Saturday, January 9, 2016

Broken Childhood

For most of my adult life I have felt broken.  Let me back up a bit.

As a child, I knew our family life was different from the other families around us.  I just thought it was because we were basically non-Mennonites, attending a Mennonite church and school.  That right there made us stand out.

Both parents had college educations.  I knew of three other people in the whole Mennonite church community with any college experience at all.

My mom hated to cook.  She and Daddy told us stories of how Daddy taught her to cook.  All of my friends' moms made these amazing dishes, and we had like 3 or 4 go-to meals.  Of course, looking back, we ate WELL.  There was ALWAYS steak in the freezer, because we butchered our own cattle, and venison, and fish, and chicken.  None of it from the store.  And we put up fresh vegetables every year.  The big chest freezer in the basement always had fresh-from-the-garden green beans, peas, corn, strawberries, and freezer pickles.  But, my mom didn't make things like my friends' moms made...casseroles, and meat loaf, and from-scratch desserts did not happen in our house.

Sewing.  All of my friends were learning to sew at an early age.  Not just cross-stitch.  They started by making dresses for their Barbies, and moved on to making curtains, and table cloths, and pillows.  When we were in our early teens, I BEGGED to learn to sew with another friend, so I ended up at her house, making a dress.  The whole thing.  Cutting the materials, and sewing it up on the machine, and hand-sewing the hems.  A Mennonite caped-dress.  I got to the point where I could alter patterns to make my own, and to fit ideas I had in my head about how they should look.  They didn't always turn out the way I envisioned them, but most were presentable...after all, I'd better not waste 4 yards of perfectly good material!!

So, our family was different from those around us.  Not just in those ways.  Relationally, there was a huge difference, but it was not something I could really put a name to until many years later.  My mom was controlling.  Basically, I had no life.  I spent every moment at home.  I was not allowed to get a job, or go hang out with friends.  Every moment had to be accounted-for.  Additionally, as I became a teen, I was responsible for much of the cooking and cleaning, as well as keeping up with chores...feeding and watering the animals, taking out the garbage, priming the well pump, bringing in water to flush the toilet.  Oh....our well was going dry, so we used rain water to flush the commode.

But really, I didn't make a lot of these connections until my brother and I left to go to college.  While we were away at school, I started to see that other kids had *very* different lives than we had.  Many were able to connect to their parents, enjoyed dating, and recreational activities, and vacations...I remember ONE vacation in all of our years growing up, and that was a trip to Texas to visit my grandparents while they still lived out there.  Other kids enjoyed a variety of music, and movies, and TV shows.  I was allowed to listen to ONE radio station.  We didn't watch movies or own a TV.  Instead, I read.  A LOT.  Some that was pretty inappropriate for me to have read.  But, the books were on the shelves, so I read them.

There are so many ways I thought myself broken...and I haven't even started on why....

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