Natalie’s Aunt Christine was another important person in my life. We all need someone who can cover us with his or her experienced wings, and Aunt Christine was my covering. She sold Stanley Home Products and put me to work every day. I helped her move boxes and set up for the parties. This daily routine taught me a sense of responsibility and how to be honest, polite, sociable, personable and friendly.
The seeds Aunt Christine planted in my life eventually grew and blossomed. If you know a neighbor kid who is struggling, I encourage you to take the time to put this child under your wing until he is ready to fly on his own. The time you spend loving one child can make such a change in the lives of many.
Natalie and I are friends today, and she will always hold a special place in my heart because of the love she and her family showed me.
All these moments of fun and happiness-baking doughnuts with Aunt Carol, the Christmas celebrations, special times with Natalie-were shallow and fleeting in the midst of the abuse from two of my brothers. Every happy moment in the years from the time I was eight years old and on into my teens was overshadowed by abuse and the accompanying confusion, shame, guilt, anger and embarrassment. It really was an “unraveling.” My self-image plummeted. I became desperate for love, so desperate and lonely that I would do anything to win attention and affection. It was in this state of mind that I entered my teens . . .
REFLECTIONS (Chapter 4)
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20 NIV).
I believe our spirits know the truth about right and wrong. I knew what my brothers did to me was wrong-that is why I experienced so much shame. My symptoms were rage, withdrawal, depression and shyness. I felt very ugly inside and out. I found it difficult to trust anyone.
I had a nervous breakdown and was suicidal at age sixteen because I did not tell a soul about what was happening. If you are being abused in any way, you must tell someone and get help. Talk to your pastor, doctor, a counselor, your teacher or someone else you trust. Report the abuse to the police. If they don’t believe you, then keep talking until you get the help you need. Read books on the subject and take some classes. As you learn more, you will realize you are not alone.
Reporting the abuse is not about revenge; it is about unlocking private prison doors in order to enter into a joyful, peaceable and purposeful life. And to forgive the perpetrator means a new start for your life, not theirs. Do not let your past trickle down to your children and their children for a never-ending cycle.
Your childhood pain will cause teenage pain, then adult pain. Living through the eyes of an abused child, you will find yourself making poor choices. I know I did. I had thoughts of being trapped and hopeless and sad about my circumstances every day. I was fearful of everything in my life that happened in the past and thought that things would never ever change. I was afraid to push forward-I felt safer in my past. I had a fear of failure and a fear of success. I was so full of my own thoughts of self-contempt that I had unrealistic expectations of others. I was the first to accuse myself of all the wrong in my life scolding myself with statements like, “You stupid girl, you dumb #@!” All these negative thoughts going around in my head would deplete me as a person. I felt worthless. We can choose to end the downhill cycle by becoming a person of faith and love. Love will make a difference. We cannot show love to others if we hate our past and ourselves.
The feelings associated with being molested will not go away without some kind of counseling. This is the tragedy that both the sexual perpetrators and we as victims don’t realize. The belief that a young child will grow up and the memories will disappear is just not true. Reality is just the opposite; we never forget and are forever stuck or frozen in time. This may also be why we do not seek help-we don’t want to remember the pain. But if we do not get help, we are always in pain.
Along with all my other emotions, I was very angry that God would allow this horrible life-changing part of my life. But later as I came to trust the Lord, I realized bad things happen to everyone-not just me. He helped me to overcome being abused, and I became a stronger better person.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:1-11 NIV).
If you are living in the nightmare of abuse, please understand that you are not in a hopeless situation. There is always, always hope in Jesus and His love. He sees what you are going through and He cares. He wants to help. I urge you to take the first step toward freedom right now by talking to Jesus. Ask for His help. He will help you and give you the strength you need every step of the way as you find your path out of your nightmare.
Next, tell someone you trust what is happening. And together, go to the police. Seek counseling from a pastor or counselor in a church.
Perhaps you are an adult now, but you suffered abuse when you were younger, and you’ve never recovered. It is important that you, too, understand that hope and healing can be found in Jesus. Turn to Him and let Him help you along the path of forgiveness and healing. Seek Christian counseling.
Billy Graham once said, “God can use anyone, and that means that God can use you!” I recommend his book called Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham. I pray that you will learn, as I did, that our loving and powerful God can bring good out of the mire. He wants to heal you. He wants to help you. He wants to use you for His purpose. Open your heart to Him today.
CHAPTER 5: TRAUMATIC TEEN YEARS
For most kids, entering the teen years means looking forward to a first date, learning to drive, and having fun in high school. For me, turning thirteen opened the door to rape, sex, drugs, alcohol, a nervous breakdown and desire to die. More of the unraveling . . .
My new friend
I met my second best friend, Danielle, when I was thirteen. We became friends in a rather unusual way. Danielle was new at school, and a kid I had grown up with was bullying her. I saw this going on one day when I was walking home from school and told him to leave her alone. Since we lived in the same direction, I walked with Danielle to her home. She lived in the new housing development that had taken away our orchards. Her house was beautiful. Only rich people could afford to live here, I thought. Her family had a pool and two living rooms. As I continued surveying Danielle’s house, I suddenly realized it was one of the houses we had tried to destroy so no one could move in!
Danielle and I became inseparable. We went everywhere together. We shared our dreams of staying a virgin and going to college before we got married. We tanned together at her pool beginning in April, and by May we were walking through the town, all brown and tanned, waving to everyone we knew as we walked to the ice cream parlor at Loyola Corners to have a double scoop of our favorite flavor of the week. Danielle and I are still best friends to this day.
Parties and pot
Because of the abuse I had been experiencing at home, I was still down on myself. I grasped at anything I thought would make my peers accept me, like me or even “love” me. I started hanging around with older kids and smoking pot with my brothers’ friends.
Danielle and I wanted to party. We decided to spend the night at the home of some older boys, friends of my brothers, who were having a party. I had known one of these boys since I was six, so I thought we would be safe with them. Danielle and I just wanted some fun and adventure. Danielle told her mom that she was staying at my house, and I told my dad I was staying at Danielle’s.
When we arrived at the boys’ house, ready for a big party, we discovered that there actually wasn’t much of a party going on. As the evening progressed, one of the guys led me into his room for the night. Even though my brothers had molested and raped me, I was very naïve about the ways of the world. I had no idea other boys would want to do that to me. I thought I would just sleep next to him and kiss him. The possibility of more never entered my mind until he tried to force my legs open so he could have sex with me. “It won’t hurt, it won’t hurt,” he repeated over and over again. I kept saying no and crossing my legs, and he kept trying to pry them apart. Finally succeeding, he raped me.
I was devastated. In my young mind, I had thought we were going to just have some fun. I left the bed, went into the bathroom and cried. This boy was a good friend of my family. Part of the problem was that I liked him. The rape went unreported.
Danielle and I were both in trouble with our parents. Somehow, they had learned we were not where we had said we’d be. Danielle was grounded from seeing me for a year. After that night, I almost never stayed home. I usually stayed at my neighbor Natalie’s house because I felt safer there.
Still seeking acceptance and even thrills, I kept hanging around the boy who had raped me-actually, we became girlfriend and boyfriend. I even cleaned his house. I wondered about the burnt spoons I found all the time. One of the boy’s brothers laughed at me. “You don’t know what they are for? They’re doing heroin.”
Aaron was one of the guys doing heroin, but, thank God, he was saved by a man named Jesus and turned out to be quite a witness for Him. Most of the kids didn’t like Aaron after he got saved, but I did. He was different-full of love. His parents were Christians and really loved the Lord, and I enjoyed going to their house to visit. There was so much love. I know now that this was part of God’s plan for me. God loved me even when I was living such a sinful life. He loved me enough to place this wonderful family in my path so that I would hear the name of Jesus. So that I could experience something of His life. These were good seeds planted that eventually took root and grew.
Drinking and drugs
Continuing to hang out with the wrong crowd, I got involved in all kinds of drugs. A guy named Mitch sneaked me into bars at age thirteen and taught me how to play pool. Jimbo taught me how to bum quarters from strangers until we had enough to buy a bottle of Annie Green Springs wine. (Jimbo later ended up in San Quentin Prison.)
John, a good friend, called me “Smoke Stack Lightning” because I smoked cigarettes one after another. He loved music from the Grateful Dead. We went to a concert in Oakland, California, where someone spiked my wine with mescaline. I had a really bad trip and ended up waiting outside for John-I think? (John later put his head on some railroad tracks and waited for a train. He thought his parents didn’t care about him or understand him.)
Then there was Caleb. I was deeply in love with this guy. We were always together. We never fought, but I remember one incident that caused me to get really angry with him. We were just leaving a party. As we walked to the car, a friend stopped me and said he wanted to talk to me privately. We went behind the house near some bushes, and he started to rape me. I tried to scream, but he held his hand over my mouth. I could hear Caleb calling for me. I think he knew where I was but wouldn’t come get me. I finally kicked my way free and ran to the car. I think when Caleb saw me covered with weeds and dirt, he assumed I had been cheating on him. (Incidentally, the “friend” who had attempted to rape me was later convicted for raping someone else in Washington and served time.)
Caleb broke up with me about a year later. Instead of telling me face to face, he just stopped coming over to my house. Then I saw him at a party with another girl. I was still so in love with him that I just flipped. This heartbreak, combined with the windowpane acid (LSD) I was taking every day, put me over the brink. I slipped into a deep depression. For days and then weeks, I would go over to our neighbor’s house (Natalie’s), lie on the couch and watch T.V. I lay there laughing and crying, and I refused to eat. I started dreaming that Caleb was with me, talking to me, telling me what to do. I couldn’t separate these dreams from reality.
I dreamed that Caleb told me to lose weight, so I stopped eating. He told me to cut my hair, and I did. He told me to come over to his house, and I did. When I got there, no one was home and so I just sat in the dark in Caleb’s room waiting for him to come home. After about an hour, his father showed up. I got so scared that I jumped out of Caleb’s bedroom window and ran home.
Then I heard Caleb tell me to get packed-that we were leaving to go get married. I packed my bags and waited at home in my living room for him to come get me. All my brothers asked me where I was going. That day makes me think of the song, “Delta Dawn.” I sat there waiting for someone who wasn’t coming. Caleb didn’t even know I was waiting for him. We hadn’t seen each other in months. The only connection had been in my mind.
Natalie’s mom Noreen, thought I was really crazy because I was laughing out loud when I was alone. My diet consisted of Popsicles and water. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or do anything. I just lay on the couch and stared at the television all day.
I was only sixteen years old and a total wreck. I wanted to kill myself. Finally, Natalie’s mom realized that something had to be done. Noreen took me to the hospital, and they admitted me into the mental ward with a nervous breakdown. The doctors immediately gave me an antidepressant called Thorazine. All I remember was sitting and staring and laughing. People would visit me in the hospital, and I would just stare off into space.
Two weeks later, I was released from the hospital. I lived with Natalie’s family for a while until one day Natalie and I had a falling out and she told me to leave her home. I didn’t see Natalie or her family again until the year 2000, twenty-eight years later.
I had nowhere to go, so my brother Matthew and my sister Ashton took care of me at Matt’s house. I lived with them for about a year, going to group therapy every day and seeing a psychiatrist once a week. I started eating non-stop because of the Thorazine I was taking. Actually, I suffered several side effects from the antidepressant: overeating, foot tapping and my eyes rolling up into my head.
Ashton had married a wonderful man, Ryan, and they were ready to have a baby so I was going to have to move out. My sister Savannah was next in line to take care of me.
During the year I lived with Ashton, she always tried to ensure that I was getting enough exercise. She made me ride my brother’s Peugeot bicycle to the bus stop to take the bus to my therapy classes. About a week before I was due to move to Savannah’s, I set out on my bike, crying all the way to the bus stop. I wanted someone to take care of me and felt like Ashton was being cruel. Locking the bike to a pole, I went on to therapy toting a packed lunch my sister had made. When I returned to the bus stop after therapy, the bike was gone. To give you an idea of how my brain was operating at the time-I had locked the bike on a pole that was only four feet high! The thief just lifted the expensive bicycle off the pole and left with it. Her husband Ryan always believed in me and did not think I was crazy. I always told him about my big dreams and he never laughed. I was not sure if he believed in God so I bought him a book about Armageddon that I thought he might like to read. He did read it, and the last page of the book had a sinners prayers. Bill died in a tragic car accident not many years later. God is so good, that I am confident he read that last page and believed.
About six months into the counseling, our therapy group was going to a San Francisco museum on an outing. I was scheduled to travel with one of the men in his car. Instead of driving to the museum, this man headed right to his apartment building. He parked under the carport and wanted me to come inside. My gut told me what was about to happen. I was so scared! He told me he wanted to rape me. He had no weapon, so I just kept talking and talking and kept my hand on the door handle. Waiting for the perfect time, I somehow got out of the car and ran. I did not know what else to do, so I hitchhiked home. The next day the group asked me what happened, and I told them the truth. It was a breakthrough.
This man never showed up at group therapy again.
Back to the hospital
During the following year, at the age of seventeen, I fell back into deep depression and again became suicidal. I returned to the hospital for two weeks.
At this time I was dating Addison, a friend of my brother Brent. Addison and I were so in love, and I thought life was finally good. Addison asked me to marry him and I said yes. Since I was only seventeen, I had to ask my dad for permission, and he said no.
Addison and his family were Mormon, and I admired them so much. In later years, I learned from reading the bible that the Book of Mormon is false doctrine; however, this family was wonderful. Addison’s parents were very kind and loving. That is what I wanted-two loving parents.
Addison did not practice being a Mormon, but we did go to the church once or twice. We loved the outdoors and went camping in Yosemite one weekend. On the beautiful drive up to Yosemite, a song came on the radio called “Candida.” “We can make it together, the further from here, girl the better, where the air is fresh and clean.” Turning to Addison, I declared, “If I ever get a dog, I’m going to name her Candida to always remind me of our love for each other.” On the way home that day we saw a Great Dane. Addison and I looked at each other, and he pulled over. Peering at the dog, I said, “Get in the car, Candida.” She was very skinny and ready to have puppies-I knew she must be abandoned or lost. We had compassion for Candida because we sensed she was lost, just as we were.
Addison kept right on loving me even when I had to go back to the hospital for those two weeks. He would rub my legs when they cramped (another antidepressant side effect). Addison and I lived together for a while. Then addison’s mom offered to take care of me and let me live with them; however, I didn’t like rules and knew that living with them would not give me the freedom I was used to having at home. What a mistake! One 30-second decision that changed my life in monumental ways.
Had I been willing to submit to Addison’s parents’ care and love and discipline, the years that followed could have been so different. But I chose independence, a false sense of freedom and control. My life was already unraveling, and this decision was like taking that loosening thread and giving it a long, hard pull.
Since I was still suffering from depression and under the age of eighteen, social services thought a foster home might help. The people at the foster home were very nice, but strict. They required me to go to school, but I was not able to read or comprehend because of my depression. My mind seemed to be frozen on one thought: I want to die. Rebelling, I ran away from the foster home after only a month. I ended up at Addison’s house-only about three blocks from the foster parents-and moved back in with him.
One afternoon my sister Ashton called. “Dad is dead.” Oh, how I didn’t want to hear those words. I was suddenly overwhelmed with guilt. Just the day before I had been at a friend’s house, drinking and smoking pot, when my dad called and begged me to come home. I screamed at him, “I hate you! I hate you! Leave me alone. I am going to kill you. I hate you.” And now, the very next day, he was dead. He had died at work of a massive heart attack. Why hadn’t I gone home when he asked me? What would it have hurt?
After the funeral, I move back into our family’s large two-story house for a while, but I never went back to high school. I just kept partying and hanging around bikers and people who drank and did drugs. We were high from drugs or alcohol every day.
My sisters and brothers and I rented out one of the rooms in the family home to a lady and her two daughters. One of the girls, Rowena, had no friends and very low self-esteem. I took her with me to all the parties. Our crowd would drive around in a caravan until we found a place to get high-usually someone’s house where the parents were gone.
About a year later, I said good-bye to Rowena. She had met a nice guy and they got married. While they were on their honeymoon, they were both killed in a head-on car accident.
From the time I was thirteen to the time I turned eighteen, ten people I knew died. One was my best friend Natalie’s boyfriend, who was shot and killed in a domestic dispute. It seemed as though every time I said good-bye to people, they would die. In looking back, I realize that many of the deaths were a direct result of the lifestyle we were living. Praise God for His grace in keeping me safe and alive during these years of rebellion.
A move in the right direction
When I was eighteen, my brother offered me a job on Fisherman’s Wharf, living on a P.T. boat in the bay, cooking and cleaning for the guys who worked in his “Unique Body Shop.” And so Candida and I moved to San Francisco, California, for a couple of months. I was still very depressed and not a very good cook. Caleb, my first love, worked there and affectionately nicknamed my dog Deda. I couldn’t wait until Caleb came home from work each night so I could feed him supper. Then we would watch Jackie Gleason in “The Honeymooners.”
I thought I was still in love with Caleb, but knew there was to be no future with him. I grew more and more depressed. After a few weeks, I left my dog in San Francisco and checked myself into a hospital for the depression. While there, I finally started looking to God for help.
A Turning Point
My only view of God was what I remember from my childhood in the Catholic Church. I had never developed a personal relationship with Him. But now I was desperate, totally hopeless and alone. “God,” I pleaded, “if you are real, please help me. I’m so afraid of everything.”
At last, a positive turning point in my life-a move in the right direction. In the years that followed, I still had many ups and downs, but this was a beginning. The end of the unraveling. A time to heal. As time went on, God would bring people and circumstances into my life that would form spiritual threads to help pull my life together.
The hospital staff released me the following week, and I started group therapy again. I also started a journal. For the first time I could remember, my mind felt free of fear. The initial entry in my journal was a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
I still knew nothing about the Bible or Jesus, but at last I knew there really was a God. And I knew that He had helped me. This was the beginning of hope. This was the beginning of change.
REFLECTIONS (Chapter 5)
During my hospitalization and in the years since then, I have tried many anti-depressant drugs-all with terrible side effects. The worst side effect was weight gain. Even now, I am fat and get depressed. Thanks to my husband Addison’s encouragement, I found a natural solution by eating right and exercising. I also started taking a natural supplement that works for my depression. If you suffer from mood disorders, I would like to recommend a book that helped me: The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Rebalance Your Emotional Chemistry and Rediscover Your Natural Sense of Well-Being by Julia Ross (http://www.moodcure.com).
Jesus can bring you peace
“I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 TLB).
I was plagued by fear. I never thought I would live a long life and thought about death all the time. In my thirties during a counseling session, my counselor asked me to choose between death and life. I chose life. Saying these words out loud to a witness began a wonderful healing process.
Because of all that had happened to me, because of the wrong choices I had made, and because I had chosen to walk in sin and rebellion. I was afraid of being rejected, of being unloved, of not being in control. I was afraid of living and afraid of dying. Praise God that He loved me through all this, that He brought people into my life to help, and that He used even the most difficult circumstances to guide me into truth.
In this verse from the Gospel of John, Jesus gives us such an awesome promise-one that He has demonstrated so fully in my life. He promises peace of mind and heart, freedom from fear.
Are you walking in fear? Are you stressed out most of the time? Do you sometimes feel as though you can no longer handle life? After years of torment and struggle, I finally turned to Jesus for the answer. And He gave me peace. Peace that the world cannot take from me. Peace that lasts through every circumstance. As long as I keep my eyes on Jesus and trust in Him and His way, I walk in peace. And you can, too.
No matter what you’ve been through, or what you’ve done, or what is happening in your life right now, Jesus can fill you with peace. His kind of peace. The kind that lasts.
“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 TEV). “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 KJV).
CHAPTER 6: GOD’S NEVER ENDING LOVE
When I was nineteen, my sister Mackenzie, told me about a job doing light housekeeping and babysitting for a family living in Palo Alto, California. I went to see them, they hired me and I worked for them for about a year. My responsibilities included working with kids, cooking and cleaning. The job was just right for me and helped me to get better. I had a family to love and care for, a family that really appreciated me. They even took me to Hawaii with them to baby-sit for two weeks. What a blast! A real dream come true. As it turned out, I only baby-sat for one night and the rest of the time was able to enjoy Hawaii as a part of the family. There were clouds even during this vacation, though. Both the father of the children I babysat and the brother-in-law, who was also in Hawaii, made sexual advances toward me. In later years after this couple had divorced, I told the wife what had happened. She was sorry, but not surprised.
My father had left us some money when he died. After the babysitting job ended, my sister Savannah and I bought a house in Los Gatos, California, with our share of the insurance money. Savannah and I became very close. In fact, she still helps me get through tough times by sending me books and cards and calling me with encouraging words.
One especially helpful book Savannah sent me was Even Eagles Need a Push by David McNally. I was struggling through a bout with depression at the time, and working through the questions and exercises in this book made me realize that I had great potential and that God was with me all the time. Consequently, I began working on my relationship with Christ.
As I grew in my walk with the Lord, He gave me dreams, and they began to fall into place. Life was good and I was happy again.
While Savannah and I lived together in Los Gatos, I landed a job as a waitress at Carrows Restaurant and later worked my way up to assistant manager. I even took a train to Santa Barbara, California, to enter into a training program to buy my own restaurant, but was not accepted into the program. I was sicker than a dog that day and walked in the heat of the sun several miles up a hill to the general office. The interview did not go well. I really wanted this job. I began to wonder if God truly had a plan for me. (As the years went by I learned that yes, He does have a plan for me. Sometimes it doesn’t line up with my plan, but His plan is always the best.) If I had been accepted, I would have been the first woman to go through the program. The pressure may have been too tough for me and could have broken my spirit. God knew what to do.
While working at Carrows, I met a lot of people. One day I noticed that a man I was serving had a professional looking photo book. He introduced himself as Sunny while I was pouring his coffee. He said he was a photographer and that if I were interested, he would help me put together a portfolio. I’d always wanted to be an actress or a model. He said I would make a great model. Naively, I went to his apartment with him after work to look at his studio; he said he’d take a few pictures of me. When we got to his apartment, he took a few pictures and then he told me he wanted to have sex. I said no and started for the door. He took out a knife, pushed me onto the bed, and held the knife to my throat as he raped me. Even though my life had begun coming together in many ways, I obviously still had much to learn.
One day when I was cooking at Carrows, a co-worker said that her friend Jordon wanted to meet me. I cooked his steak rare and his eggs over easy and brought them to his table. Business was slow-it was two in the morning-so I decided to take a break and chat with him for a few minutes. I didn’t really like him-thought he talked funny.
Jordon Joel Crawley was a truck driver, and he was taking whites (amphetamines). The next day I went on a run with him to Cloverdale, California. Cloverdale was wonderful-low, bright white clouds, rich blue sky, rolling green hills scattered with black cows and haystacks.
I began falling in love with Jordon when we dropped off the second truckload. It was as though I was seeing him for the first time as I watched him in the side mirror of the semi. He was wearing a black and red checkered shirt and looked so strong and cute.
The next day I was home sleeping because I worked the graveyard shift. Jordon kept banging on my door until I finally woke up. He handed me a bunch of wild flowers he had picked from all over the neighborhood while waiting for me to answer the door.
I was in love
We never separated after that, and we married on June 15, 1978. He moved in with Savannah and her daughter and me. Jordon and I lived together there for about six months, and during that time I got pregnant. I didn’t know I was pregnant-thought there was something wrong with my digestive system because I felt sick all the time. I went to a doctor who did an upper and lower GI test, but found no problem. Still I was sick all the time. One month later, I went to a different doctor, and he gave me a pregnancy test and it was positive. I spoke to a doctor and a nurse friend of mine who both said that because I had had so many x-rays, I would give birth to a mongoloid child. I talked to Jordon, and we decided to get an abortion. I went to the abortion clinic and met with the group of girls who were going to get abortions that day.
Someone from the clinic talked to us all together. Not one of the other girls wanted to keep her baby, and I do not recall being told we could put our child up for adoption. I wanted to keep my baby, but because of the doctor’s prediction that the child could be retarded or a mongoloid, I chose to have an abortion. I cried as soon as they sucked out the baby. I knew deep in my heart that abortion was wrong. If I could go back in time, I would trust the Lord for finances and a healthy baby.
The move to Oregon
When I was twenty, Jordon and I decided to move to Oregon, where one of his brothers lived. Oregon was beautiful, and we met many nice people. I got a good job as an assistant manager at Grizzly Bear Pizza. I loved the people and the town.
I got pregnant again, but lost the baby. I began to bleed profusely and wanted to go to the hospital. Jordon would not get out of bed. I asked his brother to drive me, but he went upstairs to his room and they had a big fight. Jordon finally took me to the hospital.
Jordon started hanging around with some people who smoked a lot of pot. I had not smoked pot since I was about eighteen. We argued because he was never home. One day he came home about two in the morning, and I was furious. I just knew he had been with a girl. He got angry and beat me up severely. The beatings never stopped after that. His anger always resulted in another beating.
For the next five years we had an off and on relationship-breaking up and then getting back together became our regular pattern.
Back to California
Finally, Jordon and I moved back to California to live at his mother’s house. We continued moving a lot-sixteen times in five years. My life at that time consisted of beatings, moving, Jordon’s gambling problems, our fighting, getting on and off welfare, no money and plenty of bills. Jordon was even growing pot and selling it.
In 1981, during a time we were living with my brother near Santa Cruz, California, our daughter Stephanie was born. But right after I got out of the hospital, we stayed at my sister’s Mackenzie’s house to house-sit. Their whole family went sailing to Hawaii on a Trimaran Hayden built in their backyard. Later, we moved back to Jordon’s mother’s house.
Even with a new baby to love, I was very depressed during the months that followed. We lived with Jordon’s mom for about a year and then moved to an apartment in Mt. View. I didn’t work and was able to stay home with Stephanie.
Yes to Jesus
I had been watching this TV show called the 700 Club after Stephanie was born. I tuned in during my daughter’s nap time each day. After almost a year of watching the show and hearing the Word taught and listening to what Jesus was doing in people’s lives, I finally said yes to Jesus in May of 1982. My sweet daughter was almost a year old. She was new born and I was born again.
I think it took me a long time to say yes because I just knew God would have me killed because of my terrible past. On that beautiful day in May 1982, Pat and Ben asked the television audience to join them in saying the sinners’ prayer. I could barely move my mouth to speak-it was stiff and my voice was deep. Although I was scared, I kept praying. As the prayer ended, I was crying. Alone and weeping, I reached out to the One who loved me enough to die for me.
I was told to call and tell someone about the decision I had made and to ask for the booklet What Now. I remember the name of the booklet because for about a month Ben would say it backwards (Now What). I thought the way he said it was cute because it made him seem like a real person, not a phony.
I called the 700 Club, and they asked me if I would be interested in having someone from a local church come and pray with me. Weeping, I said yes. They mailed me a list of churches in the area. I called one of them, and the pastor came by and prayed with me. Again, my mouth was stiff as I repeated the sinners’ prayer. The pastor invited me to church, and I eagerly accepted his invitation.
The church, an Assembly of God, was right down the street from where we lived. I had no transportation at the time, and God provided a church within walking distance! The people poured out their love on me from the first time I walked through the doors. Love abounded, and the Word of God was preached. This was my first church family.
I felt happy inside for the first time in my life-in fact, joy was bubbling out and running all over. I would stroll down the street with my little girl and just smile and sing. I wrote my first song as a Christian to the tune of Captain and Tenelle’s “Love Will Keep Us Together.” My new title was “God Will Keep Us Together.” The words went like this: “When that old devil starts talking you down, don’t hang around. Just stop, ’cause God really loves you, stop. He is always thinking of you. Hear with your heart and let his love keep you together, forever.”
God brings good from my testimony
Fourteen years later, I wrote to the 700 Club and told them about my life story and how I came to know Jesus through watching their program. About six months later, they called me and said they would like to reenact my testimony. I said, “Yes, praise the Lord!”
The taping crew arrived in Ramah, Colorado, where I was living at the time, in December 1995. The filming took eight hours. Jeff, who interviewed me, and the rest of the crew seemed like a family I had always known. I felt very comfortable reenacting my life in front of them. The filming ended with a beautiful sunset.
My testimony aired during a 700 Club telethon on Wednesday, January 17, 1996, at 8:00 a.m. I went to my pastor’s house and watched it with him and his wife. She and I cried during my testimony. It really turned out better than I would have dreamed. The way Terry from the 700 Club prayed afterwards was better than any prayer I could have prayed for the people watching. It was a perfect ending for the testimony.
Immediately after my testimony aired, I had to leave my pastor’s house and get to my first housecleaning job. About ten minutes after I returned home from work that evening, Jeff called to tell me that the response to my testimony had been tremendous. The phone lines were jammed with people wanting to accept Jesus into their hearts and lives. He said, “It all happened just like we had prayed at your house before the filming.”
I cried with joy. I had finally done something in return for all Jesus had done for me. I had prayed for years to help others. Jesus answered this prayer in a most wonderful way-His way!
Back to the present
Not long after I became a Christian, we were evicted from the Mt. View apartment. I learned that my husband had not been working steadily as I had thought, but was spending a great deal of time playing cards and gambling. It didn’t take long until we were so far behind in rent that our landlord told us to leave.
I was too filled with my newfound joy to be discouraged by this turn of events. Somehow I was not afraid-I knew Jesus would help us and shared this belief with my husband. Jordon was a get-rich-quick kind of a guy, and Jesus did not fit in unless He would provide us with millions. The Lord gave us the miracle I was trusting for-He helped me find an affordable apartment right down the road. It was cheaper, but smaller. Who cared? I was in love with Jesus. I could still walk to the same church and continue to be fed the Word of God. Jesus knew I needed to be deeply rooted in the Word in order to stay close to Him and keep my eyes on Him through all the trouble that was yet to come.
I had opened my heart, and the Lord filled it with His joy. This was the kind of inner joy that circumstances couldn’t put a dent in! The first real joy I had ever known. And real unconditional love. The Lord is good and full of mercy and love.
God brought me to a wonderful church with loving people in it. I learned that there are people who really care. I finally had a family. There I was baptized and after coming up out of the water, I knew I belonged to Jesus, sealed forever.
” In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13 KJV).
I was in love with Jesus, and continually rejoiced that nothing could ever separate me from His unending love.
REFLECTIONS (Chapter 6)
“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? (Even the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t.
The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).
My whole life I had searched for love. I wanted someone to love me deeply, but I looked in all the wrong places. I thought if I gave myself sexually, I would be loved in return. That only led to promiscuity and heartache. I had sought acceptance by being willing to do whatever my friends were doing. I had looked for happiness by doing drugs and partying. Again, all the wrong places that led to more heartache, more pain, more problems.
But now I had found true love, complete unconditional acceptance and total joy. And I had found all this in Jesus.
My problems didn’t all disappear, but I now had Someone to help me. I asked the Lord many times, “When is my life going to be perfect?” Through teaching, I realized that it had taken my life a long time to get to where it was, and the Lord had to do a lot of untwisting of the knots in my life. My circumstances were still difficult, but the inner joy continued to grow. I still made mistakes and took the wrong path at times, but nothing separated me from the unconditional love of Jesus, and He always helped me get back on track.
If you are looking for love and acceptance . . . If you seek a fresh start . . . If you need help in difficult circumstances . . . I urge you to come to Jesus. He is not an answer; He is the answer. He loves you with a love we cannot even begin to comprehend. Let Him save you, forgive you, heal you, comfort you, encourage you, help you and love you.
“Take no part in the worthless pleasures of evil and darkness, but instead, rebuke and expose them. It would be shameful even to mention here those pleasures of darkness that the ungodly do. But when you expose them, the light shines in upon their sin and shows it up, and when they see how wrong they really are, some of them may even become children of light!” (Ephesians 5:11-13 TLB).
“Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24 NKJV).
The day following the airing of my testimony, I watched a recorded tape of it. Although Jeff’s report about the phone lines being jammed was true, something else struck a nerve. When the narrator spoke of my molestation as a child, she said “brothers.” Only two brothers molested me, and I have eight. I panicked and felt eradicated and shamed all day. I felt as though I had brought shame and embarrassment to my family by reporting my past. I felt like the victim all over again because I had reported the truth.
Shame can keep both the victim and the perpetrator quiet. Then if the victim reveals the secret, his or her family might suddenly view the victim as the perpetrator. I guess the moral of the story is “Don’t keep secrets.” If you are being abused, tell someone before the dark secret becomes so deeply hidden that revealing it is like unearthing rotten garbage that has been buried a long time and stinks when it is uncovered.
However, if it’s too late to tell the truth as it’s happening, and you have a long-hidden secret of abuse, be bold enough to uncover the truth now. Not with a thought for revenge, but in order to forgive and to allow the cleansing blood of Jesus to wash and heal all wounds.
After three days of serious soul searching and prayer, I knew that I had done the right thing by telling my story. That was God’s plan for me. My peace, and the peace available for those around me, lay at the cross. The people who hated the testimony also hated Jesus. Those who loved Jesus, loved my testimony. My testimony was not focused on those who had hurt me, but on the One who healed me. I had forgiven all those who had caused me pain and hoped anyone I hurt could do the same for me.
Truth must be told in order for forgiveness and healing to be complete and God’s forgiveness and healing power to be honored. I urge you to pray about how God would have you tell your story, and then step out in faith and do it – in His way and His time.
Email and chat to Kaylee at firstname.lastname@example.org
©2005 by Kaylee Tucker. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without written consent of Kaylee Tucker.
This is a true story of the author’s life. In a desire to protect the privacy of individuals mentioned in the book, the author has changed her name as well as many of the names throughout the book.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked “KJV” are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Scripture quotations marked “NIV” are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.
NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked “NKJV” are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Verses marked “TLB” are taken from The Living Bible © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, 60189. All rights reserved. separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39 NIV).