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What lies ahead


  

So my life here at BYU-I wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for my mission. I am grateful for my Bishop who asked me to rethink about serving a mission. The lifelong friends I made on the mission were the little birdies in my ear who got me to start to think about going to school at BYU-I. I am so grateful for that because I can see the difference in the professors. The professors want you to succeed out here, and give you plenty of opportunity to get real world hands on experience.

I am majoring in Communications with a Public Relations emphasis. I have really enjoyed my experience out here. I anticipate graduating in December of 09. After graduation I am planning to continue on with Graduate school. However that will be in Washington State University. My boyfriend and I are planning to get married after I graduate from BYU-I. He is an amazing wonderful man. He and I come from similar backgrounds, and we just fit perfect for each other.

I don’t fully know what lies ahead for me. I just try to take one day at a time. A great man once said, “Come what may and love it.”  

Post Mission


 

            I was in a car accident in my last transfer. My President wasn’t sure if I was even clear to go home. I had to see a neurologist. I wasn’t able to see one until two months after I got home. I wasn’t cleared to work, go to school or really do anything. After serving a mission being busy and on the go was such a hard transition to do nothing. I felt like a looser! It was so hard to do nothing, and even the little things around the house killed my back and neck. I wasn’t allowed to even help out at home.

            When I finally saw a neurologist he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I felt like I wasn’t getting
any answers. It was so hard. I would cry every night and alone because I didn’t want my family to know I was depressed. I mean I was a return missionary who served a good mission I should be happy right? It wasn’t until I made a decision on my own to get on with my life, and I prayed and asked if I should go to BYU-I. That night was the first night I was able to sleep peacefully. I felt happy, and like I had a direction in my life since the mission.

Cliffnotes of my mission

   I had a horrible MTC experience because I had a companion who grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth, she didn’t have a work ethic. My first month out my grandma passed away. Two months later my first convert passed away. A month later a friend passed away from drowning. Then the following month I found out two of my friends got cancer. The month after that I found out my mom got inflammatory breast cancer. The month after that my sister-in-law (who is my best friend) went to visit the family who introduced her to the church. The husband was her Army recruiter. Well she woke up in the middle of the night with him on top of her. That killed me! We were all good friends. While this news of my friend’s death, friend’s cancer, and my mom’s cancer, and my sister’s attack I was training two greenies at the same time. One which was from South Korea and the other greenie was suffering from bulimia; she ended up going home to get help after four months.

   After training they decided to put me on special assignment with my MTC companion. We served at our halfway mark together. I had hit the wall, and she was “sick” all the time. They ended up bouncing me from troubled sister to troubled sister. Sometimes I wondered if my mission was more to help the missionaries than to find people to teach. I was put in a threesome of a Samoan companion, and my South Korean greenie. I was told Sister Park (South Korea) was having a hard time, and no one understood Sister Vili. We called ourselves the international companionship. Between the three of us we knew, Samoan, Korean, Spanish, English, and American Sign Language. That was my favorite companionship.
 
   I was next put with a Senior Sister from mainland China. That was the hardest companionship because she was older. She had never been married. She lived on her own, and she was a professor so she was used to being over people my age. She treated me like a child. Then my last transfer the Lord blessed me with an amazing missionary. The Lord knew I would need the strength.

   In my last transfer I got into a car accident. I got spinal cord damage, fractured vertebrae, bulging disc, and a reverse curve in my neck. This accident caused me to go home a month early. They weren’t even sure if I was fit to travel. I was ready to fight. I wanted to stay. President came to my place and said “We’ve all prayed about it. Sister Stoddard, and I, Sister Berry (mission nurse), Dr. Bringhurst (who was also the Bishop of the ward I was serving in), the area doctor, and the General Authority. (How could you argue with that? He threw out the prayer card. You can’t argue with that). You’ve served a full mission, you should be proud. We are sending you home for three reasons. One so you can heal faster. You can’t heal out here. Two so your mom can heal faster, and three, I promised your mother I wouldn’t tell you till I saw you, but they are giving your dad three weeks to live. (He had pancreatic cancer and three days after my accident I got a call from President who told me the news and at that time they were giving him six months).  

The Fight

The fight to recovery was long. I wouldn’t talk about the abuse for the longest time. I’ll never forget how my dad reacted. He was mad and yelling. Yelling at me for why I didn’t tell. I yelled back and said, “I didn’t think you would believe me. You were always drunk, and high. I didn’t know if you were going to leave or hit me because you didn’t believe me.” My dad just stopped and froze. He slowly turned around and went into his room. By this time in our lives my dad had stopped drinking, and doing drugs. He was clean. I think he felt like it was his fault. I personally never blamed him for what my brother did.

            My mom had my brother (D.C.) and I go to a counselor individually, and as a family. We hated it! We wouldn’t talk to him. D.C. and I just stuck together. We rather talked to each other instead. D.C. had a lot of anger management issues. His anger all boiled down that he felt weak because he couldn’t protect me. I never blamed him either.

            My mom put me in this program for girl who had been sexually abused my sophomore year in high school. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to just move past it. My mom had a hard time letting go. By the time I told my family about the abuse I had forgiven my brother, so at least I thought. I was so nervous to go to this meeting. When I got there I was so surprised who I saw sitting in that room. Girls I knew from school, girls who were my softball teammates. We all looked at each other in surprise and said, “You?” There wasn’t a verbal yes, but we could see it in each other’s eyes.

            It took me a long time to get over my fear of guys. I had guy friends who hug and I didn’t feel comfortable so I would give this side hug and pat them with my finger tips. It was even harder to hug my family. My dad or other brothers would ask for a hug and I would almost hyperventilate. I could not hug the males in my house that were bigger than me. I could hug my younger brother’s just fine because they were smaller than me. It was a constant battle in the house because I would always lock the doors. I still do. I just felt safer locked in my room even though the brother who had hurt me was long gone.

            The summer between my junior year and my senior year, I was supposed to go to Ohio with my dad and brothers to go see my dad’s side of the family. My dad didn’t want to wait for me to get home from girls camp, so they left. My dad had to promise my mom that Joey (the brother who abused) wouldn’t be around my brothers. My dad promised. In the middle of the week I had a dream that I was visiting and Joey showed up to my grandma’s house. I grabbed the wooden bat next to the garage and started beating him. My cousins pulled me off and Emilio (one of my cousins) said, “Man I don’t ever want to mess with Amelia.” My dad and grandma were mad at me and said I ruined everything. I was so mad I hitchhiked home. Remember this was a dream.

            When my brothers returned home I asked D.C. about Joey. D.C. said they had seen him, and he apologized to him. I was mad. I was hurt. I felt like the only reason he did because it was convenient for him. I was mad because he could’ve written, or even called to apologize. I realized I had not forgiven him. It was easier to forgive because I didn’t have to see or deal with him.  


The common enemy

           So the common enemy I was talking about in Tomboy entry will make sence after you read this entry. My dad and mom were both partiers when they met. I ended up being a love child. Long story short my mom moved back to Portland because she wanted to raise her child in the church, and my dad followed because he knew he was going to be a father. The abuse with my mom started before I was even conceived. I don’t know why she didn’t end it there. My father became violent when he was high or drunk, cocaine was the worse. I remember one night I woke up to use the bathroom and saw my dad chocking my mom. He only had one hand on her neck; her feet were off the ground. I’ll never forget that. I don’t remember anything after that. I don’t remember if I went to the bathroom, I don’t remember turning around to go back to bed. The memory is just blank after that. A lot of my childhood is gone and I honestly don’t remember much of my childhood. My father was very abusive emotionally, physically, and psychologically. My father would grab anything within reach to spank us. There were belts, weight belts, hangers, boards, electrical cords, wooden paddles he had made, and wands from the blinds. Whenever we didn’t do anything his way we would name call, stupid, moron, swear, and just tell us how dumb and inadequate we were. We were all scared.

            Honestly I don’t know when the sexual abuse started. I’ve seen pictures and know that my older half brother was younger when he started to sexually abuse my brother and me. I know it started before I was eight. It started out with pornography. My dad had huge piles of Playboy’s that my mom didn’t know about. However my older brother from my dad’s first marriage knew where they were. He exposed us to those. He would have girlfriends over and say this is how you do it, and have sex in front of us. Then he would make my brother and I practice on each other. He would get mad when we would fight back, and make us eat raw eggs, bacon, and sometimes shoot arrows at us. He was able to get away with this because both parents worked, and he was our babysitter. He then moved on from to watching to then sexually molesting me. A lot of those experiences I remember just trying to leave my body. I don’t remember much of those years. One time he even passed me onto one of his friends. I remember that his friend looked uncomfortable, and all I thought was at least it wasn’t my brother this time.

            The abuse lasted until I was ten. I’ll never forget how happy I was that he was gone. He was wanted by the police for grand theft auto, stealing, and he had ran away. Also the reason it lasted for so long was because we could see my brother lie to my parents and they believed him. I saw my dad do drugs out in the garage with my brother. My brother even said that if we ever told he would kills all of us. We believed him because he showed us his gun. We were scared and the one time we attempted to run away to our grandma’s house. We were banging on her door to let us in and he caught us as she opened the door. He told her we didn’t want to clean our room and so that’s why we were acting the way we were. She said, “Go clean your room. Go be good kids.” I remember just crying as we left.

      The only reason I was able to tell my family after four years once it had stopped was because we had been reading the Book of Mormon as a family, and it talked about how adultery was such an evil sin. Everyone left and I just sat there staring at the scripture just feeling dirty and guilty. I broke out in tears and told my mom everything. She called my brother in and asked him if this was true, and he said it was. Now there are times that I get choked up a little talking about it. But for the most part I can share my experience with others without crying. I have always wanted to be a spokesperson for children. I want to let them know that there is always someone there who will listen. I just want children to understand that so they don’t have to let the abuse continue. I don’t want children to have to hold it in and carry such a huge burden, because the weight is so unbearable. I want to give people hope, mostly children.

Tomboy

Growing up I was one of the biggest tomboys ever! My dad taught, and treated me like a boy. He taught me how to play sports. I believe he always wanted me to be a boy. My mom has told me that I could stiff arm the best of them (she was talking about football). I have five brothers, two from my dad’s first marriage, and then I am the first of the four from my mom and dad. I didn’t have a lot of friends that were girls. There weren’t any girls in my neighborhood, so who did I play with? Yes that would be boys.

            I lived, and loved sports. We would play volleyball, football, baseball. I would climb trees, and build forts with my brothers. I would get Barbie dolls but I would cut their hair and put mud on them for camouflage, and then play G.I. Joes with my brothers. We would dig trenches and set up a war scene.

            My one brother (Don-Carlos aka D.C.) we are only a year and a half apart. So D.C. and I were very close to each other. We would do everything together! We even got in trouble together Things started to change when I started not cut my Barbie’s hair, and I would dress them up. I would then want to play house with Barbie and G.I. Joe.! I wanted G.I. Joe to be my Barbie’s hero. My brother wasn’t having it. Even though we had different taste in what we wanted to play, we were close because of age. We were also close because we had a common enemy, our older brother.


Welcome to the World

March 24, 1982 my mom started feeling a little sick after dinner which didn't seem particularly out of the ordinary since she was sick her whole pregnancy.  She hadn't made the bed yet that day so she slowly lifted the very heavy corners to tuck in the sheets before crawling into bed to watch Oliver with my dad.  But then things started to happen and after calling the doctor she knew it was time to go to the hospital even though it was almost 4 weeks early.  If she hadn't made the bed she wondered if I might have come later.  My dad tried to talk my mom out of it because he was really looking forward to watching Oliver.  Finally she told him that she was going to the hospital with or without him.  She went upstairs to let my Grandma know and they all piled in the car with her in the back seat trying to get comfortable and headed for Woodland Park where they were told to go to Portland Adventist because that is where Dr. Dyson was delivering another baby.  When we got to Portland Adventist they informed us that the doctor had left for Woodland Park.  So they got back in the car and headed for Woodland Park which would have been closer from the beginning.  This should have set up a red flag for my mom but I was my mom’s first and she thought the doctors knew what they were doing.  By this time she was having very painful contractions.  Her labor with me was pretty quick and she said, “When you have quick labor you have very little time to acclimate yourself to the onslaught.”

            After suffering intense contractions she asked for an epidural.  Dr. Dyson administered it (later she found out that this is highly irregular it should have been an anesthesiologist) and as soon as he did she experienced a pain like she had never had before or since.  It felt like a bolt of lightning had struck her in the back and in a flash travelled to the front of her head.  She could feel it move up her spine, behind her head and hook over the top and to the middle of her eyes.  When she yelled, "Oh my head!"  Dr. Dyson said "I didn't do anything."  There is only a small distance between an epidural and a spinal and he went too far.  Not only was she in excruciating pain she could not push.  Not only that but it slowed her labor down.  They had to pull me out with forceps.

            Grandma said she thought how odd it was to see a dark headed baby because all my cousins came out blonde or no hair at all.  There I was with black thick hair. My mother and grandma both thought that my dad was going to turn right around and go back to Ohio. He thought for sure that I was going to be a boy. When I came out he put his hands on his head and did a 180 degree turn. That’s when they thought he was going to leave. He eventually turned right back around. 

            My mom and I were still in the hospital 3 days later.  She had spent all 3 days on her back because of a spinal headache.  They finally did a blood patch (taking blood from her arm and plugging it in to the hole in her spine where it was leaking spinal fluid) which can be dangerous because the blood clotting can move to your head so that's why it took them 3 days to decide to do it since she wasn't getting better on her own.  Once the procedure was performed she felt 100% better.

            I was her first and she said, “I was so amazed at you.  I could hardly take my eyes off you.  In spite of a crappy beginning you were a very happy baby.”

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