Chapter Four…Wearing the Mask

Sophomore cheer

I had accomplished a dream of mine since I was a very young girl. I was a cheerleader.

I cheered all through middle school, and two years of high school. I loved to cheer, and it was important to me. I wasn’t into it for the short skirts or the popularity. I had a passion, and had goals to cheer through college. My ultimate dream….was to cheer for the Kentucky Wildcats. (Yes, I am an IU fan, but the University of Kentucky Cheerleaders have dominated for years!)

My freshman year, I cheered for freshman football and then made the varsity cheer squad for basketball. I was a greenie, and definitely treated like one. A few girls weren’t too happy about it, but I persevered. I was living my dream. Sophomore year I made varsity for both football and basketball, but quit after the football season in order to join the gymnastics team.

Junior year of gymnastics

The mask I wore showed that of a happy teenager. I had plans every weekend with friends, my grades were good, and on off seasons I worked various jobs. I had my own checking and savings account, and was responsible for paying for my car insurance and cell phone. What my friends and family didn’t know, was that my inner dialogue was incredibly negative, and I felt like I was the black sheep and a disappointment.

Junior year

Boys were still in the picture too, and I had a taste for the bad boys. I pretty much would do anything to earn their approval or love. They, in turn, would take advantage of that and me. I had defined my self worth based on how these boys treated me. I was fourteen, and a freshman, when I first gave away a part of myself to a young man who was nineteen, and I kept chipping off pieces of myself through the remainder of high school.

“I had defined my


based on how these boys treated me.”

I just wanted to be loved. I wanted someone to tell me I was worth fighting for and not abandon me. I wanted to be accepted, and would make choices, poor choices, to gain approval from others.

The first part of my junior year, I began dating another guy who was four years older than me. I remember confronting him one evening about a rumor of him cheating on me. What happened that night wasn’t pretty, and how I handled it at that time, is not what I would do today. I have remained silent about it for twenty years, until now.

I remember telling him no over and over. My body going numb and limp. I remember him covering my sobs with his hand because his family had come home, and once it was over he acted like it was completely normal. I was a sixteen year old girl, who since the age of nine had been telling herself that she was not good enough to be loved. That it was her fault her daddy left, and she was unworthy, a failure, a disappointment… the labels that I had been using to identify myself were endless. So what did I do the night I was raped?

I begged him not to break up with me. I apologized to him, the person who just finished assaulting me, for making him angry and questioning him….and I never did anything else about it. (The relationship ended a couple months later. Today, I can say that I have forgiven him; but it wasn’t until recently that I came to realize how much that night affected me. I will save that for another chapter.)

So, I continued to cope by entering yet another relationship. Relationships were where I found validation, despite how messed up they were. This one though, was going to be different. He still had some bad boy qualities; but as my mom had put it, ‘he worshiped the ground I walked on’…

That should have been my first red flag…..

By His grace,


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