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Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Main Thing is to Keep the Mane thing the Main Thing

Within a few days of my youngest brother’s birth, my hair turned curly.

I had had wavy hair since I actually got hair at about age 2-1/2, but as soon as little Timmy made his appearance, those waves turned into a full head of spiral curls.

No, I didn’t get a perm.

(I actually didn’t even know what perms were until I was in my late teens and I watched my grandma do one for one of her beauty school classmates. Naturally, I didn’t think much of that idea. Curls are nice, but I’d never sit in that stench for the sake of a few curls.)

In a way, I became sort of obsessed with my hair. I wanted my hair to be very long because it’s convenient to hide behind long hair. I knew I had really beautiful hair, and if I could draw people’s attention to my hair, they wouldn’t be paying attention to the rest of my pathetic little self.

I kept that up for… several…. (like, 20) years.

I was never pushed into having long hair. I genuinely preferred it, and I would have wanted it regardless of what anybody said or thought about it. My desire for long hair had more to do with emotional/psychological issues than religious rules.

This is one of the ways that I was a stereotypical patriarchal daughter. I just sort of fell into the role, whether I realized it or not. Later, I was exposed to some erroneous doctrines that made me believe that I was living in holiness and righteousness because I had long hair, but it also made me believe that my holiness and righteousness was completely hypocritical. While I was submitting to the command to have long hair, I was rebelling because I wasn’t wearing a head covering.

These ideas did NOT come from my parents or any church we attended, although attending the patriarchal church did not help the situation at all.

For a while, I inwardly struggled with the idea that I needed to stop being rebellious and start wearing a head covering like a good, submissive Christian girl was supposed to do. Fortunately for me, my pride and ego wouldn’t allow me to actually go through with such a ridiculous notion. It would have been another thing I would have had to explain to people, and I just wanted to live a quiet, peaceful life, avoiding as much conflict as possible. So I tucked the guilt over my rebellion into a little corner of my mind and did the best I could to forget about it.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in My Story

 

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And Baby makes Five

On my 8th birthday, my parents informed me that I was going to have a new baby sister or brother in 4 months.

I was absolutely convinced that this baby was going to be the baby sister that I had always wanted.

That was the LONGEST 4 months of my life.

My brothers and I argued and fought over the gender of the baby — the boys being convinced that Baby was a boy and me being convinced that Baby was a girl.

One day, the doctor told us that based on the heartbeat, Baby was likely to turn out to be a girl.

I was triumphant.

A few weeks later, the doctor told us that based on Baby’s size, it was likely to be a boy.

The boys crowed their victory.

But time would tell.

My dreams also suggested the gender of my newest sibling. I had several dreams about this new baby, and in every dream, the baby was a boy.

Those dreams caused a lot of anxiety for me. What would I do with 4 brothers? Isn’t 3 enough for one girl?

Finally, on an overcast morning in early September, my mom grabbed her already packed overnight bag and walked the 6 blocks to the hospital.

Several hours later, my dad called to tell us to get ready to go, because he was coming home to pick us up and take us to the hospital to meet our newest little brother.

I cried.

And it wasn’t tears of joy.

Oh, yes, I was happy that my brother was here. But I was bitterly disappointed that I was surrounded by a multitude of brothers and I didn’t have anybody to do girlie stuff with.

I also cried because in some of the dreams I had had, the baby boy was sickly/ugly/malformed and I was so afraid I would go to the hospital and see a baby that was somehow imperfect.

Fortunately, those parts of the dreams didn’t happen in reality.

Baby Timmy was beautiful, in a manly sort of way. I was completely captivated and immediately decided that it was ok that he was a boy. Obviously, I still wanted a sister, but I wouldn’t have changed Timmy for anything.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in My Story

 

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Malaise

Also during the time of my Moment of (spiritual) Epiphany, and my introduction to the Bible, I got really, really sick.

Now, sickness wasn’t unusual for me at all. As an infant, I had constant ear infections and ended up taking that nasty pink, strawberry Amoxicillin for a year straight. And after that, it took me almost 25 years to decide that I could eat a strawberry without throwing up.

However, the sickness I had when I was 7 was much different and as far as I know, I had never been so sick in my life. I remember laying on the couch and sleeping through my dad reading Anne’s House of Dreams. The only reason I remember that it was that particular book is because I remember drifting in and out of consciousness and not knowing what I was dreaming and what I was actually hearing — but I remember it being about the old haystack of a man, Marshall Elliot, Miss Cornelia and Captain Jim at the Light House. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should totally read that book.)

I don’t know how long I was sick, but shortly after I started to feel better — meaning that I felt good enough that I didn’t sleep all day anymore — I received a letter in the mail.

I wasn’t very good at reading at that point, so I asked my dad what this letter said and he told me that it said that I had to go to the clinic and see a doctor to see why I had been so sick a few days before that. I did not like this idea and I think I protested a little, saying that I felt fine now and why did I have to go to the doctor?

But, I went anyway.

Dad took me to the ENT and the first thing they did was to look down my throat, decide that my tonsils looked nasty and then order a throat culture.

My throat still hurt. Having the doctor stick a swab down my throat hurt like the dickens. I gagged and I decided that I would NEVER allow anyone to swab my throat again. (That didn’t last long!) The doctor decided that I didn’t have any infection in my throat and I didn’t need my tonsils out, even though they were hugely swollen. (To this day, the swelling has never gone away.)

The doctor did determine that I needed to have my adenoids removed. My adenoids were blocking my airway, making it impossible for me to breathe through my nose and causing me to snore very loudly. My unprofessional assessment of the situation throughout my life up until that time is that I probably had sleep apnea, which caused me to not get enough oxygen while sleeping, which caused me to panic in my sleep, which gave me nightmares about death and dying.

About 3 months before my 8th birthday, I had my first surgical procedure. (If you would like to see a video of an adenoidectomy, click here. Disclaimer: Please don’t click on the link if you are sensitive to blood, surgeries or other medical procedures. I only included it for the benefit of people who are a bit nerdy like myself and love to learn about these things!!)

Surgery was a trippy experience.

Everything smelled funny.

It was SO cold in the surgical center!

I had to get up at like 6:00 am to get dressed so I could go to the surgical center and put on a funny nightgown so they could put me to sleep again.

As far as I was concerned, that was a totally silly thing to do.

I remember them taking me back into a huge room and laying me down on a long, skinny bed. I brought my baby Rebekah with me and the nurses told me they would take good care of her while I slept.

They put a black rubber mask over my nose and told me to breathe deeply and count to 10. I got to 6 and decided that it wasn’t working.

The next thing I knew, I was in a different bed and I threw up every time I moved. I felt horrible.

A few hours later, Mom brought me home and I spent the rest of the day sleeping on the couch.

And I spent that night not sleeping because I had slept all day.

My throat hurt.

I was hungry.

But I didn’t dare eat anything because it hurt to even think about swallowing.

I was given Amoxicillin in the pink strawberry form, which I didn’t take because I vomited the first dose because I couldn’t stand the taste of it. I was also told to take tylenol for pain, which I also didn’t take because I couldn’t stand the taste of that either.

My first meal after surgery consisted of a banana. I have never again had such a delicious banana.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in My Story

 

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Crampin’ My Style

A few days after my spiritual epiphany, my three brothers and I received brand new, leather-bound King James Version Bibles for Christmas.

On New Years’ Day, we began our annual tradition of reading through the entire Bible in 365 days.

We were 11, 9, 7 and 5 years of age.

This ritual consisted of all of us sitting in a circle and taking turns reading 2 verses each until the assigned passages were finished.

I don’t know how anybody else felt about this new development, but personally, I hated it. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like reading the Bible as it was that I hated that it was so ritualistic and it kept us from doing “kid” stuff.

My brothers and I liked to listen to Focus on the Family’s “Adventures in Odyssey” on Saturday mornings, and this new Bible reading thing totally cramped my style when it came to stuff like that.

And, I was a brat. If I didn’t like something, everybody knew about it. Sometimes, by the end of the Bible session, I would be screaming and everyone was fed up. I don’t remember exactly what my thought process was, but I think it was something along the lines of, “If I’m not enjoying myself, then no one else should either.”

On top of that, I had turned into a major control freak. I wanted it to be exactly the way I wanted it and everybody else had to adjust. I didn’t care if it meant that I would be “spanked” or punished in other ways for disrupting the order of things.

While I’m on the topic of my spiritual education….

My parents were very diligent in seeing that my brothers and I learned not only the stories in the Bible, but the theological and doctrinal teachings of the Bible as well. By the time I left home, I had pretty much memorized the books of Proverbs, John, Romans, Hebrews, Galatians and Ephesians from having repeatedly read those books.

One time, I was in Sunday School (at a non-patriarchal church) that was taught by the pastor’s wife, and she started by saying “Today we’re going to look at the story of the Woman at the Well. Turn to….” and she began scrambling to try to figure out where we were supposed to turn and I said, “John 4?” My teacher was flabbergasted that I knew exactly where to find the story she was looking for.

When I was a little older (10-12 years old), I began to really resent the whole Bible reading thing. I wanted to do it on my own. I started to read old copies of Keys for Kids, a devotional published by Children’s Bible Hour. The family Bible reading thing was too boring and I made it too chaotic to get anything out of it, so I started reading on my own. After a while, I found a Bible somewhere and hid it in my room so I could read the scriptures that went along with the devotional readings.

Yes, I said “hid.” I wasn’t ever told that I couldn’t read the Bible, but I felt so discouraged in every aspect of my life that I felt that I had to hide it, if for no other reason than if no one knew about it, I wouldn’t have to explain myself and possibly have to win a battle to keep doing what I wanted.

When I was in my middle teens, after I had saved my birthday money, Christmas money and random pennies I found in random parking lots, I asked my mom if I could buy my own Bible. Yes, I had my copy of the family Bible, but I didn’t want to bring it to my room to read it because I didn’t want to be discouraged. So I thought I’d just end the possibility of that happening by buying my own — one that no one could tell me when to read and when to not read. My mom discouraged that idea. But the next time we went to the Christian book store, I secretly purchased one anyway, and hid it under my mattress. And read it I did — I read that Bible faithfully through my teen years and through the first three years of college.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in My Story

 

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On a Lighter Note

The only time we ever got new clothes was on our birthdays and Christmas.

At this point in my life, I totally understand that. I don’t see the point in buying each kid a bunch of new clothes when they’re going to outgrow them in a matter of weeks or months.

I don’t think I really cared all that much about it at the time either.

But, one day, one of the neighbors gave us a gift certificate to K-Mart. (This was back when K-Mart was cool. I still have a soft spot in my heart for K-Mart because of this!) We went on a good ol’ shopping spree.

I got a purple corduroy skirt and purple t-shirt set.

When my parents asked my little brother what he wanted, he said, “Puppy pants.”

He went home with a pack of brand new Snoopy underwear.

I don’t remember what the older boys got.

My dad told this story to some friends a couple of weeks ago, and he said that the next time we went to Prayer Meeting, we all came parading out, so proud of our new clothes. Except for my younger brother. His share of the loot wasn’t something you could really show off.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in My Story

 

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All’s Well that Ends Well

Sometimes we just need a good chuckle….

Yesterday, while I was getting ready for church — in other words, while putting my face on — my phone suddenly chimed, which completely startled me and I ended up sticking my mascara wand in my eye.

(My apologies to the three people who have already heard this story. Keep reading. Part 2 follows!)

A few seconds later, my eye started to water.

And a reddish brown tear rolled down my cheek.

I freaked out.

I had visions of an ER visit, followed by probable vision problems, followed by medical bills followed by financial ruin….

And then I realized that the mascara was brown. I was crying mascara, not blood.

But wait- it gets better….

This morning, when I went to grab my hairbrush from the cabinet, the mascara apparently saw me coming and threw itself to its demise — or at least, attempted to. I was able to save it from certain death.

Apparently, the mascara can’t take the abuse of being stuck in someone’s eye.

Poor, demented mascara….

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Awkwardness

I went to Bible Study tonight. We were supposed to get into groups and answer this question:

As a child, how did you adapt in order to be accepted or in order to fit in?

I didn’t answer the question.

I fully intended to go home and think about it, but my friend’s 3-year old threw herself at me the second I suggested going home, so I held her, hugged her, and prayed that she would never, ever have the same answer to that question that I have.

My answer to that question is “absolutely nothing.”

Because abused children know that no matter what they do, they will always be rejected.

I have a book called “Broken Children, Grown Up Pain” that talks about the affects of abuse on children and how abused children (often) grow up to be abusive adults. One of the things the book says is that when an adult abuses a child, the underlying motivation is always rejection.

Someone who loves and accepts you doesn’t beat the crap out of you. That just doesn’t happen.

When someone controls you, beats you, calls you names, belittles you, rapes you — they are saying, “You don’t deserve to be treated with respect. You are a reject. You are a loser.”

They are also saying, “I’m taking this from you because I am entitled to it.”

Abusers create an imaginary lower level to place their victims on.

I was placed on that lower level at a very young age.

I was never exposed to anything else and never had a clue that this wasn’t normal and wasn’t ok. I was expected to take the abuse and be happy about it, to be gentle, sweet, loving and submissive in all situations. I adapted to those expectations because I was told to.

I suppose you could say I adapted because I didn’t want to be beaten. I don’t like to say it that way because my personality is to please people, and I would have been all those things regardless of whether I was beaten or not. To be perfectly honest, I think I would be even more of a pleaser if I hadn’t been abused. That’s how much of a pleaser I am.

So, sitting in church tonight, I said nothing.

What would I say? “I got the crap beaten out of me regardless of what I did, so I just gave up.” It would be true. But honestly, no one wants to hear that. Especially not church people.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in My Story

 

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