I was taken to foster care when I was a year and four months old. My sister went with my grandmother. My understanding was that my mom placed me in foster care. I was never told why. It meant a series of placements, four that I remember. I felt abandoned, and have lived with that all my life. I don’t recall any household that alcohol in excess was not a daily affair. I recall one stepmother who was hospitalized and had electroshock treatments. My actual step dad used physical and verbal abuse. Nothing I did well seemed to account for anything. According to him I was stupid and worthless. He could melt me with one look. Or, even worse, I was ignored—treated as if I wasn’t there. To all my foster folks I didn’t matter. From all this I felt that I was nothing and unlovable. I have since learned that for an alcoholic—alcohol comes first.
My first memory of going to church was going with my step-father. I was probably about 6 years old. There, in church, I knew the rules. Dress up. Walk in and don’t look left or right. Don’t acknowledge anyone. Shut up and sit still. Always sit in the same place and not in anyone else’s. With all this, knowing and doing what was expected, I felt accepted. I was treated like everyone else.
At church, I got recognized. People knew who I was. I got noticed. I felt worth something. I was one of them, as long as I played by the rules. I felt safe. From the first time I heard the song “Jesus Loves Me, This I know”, I knew there was someone higher. This higher being loved me unconditionally. I went through Sunday School classes and confirmation. You would think there might have been one teacher who “saw me”, who “stood out”, but I am sad to say I cannot recall one teacher who helped me during my childhood.
I was nearly 45 years old when I found a woman who counselled me. I initially went to her to lose weight. I was doing well when she asked if I was willing to work on deeper childhood issues. She recommended connecting with metaphysical teachings. It wasn’t until I was nearly fifty that I found a remarkable teacher and counselor and took classes with him. My attitude then was defensive. I was bitter. I pushed people away so that I wouldn’t be hurt. He talked of “hope”. My response was “Hope and fifty cents get you coffee.” I felt I was the victim; it wasn’t my fault. Both of these helpful people saved my life!
I found that being with my teacher and being in the classroom with him and like-minded people’s energy gave me that same unconditional acceptance and pure peace as being in church. I found I did not need to push those people away, I could be in their presence without feeling defensive.
There was a period of about 5 years where I did not go to church, being fulfilled by the ageless wisdom teachings and the energy of the group.
I returned to the church on my own. I found somehow I missed it. I can enter the church and immediately feel that connection with Christ, to be unconditionally loved and not judged for anything I do.