Grace Part One.
My name is Grace and this is my story.
I was born in a big city but I don’t know the City just the name, as my Mum moved many miles away when I was three to a small town. She moved there to be near her Sister, her Sister’s husband and their kids. We then all lived together in a three storey house. There were lots of us in the house, with the two families together. Every Sunday we went to a Place Of Worship (POW) as I shall refer to it. It was always held in a small rented room, it was hours long in the mornings on a Sunday and then we would be back again in the evening! Religion is serious stuff! Deep! The POW that I grew up in was very strict! Us kids had no choice we had to go. Every three years we would all from our POW, go to another POW far away, for the day to a huge building and enjoy meeting lots and lots of other lovely people. There was always lots of food and music, with fabulous musicians and singers, they had drums, electric guitars and bass, we didn’t. The Leader of the huge building was lovely, so was his wife and kids. In our small meeting hall our time together felt the same each Sunday, then one day when I was thirteen a lady came and talked about “Hell fire!!!” There was an alter call and myself and seventeen of the other young people with me, that night believed! Only three of the young people didn’t believe! The strictness then went up to another level! Now we were expected to be perfect! Or so it felt to me.
We moved from the three story home when I was seven, and went our separate ways, my Auntie and Uncle moved to another house and we moved to a house five minutes away. My Auntie’s house was like a central base where, kids went after school to wait for our parents to come and get us when they finished their various work places, we would have a drink of orange squash or flavoured pop, played in the big garden or watch TV. It was always nice at my Auntie’s house, I got on well with my cousins and the other kids. My Uncle was lovely too, every week he would take me to the shops and I could pick any sweets I liked. I took ages to choose my chocolate bar, I didn’t have to share it with anyone, it was all mine. In fact he was SO lovely, that if I asked for other things I would get them too. I remember I asked him for a radio, an expensive item back then and I got it he paid for all the batteries it needed.
When I was eight my Mum married my step-dad. We didn’t get on, unfortunately for me I wet the bed! I wet the bed from a young age until I was seventeen! Then from the age of seventeen until I was nineteen I wet the bed only when I was on my period. It was a miserable existence! I hated my life, I hated that I was like this, I felt that I wasn’t made properly, that there was something faulty about me. Back then, people didn’t have baths or showers every day like we do now. I remember as a child we didn’t have a bathroom let alone a bath, there was a metal bath that was filled with water in front of the open coal fire and the only shield was the wooden clothes horse, with clothes hanging on them, while the rest of the family sat behind this on the sofa that was against the wall! The Living room was small, we had an outside toilet with the bricked walls, with spiders on them and a latch door, so you could look under and see your feet or if an adult looked over the top of the door could see you on the loo! At night we had a potty that was under the bed and would be emptied in the morning. Back then there was often power cuts so candles was ready in their places to light up the room.
But I digress, because I wet the bed my step-dad would punish me each morning with his thick leather belt! He didn’t show mercy! I didn’t do it on purpose, I didn’t know what to do to stop, I would have the same dream, that I was sitting on the loo, and that it was ok to use the loo, and then as I wet myself, I’d wake up! It was a nightmare, a living hell! I hated my step dad when I was younger and he hated me. Our home was like a war zone, for as I got older I hated my brothers who were his kids, they were innocent and sweet, but I wasn’t old enough to hurt him like he hurt me each morning! I did pray for the bed wetting to stop. As I got older I thought I will never get married I’d stay single.
Because we had no bath when I was younger I had a bowl to have a wash in. So I smelt of wee all my school life, in Summer I could smell myself, it was like the urine was in my bones! Laughter kept me sane! I cried and laughed throughout my life! I had good friends at school, none of them came to my POW so I never saw them outside of school. I hated school, I only enjoyed my school friends and our times together. Being dyslexic, didn’t help, I was classed as thick. No one had heard about it then. I remember my older cousin who went to a grammar school said to me when I was fourteen, “You’re so gullible!” I said, “What does that mean?” He replied, “Exactly that!” But I was child like, at fourteen I thought and acted a lot younger than my age.
When I was thirteen I ask my Uncle for a bike. I’d had a rusty old second hand bike when I was nine years old for Christmas, but I’d outgrown that my knees knocked on the handlebars as I rode. Also around this time, one day after our Sunday morning meeting my Uncle had asked me to meet him outside, I went and he asked me, “Not to say anything..... for little Peter, (my cousin) has mentioned something this morning at breakfast, so if you are asked, say it is not true.” This greatly troubled me! My Uncle, this holy man was asking me to tell a lie! He told me I would get my bike, I was excited by that.
One day, when I was fourteen, I’d had a bad period pain, so bad that I asked Mum, “Can I stay home today?” She replied, “Yes.” I also said to her, “I had a strange dream last night, I dreamt I was standing facing a swimming pool and I was stood there, there was no one in it, I was sick into the water!” She said to me, “This dream means you want to say something, a confession, get something off your chest, or talk about a secret.” I said nothing I just looked at her. I had a secret alright! She was right there, but I was sworn to secrecy. Mum then told me a HUGE secret! When she finished telling me, I said, “I do have a secret, but I’m afraid.” I thought I would go to jail, or my parents would get divorced, or I’d be punished!!!!! I took a deep breath and told her my secret.