I couldn’t have been more perfect as a child. I was quiet and kept to myself. I never spoke unless spoken to and certainly never to strangers unlike my brother who befriended every Tom, Dick and Harry he met. My favorite past time was sleeping.I was a model student, always on the honor roll, I was even student of the year in 5th grade! I went to church Monday, Wednesdays AND Fridays, taught Sunday School for a minute, sang in the church choir and wholeheartedly honored my father and mother. I rarely questioned or talked back to them but only because I was easily replaceable. I was the only girl they ever fostered and made very clear they never wanted after raising four of their own. After all, girls were the devil. Once they got their periods, started having sex and thinking for themselves they were loose canons. I was no different. I was destined for failure solely based on the gender I had no control over. I failed their family, I failed myself and ultimately would be a failure to women everywhere.
Religion was deeply routed into our home. In the earlier years I remember having daily Bible readings around the kitchen table. We weren’t allowed to watch or listen to secular entertainment. It was ingrained in our child mind’s that anything the Foster’s did not approve of, anything that could be considered even remotely bad was a gateway for the devil. Life was serious. We would often get in trouble just for laughing. There was no being a child, you were a servant of God preparing for the day the rapture came. Boys did boy things, girls did girl things and there was absolutely no intermingling otherwise sexuality was questioned. No question there, homosexuality was automatic eternal damnation into hell. No passing go, no collecting $200, homosexuality was immoral, disgusting and against the word of God. Laughing and homosexuality aside the list grew daily. Tattoos, kissing, premarital sex, anything aside from the missionary position within a marriage, porn, Sci-Fi books, looking in the mirror too long, playing with baby toes?! It’s no surprise the day I got my first period in the Burger King bathroom I was terrified to say anything. My heart dropped to the floor and tears collected in my eyes the minute I saw blood; I was now impure.
I was no longer a little girl but also couldn’t qualify as a woman just yet so in the interim I would learn just that. Being a 12 year old and school would be put on the back burner as I learned how to keep house and my appearance (although I often rebelled by wearing pajamas and slippers in public). Learning to cook was a must since I would never keep a man with sex alone (although how could you not keep a man with missionary?!). I would also learn how to tend to a man. Set his plate and serve him food only when he was ready and seated at the table. Have any medication readily available next to his meal with his beverage of choice that should constantly be topped off. Bringing him his shoes or jacket or keys or anything else he needed. If I was raised correctly, I would do nothing short of wipe the man’s ass for him because that was my role as a woman. Somehow Eve being from Adam’s rib meant that woman for the entirety of history would have to be a slave to their husbands. That’s how God intended it.
When I turned 16 it was time for me to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life. The Foster man decided if I chose to get a job supporting myself would be my responsibility. But if I decided to be barefoot and pregnant, praising the Lordt I would have their full support and blessing. One of the most memorable lines of this time in my life was “There really is no place for women in education, where is school really going to take you?”
School would take me to the mountains of Vermont where I would work as a stripper to pay for college or so the family rumor went. It took me around the country doing volunteer work, it introduced me to the most influential people in my life and gave me the opportunity to learn, grow and reprogram a lifetime of discriminating beliefs. It would take me to the state house to receive an award given by the Secretary of State. It would add my name to stories in the college newspaper, Dean’s and President’s lists, on plaques scattered around campus listing award recipients throughout the years. I owned being a student however as I would learn after receiving a Master’s, no amount of education would make up for me not being married, with children, tending to my husband.
Thus begins my journey of being my own woman.