Sunday, October 20, 2013

Witches Aren't Real (But Try Telling My Parents That)

So when I was about eight or nine I watched The Wizard of Oz at my grandparents' house. My family didn't have a television at the time so it was always exciting to go over to grandma and grandpa's and watch a movie. In fact I distinctly remember going over there (they only live five or so miles down the road from my parents) to watch TV on 9/11.

Anyway, my parents were not pleased that I had been exposed to The Wizard Of Oz. To be honest I didn't really like the movie then and I still don't really like it now, but I wasn't about to admit that and lose my chance at some real honest to god rebellion by liking a movie with witches in it.

I got a talking to, not about how I should not have watched the movie, but about witches. Witches. My parents sat me down and told me that witches were not actually good like Glinda, and that The Wizard Of Oz was not a good movie because it showed witches as good and beautiful.

Throughout this entire talk (which was very kind and well intentioned, my parents weren't angry at me at all) I kept thinking to myself "but, movies aren't real..." Now, I was (and still am) a total geek. I love fantasy, I adore mythology and folklore, and I read an old book on necromancy for fun (apparently alder wands are the best for raising the dead) but even at eight I knew The Wizard of Oz wasn't real. Yet here I was getting a lecture about evil witches as if I might meet one on the street and be.... I don't even know, turned into a toad?

But this odd obsession with fantastical things is the very reason my home school co-op demonized Harry Potter (good witches! And kids might try those magic spells!) and Pokémon (mumble mumble demons or something) and in some cases even more Christianish books like The Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings (those were usually okay because Christians wrote them).

There are two problems with the actions my parents and their community took, one, questionable material usually got a free pass if the parents enjoyed it when they were kids (so I got to see Star Wars despite the Eastern paganism befouling it). And two... It's rather unnerving when an eight-year-old has a better grasp on reality than full grown adults. But then again these are the people who tell their children to pray if they feel like there are demons in their bedrooms. Nothing like telling a kid the monsters under their bed are entirely real and out to possess them. But hey, you've got the sword of the spirit and the power of prayer on your side! Go get 'em champ, and sleep well.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I'm Running Away and I'm Taking my Baggage with Me!

I never seriously contemplated running away as a child. I occasionally thought through escape plans and how to care for my siblings in the wilds if one day CPS came to take us and split us up or if my dad ever killed my mom, but I never really thought of running away for my own sake.

I did a lot of running away though. I left friends who couldn't love me the way I loved them, I remained silent when I should have spoken up, I was the good little church girl when all I wanted to be was a rebel, I prayed instead of going to the doctor, and I hid under my blankets when the shouting began.

Sometimes, though, you have to run away. There are things I probably could have done, spoken up when I disagreed with someone, done what I wanted with my hair, told one of my friends how I really felt about her, try to explain to my mother that she was being abused. Maybe I should have maybe I shouldn't have but it doesn't matter now.

I'm still struggling with running away. When to run, when to stand. It's hard to tell sometimes. My family is a near constant source of anxiety to me, while I'm lucky in that they didn't kick me out or get me committed that doesn't make their disapproval any easier to deal with, especially for a child who was trained to accept approval as the ultimate source of affirmation, and disapproval as a punishment. I wonder how much I owe them, how much staying in contact is even worth, or if they'll every really truly accept me for who I am not who they want me to be.

Something is unraveling inside me, years of pent up emotion and scarred over memories. Since I've moved out my parent's house (and it's only been two weeks) I have less fear of repercussions for expressing my opinions or feelings. With the freedom comes a deluge of buried feelings, bitterness and hurt and confusion. I'm only now realizing the depth of the impact fundamentalist Christianity and homeschooling within an abusive framework had on me, not to mention my genetic disposition for mental illness. Some days I feel irrevocably broken, like I'm walking around with fissures running the length of my being. Some days I feel fine. Sometimes I can't tell if its depression or old trauma or some toxic combination of the two. Sometimes I have great days and I eat Chow Mein from the grocery store for dinner and get recognized for my knowledge of Platonic Philosophy in class. Mostly I just live, because I'm allowed to to that now, without the terror or ecstasy of an afterlife overshadowing my mortal existence.

And I'm thankful. Thankful for myself, and for my school, and for Plato even if he's sort of a jerk and doesn't really understand life, and I'm thankful for my community because without those connections and those precious people I'd be lost. And I'm thankful for you, whoever you are, because if you're reading this you're a part of my journey too (I hope you don't mind) and you've helped me far more than you know.

So, thanks.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I ride mass transit for part of my commute to school. It's really cool, besides running for the train and looking like a total dork, I also get to meet people I would never had a chance to meet before. Like today this older woman in an electric wheelchair came zipping onto the train. She then leaned back in her chair, gasped and said "whoop! I had it set on fast!"

So I said "you're a speed demon!"

She laughed and laughed, and I laughed. It was a short uplifting interaction that I would never have experienced if I hadn't recognized and responded to the human next to me.

I'm kind of a shy person, but I'm getting more and more outgoing since my deconversion and coming out. I think part of it is the layers of shame and fear I was taught, not just as a Christian but also as a middle to upper class white person,  are dissolving. I'm living on my own now (yep, my move was successful and my new place is great!), I'm working and going to school at the same time so my financial status has changed (I'm still really well off compared to most people), I'm openly queer, I am one of the people I was taught to be afraid of. So, the old fears fade as I realize their bigoted origins. Also, my "enemy" (for lack of a better term) is now the people who taught me I should be afraid, not those they taught me to fear. I am far more threatened walking into a church then onto a bus.

I don't really know where this post was going, I guess I'm just happy I can recognize the people around me as people, and engage them as equals, rather than living in a world of potential threats.