When I was a child, my family moved around a LOT. I was born in Kingston, we were living in Delta at the time. Then my parents bought a converted church in Flesherton and we moved there. From there we moved to England, and then British Columbia. Then we came back to Ontario, and that’s when my mum and dad split up. When my parents separated, all hell broke loose. But I’ll get to that.
I obviously don’t remember this far back, but from what I’m told there was already fighting in the home. There’s a generation gap between my mother and father, my dad being 15 years older than my mum, so lots of the fighting resulted from that. Mental health issues were in the family line, so both my parents dealt with that as well. I was raised in a VERY religious family, Fundamental Evangelical Christian. I’ve met some Christians since being in SafeHope Home that completely changed my view of them. Because of my childhood, I had acquired some major childhood trauma. Pastors used to come into the home trying to instruct the family in deliverance ministry in hope of exorcising demons because of the fighting. They once punched my mother in the stomach trying to exorcise a demon to flush it down the toilet. One time I was kidnapped by the baptist church we attended who phoned my dad at work and told him he shouldn’t go back to my mother who was pregnant with my sister at the time. My dad rushed home immediately and retrieved me from them and went home to my mother.
Even though I don’t remember these details – I was two years old – it’s bound to have had some effect. I was taught to speak in tongues by the age of two and was praying over people in the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. (I have a child now and he was barely forming cohesive sentences by the age of two, let alone speaking tongues.) My idea of ‘fun’ when I was two was doing English workbooks. I was also well-phrased in the Bible and attended Bible summer camp every year. I was a perfectionist because I was raised to be. I am a perfectionist now because it doesn’t just go away.
My sister was born, we lived in Flesherton a few more years, and then my parents split up, so they sold the church and both moved separately to Toronto, my mum took my sister and I. We continued attending Toronto Airport Vineyard Church(TAV) but now we were closer to it and more involved. We lived in Toronto for about a year and my mum ran a bed and breakfast for TAV to supplement her income, and pastors and whatnot from around the world would come stay with us. After a year, my parents got back together and we lived in a camper for three months travelling around Ontario. We peed in pots (there was no bathroom on the camper). My parents would drive to a different playground every day and let us wake up at a playground. We drove up mountains and apparently it was a good time. My parents didn’t fight much at this time.
Then we moved to England. My mum’s family is mid-upper class from England and they were quite disgusted that she moved from Canada to England and decided to put her family into the lowest class area in town for ministry. But within 3 months my mum had bus loads of children being transported to church on Sundays and had formed quite a little community with the kids in the area. There were always parties going on, birthday parties, festivals. I do remember blow-up bouncy castles and lots of kids around all the time. That’s about all I remember from that time though. I was 7 years old, my sister was 5. My mum worked with the councillors of the whole town. She did a lot of community activist work, from developing gardens, to running down risks on the road, to providing community resources for the lower class community.
My mum formed a residence association who requested funding from the government and had it approved for summer events, so she formed a children’s club and took 300 kids and their parents on a trip to Kinderland, as well as throwing community festivals with horse riding and bouncy castles and face painting and ice cream vans and petting zoos, etc. I attended every single one of these events, and these two years of my life was always exciting and fun, I was always surrounded by kids. My dad was a stay at home parent because of immigration laws until he got papers so he could work as a salesman.
My parents had only meant to stay in England for two years for ministry, so after the two years, we moved to B.C. My parents had heard from a friend that this really prestigious private Korean-English Christian school needed two more white children to fill their quota for Korean students that were attending, paying high prices to go there. So my mum flew us all to B.C. where my mum worked with seniors and my father was in sales and we attended high-end Christian school for free. My parents started arguing again in B.C. I don’t remember anything from B.C. but when I think about that time in my life I just remember feeling not too good. There was lots of abuse in the home between my parents, verbal and physical. So after a year in B.C, I was 8, my sister was 6, we moved to Creemore to get away from my dad, but he followed and got his own place there down the street.
After being told for so long that their marriage would never end (and divorce being a sin), my sister and I started having MAJOR behavioural issues at this time. As soon as we moved to Creemore, and my parents officially separated, everything changed in our behaviour. My sister and I did everything from tipping tables in school, to breaking things, to kicking in car doors. There was complete rebellion on our parts, we were shattered that they were separated. My mum put us both in therapy, she didn’t know what to do. From age 7 to age 18, my mum claims it was a waste of time and the therapy did nothing for us. We were in Creemore for 2 years and it was 2 years of craziness. Lots of fighting and screaming.
My mum tried to get away from my dad once again, she had had enough of him living down the street from her (I was 9 years old or so by this time), so she moved to another town. I remember this town, Glen Huron, in the middle of the country. My father decided to follow her once again and got a little house down the street. I remember kind of enjoying this house that my mum had us in, though. I made friends with cows down the street and named one and went and fed them oats and grass all the time. My parents got divorced but my dad was still down the road. And my mum spent the next 10 years trying to find a replacement father for me and my sister.
So, as you can probably tell, my family was dysfunctional. But here’s the kicker – I had ZERO idea we were dysfunctional. Childhood was a strange time in my life. But I had supposed the same could be said for any child. Coming into the world, you don’t have any idea what’s considered ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’. I was under the impression that what I experienced in my home life was the definition of normal. I know now that’s not true but it took me forever to come to understand that.
Looking back from my mental space now, I can see how dysfunctional patterns from childhood kind of continued throughout my life. When I was trafficked, I thought the constant feelings of discomfort I felt and the arguments and fighting was normal. I had witnessed my mum countless times bawling her eyes out, crying over an argument or physical fight with my father. I did the same in later relationships. Unchecked childhood trauma is such a fundamental thing to heal before you start dating. If only I’d known that back then.