childhood, Uncategorized

Walking in the dark

After working the late shift the other night I climbed into bed with my 16-year-old daughter to visit and hear about her day. She had to take the late bus home that day which was a first. I asked if it was dark walking home from the bus stop. ‘Yes it was scary,’ ‘did you call your brother?’ I asked.  ‘No I used the light from my phone and walked fast hoping nothing would jump out at me,’ was her response.

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Her walk in the dark reminded me of the first place I lived after getting on my bicycle and riding away from the ‘farm’ at 13. That is another story for another time.  At any rate, I ended up in the same house I had lived in as a child, even had my old room back. Like that didn’t depress the shit out of me. The community school only went to grade eight so I worked at the bakery from 4 am till 1 pm Monday to Friday. The house I lived in was over a mile up a mountain. I watched the telephone poles be installed. There was no pavement, no street lights. Moonlight was my only guide if I was lucky. I would walk down the mountain using the path as a short cut. It was pitch dark usually. Occasionally the moon came out from behind the clouds illuminating the pathway. I was terrified of mountain lions, bears, and god knows what else. I have no idea how I managed to not only wake at that ungodly hour but to force myself into the cold darkness down that mountain.

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One day at church the elementary school teacher was speaking about things that made her day and my morning walk was one of them. She loved to wake up hearing me sing as I skipped along the path to work. Brightened her day waking to my cheerful song. Little did she know I was singing to keep the paralyzing fear from overcoming me. I had no choice but to get to work walking that path in the dark. Fear wasn’t an option.

Funny it hits me now that in all the things I have done in life:  fear or failure was never an option.

childhood, Uncategorized

Best mistake my father made

The best mistake my father made was to let me join him that one Christmas break watching the VHS tapes he picked up on brainwashing and mind control. It was an unintentional gift that has lasted me throughout life.

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I’ll never forget the families wanting to get their children back that wouldn’t leave. How they didn’t stop searching for them. Trying to get thru to the youth, the person that they knew and loved. How the person in the commune just didn’t hear the words. I mean really hear them. They would listen and try to explain to each other why the lifestyle was good or bad depending on who was talking yet neither party actually heard the other.

In the videos, it was explained how they got these lost souls, these people who were searching for something more. How that lifestyle was appealing and dominated all other choices. Why they stayed and believed. One young woman maybe early 20’s stuck in my mind. She wanted to leave but couldn’t get away. They kept at her until the methods worked and she became pliant to their lifestyle suggestions. Or maybe she just gave up and gave in fro sheer exhaustion.  Another young woman felt the opposite. She refused to leave she wanted that life regardless of the hurt and abandonment her family felt.

What made them pliant, willing believers? It wasn’t  beatings, rape or physical abuse like you may assume. It was segregation, hunger, lack of sleep, heavy physical labor that finally made her pliable to them. This is where I connected the dots that I was right. That it was wrong how I was being raised. Don’t get me wrong here. The community I was born into was nothing like Wako Texas and other extreme sects. It was a community built to live off the land, to be self-sustaining and off the grid. However, as with any good values, some extremists thinkers were a part of it. Of course, the deep religious beliefs didn’t help.

Earlier that year I had gotten in trouble for something I’ve conveniently forgotten. In the ensuing teen outburst and tantrum, I went for the phone to call child services as ‘it was wrong to be raised like this’. The consequence to that was to be locked into my room for a few days on bread and water twice a day brought to the door and escorted bathroom breaks a couple times a day. The hook and eye lock I had installed at the outer top corner of my door to keep my little sister out now had backfired for that is how they locked me in.

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I was livid. How dare they treat me like this. Make me a prisoner, lock me up, the injustice of it all. True to teenage form I got over it. I wrote the thousand word essay on my wrongdoings and after my allotted days I handed it over. And was promptly in trouble again for plagiarism for how could a 12-year-old write a decent essay? One who grew up with adult conversation and companionship, with books, sermons, and discussions, not friends, preschool, playdates, and television that’s who. Needless to say that disbelief in me further solidified my resentment. The resentment that had been building for a while and would continue until it burst out.

Many years later I was at a self-help weekend retreat. Similar methods were used. We had to stay at the hotel at night and weren’t to return home or be in contact with our friends and family. We shared rooms with strangers. Were woken early to hike a nearby hill prior to breakfast. We spent days digging deep into our painful pasts, resurrecting the scars that brought each of us to this workshop. I saw the signs and smiled to myself. I joined in all the exercises for you will only gain what you’re willing to put in. I believed there were life skills to be learned regardless of the red flags. I wanted to heal any issues I had so I could have the emotional tools to be a good single mom to my young children. I wanted to be able to provide the best childhood I could to them and mine wasn’t exactly role model history. So I did my best and ripped open my scars baring them to these strangers. I learned to accept myself and love myself. Near the end of the weekend, we were divided into small groups and given an assignment for the next day. We were given a song and told to come up with a performance. The stress of a public display, to dance and screw up, to fail in front of everyone was terrifying. The feelings of insecurity and fear. Clammy hands wiped on thighs,  nerves strung tight, we were all on pins and needles.  Thankfully my group didn’t have to go first and we were part of the big circle watching the performance. It was then that I noticed and saw exactly what was wanted what was being done.

It wasn’t a dance or performance. The leaders wanted you to jump and move in such a way your adrenaline would pump through you. That the fear and insecurity would be overwhelmed by the physical motion. Then you immediately stop close your eyes and fall back into the arms waiting for you. Your bodies natural reaction to the adrenaline the rush of emotions, the immediate calm with all those hands holding touching you that you had bared your soul to cried with was an emotional break. Shaking crying and the high from the release. It was an addictive feeling. Like the high of a drug that envelopes you with warm lethargic joy, love, happiness. Yet this was legal, expensive but legal. For those that didn’t realize what it was, what gave them those awesome feelings that would become an addictive retreat.  then came the pitch for the next retreat at an even higher price! Thank you, dad, for teaching me what you did!!

childhood, Uncategorized

Fear or was it

I know I have been writing about my single digit years but last night I remembered something and thought to share. My teen daughter is totally loving scary movies and Insidious 4  came out recently. She just had to see it with her friend, another avid fan. As I was driving them home from the movie they talked how they wouldn’t be able to sleep a wink. That they would need large cups of coffee to start the day at school. It made me smile and also  reminded me of when I was so terrified I couldn’t even close my eyes.

I was thirteen and had just left the community. I was done with the overbearing control that was welded with the expectation that no questions would be asked. I was currently sleeping on the floor in the guest room across the hall from my aunt and uncles bedroom. Dad had been dead a few months now and life was supposed to be back to normal but I just couldn’t.

I was angry, depressed, and lost. Life didn’t matter. The world should have stopped the day that he died. Instead I was on the floor in a strange room, with a strange family that was ‘family’. My future was being discussed in hushed tones without any thought of talking to me.

My heart race as I lay on the floor in the dark, the hall light slipping in through the unlatched door. It felt as though there was a giant boulder on my chest. The weight was unbearable. It was hard to breathe. The weight of it was suffocating me. I closed my eyes hoping to sleep to ignore this awful feeling. But when I closed my eyes all I could see was my fathers body all mangled and broken. His body choking on the blood and lacerated organs. I would open my eyes wide and try to think of giant fluffy puppies. I would close my eyes and the image of his body laying there eye bulging out would pop into my mind. Like a vivid picture, as though I was there. I would gasp air trying to breath trying to think of anything but that. In exhaustion my eyes would drift closed and his body would be falling and  falling and falling crashing down. His voice calling out to me would jerk my eyes open again. There was no escape from the pictures in my mind or the weight of pain and agony on my chest.

I slept with my Bible open on my chest for months. The only way I felt remotely safe enough at night was with my Precious moments Bible on my chest. The actual weight ( in hindsight it is similar to a weighted blanket ) of the Bible eased my constricted chest. Helped me take in a breath and try to block out those horrible images.

This went on for days, week, months. My depression depended. My anger grew. No one reached out to me, instead they worried and prayed. What happens is Gods will.  As an adult with children, having made it through I just would love to go back and  shake some people and say  ‘WAKE THE FUCK UP’. Actually there is much more I would say but I will leave it at that for now.

 

childhood, Uncategorized

Why did I bite the man

How come you bit him my parents asked. “Because he said I could,” was my simple answer. Earlier I had been sitting on the stairs coming up from the basement. I wasn’t allowed downstairs but I was halfway so technically I was obeying. The men lived in the basement once their cabin burnt down. We all ate meals together and worked together as a whole.  This man that I recall feeling close to yet had loathing for had come by me on the steps. Maybe I was waiting for him. Hard to know what my little five year old brain was thinking.  I have no recollection of asking him. The only memory I have is sinking my teeth into the soft flesh of his hand between his thumb and forefinger. Once my teeth clamped down I just wanted to keep biting harder and harder not letting go. A voice in my head said I couldn’t. It would hurt him I thought. I need to let go I thought. Yet my jaw was locked into the bite. I don’t recall him making a sound. I just clenched my jaw, sunk my teeth in trying to hard not to go too far. Not to bite too hard. My teeth marks were there to stay. Little teeth indentations in dark shades of purple. I don’t recall having any repercussions from that action. I suppose the fact that I had asked permission and he’d said yes was enough. As a youth I wondered what would have caused that want in me as a young child. Did he do bad things to me? I would never know.

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As a youth of the streets my mother would cry out for prayers for her wayward  daughter. Why was she gone, why did she deny the Lord, why was she a herion addict and drug user, as loose woman. Ironically I never touched herion, didn’t really do hard drugs, didn’t drink often and always choose to do it safely where some pervert couldn’t get me. My mother and the leaders of the school never once mentioned I had been denied return to the fold. Never admitted to the community I had come back begging to live with my mother to be one of them again. Promising to be a devote follower and never question them again.

So I wondered. Mother wondered. Others wondered what could have happened to me as child to cause me to turn my back on God, on life in the community, on my family. Who could have hurt me so. Was it the man that I bit, some other man who lived in our home. No one  not even me thought maybe it was being turned away from my own mother. Being sent away as an unwanted bothersome thing. No one thought what internal damage that trauma might cause my already aching heart.

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I will never know why I bit him. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I may never know why I did many of the things that I did. I now know that the biggest hurt of all even more than my father, was being turned away by my own mother and the community I was born into.

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