Farm and Family, Musings

Pieces: Big Fur Coat

TW: self harm, self hate

Depression’s like a big fur coat,
It’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm ~ Iodine, Icon for Hire

(Internal monologue) No, you don’t need to tell anyone about this. It will only make them feel bad, or ashamed, or remember their own pain. It’s not that big of a deal. No, you do need to talk about it. Isn’t that reluctance a sign that it needs to be out in the open? Some people may not understand the thought process behind it, and they need to know that it can be nearly invisible. And I need people to know this about me. Deep breath.

I struggle with depression and self harm. I don’t remember not hating myself. As a small child I hated that I couldn’t learn to read or ride a bike. As a preteen I hated that I was a girl, that I had feelings that I couldn’t understand or express, and that I had night terrors. As a teen I had successfully turned off all handflowersemotions except hate and anger, but it wasn’t acceptable to express those, so I aimed them at myself as best as I could. I wasn’t always successful in this though, so my self loathing grew stronger. I couldn’t keep up with all of the things I was supposed to do as a good Christian girl. If I couldn’t even function in this obviously basic lifestyle, of what value was I?

I called a friend the other day and cried for a couple of hours. I had never told anyone about my depression or self harm. It wasn’t very visible. I was ashamed of my feelings. The feelings of loathing and worthlessness were so huge that they would fill me, and I had to find a physical manifestation. I wanted to cut, but I was so scared that someone would find out if I did anything that looked so deliberate. So I got very clumsy. I am naturally a clumsy person, I think it has something to do with the combination of being tall and having tiny duck feet. But this was purposeful. I would punch brick walls and “rap my knuckles.” I would kick brick walls and “stub my toe.” I would hit my head on, yeah, brick walls and “have a headache” (I often did have headaches). The closest I got to cutting was biting my fingers. I always hated how my hands looked, so I didn’t care if there were scars or scabs. Those could be explained away easily too. I love climbing trees and working with my hands, stuff happens.

Learning to love myself has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I couldn’t control my urges to act on my feelings. I couldn’t keep up with my “Christian disciplines.” I couldn’t do enough to make a difference in the world. My self worth was based on what I did or didn’t do. It wasn’t until someone told me that I was good enough and in control that I even considered either of those to be possibilities. When someone else told me that I had beautiful hands I laughed in their face, but it was another mile marker.

I’m still learning to see the good in myself. I love my hair and my eyes. I’ve figured out some things that make me feel not just like a girl, but pretty. I am a good writer. I have deep, poetic thoughts, and people like to hear them sometimes. I have accepted these things about myself, but what’s harder to accept is the fact that they aren’t consistent. Not everything I write has to be perfect, and that’s ok. My hair is a mess a lot of the time, but it has so much personality I love it anyway.

I wish I could say that I am past self harm. And I was for a while. But I have relapses. I slip back into patterns that should never have been in the first place. Part of me doesn’t want to write about it until I’m healed. But then, part of me thinks that sharing about my pain may be part of my healing. It’s just so damn hard to trust anyone when those closest to you are the ones that hurt you.

Farm and Family, Musings

Pieces: What Was That?

We throw tantrums like parties
We’re not happy ’til everyone knows we’re sick
And that’s just how we like it
We’ve hurt bad enough, right, we’ve earned it ~ Get Well, Icon for Hire

It’s taken me a long time to figure this out. I’ve been thinking about it for months. I haven’t been able to write anything because it’s been in the forefront of my mind, taking up all of the space. I hate writing about things that aren’t resolved. You write what you know, not what you don’t know. But sometimes we don’t know what the thesis statement is for a period of our lives.

I want to start out by saying that I love my parents. They were tricked by people who they viewed as authorities, who themselves had been tricked. But I can’t let that love keep me from telling my story.

Illusion_by_nondani

I read a website called Homeschoolers Anonymous. I would say I enjoy reading it, but that sounds wrong. It is full of stories of former homeschool students who have escaped the fundamentalist environment where they were abused, and how transitioning to life on the outside has been. It’s sick. It’s demented. The things that have been done in the name of Christ are abhorrent.

I read it for the same reason they write it. To validate our past experiences. Sometimes the stories are almost identical to my own, but not usually. They are usually much more abusive and extreme. There are aspects that I can relate to, but the intensity of it makes my empathy ache.

For a time this contrast made me question my analysis of my childhood. Was it really that bad? Was that really abuse? I mean, I only remember one short period of time when any of my siblings were bruised from spanking. I was only hit a handful of times because I was older when we started following a fundamentalist lifestyle. But then, if it wasn’t abuse, why do I still show signs of an abuse survivor? Why do I feel so validated by songs like Get Well by Icon for Hire or Shatter Me by Lindsey Stirling? Why do I still have such a hard time letting myself have platonic relationships, let alone harbor the thought of a long term romantic relationship? Trust issues and self harm don’t just happen without a reason.

A dear friend told me the other day, “Just because someone else had it worse doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to hurt.” This is hard to believe sometimes. I don’t want to marginalize the experience of others. But I have to remind myself that it’s not a contest. Just because I was never beaten doesn’t mean I wasn’t abused. Emotional abuse can be very invisible, but have the same results as a belt. My parents didn’t hit me, but the way they made me feel lead me to hit myself.

Don’t tell the others but it’s all getting old
I mean how many more times must our stories be told?
And being lonely’s only fun in a group
It sort of loses it’s charm when it’s true ~ Get Well, Icon for Hire

Farm and Family, Musings

10 Reasons Growing Up in a Big Family Wins

My family has 6 kids. The dynamics of things are kind of different when you have this many people living under one roof. Dishes are mountainous. Laundry is unending. Privacy can be illusive. Ziplocks are a hot commodity, and I’m still not sure why. But even with things that could be perceived as hardships or inconveniences, life in a big family is pretty awesome. I found a Buzzfeed post the other night (don’t judge me) listing 23 things you get used to when you live in an above average family. Since a lot of my facebook friends are from large families, this sparked quite a hilarious conversation (primarily about food and socks). Since everyone seem to be challenging people lately, my mom challenged me to write a blog post of the 10 best things about living in a large family. The list was not allowed to be sarcastic, but could be humorous. Easy. Without further ado, roughly in order, but not really, my 10 favorite things about living in a large family:mylifeessgood

10. You have several personal book, movie, tv and music reviewers. I cannot tell you how many times one of my sisters (and even Adam every now and then) has sent me a link to a new song or artist. We compare Pandora stations. We send each other youtube videos. The number of books that have been thrown at me by my siblings isn’t too great yet, since I’m the oldest and self proclaimed family librarian, but there have been a few. For instance, Claire read The Hunger Games before either Meg or I did. Usually I’m the one who reads or watches something first, but I’m predicting that this will change once we are all grown up.

9. You have a built in study group. For most of my life, Meg and I have been at about the same skill level in most things. I understand some things better than she does, and she understands some things better than I do. We all bounce ideas for writing assignments off each other. Two heads are better than one, right? How much better would three or four head be?

8. You have a higher chance of being fashionable. This isn’t always true. At all. But I have noticed, at least in families with many girls, that the likelihood of someone having a built in fashion sense is fairly high. Some people have a friend with taste, I have a sister. Well, actually, I have three, each with their own sense of style. If I want to know what looks good on me, I ask Meg. If I want to find an epic t-shirt or other quirky-cool item, I ask Claire. If I want to just have fun, I’ll let Hannah dress me (If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed this).

7. You have a brute squad. “I’m on the brute squad.” “You are the brute squad!” Have you seen the new version of Yours, Mine, and Ours? There is a scene near the end where two of the boys are being harassed by some bullies at school, and one by one their siblings intervene. “That’s just ignorant.” “And you know how you get rid of ignorance?” “Butt-whoopin’.” Not that I condone violence or anything…

6. You learn how to fight fair. Come on, you know it’s true. Fighting happens even in the most peaceful homes. But this is simply part of life. You will, at some point, disagree with someone, probably get emotionally involved, and have to resolve the situation. I’m not saying fighting is a good thing, but since it happens throughout life, I’m figuring you may as well learn how to do it well. Getting involved with speech and debate is also very helpful, and actually made us fight less, and more efficiently. Siblings don’t always resolve their issues. There are plenty of estranged and strained relationships, but I would speculate that the majority of people with siblings have good relationships with them.

5. You learn how to live in a group setting. Obvious right? But after spending some time at camp, I realise how important of a thing this is. Once when we were discussing what to have for dinner, spaghetti was suggested. I stated that everyone hates spaghetti, and so other ideas were brought up. Mom brought spaghetti up again, and said she liked it. Then, one by one, every single member of my family betrayed me. “Everyone else likes spaghetti. Annie just hates it so much that she fills to room with her hatred.” I’m pretty sure we ended up having spaghetti that night. (for the record, I don’t hate spaghetti, I just don’t like to have it more than, say, once a month, and rarely choose it if there are other options.)

4. You have different perspectives on life events. You may have best friends that you grew up with, but even they probably weren’t there for everything. A brother or sister, even if they are older or younger, you probably share many of the same memories.

3. You develop a family lexicon and innumerable inside jokes. If we pull up to a drive-thru and someone shouts “Get out your coffeemakers!” don’t be surprised. In fact, if we say just about anything, and start to giggle or nod, just assume it is part of our family culture, smile, and carry on with your life. You can probably ask about it if you really want to know, but we may or may not even remember how the trend or saying got started. It’s just what we do.

2. You get to see kids grow up, without having to raise them yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I do want some littles of my own one day, but not yet. Having a toddler in the house, but being able to leave and not have to worry about him is just about the coolest thing ever (sorry Mom). You get to know humans in progress, and learn from them, and watch them be hilarious, but they are still your peers on some level, or at least they will be eventually.

1. You learn how to entertain.  When I was about 9 years old we lived in Middle-of-Nowhere KY, 30 minutes from a gas station. At this point there were only 3 of us, but we were still homeschooled and still fairly secluded. We had tv, but not cable, and PBS kids cut out in the middle of the afternoon. We had internet, but it was dial-up (I still got hooked on gaming… Very slow gaming.) I couldn’t read at this point either. This left us with essentially one option for occupying our free time (which, in all honesty, was most of  the time). We played, and we played hard. But this wasn’t just building mud villages and becoming dirt people. We learned how to not only entertain ourselves when there is nothing else to do, but also how to be generally entertaining. In life, if you can make people laugh and keep their attention, it doesn’t matter what you aim to do, people will notice you. And when people notice you, sometimes they give you a job, and sometimes you make relationships.

Well, there you have it. These don’t apply to all families. I know some families where the opposite of many of these points is true. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Having a big family is hard. We fight hard, we play hard, we love hard (“I love you SO HARD!”). And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Farm and Family, Musings

Danger, Will Robinson!

I’ll be honest with you. This week, I was kind of in a panic about my post. I had one written out, but it just wasn’t clicking. Then I saw this video suggested on my Facebook news-feed.

Dear Mom,

Thanks  for letting me do most of these things. I don’t think you ever let me drive a car, but I remember when my best friend and I accidentally became pirates with those CD copies, and you didn’t freak out. Thanks for letting dad teach me how to make fire. I wouldn’t be the one and only Fire-Breathing-Pigeon if you hadn’t let your baby strike that first match. I bet you’re pretty glad I never got very good at making throwing spears with my hand-me-down Swiss Army knife. I’m sure it was kind of annoying to find things I had “fixed”.

I realized a while back when I was babysitting, that play like this is nerve wracking. I hadn’t ever been on this side of it before. Play is really a scary thing. It’s so worth it though. When we made see-saws with a brick and a board and then jumped on them, it was the coolest thing ever. Hey look! Physics! Now when I see kids doing the same thing, I’m thinking “Is the board going to snap? What if it slips and they hit their head on the brick?”

I know it feels like yesterday that I was the one of those kids with wide eyes, taking their own lives into their hands. I had a marvelous time. You know that I learn things best by doing them, and you knew that you couldn’t teach me some things. Basic physics, cause and effect, problem solving, simple engineering and mechanics. Playing dangerously and hours of playing Gizmos and Gadgets are the basis of all my understanding of physics and a big part of my love of science.

So Mom, thanks for putting up with me. You taught me more that way than you ever could have with a book. Thanks for learning to be brave. I have a feeling you are going to need to keep being brave for a long time yet. I love you Mom. I hope I can be you when I grow up.

Farm and Family

Beginning Blogging

I frequently see homeschooling moms using the blogosphere in writing assignments. I think writing is fantastic, and blogging is a great way to share what you write and get better. On the other hand, I don’t think blogging should be a school thing. If it is made into one then it becomes a chore. Writing a blog should be encouraged, but not forced. Talk to the child and ask if they want to start a blog. If not, leave it there. If you want them to try writing, have them write a short essay about a topic they like.  If they end up liking writing then maybe your could revisit the idea of a blog.

But let’s say your child is wanting to start a blog. How do you help them get started? Well first you will need to get them set up on a blogging site. The two main ones are WordPress and Blogger. I started out with Blogger and now use WordPress. Both are good, both have different strengths.

For a beginning blogger I would suggest using Google Blogger. It is simple. It is customizable, but not overwhelmingly so. There are more privacy settings. You can make it a public blog, an invite only blog, or a blog that only “authors” have access to. For someone who is relatively good with computers  I would suggest WordPress. Both are great and easy to use, but WordPress can be overwhelming.

Once you have a website set up, just let them write. As often as they want, whatever they want (within reason). I have imported almost every single blog post I’ve ever written to AndieBelle (I lost a few when my website crashed a few years ago and I moved over here). Every so often I go back and read my old posts. There are pages of bad poetry, vague recipes, run on sentences, spelling and grammar worse than what I have now, and content gaps that stretched for the better part of a year. It may not be the best content, but it is what got me started. If you pay attention, I actually still write about the same things, the quality is just usually better now.

Now all you have to do is hand them the reins and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget to comment on their posts and share it with everyone. Comments from adults are the most encouraging to a kid.

Actions in Activities, Farm and Family, Short

Change of Plans

As I have mentioned a lot lately, I am very busy. And, what that unfortunately means is, I need to cut some things down. I’m not staying up as late looking at Pinterest or watching Youtube videos, and now, I am not staying up late to work on my blog. Honestly, I’ve tried! I start to fall asleep at the keyboard! Mom says I’m on a grown-up’s schedule now. The scary thing is, I’m getting used to it. I actually tried to sleep in yesterday, the one day this week I’m not working, but I couldn’t sleep past 9.

Enough prevaricating about the bush. I’m cutting my blogging. *runs in circles screaming* NO! No. Not completely! I’m just cutting it back a bit for the sake of quality and sanity. Starting next week I will go back to posting every Wednesday. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been posting twice a week for very long. It’s only been seven weeks, but I think it served it’s purpose. I have been writing much more than I was before I gave myself a deadline. I think that is a key to getting things done sometimes. Giving yourself a good hard deadline and sticking to it.

I was discouraged about quitting. It seems like I’ve done that more this year than ever. I hate that. I don’t quit! But, in looking back, I noticed something encouraging. I have been posting every week since July 2nd, and either every Tuesday or Wednesday since July 23rd.

So, I’m not quitting, I’m just changing plans and reprioritizing.

Actions in Activities, Farm and Family, Short

New Beginnings

It was a big weekend  on the farm. It was super busy, but in the few spare moments I had on the computer, I found a new favorite band!

We had our first calf! Around noon on Friday (ok, not quite the weekend) Bunny calved. Around two on Friday it started sleeting. That would be just like Bunny. So guess what I did from around 2 to around 3? I tried to move a cow and her newborn calf.

I tried luring Bunny with her favorite feed treat, but she was not about to leave the calf, who wouldn’t follow, and she just wasn’t interested in it. I tried this for a while, and then called mom to see what she thought. We decided to try to move the calf. I was kind of worried about this, Bunny is pretty unpredictable. I picked up the calf and started walking up to the microbarn. The mama was the least of my trouble. Bunny didn’t really even seem to notice much. She followed a little and went back to eating. The calf, on the other hand, was very opposed to being picked up and moved. She flailed around, kneed me and whacked me in the face with her head. She is her mother’s daughter, that’s all I can say. I ended up carrying her a little and then herding her a little.

Once I finally got to the yard Mom helped me get the calf in the shed. By this time Dad was almost home from taking the kids to Co-op and I was pretty well soaked and freezing. Of course, Dad was able to get Bunny up to the shed right away. If she is capable of love, Dad is the only two-legged she has eyes for.

Bunny is actually a really good mama, despite how it might sound. Apparently cows can become attached to the place the calf in. It is so sweet to go out and hear mama and calf softly mooing to each other. A couple winters ago we got Bunny a molasses lick and she absolutely loved it. We decided that if she had a girl calf we would name her Molasses, because Bunny loves Molasses. Welcome to the world Lassie. Your name is very fitting, except you are anything but slow.

On Saturday Claire and I had a Bible Quiz. Neither of us placed as well this month as last. My team didn’t do as well as last month either, but Claire’s did quite better. This month we only have 3 weeks between quizzes. This will be interesting. I’m determined to get more memorized, even though there is less time to get it done.  Like my tag line in my email says:

Discipline is remembering what you want.

David Campbell