When I was 4, I had a vivid vision that the moon was an ice cream shop.
The bright white color and craters would send a chill down my spine, and I associated the cold with ice cream. In one of my day dreams, I went to the moon.
Just like driving to an ice cream shop, but up. I ordered blue ice cream with sprinkles and sat inside this cold shop, staring out into dusty hills and valleys on the moon, the Earth a lovely marble in the sky.
I remember my desires, my emotions, my dreams, but I can’t remember fear at this age.
There were huge impressions stamped into me at 4 years old.
“Be a sweet little girl”
“Don’t be so loud”
“Jehovah doesn’t like this behavior.”
My parents used the Lord as a fear tactic to control my behavior. Being the scientist that I am, I always tested and pushed boundaries to see if what they said was true. In my little brain, God getting mad at me meant that a huge deluge would occur or a plague would come upon me.
I should mention I was a dramatic little girl with a strong imagination.
Cecile B Demille’s The 10 Commandments was my favorite movie.
I would always play the part of Nefretiri. She was beautiful, powerful, got to kiss Moses AND marry Rameses. It made sense that when God was angry, he would bring about frogs or boils or fire from the sky. Except, when I broke the rules set before me- none of that happened. I just got whipped and called names.
I was a wild little creature. I didn’t walk outside, I danced. I didn’t say good morning, I sang it. I loved to test, touch and spy. This fiery little being did not fit into the church or the world she was born into.
I felt things strongly and unable to hide these feelings, I couldn’t shut my mouth. This did not align with the idea that women were supposed to be submissive, mild and meek. I always had food on my face and couldn’t sit still to save my life or my behind.
This precious little girl didn’t realize she never wore the right clothes, and didn’t care. I made friends with anyone I talked to. I loved listening to people’s stories.
I made the best out of going to the Kingdom Hall.
It was a time I could sit and daydream. I had my friends that I would charm and bat my eye lashes at. One was Brother Driscoll. He had curly silver hair and dark spots on his gnarled hands, and he adored me. He’d always have a pocket full of butter scotch or peppermint. I remember one Sunday I galloped over to him and said “Whatcha got?” with a big smile. He handed me a peppermint candy and gave me a wet kiss on my cheek. I was skipping back to our seats, happy as a lamb. My older brother Jon didn’t talk a lot and kept to himself, but the fact that I had candy and he didn’t did something. He snatched my candy. He was much bigger and stronger than me, so I did what I could. I bit him.
Unfortunately, my mom was in view when this happened. She was a sturdy woman with large hands and forest green eyes. She wrenched my little arm and I knew I was getting spanked.
On our trip to the bathroom, she stopped in front of each person we passed to explain how I was a bad girl for biting my brother and that she was going to make sure I turned out right. The whole time I was wriggling to get out of her death grip, which didn’t happen.
She then stopped in front of Ben Driscoll and told my friend that I had bitten my brother and that I was bad. At first he looked confused, then he looked disappointed. I couldn’t look him in the eye. I could feel tears form in my eyes and my face got hot. I didn’t want my friend to think I was bad. I wasn’t, was I?
She whipped me good. I sat completely frozen in my seat for the rest of the day, still thinking about what happened. I had on a sky blue cotton dress, one of my favorites. My stringy blonde hair, cut into a bob. I still can see a picture of myself sitting in that seat. Questioning why that happened.
It marked a day when I was angry at my mother for not understanding, confused at myself for my emotion, and sad that my friend might think I was bad.
This idea of being the sweet little girl stayed with me into my adult life, and I couldn’t shake her.
I thought that if I catered to people and made them comfortable, then I would be safe and could earn love.
I’m not saying that parts of my personality are not sweet, but the approach and even tone of my voice when I’m playing the role is definitely not how my thoughts sound.
To me, being sweet and accepted also means not showing my feelings. Being perky and peppy despite what is really going on in my life
This sweetness started to rot my soul. I remember when I first started to get sick of it.
When my mom died I was busy planning her funeral, cleaning the house and still taking clients. I would show up for meetings upbeat and ready to work. They looked at me like I was crazy, as they should’ve seeing as how I was going through a major loss. I then proceeded to care for my husband, my dad, my friends and all the other people in my life that would say things like “You are so strong.”
I was my sweet self, pushing through it. I also developed stomach ulcers at this time. My husband couldn’t handle emotions. His discomfort caused him to pick fights with me and escape. One evening I was making him dinner, a week before my mother’s funeral and he rushes in the house upset. He shows me his phone, it was a picture of my car. “This is why you can’t have nice things. You can’t even park straight.” The thing was, it was still in between the lines. I however, was not.
“Nghia, you either stay away from me or quit your shit. I have been through enough. I need kindness and compassion, not whatever this is.” So he did. He left me alone.
My mother’s funeral was the worst day of my life. For many reasons. My dad lost his mind and was rambling family secrets to whoever would listen. My husband, who hadn’t spoken to me all week was really awkward and painful to be around. And I had to go to a Kingdom Hall again. I never imagined under any circumstances coming back here. So I made reservations for dinner for the family, got dressed and tried to be nice. It just wouldn’t click into place. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to be here.
Under sickly fluorescent lights, holding my best friends hand, I listened to a speaker talk about how great Jehovah’s Witnesses are and Armageddon. He barely even mentioned my mother. He also questioned whether she was really anointed and going to heaven as she believed. I was pissed. I hated him, I hated this place, I hated these words and this dead religion.
People wanted to come up to me and hug me after the service, but I couldn’t. I stomped out and told my husband to get me the fuck out of there. I began screaming and letting off steam, a slight tear falling. The first I had allowed for today. My mother, a woman I was so connected to yet barely knew, was gone.
I was her in a lot of ways. I see her face when I look in the mirror. I hear her words coming out of my mouth from time to time. It doesn’t scare me anymore. I want to cling to these ideas I had of her.
After a family dinner, where I drank myself silly, my friends wanted to meet up. Nghia, my husband, didn’t want to be around me anymore for the day and dropped me off. I continued to drink late into the night and wandered off on my own down a cobble stoned road to snag a cigarette. Except my heel caught, and I fell. My phone went flying, and I laid in the street, too drunk to move. I laid there crying and bleeding for what felt like an hour.
Then an angel came. It was a sweet little college girl and her friends. They helped me up, tried to find my friends and eventually called my husband for me.
Nghia was so angry. He wouldn’t speak to me on the car ride home.
My phone had been picked up and I had no way to contact my friends or family. The day after my mother’s funeral and I was completely shut off and out. He kept saying things like “You shouldn’t be so wreckless. I’m not getting you a new phone.”
A week in Dallas miserable, I was typing on my ipad to my girlfriend Jenny who said “You kidding me? Amy, you’re an adult with a bank account. BUY A FUCKING PHONE.” And it clicked. The power Nghia held over me wasn’t real. I was accepting this invisible cage. This was the end of my marriage. Gone was Sweet Amy who cowers and accepts, this new Amy was still transitioning. She began to test, to touch, to spy.