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Topic: Rejoicing (11/22/04)
TITLE: My name is Alice Crawley
By Henry Swart
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I was born Alice Bradbury Crawley, which later lead to the nickname ABC in primary school. My mother was an alcoholic and my father was abusive, and so I was born with a hangover and a swollen eye. My mother couldn’t understand why I kept crying all the time; she didn’t know that that’s what alcoholic babies do. My father despised my crying and initially – so I’m told – tried to beat me into silence, the way he did with my mom. When he realized that his abuse only made me cry more, he started beating my mom until she silenced me. I spent much of my infant years with my mothers shaking hand over my mouth.
My father didn’t like me. I know because he told me so on many occasions. He made it perfectly clear that his life had been just fine until I arrived – I was the cause of their marital problems, their financial problems, and the worsening in my mother’s drinking problem. I was the root of the problem, and he hated me for it. I grew up in the dark shadow of this hatred and rejection and learned from an early age to disappear, to blend into the background; people cannot hurt what they cannot see.
To be honest, I was terrified of school. By the age of six I had realized that people were the main cause of hurt and rejection, and my little six-year-old mind told me that more people meant more hurt and rejection. Attending a school with hundreds of people in it was a bad idea. My first day at school loomed before me like a menacing dog, growling and threatening to attack. It didn’t charge, though, it just sort of sneaked up on me in a very purposeful, day-by-day manner. The night before I cried myself to sleep and the morning of my first school-day I kicked and screamed, but to no avail. Strangely enough my dad did not beat me for making a fuss, but just commanded my mom to get me out of his sight.
In many ways school was even worse than I expected. I did not get beaten up – not on that first day, at least – but the teasing and taunting started as soon as our teacher asked us to state our full names for the register. Alice Bradbury Crawley became “the worlds only illiterate ABC” and “Creepy Crawley.” The children at school were quick to set up a pecking list, and I once again found myself at the bottom of the food-chain. They found in me a ready victim who would only drop her head in shame whenever the teasing started. My fat little body and cheap clothes made me most suited for the role. I was cast into the role of punching bag during my very first day at school, and I fulfilled my role perfectly, since I had spent the previous six year rehearsing for it.
The few things I found comfort in only seamed to make life worse. I had found comfort in food, but that had only made me fat, giving my tormentors more ammunition. I eventually tried to find comfort in the arms of young men whose hyperactive hormones had made them desperate, which only lead to a reputation as the “village bicycle” and more teasing. And the young men who had so passionately loved me the one day, would hate me the next; I hated them right back.
And so my love-hate relationship with men continued. I desperately wanted, and needed, their love, but their would eventually hate me, and I would hate them back. The fact that I seemed to need Dad and all my other male tormentors made me hate them even more. I became convinced that men were the problem, and just when I started to believe there was no solution, I finally found it.
Ironically my solution came to me in the form of a man. His name is Jesus and He gave me the acceptance I needed. He gave me the grace to forgive and the hope that if He could love me, then other men could too.
My name is Alice Crawley, and this is my story. It is history – His story of love, forgiveness, and a victim who became a victor.