My Struggle With Christianity

One of the last occasions I visited a church was in this photo, a little over a year ago. It was not entirely a religious function but a wedding - a Message wedding. The preacher who once snapped scissors and swung his crutches at me conducted the ceremony. His complexion was zealously flushed, contrasting his collar and even whiter locks of hair. I don't mention names for the sake of peace. His inheritance is worth millions, and in no time my inbox might overflow with threatening legal letters. I’ll choose my battles, though I can promise you every word I say stems from a trauma memory.
The newlyweds were young and beautiful. The fresh-faced bride, my spouse’s relative, had natural hair let down in styled curls. How did Message woman manage to look so effortlessly gorgeous?! Was she loved, confident? How bittersweet. I'd longed to marry in this church, my father walking me down the aisle. My first escape plan involved the fantasy of marriage. But here now with a devilish slit,…

Breaking The Cycle (Graphic)

Motherly instincts sprouted at a mere 12 years old, when my mother, pale and sick, dropped her newborn into my arms and said, “Here, take him.” She would refuse to leave the house for 6 years following that date; part of it sickness and fear of The Outside World, and part of it punishing my father and not wanting to be seen with him.
I loved the boy she handed me. We did everything together in his toddler years - anything fun and adventurous that could be done in the Middle of Nowhere. He didn't look like my Benjamin doll with the single blonde curl, but he was real, had brown hair, and the greenest, happiest eyes. If I had known he would never again be in my life, I might not have left. I might have held him tighter. I might have fought harder with the government to see that all members of my family were safe instead of focusing on my aversion to foster homes and my own predicament. Maybe a foster home would have been safer for him. I'll never know. 
But I know eventually, afte…

How Estranged Are They?

Phone camera shots of blurry photographs, in an album I’m not allowed to see. That’s all I have. Josephine is a saint for doing so. I don’t even have a baby photo, though since my son’s birth I pleaded. I barely remember what I looked like as a baby, and I’d love to see the similarities in us. I want to show him. The last I heard a brother, the same who refused to go on Dr. Phil, destroyed all photographs of me, infant ones included. I have a small file on my computer that I’ll be sharing with you, until they run out.
My sister understands pain that my brothers and father wouldn’t; the sexism of a cult she hasn’t seen through yet. She was never dubbed Slut or Dogmeat as she didn’t wear foundation but she suffered, her voice unheard. I’m ever so glad that she’s forgiven me for my anger, my nasty teenage words. All the learned behaviour: the yelling, the screaming. Turning to inappropriate humor as some means of therapy, amused by the horror on their faces when I cussed, as if that meant…

The House I Grew Up In

If I shut my eyes now, I can pretend it’s happening, although it’s decades later and the memories are a scattered dream; unorganized flashes of pictures in time. It seems I’ve channelled the girlhood visions of a ghost or a child who never really lived, a mere night terror haunting my subconscious. Some scenes are more vivid than others, yet deep inside, I know it’s true, just as I am telling it.  I’m there again, inside Nature’s prison. I try nodding off, but it’s difficult, a typical night in the maroon-coloured, weather-beaten house on the edge of a hill in the Middle of Nowhere. Tomorrow’s like any other. After my nightmares push me to wakefulness, I recognize the same man’s voice, all over again. In the morning, Winter’s cold creeps inside, numbing toes under the thin blanket. Kitchen utensils scrape on pots like fingers on a chalkboard in a schoolroom I’d neve visit. Thunderous footsteps mean my father awakes, too. Then-click! The sound of my mother’s thumb on the tape recorder,…

Dear Women Who Want To Leave The Message

Ladies, all that you've dreamed of is on the other side of fear.  You fear Hell. You fear demon possession by music, even music with good beats and happy lyrics just because it falls under the category of secular. You fear that you'll betray your family if you leave or that they will betray you, disown you. You fear you'll starve on your own. I did. You fear you'll be lonely. You fear you'll be vulnerable to predators. 
How can you survive without knowing who's good or who's bad? It's so easy at Church. The ones in your congregation are safe and everything outside of that is evil. You fear you'll have to break up your family and negatively impact your children. You fear you might even lose your adult children. You fear you'll never find love again. How will you get past the insecurity you might feel in a relationship where women's bodies are accepted? Where a female in clothes revealing her knees or shoulders in front of a significant other i…

Gaslighting (Raw Personal Content)

What do you you see? I see a flower girl in an 80 dollar dress surrounded by worldly relatives.
I see Mom’s face smiling, sitting pretty in that curtain material she picked out for Sister Rita to sew together. I feel pretty too, for the first time in my life and everyone is telling me it. Screw you, Dad. I want to tear off those fancy stockings and run barefoot through the wedding hall, dancing in circles, singing for joy. 
I hated leotards almost as much as dresses (this one was the exception) because my feet got so hot and sweaty but I knew what Mom would say. Bare feet on you girls arouses your father. I didn’t know then but I think most ordinary Moms would say something like, You shouldn’t run barefoot in wedding halls in case someone breaks a glass.

For one second, my smile faded. Defiance glowered in my eyes. Cold, hard, childish rebellion. Behind me, a forbidden, evil Christmas tree and in front of me, my great Aunt clicking a button. Dad looked on in disgust. I posted this photo …

What The Lack Of School Taught Me

Unschooling, the term for self-directed learning. Mom had an undiagnosed illness but wouldn’t go to doctors, and she was constantly exhausted; she had no education herself, and therefore this was the easiest way. Throwing us back into the Public School System was not an option. Our parents feared outside influences so much they selected friends within their community and most times, no friends at all. Yeah, we’ve heard of Henry Ford and his Grade 9 education, but for most of us, it takes years of academic success to reach our goals. I’ve hardly seen a classroom. My only memory of a real school was in Kindergarten: an infidel teacher pointing her stick at a row of felt letters on a board and then - whisked away to a Horse Farm in the Middle of Nowhere.I read books out of curiosity. And I had no schedule. I’d often stay up till 4 a.m. writing stories, and Mom supported it. She encouraged my dream though she wouldn’t dare think then I’d be writing about her. Back then, it was about castl…

A Brief Look At PTSD, Covid And Motherhood

“Honey, did you hear the zoo is open?” My spouse calls from the kitchen.
I look around our two-bedroom condo cluttered with toys and think, Oh, to leave this house! But there’s panic, always panic, even before the onset of this pandemic. Can I manage?
I’m groggy. In fact, I’m dizzy. Maybe it’s the strong coffee I gulped upon waking or the common symptom of my autoimmune disorder. I can feel the Synthroid lodge in my throat (a magical pill that kicks my thyroid into gear) and worry that I might have accidentally taken one extra. Pills make me nervous. Overdose is a continuous fear. My short-term memory loss is no joke. I forget what I've done the second I did it. I'm going to pass out! Am I dying? Do I have Covid? 
The room spins and the corners of my vision turns black, just like when a loved one strangled me, long ago.
This is diagnosed Complex PTSD. Trauma. Life.
I’m going to puke. Maybe I just need food in my stomach. I grab breakfast and rush out to a sun patch on my balcon…