This I Believe

Andee - Cathedral City, California
Entered on May 31, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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“No, no, no! She will not associate with those people! She will end up just like her brother, is that what you want?” This is a quote by my father, and I believe that no five year old child should hear things like this. Most of the memories I have of my father and my childhood involve arguments between my parents over their children.

Due to my father’s extremely strict rules that are guided by my religion’s very strict standards, I cannot say that I have ever had a “normal life”. My dad will not allow me to have friends other than the people in my religion. If I were to have a friend outside of my religion my dad would yell at me and say I was going to die. For this I have always been shy and out of place. My brother who is now thirty one years old once experienced the same mental abuse as I do now. My father has told us how disappointed he is in us and how he wishes he could have better kids. I will never forgive him for his words and actions towards my brother and myself. My father constantly reminds us how he will not accept us or help us if we do not conform exactly to his beliefs. Even worse, my father always stresses how if you do not comply precisely with our religion’s rules, you will die in “Armageddon”. This continues to haunt me to this day. Why? Because each and every day as a child I would cry and wait for the moment that the world would end and I would suffer a horrid and painful death. I believe that no child should be afraid of dieing every single day of her life.

I have to hide everything my father does not approve of. A few things that I hide would include the friends that I have, my boyfriend of three years, going to school dances, and most of all disagreeing on aspects of my religion. This makes me mentally and physically sick. I believe this is what causes eating disorders and the fear to live life. My mother would always tell me to stop being paranoid. She used to support me and be on my side, until I tried to live my own life. I recently decided to live my life for myself and not my parents. Instead of forcing myself to conform to my parent’s personal beliefs and values, I am going to live by mine. I am not going to alienate myself from my friends, hide my boyfriend from my dad, or be submissive to my father’s demands. I will not let him tear me down. He took my voice away but now I am taking it back. I am sick of being told I am a bad person for having friends, or being punished for accepting people in my life that I love and who love me. I can think for myself and ignore the hurtful words they say to me.

I believe in love. I believe in dancing like no one is watching. I have many dreams that most would say are impossible for me to achieve. People, mainly my father, think that I will not be able to be independent, have a respectable career, or have a happy and eternal marriage. I believe they are wrong. I am going to dance. I am going to love. I am going to be a wife and I am going to prove them wrong. I will be all the things they think I cannot be even if it kills me. I am going to live each day as it was my last. What gets me through the day? My Pointe shoes, my ballet classes, my two pit-bull puppies, my boyfriend, brother, and sister-in-law. These things I could not live without and I believe they saved my life. I believe that I have wasted so many years of my youth to being afraid. I can never get those back. I believe life is too short. I am learning to let go.

I now believe that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I live by the guidance of many quotes in my life but one in particular. I believe Johnny Cash said it best… “I focused on the pain. The only thing that’s real… Try to kill it all away but I remember everything…What have I become? My sweetest friend, everyone I know goes away in the end. And you could have it all, my empire of dirt I will let you down I will make you hurt. I wear this crown of thorns upon my liar’s chair, full of broken thoughts I cannot repair. Beneath the stains of time the feelings disappear you are someone else I am still right here. If I could start again a million miles away, I would keep myself I would find a way.”