Crystal Reid, now living happily in Canada, took 30 years to forgive her mother who resides in Jamaica.
She claimed that her mom did not heed her cries after giving her away to be raised by other relatives – resulting in her being physically and sexually abused when she was a child.
As a result of the abuse, Crystal attempted suicide on two occasions while growing up at Caymanas Bay – not far from Central Village in St. Catherine.
She stated that, on one occasion, her relatives beat her to the point where she almost lost consciousness.
Crystal, at age 13, made her first suicide attempt.
She recalled doing it after her relatives beat her and labelled her a liar, because she told them that an adult male cousin was sexually molesting her.
She further stated that she tried to confide in the brother of the abuser, but that brother, instead of helping her, joined in the molestation.
Amid the abuse, Crystal grappled with abject poverty.
“Growing up as a child, I knew what starvation felt like; I ate plum leaves as my dinner,” she explained. “I used newspaper as sanitary napkin when it’s my monthly period. I didn’t know what tissue feels like, because that was the life that was given to me. I was told that I was a nobody and I was treated that way.”
Crystal, who resorted to singing as a coping mechanism, said she ran away from the Caymanas Bay home where she was living. At that time, she was 15 years old.
Crystal stated that, after running away, she lived in the streets of Spanish Town until she met a young woman, whose mother took her in for a relatively short period of time.
She later ended up at her mother’s home – a place to which she was not privy for virtually all her childhood.
Not finding comfort at her mother’s residence, Crystal, at age 17, went to live with her father in Kingston. She recalled that she was 12 when she met her father for the first time.
Crystal eventually met another man – Gregory Reid, who helped to turn her life around. He was a deacon in the church. They exchanged nuptial vows. Crystal was 19.
She told The Beacon that, shortly after marriage, she found out that she was pregnant.
She was fearful that, within church circles, she and her husband would have been accused of having a shotgun marriage.
An abortion plan was hatched. But it failed.
Crystal eventually testified in church about the pregnancy and her past experiences, but her testimony backfired. “The response from the church was negative,” she noted.
Despite the backlash, Crystal and her husband keep their relationship intact, and have been supporting their family – including their daughter who is now 14 years old.
Crystal, instead of sitting at home and twiddling her thumbs, did several odd jobs.
She worked at a supermarket in Harbour View, at Spanish Town Primary School as an office assistant, and at the law offices of Rose-Green Marion & Company.
She also was employed to fast food restaurants and school canteens mainly in supervisory or managerial positions. In that field, her work-places were Juici Patties, Mother’s, Queen’s School, Alpha, as well as Excelsior High School and Excelsior College.
While serving as a canteen manager at Excelsior in 2013, Crystal got an opportunity to travel to Canada on a two-year contract as a food counter clerk.
The rest is history.
Crystal’s husband and daughter later joined her in Canada, where the couple now operates a cleaning company.
Crystal, in 2017, paved the way for her mother to visit her in Canada – a visit that ended up facilitating an amount of healing.
Crystal explained: “That’s when I actually forgave my mom. I was able to sit with her and tell her absolutely everything that was bothering me and what she caused to happen.
“I have learnt that the past is the past, but that the past made me who I am today. I do love my parents. My mom made some mistakes; it took me 30 years to forgive her; that’s how long it took me,” Crystal said emphatically.
She also forgave her abusive cousins, and the grand-aunt who raised her and reportedly showed her nothing but hate.
“My grand-aunt was the head of everything,” Crystal said. “I forgive her. How I forgave her? I have to write an imaginary letter for her; I wrote a three-page letter expressing everything in it. I mailed that letter to myself. I had to do that in order for me to get to the point where I can truly say that I forgive her.”
Crystal further stated that she has found freedom in forgiveness.
“I found that, when I didn’t forgive, I was trapped inside a poisonous bubble that was suffocating my spiritual and natural growth,” she reasoned.
“Just because I forgave them doesn’t mean I am condoning their actions, nor does it mean they had the right to hurt me. It was very important for me to forgive, as this releases me from the pain and constant anguish I was feeling.”
Crystal, who became a Christian when she was 12, has not only grown spiritually.
She also capitalized on opportunities to improve her academic credentials, considering that she left St. Catherine High School without a subject.
After high school, she attended Stony Hill Heart Academy, and also successfully pursued three CXC subjects – Mathematics, English A, and Office Administration. With those subjects, Crystal enrolled at the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC), where she pursued a diploma in Business Administration.
She was aiming to further her education in Jamaica, but she eventually migrated. Crystal, who is a graduate of White Marl Primary School in St. Catherine, is now studying at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
She implores people to not surrender to their struggles, but to always strive to make a positive difference. Crystal has been doing just that.
In addition to being a fast-rising Gospel artiste, she also founded the Crystal Kamica Reid Ministry, which she said will undertake charity work throughout Jamaica.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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