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

Books and Movies, Musings, Poet Among Other Things

Saying “No” Isn’t Weak

Volumes of Rows is the only story I’ve ever finished, and I only finished it because it had to get out of my head. I came up with it as I was shelving in the library one day. Have you ever compressed a stack of paper and then let it go really fast? It makes this ominous creak that almost sounds like breathing. Now, our library isn’t all that large, so I knew I was nearly always in sight of the circulation desk, were something to happen. But what if I was alone? What if that creak actually was the books coming to life, but since someone can always see them, they can’t move? I came home that day and wrote down what played out in my head. The next week I had a gut check when I noticed that someone had left the large quilt book out.

After I finished trying to trip my sister, Meg, as she was learning to walk, I decided to torture her by other means. I attempted to convince her that aliens were going to come in our nearly two story high window, turn her brains to oatmeal and eat them with a straw. Now Meg, being very level headed and logical, had no reason to believe in aliens. I, on the other hand… have always had a very vivid imagination. I convinced myself of what I failed to convince my sister.

LimitsFor the past two years I have spent the weekends of October working at a corn maze. If you’ve ever been to a corn maze, you probably realise that there is a lot more to the attraction than a maze of maize. This particular maze features several rides and playthings, including a fairly tall zip-line. This year I worked the top of the line. I will admit, I wouldn’t have ridden this thing when I was little. I’ve never liked heights. As you can probably imagine, there were a lot of kids who would take one look and opt for the much shorter version. Most of the time the parents would suggest that they try the big line anyway. I loved it when a child who was scared at first grew to love the ride. You enjoy something so much more when you work for it. Seeing children overcoming obstacles is one of my favorite things. There’s a nearly visible shine on their faces.

Then there were the Shamers. The parents who would say some variation of “Don’t be a baby,” “He’s braver than you are,” or “Don’t be a sissy.” Some of these kids would eventually give in to their parents jeering. But some didn’t, and I applaud them all. The ones who did try because they faced their fears and the ones who didn’t because they took a stand. They didn’t give into name calling and pressuring. They ruled themselves and made their own decisions, even when those decisions weren’t popular. They set limits they were comfortable with. They had the strength to say “no.” Of course, they may later regret not riding. But, that’s part of growing up and making choices. You can allow yourself to be haunted by the Might’aves and the Should’aves, or you can learn from the experience.

My mind can be an eerie place. Because of this I have to be careful about reading or watching paranormal sci-fi or horror. If I give it the wrong encouragement, my imagination will run rampant and I can quickly lose control. There are times when I prefer movies to books, simply because my mind isn’t confined to a screen like a film is. I miss out on some things because I don’t enjoy certain types of entertainment. But I’m ok with that. To live a healthy life, you have to recognise your limits.

Actions in Activities

How A 3 Year Old Can Control a 19 Year Old

When I was 3 years old I went to the doctor’s for a checkup. Just a routine visit. I remember walking into the brick building with my mom. She was a lot taller than me 16 years ago. Then I remember sitting on the exam table crying. There was blood everywhere and my arm hurt. I felt violated. They did that to me, without warning.

Since, well, Christmas really, I have been just a bit off. It got worse at the beginning of this month. I had the flu, and then it never really went away, and I’m still very fatigued. We took me to the doctor last week. The night before I got about 3-4 hours of sleep because I was so nervous. When they drew blood everyone seemed to think I was about to be sick. 

Last Thursday I went to the ER.  The pain was so bad at first that I started to black out. I couldn’t talk, but I could think. Lungs, not heart. Loud ringing in my ears. Cold lips. Sweating, gray skin. Shards of glass, being ground into my lungs with each movement. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. I had no control over what was going on. They got me hooked up to the monitors, drew blood and took some x-rays. Everything was normal. They decided it was pleurisy, gave me some more meds for the pain (that was all but gone at this point), and sent me home. The only time tears threatened to roll down my face was when they put in my IV, later injected the meds, and when they took it out before I left.

That one afternoon when I was 3 years old has changed my life. Not only do I have a hard time trusting doctors and nurses now, this memory from my early childhood  has changed my future. A while back I realized that I would make a great EMT. But then I realized that I would have to let other students learn on my arm. Maybe someday I will be able to do that.

I’ve often heard parents talk about kids being so young they won’t remember things. I’d like to tell you, this is bull crap. I know most people don’t remember things that happen when they were 3, but I do. I also remember singing How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria with my grandmother when I was about 6. I remember the last time I went to the doctors office without anxiety. The funny thing about memory is, you don’t know what is going to stick and what isn’t.

 

Farm and Family, Musings

Tradition!

Like most people, our family has traditions. We don’t have many, but we have a few. When someone has a birthday we put them in charge of the leftover cake. We might eat cake for a week, or just eat it all in one day, it depends on the birthday girl (or boy, as the case may be). When Dad leaves for work in the morning he comes to everyone’s bed and says goodbye, even though it is around 5am and everyone is asleep.

Everyone has traditions, whether they realize it or not. You may just see it as a habit, like showering before bed, but we all have them.

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Some traditions just happen, like the birthday cake. Others have a genesis, like Dad’s goodbye hugs.

Our journey as Christians can be that way too. If we aren’t careful, we just get into the habit of doing Christian things. It’s what our parents did, so we do it too.

I have grown up in a Christian family. In fact, Christianity goes back many, many generations and my grandfather was a campus minister. I became a Christian when I was around 5. There really wasn’t that big of a change in my daily life. I didn’t cuss or drink or anything like that. I was 5. I was childish, but I wasn’t demented.

I know there are many people with a beginning like mine, I’ve talked with several. It can be easy to have a “grandchild” mentality. You become a Christian because that’s what your family does. I’m noticing a lot of “Grandchildren of God” mentality in the homeschool community. Teens grow up, and don’t really know what they believe. They don’t have an original thought in their heads. They just regurgitate what their parents say on any given subject or issue. They have a birthday cake mentality. This is what we do. Why would we do it any other way? They haven’t come up against any real opposition yet, and when they do, they are shaken, sometimes to the point where they disregard everything they were taught.

Sorry parents, but this is your fault. Unfortunately, you don’t realized what you are doing. You are just trying to teach your children their faith, but what you are actually doing is teaching them yours. I know you really do mean well, so may I make a suggestion? Give them the tools and the raw materials, then let them build their own ideas. Give them guidance and an atmosphere where they feel free to ask questions. If they come up with something that you feel is off, ask them questions about it. How did you come to that conclusion? Start up a conversation with your teen. Please, remember this little bit of wisdom I’ve learned from my parents. Once a child turns 12-13 you can no longer tell them what to do. You can offer tips, but, unless it will harm something or someone in your charge, they really can’t be stopped (barring extreme force and police involvement, and in most cases that really isn’t necessary). Let them own themselves.

A life built on personal beliefs is a much more rewarding one than a life built on someone else’s. That’s what you want for your children. You want them to have “goodbye hug” traditions, not “birthday cake” habits.