In this memoir, Christie trudges through the debris of her childhood which was marked by illness and physical, psychological, and sexual abuse. Some of her experiences felt like her life was about to change for the better, only to have her world come crashing down again. The peaks and valleys were almost more than she could bear. The Unintended Journey of a Soul exposes these experiences, raw and uncompromised.
Christie also tells how from a young age, she had an inner knowing that an energy force was always with her and how at age fifty she discovered she was a healer of many, finally realizing her calling and her purpose. She reflects on her experiences intent on helping others start their own healing process.
The Unintended Journey of a Soul narrates a story about the long, arduous path that brought Christie from darkness into light and from the depths of despair to heights unimaginable.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)|
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Let us remember; one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.
It all began on January 30, 1958, when Hope-Anne Christie entered the world at 3:02 p.m. I was declared a healthy eight-pound baby girl born to Betty and Harold Christie at a city hospital in New Hampshire.
At the time of my conception, my father was married to another woman, had a young daughter with her, and was working at a local shoe factory as a machinist. My mother worked at the same shoe factory, and that is where they'd met. My mother grew up in foster homes and orphanages after her biological mother gave her up at birth. She had been given a bogus name and was forever lost in the world, unaware of her biological roots. She was starving for any kind of human connection, so she was the perfect target for my father when he decided to stray from his marital commitments.
My mother became pregnant with me in May 1957 as a result of my parents' affair. Once my mother informed my father of the impending pregnancy, he decided to end the affair. He gave her money and told her he never wanted to see her again. Once again, Betty was alone in the world with no significant human connections, no support, and no idea of how she even became pregnant.
I interviewed her many years later when I was a college student, asking her the details of this time in her life. She stated she had no idea how life really worked. She'd grown up primarily with nuns in the orphanages, and sex was never allowed as a topic of discussion. She further stated that she'd had no idea how long a woman was pregnant or how a baby found its way out of a woman's body.
I never learned what became of my mother during the months following my father's departure. What I do know is that somehow my father found my mother during her eighth month of pregnancy and said he wanted to make things right. By that, he meant that he wanted to marry her so I would have both parents once I was born. Apparently, my father's first wife had died of a brain tumor, and after the funeral, he went searching for my mother.
In those days, there were very few children born out of wedlock and even fewer couples getting divorced. My parents got married in December 1957, and I was born in January 1958.
Do what you can with what you have where you are.
— Theodore Roosevelt
The home I lived in with my parents for the first seven years of my life had belonged to my father and his first wife. After my father married my mother, they lived in this house until 1965. When my brother Daniel was born, my mother decided they needed to sell the house and look for a bigger place since she felt there wasn't enough room for two children.
The home was situated on a large corner lot in a city in New Hampshire. It was a two-bedroom, one-bath home with a living room, a kitchen, and a dining room. To this day, I remember the rooms well. My bedroom had a large walk-in closet where I truly believed monsters lived at night; a floor with nursery rhymes written all over it; and a light-brown-colored crib with a picture of a bear on the end. The bathroom had a claw-foot bathtub, a sink, and a toilet with a black seat. My parents' room was crowded with furniture but seemed cozy to me. My mother complained about wanting a new bedroom set since my father had slept in the same bed with his previous wife. (He never did give in to her request.)
The living room had a sofa, a chair, a rocking chair, a piano, a black-and-white television, and a large stereo. The carpet was a light salmon color and only covered the middle of the floor, leaving the hardwood floors exposed along the edges. The kitchen had a table and chairs, double porcelain sinks, a stove, and a refrigerator. But the best part of the whole property was the yard. My father once told me his older daughter, Dorothy, had a horse that she used to ride there. That large yard was where I played for endless hours when I wasn't in the hospital with one illness or another.
My parents' marriage was not made in heaven by any means. They argued often and complained constantly. I can't remember a time in my entire childhood when my parents appeared to even like each other, never mind love each other. My mother had few domestic skills and even fewer parenting skills, which appeared to frustrate my father. He had to teach his wife virtually everything related to daily living. He acted more like her father than mine.
Looking back on those days, I realize that my mother married a father figure since she was lacking one as a child herself. In fact, in many ways, she was still very much a child.
My father had the same routine every day. He got up at four in the morning, sat in his favorite chair, and smoked cigarettes, always using the same ashtray and drinking coffee from the same cup. As a child, my bedroom door was always left slightly open, and I can remember lying in my crib watching him as he meandered around the kitchen in the early morning. Looking back on those days, it occurs to me that my father hated change.
I was a brown-eyed, redheaded child who most people in my small world knew simply as Carrottop. I don't think anyone ever knew me as Hope-Anne. I was anxious and cried a lot. I was deathly afraid of monsters under my bed, in my closet, and on my dresser. Thunderstorms were the worst. I was immobilized with fear when I saw the first spark of lightning. Then when the thunder hit, watch out! I shook and cried — and screamed, yelled, and cried some more until it was over.
I was also a sickly child from as far back as I can remember. I realize now that I was conditioned to believe I was a sickly child. My mother seemed to create stories constantly about my dire illnesses and impending death. That's right — I said death. She repeatedly told me and others that I would die by my seventh birthday from a condition called cystic fibrosis, a hereditary upper-respiratory illness resulting in frequent hospitalizations and early death.
People's reactions to this seemed to excite her. But for a young mother mourning the impending death of her only child, she appeared very happy. That was confusing to me as a child. I wondered if she would even miss me when I died. She appeared to thrive on my being sick, whether I was or not. It is as baffling to me today as it was to me then — how she created such believable stories with whatever she felt like diagnosing. The results for me were repeated hospitalizations.
After writing this paragraph, it occurred to me there is a mental health condition called Munchausen syndrome by proxy. After careful research, I discovered how similar my experiences were to children whose female caretakers made up nonexistent medical conditions. This was exactly my experience. I often wondered why my mother was telling doctors, nurses, friends, or anyone who would listen how sick I was all the time when I felt healthy. She'd get so angry when I disputed her claim. Her rage discouraged me from saying anything contrary to her version of the story.
My second home was a small city hospital in New Hampshire. The pediatric ward was on the sixth floor and overlooked a busy street that was well traveled by hundreds of vehicles a day. I remember struggling to gaze out the windows, which had metal crossbars on them, and listening to the beeping horns and loud trucks. Seeing and hearing traffic seemed to connect me to the world outside my imposed prison.
In the evening, church bells chimed at exactly 6:00 p.m. At 8:00 p.m., the hospital played the Ave Maria song over the loudspeaker. Both the bells and the song made me cry uncontrollably. I'm not sure why I cried, but at the time, all I could think about was God. Now that I'm living my life as a spiritual healer, teacher, and mentor, I wonder if I was missing Him.
When my parents would take me to the hospital, I'd scream hysterically as soon as we drove into the parking lot. I fought as hard as I could and begged them to take me home. When my father reached into the car to retrieve me, I kicked, arched my back, and violently flailed my hands and arms. My parents were forced to hold me down as the nurse placed the name bracelet on my wrist. I was destined to stay despite my disapproval. The sixth floor would be my home for what seemed like an eternity.
The pediatric ward had an antiseptic smell that I hated with every cell of my being. It seemed to trigger a deep and abiding sadness inside of me that I could not describe to anyone. Tears came easily as that smell permeated everything around me. It seemed to be in everything, including the sheets, the pillow, and even my skin!
The first day was always the hardest and most traumatic for me. I resisted all efforts to keep me there. I was terrified, and I rebelled as I screamed, kicked, and tried to climb out of my crib. Eventually, a nurse would come into my room and tie my wrists and ankles to the bars in the railings while I lay flat on my back. I was tied down and couldn't move anything but my head. The screaming continued for hours on end until I was so exhausted that sleep simply took over my body. My parents were nowhere to be found. Unlike today, there were specific visiting hours twice a day in hospitals: the afternoon from one to three o'clock and evenings from seven to eight.
The nurses back then all dressed alike. Each wore a white stiff-looking cap, a white uniform dress, white nylon stockings, and white shoes. Some had a stripe on either side of their cap; some didn't. Among the nurses, there was one who absolutely hated me, as she stated many times. I called her the redheaded nurse because I was too young to read her name tag. She had auburn-colored hair, as I remember now, but that was the only way I knew to describe her to anyone. She was very rough and seemed to take pleasure in hurting me.
In those days, children's temperatures were taken rectally with a glass thermometer. When she took my temperature, unlike other nurses, she would jam the thermometer so far up my rectum it would cause excruciating pain. Another time, I remember being tied to the crib railings at about the age of three while lying flat on my back unable to move. The redheaded nurse suddenly appeared at my crib side and stated she'd be taking my temperature. I was horrified. The terror caused me to suddenly vomit everything I had eaten that day. She literally had the power to turn my stomach in an instant.
She took off my diaper, raised my nightgown, spread my legs, and jammed the thermometer deep into my vagina as I lay there helpless. I remember her face as the cold glass penetrated deep into my body in ways I could not even imagine something could go. She was laughing and staring straight into my eyes as they welled up with tears, and she stated, "Don't you dare cry." I was scared to death.
After that incident, I was so afraid of this nurse I would vomit just at the sight of her. I tried to tell my parents, the other nurses, and my doctor who she was, but nobody knew who I was talking about. Or maybe they did know but because I was a kid nobody cared. As a result, the abuse lasted for years.
However, during one of my hospitalizations, at the age of eleven, I could finally describe in detail who this redheaded nurse was. My doctor said he would take care of the matter, and he kept his promise. During one of the morning shifts, the redheaded nurse came to my bedside with tears in her eyes stating she had lost her job because of me. I never saw her again.
Each time I was admitted to the hospital, one of the routine events that took place was getting an enema. There was a common belief during the 1960s that if we were cleansed of all toxins, we would recover more quickly. This was the method they used to cleanse the system. I dreaded the enemas of that time because the nurse would literally have a quart of soapy water in a white porcelain container with a rubber tube punctured through the bottom of that container, and at the other end, the end that went into my rectum, there was an attachment with holes in it designed to allow the soapy water to drain through the tube and into my intestines. The nurse always instructed me to hold this soapy water for fifteen minutes before I could let it out.
A quart of any liquid in a child's rectum is way too much to hold for any amount of time, never mind fifteen minutes! I thought I was going to explode every time I was forced to experience this torture. I never made it beyond five minutes before the foul-smelling solution came flooding out of me. To make things worse, I was forced to use a stainless-steel bedpan, which was oftentimes unstable at best and not big enough at worst to hold it all. This resulted in the bowel-filled smelly mess getting all over my bedsheets.
I was beyond embarrassed. The nurses were beyond frustrated with me, as they were forced to change my entire bed. The nurse oftentimes picked me up and slammed me into a chair where I sat while she changed the bedsheets. I recall how physically and emotionally painful this entire experience was, and I couldn't understand why I had to endure such pain. After all, I didn't even feel sick.
Once any of my hospital stays was nearing the end, my parents made their appearance more often during visiting hours. I don't remember being told exactly why I had been there, how long, or where my parents were during my ordeal, but I was sure happy to be leaving that horrid place.
When you know better you do better.
— Maya Angelou
One early-spring morning when I was ten, I woke up to go to the bathroom as I did every other morning, and I discovered I had blood in my underwear and lots of abdominal cramps. I was horrified! I had no idea what was going on, and I thought I was going to die. Panic rushed through my entire body in an instant, leaving me a nervous wreck.
On top of it all, I dreaded waking my mother because she had such a volatile temper. I knew I would get in trouble even though it wasn't my fault, but I was scared, and the fear pushed me to wake my mother from her slumber. After a brief spell of swearing and yelling at me, she began to digest the information I had just shared with her. She immediately sprang from her bed and stated that we needed to go to the hospital emergency room right away because I was going to bleed to death if we didn't hurry.
Off we went to the hospital, where I was once again a patient. This was a new hospital for me, though. The staff appeared a lot more gentle and compassionate than the previous hospital I had been in. They talked to me and explained all the procedures they were about to perform and why. The best part was that I did not need an enema. This was becoming less frightening than anything else I had experienced in a hospital setting.
The nurses told me they needed to put a catheter into my bladder to see if I was bleeding from there. Again, they explained everything, including the fact that I probably had simply started my period. Once the procedure was complete, the nurses told me there was no blood in my bladder and they would be testing me to see if I had started my first period. Sure enough, that's what it was! Once again, my mother made a crisis out of something very natural. My menstruation had begun at the age of ten.
Later that afternoon, I heard the nurses talking in the hallway right outside the door to my room. They were discussing how crazy my mother was and how she had insisted that I endure such invasion into my body when I had simply started my period. On top of it all, they stated that my mother wouldn't accept the diagnosis; she insisted there was something more seriously wrong and that ten-year-old girls don't start their periods. According to their comments, my mother was really upset.
This was confirmation to me that my instincts were right. She was making it all up to get attention. Everything was a crisis all the time. The nursing staff must have felt sorry for me for having such a crazy mother, but they were amazing to me. They brought me anything I wanted, and they were kind to me, acting as if I really mattered. This was the first time in my life anyone had made me feel like a real human being.
I remember this day as a turning point. A beam of light shined through all the dark clouds, showing me there was something beyond my parents, my pain, and my despair. I sat in my bed and wallowed around in this blissful feeling for a long time. I really mattered to those nurses, and I was beginning to wonder who else I would matter to in my life. I felt excited and happy that these events had happened exactly the way they did, because if they hadn't, I wouldn't have experienced this. How wonderful life could be if I could feel wanted, needed, and loved all the time!
Excerpted from "The Unintended Journey of a Soul"
Copyright © 2018 Hope-Anne Christie.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
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