Loss, Loneliness and Leaving

My family in the Bottoms 1974

 I grew up in Meredosia, Illinois: Dosh—a small town of less than one thousand people. Dad sent Mom away when I was eleven. He was abusive and all my sisters and I had were each other. Our house burned to the ground that Christmas. A new house trailer replaced it, but we were on survival mode only. When our stepmother, Mary, and her four kids joined our family, we were isolated from the world we knew.

 
We moved to Arenzville—first into a trailer then an old farmhouse, then back to Dosh to the old Standard Oil gas station. Mary forced us to make and wear floor-length dresses and skirts every day. We didn’t play anymore. Then we moved to “the bottoms,” across the river in Brown County, where we lived in a converted school bus. I didn’t continue in school, opting to work the land.

Winters were the hardest. No matter where I lived after Mom left, I was cold—I still can’t stand to be cold. I left the bottoms at seventeen and never went back there or to Dosh.

Through the advent of Facebook, I’ve reconnected with a few people in or from Dosh. When we talk, I feel a deep loss. I don’t remember things they say I did or we did together, and I missed that “coming-of-age” time with prom and other school activities. It seems my sisters and I weren’t the only kids who suffered some type of abuse growing up there. As we share we are helping each other to heal.

Today Angela said, “Seriously, all of us know life can just suck, at times. But there is something in each of us that can overcome those times. I think Berta got an extra dose of the overcoming stuff… so… Super Powers is my answer.”

After lamenting about my despair and death wish, I realized I do have Super Power. I wrote:

“I didn’t know God knew me in the days I thought I was living in hell. Even after I made a profession of faith, I felt guilty. How could He love me? Didn’t He know how bad I was? Yes He did. It was my problem with self-deprecating guilt. When I quit hating myself and accepted His love and forgiveness, I forgave myself for doing what I’d done to myself, and others. God is my Super Power.”

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5 NIV).

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 NIV).

In Christian Love,

Berta

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