Until I was in the tenth grade, I was taught at home by my mother on a small, self-sufficient, working farm, where she showed her children how determined she was to live out her given role through the instruction of my father, which he gathered from the elders of the cult, and god himself. I say cult to most accurately describe a fanatical, separatist, ‘christian’ fellowship that we became involved with when I was around five years of age. Those of us who were taught at home experienced a different sort of educational dynamics, being that one person gave the authority, information, and guidance. This was completely so in my case. My bitter, empty, angry mother was determined to live her self-denial, no matter the cost to her psyche. Daily she taught us through her own example to give up everything we were, all of our own ideas, thoughts, questions, and input for the absolute, repressive teaching of christianity. Anything that gave the impression we were questioning the validation of our parents use of that philosophy was quickly shut down, shamed, and punished. The psychological control through conditioned and forced fear of a doctrine that seemed more hateful than anything was horrific.
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The art of self-denial, sexual shame and reproach of ones natural feelings and physical and mental strengths were taught me at an early age. I'm thinking that's probably why masturbation was so appealing to me. It was the only thing that made me feel fully present even if sinfully wicked. But I never could truly embrace the ‘wrongness’ of it. Fear, insecurity of another’s sexuality, and the need to control it are baffling to me, as I remember my mother’s criticism and hatred during times she acknowledged what was going on. The memories there are hazy, shameful when I allow myself to go there. At the same time I feel the need to recall why there is very little memory of feeling present at all except for frequent, brief moments of physical pleasure and the hate and disgust that seemed to draw.
The elders of this fanatical, psychologically tremulous, separatist, shaming, christian cult we were members of taught their wives and their children similar instruction. There was no encouragement of the females to consider college education, politics, government, and especially religious studies in areas of political influence and power. My sister and I were taught to focus on a relationship with a man, on future domestic duties we would inevitably face as a wife and mother. Never were we encouraged to question the given lifestyle, spiritual path, or political position of our family. This would bring criticism, anger, and annoyance in such a fanatical, debilitating way that it was easier to cope by just checking out; seeking comfort through the base physical needs and pleasures. Food and sex. It’s become apparent to me the over-indulgence in these two areas was for me emotion driven. I was taught to harness, to hate everything about my natural self. From such repression, such forced suppression of my internal instincts, perceptions, knowledge. The feeling of uselessness, powerlessness, of being subject to accept and serve with no question, no seeking my own answers, my own purpose for existence. These instructions, this philosophy, the way it was taught to me was killing every attempt at individuality, at existing without being valued limited to a sexual object whose primary use is for childbearing. I, in turn, began to slowly kill my Self. For to me, why not? After being taught I was born evil, bad, wrong, sinful, full of a shamefully weak carnal nature, why fight it? And so the Self splits, and the self-destruction begins. How very clever.
Every morning I wake, after the morning preparations, the house quiet, I'm alone, and there comes a powerful, overwhelming urge to sob, sink to my knees, face to the ground, and cry. Like a child, I feel. Like I MUST grieve, allow my body to feel this and go there, and yet I can't even dare express why this is in me. So many reasons not to look at why, to push it all away, as I have done so well, for so many years. It terrifies me, the way it feels, letting myself be so vulnerable, so raw. To feel so much pain, and know I cannot even say why it is there. The thoughts that are in my head, I try to allow them, to accept them, without reserve. Ugh-"at least you're not throwing up anymore," I tell myself, as if that is supposed to be some sort of consolation. How pathetic, yet somewhere inside I know this must be embraced with caution, gentleness, and love. The sickness where I've stayed has almost taken my youth, my strength, and my spirit. I'm lost in the immediacy of the moment-by-moment struggle against this self-destructive force in me.
Though the sick feelings are still there, in my gut, as I choose to heal my body through food used in spiritual recognition, there is ironic strength gained. Though what I feel, and think at times are outrageous, overwhelming, even crazy, I still refuse to hurt myself with food any longer. And this leaves me here, dealing with a multitude of rushing emotions, thoughts, questions, and memories. Questioning my motives, why I allowed my Self to hate so much this organic body I am in, a part of, to empty to others, then fill with their opinions, perceptions of me.
Why did I give up as I have? Why am I here, seeing all that I do in the destructiveness of our lifestyle, our culture, our social structure, our place within the scheme of male/female interaction today in this dominant culture...I chose to be weak, to hide, and now I am sick. I feel as though I could shave my head, adorn myself with 'sackcloth and ashes' as stated in the bible. The need to express outside of myself is urgent. The need for ritual, sacred recognition, for natural alignment and connection with nature is liken to the need for food and water.
My spirit is sad. I've been unable to be gentle with myself, to console myself through the depth of pain I know, live with every day, and yet I want to reach out across my home land, and begin with telling every person who knows despair, rage, sorrow, anger, fear-that they are o.k. That if we question our motives, the reasons behind our decisions, we are able to see the lessons, the reasons we cause ourselves such turmoil and pain. That we do have the power to control, to prevent further pain and cruelty towards ourselves, and towards others. The power to heal.
There are solid explanations why we are so cruel, to ourselves and to others. And not because someone like ‘the devil’ that ‘made’ caused us to act. Why do people refuse to acknowledge that the food we eat leaves us feeling different energies, different chemical reactions within our brains, causing different reactions towards triggers and emotions? My head and heart are filled with longing for change, with wailing, loud protest of the wasted time and energy on self desires, destructive coping mechanisms, on hiding as far away as I could, for as long as I could. Choosing to run has only prolonged my return to the healing journey that is beckoning me.
And so I grieve. The loneliness of withdrawal, of submission to destruction of the life force within me, of rejection, first from my family, then from myself cause a sickness in my gut that feels like a living death. My lessons through disconnection, through denial, through dissociation, through addiction have turned priceless through recognition, self-realization, and wisdom. Oh, yes, I know addiction, desire, and the comforts of the flesh. Using the touch of another to feel present, to feel needed to feel some sort of power and control brings short-lived satisfaction, and long-term agony. If I embraced the male-dominated, repressive, psychologically stunting christian philosophy, I'd have seen a minister about repentance, forgiveness, shame, and redemption. But I do not. I have put myself here, and so I fight to accept that for this time, I must seek the areas of refuge that speak to me spiritually, that give me needed connection with something beyond myself...Earth is my comfort, when I can find Her. Fire grounds me when I build Her. Water soothes my soul in such a way, I laugh out loud as a child each time I lay on my back, floating on the water, so lightweight.
I've crippled myself through my running, my withdrawal, and my mistrust. Mistrust due to lack of using intuition as to whom to allow near me, close, and whom not to. Trusting, giving time and energy to the wrong people has devastated my ability to openly receive anyone at all. Now I must return to my Self for healing, re-gathering of old knowledge, instincts, intuition, and calm. Ugh, the journey is long, daily struggle to focus my energy towards unlearning conditioned thought processes and reactions.