Personalizing

One of the books I read a while back, that really hit home with me and I felt the need to recently re-visit was “My Parents’ Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Disturbed (Paperback)”.  I bought it shortly before I started this blog back in 2006…   and before that point, I never heard of an ACMIP (Adult Child of a Mentally Ill Parent).

Up until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to look Read the rest of this entry »

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To me… when I was 13…

Whelp… I’ve been tagged… by Rebecca from her “Fictional Reality” blog.   The idea is to write a letter to yourself when you were 13.  This was her post – “Tag! You’re it!, and is a good read that leaves one wondering… “what exactly happened at her cousin’s wedding anyway??”.  =)

It is funny that not too long ago, I wound up writing a post called “If I could go back in time… “.  In that post, I wound up writing about what I would tell myself if I could go back 6 years ago… when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, had a 5 year old son, and was taking care of my dieing father.

I didn’t plan to write it… it just rolled off…  and the really weird thing is that only a couple days later, I wound up face to face with a pregnant woman – pregnant with her 2nd son, and she has a 4 year old son, and she had just lost her mother.  I wound up in a deep conversation with her, even though we hardly knew each other… and, saying many of the same things to her that I had just written about.

Anyway – now, I’m faced with writing to my 13 year old self… Read the rest of this entry »

I saw the light!

I was the youngest child in our baptist church to be baptized.  The baptists don’t baptize you when you are  a baby like the catholics.  They believe you have to be old enough to understand what you are doing and to want to do it. 

I think it was the summer of 1971.  I was a devout born again.  I loved church and all that it stood for.  I wanted to do everything right.  I was five. 

I remember being home one morning with my mother.  My dad was at work.  My brothers at school.  She was playing the piano and singing away.  I was bored, as usual.  I saw the light in the hallway was still on… and I sat and stared at it… mesmerized… just looking and feeling the burn.  I had never done that before.  And, when I looked away… suddenly I couldn’t see so good.  There was a big spot everywhere I looked.  What had I done???  

Worried, I interrupted my mother’s piano playing.  You had to be insistent to get my mom’s attention…  and I was…  getting a little more frantic each time she didn’t respond and noticing the “spot” was following me everywhere.  

Worried, I asked her, “Mommy?!  What is that light?  That spot following me??”.  Finally, I had her attention.  She curiously examined the room and inspected where I was looking.  She asked me if I still saw it.  I said yes… I was scared. 

She however, suddenly acted like she was filled with glee!  She was so happy, I suddenly was too!  She excitely told me I was seeing the holy spirit!” 

I was confused.  She explained it was sort of like a gohst… but, that it was a GOOD gohst…  it was an ANGEL…  It was a MIRACLE!!  She began praising the lord and praying and hugging me…

She asked me over and over, excited and happy, “can you still see it?? where was it now??” 

I replied ethusiastically, “yes… it’s there!  no… wait… there!… now there!!  it’s followinig me!” 

 Gradually, the spot faded away and my vision was back.  I was relieved.  She seemed let down. 

 But not for long.  She promptly called the pastor and all her church friends and told them her little girl had just seen the holy spirit..  an angel!  I must be special.  And, that while she was worshiping the lord in song and music… I had been visited by God himself… holy-gohst style!

She was so darn proud. Hell, I was too.  I didn’t know what I did… but, if she thought it was great and said I was special… well, then… It must be!  

She had me meet with the pastor that week, and the following Sunday I was baptized before the church.  He said I was the youngest child he ever baptized.  He asked me, are you sure you know what you are doing?  What it means to be born again and baptized?? I thought, are you kidding?  Of course I knew!  I was five whole years old and a miracle child.  LOL

That Sunday, I remember feeling very confused as I stood in line with all these grown ups waiting to be baptized.  What the heck was going on?  I didn’t even know how to swim yet?  Where was my life jacket??  I was scared… they all assured me it was fine.  When I actually got baptized, I remember him picking me up, in my long wet white shirt, so the congregation could see me.  They all applauded and I thought, wow… am I special or what??  It’s good to be born-again! 

About a week later, I must’ve been bored again and I stared into a light bulb again.  Hey!?!?  Whadda ya know??  The spot was back!!!  This time, my brother was there… he obviously knew about this trick and he stared with me and we both watched the spots come and go. 

I remember silently figuring it out in my head.  I had NOT seen the holy spirit… It was NOT a miracle… It was what happens when you stare in a light-bulb.  Who knew????  Well… now I knew. 

I thought about telling my mother about… but, I didn’t want to disappoint her.  She was so happy.  Besides, had I done something wrong?  Would I get in trouble for lieing?  Even thoght I didn’t know what it was?  And, what about being baptized???  I had already done it.  Would it be in trouble?  Would my mom get in trouble?  

 I decided a couple things that day…

 1) I couldn’t believe my mom about everything… and she didn’t know everything.

2) It was easier to keep my mouth shut and play along than to upset the apple cart. 

I was half right, at least…

 ~smj

reason vs. evil

When I was a kid… my mom thought everything was “evil” or “disgusting”. Rock music. All my friends. My Dad. T.V. Anything. I didn’t believe her- but, I knew what she thought. 

She read my diary once when I was 17 and totally freaked out (even though I personally don’t think I had done anything THAT bad). She started praying over me in the middle of the night, anointing me with oil and speaking in tongues, and accusing me of ridiculous things that I had never done or that weren’t even possible to do that I knew of.

I never told my Dad at the time – but years later I did. He was mad when he found out and asked me why I didn’t tell him back then? He said he would’ve made her stop.And, he usually did “make her stop”. If she said we couldn’t go trick or treating – he said we could. If she said we couldn’t watch any TV (even the show “Happy Days” to her was “disgusting”) – he said we could. If she wanted us to go to church 5 times a week – he said we didn’t have to if we didn’t want to.

They fought a LOT. Screaming – and sometimes she would hit him. Of course, I didn’t like it. But, I felt sorry for her – she was always so sad… crying… it was so dramatic. I felt like I needed to take her side, even though, I didn’t believe my her and was glad my dad didn’t make us do all the things she wanted.

Well, when I was really young – I did believe her. I was in it.  I was scared and belieiving all the “evil” lurking around me.  But, it wasn’t too long before I started questioning things  –  like religious beliefs as well my mom’s personal beliefs/stories.  However, I went to churches that I didn’t like for years – just to make her happy.  I was afraid if I stopped going she would totally “lose it”.   She “lost it” a lot.

This went on for years and years… I stopped going to church finally at age 17, right after she read my diary and freaked out. She called me a hypocrite, and I told her she was right… and admitted I was only going for her and I stopped going. She freaked… but, she survived. It was a relief to me.

I guess I eventually hit a point where reason overpowered all the fear and “evil”. 

~smj

Could Mom be wrong?

I grew up very religious – baptist for starters… then more of a full-gospel/pentecostal… and then my current religion of choice – nothing.

When I was just a kid… I went to church 3-5 times a week with my mom and my brother. My other brother, and my dad stayed home.

You see, my father made no bones about the fact that he was an atheist. He then went on to tell us kids that it was our choice… we could go to church with our mother if we wanted to… or we could stay home with him and do chores.

My oldest brother went to church for a while.  Then, he was the first one to take my dad up on this option. He opted to stay home. My mom was not happy, to say the least. But, my dad was a man of his word, and would not make my brother go if he didn’t want to. This led to the major divide in our family.  My parents had always fought like crazy… but, this divided us 3 kids too.  From them on out, it was my Dad and my oldest brother, against my mom, my other brother, and myself.

I watched my mother tell anyone that would listen all about how awful my father was. And, how he was going to hell… and now he was trying to drag her son with him. We prayed for them. A lot. My mother would cry and cry… and we would all pray… the three of us, and anyone else my mother could drag into it.

Then, I would go home.. and my dad would say – “you don’t have to go to church if you don’t want to”. What? And wind up like HIM, I thought? Going to hell in a hand basket? No thank you. Besides, if my mom tweaked out that much over my one brother not going, what in the world would happen to her if I didn’t go too? Did I want my mom telling everyone that would listen about how I was going to hell and praying for me? And, besides.. I believed her.

I believed it all. I was scared to death for my dad and my brother. I belived they were going to hell. I prayed my heart out along with them. I cried and cried too.

Yes, I was a good little christian girl. When I was about 5 or 6 I tried to “save” every kid on my block. Needless to say, I wasn’t very popular that summer. LOL But, I did whatever my Mom told me to do… and I did it because I thought she knew what she was talking about. Along with the pastor and all the other good people at church.

I played the organ and sang in church regularly. I was shy and scared to death… my knees would shake and I felt like I was going to throw up each time… but, I was convinced this was something I should do. You see, this was the only time my dad would go to church. To see me preform. Each time, my mother would gather the pastor and church leaders to pray before each “special” I preformed. We would pray that when my dad came to see me that THIS would be the time that God would speak to him… sort of bonk him on the head with christian fairy juice or something and he would suddenly become the perfect christian father that he should be.

It took me years to stop believing that would happen. And, as I became a pre-teen, my dad had it all figured out too. He stopped coming when I sang. My mom and pastor would tell me to ask him to come… put the pressure on him… make him feel guilty. So, I did. Only, I really felt bad that he wouldn’t come. I wasn’t pretending to want him there. My mom told me to tell him that if he loved me he’d come… and, so, when he wouldn’t come… I actually wondered if he really did love me or not.

It took me a while before I realized that of course he loved me… he was just sick of the plotting and scheming… and, after a few more failed attempts to make him come and see me… I realized I was tired of it all too. I was relieved… I didn’t really want to sign in front of the whole church. So, I stopped “preforming” like a trained seal. I still remember how guilty my mom made me feel for “giving up”. Mot only my mom, but also the pastor and other adults. Looking back, it makes me very angry. Angry with my mom, but also with the church leaders for putting that kind of pressure on me. A little naive girl. How dare they????

Singing wasn’t the only time or way I was “used” by my mom. My mom knew how close I was with my dad. How close all of us kids were with him. She was jealous. He was the one we turned to… and I was without a doubt – “Daddy’s little girl”. He may have been an atheist… and going to hell or not… he was never anything but wonderful to me and my brothers. If anyone taught us positive life lessons – it was him. And, yet, I’d hear my mother trash him every singe day. She acted like he was the devil himself. She and my Dad fought a lot… and, she would use me as a pawn against him.

After my mother’s prompting, I vividly remember apporaching my father… teary eyed and upset… asking him why he didn’t believe in God? why didn’t he believe in the bible? and sobbing that I didn’t want him to go to hell. His answer, I remember explicitly…

He sat me down on his knee.. wiped my tears… told me not to worry and that he wasn’t going to hell… I hopefully listened on. He explained that he didn’t think there was a hell… and he said, “You know your little Thumbelina book that you like so much? You know how it’s a great fairytale and story, but it’s not real? Well, that is how I think of the bible. I think it’s a great book… with lots of great stories… and some good messages… but, I don’t think it’s real”. This answer made me feel better, even though my mother promptly shot it down and told me he was going to hell again soon after. Still.. it planted a seed of a thought… maybe…just maaaaaaaaaaybe Mom was wrong???

TBC…

~ smj