emil nolde, sea red sun
The last 24 hours in my mind have taken me back to the time of Baptist indoctrination in a pre-teen and teenage boy in one. I don't like to think about that time. It bothers me that when people reach a place where memory falls away, memories of childhood come forward. I've dreaded that part about the advance of dementia. I don't want to remember my childhood times. I was vulnerable, without recourse, ruled by absolute fascist control. Grandmother Worthington, who had a little house behind the house in Kansas City, was my contact with compassion, with love, with growing things, with talking about things, with ethical behavior, with knowing people. Parents knew the people they worked with and went to church with. What friends they had early on, they ditched before very long. Their absence of friends is possibly what motivated me in my adult life to hold my friends uppermost in my life. Oh it was lonesome living in their house where the tension in the air was so thick it took a cheese knife to get through it. Stepping in the door, it hit like opening a car door in FtLauderdale after driving from Toronto in air conditioning.
Mother's email brought back what I had forgotten after 50 years of being out from under her direct influence, her absolute control. There was good reason I had always allowed her to believe I believed the dogma she believes. When I went to a psychotherapist in my 40s I learned that I had been trained by both parents that it's my responsibility to keep them happy by never telling them anything they didn't want to hear. That was easy. They didn't want to hear anything. "Nobody wants to hear anything you have to say!" How many times did I hear that? What saved me was talking back in my head where I could say anything and get away with it. Anything. Even things to make God blush. Once, I was told, "I oughta hit you for what you're thinking." I thought: If you really knew what I was thinking, you'd kill me. That was not an idle thought. Twice, mommy dearest told me proudly of the time some woman she knew somewhere said something to her about the way they were treating the kid. She said, "He's my kid, and if I want to kill him, I will." Kinda chilling to be told that by mommy. Does that translate: she's my mommy, I can kill her if I want to? Oh no, honor thy father and mother, saith the Bible. You can do any old shit to your kids. The only deal is, paybacks are hell.
I recall a day in the vault at the Register of Deeds researching deeds, a man walked in who saw the other man in the room, somebody he knew, and they talked. He said in a kind of hang-dog way that he'd lost his boy. Whatever his name was left home and won't have no more to do with him, the boy that never retruned for more of same. I felt a moment of satisfaction for the boy. He did the only thing he could do. I thought toward the daddy: If you'd a-thought for half a minute while you were alienating him, but you didn't. Treat him like a stray dog and he will go away as ill-treated stray dogs do. I recall in the 5th grade learning the word dictator, 1953, or so. It blew my circuits. I definitely knew what that word meant. Hitler was the dictator example of the post-WW2 reconstruction time, Mr Evil. I lived under the dictator's boot without recourse, the aggressive dictator controlled by passive-aggressive frigid mommy. I had to shut down feeling affection. There was none to be had. Love was shut down at about age 6. No place for compassion chez nous. It was martial law 24/365. Hit him and make him cry. Shit fire, they didn't have to make me cry. I was crying all the time inside. The hitting just broke my hold on keeping it hidden.
It is 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon in Wichita. Church is over. Mother has informed everyone in the church to pray for her disobedient 70 year old son who made a decision for himself independent of her approval. And yes, I believe evolution is the ongoing process of creation. Kansas is where the state voted to make teaching evolution in school illegal. I laugh out loud. It was the joy of my life leaving Kansas, where the buffalo once roamed until their genocide. When I crossed the state line on the way out, I celebrated within. Many times I've returned in body, but never in spirit. Like when I was a kid, I had to keep my spirit protected. The way I protected my spirit was to talk back in my mind. My mind was never subdued. I wanted to write down the things I thought about, even a brief diary, but knew whatever I wrote would be found and read, not out of interest, but to find something to punish me for, and to take it away from me. I kept my thoughts secret from them. I talked superficially, the only talk that didn't cause a reaction, and talked less and less as time went by, trained that nobody wanted to hear anything I had to say. Mother's reaction to reading about my spiritual path tells me #1 she did not understand a single word of what I wrote. Only that it disagrees with her; therefore, it's evil, of the devil's influence.
Telling my friend Carole about mother's reaction, she said, that's good, now it's out in the open and settled. I laughed. No, no, no. This is just the first crack in the side of the mountain before the volcano blows shit everywhere. There will be hell to pay, but I'm not paying admission. I'm way too far down the long slope of indifference. I'm totally out of control and there's no going back. I will not adopt the dogmas of somebody else's religion to please anyone. 17th Century heretic. She's only telling me that who I am is not acceptable according to her check list of qualifications. I've known this all my life. How well I know it. It's no surprise to be told when I'm 70. Karmically, for balance, I have come to live the second half of my life in a culture where WHO you are has value. I found it refreshing coming out of a belief system where who I am is only wrong, into a society where only who I am has value. I've lived in this belief system the second half of my life, and will not go back for any reason, no matter how passive-aggressive.