**All photos and posts are my original work. Please do not reprint photos or articles without permission.**

Friday, July 15, 2016

Of Libraries, Flashbacks, and Alternate Realities

I will probably never be free from the memories. No situation or activity is safe from the flashbacks, the comparisons, and the wonder that things were ever so dysfunctional for child-me and that they're so normal for my own kids.

Yesterday we went to the library for a presentation on Mt. Everest. The local university took an expedition to the top in 2012, and they put together a great video presentation for kids on geology, culture, and the amazing feat of scaling the world's tallest mountain.

In the middle of it, somewhere between talking about tectonic activity creating the Himalayans and the sacred ceremony and prayer flags the monks performed for the climbers, I had one of those weird disconnecting flashbacks that happen every so often. Like I'm suddenly an observer of an activity I remember taking part in in the past, and the one I'm taking part in in the present, watching from the outside.

I suddenly remembered being a child and going to presentations at the library. Or the IMAX. Or the Science Center in Seattle. Or a museum. We often went to such educational things. My mom thought we would learn best by experience and exposed us to more than a few really cool educational experiences.

I remembered being uncomfortable as a child every time something science-y was brought up. The words "millions of years ago" would produce an instant disconnect in my young mind. We were trained to hear those words and disregard them from a very young age. We'd usually get a talk in the car on the way home about how "the world" thinks that the earth is millions of years, but we know better and Everest has marine fossils on the top of it because of the Flood, not because of tectonic uplift (which we were told was made up by "evolutionists" who deny the Bible). Geology talks were a waste of our time and I learned to shut them out, as if the words themselves had power to deceive and I needed to be on the alert. 

"Multi-culturalism" was always portrayed as a bad thing. Or joked about as ridiculous. I can't remember anytime in my childhood those words were spoken of in a positive way. Adding other religions and their practices to the conversation only made the speaker more our enemy. As a child, talks of prayer flags and Tibetan monks offering sacrifices to the mountain was very uncomfortable. Not just while sitting there, but also nervously anticipating the talk my parent(s) would give later about how we don't accept that and how wrong it was and how I needed to be sure to respond correctly so they knew I didn't believe a word of it.

And I came back out of those flashbacks as I sat there, an adult, in our library, listening to the person teaching my kids about tectonic activity, geology, and Buddhist ceremonies and so many emotions flooded over me.

Relief. Because my children will never know what it's like to be so foreign to the world they live in. They sat there, soaking up the information, never once worrying that they were being deceived by Satan and the world, never worrying I was going to lecture them about the truth, never scared that they have questions they're not supposed to ask, never feeling like an outsider with an alternate narrative of reality, unable to engage in their world because they're not a part of it.

Frustration. Because child Darcy deserved better. Because I'm 32 years old, in charge of my own life, yet the scars of my past will always be there, showing up in the strangest, most unexpected places. The childhood that formed me, formed me thoroughly and I cannot shake it because it is who I am. Frustration because there are children still being raised with this kind of psychological and spiritual abuse who will one day be adults unable to attend a kid's library presentation without their past smacking them in the face.

Hopelessness. Because my parents will never understand the depth and severity of what they did. The consequences of the choices they made. What was a phase for them was my entire childhood, my most formative years spent in one of the most toxic environments on earth. The lasting effects indelibly imprinted on every cell in my body. They call me bitter and unforgiving. They excuse themselves with "we had good intentions". They say I'm making a big deal out of nothing and need to move on. But they don't sit in a library and have flashbacks. The fact they can call all of this, all of what made me, all of what I deal with on a daily basis because of their choices "nothing" says a lot. I think we will never be able to connect because of this. Even outsiders don't understand. The only ones that get it are the ones like me. The walking broken, the walking lost, the homeschooled impostors who struggle to find normalcy and belonging and peace.

And yet, also hope. Happiness. Thankfulness. Amazement. Because my kids are being raised so.....normal. They'll have a solid foundation from which to choose whatever life they want. If they want to be weird and different in any way, they will be able to freely choose that. They'll know what it's like to be part of the community and world that they live in. To not be an outsider because they're supposed to reject everything about "the world" and own a different reality. To not have a different history, science, and social narrative than everyone else around them and the insecurity that comes with it.

I hope they someday sit in a library with their kids and only remember with fondness the awesome time they had learning about Mt. Everest.


14 comments:

  1. I share a lot of this with you. I was reminded again on a recent trip with my parents (they weren't as bad as yours by a long shot, but still did the YEC thing with us...) and realized that they still felt the need to fight the age of the earth when reading about the geologic history of places. It has been so freeing to be able to dump the necessary cognitive dissonance - I mean, mainstream geology fits the visible and obvious features so much better - and not have to fit it into a literalist Genesis narrative. I'm glad my kids don't have to go through that either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I live in a place that is rich with geology. I love driving and hiking and boating around here and finally finally understanding the rocks I see and the land I walk on and the gems I dig up and the hot springs I soak in, and not having to pretend that none of it happened the way it did.

      I would love to be a geologist.

      Delete
    2. I married a geologist. It's beyond fascinating. I've toured the North Cascades, the Olympics, Yellowstone and some of the Rockies with him and learned so much.

      If I may suggest, get yourself a copy of "Annals of the Former World by John McPhee. It's a wonderful, lyrical tour of the US with several geologists. It makes concepts like deep time accessible to the layman.

      Also, consider looking at the "Roadside Geology" series. They're books covering the geology of each state, with emphasis on understanding what you see as you drive by it. They offer a good starting-point to the earth-sciences.

      (An aside - touring Yellowstone with a geologist is also scary. Resurgent calderas ... I may never sleep well again:-)

      Delete
    3. Oh thanks for those book recommendations! I hear you about the Yellowstone thing. I live one hour from Yellowstone and the geology is heavily taught at my school so i have a really good understanding of it. At least if it blows, I'll be dead immediately. lol

      Delete
  2. Thank you for writing this. This articulates exactly what I experienced as a child. Watching even a documentary on PBS with my father around was absolutely panic inducing for fear they might say, "millions of years."

    I feel frustrated and alone because most people don't even comprehend what I went through.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I panicked too. But, like, why? it doesn't make any sense.

      Delete
    2. Panic for fear of invoking wrath and anger from my father. It was an emotionally inverted household. Us children were held responsible for our parents' emotions. So destructive.

      Delete
    3. Panic for fear of invoking wrath and anger from my father. It was an emotionally inverted household. Us children were held responsible for our parents' emotions. So destructive.

      Delete
  3. Thank you for writing this. This articulates exactly what I experienced as a child. Watching even a documentary on PBS with my father around was absolutely panic inducing for fear they might say, "millions of years."

    I feel frustrated and alone because most people don't even comprehend what I went through.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hear your misery within your joy for your kids. I know your misery and feel the same thing with my kids as they slowly stretch free wings and occupy the world. Your words carry the truth of what happened to you, what happened to all of us who were trained-up. Thank-you for putting it down here for others of us to read and relate to.... You are very brave. What you survived you have made a foundation on and your children are just plain free. You did that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am so glad I found your blog. I wasn't homeschooled, but I was also taught from an early age not to question my elders, and to basically distrust everything they considered "worldly." I was taught feminism, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, masturbation, and all music that wasn't Christian was secular and ultimately of the devil. After getting married, I was finally able to break away from a very harmful church I was raised in. (My husband is still a Christian, but was not raised in a church and is much more liberal in his faith. He was actually understanding when I said I wasn't a Christian anymore. I'm so blessed to have him.) It's still hard to live with my decision to leave the faith because my father is still very involved in that church. I can't tell him I'm not a Christian anymore because he will just try to reconvert me. It's so hard living with this secret, but at least now I feel freer to be myself than I ever had while I was still a Christian.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This was really emotional for me to read. Thank you for articulating this experience so well, it makes me feel less alone and understood. I still have a panic when I hear "millions of years ago" and I glance around for my parents and then I take a deep breath and remember I am safe now. For me the panic was induced by knowing best case scenario she would make us leave then and there and worst case she would stand up and loudly recite some vaguely threatening scripture at the presenter.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was really emotional for me to read. Thank you for articulating this experience so well, it makes me feel less alone and understood. I still have a panic when I hear "millions of years ago" and I glance around for my parents and then I take a deep breath and remember I am safe now. For me the panic was induced by knowing best case scenario she would make us leave then and there and worst case she would stand up and loudly recite some vaguely threatening scripture at the presenter.

    ReplyDelete