Another Cinderella Story

Cinderella stories didn’t mean the same thing to me that they did to other little girls. My mother died when I was three. My father remarried almost immediately thereafter. It was not a happy union, so this is not a happy story. If you are in the mood for handsome princes, glass slippers and fairy godmothers, don’t continue.

My stepmother did not want a little girl. She wanted a doll. She would dress me in the most gorgeous dresses, curl my hair, decorate it with ribbons and set me on the couch. That is where she expected me to stay all day. Sometimes when she wasn’t looking I would hop down to play. The play would then consume me and I would forget to listen for her.

Soon I would be caught. She would jerk my fancy dress off me, yank the ribbons from my hair, and plunge me into her version of the dungeon – my bedroom closet. Wearing only my slip, I would sit on a pile of shoes in the bottom of the closet. It was pitch dark and clothes hung in my face. Once I opened the closet door to let in light and fresh air and security. After that, she taped my hands behind my back.

Another time I heard my grandfather’s voice and I called out to him. Actually, he was the father of my stepmother, but he was a nice man who truly cared for me and often defended me against my stepmother’s rages, which always made things worse for me after he left. My stepmother came and got me, put my dress back on me and took my stepbrother and I into the living room to visit. After that day, whenever she threw me in the closet she taped my mouth shut.

My stepmother had a loud, joyful sister who had five wonderful kids. I loved it when they came to the house because on those days I was allowed to be a child. I got to run and play and dance and sing. I was also given dessert.

In my stepmother’s home dessert was usually something I watched everyone else eat, not something I was allowed to have. I never had a piece of my fifth birthday cake. Only good little girls deserved food.

In case you are wondering where my father was through all of this — out of town. He worked in a silver mine over 100 miles away. He came home every Friday evening and left every Sunday after dinner. Whenever he was home, I was treated like a beloved and pampered princess. As soon as he left the nightmare returned.

On Sunday evening when dad came to the dinner table his suitcase full of clean clothes would be at the front door, waiting. After the meal was over he would go around the table, kiss and hug each of us, and then leave. I would listen as his pickup backed down the driveway; headlights would sweep the wall and the sound of the engine would fade in the distance.

My stepmother would reach across the table, snatch my plate from in front of me, grab me from my chair by one pigtail and drag me into the kitchen, where I was expected to wash, dry and put away the dishes. I was five. I drug around a big heavy chair to climb  so I could reach the sink and cupboards.

Are you wondering why I didn’t tell my father? That was the cruelest thing of all. When my mother died I was living in a big loving house full of siblings – my mother’s children. My maternal grandparents lived there as well. In that house, I was precious and perfect and loved beyond reason. My stepmother used that love against me.

I didn’t really understand death. What I did understand is that I was taken from my family to live with a cold, hateful witch. My brothers and sisters were not allowed to see me. My grandmother was suffered rarely. And my stepmother told me all this happened because I was bad. She said that it made my dad very sad, and that’s why he wouldn’t stay home. She said if I would behave better, he would come home and live with us and love us again. She also said, that if he knew how much I really misbehaved he wouldn’t come home at all, and that guaranteed my silence.

The nicest lady lived next door. She always talked to me on the rare occasions I was allowed outside. Sometimes she gave me candy. I learned to eat it quick and not tell my stepmother. The lady used to always check my arms and legs. Now, looking back, I realize she was looking for marks or bruises.  I didn’t have any. And the few spankings my stepmother gave me I can say I truly earned.  Her abuse wasn’t physical.

It was the nice lady next door who finally saved me. By then I was six years old. That Sunday evening my dad left as usual. My stepmother snatched me from the chair and drug me into the kitchen as usual. I was doing the dishes as usual. Then something very unusual happened — the back door opened and my father came in. He lifted me from the chair and carried me into the living room where my stepmother and brothers were watching TV.

It seems he had not driven away in his truck. The neighbor man had. Dad watched everything through the dining room windows. He told my stepmother to pack my things. That night I went to live with my maternal grandmother, where I was once again a beloved and precious child.

A few years ago when my father died I called my stepmother. I didn’t have my little brother’s phone number and I wanted to tell him dad was gone. I talked to the woman for quite awhile on the phone. My sister, Caryl, wanted to know how I could be so pleasant to such a hateful person, especially when she had been so cruel to me.

See, this is the thing about evil stepmothers: they either kill you, or they make you very, very strong. Though I still fear going hungry, and am afraid of cramped, dark places, I know I never sat in that closet alone. Jesus was with me. My stepmother’s cruelty kept me still and quiet. I learned about God from God, long before I learned to read his Word. He is my rock and my fortress. In him I have strength and peace that no one can destroy. I was not rescued by a handsome prince on a white charger, I was rescued by the Prince of Peace, and I will one day live happily ever after.

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 4th, 2006 at 5:37 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

34 Responses to “Another Cinderella Story”

  1. November 5th, 2006 at 7:52 am

    jackie says:

    Oh, Charlene, I can hardly see, this made me cry so hard. Again. It happens every time I remember that time – and I try hard to never think of it. What a miracle it is, that you turned out to be who you are. We have some amazing survival genes in our family.

    I’ve been taught that there is only one judge…Him, and to try to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s
    shoes’, ‘pray for those you have resentments against’ etc. etc. – and I’m here to tell you, I still rejoiced when I read that woman’s obituary! And I hope she’s rotting in hell.

  2. November 5th, 2006 at 9:01 am

    Nea says:

    Not wanting a daughter is one thing, out and out cruelty is another. She must have been nuts or something. I agree with your family I don’t know how you could even have been civil to her at all. Taping your mouth shut, what if you had gotten sick and had to throw up, YOU WOULD HAVE DIED. Children grow up and they remember. But I know for a fact I would have told my Dad, but then I am opinionated and obstinant and she would have never convinced me any of anything was my fault……I probably would have bit her…….she would have had a fight on her hands putting me in any ole closet. haha

    Well Quill I guess you have a right to be afraid of dark places……and stepmother’s. I was a stepmother to my second husband two boys, and I treated them as if they were my own. Being a stepmother is hard, but I guess the wicked stepmother is often very true.

  3. November 5th, 2006 at 9:54 am

    Disciple Quilldancer says:

    Jackie, if I hadn’t forgiven her, she would be terrorizing me still. No one told me she passed away. I hope she found forgiveness from God before she had to face him with what she’d done to me.

    Nea, I learned to lick my face when I saw her coming with that tape. It kept it from sticking.

  4. November 5th, 2006 at 10:10 am

    ilona says:

    That woman sounds insane. But, I like you the way you are now, and while I wish you didn’t have to go through that torture, I do think it made you stronger.

  5. November 5th, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Anonymous says:

    You really have a powerful story her Quill, and I feel so bad you had a horrible first few years with this Evil person. But reading your story God was sending his Angels to watch after you. Your Stepgrandfather, your neighbours, your stepmothers sister who came to visit. They all looked after you.

    You are a really special lady Quilly who can forgive this Instrument of Satan. I could never forgive, even though the Bible states we must love all and forgive all or we are not forgiven by our Father. I agree with Jackie and hope she is rotting in Hell.

    But reading this I got remembering about stories my Dad would tell about his Stepmother. His Mum (my Gram) died when he was two so my Grandfather remarried to hae someone look after his two sons and daughter.

    The way my Dad talked about this woman, he didn’t have anything nice to say. He used to call her the Devil and looking at his pictures he took and seeing them marked with “The Devil” under her image. Now after hearing his stories I understand why.

    My Grandfather finally found out what she was doing and moved my Dad in 1922 here to Canada to live with his friend who was a Minister (She was in Scotland). Dad forgot and got on with his life, married and raised two wonderful kids, who by the way he never spanked. He could dicipline with a raised voice and that look “try it and see what happens”.

    Before Dad married Mum in 1956 he made a trip to “The Old Country” in 1947 retuning in 1949 and he went to visit her much against his will. I think a much higher power wanted him to mend some fences. She had a picture of my Grandfather standing against this stone wall in Scotland.

    My Dad took it from the wall and she got up and my Dad told her to try and take it from him and she cowered back down in her chair. I think at this moment she realised she couldn’t be evil to him anymore. And at this moment that inner demon my dad was carrying was gone. With this one act, he slayed the dragon. I still have this picture. Will share it someday on my Blog.

    Have a blessed Sunday Quill.

  6. November 5th, 2006 at 12:13 pm

    Doug says:

    That’s some story, Quill. For all the good things that came out of it, I’m sorry it’s yours to tell. I’m sure you’d have turned out grandly anyway.

  7. November 5th, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    Janvangogh says:

    You were fortunate to have someone who loved you in your childhood. So sad that you were treated that way, but God definitely turned it to good.

  8. November 5th, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    Rachelle Black says:

    I knew I was right. I can spot a sister a mile away.
    It must be our irrepressibly wicked sense of humor 🙂
    You and I have a lot in common my dear, someday I will share, but I will need to have another blog site for that. When I grew up, I became the chain breaker in our family history of abuse. I can now actually say I love my mother and we have a wonderful relationship- which is only possible through the redeeming love of Christ. Nothing else could have mended THAT relationship…
    Although the past can shape who we will ultimately become, we who have gone through the fire can only become stronger if we survive.
    God bless my dear.

  9. November 5th, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    Gary says:

    There are many many sad stories like yours. Fortunately you were able to get away from your tormenter. But there are still many who cannot. Life can be very cruel. We should never take the good things in life for granted.

  10. November 5th, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Daisy says:

    I have a close friend who endured a situation much like yours. She, too, became stronger for it. It took courage to share; thank you.

  11. November 5th, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    Chana says:

    i apologize right of the bat for my comment. i’m not feeling good, Christian like at the moment.
    i’m even more heart broken and even more furious that i was when i left you the comment in your other blog.
    i feel sick to my stomach to have read these words and know that this happen to you.
    i feel hate and anger and i’m so sorry that beautiful, sweet, like Quilldancer suffered such abuse. i can barely type, my hands are shaking and they are so darn cold i can barely move to type..and my eyes are so full of tears..and nothing i can do, to take you back to your innocense and take you away from such evil. and i wish now i could erase those horrible memories. so that you never had suffered and that wouldn’t have been your childhood. bless that old woman. bless her God, she saved your life. she saved your precious little life.
    i’m so happy your dad finally knew and he took you away to a better life.
    i am so grateful that out of such evil and pain, you met God and you love for Him has grown so strong and fierce. your Faith and courage has taken my breath away. and no it’s not my asthma this time, it is you.

    oh my sweet friend, pls accept my hugs and endless kisses. and pls, pls know i’m so grateful that you are here and i can be your friend. i’m so proud of you and i love you so much. remeber when that other person, insulted you on my post of that day and i got so hurt and furious i decided to pass blogging for i couldn’t have anyone hurt any of you..what do i do now? i want to make it better somehow..
    i shall pray for i guess that is all i got and that is the best way anyhow for any human being.
    i shall pray for her soul, for my goodness, the evil in her will someday meet God. but i pray for her for you not because of her. in your honour. and i will pray for you. thanksgiving prayer to God for not leaving you alone,e ver. not only then, but then with your ex.
    how you have grown up sane and wonderful is a miracle girl. you life is being hit hard with so much horror.
    oh you are wonderful. oh i knew it always, you are our treasure.
    i lvoe you hon.

  12. November 5th, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    Disciple Quilldancer says:


    I am sorry this made you so angry. I know that impotent rage you speak of because I lived with it for years. Let it go. She does not hold me captive and I do not want her harming you. She already has enough to answer for.

  13. November 5th, 2006 at 7:04 pm

    Kat says:

    I am continuously amazed at the tenacity and resiliency of children. She built a full proof trap with her lies, I would have believed her too at that age. Thank goodness for the angel next door. Did your father stay with that woman?

  14. November 5th, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    Quilldancer Disciple says:

    Kat, no. He did not, but he married someone almost as bad, though her abuse was emotional. I still have delusions of inadequacy. However, it’s probably the only thing that keeps me humble.

  15. November 6th, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    Anonymous says:

    I only knew bits and pieces of this story. To read it through like this made me cry and made me angry… and made me admire your strength even more than I already did. I read this over ten minutes ago and am just now able to compose something coherent. I understand Mom’s comments and Chana’s both completely. I just don’t know what else to say other than I love you, tia. xoxoxoxo

  16. November 8th, 2006 at 12:55 am

    DaBich says:

    Oh My Goodness! That made me cry…you are such a warm caring person, it’s amazing. Jesus was indeed with you all the way!

  17. November 8th, 2006 at 5:11 am

    Katie McKenna says:

    damn.. this made me cry. Did none of us have a good childhood?

    Yes, we became more despite everything…

  18. November 8th, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    Minka says:

    Wow…such spirit to make it through that.
    It always amazes me how some people crumble under such pressure and how some just get up and walk on.
    I am glad you belong to the latter group, I am glad you found your saviour and it seems like you are livign happy ever after already.
    just the way it should be.

    How any woman can be that cruel to a little child is beyond my comprehension…I just don´t get it!

  19. November 14th, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Cindy says:

    WOW! I have not been by to visit in a while, things have been crazy! I have missed reading your blog though, I will say this was an un-expected post to see! I can not understand what you went through with your stepmother, but I am so glad that it has made you such a strong and wonderful woman! Yes, it made me angry to read this post and to read what you had to go through, but as you told someone else . . .she does not hold you captive any longer. God will make her pay for her wrongs!

    With Love In Christ,

  20. November 20th, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Anonymous says:

    While sad, this is the most beautiful story I’ve heard in ages. It is most definitely a Cinderella Story.

  21. November 21st, 2006 at 6:41 pm

    O Ceallaigh says:

    To the student of animal behavior, the Cinderella story is all too familiar. If one, say, gorilla outcompetes another for a mate, practically the first thing the victor does is to destroy any offspring of the defeated one. No way the victor is going to waste precious resources raising someone else’s brats.

    Humans feel the same impulse. Obviously. To your cost. But humans have no excuse. For they have a Voice that tells them “this is not the way for humans to prosper”.

    We can argue about the nature of this Voice. But not about the truth of its message. For that truth has led you to respond, not in the way of your stepmother, but that of your step-grandfather.

    May you continue to be given the grace to follow that path. Even in the presence of surly curmudgeons like me.

  22. November 21st, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Disciple Quilldancer says:

    OC — your second to the last line was beautiful. You could have stopped there.

  23. December 13th, 2006 at 3:18 am

    Pauline says:

    You are the strongest person I know! God has truly given you a mission. Now that I am sobbing and tears literally bouncing of my shirt, my day ahead of things to do is meaningless. Love to you and peace and light and every blessing He can bestow!

  24. January 28th, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Shabby in the City says:

    Bless your little 5 year old heart!

  25. March 7th, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    David says:

    this is possibly the most riveting blog post I have read this year, may I link to it in the next few days?

  26. March 7th, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Real Life in South Carolina says:

    Hi! I’m visiting via David’s blog.

    You have a beautiful testimony.
    There is victory in your story, especially in the fact that you are willing to forgive this woman who treated you so horribly. Thank you for sharing. God bless you!

  27. March 8th, 2007 at 5:01 am

    Quilldancer says:

    David & RL, thank you. I hope my testamony can make a difference to others.

  28. March 8th, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    mar says:

    What a testimony, I am very touched and I am glad to see your story made you stronger…here via David’s blog.

  29. March 9th, 2007 at 5:49 am

    Indigo says:

    I’m speechless that a person could be so cruel to a child. Thank goodness for your neighbor.

  30. March 11th, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Vintage Girl says:

    Wow, that was a powerful story. I am so sorry you had to go through all that…its truly horrible that ANYONE had to go through that. You were right, God was with you the whole time and you had a happy ending. I’m sorry about your father and it was INCREDIBLY bold of you to call up the witch and have a conversation with her.

    Best Wishes,

    Vintage Girl

  31. October 21st, 2008 at 11:40 am

    lookuptoday says:

    Your step mother must have been my step mothers twin. Like you, i learned to forgive what she could not give me. I learned not to focus on what had been taken away from me, but what strenths i came away with. I do on occasions have to pray away old hurts from the past that try to show up in insecurities ect. Forgiveness is the key. I am enjoying your blog. you are very talented. Dee

  32. December 4th, 2009 at 7:08 am

    gigi-hawaii says:

    Quilly, you write very well. The ending brought tears to my eyes. I can truly relate to what you wrote, having had a traumatic childhood, myself. I hope life is better for you now.

  33. December 4th, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Quilly says:

    Gigi — life is very much better now. Sometimes I marvel on how far I have come from that frightened child in the dark.

  34. February 8th, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Mocha with Linda says:

    This broke my heart. I’m amazed that your dad told your step-mother to pack your bags instead of hers! I’m so thankful that God was there with you and He rescued – physically and spiritually.

    Thanks for sharing.