But all the abuse wasn’t only at home. I was physically, sexually and emotionally abused as a member of the Jehovah’s Witness church.
My step-grandfather sexually abused me when I was very young. He also sexually abused my two sisters and a lot of other children. He was an elder at the time. The other elders found out about it but they swept it under the rug. They never took the case to the police or anything like that. Because he was an elder, and he repented of his sins, they didn’t even disfellowship him.
When I was twelve I was also sexually abused by an older kid in congregation who was maybe eighteen. I had been sexually abused from such a young age that I didn’t know any better. The kid was disfellowshipped, but I wasn’t disfellowshipped because I was so young. Even though I wasn't disfellowshipped I was shunned and they kept their eye on me.
The Jehovah’s Witness faith was very traumatic for me. Aside from being sexually abused there was the psychological component of being raised in that religion. Being so young and dealing with the 'forever deal' and demons and Satan and the ability to die at any moment and not be resurrected…it was traumatizing. There were lots of things that psychologically messed me up the head. Things that put a spin on me. I started twitching. Sometimes I would know I was twitching and sometimes I wouldn’t. Everyone said, ‘Oh it's not physical, it's just psychological.’ So they refused to take me to a doctor.
My father had been physically abusive towards me for a long time. When I was seventeen my mom told me I could live with her if I wanted to. But if I went to live with my mom I would be shunned by the entire community because my mom was still disfellowshipped. All my old friends wouldn’t be able to talk to me so I’d have to make all new friends. I struggled with what I should do.
Then there was another Friday where my dad and step-mom went out for dinner and left me home with a ton of dishes to do. So they went out to a nice place to eat and I had to clean up their dishes and eat hot dogs and mac & cheese. I was basically their live-in maid.
I thought about it and said this isn't the way things should be. I was also upset that the Jehovah’s Witness organization, which was supposed to watch out for all their members, could allow this to happen to me. I also noticed how they treated my mom. They treated women as a weaker vessel. They couldn’t even talk in meetings.
So that Friday I made the decision to go with my mom and also leave The Jehovah’s Witness faith. I left my dad a note that Friday. 'Thank you for teaching me certain skills of life. Gardening and painting and everything. I am grateful to you for teaching me those things.’ That was really the brunt of the letter. My vocabulary wasn’t too great.
My dad called me that night crying. He was balling his eyes out and pleading with me to come back. I never heard him cry. He was probably sorry and remorseful. He told me he couldn’t believe the son he raised would abandon him. He told me I was his favorite kid. That blew me away. I never thought that, I always thought I was his least favorite kid based on how he treated me.
After I got out of The Jehovah’s Witness faith I tried to get my dad out. I was like Luke sky walker trying to get Darth Vader out of the dark side. But the older he got the more entrenched he became in the faith. I saw him maybe a dozen times after I left the house. I noticed his health deteriorate. He didn’t have good control of his arms. He’d drop things. His memory was bad. His weight dropped from 550 to 180.
When I decided to move to Jacksonville my dad asked me to go out with him before he left. We went to a Chinese buffet like he always loved to do. When we finished lunch he said good luck and gave me a hug. It was the longest hug he’d ever given me, it was like he didn’t want to let me go. I think he knew this was the last time he would ever hug me. That was the last time we saw each other. He passed away two years later.
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“You've had a more difficult childhood than anyone else I've ever met.”
“Yes but I’ve had a way better life than a lot of people. I’ve always liked Bruce Lee, but I see him more as a philosopher than a martial arts star. Bruce Lee said, ‘Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.’ That’s how I’ve always looked at my life, I didn’t ask for it to be easier, I asked for more strength.”
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