back to the beginning….

Last night was the final Wesley
My final Wesley and the end of the most transforming years of my life to date.
I can’t believe I have to say good bye

Over a vanilla latte (which provides its own special comfort) Mason reminded me that though Wesley is the place where all of these incredible changes occurred in me it is not the cause. He told me that I had to hold onto the fact that it was God who worked those changes in me; he simply used what Wesley is and the people there to do it. I don’t have to return to my former broken identity simply because i’m leaving. He told me I was a strong woman and I needed to hear that. I’m strong because of these past six years. I’m strong because of the relationship i’ve been forming with God during those years and when I walk away from Wesley I won’t be doing it alone.

Over the last couple of days I have had opportunities to reminisce about the past. Several of you have asked me questions which had me recalling the choices and events that brought me to this point. It’s been a long time since I really thought about my testimony. That’s just not right because God is incredible. He proved that time and time again through the things he has done in my life and I need to leap at every opportunity to share how loving a pursuer he is.

So bear with me because this is my testimony…

I was born in Caracas, Venezuela and spent the first 3 years of my life in an orphanage in the Caracas barrio (that’s the spanish equivalent of a ghetto for all you americanos ;p). My birth-mother was a prostitute and my birth-father was a “client” of hers. I know that I have approximately a dozen siblings somewhere out there in the world but I only know two of them; my little sister Brittany and my older brother Jofre. Jofre is two years older than me and that unfortunately means he is old enough to remember the filth that was going on around him. He has a scar across his tongue where one of my mother’s clients cut him but I think that is the least of his scars. I didn’t know anything about his experiences until he sat me down and told me when I was 15. My brother is a survivor and a fighter. He’d have to be or I wouldn’t be able to proudly tell you he is now a U.S. marine :)

When I was around 3 yrs. old Brittany, Jofre and I were brought to the states by Maureen H. She had adopted us and most likely saved our lives. I’ll never forget her telling me how the nuns at the orphanage tried to discourage her from choosing Brittany because they expected her to die and that if she didn’t she would never walk or talk. Brittany happens to speak just fine and she was always the natural athlete of the family so what do Venezuelan nuns know anyway. Maureen obviously ignored their advice and brough all three of us home only to decide she didn’t want my brother a year later and turned him over to the state for adoption. My brother was raised by Wendy and Bill; parents who love him very dearly. He has to carry the most pain with him from his time in Venezuela so I think it was God’s way of protecting Jofre from what was coming next. The Lord knows our limitations and isn’t going to allow us to experience more than we can overcome.

Maureen was married to Ron, a well-to-do doctor in Long Island, New York. She’d never even told him of her plans to adopt. She and her girlfriends flew to Venezuela and each picked out children the way they would purses. She had set things in motion before ever giving him a say. I think we were simply the next step in constructing a very contrived yet very attractive image among her circle. From what I can recall the first couple of years were actually very nice. Then the divorce began and all hell broke loose. It was something right out of the War of Roses. This divorce took seven years and was a bitter battle that included accusations of alcoholism, drug use, adultry and abuse. My sister and I were simply along for the ride.

When I was 9 my mother stuck me in my first foster home. She did the same to my sister who was 7. She spent the next several years throwing us in and out of homes anytime she thought we were becoming a burden. Some of the homes were fine and some were not but I almost always preferred them to being with Maureen. I was young and naive enough to think that everytime they were sending me home it was because I was “cured”. Whatever was in me that made Maureen have to give me up had been fixed and now I wouldn’t anger her anymore and we’d be happy. And we would be for a time. But then the abuse would start again and the reasons to lash out at me or my sister would begin piling up until my mother was always mad; always disappointed in me.

I have spent the past 6 yrs battling an broken identity that my mother helped create. I thought it was normal to be told by a parent how much you were despised and how little you were worth. Mothers don’t say those things to their daughters unless they’re true. My mother didn’t put her hands on me very often. The physical abuse didn’t get to its worst point until I was out of the home. Unfortunately this means Brittany experienced the brunt of that. I see Brittany very rarely but when I have spoken to her I see and hear my mother in her. She destroyed something inside my sister and it makes it very hard to even pray that I can forgive her let alone actually do it.

When I was 13 we moved to Florida during one of the times Brittany and I happened to be with Maureen. I made a friend in my new school named Lindsay and her mother Lynn was very kind to me. She was also a single mother raising 4 kids but they were pretty happy and Lynn loved her children. Watching them gave me more strength than I had ever had before and I started questioning my mother’s total control rather than cowering in the corner. It made her furious. So much so that I think in order to hurt me she revealed that my adoption had never been finalized. She said she didn’t sign the final papers to give herself a way out. “it’s easier to give a kid up if you don’t sign the final papers”. I went away to camp the summer I was 14 and while I was there Lynn showed up with a letter from my mother telling them to release me into her care. My mother had packed up all of my belongings and given me to Lynn while I was gone. She’d simply handed me over. Except for the fact that I was leaving Brittany behind I was ecstatic. Lynn was great and I lived with her and her kids for four really great months and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and the state took me away. They investigated Maureen and in the end terminated all of her parental rights for me but somehow she unfortunately retained custody of Brittany. I was a ward of the state and a month before my 15th birthday I was sent to Melbourne, FL to live in a group home that housed 45 girls on the grounds. I stayed there until I graudated high school at 17.

I was raised with both the Catholic and Jewish faith as well as in a very new age/reincarnation/mysticism environment. By the time I made it to the home in Melbourne I was very disillusioned and angry and refused to ever step foot in a church again. What do I want with a God who sits back and watches the things that happened to me and to the girls around me. Instead I created my own patchwork religion; taking what I wanted from everything from buddhism to wicca.

I was accepted into UCF and came to orlando on my own at 17. I got myself an apartment and a job and got ready to start a new life. I was (and some would argue still am) a staunch feminist and liberal who was on the path to law school and then onto a career where I could petition for the causes of women and children; only veering off course for a time to do work for an organization such as the peace corps. I had life planned out in minute detail. God must have been having a field day with that. It was during the second (miserable) week of school that I asked the girl standing next to me in front of the bookstore to point out the way to the busstop. Instead she gave me a ride home and invited me to a BBQ that week. Imagine my surprise when my new friend Kim pulled up in front of University Carillon United Methodist church the night of the BBQ. I was horrified. I hadn’t been in a church in years and everything in me wanted to run. It ended up being a fairly normal evening. I met a lot of very cool people and had a good time. I wasn’t freaked out until the band got on stage, everyone stood up, put their hands in the air, and started singing about dancing in some river with God. Help!!

Okay I have to go now but I will finish this tomorrow.
thank you for reading.


2 thoughts on “back to the beginning….

  1. ana- thanks for sharing!!! some of these details i didn’t know before i read this. thanks for your vulnerability. can’t wait to read the rest… keep writing!
    love you friend

  2. I love it you’re making me cry, and you’re almost to the best part, other than meeting Jesus, when you met me :)

    And just because I’m just that cheesy and I’ve been thinking this since Tuesday, you’re like the baby bird in the nest and it’s time to spread your wings and fly. Gosh I should work for Hallmark!

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