God In My Closet: One Woman’s Journey from Darkness to Light
I was seven when my mother shut me in a closet. Today I know she was only passing on to me the legacy of darkness she inherited: a legacy of poverty, addiction, and abuse. The things that happened to me in my dark childhood drove me to madness, and almost drove me to death. But the dark was also where I met my best friend, God. I’ve been talking to Him since. Sometimes I’ve asked Him angry questions like, “How could You let people do those things to me?” Mostly our conversations have led me back to laughter, love, and hope. I believe in sharing my blessings, so now I’m writing my memoir, God In My Closet: One Woman’s Journey from Darkness to Light, to be released in 2019. I want to share my story with everyone who has known the dark, to remind us all it’s always possible to find our way back to the light. Here’s a sample of what to expect when you buy your copy:
God In My Closet
One Woman’s Journey from Darkness to Light
Mom started staying at Natalie’s all night, coming home drunk, smashed, whatever. My brothers and me learned to cook our own mac-and-cheese. Sometimes we had a babysitter, one of ma’s friends in the projects willing to help for free. We stayed up late a lot.
One night, us kids were upstairs running around giggling, playing cops-and-robbers or whatever us-versus-them game would lead to a good chase. I was wearing my panties and little white undershirt with lacy straps, because it was summer, too hot and sweaty for my Strawberry Shortcake nightie.
Downstairs, the screen door banged, and that acted like a gunshot, silencing us. My mother’s voice boomed up the stairs, a loud but garbled, “What the hell’s going on up there?” That was all we needed to know she was drunk as a skunk. We ran for it, trying to outrace her to our beds. I switched off my light, jumped into bed, pulled the covers over my head, and pretended to sleep.
My mother stumbled upstairs, yelling, “I hear all you running around! Your asses should be sleeping!”
I knew she knew there was no way I was asleep, but I still didn’t move.
She charged through my doorway. “Sonya! What’s all that noise?!”
My heart beat like it might explode, but if I kept my eyes closed she couldn’t prove I was up after bedtime.
She yanked the covers off. My bedroom light was off, but the lights of the projects bled through the window, so I saw the switch go off behind her raging eyes. “You’re naked!” She sounded like I’d committed worse than murder.
Was she blind? Couldn’t she see I had clothes on? “Ma, I’m not naked! I got my panties and t-shirt on! See, I’m wearing clothes!”
But she was already screaming and slapping me, no stopping her now. “Why are you running around naked with your brothers?”
“I am not! Ma, I am not naked. I have clothes on.” I pointed at my clothes. Here was my white t-shirt. Here were my panties, always a clean pair because that was important to my mother.
But her palms turned into fists, punched me until I curled into a ball to protect myself. “Put some clothes on! Don’t you ever walk around here with just your panties and t-shirt!” She was everywhere, smacking, pounding, scratching. Her face spit rage while she dug her nails into my face to try and rip it apart. I felt skin tear. The worst part was her acting like I was lying when I was telling the truth.
“Get out of bed!”
I scrambled to my feet and wrapped my arms around myself, trying to look less naked. “Ma!”
She dragged me to the window and opened it. What was she doing? I yelled at the top of my lungs, “Mom! I am–”
She grabbed me by my undershirt’s skinny strap, and it snapped right off so the shirt slipped down and exposed my flat seven-year-old chest. Then she took me by the throat in one hand and with one furious thrust, hung me out my second-story window.
I knew our concrete porch was directly below. I screamed, sure any second I’d fall and crack my head open on those steps. Her fingers choked tighter, and I thought she might strangle me. Still I prayed she wouldn’t let go, because those fingers were the only thing keeping me from falling. With one of my hands over her hand, I reached out the other, clawing for the sill.
“Mom, please!” I shrieked. “Let me in!”
I screamed louder, hoping to bring neighbors to my rescue. “Oh my God! Help me! Somebody help me!” Hundreds of people lived in the buildings around us, but nobody came outside.
My mother’s gonna kill me, I thought, right here, right now.
Someone ran into the room. I heard my eleven-year-old brother, Devon, yell, “Ma? Ma! What the hell are you doing?!” Seemed like he clung to my mother with one hand, reached out the window and grabbed my hand with the other, held on to both for dear life, and hauled me back inside. I clung onto Devon, my big brother who always saved the day.
I was bleeding from my face and shoulder. My t-shirt hung in tatters. My underwear looked like somebody had shredded it with scissors. If I wasn’t naked before, I felt that way now. I couldn’t stop sobbing.
My mother yanked me from Devon and shook me again.
Devon tried to pull me free, “Mom, get off!”
“Get your ass back in bed!”
He gave me a helpless look and left.
Now I was alone with her again, wondering what could be next.
“Get your black ass in that closet!” She pointed one sharp fingernail at my closet.
So I walked right into it. What else was I supposed to do?
To learn more about my story, please follow this blog, where I’ll post excerpts from my memoir, share stories of my life today, and keep you posted on when you can buy your copy of God In My Closet.