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Thursday, August 28, 2014

We Are Not The Threat

There's a new threat to homeschooling, folks! That's right, and it isn't the evil government or liberal feminists or Satan. The homeschooling apocalypse will be ushered in because of....*drum roll*.....

The Homeschool Alumni.

Yup. Those pesky people who just won't keep silent about their upbringing. Who dare to tell their not-so-happy stories, the good, bad, and ugly. Who dare to paint big, bold, dark colors on the beautiful Thomas-Kincaid-like portraits of homeschooling. Who dare to stop pretending that everything in their world was beauty and light and are exposing the ugly darkness.

Their stories of abuse and neglect and confusion are apparently a threat to a way of life that is upheld as God's Ideal Plan for all mankind. (Looks like "God's Plan" had a few unexpected loose ends.)

What I'd like to know is this: what, exactly, are we a "threat" to?

If people telling their stories is a "threat" to your way of life, you should really re-evaluate your way of life. It says a lot about who you are and what exactly you're trying to protect and preserve when the very people that lived as you do are merely telling their own stories and you're quaking in your boots because of it.

If our stories of real-life experiences as homeschooled children, and the real-life effects of those experiences on us as adults, are a threat to you, then perhaps instead of trying to silence us, and instead of trying to discredit us, there should be some extreme makeover-type remodeling being considered within the homeschooling community.

Do you know who the real threat is here? Because it isn't me or my friends. It isn't those of us brave enough to speak out and fight for the rights of people who have no voice. It isn't my friends who were beaten, raped, neglected, deprived, and put down; it isn't the victims. To point fingers at us and call us the "threat" is either extremely ignorant or extremely cruel.

The real threat is the abusers. The self-proclaimed leaders who steal, kill, and destroy the lives of the vulnerable. The men and women who cry "Parental rights!!" then turn around and trample on the rights of their children. Who fight tooth and nail to keep their victims powerless. And the second greatest threat are the people that defend them, support them, and fail to call them out on their abuses.  The folks who stick their heads in the sand and deny, deny, deny. They seem to no longer care about the very real faces behind those stories, but only that the image of Almightly Homeschooling is preserved intact. Their institution has become more important than the people that comprise it. THEY are their own worse threat. THEY are doing more to cause the implosion of the homeschooling movement than anything my friends or I could say. If you point at victims and call them "threats", you are telling them that protecting their abusers and the environment that facilitated their abuse is more important to you than truth and healing. Victims are only threats to the prospering and perpetuating of abuse. 

Homeschooling parents, we are not your enemy. How could we be? We were once your children. We are the products of your movement. We are just no longer voiceless and if that is a threat to you, then maybe you should rethink what and who it is you're protecting. 

"An entire generation of homeschoolers have grow up and they are telling their stories, the good, bad, and ugly. Most of us have lived our whole lives under crushing standards, expectations, and facades, and we are done. So done pretending. There a lot of successes and a shitload of failures that came from the conservative homeschooling movement and we will talk about all of them. Because information is power, empowering the next generation to help avoid the awful parts of ours. They NEED to know what went wrong, from the perspective of the guinea pigs. We alone can tell that part of the story, paint that part of the picture, speak from the very darkest places in our hearts about the parts that went so desperately, terribly wrong. What do people think? That we share the worst parts of our stories to billions of strangers on the internet for the heck of it? We share because WE FREAKIN' CARE. We care that others not go through what we did. We care and desperately want to save others from needless pain. This isn't some joyride we all decided to take part of. This shit hurts, and the derision we experience from family and friends is daunting, but staying silent while others suffer is a far worse pain than honestly exposing our own wounds. " ~On Homeschooling, Stories, and Dismissal 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Time To Search and a Time to Give Up

Religion was only ever used to control and hurt. To put down and shame.

God was why I had to be spanked for every infraction.

God was why I was worthless.

God was why the people in the Bible did horrible things to other people.

Church was where we were told how bad we were and how we don't deserve love or life but got lucky that God loves us anyway.

God was why peers were evil and parents were authoritarian and my heart was bad and not to be trusted. Why I had to dress ugly and repent often and try harder to be better. Why we had to be spanked, grounded, and punished. Parents had to do those things because, God.

In all my life, God, religion, church, and spirituality were only ever wielded as a weapon of control. Inflicting fear and pain. "For your own good."

Is it any wonder I cannot see through this to anything other than emptiness? I tried, for years, to find the God of grace and light and love, but I can't find him. I thought I'd found him for a while. But I'm not sure He exists anymore. I wonder if I and everyone else have just made Him up, made up this God of grace and love because the thought of a universe and life without divine meaning and reason is too scary for us. I fight and I fight, every waking hour and sometimes in my sleep, to find the idea of a loving Divine, but He is drowned out by the abusive, punitive version that has been carved into the walls of my heart and mind for as long as I've been alive.

Do you want to know how to raise an atheist? Teach them from the time they are young that there is a God who cannot stand them and a hell that awaits for every soul that doesn't do what that God says. Teach them they have to reject their gay friends and their unchurched friends and their Buddhist friends and every friend that doesn't follow this God the "right" way. Teach them they are nothing without this God, worthless scum destined for eternal punishment. Teach them there is this thing called "sin" that they are prone to and must avoid, even when the rules seem arbitrary because God said so and that things that look good and wonderful are actually SIN for no other reason than some big dude in the sky decided so. Teach them the ways of an abusive God. Teach them that every rule you've made for them and every punishment for breaking those rules are because this abusive God told them to do these things or else you'll get punished too. Teach them that this isn't abuse, it's actually love.

Then watch them grow up and realize they've been duped. Watch them have children of their own and realize that there is no way in hell they will ever teach these awful things to their babies. If a boyfriend treated your daughter the way Christianity says God treats us, you'd call that boyfriend abusive and try to get your daughter out of that toxic relationship. But because you've accepted the idea that you'll go to hell and have a miserable life if you don't do what you're told by this invisible deity, you can't see how very damaging this idea is to both you and your children.

Watch them struggle to figure out if there's anything in their religion worth hanging onto. Anything that isn't harmful and painful and doesn't dredge up repulsive feelings and memories. Watch them finally give up the struggle to find anything good in the mess.

You might think you're doing your children a favor teaching them your "we sinned but God loves us anyway" religion. But you're not. You're killing their souls slowly.

I wish I could approach religion from a clean slate. I wish I didn't have all this baggage and darkness and painful memories warring against the ability to think critically when it comes to matters of faith. But I don't.

No matter how hard I try, the abusive religion I grew up immersed in will always be there in the scars on my heart, screaming louder as I try to silence them in order to think. I'm so very tired of the struggle.

If you've managed to find a God that isn't abusive, kudos to you. I can't find Him. I only see what people do in his name, I only feel the fear of being a child afraid of hell and afraid of God, the overwhelming disgust at all the things I have felt and heard and said and done and wept about because of him.

For now, I'm letting go. I have to believe that if there's a God out there that's worth following, He'll have to come find me. All the asking, seeking, and knocking in the world hasn't helped me, it's only made me so very weary.

Micah Murray wrote these words and they traveled to my very soul:

Lean in to all your questions and doubts and emptiness.
Lean in to the void where the god you once knew is now missing.
There is no resurrection without death.
I’ve come to believe that a very real death of faith is necessary for resurrection of spirituality, especially for those of us who’ve worn the label “Christian” from an early age. You can’t try to anticipate it, steer it, and you sure as hell cannot shortcut it.
Lean into it.
Don’t try to “not lose your faith” Don’t try to resuscitate it or patch it together.
Let your expectations go. Let your faith go, along with everything you thought you knew.
Don’t be afraid.
If there’s a god, I have to believe that they’re more concerned with not losing you than you are with not losing what’s left of your faith.
If there’s anything out there at all, any Divine worth knowing, it won’t let you slip away.

So that's what I'm doing these days. I'm done trying not to lose my faith. It's time to rest and live and love and let resurrection come if it will or grieve my loss if it won't.