Thursday, October 25, 2012
First, a gratuitous cute cat gif just because :D
Alright, time for the actual post.
Life is crazy and even though I love writing and squeeze in as much fanfiction production as I can between full-time school and home life, personal blogging kind of falls by the wayside. I've never been good at it. I tried keeping a diary from when I was eight all the way through my early twenties, but consistency was an elusive result. Mainly I think because I rarely felt as though there was anything to write about and generally only ran to it to express angst ridden entries.
I will get back to relating in chronological fashion how I grew up, but I just wanted to hit on something.
In a broad sense this blog is about my experience in a very conservative fundamentalist Christian home, how I broke the mold and am now anything but fundamentalist yet still somehow a Christian (albeit what would be deemed a very "bad" Christian by everyone I grew up around...). Part of it though too is the continuing ramifications of my upbringing. No matter how far one might come from the beliefs and perspective one is raised with and intellectually move beyond certain thing, the psychological imprint on a child is lasting and permanent. I've come to realize this more and more as I recognize the origin and true nature of aspects of my personality I always thought were just "me".
One of the cornerstones of Christian fundamentalism is the concept of sin. That we all sin. That our nature leads us only to sin and do horrible things. That we're born in sin. That from an age before we can remember we're willfully sinning. That there is no such thing as being good enough. That even our best actions are tainted with selfish motives deep down. In a word, even children are awful people, and such new-age hippie garbage such as self-esteem only serves to encourage defiant and bad behavior. I remember when such concepts were mentioned in any mainstream news report or in general discussion of the evils of public school, building up a child's self-esteem was derided as wrong.
Think of the impact such an attitude leaves on a young person.
They're never told that what they do is good enough.
There's always more that one should and could be doing.
And even when you think you're doing a good job, well, that's just being prideful.
There's no such thing as perfect, yet the Bible calls for us to be perfect and that is what we're supposed to try to be - "Be holy as I am holy".
So there the child is left... constantly being told they're sinful and imperfect and that their nature can never be anything but that, yet at the same time being held to a perfect standard and expected to try to live up to it.
I tend to be a bit of perfectionist as it is. I remember watching the neighborhood kids walk home from the bus stop that was up the road and think about the "evil" self-esteem "garbage" that they were being "fed" and wondering what it was like to have someone tell you you weren't inherently crap.
It wasn't as if my parents were the embodiment of the "YOU'RE HORRIBLE!" accusatory types, it was more just the absence of positive. We ended being involved in a homeschool music program, a huge one, when I was a junior in high school. I did percussion as at the time they didn't have an orchestra (my main instrument is violin), and I stayed on to help the drum line instructor once I graduated. I would have adopted him as a second father if I could have. To be honest, I still would. I met with the first truly positive appreciation for what I did from him and his wife. They are just good people. Anyway, he that first year after I graduated he gave just little positive message engraved keychain things to me and the other person who assisted with the drum line.
I kept that keychain on my person for years because I knew he meant the engraved message said.
It was the first time I'd ever gotten such a message. A "You're awesome", "You mean something", "You did good, kid" sort of message.
Dammit, I'm getting a lump in my throat just thinking back to how much that meant.
Of course, the expectation I have of myself to always do more and that I could always be doing a better job has never gone away.
Like I said, I started back at school full-time in Sept to finish a Biomedical Science undergrad degree in order to apply to PA school. On top of being a new mom, and fulfilling my Army Reserve obligations and starting back at work part-time. And I feel guilty. Horribly guilty that I'm not being a good enough mom even though my husband (Rob) has told me he thinks I'm doing an amazing job and that he loves watching me with Katelyn and that I'm a better mom than either of ours were/are. And I know he means it. But the sense of feeling guilty about not doing enough never goes away. I'm really really tired, but I feel bad going to bed early and not spending "enough" time with him. And if I'm asleep it means I'm not doing anything. And there's always more that could be done.
So the other evening I was standing in the kitchen, exhausted, stressed, and Rob asked me what wrong. And when I told him, he said gently, "How many times do I have to tell you you're doing a good job? You're being way too hard on yourself."
And then it hit me. How many times does he have to tell me? However many times it'll take to erase never being told it as a child.
Don't ever, ever underestimate the lasting power of telling your kid they're awesome and an amazing, special person and worth more the world.
And don't underestimate the lasting ache and self-beratement and loathing you'll leave them with if you don't.