Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's A Quivering Girl To Do?

I have been brainwashed.
Up until a few years ago, i was certain that rock music and Harry Potter books were the pathway to hell. I was sure that anyone who really loved their kids would home school them, spank them, and have at least 11 of them. I knew FOR SURE that we hadn't been to the moon, and that Halloween was the devil's birthday. I was positive that getting married meant I would have to get pregnant right away and then stay at home for the rest of my life.

I was always uncomfortable with the idea that only MY family (and others exactly like it) was going to heaven. As a teenager, I mostly avoided thinking about everything and just went through the motions. Eventually i realized i could avoid addressing these issues forever, as long as i never got married. Marriage meant submission, and kids. And kids meant homeschooling, (of which i was terrified) and the responsibility to teach them what i had been taught. If i never got married, i could slip under the radar and avoid all the hard choices.

Well now that I'm married (and finally seeing the errors in my upbringing) I am completely cut adrift.
I want an education, but i am lost in the sheer volume of things I've never learned.
I want children, but probably only 4 or 5, and we're waiting at least 5 years to start our family. How do I overcome the guilt involved with that simple choice?
I don't want to home school my kids, but I know nothing about the alternative.
I want a career, but that will mean day-care for my potential future children, and wont that turn them into mindless spoiled zombies? I have mothers guilt before I'm even a mother.
Even little things bother me:
I want to play on the worship team at church, but doesn't God hate it when we plug guitars into an amp?
I want to ask my husband to do the laundry while I'm at work, but wont it emasculate him to do women's work?

My tomorrow hinges on the choices i make today. Do i have the patience to completely re-educate myself? Do i have the courage to make these decisions? Will I ever be truly free?

So many choices, so much freedom. So many questions, so much fear.

Have you dealt with these questions and fears for yourself? Do you have any tips or advice?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Giving God A Chance

I go to church. Sit. Listen. See the people around me with need in their eyes.
There's a mom by herself. No ring on her finger, a baby by her side. She looks content.
An elderly couple, holding hands. He is weak; I can see the oxygen tank under his chair. They seem peaceful.
Something draws them all together.
Something gives them comfort.
The pastor rambles on, I know what he will say before he says it. Why does this place no longer inspire me?
I am not challenged.
I am not comforted.
Instead i cringe at words like "Master" "Perfect" "Holy" "Only"
I no longer fear fire and brimstone. I am a sceptic. I am teetering on the edge of indifference. My heart is hard. I am afraid to get hurt.
Today I went to another place.
The pastor looked me in the eye from the stage and said: Jesus told us not to let our hearts be hardened.
Like the seeds that fall on the road die, so the Word that falls on a hardened hear will die.
Don't let life make you hard.
Life has walked all over me. Life has packed the dirt of my heart into a hard, smooth, road.
Maybe God is more loving than i remember. Maybe he doesn't hate me. Maybe he wants to be my friend.
But can i really learn that from a book?
Can i explore spiritual things with my spirit closed up tight like a pine cone?
I think I will go back next week.
To this strange place where the man in the blue shirt preaches with tears in his eyes.

Maybe it's time to turn up the soil of my heart and give God a chance.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Independence: Trials and Choices (Part 3 of 3)

As I neared the end of my first semester, it became increasingly clear that I could not attend college the following year. I had no money, no scholarships, and no possibility of a loan. Boyfriend and I continued to grow closer and the thought of leaving him and moving back in with my parents was unbearable. It came as a surprise when a dear Friend of mine convinced her father to co-sign on a private student loan. I had not asked for help and her loving generosity still brings me to tears. The loan enabled me to pay off the $15000 i had already racked up in debt, and left me with a choice: Continue my education (as a journalist) and create $70 K in debt that i had no plan to pay, OR go to a more cost-effective institution and get a quick degree in something that i knew would pay my debt. Over Christmas break, Boyfriend and I did a lot of talking and praying. It was one of the hardest decisions i ever had to make. I never went back after that Christmas break. I had my stuff shipped to me at my parents house and i signed myself up for CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) Training at the local community college.

We were miserable.

Boyfriend was planning on heading back out to Virginia, 13 hours away, in a week. We spent every spare moment together, much to the chagrin of my parents who thought we should be with family all the time. I guess they thought that we had just held hands up to this point. One night after a movie, Boyfriend pulled the car over at a local park and we sat watching the snow fall. He asked me if i really thought i could stand to spend the rest of my life with him. I told i couldn't stand to spend it without him. And then he asked me to marry him. I Said Yes.

Of course it was shocking to everyone. Except my parents. They took it to mean I was obeying their council. Everyone else told me i was making a huge mistake. Honestly i cant blame them. We had known each other for 6 months and were already engaged. We were freshman in college. We were poor, and we were YOUNG. But at 18 years of age, I walked the isle and spoke the vows, and i haven't regretted it for a day since. My father rambled on in his reception speech about how he had "allowed" me to marry. He even said that "(Boyfriend) started as worse than Whale Scum in my eyes, but he is slowly redeeming himself." I was mortified. That however, is the only bad memory of my wedding. It was wonderful and beautiful and everything I never dreamed of.

Husband is now studying at a State school (we left PHC) and plans to go on to law school. I got my CNA, but have decided to go in another direction. I will be starting part time school in the fall and hopefully pursuing a degree in psychology. I work full time as a receptionist to pay the bills. We are very happy with our life. My parents on the other hand continue to insist that we are not living a godly lifestyle. My father constantly mentions the fact that we are not having children and my mother often expresses her doubt that my husband is "taking care of me." I am sure they will be horrified to learn that I do not plan to home school our future children.

Anyway, now you know the basics of my life story. These last three posts have given me a structure on which to build further posts. I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been reading my posts! I didn't expect this and it is such an encouragement to me. <3

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slut Walk 2011

A comment on one of my recent posts got me thinking on the subject of modesty. I was taught all my life that dressing modestly was a requirement. If you dressed provocatively you were rebelling against God and tempting men. I learned that if you were raped it was probably your fault. Had i been sexually assaulted as a child i am positive i would not have been able to tell my parents.
Last month i attended an event in Chicago called the "slut walk." It's a protest against victim blaming in cases of rape. Women (and men) come dressed as scantily as they want and proclaim their right to live without fear.
As we tramped down Michigan avenue 500 strong, i just kept thinking about the time when i was 9 and afraid to put my hands in my pockets for fear of attracting attention. The time i was told i couldn't be friends with that little boy anymore because boy-girl friendships were inappropriate. I thought of how i have felt like an object and a problem my entire life. And It was liberating to shout along with the crowd.
Enjoy these Pictures taken by my friend Darlene Bunch. She is an extremely talented photographer and has always been an inspiration in my life. Check out her photography web page here. <3

What do you think? Would you be brave enough to walk with these Ladies? :)

Independence: A Taste Of Freedom. (Part 2)

2 days after the birth of my baby brother, my dad drove me to Midway airport for my flight to Virginia and freedom. “You are never to be alone with a man at any time, not even professors”
“If a boy expresses any interest in you whatsoever, you must give him my number and have him call me before you spend any time with him”
“Remember, men are scum”
“I know this is supposedly a Christian college, but that doesn’t mean you can automatically trust people!”
I humored him and pretended like I was listening. This was the last time I’d have to hear it after all. He walked me all the way to the gate, hugged and kissed me goodbye. He was a little choked up; I was chomping at the bit. Dad had gotten better over the last year at telling us girls he loved us, but it was too late now. I was so used to not hearing it that now it all just felt so forced.
The first few weeks of college were a blur of activities, new people, and frustrations. The college was founded by leaders in the homeschooling movement, so every kid there was either a socially awkward dreamer, a spouse hunter, or a really confused public school-er who ended up there on accident. The latter describes my two best friends: Tim & Kevin. (names changed) I pretended to be just as confused as they were, but secretly I knew exactly why the college only allowed men on the security and grounds teams. I understood the theology behind shy girls with no makeup and long dresses. I silently sympathized with the blond who, free for the first time, was caught in the back seat of an upperclassman's car at night furiously making up for lost time. This place was only different from home in that I was able to be whoever i wanted. Nobody knew i was actually one of the girls sent to college only for an MRS degree. I painted myself as the tough, feminist, martial artist. My hair was boy-short and i swore allot so everybody bought the facade.

About 2 weeks into my first semester, the guy i had been dating back home started to get serious and i started to get scared. He was using the "M" word. Allot. He had been more of a stress reliever to me than a potential husband. Between "sortof-boyfriend" and the school Rules i started to feel trapped again. And the more trapped i felt, the more drawn i was to my friend "Tim". He was blond, handsome, kind, and best of all he didn't pretend to understand me. He thought i was pretty (what!?) and called me a girly girl. I found myself thinking about him all the time, ignoring calls from "sortof-boyfriend" when we were together, and smiling every time i heard his voice. When "Tim" finally asked me out, i was still technically dating "sortof-boyfriend". I said yes right away, and then dumped "sortof-boyfriend" 4 days after that.

When "Tim" (I'll just call him Boyfriend now) and i started dating, My world changed completely. He was amazing. I fought and doubted my feelings for months, but he patiently chipped away at my bitterness with honest goodness. He cared about ME. He told me my feelings were important, helped me work through the jumbled mess that was my heart. We were completely in love. Using the "M" word came easily with Boyfriend. I couldn't imagine my life without him. But still i had to keep it a secret. I couldn't gush to my Mom about how amazing he was because i knew she would tell Dad. And Dad would get in his car and drive all 13 hours just to scare off the scum bag. So of course it was a huge shock when i brought him home for Thanksgiving.

That weekend was full of screaming and tears and anger. Dad ordered me to break up with him immediately or marry him within a year. There was no other alternative. He took Boyfriend into his office and grilled him for 2 hours. "are you ready to be her spiritual head and protection?" "How are you going to provide for your family?" Boyfriend and I escaped back to school with lots of questions for each other and ourselves. I told my parents we were thinking about their ultimatum and would eventually decide between the choices. We knew we wanted marriage eventually, but we decided it was no-ones decision but our own. We would wait out these college years together and then see what happened.....

(To Be Continued)

Part 1
Part 3

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday

My poor Husband is taking a couple killer summer classes online right now and there seems to be no end to the homework. In an attempt to cheer him up (and not destract him from his work) I decided to bake him an apple pie.
In the absense of a dough cutter, i got creative and used my hand mixer to cut the butter into the flour of my pie crust. Big mistake. I shot flour and butter chunks all over the kitchen. There was butter stuck up inside the mixer so I stuck my finger in to clean it out.
Now when i say "hand mixer" i mean the one hand type with the switchable head. I had switched to the puree head for some reason, so when i accidentaly bumped the "on" button, the super-sharp blade came whiping around and punged into the side of my finger. I remember thinking, "woah i hit the power button! good thing it didnt cut my finger!"
And then of course it started to hurt. There was blood on the pie dough, the counter, the blender, the floor, the sink, and of course on me. I immediatly put my hand under the faucet and watched the water below my finger go orange. Husband, (destracted afterall) put papertowels and pressure on the bone-deep wound and went for the First Aid kit. At this point my CNA instincts kicked in and i was able to treat myself.
After a bit, Husband went back to the couch and I went back to my pie. I managed to make an entire lattice-top apple pie with a giant bandage wrapped around my finger.

Also, I think I'm still in shock.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Childhood Memories

I couldn't stop crying. That was the problem. I was hot and cold all over, shaking and crying so hard i couldn't breathe. My skin was stinging, throbbing from the punishment that started almost an hour ago. My chest rose and fell in sharp jerky motions with each hickup, with each choking breath i tried to take. "control yourself" he said softly. His voice was sad, almost gentle. Almost.
He was so disappointed in me. I knew it, and now time was running out again. "Are you going to stop?" His grip tightened on my arm. Panic surged through my body, threatening more tears, I bit down on my lip. "God please make me stop! Help me control myself!" My mind screamed out to God, but nothing happened. No sense of calm. I should have expected this, God doesn't answer bad 6-year-olds. My little body shuddered and i started to sob again. Failure. Dad pulled me back over his knee and hit me three times with a wooden spoon. Pain blossomed up the back of my legs, my bottom. I cried. Loud. I was completely unable to control myself and i was dizzy from trying. Dad clamped his hand over my mouth. "silence" he hissed. Now he was frustrated as well as disappointed. What was wrong with me? Why was i too weak to just say "yes sir" and shut my mouth?
My foggy little mind understood why this was happening. I needed to learn to be silent when i was punished and Daddy was helping me. If i was allowed to be loud and mellow dramatic, the neighbors might get the wrong idea and tell the cops that we were being abused. The cops weren't Christians, and they wouldn't understand. They might get a judge to split up our family, and it would be all my fault. Daddy was just protecting our family. I mustered all my strength and stood very still. I sucked in as much air as i could, held my breath and waited. "are you going to control yourself now?" I nodded. Not too fast. "Do you understand why i had to spank you?" I'd forgotten actually, but I nodded anyway. I was running out of air. "Are you sorry?" I nodded again, waited. My vision began to go dark around the edges. I didn't dare draw a breath and ruin this long awaited silence. "Alright, come here" My father took me in his arms and I slowly let out my breath. It was over now. My body was still shaking but my lips were clamped shut. "What do you say Sarah?" he asked. Still no gentleness in his voice, but the anger was gone. I cautiously opened my mouth, terrified that my body would betray me again. I wiped the tears and snot away with the back of my hand and whispered: "Thank You"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Independence: My Great Escape. (Part 1)

I married young. Upon many occasions i have seen marriage used as an escape for adult children, trapped at home by parents and the Patriarchal lifestyle. Two kids, caught in the system, clinging together for dear life. I like to think that desperation had nothing to do with my decision marry, but it was defiantly the force that put me in the position in the first place. I was struggling to find myself, forced to lie about it, trapped in a cycle of guilt. I dragged myself to the finish line of high school. I begged my dad not to make me finish Algebra, coaxed them into signing the transcripts i wrote. There was only one school of higher learning they would consider letting me attend. A private christian college in Virginia. A college that didn't accept federal grants or loans. I applied, knowing full well my parents couldn't put one cent towards the $30,000 tuition. My dad told me to start looking for scholarships. My mom called it a leap of faith.
I found my self an SAT tutor and scraped by with a 1810. There were some serious holes in my education. I stood on the precipice of the rest of my life and i was terrified. No Money, No Choices, No Cap and Gown. I knew the smartest thing to do would be stay home, go to community college, work for my dad, save money. But i had to get away. the thought of being here any longer, hiding my boyfriend, lying to my parents, the emotional manipulation, the constant judgement, the expectation, I couldn't do it any more.
I started talking to a recruiter for the Army. It was a way out. A way to pay for the education i so desperately wanted. Most importantly, It was a decision that, once made, could not be reversed. Could not be held over my head. I was close. One confirmation away from heading down to the office and signing away 4 years, and maybe my life. I don't know what changed my mind. Maybe i was afraid of dying, afraid i would get to see my baby brothers grow up. Maybe i wasn't ready to see the bitter disapproval in my dad's eyes. maybe it was God. Whispering some silent promise that He was on my side, that everything would be okay. Whatever it was, I knew it was time to go. I stood at that gaping precipice. And I Jumped.

( be continued)


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My Husband is in Canada this last week and a half on an annual fishing trip with the guys in his family. Consequently I have been alone every day without so much as a text from him. Today i felt randomly inspired and wrote him a song. It's better with music, but I thought I'd just post the word's here anyway.

It's called: Crackerjack

Here I am, talking to myself
Nothing that i do is right without you.
Here i am staring at these walls.
I think they miss your voice as much as I do.

I probly shouldn't say "i need you"
But I do.
I could probly get along without you,
but i don't want to!

Right now i should sing about the pain, and kissin' in the the rain,
But all I really wanna say is:

Come home baby!
I'm goin Crazy!
I had crackerjack for dinner cuz i didn't wanna cook for One.

Been thinkin' lately,
My life's no fairytale.
But i'd rather have your kisses than a castle and a crown and a thrown.

So Come Back Home <3

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

One Less Fear

The other day Husand and i were walking through a neighborhood near our apartment and we passed a house with three little girls playing in the garage. They were wearing tank tops and flip flops and dancing to an Avril Lavigne song blasting from a stereo.

When i was a kid i used to feel disdain when i saw girls like that. how dare they expose their shoulders, how dare they listen to the music of the Devil, and what if a man was walking by and saw them!? Obviously they would be kidnapped and raped on the spot. They deserved it. those sinful worldly 8 year olds.......

As a teenager i would have been jealous. and angry. why was i NEVER allowed to be normal? why did i have to miss out on having friends? why was i still struggling to keep up with my peers? it wasn't fair that i didn't get their jokes, it wasn't my fault that i grew up in a box. How dare my parents make me into such a retard? Who were they to hide the whole world from me? Why had they burdened me with all this shame and guilt that made me afraid to dance to the music, and too ashamed of my body to ever dress the way i wanted?

As we passed the house, the chubbiest girl with curly blonde pigtails looked up at me, her huge blue eyes were cheerful and innocent, completely oblivious to my conflicting thoughts, and suddenly i didn't feel disdain, or anger, or regret, i just felt really hopeful. Someday my children will be able to dance with their friends, some day my future daughter will be 8 years old and innocent, not even knowing what disdain is. I have the power to raise my children without guilt or shame, without anger or regret. They wont have to be outsiders, or fr eeks, they can just be kids.

I read a lot of blogs. By folks who lived through the same things i did. Many had it much worse. But you live your lives and raise your children so differently. It's beautiful to see and inspiring to read about. Your stories about your little families give me hope that My Kids wont have to live the life that i did. And that's just one more fear i don't have anymore :)

Monday, June 6, 2011


My Enemy is near bye. Closer than she has been in a long time. Her pull is powerful, she wraps her cold arms around me and whispers "it is better this way." She is all sadness and understanding, caressing the the ache in my heart till it is raw. I think for a moment that maybe i don't want to go with her. I muster my strength, try to struggle. I want to stay here in the light! Suddenly she is stronger, and angry.

"YOU DESERVE THIS!" she insists.

She forces me to stand on the scale, in front of the mirror, i pinch my belly: hard. She makes me remember the lies that i told, the things I did, Or worse! The things i DIDN'T do. She is right after all. How could i have dared to pretend i deserve to be happy? At what point did i start to believe the sweet lies my husband tells me? Who do i think i am? She asks me,

"who do you think you are?"
I am ashamed of myself. She holds my hand, gentle again. Promises to never let me get so lost again. With strange new clarity I follow her into the dark. I shiver from the cold, the bruises from her fingers are throbbing on my arm. I am acutely aware of the stinging in my eyes. The tears i do not deserve to cry.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

About Me

I struggled to fill out the description box on my profile. How can i accurately portray myself with words? Will 500 characters be enough? Will I even be able to come up with 5? Should i list the things i do? the things i like? my struggles?

I have a million old diaries and just as many documents on my computer: all full of my rambling conversations with myself. They start when i was 8 years old. I got twin baby dolls for Christmas, they came with bottles and rattles. I loved them dearly, but they got old pretty fast. They came with their clothes sewn on permanently. What i secretly wanted was a barbie doll to dress and undress. But Barbies were not allowed in my house. They were immodest and inappropriate. They represented woman in a way that "worldly." Dr. Barbie and Lawyer Barbie would no-doubt fill my head with feminist notions about being anything other than a mommy when i grew up. And that was just not what "God wanted." Hence: the baby dolls.

The Diaries continue throughout my teenage years, there's the time i secretly kissed a boy. He told me he loved me. I thought we would get married some day. when we weren't 12 anymore. The time I got in huge trouble for rolling the waistband of my skirt. We wore them all the time. Pants were inappropriate, which made it Oh-So-Hard to ride a bike. Around 15, my writing grew darker. I was a overweight, I was awkward, I could never do anything right. I knew i would never be normal. The pages are full of anger, pain, desperation, and tears. There's the time i broke the window in my bedroom on accident: I saved the sharpest pieces of glass in a little box. They were perfect for those times when I needed to demonstrate that i owned some part of my life. It takes strength to open your own skin, to watch yourself bleed out, to wait until the dizziness started to take you before staunching the wound. The themes throughout are the same. Torn between who i want to be, who i am supposed to be, and who i am, I lost track of myself. I didn't know what my heart i looked like anymore.

I threw out a few of my diaries, tore out pages i was ashamed of, scribbled out words that showed too much emotion. Looking back, I wish i hadn't. I assume that my thoughts and feelings are a huge part of what makes me, me. I hope that by publishing them in a blog, they will become a story instead of disjointed set of words. I have this silly idea that if i throw enough paint at the canvas, I will start to see something that looks like me. I'm really excited to finally see what that looks like!