I have a secret. It’s one that I have kept hidden for a very long time, and I have never planned on spilling it to anyone. But here’s the thing, I have committed to writing regular blog posts, and well, I need to write about something so it might as well be about my secret.
Ever since I can remember, I have been ashamed at who I am. Even though I come across as confident and some say intimidating and like I let nothing get in my way, it doesn’t mean I feel like I belong or that all of that is true. Some of it is, but not all.
I have always felt like an alien no matter where I was. I grew up in an extremely conservative environment. My mother’s world is filtered through religion and God. Everything in her world returns to that. Once, a teenage friend and I challenged my mother to see if we could come up with a subject that she couldn’t relate back to God. We failed miserably.
I remember looking at my petite, thin mother and thinking she was frail and needed to be protected from the harsh world of reality. She once complained to me that all her children at one time or another had expressed their feelings that they had to protect her. Well….
Being a vulnerable, helpless woman was not where I wanted to be nor did I ever really conform to getting up early in the morning to do my hair and makeup so I’d look presentable to the world like she did faithfully.
The domestic goddess that was floating around bearing domestic women attributes forgot to give me some. I rebelled against the idea of not only looking like an alluring attractive plastic doll, but I also rebelled against cooking or doting on a man.
Some might then say I belonged to the feminist movement, and in some ways, I very much align with that ideology, but for years I was a baby producing machine that stayed-at-home and who wrote controversial novels on the side.
My children love to drag me to events where there were Mom and Daughter and centered around us doing crafts. Even when they were five years old, they could way out craft me.
But my shame and feeling like I didn’t belong turned darker as I became older. For years I was an abused wife. I would hide my bruises and sprains as other looked at me enviously because they wanted my large house and all my perfect looking kids (well sometimes).
My husband wanted the cooking-baby-producing-wife, and eventually, I could handle it no longer. I managed to plot my way out of not getting pregnant and getting the hell out of there with six children.
Yes, imagine having six very young children in tow, myself barely over thirty and trying to fit into the dating scene. Well, I managed to get in the scene and find a line of men who wanted an instant made a family. Who knew?
Soon after getting into the world I was snatched up by the local sociopath, and we married and merged our lives. At this point, I never felt more alone. The man had dark secrets, and those were the ones I knew about.
Needless to say still steeped deep into my codependency I felt that I couldn’t say anything to anyone about the condition of our life and the threats I worried about.
Yes, I married a religious fanatic because it probably reminded me of mom, but he took it much further than her daily worship and trying to be a good person. The day I discovered that he had fantasies of being the marred servant—Isaiah—the prophet that brings in the last days, I could barely breathe.
Who can relate to that?
Then I discovered that his other children had grown up in polygamy. Again who can relate to that? One of his daughters decided to become a second wife, and I was invited to the wedding.
How does one go into, even more, ultra conserve environment that the very premise is offensive to your soul? Looking as sexy and sassy as one can muster. That is how. There is no even trying to belong to that culture cause I simply won’t.
My isolation grew more when sociopath decided to launch his war against my children and me. In the midst of that, if that wasn’t enough, I decided to leave my religion I’d been in my whole life after looking around at the congregation and realizing that I simply do not belong. So that leaves me as a person who has been modeled and structured from an extreme religion. Married straight into domestic violence and forced to have child after child. Then I fled that into the arms of a sociopath that has visions of grandeur and belief in fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecies.
Plus, I added a few more children to the mix because by that point I really liked babies and I kept dreaming of this cute blonde girl. Then I attended an extremely liberal university for graduate school that highlighted how conservative I am even though the conserves of my religion had to band my books and kicked me out of programs for being too liberal. To add to this recipe the school was literary, and I am pretty sure I am commercial so why did they accept me and encourage me to go more literary? A quagmire that I am still sifting through.
For years I have kept quiet about how many children I have. Californians just don’t understand. I didn’t deny having them I just didn’t spotlight it because I was embarrassed. Not only for having so many of them but really not being a person that could handle that many. If you ask my ex-husbands, they will agree with that last statement wholeheartedly.
I also kept quiet about my former religious affiliation because I was embarrassed in what I believed in so strongly. Looking back at how ill I was treated by that institution it was amazing I stayed as long as I did, but their dogma was convincing and had a lot of good in it mixed with the bad.
There was a time I was quiet about my marriages because after all when people tell you how wrong you are for divorcing no matter the reason (hey just let the guy beat the shit out of you!) then you don’t want to hear that anymore.
Plus hearing that I must have accumulated bad karma from a previous life to have my own personal sociopath! Seriously. Seriously. Talk about people piling on guilt.
So my shame kept me isolated and I felt different from the rest of the humankind. When I thought about this and my differences, I often crawled back home to hide and to find comfort in my current husband’s arms who is a good guy and likes me despite of or because of all my strangeness.
One day I was driving thinking about my family heritage. I had a great grandma who was a pioneer who crossed the plains. She had a new pair of shoes that she loved before she started the journey. When she was burnt out of her house, and her family launched into the trek of crossing the plains, she wrapped up her shoes to protect them and refused to wear them wanting to keep them in perfect condition. She loved them. They were precious, and she wanted to enjoy them once she reached the promise land.
After many weeks, lots of horrible weather, she walked across the country barefoot. Her feet swelled, toughened, and had many sores. When it came time to walk into the Promise Land, her feet didn’t fit the shoes. Her experience had outgrown the shoes.
This mirrored my experience. I love and cherish many different aspects of myself at one time. Of course, I love my children, cherished my religion. I went through the war of crossing the plains with a physically abusive man then a pathetic sociopath so of course, I couldn’t fit the shoes of the societies that I was in.
I don’t know if my grandmother was ashamed for not fitting in her shoes. She shouldn’t be. Her life experiences changed her just like mine changed me. Should I hide who I am and where I came from because I get funny looks from others? Should I be ashamed for the journey? Did I have control over those men actions and their delusions? Am I responsible for who they are?
I am not. I am responsible for marrying them yes and I am responsible for how I choose to handle responding to their behavior—in the long run, I choose to leave and to learn from it as much as I could.
Now I am choosing to go gentler on myself. Has all my shame gone away for who I am? Not yet, but I have learned that just owning where I came from, and who I am is one major step forward.