Psalm 147:3He heals the brokenhearted. He bandages their wounds.
If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can read it here…
Parts of my story are not mine to tell, so I appreciate your patience with my sometimes vague references to events.
After my mother passed away on 20 October, life was a bit of a blur. My grandmother stayed with us for about a month as we adjusted to life post-Mom. Shortly after, my dad was either medically boarded or he took early retirement to look after us. Unfortunately, the long days at home meant more time faced by the call of alcohol to numb the pain of shame and guilt he felt.
Around this time my older sister, having finished matric, started a relationship and left our little coastal town for Johannesburg to look for work. I felt betrayed. I was left behind to look after my siblings (you know 13-year-olds “it’s all about me”) and navigate the reality of life and becoming a teenager. It was years later before she told me why she had fled.
I went to school, went to church, did extra-murals, studied hard, made breakfasts and lunches and dinners and became a youth group leader (because that’s what good girls do). But from the age of 14, I got involved in all the things I promised as a good girl I never would. I eased my conscience by still pretending to be perfect while Friday and Saturday nights became a blur of sneaking out, drinking and some downright dangerous antics. My first communion at 17 years old was marred by the fact that I was so hungover I couldn’t stand the smell of the wine when it was offered to me.
Throughout High School, there were violent outbursts when my dad was drunk interspersed with crying and self-pity sessions. One night he got pulled over in a roadblock and we ended up spending the night at home alone. I remember doing my sister’s homework (an essay I think) and getting in trouble a few weeks later when our English teacher figured it out. Still, no one knew what was going on at home.
I drank cutex remover a few times and tried to cut myself, normally in anger, but it really did make me feel better. When I was hospitalised with epilepsy (possibly from trauma and the cutex remover) I thought what was happening at home would end. But it didn’t.
Once, I finally plucked up the courage and told my boyfriend’s Mom what my dad was doing and she intervened. I remember sitting in front of our dominee (pastor) who was counselling my dad and him telling me that I had been dressed in short pajamas and that is why my dad had been tempted. The truth was that I wore short pajamas because they were the same pj’s I had had since I was 9.
But somehow I managed to go back to school and pretend everything was fine. Occasionally a teacher would comment about my weekend antics but it never went further than that.
I survived my high school years thanks to an amazing few parents and teachers who cared for me and helped me get a part-time job and even made my matric dance dress. They were a big part of the reason I was able to go on like normal.
After school, I was lucky to get a job in Johannesburg. I was torn between the promise of starting a new life away from home and leaving my brother and sister behind. The book Prison to Praise helped me a lot during this time as I started to get snippets of truth and grace to break through the cloud of shame and guilt and worry about my siblings.
I got a glimpse of a God who was not in any way like the God I had been told about growing up. I met a Saviour, a healer, a GOOD Father, a friend – who was not disappointed in me and who had not been standing with arms folded, shaking His head and clicking His tongue at me for messing things up…