I began expressing my sexuality at four years old when I would perform stripteases for the neighborhood kids. I’m not exactly sure where and when I was first exposed to pornography, but I remember that a neighborhood boy used to “pretend rape” me when we played and my step-father kept Playboy magazines with little attempt to hide them from innocent eyes. I remember looking at the centerfolds when I was as young as five or six and thinking that I wanted to be like those girls.
My real father was never very protective of me and my step-father was abusive. He never physically hurt me, but his words still cut me to this day. He called me whore, worthless, stupid and many other things. I lived in fear of his rage. At six years old, I remember accidently breaking a glass bowl and running in the backyard to bury it because I was scared of what would happen if he found out. He and my mom fought regularly and I remember waking up many a night hearing him scream and her cry and being scared he would hurt her.
As hard as I tried to not believe what he thought of me, somehow his words seeped into what I believed about myself. I found escape from the hurt in my life by fantasizing about running off and becoming a famous actress.
Shortly after I graduated high school, I left the Mid-West for Los Angeles. I worked two jobs and struggled to get auditions during the day. Within one year, without quality friends and no family nearby, I was thousands in debt and behind on rent. When a neighbor suggested I get a job at a strip club, it seemed like an easy way to make fast cash. I had learned to use my sexuality to get attention at an early age and, although I knew I wanted much more for my life, something about being a stripper excited me.
I thought I’d only be there for a few weeks, but the attention and money were addictive. On the stage I achieved what I couldn’t achieve at any audition. I was chosen. I was wanted. The attention I got from club-goers was like a drug that numbed the desire I had to be seen for who I really was and deeply loved. Soon, stripping was my only job, and I stopped going on auditions. I began sleeping with a customer outside of work. The strip club had become my new normal.
One night, driving home from work, it hit me that it was just a little over a year since I had moved to L.A. with hopes and dreams of stardom, and here I was… driving home at three in the morning with aching feet and the smell of sweat and cheap, cotton candy body splash on my skin. I was a stripper.
Something came over me. I burst into tears and got on my knees in prayer. “Father, I’m so sorry! Please forgive me.” I hadn’t talked to God in so long that I was numb to his presence. I felt nothing. I thought that He must have given up on me a long time ago.
A few weeks later, I was invited to church by a guy I had met. The presence of God was overwhelming at that service, and I was reminded that God had never left me. All that time, He had never left me. When I called to him, that was all it took. He was there to pluck me out of my circumstance.
Eventually, I left the strip club for good. I have been married to the guy who had invited me to church for ten years now. I have been healed and blessed by my Heavenly Father in more ways than I ever could have found on that stage, in that strip club, in the arms of any man or in the eyes of any casting director.