Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Break from my story - Questions

I'm taking a break from my story to answer some reader e-mail and questions. Some of these are old (from older posts) and some are new.

Email question - Ruth, I'm dying to know how the family reunion with Harris was and how your relationship is going? Can you give us the Harris update?

The reunion was fantastic. It was at Disneyland and I had a ball experiencing this for the first time. My favorite rides were Pirates of the Carribean and Soaring Over Californina. Harris' extended family were interesting people with all sorts of backgrounds. I can honestly say that I've never seen such a blended family (races, religions, and cultures. I think I asked too many questions of his African American, jewish relatives just because that was something my small world never imagined. They were equally interested in how I grew up and why I left. Harris' immediate family was wonderfully comforting and welcoming. We had a night where it was just Harris' parents and siblings (and their families). We sat around the table and had a great time.

My relationship with Harris is progressing. He asked me to marry him. I said I wasn't ready and he said he figured that would be my answer. We've decided to keep going on as we are for a year and see where that leaves us. If we're still in the right place, then I will consent to an engagement. I love him. I'm sure of it. My fear is that rushing into anything rarely works and walking right into a marriage would be what I ran from before.

How's your financial situation?
It is guarded as always. Thanks for the concern.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

49 Character Qualities of Ruth- The First Night

It's hard to explain what those first few minutes were like, as I made my way across the field to the neighbors. I had a million emotions - fear, anger, sadness, grief, excitement, and uncertainty, just to name a few. At any moment, I expected the sliding door to open and the back yard lights to go on. I expected one of the boys, or - worse- my father, to hop on the ATV we kept in the yard. Looking back every step, though - all I saw was a quiet house. No one had noticed my leaving, even though I was sharing a room at this point. In hindsight, I've always wondered if my sisters had slept through my feverish gathering (maybe they thought I was gathering clothes for a late night load of laundry?) or if they knew I was leaving and knew I was unhappy? Either way, they didn't stop me or raise any alarm.

My neighbors were shocked to see me standing on their porch. Mr. and Mrs. Kline* (pseudonym) had had their doubts about my family for years. They'd called protective services one day after watching my dad dole out a punishment to my brother. Protective services did nothing - deeming the incident to be within the scope of parental discipline, but the Kline's intervention made a deep impression on me. I knew someone was watching our family. The Klines also made attempts to talk to my mother and us girls whenever they could. My father would speak about how nosey they were and how they were "the wolves". Mrs. Kline worked and my father would use their childlessness as an example of how worldliness "deprived a woman of her Godly appointment". As I came to discover, Mrs. Kline was infertile.

I stood on their doorstep and explained, or tried to, that I had been engaged and I didn't want to be and I was hoping they could help me get to my brother. Mrs. Klein told me later that she would've adopted me that night but Mr. Klein was rightfully worried about taking in a minor. He said we should call the police or call my parents. I opted to call the police because I knew calling my parents would only result in them calling the police to make me come home.

The police came and listened to my story. I will never forget their kindness. One of the officers was female - a rarity for our town at that time- and I think it was God's gift to me that she arrived to take my statement. Both she and her partner were disgusted by the possibility that things were the way I said it was (being forced to accept Adam's proposal) but they kept it professional and said they were going to go talk to my father. I told them I didn't want to go back home and stammered that I feared being sent away again. The Klein's confirmed that I had disappeared for a few months not too long ago and the cops took that into consideration. They went to my father's house to get his side of the story.

My father was irate and demanded that I be returned to him or he would "retrieve me" himself. He demanded that it was all a misunderstanding (his favorite excuse) and that if he could just talk to me, it would be fixed. When the officers repeated my fear of being sent away, my father told them that was silly because the previous detention had been my choice! He produced a letter I'd been encouraged to write my parents telling them how grateful I was for being sent away. The female officer had the wisdom to see this for what it was. She started asking about our family. She wanted to talk to my mother (who was standing in the room, not saying a word) in private. My father allegedly told my mother that was not wise and my mother wouldn't answer in more than one word answers. The female officer suggested that maybe we all needed the night to calm down. For whatever reason, my father agreed and I stayed at the Klein's.

The next morning, my mother arrived bright and early to retrieve me. Mrs. Klein asked if I wanted to leave and as much as I wanted to go to my mother, I knew I would be punished for my stunt. I told her I didn't want to leave but I knew I couldn't stay and she said Mr. Klein was handling that. What I didn't know at that moment was that Mr. Klein had already gone to retain an attorney on my behalf.

To make a long story short, within two hours, the cops arrived to take me home (a different set of officers this time) because I was a "run away". Mrs. Klein explained the situation and the officers told me I had a choice - go home or go to their offices and file a report against Adam and my father. I chose the latter. It was my first time in a police car and I was terrified. Mrs. Klein followed us in her car. As we passed by the front of my house, I saw my mom and sisters watching through the windows. It was humiliating and I can only imagine what my father was saying in the background.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Character Qualities of Ruth

So, there I was, pre-engaged. Betroathed. I refused to say "engaged" because that would suggest I was a party to the act. Nothing could be farther from the truth. When I should've been praying to ask God to make my heart right with these decisions being made for me, I was asking God to get me out and show me a way to avoid it all. My goal was to graduate high school. When I told my mother that, she made sure my home school curriculum was first priority - just to get it out of the way and give me less of an excuse. When I told my mom I didn't like the boy 'that way' - she thought she'd help me by having me spend time with his family. When that didn't work - I was sent away. I was sent to work in the offices of the movement. During that time, all ties were cut for me. I was only allowed to get one letter a week from my "betroathed" and one phone call from my parents. Both of these were pre-read and listened to. I was kept, doing church related tasks, busy for three months.

When I had been beated down (emotionally and spiritually), I was allowed to go home. The very next day, my dad invited Adam to come help with a project we were doing. He was brining another brother as a chaparone. I knew the question was coming and the question was going to be the catalyst to change in my life.

I was right.

Adam came into our home and went straight to the backyard to discuss something with my father. I tried to look small and invisible. After dinner, Adam publicly asked my father if two of my siblings would accompany us on a walk. We walked down the street until we got to a fence gate. At the gate, Aaron dropped on one knee and read me a scripture passage. He pulled a small box from his coat and presented me with a diamond ring.

The world started swimming. I have never felt more claustrophobic in my life. My sister stepped up to hold my shaking hand as he put the ring on - because I hadn't verbally agreed to anything. Somehow or another, we ended up back in the house and a party was being amped up. Dad was taking photos and mom was caling friends to tell them to save a date for a wedding. All this and I haven't said yes. I went to the bathroom and tried to hide, but Adam used our lockless doors against us and he forced my sister in through the door to tell me to return to the party. Inside I was screaming that I hadn't agreed to be his wife and yet there were dates being tossed around.

People were planning a wedding around me. The wedding was a go and the bride was a no. I was in a daze but through the daze I knew that it was time for me to leave. After the hubbub died down, and people were leaving, Adam took me outside by the hand for a "talk". During the talk, I tried barganing. I told him I might marry him if he would be okay with my staying in school and going for an advanced education. He was visibly uncomfortable. He said that he thought I was in line with the teachings of our fathers and God's commandment for us. I told him I might be, I wasn't sure, and that I needed time to seek out an answer. I also told him that IF we got married, I would NEED to have something that was just mine in our life (a job, a hobby, or the ability to further my education). I thought, maybe for a moment, that he was thinking about what I'd said becuase he got quiet. I wrongfully thought that meant he was considering some of what I said. Well, maybe he was, but not in the way I thought. He grabbed my arm forcibly and said, "YOU is no longer YOU. YOUR WORLD IS ME NOW." He quoted scripture at me and jammed my hands into my chest. He told me to get right with the Lord and see him for the prize he was. He had a house for us. He had a job. He was next in line for a political fortune (supposedly) and I "could have it all" just by marrying him and "Learning to love him." I just cried - what else could I do? As I was trying to walk away, he spun me around by jerking my arm and pinned me to the fence. I won't repeat what he said, but he grabbed my rear-end and said, "Yummmm...Ruth. Don't lose any weight between now and the wedding."

I went to my mother and told her what had went down outside. She insisted I must've misunderstood and went to get my dad. My dad was ambivalent. He insisted that I had misunderstood and then suggested that every woman enjoys it when a man pays you a sexual compliment.

That night - after everyone had gone to bed-- I started grabbing clothes. I had no idea where I was going or what it even meant to get out of the family but something told me I had to go. I prayed to God to give me a sign to go. An hour later, I noticed a light go on at the neighbor's house across the field. I wasn't thinking very far ahead - I had just asked God to give me a place to run - a sign to go - anything. The light. I ran across the field with only what I could carry.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I promise that my next post will be a continuation of the 49 Character Qualities of Ruth. I know many of you are waiting for it.

For right now I just wanted to tell everyone I'm fine, just really busy. RA's got to go back to the dorms for training and set up a little early and I've been making up some training I didn't do in the spring. The girl who was supposed to be the RA isn't coming back to school at all and I'm the replacement. I'll be on a co-ed area with mostly incoming freshman under my charge. The irony is that I'll have 19 to watch over. LOL 19 Kids and Counting...?

I leave with Harris for his family reunion tonight. I'm excited. I've spoke with his mom and dad before. When they came through to visit him once. I'm looking forward to meeting his sibs and his cousins. His mom was sweet and called me because I told Harris that I was nervous about being there. How do I dress? What would be appropriate (thanks readers for that heads-up!)? She told me exactly what we'd be doing and siad she was really happy I was coming along. She's such a great lady. It makes me miss my mom. Harris' mom told me that Harris had filled her in about my family and she would do what she could to help me negotiate his nosier family members. In the end, I'm looking forward to this! We'll be doing some neat activities and going to Disneyland- MY FIRST TIME!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Addressing the issues

An anonymous commenter has been very critical of some of my recent decisions. In many ways, I can see his/her points. Am I niave? You bet. Do I have a great deal of life experience? That depends on what sort of life experience you're thinking of. But the thing that makes me a little angry is when someone suggests that I haven't taken care of myself, and that I wouldn't be a good RA, because I've taken advice from blog readers.

Here's what I would say to that. I have been a mother to children since I was old enough to know what the word meant. While I *know* I don't have the social maturity or professional skills to solve my resident's problems, I am good at admitting when I'm over my head and asking for help from others. I wouldn't even be allowed to do much in an emergency situation, besides contact the appropriate resources. We're only allowed, as RAs, to intervene in so much as we secure a situation and call the resident life director or emergency services. I also know what it means to be alone and homesick. That, from what I understand, is a huge part of the first quarter RA duty - to make my residents feel at home and deal with life skills that you deal with when you leave (laundry, time management, etc.,.).

I am growing. I'm not perfect. But I know that I can handle a lot more than some people and what I can't handle I'm quick to admit I can't handle. Isn't that better than pretending to have all the answers? While people suggested I take an RA position, no one got the job for me or held my hand while I did it. I've spent the last six years of my life living with very little outside assistance, well below the poverty level, trying to overcome my past. How I handle things may not be the same as how you would handle something and I know I'm not where most 26 year olds are professionally or emotionally. Like you said, some of that isn't my fault given that my upbringing was not meant to prepare me for independence or adulthood. But here I am doing what I'm doing - getting my education and securing a small livelihood for myself.

I don't mind that you commented and criticized. I do mind the assumptions and accusations. I've made mistakes and I'm growing from them but I don't have the security net most people have and I'm doing the best I can with the tools I have.
Thanks for reading and writing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Countown to school

There have been so many things going on since I was "fired". Starting with living in this hotel. It's strange living somewhere that is made to be temporary.

I've filled out six or seven applications for part time work the next year and I'm trying to get a head start on next summer's work. I still thinkn I want to nanny but I'm definitely going to use a propper agency. The thing that looks most promising is the campus bookstore placement. It's minimum wage an hour plus a discount on store items. It's very close to my dorm and the schedule is one where you can leave in the middle of shifts to take class as long you come right back when class is finished and put in your assigned hours for the day. It's pretty flexible. As long as two people are in the store at all times, they don't worry about it. This could be the answer to my prayers.

I GOT AN RA GIG!!!!!!! I was a last minute replacement for another girl who decided she wasn't going to live on campus after all. Her spot came open and I was eligible for it. I have to quickly take a series of video classes and go through a handbook that I'll get tested on in a week. They do this all differently if you're picked in the first round. I have to squash all of the information in in a short time. I have to take a training course on "listening" and "protecting the people in our care by helping them recognize bad situations and help them form reasonable exit strategies". I couldn't help but smile at the irony.

More fun! The RA rooms are equipped with wifi so that we can do daily tally sheets and communicate with the director of student life. We have a daily webchat (5 minutes). The laptop is owned by the school but it sounds like they "reward you" with your laptop at the end of your service. Cool.

Harris and I are considering something very big. For those that pray, please pray for god to give us wisdom to make this decision. It's not moving in together or having a baby...it's, in the context of my upbringing, bigger. I don't want to say what it is now but I'll let you know soon. Just pray for God to show me how normal 26 year olds would deal with the situation. :)

As I wrote that I realized I can't keep the secret. Harris wants to take me to meet his family at a reunion and introduce me as his "very serious girlfriend" (his words). He wants to see how I fit with their family and he wants to see how his family will react to my past.