Not a Nice Story
Image copyright 2016, Darcy.
HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on February 19, 2016.
From babyhood they said “You are a dirty sinner, there is nothing good in you, you are destined for hell because of your nature.”
So we, small humans, awoke to a world where toddlers need the sin and foolishness beaten out of them with switches and wooden spoons and belts.
They said “Only with Jesus are you worth anything.”
So as small children we begged Jesus to come into our hearts and make the dirty clean.
They said “Because of your sin, God cannot look at you, Jesus had to die. You killed him.”
So we mourned that we were so sinful that God couldn’t look at us without someone else standing in our place.
They said “You are human, a sinner, you cannot help it, only Jesus can make you worth anything.”
So we felt that we were worthless, that no matter how hard we try, we will never be good enough, while some kept trying anyway and some completely gave up.
They said “If you fall in love with a boy, you are committing emotional fornication.”
So we guarded our hearts lest sin defile us with merely a thought, and when our hearts betrayed us and we fell in love with a boy, we hated ourselves and knew we were worth less than before, we had lost a piece of our hearts we would never get back.
They said “Your body needs to be hidden because it is dangerous and if a man lusts after you because of your clothing or movements, it is your fault”.
So we covered our bodies from head to toe, swathed our femininity in fabric hoping no one would notice the curves, and spent years of our life worrying that we may cause a man to stumble and thus defile our own hearts and his.
They said “Boys only want one thing, so be sure you don’t do anything that makes them think they can take it from you. They can’t help it, this is how God made them, we must help them.”
So we lived in fear of men who God made pigs then placed the responsibility for their pig-ness on us.
They said “If you kiss a boy, you’re like a lolly-pop that’s been licked, a paper heart that’s been torn, you are worth less than before, and you’ve given away a part of you that you can never get back.”
So we spent our days afraid, terrified we would lose our worth and have nothing to give a future spouse.
They said “Virginity and purity give you value, don’t give that away.”
So whether virginity was taken forcefully or given lovingly, we were left worthless, used goods, and told no godly man would want us now.
They said “You cannot hear God for yourself, you must obey your authorities. They know what is best for you.”
So we submitted to things that no human being deserves to suffer, because otherwise God would be angry and not bless our lives. Submitting to unjust treatment was what Jesus did, after all.
They said “You are rebellious. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.”
So we begged God’s forgiveness for the ways we wanted something different than they wanted.
They said “You are a woman, emotional, incapable of leading, easily deceived. You must stay in your place, submit, and only then God will bless you.”
So we felt loathing for our womanhood, wondering why God would make us inferior, and feeling guilty that we dare question the Almighty’s plan, that we are not happy with his decree.
And now…..now we are told “Why are you depressed? Why do you have anxiety? Why the addictions, the anger, the rage, the self-loathing? Why can’t you just be happy and normal?”
As if no one can connect the dots. As if their actions did not have consequences. As if a child can be raised to hate themselves in the Name of God and suddenly grow into an adult that is healthy. As if a lifetime of emotional trauma and spiritual abuse suddenly vanishes because a person changes their mind about who they are and their place in the world.
That’s not how it works. That is only the beginning of a journey that could take the rest of our lives. A journey we are told not to speak of because it makes people uncomfortable, because they’d rather call us names like “bitter” and “unforgiving” than to look deep into the darkness of our hearts and hear tales of pain and see the rawness of souls taught to hate themselves. Because those stories aren’t nice ones. But we will not change them in order to make others comfortable.
Do not tell us to “forgive”. Forgiveness has nothing to do with it. Do not tell us to “get over it”. One does not “get over” years of trauma and brainwashing and brain-wiring from babyhood just by making a single choice. We do not choose the nightmares. We do not choose the triggers and the gut-level reactions and the panic attacks. We had 18+ years of being taught that we are worthless, that God cannot stand to look at us, that we killed Jesus, that our worth is in our virginity or how well we obey our parents, that who we are is dirty and sinful. Give us at least 18+ years to re-wire our brains and heal those festering wounds and to learn to love ourselves where before there was only self-loathing. Some wounds cannot be healed. They can only be lived with. And scars do not disappear on a whim. But they can tell our stories and make us strong.
And tell our stories we will, and get stronger for the telling. We heal a little more every time we speak out loud what was hidden and decide that we are worth loving and our stories worth the telling.
I’m so saddened to hear your story. I’m so angered to hear of the abuse doled out in God’s name. I’m so disgusted that the love, grace, mercy, parts of the gospel were so lacking in your home.
May you find the acceptance, attachment, and joy your heart desires.
I am overjoyed to hear your story because I know it: I felt it as a child and young man. You say it strong and honest, clean and true. Yours is a story that must be told a thousand thousand times till all of us are free to be… Thank-you, Wende Benner, for reblogging and thenk-you especially Darcy. You are are poet.
Well, thank-you and thenk-you….
Your story is horrifying and I’m 100 per cent on your side as regards your needs and those like you to have what you have endured, your suffering, and the affects of it upon you and your life, respected.
A personal viewpoint – anyone who is not sympathetic is not worth your time, when it comes to your pain and problems. They are part of the problem. But, then I believe, compassion and charity above all, so to me, people being directly unsympathetic to a sufferer are beneath contempt. We never know how much someone might need someone to care in a certain moment and empathy tends to be healing.
I heard somewhere that there is a book titled “Trauma and Recovery” or something similar. I wonder if trauma therapy could help with back rounds of this kind ? Bad churches and preachers are truly a majority, at least in America, I fear.
Kicker is, Darcy, in my college years I was taught pretty much the same thing about girls. That they wanted one thing and one thing only, and if you didn’t give it to them hard and juicy, they’d leave you for someone who would. (Which actually happened with the closest I’ve ever had to a girlfriend.)
Before that, I was into Purity Culture by a different route, major Virgin/Whore Dichotomy with an aside about girls being almost some sort of fey folk — a not-quite-human people you associate with at your own risk.
Darcy, RL, the entire HA Massmind:
If boys are taught that all women are nymphomaniac whores and gold-diggers and girls are taught that all men are rapist pigs just waiting for an opening to do you (and it’ll be all your fault), how the hell can you find any sort of male/female relationship that’s built on trust? How the hell can you trust anybody?
“I was taught pretty much the same thing about girls. That they wanted one thing and one thing only, and if you didn’t give it to them hard and juicy, they’d leave you for someone who would…[snip] ..boys are taught that all women are nymphomaniac whores and gold-diggers”
Yeah… No. That is an entirely different concept and scenario. Darcy, and religious women in fundamentalist sects across the Abrahamic spectrum, are all taught the same thing, “Your body is a thing of filth, and sin, and it will cause men to stumble. What if someone rapes you? Think of the pain that would bring him, all because you tempted him”.
It’s the same creepy script in fundie Christian circles, chasidic and charedi groups, and wahabi and deobande communities. “Your body will tempt good, godly men and cause them to stray You must cover yourself, bow your head and avert your eyes when passing a man. You must stay quiet, make yourself small, lest you cause him to sin. You are responsible for that sin, so you will have sinned too. Modesty is necessary in all things”.
Imagine a lovely sunny day. Now imagine a group of little girls at a park, three and four years old. You’d think they’d be playing or running about, but they’re not. They’re listless and subdued, dressed from head to toes in thick, dark clothes. Arms, legs, collarbones, all drowned in black or navy blue, thick woollen tights and, apart from their heads, only their tiny hands are showing. Why? Because, in this particular religious group, three years old is when girls become wily temptresses capable of leading men into sin Once she is three years old, little Chava must never be alone with an unrelated male, she must also be modest in her thoughts and actions, no acting like a little kid, no running around, no behaviour that could attract a man’s attention. their bodies and minds are dirty and impure.
These tiny minds are filled with the “knowledge” that they are sinners, evil and detestable, an affront to their god. Girls have the added bonus of being told that not only are they responsible for their sins, but for everyone else’s too!
These little minds, born capable of so much, get filled instead with shame, guilt, indoctrination and nonsense. They grow up scared, ashamed, and hating themselves, as Darcy has illustrated. So no, it’s not about your not-girlfriend choosing another guy over you, it’s about the mental and emotional abuse of innocent children, and how it permeates their entire life
But still, how can there be any sort of trust in an environment like that?
So well said and explained ! And the last few paragraphs describing three-year old girls in the throes of depression already. You see that a lot in Fundie churches.
@Headless Unicorn Guy, I have never been in an environment where the prevailing message was that women are just seeking sex and it must be superhero sex! (Well, maybe porn…) My college experience was quite different than yours, I see! My personal fantasy was that some young woman might actually admit that she had some feelings (like I did) and that we could relate in some way. Instead, I got mostly the frightened, abused women of the church. They would not relate, just play the role of the churched. I believe they were terrified, maybe as terrified as me! Religion does that to us…
Anyway, that is as it is but my point is that trust is not what others hold as preconceptions so much as one occupying one’s own honesty and freedom. It is not up to me to make sure all people dress correctly to please the pervert running the church, you see? I am happy to enjoy a diversity of clothing. The rules set by Gothard’s and Wilsons et al must be rejected in honesty and as you make simple adjudications like this for yourself, your ability to trust increases. One of the finest days of my life was when I woke up and realized the great commission was the preacher’s utter rubbish. The duty is to be yourself, to allow yourself honest acceptance, honest refusal, to take off the uniform of conformity and wear what you want to on Tuesday morning, then again on Wednesday. Trust is not about what happens to mislead us in life (college or the church) but about who we are with ourselves, how we have been undermined and have lost the ability to trust ourselves. They get you young and full of potential and almost immediately start their corporal punishment. How can we trust ourselves, is the question. For me it began with being introduced to myself, then giving myself some trust and time.
That is pretty general talk, I know. I agree that we are set up to be mistrustful of all that is… this is so we can trust the woo-woo which is perfect, of course!