Lisa’s life was full of pain … she felt lost … abandoned … lonely … her heart was always running away. In the end Lisa found what she had always been looking for.
“I want my Daddy for Christmas”
One of my favorite pictures is an 8×10 black and white photograph of me at two years old sitting on Santa Claus’s lap that my grandmother gave to me after my children were born. At the top of the picture are the words written in red by my mother, “I want my Daddy for Christmas.” The F.B.I. had found and arrested my father in California for several armed robberies and had held my mother for questioning shortly before this picture was taken. I didn’t get my Christmas wish, but I was reunited with my father 30 years later.
The beatings begin
Immediately, my mother, younger sister and I moved back to Georgia where she married my violent alcoholic stepfather when I was three years old. If I ever left one dish or fork with a speck of anything on it while washing dishes, my stepfather would make me rewash every dish. I usually always did as I was told and to perfection because I knew of the beating I would get. Not a spanking…a beating. They had three children together after I was ten years old and since I was the oldest I took care of them. I was expected to keep the house clean at all times. This was my job…my nickname should have been Cinderella.
I will never forget the night that my stepfather came home drinking and beat my mother in the stomach. He slammed me against the wall when I tried to make him stop and he left. My baby brother was born in the hospital the next day two months prematurely. My stepfather never showed up until days later.
Understanding the depths of hate
Everywhere we went my stepfather would always say to people, “Oh, she’s not my real kid.” I’m sure it was quite apparent to everyone that I wasn’t his biological daughter since I had blonde hair and blue eyes and his was dark and his grandmother was full blooded Apache Indian. What did real mean anyway? I was told from a very young age that my father had died. Why couldn’t he just say that I was his daughter? Throughout my childhood I came to realize the depths of the hate that my mother and stepfather had for my father. I always looked like my dad …you know how you can pick parent and child out in a crowded room…that was us. Many times in anger my mother let me know how looking at me was like looking at him.
From an ‘A’ student to becoming a criminal
When I was 13 years old, my grandmother and my stepfather had a falling out and she decided to tell me that my father had never died and that he was probably still in prison somewhere, but she had no idea where. I was confused and I didn’t know what was true anymore, but I did have a glimmer of hope that I would one day see my father. I felt betrayed at being lied to all of my life and to top it off now they all said that they would never let me see him or help me find him. I was devastated.
Not out of rebellion, but out of my search for love and acceptance I turned to drugs, my new boyfriend, and running away from home. The first time I ran away was to East Atlanta with a friend for one week. I followed her lead. Several times within a few months I would stay out all night or run away for a few days. Almost overnight I went from a straight A honor student to a juvenile delinquent.
The last time, at 14, I ran away with my boyfriend… after six weeks we were found near Daytona Beach where I was taken to the Orange County Detention Center and he went home to his parents. I was no stranger to juvenile as I had already been in and out several times for running away. In the early seventies running away was a misdemeanor; a crime … now I was a criminal.
The pain of rejection
Only two days after returning home this time, my stepfather told my mother that he couldn’t stand to look at me any longer and it would either be him or me … she had to choose. She chose him. Before she got home from work the next day he had already knocked me across my room and told her that she was going to have to get rid of me right away. I was crying uncontrollably by this time and my stepfather was screaming that I must be on drugs. The police took me back to juvenile where I was sent to a foster home, which I also ran away from. This time when I went to court, the Juvenile Judge ordered that I be sent to Macon Y.D.C. until I was an adult since I wasn’t allowed back home.
One step down from prison … abandoned … rejected … alone
Macon Y.D.C. wasn’t like regular juvenile … it was a step down from women’s prison … it was where the real problem teens were sent. There was one girl there for murder because she was too young for prison…I was in another violent place. I was attacked twice while there and I had no choice but to fight back. I always kept quiet though and tried to avoid trouble.
My mother never came to visit even though she was allowed…no one ever did. We had one-hour group sessions every day, but I would never open up. I never revealed my biggest secret about my uncle molesting and raping me from four to eight years old. My mother and grandmother had told me to forget about it and to never ever tell anyone, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t forget. I now wish that I had told someone. As I cried myself to sleep almost every night I felt abandoned, rejected and so alone.
Neglect can be a killer
One day I was called to the Chaplain’s office and told that I would be going to my grandmother’s on a three-day pass for my 13-month-old baby sister’s funeral. Somehow she had been playing with an open bottle of Aquatabs and ingested them. I say she died from neglect. I felt extreme guilt for not being there to take care of her… my world grew darker with each passing day.
An attempt to end it all
Two months later because of good behavior I was allowed to go to my grandmother’s for a two week trial pass. I had heard from some of the girls in Y.D.C. that if you were married that you would legally become an adult and be able to get out. When I arrived at my grandmother’s I called my boyfriend and told him what I had heard. He said that he was seeing another girl and that he wanted to break up. My heart was completely broken. I vaguely remember taking my grandfather’s newly filled prescription of over 100 small tranquilizers. God was truly watching over me as my grandfather came home early from work that day and saw me walking down Highway 85. I didn’t have a plan except to go into the woods and fall asleep.
My grandfather and I went back to the house and he grabbed the empty bottle and we went to the nearest hospital 45 minutes away in Warm Springs. There was no ‘911’ then. The doctors said if they had been 15 minutes later I would have been dead.
After I woke up from a four-day coma my grandmother was irate because my mother hadn’t been there. She said that the nurses were saying that this was the worst case of neglect they had ever seen. After this close call with death, my boyfriend had a total change of heart and we were married three days after I was released from the hospital. I was 15 and he was 17 so my grandmother talked my mother into signing for me to be married and his father signed for him. I had to return to Y.D.C. for a psychological evaluation since I had tried to commit suicide. The psychologist said that my only problem was my family and I was released to live my life as I chose.
God was watching over me again
After we had been together for one year I left him and ended up in Florida for two years. I lived only to party and because of my state of mind on drugs I often found myself in very dangerous situations. Once I injured my neck by falling out of a speeding car and another time I was raped at gunpoint. There was a witness to the rape who went at 3:00 in the morning down an abandoned dirt road to find a phone to call the police. God spared my life and the rapist was arrested … God in his mercy was watching over me once again.
A father for my son
Months later, not from the rape, I found myself pregnant. I returned to Georgia to my grandmother’s where she sent me to a home for unwed mothers. The day my son was born was the turning point in my life. I had always said my prayers every night since I was six years old and I now prayed every night for a father for my son. My present husband adopted my son and was the answer to my prayers. We have now been married 27 years.
Reunion with my father
I was finally reunited with my father in 1991 after a 30-year separation and an 11-year search. I still remember the prayer from a 700 Club counselor as she prayed that I wouldn’t only find my earthly father, but that I would also find my heavenly father. My father was located only two months after her prayer. Even though I was happy to find my father, it didn’t fill me with the happiness that I thought it would.
Surrender to God then the changes came
Throughout my lifetime I have been through all kinds of secular therapy, counseling, hypnotherapy and medication finding only temporary relief until through a series of events I was led to church and rededicated my life. I was full of bitterness and resentment toward all of the people that had hurt me and it had affected everything in my life. Only after I surrendered my life to God did a real change occur in me.
I was able to forgive
Although I don’t see most of my family, I chose long ago to forgive them. I found true healing through letting go and forgiving everyone who ever hurt me. At first I didn’t feel like I had really forgiven them so I prayed that God would let me truly feel the forgiveness … eventually I did. One day my uncle called me crying and said that he was so sorry for what he had done to me when I was a little girl.
Finding my Heavenly Father
As I told him that I had already forgiven him years ago I really meant it and I really felt it. Only God can change hearts this way. My greatest desire in life is to let others know that they can rise above any situation and that there is only true hope, true healing and true forgiveness through Jesus Christ. I now know that the most important thing in life for anyone is to find their heavenly father and to read His words written in red. My search is over … my heavenly father was what I was searching for all along.