Even Permanent Ink Fades Eventually
Image copyright 2015, Darcy.
HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on October 18, 2015.
I don’t understand. Who tells a child the things that I was told? Who forms a child’s self-concept in the worst way possible on purpose? What kind of person takes a sensitive, kind, loving, feeling child and tells them from birth that they are mean, bully, selfish, and unloving?
What kind of parent does that?
Was I a threat? Did they feel the need to tear me down because I threatened something? Were they afraid of me somehow? Did they look at me and feel fear and thus were driven to squash who I am? Was who I am that scary?
Selfish, unloving, unfeeling, mean, bully, harsh, hostile, angry, unkind, moody, vengeful, unhappy, rebellious. The words fill my head and keep coming, one after the other, all the words I was given as labels. All the words that they might as well have written in ink on my body as they were indelibly printed on my soul. But even permanent ink fades eventually and can be written over.
I am only recently discovering who I really am. And I am not who they said I was.
I am kind and generous. I am an empath. I feel others’ emotions so deeply, like I am experiencing their pain in my own soul. I am a giver, I give til I have nothing left. I love with all that is within me. I am loyal to a fault.
But I am no doormat.
I do not accept what I am told without proof. I am also a warrior. I fight for the people I love, for every person I come across who can’t fight for themselves. I stand up for what is right and that is interpreted as “hostile”. It’s not hostility, it’s righteousness. It’s strength. It’s ferocity. And it is who I am.
I am rebellious. I will claim that label, of all the words they slung at me. Some things are worth rebelling against. Rebelling has saved my life. “There’s something wild in your heart, you need to pray to God to help you.” There was something wild there. There still is. Did that scare them? Does it still?
What kind of person does that to a child? What kind of person teaches another child to do this to their own sibling? What was it about me that scared them so?
Whatever it was, they failed to eradicate it. Because here I am, in all my wild glory, and they can’t do anything about it now, except keep trying to spread their lies and paint their own picture of me that I no longer recognize. Their picture of me looks suspiciously like their own self-portrait.
Was it religion? I fucking hate religion. Religion said I needed my will broken, beaten down, and taken away. Religion said to squash my glory because their pathetic god would be jealous. Religion said they had to take my rights, my ownership, my boundaries, because those things were not from god. Did religion make them try to break a child or did it just justify their own penchant toward insecurity and whatever the hell else was wrong with them? I don’t know. I might never know. Does it even matter? The damage has been done, the healing has long ago begun.
As a parent, I look at my children in all their glory and life and I am completely baffled. The thought of telling them that they are inherently selfish with wicked hearts that need their foolishness driven out by the rod is painful enough to leave me breathless. The idea that I could take such amazing creatures and make sure they know how worthless they are unless they become what I dictate they must be causes physical pain and revulsion in my heart.
What kind of person does that to a child? I have no more excuses for them.
I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry for what I know so many of you reading this have been put through. I’m sorry you’ve been kicked and beaten away from God. Religion isn’t what you want right now, and that is understandable. You don’t want something folks used to hurt you like that.
But if you’re seeking, if you ever go looking for God again, remember one thing: he is always beyond what anyone tells you he is. People tend to stick God in small spaces: uncaring, indulgant, vengeful. The smaller their mind is, the smaller and less three-dementional their God is. Then we learn about one perspective, usually an ugly, boogie man one, meant for control.
Thing is, we were made good. We were made to be good. We were also made free moral agents with the capacity to make stupid, even evil decisions. We can screw up our goodness something awful, but we weren’t made that way. Heaven and Earth, I hope you never believe you were made that way. Sin? Sin is easy to see. It’s easy to point fingers at others, and it’s easy to look inside yourself and feel shame, and sure, God sees the sin. But he also sees deeper than that, down deep inside your soul where everything you were meant to be lies all curled up, waiting to bloom. We were made full of light and beauty, and we can stuff ourselves full of crap and God still sees past it to the loveliness inside and calls it out. People in the church have crushed my spirit, but a God of compassion has lifted me up and given me my dreams back again. You don’t have to have your parent’s faith to have faith. You don’t have to have your church’s faith to have faith. All you need is Christ, and he does love you. We are called to come out from them. To come away from the people who stand between us and God, even our own parents.
I hope your spirit finds peace. I hope your soul finds healing. I hope you find someone who can gather all your hurt in their arms and carry you when you aren’t strong enough to go on. May all the purest love in the world fill up your empty spaces and help you breathe again, and may truth blot out the lies that eat up your joy. Whoever you are, wherever you are, I hope you are blessed. I hope you find the light in your darkness.
I have heard these well-intentioned sentiments before. But they come from a faulty assumption, the assumption that someone like me has walked away from god and christianity because of pain. In reality, pain has often been the catalyst for seeking, questioning, and searching; something that shakes you from complacency and causes you to wonder. And there was an entire decade between realizing the abuse of my parent’s religion and completely walking away from god. A decade of searching and seeking for the truth, or attempting to find it within a Christian paradigm. A decade of relentless questioning and changing because I cared more about truth than tradition. The things that we went through, the spiritual abuse, the emotional abuse….these are not what ultimately led us away from god, those of us who have rejected him. A heart that seeks truth did that. A mind that questions everything did that. A decision based on years worth of study and honest searching did that. So while I do appreciate the heart that sentiments like yours comes from, I do not appreciate the misunderstanding and resulting insinuation that my de-conversion was an emotional reaction to suffering. It was not.
I have found peace, healing, true love, and light. But not in anyone’s version of god. My life is full and happy and successful. Without god. I do not find the god of the Bible to be comforting in any definition of the word. And I am too honest to believe in the various versions of god that every human has created for themselves.
Yes Darcy, this. This so much. You say very well what I have gotten tired of trying to explain to those who insist I just never heard quite the right things about god. Believe me, I know how to hold logic over my emotions and follow truth over what I feel. Thankfully I have found real truth and in that, liberty from religion and the paralyzing fear of god.
Also, excellent article here. Exactly what I have discovered raising my sweet daughter. I look at her perfect beauty and cannot comprehend how anyone could ever shame such. Healing from the shame hurts, but I find joy knowing that my daughter will never have my scars. Your kids are lucky.