My childhood
 
I was born into a loving family on March 25th 1988.  I'm the second oldest of four kids. I had, and still do have, the most amazing and Godly mother. She is patient, kind, understanding and devotes her time to helping others. My father on the other hand, though he loved us very much, had a very warped understanding of love and how to show it. He ran our house with an iron rod. My siblings and I were raised with the expectation of being the “perfect” children. We weren't given choices in anything; we were told when to speak and when not to, when to eat, when to sit, when to work, etc. If we made decisions he didn't like, no matter how minor, we were in trouble. Don't get me wrong, I believe in a good work ethic, respect for others, and proper behaviour, but in our house if we did anything that he thought was remotely out of line all hell would break loose.  

I remember something so simple as my lips being extra red one day and my dad having a massive fit because he was convinced I had put on lipstick. At church all the other kids would go off to the children's events during the service but we weren't allowed and we had to sit perfectly still in the service. Everything about us had to be perfect in the eyes of our father. There was no room to be children in our home, unless my father was having a good day, and even then the mood could change in a moment. We were extremely blessed to have a wonderful and normal childhood when it was just my mother around, but the mood in our house changed the minute my dad walked in the house. Fear entered and joy and laughter left. 

By the time I was 11 years old my father's unattainable expectations and unpredictable rage was becoming very unsafe to be around.  This became even more clear when he stated to take his anger out on us in a physical way, especially towards my brother. I started putting a plan together for how I could escape with my family if needed. Yes, you read that correctly. An 11 year old was making emergency plans to escape from her own home. One day my mother apparently asked me something about the situation and little old me said, "all I know is that this isn't right". When my mom heard that, she knew it was time to leave. She secretly made her own escape plan for us and put it into motion a couple of days before my oldest sister's 15th birthday.