Giving Too Much part 2

When I was 11 we came home one day to find someone we’d met at a homeless shelter/food kitchen/church thingy on our doorstep, with her infant. We’ll call her Missy.
I don’t know how she got our address, or why she was there.
But she was.

And I gave up my bedroom and moved in with my sisters and Missy stayed with us for a very long time.

She stayed with us through the aforementioned foreclosure, where my parents stopped paying their mortgage in lieu of paying someone else’s.
She stayed with us so she could get her two other kids (and nephew?) back in her custody.


Our house was foreclosed on and we were facing homelessness – not just for our family, but for Missy’s as well.

My parents traveled all over the city, and even a few hours north of where we lived, trying to find some place to live, but because we were being foreclosed on, no one was taking my parents + another family, because they didn’t trust they’d pay.

On the day we had to be out (the people who bought our house granted us an extra week or two on account of they were nice and we had a shit ton of people to move – although, Missy did most of the packing because….I think mom and dad were busy looking for houses and also hanging on to “god saving our home”) we had nowhere to go, we were looking at being homeless, and Missy was still going to follow us around.

The plan was for me and my siblings to stay at my grandparents while my parents continued to travel anywhere to find somewhere who’d let a two-family-one-income household rent from them. It was a really terrifying day. Not knowing where we were going to sleep, or live, or if I’d see the people in my homeschool group ever again…

But then my grandparents mentioned that the house next door just went up for rent, and so my parents went over and the guy who bought the place just wanted the land, so he didn’t ask questions and said as long as we’d paid the rent we could stay there. So we did.


When I was 12 mom got pregnant again, which meant that pubescent Kiery got to take over everything again, except this time….not only was my mom telling me what to do, and having me run the house, but Missy was too.
I was cooking and doing chores not just for my family, but hers as well.

Let me mention this again: I was 12 years old.
I was taking care of two families single handedly.
I was not okay.

Eventually my parents confronted Missy about using me as her slave too, and set up a chore list so other people had to also cook and clean and do laundry. Mostly, just that Missy had to take care of her family’s stuff, and we alternated cooking days. Zero introspection on the part of my parents regarding…I don’t know, placing too much responsibility on a twelve year old.


My parents got mad at me for my “attitudes” (because I was adolescent, exhausted, run ragged, burnt out, and barely keeping up with everything, including school), and blamed it on Missy’s 15 year old daughter’s influence (because I shared a room with her – even though we weren’t close). Very little came of this besides my trying extra hard to be totally happy all the time.


It was Missy’s older child who alerted me to the fact that my period had started when I was studying in a tree with my brother, her cousin, and some of the other kids. My brother was very concerned, and I panicked. Missy had then asked me, at random, if I was pregnant or not because I would sometimes wrap my arm around my abdomen (because cramps. and no meds.), and I was mortified. Half because I didn’t know what sex was or how to do it, and half because that’s not something you ask an isolated twelve year old who just started having periods.
 


My parents paid Missy $40 a week to stay with us and homeschool her kids. That way, she could say she had a job to the CPS people, while still fulfilling her god-ordained plan to be a stay at home mother and educator. I…don’t remember this going well. To be honest I’m not sure if she even did anything more to educate her kids than through books at them, like my mom did with me, but I don’t remember. I was otherwise occupied.

Missy was, however, a far superior cook than my mom, and fish and frog-legs aside, she made some really good food. This is the only pleasant memory I have of her. Graham cracker cake and home-made Chinese food.


Shortly before/after my 13th birthday, my parents discovered that Missy had been abusing pharmaceuticals and kicked her and her family out.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved that I only had one mom around any more, and my own room. Also, my brother got to move out of the closet and into Missy’s alcove, which was nice…and I was maybe jealous.
The second stillborn happened two weeks before my 13th birthday.


After Missy, my parents decided not to let random families live with us again. Turns out my mom didn’t like having another lady in the house either.
 


2003 dance recital

My mom got pregnant almost instantly after the stillborn and I had to get my own rides to ballet (which meant asking my teacher to pick me up and coming home with my grandma). My ballet teacher was a wonderful adult to have in my life at the time. She made me feel valued and cared for at a time when I really needed it, because I wasn’t getting that from my mom.


In fact, that was often one of the things that hurt me so much as a child – I never had time with my mom, and I’d get upset and we’d have a mother-daughter day, but that would happen all of three times before she would get pregnant again and it would end and I just became an object. I tried to explain this to her once, but she never really understood it.


She spent so much time talking to and being there for other people, acting like she knew all the things about being a good wife (helpmeet), homeschooling, and parenting – but was never there for me, never there for her kids.

I never doubted my parents heart for giving.
I’ve always doubted their love for me. 

Sparkly Sparkly Ghosts

I have a lot of jewelry and I don’t really wear much of it. I’m not a huge jewelry person – I wear two sets of studs in my ears to keep the holes from closing and my wedding ring, and that’s about it unless I’m feeling fancy and it’s not winter (necklaces + cold = brrrrr).
So today I went through what I had and I realized a lot of it was stuff from years ago and triggered a lot of weird memories and feelings. There’s my purity ring, the necklace my parents got me when I was thirteen with two itty bitty diamonds to represent childhood and adulthood, random stuff that I picked up over the years: the pair of earrings I wore on the really awkward date Alex and I went on, my first set of earrings ever, a bunch of random stuff….but all from within that 6 year vacuum of when I got my ears pierced until I moved out.
And it was weird, seeing it all laid out on the table as I was cleaning them feeling generally meh and worse as time went on. I put aside the necklace I made the month before my 18th birthday, when I was prepping for my drivers test. Some of my jewelry was like going back through my journals, getting snapshots of moments in time.
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It feels heavy. I didn’t realize how many physical remnants of my past I had until I started sorting through it this afternoon. So many negative associations with physical objects, even if I was happy about them at the time. Handling all of it….was a lot.
So I decided to do the cathartic thing, and just throw them out instead of holding on to them or trying to sell them. It’s maybe not the awesomest decision but I don’t need their haunting memories in my life anymore.
I did, though, keep some sentimental pieces (like my wedding set, for instance), and the pieces I really like and actually wear (mostly somewhat geeky, like my dragon-claw dice holder necklace); I feel less bogged down now, and I feel like my collection of jewelry reflects me more accurately than the messy piles of things over 8 years old did… without emotional minefields, too.

Paralysis

I’ve been in a block all month.
I haven’t been able to garner up the motivation to do anything that I actually/usually want to do – especially creatively. It’s taken all of my willpower to push through and draw the last couple comics and art journal entries. Things that usually energize me or at least make me feel better. I feel less explosive, but no less pointless and futile.
It’s weird how we – or at least I – can ignore the glaringly obvious, or at least not think about it. I was catching up on Wil Wheaton’s blog and found this (read the rest of the entry here < because it’s accurate and helped me figure out wtf):

And you feel like shit because you aren’t making anything, or creating anything, or actually doing anything.  And you desperately want to make something, but whenever you start, depression wraps itself around you and whispers in your ear, “Why bother? You know how much you suck.”

And that, dear void, is exactly. EXACTLY. how I’ve been feeling all month – in addition to the  weekly minor-ish tragedy that sends me into a tailspin for days, only to find upon resurfacing that there’s something new wrong with me, my life, or the world.
Between the depression and the anxiety I can’t help but feel that everything is so pointless. But I know depression lies, I KNOW it’s all bullshit, but I’m stuck in an infinite loop and it’s so fucking hard to escape it. Honestly, it takes me about a week to escape it (so yeah, the random gut-punches that have happened on a weekly basis this month, NOT HELPFUL), sometimes longer, and I can’t escape it by myself. My antidepressants help a lot, but they don’t mean I don’t ever feel depressed or don’t ever get stuck in a loop, or don’t ever experience depression – they just manage it so I can live normally most of the time (yay!).
It’s hard to bother getting dressed or out of bed, it’s hard to draw, I haven’t even been able to think about actual vlogging because I am constantly reminded by the voices in my head, voices from the past that I am inadequate, I am not enough, I am not worth doing what I enjoy doing, and I deserve to be punished and have bad things happen. Voices that tell me I’m being punished for some discrepancy against a cosmic asshole I don’t even believe in anymore. It’s weird how much crap sticks to you. It’s weird how much being told you’re a horrible worthless piece-of-shit person (under the guise of loving christianity) from birth fucks you up when you’re an adult.
When things happen close together, even if they’re unrelated, it’s hard for me to cope. I feel like I don’t have time to process the last thing and be okay before the next thing hits, and eventually (or rather quickly) it devolves into anger and self-loathing and paralyzing depression and anxiety (< which I’m not treated for yet, but I need to be), and lots and lots and lots and LOTS of self-doubt. Like SO MUCH self-doubt that all of the progress I thought I made, I don’t know where it went.
I don’t really want to wake up and deal with another day. But I know that’s a lie too.
It’s easy for self-loathing to start at one place and end up at another. Maybe I start out feeling like I’m just stupid, and eventually I end up also feeling ashamed and embarrassed about my anatomy (especially vaginismus) and I just start seeing myself as completely and utterly broken because I have a body. It’s times like this where I tend to disassociate from my body more, but that hasn’t happened so far – just a lot of anger at my avatar.
It’s paralyzing.
I’m scared and I’m tired and I feel like it’s never going to end. I’m worried this creative block is permanent and  I’ll never finish KieryGeek because I can’t muster up the energy to talk to a camera. I’m ashamed and embarrassed and I feel incredibly worthless and insignificant.
But I know it’s all bullshit. I know it will pass. I know depression lies. I just need time.

I have something to say

I have a story to tell, a story that’s been hanging over my head for months and I haven’t said anything out of fear and now I just need to release it so I can feel better.
This summer, I was cornered by people I trust – put into a situation against my will that triggered an onslaught of PTSD, flashbacks, and sent me back into the past where I was 16 years old, sitting on a couch, being berated and interrogated and told I was a horrible person.  
I’ve been dealing with the psychological and emotional fallout of that since – it’s gotten better over the last month or two, but for what felt like an eternity, I couldn’t write, draw, or even use my voice for fear of it happening again.
I forgot I was an autonomous adult because the situation sent me back to a place where I was powerless, because the people who cornered me kept calling me back every time I tried to escape, because I was already in the middle of a tunneling flashback, I shutdown, which for me looks like this:
 become robotic and stoic, I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore, because I just became a shell running on autopilot, giving the answers that they want to hear as best I can without giving away more than I am comfortable with. Sitting calmly, listening to my accusers, showing no emotion, giving reasoned answers, trying to end the interrogation as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, I am hiding somewhere in a cave warding off nausea, panic attacks, and tears. Somewhere they can’t see. Because I can’t let them see, it’s not safe to let them see that I’m bothered, that will validate their point.
I am well practiced at this. I spent my childhood perfecting this response. This is what my fight or flight looks like, because I was never allowed to express emotions or explode at my parents. 

Note: if I ever become stoic, cold, and reasoned during a discussion that is uncomfortable, I am not there. In general, I can’t talk about anything in any other way than passionately or emotionally.

When that finally ended, I was sick. We went to the lighthouse – as far away from the cottage as we could – and I curled into a fetal position and bawled and screamed for what felt like an hour.
I can’t really put into words all of the ways it hurt. My mind is a minefield and they tripped on all of them. Everything exploded in a dozen different directions – trying to figure out how much is PTSD and flashbacks from the past, how much of it happened, how to deal with the feelings of betrayal from people who “are just concerned”. Even writing about it now, almost 4 months later brings back all of the complicated feelings that are still a tangle of wires.
I made a point not to give them answers to their questions, and in the process a lot of very hurtful things were said and assumed in their own right.
I threw up all night that night, after everyone went to bed, assuming I was fine.
I told them it was food poisoning, but I lied. It wasn’t food poisoning, but I didn’t want to deal with more questions and “worry” and weird apologies-that-aren’t-apologies when I just wanted to be left alone. I am good, too good even, at telling people what they want to hear – often at the expense of myself and my own preferences. You could say I was trained to do so.
I was asked questions about my lifestyle and faith from a place of fear and worry, I was asked who my friends were and if they were christian (because you don’t want to get answers from the wrong places and they didn’t know who I was friends with). As if I were a 14 year old starting high school with friends doing drugs and they (complete outsiders!) were entitled to know.
At various points, even on autopilot, I did somehow find enough mental capacity to reiterate that I am an adult and I don’t have to tell them anything and I have no obligation to them. I’m proud of that.
They admitted(?) I wasn’t obligated to tell them anything as they continued to pry and confirm whether or not I am indeed a christian (or good person) and tell me that I should have come to them with questions (they don’t know where I’m getting answers!) because they’re pastors and know all of the things.
But the thing is, I didn’t have questions – I knew the answers, and ganging up on me, forcing me into a conversation and berating me, making wild assumptions and accusations and saying things that just show how misguided and misinformed they are about the world and how it works doesn’t make me want to talk.
I didn’t expect to have to deal with this kind of situation as an adult, I wasn’t prepared to feel trapped, again, and the fact that it happened bothers me.

Becoming Geek

Not so long ago, I was one of those really unsocialized homeschoolers who couldn’t hold up a conversation about Harry Potter but could tell you about ANWR (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge), domestic (oil) drilling, and how little control our federal government really has over the control of oil prices. I’d only ever played racing video games occasionally – my favorite games were the educational ones my parents bought or that my grandpa got from school – namely, Mavis Beacon Typing, Story Weaver, and Amazon Trail. Those were just the games I was allowed to play, actually. My brother played Need For Speed, and Lego Racers (which I joined in on a few times) and was allowed video games and consoles.
I lived in a very controlling, mentally/spiritually/emotionally abusive home, where I raised and nurtured 6 of my siblings until I moved out days before my 7th sibling was born at 18. I was never encouraged in any artistic endeavor or to do anything but get married and become a breeder for religious reasons. That’s what I got for being born with a uterus – my reproductive organs defined my worth.
I never read The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter because magic was witchcraft, which we would inevitably start practicing if we were exposed to it (because of our lack of brains?). At one point we abandoned our Disney collection, until my mom had too many kids it was impractical to keep them from Cinderella even if it did have a fairy godmother in it, and she did use a spell (bippity, boppity, boo).
I thus immersed myself in historical fiction and studying history so intensely that I still have a lot of random stuff memorized. It was the only allowed form of geekiness that I had, and so, I used it. I had 4 pocket constitutions; for a couple years I always had one on hand, just in case. I knew where to find ANYTHING by the article, and often section number.
Because I was so intensely set on learning I saw through the bullshit that a lot of the history “teachers” in the Christian community were peddling. Their revisionist history – while I was never allowed to say otherwise without being lectured – was clearly ill informed, completely untrue, and lacking in any historical context. I knew this because I studied everything around and leading up to events just for the context.
Now when people try to tell me that we were meant to be a theocracy by our founders, I call bullshit and brainwashed.
That’s kind of besides the point, though. The point is that I was sheltered. I was not allowed to play actual video games for more than an hour here-or-there if my siblings needed a player 2. I wasn’t allowed to read fantasy books because of religion. I hadn’t seen Star Wars until I was nearly 17, and even then I was bored because it was Episode 1. I’m convinced we only saw it because my mom was confused about the “classic” nature of it, and the kid from Jingle All The Way was starring.
I didn’t see LOTR until I was 17 at my boyfriend’s house, because he was really into it: Tolkien quote in email signature and everything. We started with the extended edition – I had to watch it 3 different times before I got the story and then I fell in love with the genre and with LOTRTwo Towers especially.
When I moved out, and moved in with my boyfriend’s family which is an even longer story, we started playing the PC version of Halo on occasion. That was my first “real” introduction to gaming, even though I hated getting shot all the time while figuring out how to move. I was also introduced to Firefly and Fringe – we’d watch these quietly to avoid waking up his parents, who are also not into science fiction or fantasy.
When we got married, we bought our first console, cable, and I’ve come a long way since then. I’d always identified as a geek, much to my mom’s horror, because I always knew I was – so you can imagine my happiness upon finding not only a ton of content, but a ton of people who were into the same things. We discovered that Focus on the Family outright lied about Harry Potter; Doctor Who is amazing; Browncoats are forever; and GAMING IS FUN. There are games that have stories, you guys! STORIES, not just racing and/or shooting. I had found that piece of me that was missing and wanting to manifest, that piece of me that helps everything else make sense.
Ask any ex-quiverfull or fundamentalist daughter and they’ll tell you it’s reallllllly hard to escape the you-are-your-uterus-mindset and find out who you actually are, what you actually like. This has been a long process for me – an ongoing process even, because I’m still unlearning old thought processes. On bad days, I just sit and wonder if doing what I want is even worth it – if being me (whoever that is) is even worth it.
It is.
Now, I’m making the third season of my web-series. I started it last year in a moment of clarity, sudden bravery, and lack of fucks to give after an existential crisis.
This project, KieryGeek Season Three, is all about storytelling: the things that I love about gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, and geekdom – I’ll be talking about world-building in games and collecting play-through footage. I’ll also be creating stories with the help of my co-conspirator Matt (MALE FRIEND I’M NOT MARRIED TO WHAT? TAKE THAT UPBRINGING!) in a hangout format. I’d really like to see this funded not just because it’s cool and another kind of community, but because it would mean so much to me personally and my constantly self-critical psyche to do something amazing and worthwhile and completely me for a change.
Thank you everybody!

Depression and Spiritual Abuse

Looking back, it’s no wonder that all of the feelings and self loathing that lead to my depression, brought depression. I was taught that I was worthless, that I should never think well of myself, that I needed to be humble, I was never allowed to show any emotion that was not a plastic smile. Perfection was constantly demanded, and perfection is what I was incapable of. I am, and was keenly aware of my failings, of the places I don’t measure up, where I don’t meet parental wishes or requirements – those were held over my head, brought up in arguments to coerce me further into being my family’s slave.


I remember times when my parents would sit there and berate me for hours (under the guise of “concern” and wanting to “help my [spiritual] walk”) and tell me that because I missed doing laundry one day, misheard or misunderstood a demand, that I was a bad sister, a person going down a path of destruction, away from god, if I kept up this “rebellious” attitude.
I remember being bragged about to people (when convenient) only to be later pulled aside in private and told to shape up. I remember dismissal and invisibility. I was a pawn, a tool, a broom.

I related strongly to cinderella and everyone thought it was cute, but they didn’t realize that I felt as worthless as the dirt she was mopping. That I believed I WAS as worthless as the dirt she was mopping – to know and be told in actions that I am only loved and approved of when I DO things in a certain way, with a certain demeanor regardless of feeling, ill, tired, or stressed. When I was imperfect (as all humans are) I was punished – verbally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, mentally. I internalized their words of my failures and believed that I was a failure, who didn’t deserve any good.


This was not aided by the fact that my family explicitly believed and taught that it was better to live a life of suffering (by gods hand, of course) than to live a happy life. That god did not want us to be happy (and by unspoken extension, wanted us to be miserable or persecuted).


It’s no wonder that between the bullying because of my imperfections, and the toxic theology of my parents, that I internalized at the most impressionable ages, my total and utter worthlessness and the only way to deal with that, was to hate myself as much as I perceived I needed to be. It’s no wonder that it escalated. It’s no wonder I shut down, became numb, stopped feeling, and felt robotic. It’s no wonder I was and at times still am, utterly ashamed of being a woman (someone who is less because of different anatomy)*.


*by people like my parents, the tendency of republicans in positions of power, and people who perpetuate the theology of “equal but different” where differences justify belittling.

Depression and I (TW: Suicidal Thoughts)

I’m going to be doing a series of posts about depression (my depression). I could do one long post but it’d be a small book…
I’ve struggled with depression since puberty. That’s about as far back as I remember anyway. At the time, I had no words for what I was feeling/going through, my parents dismissed it as “adolescence”. I thought it was normal – normal to hate myself as viscerally as I did and continued to (on new deeper levels as time went on), to completely shut down my emotions and stop feeling, to live in a constant state of melancholy and numbness.
I didn’t understand mood swings because I didn’t have any moods to swing from. I alternated between meh and grumpy-meh. NOTHING moved me, nothing made me cry. As time passed and I went through more changes, I began to loathe myself more, I began to believe that I was worthless, didn’t deserve to be human or treated as a person or with respect, I was nothing more than a tool in my parents toolbox – a tool that would never please it’s operator.
When I started my period, and I was “fully a woman”, I added shame to my already hated existence. I hated that [bleeding/fertility] about myself – more biology that I couldn’t fix. Biology that would haunt me forever, end my life as I knew it [because children, eventually] – the debilitation (after I moved out and was no longer running on adrenaline) added so much negative to my already non-existent body image, and self worth. I would lie in bed for a week, and just fantasize about plunging steak knives into my uterus and ripping it out.
When I was 17, I was borderline suicidal for 6 months. I thought death would be better than continuing my existence at home – my shameful, guilt ridden, broken, worthless existence. Because of friends (and knowing that killing myself would defeat the purpose of my impending escape) I managed to stay away from self harm, and ultimately, suicide. I had a gun (16th birthday present), I knew where it was, I would imagine using it, but I never took it out, I never tried anything, I just liked the thought.

TeenPact and Women

To my knowledge, there have only been two female governors in Maine, and none (to my knowledge) in GA. Maine is seen by the staff as the more liberal/wildcard state where things happen there that don’t (or aren’t allowed?) happen in other states. Maine and Hawaii I suppose, because there’s surfing there and every staffer wants to staff those two states.
I know both of the female governors closely. Women taking on a high leadership position that isn’t somehow under a male is almost unheard of. I was shocked when I won “president” at Back To DC in 2007, but I think that was because the dude who was running before was an obnoxious 13 year old who wasn’t even going to stay the whole time and I had previously attended the class and the one other alumni there was on my campaign. I may have won favor with the staff when I shared that I was struggling with running for the position (because *gasp* I can’t LEAD), instead of running the campaign (because that was completely different).
At National Convention, Women are allowed (I wouldn’t necessarily say encouraged) to run for Representative and Senator, and even Vice President. In my time there, I only ever saw Boy/Girl Pres/VP teams, because women running for president, while not directly prohibited was just known to be taboo. I ran for representative but never made it past primaries – although some women definitely are elected, the majority of the faux positions are still filled by males. I know this parallels real life, but here it’s encouraged. Women in leadership positions is allowed, but sketchily, always under men.
In fact, we are told, many times, in no uncertain terms that we (women) are supposed to just go along with whatever the men say – even if we disagree with it, and to not speak up if we do. They’re supposed to lead, after all, and we’re supposed to submit.
In “girl talks” a session where the guys go out (to talk about opening doors) and the women stay inside we learn that modesty is on us. completely. It is our job to cause our “brothers” to not stumble while we’re at class. We’re told exactly how to wear and to not wear items of clothing. In State Classes we must wear skirts, and they must be over the knee when you sit, never too tight when you move or bend over. All clothing must be able to hang or give at least an inch from your body, but simultaneously, should also be cute/professional and not frumpy. Just to be safe, I wore several layers – in the middle of summer, in the hot GA sun – just in case I got wet, or the sun caught something and my one-size-up tshirt were suddenly opaque.
We must be vigilant, and tell our “sisters” if they’re wearing something we think is too tight or revealing. Lady-Staff will confront girls to change their outfit if they feel it’s inappropriate. Because, again, it is our responsibility to show ourselves as non-human-shapeless-forms so our “brothers” don’t accidentally see our bodies and think something bad.
Boys aren’t told how many fingers width a neckline is allowed to be before it’s “too much”. They don’t have to reach up, and bend down to check and see if any skin shows.
But we, we seductresses in our pubescent awkwardness, we must never show any more skin than necessary to avoid heat exhaustion – and even then, pants must be loose!
I hate using the phrase “rape culture” but the more I think about it, the more this perpetuates it – because regardless, it is ALWAYS the women who are at fault. We are essentially told as much, and this is coupled with “don’t tell a man no” is just a setup for abusive environments and relationships to thrive.


TeenPact and Me

TeenPact is a christian conservative/evangelical organization that organizes government and civics classes and camps throughout the country. Their goal is to raise a generation of christian leaders (teens) to go and bring the country back “for christ” by encouraging activism and male leadership.
When I think about TeenPact and my time there, I don’t feel anger – like I do with most of my other past experiences. I feel confusion. Because I have so many good memories and experiences that are entrenched in environments that perpetuated the lies that enabled an abusive environment to thrive.
The thing about organizations like TeenPact and NCFCA is that their goal is to raise a new generation of leaders – thinkers, even – to do one specific thing: Take the nation back (for god!). What they don’t count on, is that by giving us the tools and resources to think critically, we’ll actually, you know, think critically and carry that on throughout our adulthood. Which is awesome and I’m really happy that I was allowed to learn that, because it’s served me well and enabled me to become the person I am today. Funny thing though, our parents and the people who head up these organizations get extremely grumpy and upset when we do what they taught us to do (or at least you know, the thinking part of that) without doing the rest of what they wanted us to do.
They teach us how to think, but then, they don’t actually want us to think, they want us to do their bidding.
And this, in a nutshell, is my beef with TeenPact. I’m going to be splitting this into parts instead of writing a book of a blogpost – because some things need to be fleshed out more, so for today, I’m going to concentrate on one particular event that happened while I was staffing.
I staffed one of the GA State classes in 2007. As staff, I helped oversee the voting process – a process which is designed to teach students about how elections work (assuming everyone is honest). The votes were tallied and my friend was a clear winner. I was pleased with this, and a little proud because he had really gone out of his comfort zone to even run. I was appalled, confused, and maybe a little angry when in that back room the Program Director turned to us and said, well, I don’t think he’d make a good governor, we should choose someone else. The founder was there and the high ranking staff wanted to impress him (by discarding the process?) and decided that my friend wouldn’t do it.
So in that back room, the Program Director, and the higher ranking staff decided to choose someone else from the 3 candidates to be governor and told us to be quiet about it. I was 15 (2 weeks before my birthday) and I had no idea how to respond – I was too shocked to say anything and too surprised to complain or dissent, so I stood there quietly, feeling as though my mouth was gaping. When we left the room with the new results, and with the Program Director deciding that his vote overruled all, I was full of shame and guilt. We announced who won and there were many questions – because in the other room, everyone tells everyone who they voted for, so everyone actually knows who won. People asked me questions and I couldn’t respond, my friend asked me and I was crushed and had to give him the same line I had given everyone else “it’s just what the votes were”.
I felt helpless because everyone who I would have talked to about it, was in that room and made that decision. They didn’t expect dissent – honestly, I don’t even think dissent is allowed, though it’s never directly stated – it’s a very homogenous group and anyone who does dissent is instantly cast as weird/strange/anything you don’t really want to associate with.
The staff did what they did because they didn’t want to get in trouble with Mr. Echols. I don’t know what the staff meetings are like, but I imagine that choosing a good face was enough of a requirement to strike fear into the hearts of the interns.


The Strongest Woman I Know

I had intended to spend the day painting my dragon (Archangel) for my Horde army that I need to pick up the rest of on Thursday. But while in the shower, thinking about the meaning of life (as you do, and then quickly do that thing we call “washing” 2 minutes before the water turns cold) I realized that a large reason that I’m not bat-shit crazy, and the reason I attribute to my marriage being awesome and not abusive, is because my grandmother on my dad’s side was my rock.
I struggle and have always struggled with feeling worthless, like I’m nothing more than a broom with a brain and octopus arms for doing my mother’s bidding (or now, cleaning my apartment like there’s no tomorrow). I wonder, sometimes, why I’m not with some asshole of a guy, someone who is manipulative and mean, I wonder why my story is different. Why am I with this guy who’s been nothing but a catalyst of/for freedom and acceptance of me in all my nuances and idiosyncrasies. Who loves me for my intelligence and heart (as well as my boobs)?
I think, it’s because of her. My parents did a lot of lip service to self-worth and not settling for people who don’t treat you right, but they proceeded to treat me horribly. My Gramme?
She is the strongest person I’ve ever known. She was the second-youngest in a huge family, and the “all bad” child in the eyes of her mother (even though, like me, she spent her life slaving away for her family), she was neglected and abused and the most loving, accepting person I’ve ever met. She was brave and unafraid of anything, she was my original escape plan. She was the one, who, by her unconditional love and acceptance instilled in me this sense of I-deserve-to-be-treated-well-by-my-friends (family I was kinda screwed with, but *my* circle, I deserved to create to feel safe in).

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She was the type of person who wouldn’t sit quiet if her kids were wrong, if her grandkids were hurt she would fight for them. She was my defender. I knew that if things got bad enough, I could run to her and trust her to protect me (not that I would have, but she was *that* kind of safe place).
When she died I was devastated. I’ve grown up around death – my first funeral was at 6 months old. My great-grandparents have passed, my uncle, two siblings, friends…my Gramme is the only one that still affects me. I still cry and get choked up when I talk and think about her (so I usually try not too, because there’s a huge gaping hole where she should be). Sometimes, 5 years later, I still do a double-take on the street because I see her dopple-ganger. If I were spiritual, I’d take it as a sign that she’s looking at me (instead of just some random elderly lady with the same haircut).
When I think about how she’d feel about me, I feel so so secure in that she’d still love me – that I could still tell her anything and she’d keep it between us, that she’d be supportive, that she’d be proud, she’d tell me I’m brave, and she would understand.
My gramme is the reason that I am so strong. She’s where I got my stubbornness from, she’s where I got my I-will-protect-the-shit-out-of-the-people-I-love-screw-you-if-you-hurt-them impulse, she is why I value acceptance and completely unconditional love.
She is why I am so lucky. Because without her just loving me? I would have been so different. She taught me, without either of us realizing it, that I am worth loving because I am me – that people who don’t accept me for me are not worth my time. And that’s why my marriage looks the way it does, that’s why I’m lucky, that’s why I built a circle of friends who genuinely cared about me, a circle that my family couldn’t penetrate.
I am lucky because as a child, I had a tether – and when all hell broke loose, when the shit hit the fan, when the abuse left crushing and devastating imprints on my soul – I KNEW that someone loved me unconditionally and THAT was right.
That’s why my story is different. That’s why my marriage is actually healthy – the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had.
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