Renee- July 7, 2008
A bright spotlight illuminates the mid section of the hospital bed. Renee, that’s a good name for her, lays there as she clenches the side rails wanting her baby to be outside her pregnant belly. In a couple of weeks, this light will be used during the birthing process to better enable the doctors to see the crowning of the baby. It is almost one in the morning and we’ve been here for over an hour. They say it is better to be safe than sorry, and since I’ve never had a kid of my own, we better stay on the safe side.
As I listen to the girls chat about their pregnancies and what they are going through, I sit there in amazement of how they have lived at such a young age. Personally, I don’t want children of my own till about 28 and originally I wanted to be married a good five years before then. Plans change however and who knows when any of that will occur. I’ll be 23 next month and living life merely as it comes. I have to deal with enough surprises between work and school. To deal with a surprise pregnancy, decide to keep or give the baby up for adoption, the aftermath of no sleep and caring constantly for another human being… from what I’ve seen and learned from the girls I work with, this is no easy process.
Renee is lying on her side with another resident’s baby sleeping in her arms. When I first started at the house, Renee was 13- that’s 8th grade age. Even though she sounds like a five year old on the phone, she’s a tough girl. At age 11, she had already been placed on house arrest for driving a car into a house while intoxicated. With a sister 10 years older, going out is made easy while her single mother works late hours to provide a home. They say sports are supposed to keep kids out of trouble, but Renee was on the swim team and was one of the best. For such a young girl, how did she get herself into this predicament?
While working a Friday and Saturday shift, equivalent to about 43 hours straight, we went to a Sunday morning church service. I had heard that none of them like to stay seated and that one refused to do anything but word searches during the preaching. Oddly, they chose to sit in the third row from the front out of about 20 possible, and stayed alert the whole time. Instead of the pastor preaching, we watched a video of a girl who spoke about her relationship with her father.
We search for acceptance in our parents eyes. We long to be loved and to know that even though we may push the limits at times, someone is stable enough to have arms outstretched to us when we fail. We open ourselves to others hoping for the best.
Yet, once we have been hurt or disappointed, we wonder what happened and then may go to extremes to get their “acceptance” once again. We believe them when sorry is said for hurting us and we put aside our hesitations. It becomes a pattern of longing for love and acceptance, being hurt by people we trust, and falling into unhealthy relationships.
Renee fell into this pattern. While swimming the day before, we talked about our fathers or lack there of. None of our biological parents are still together, and our father’s are unreliable, addicted to something, and not the best example of a man we would one day like to be with to raise a family. Renee loved her father, but his lack of being a dad affected her in many ways. He would make a promise to her, not fulfill it, she would forgive him, and she didn’t understand why her dad didn’t love her enough to stay around. She wanted his acceptance, yet he would be too drunk, too high, too lethargic in his mother’s basement to give Renee the love she needed.
This is the girl that had been drinking since age 10. During the drive to McCallister’s for lunch, she went on about how every time she would do drugs or drink, she couldn’t fully enjoy herself because in the back of her mind she knew how much these habits have ruined her fathers life and also her relationship with him. Maybe she used her own illegal substance abuse to get closer to her father. The effects of everything gushed into other areas in her life- one’s she’s not so proud of now.
Since she wasn’t able to find the acceptance needed by her father, she turned to searching for it from other men. Well, really boys. Alcohol mixed with junior high hormones makes a stew of experimental tendencies with not good results. Have you ever been alone with the opposite sex, blood running hot from strong emotions of wondering what being beside them would be like, to he held by them and to forget about all the worries waiting to ambush once you step out the door? You take a deep breath, close your eyes, and hope for just once everything will be okay and you will live happily ever after.
For Renee, her acceptance with guys turned into sexual favors. She wanted to be close to one in particular and when something bad would happen, sex would bring him back. There was a false sense of security in his arms. Maybe he does care about her. He was her first kiss at age eight. Six years later, and they are still playing the “love” game. I have seen the tears slide down her cheek when phone conversations have turned ugly with him. Deep down, she does care about the boy who gave her the first kiss.
I wish I could say he was the father of Renee’s 6 pound 3 ounce baby still growing inside her, but he’s not. At some point, Renee smartened up and decided not to be alone with guys. She wouldn’t go over to a house unless the parents were there for some accountability. One day, a guy she had known for some time called to see if she would come over to hang out. Let’s call him Nate.
When Renee walked through Nate’s door, she asked where his parents were and he had lied about them being there. Renee was going to leave, but he coerced her into staying for just a few and to have a glass of water on the hot day before walking back home. She sat down, turned the television on, sipped on the water, and a few minutes later, her eyes were fuzzy and she felt relaxed. She asked what was going on, and Nate replied with some snide comment about how Renee wanted him and she was going to get him today.
Maybe he knew that she had been sexually active with her long time friend. Maybe he secretly had been jealous and wanted her for himself. Maybe he was upset from the previous times of being turned down and wanted to take control into his own hands. He decided for Renee that he was going to be the best thing she ever had as he kissed her passively submissive body.
She told him no but the drug he had placed in her drink wouldn’t allow her to move fully to get away. She tried to stop him by crossing her legs with all her might but he was six years older and much stronger. She began to cry as he had his way with her. She stumbled home that day shocked of what had just happened.
Renee told her mother and the police were contacted. After sharing her story, they didn’t believe her. They didn’t believe a young girl could remember his vulgar phrases or his harsh physical touch. They said that when on the date rape pill, the girl wouldn’t be able to remember a thing and basically called her a liar.
Nate is getting prosecuted but not to the full extent in which he deserves. Renee had never been involved with him before, yet Nate’s knowledge of her past somehow made him think he could take advantage of her. She had fallen into a pattern of trying to find acceptance from guys using their sexual desires and this back lashed on her. How was she to know that her actions once thought were innocent would turn into a pregnancy from a violent rape?
The nurse left the hospital room a little bit ago. We are now patiently awaiting the monitoring results and the discharge papers. The large spotlights have been turned off to let Renee rest. Rest? To be 14 and dealing with so many emotions is unimaginable. Between failed attempts of acceptance, rape, knowledge that in a couple of weeks the adoptive parents will be taking the baby that has been growing steadily within, and whatever else that is above my head, there would be no time to rest.
The girl from the video at church ended with sharing how there is rest in God’s arms and in His undying love that no matter what will be there. Although we may never have a healthy relationship of acceptance with our earthly fathers, we can find that acceptance in God’s grace of loving us unconditionally. He isn’t going to fail us and we don’t have to keep trying different tactics to try to get Him to notice us. There is hope in knowing that we don’t have to succumb to this earth’s twisted way of trying to make us feel loved. We are loved- we just have to look outside ourselves into something bigger to find it.
Renee lays awake on her side, whispering to another resident’s baby sleeping beside her. It is now about 2am and we will soon be gathering her bags and making our way back to the house to get some needed sleep. It saddens me to know that she will soon be leaving the house for I’ve seen so much growth and maturity occur and I have high hopes for her. She understands how living in a pattern of doing whatever it takes to find other’s acceptance is wrong and wants to be a better person. I pray that once she does leave, God will help us stay in contact and that I can help influence her life for the better. Although tonight was a false alarm, those spotlights will be used for the baby show once again when induced in a week and a half.