Make the Pain Go Away!
(The Donna Ellis Story)
By: Donna Ellis
the autumn of 1994, I was lonely, insecure, hurting, depressed, confused,
haunted by childhood abuse, agoraphobic, violent, sometimes suicidal; a drunk, a
liar and, although “married” to Tim, a lesbian... and then I met JESUS!
Although my parents were not Roman Catholic, I was baptized as an infant in a Roman Catholic church in a depressed steel-town in Pennsylvania. My father was sent to live with nuns for a while as a little boy, because times were very hard for my grandmother and she needed to send him away. While at this convent, one of the sisters asked him to promise her that if he ever had children when he grew up, that he would have them baptized into the Church. That is probably the only promise my father ever kept in his life. Although he was incredibly abusive to me and my two sisters, all three of us were indeed baptized Roman Catholic, and even sent to Catholic schools.
As a little girl, I was taken in by the beauty and awesomeness of the Catholic church. I loved some of the dear sisters who taught me, and I totally believed, with my innocent, childish faith, in God as He is presented in Roman Catholic theology. I was SO thrilled to be able to take my First Holy Communion, as well as the other sacraments... Nevertheless, the years passed painfully under the thumb of my violent, raging father; and neglect by my passive but kindly mother.
During high school (all-girls, private Catholic school), with my father finally incarcerated and my mother quietly drinking the days away, I was free to take a breath and ponder my life. Like most teens, I soon began to question my "faith". (Why do we believe this thing or that thing?) But nobody could answer my questions: not the sisters, nor the priests. And nobody ever shared the "Good News" of the Gospel with me: that God is perfect, that we are all separated from God by our sins, but that we can be forgiven of our sins once and for all through Jesus Christ, and even know God personally, and have a relationship with Him!.. Sadly, there was no Gospel in their religion-- just the blind following of rules, and striving toward some unreachable God, like in any other "religion"...
By my senior year in high school (1984-85), I began to realize that I thought very differently from most of my peers-- I was always questioning everything -- I was searching for truth, or at least some authenticity-- and wouldn't take "I don't know," for an answer. I abhored conformity, and my endless questions (and finally my mohawk!) drove my teachers crazy... I was very altruistic and had my own moral code, always siding with the underdog-- although my "morals" were based on nothing and even I could not live up to them.
Finally, disgusted with hypocrisy and longing for acceptance, I immersed myself
in the punk subculture, where I did find like-minded friends-- as well as
sex, drugs and alcohol... "Underground" music soon became my passion
and my identity-- I had a pretty incredible collection of vinyl-- from
Generation X to the Germs to GBH-- tons of punk, ska, indies, lots of late 70s
British stuff, imports, original pressings, colored vinyl, rare stuff-- I even
got Henry Rollins to sign one of my Black Flag albums (as well as my shaved
Soon I got heavily into punk ideology, and I began to read anarchist literature. I soaked up bands like the Dead Kennedys, MDC, Crass, and A.P.P.L.E. (Autonomy and Pacifism for Peace, Liberty, and Equality). This led me to begin reading Karl Marx, and I soon thought perhaps true communism was the answer to the world's problems (and my own?)...
By my freshman year of college, I was an agnostic. Soon my punk band broke up and I became disillusioned with the punk movement, and with trying to change the world-- we couldn't even change ourselves!.. Next it was feminism. I read Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, became a card-carrying member of N.O.W. (the National Organization for Women) and subscribed to "Ms." magazine.
However, I soon discovered that feminism, as well, was not "the answer" I was looking for...
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