I have a number of items that are competing for my attention this past week. I tend to think that they are related to the fundamentalist mind map that was stamped onto me along with family generational traits that have been passed down.
Item: My grown daughter informed me quite clearly that she was drawing a boundary excluding me from her life due to her having to walk on eggshells around me growing up for fear of my anger exploding out. Apparently, the focus of my household was to protect and keep my emotions on a smooth keel. (According to her) I would have thought she would have brought up something quite different than that, as that is an area I specifically and consciously chose to break the generational cycle that the Howarth family has struggled with. Apparently, I failed at this in her eyes. And this has put up a huge wall between us, and is restricting my possibilities of seeing and enjoying my two grandsons. Frankly, it’s absolutely heart breaking to me. (I am learning that a successfully lived life, at least in my case, requires me to run on despite open, grievous emotional wounds. To not let myself be defined, or limited by hurts.)
Item: I was afraid of my father’s temper as a child growing up. I was afraid that if I disobeyed him, I would get a painful spanking by him. Fact: He did get angry at physical things that broke down, he once got extremely angry when he stopped for gas, all of us kids jumped out, desperate to use the bathroom, leaving the car door open. He didn’t notice that, and broke the right rear car door hinge as the door caught onto the gas pump as he backed the car up. I have memories of him angrily yelling at and verbally shaming my sister and myself without thinking of the effects of his words.
Item: My grandfather and grandmother both worked jobs in order to raise their family of 4 children, apparently my Grandfather didn’t let my Dad go out for football, nor did he attend any of Dad’s sporting events that he did go out for. Grandpa was rather known for his angry temper, his sensitivity to others’ remarks or even what he imagined other people were going to do. Grandpa was a very hard worker, was tough, but also quit jobs due to his personal sensitivities.
Item: My great-Grandfather was a railroad foreman who physically beat my Grandfather and I suppose angrily verbally abused him as well.
My point is that there is a generational history of anger that has been inherited along with a distinct lack of a father nurturing his son, and teaching his son how to be a man. In my life, this lack of nurturing combined with insistence on religious performance, and conditional love has wreaked havoc in my emotional, social, and intellectual development. I seem to exist in various developmental timelines at once, the emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual never quite vibrate together harmoniously. It’s as if I’m living my life through an impressionist painting. Everything is always a little blurry.
This next may seem like an unrelated item, but I am currently reading the book ‘Jesus Interrupted’ by Bart Ehrman. I have read a couple of his books prior, and his historical-critical approach toward the text is causing more angst within me primarily because I was taught that the Bible was verbally inspired by God to each writer, and God preserved every jot and tittle for us down through the ages.
And sadly, even grievously to my heart, I find that the original manuscripts do not exist, so to claim that God preserved His word perfectly means nothing. Without the original manuscripts, how could we know that?
I further find that there are quite a few changes between authors, perhaps even discrepancies, certainly they didn’t write history with the same sense of accuracy to facts that we hold as the standard today. And if God inspired each writer to write exactly what He wished us to know, and I read the possibility that some authors actually contradicted other authors in their views, how then does it make any sense to claim that each book of the Bible was ‘God-breathed’ or to say that the Bible is God’s Word to us today??
To be fair, I found a critique of this same book by another Bible scholar and plan to read his critique of the book to give a balanced view for myself.
But in my experience, even if I could reconcile the books in the Bible as being congruent, it still doesn’t matter to me because I’ve never observed God to either show up in any distinct, specific way to me, nor answered my prayers in any miraculous way. So I wonder, why I even concern myself with reading about the Bible? There is an unfulfilled lack of nurture from my ‘spiritual Father’ and a distinct lack of nurture from my ‘earthly father.’
I was imprinted with lies about life on two levels, the spiritual and our current life. I lived according to what I was taught, and that particular mind map has led me down a long, lonely, dry road of delayed developmental skills, separation from the world, was really nothing more than damaging my normal childhood development into an adult.
“Delayed Development and Life Skills. Many Christian parents seek to insulate their children from “worldly” influences. In the extreme, this can mean not only home schooling, but cutting off media, not allowing non-Christian friends, avoiding secular activities like plays or clubs, and spending time at church instead. Children miss out on crucial information– science, culture, history, reproductive health and more. When they grow older and leave such a sheltered environment, adjusting to the secular world can be like immigrating to a new culture. One of the biggest areas of challenge is delayed social development.” [source: https://valerietarico.com/2014/10/31/psychological-harms-of-christianity/ ]
And in trying to reclaim our lives, create a new supportive mental mind map, the frustrations, and consequences from the original harmful beliefs instilled within us still exist. I can, at times, relate to this. . .
“One reclaimer expressed her frustration this way: Include physically-abusive parents who quote “Spare the rod and spoil the child” as literally as you can imagine and you have one fucked-up soul: an unloved, rejected, traumatized toddler in the body of an adult. I’m simply a broken spirit in an empty shell. But wait…That’s not enough!? There’s also the expectation by everyone in society that we victims should celebrate this with our perpetrators every Christmas and Easter!!” [source: https://valerietarico.com/2013/03/26/religious-trauma-syndrome-is-it-real/ ]
So the confluence of chemical brain imbalance (genetics) with Baptist fundamentalism’s lies about reality combined with its Bronze age expectations of how husbands relate to their wives has created a huge mental and emotional whirlpool of destruction in my life.
I realize that religion does a lot of good, many folks are helped, encouraged by it, but sadly, I’m one of those personality types that took it seriously, expected answers to prayer to be timely, measurable, and real.
And even though I’ve been realizing from my personal studies and experience that much that I was taught in Baptist fundamentalism as being historically real, was false. No prayers answered. No thundering, mighty glorious God of Israel, no powerful Holy Spirit giving me wisdom, let alone protecting me, empowering me, and answering my prayers by interceding on my behalf to God the Father.
I think that what is happening in my family relationships, what has happened in my marriage, and personal instability is in large part the confluence of inherited religion, genetics, and negative thought patterns. My entire family of origin structure was supported with bones of legalistic fundamentalist worldviews combined with a lack of real knowledge and education about science, personal responsibility, personal choice to create my own life, general financial ignorance (through no fault of their own), lack of nurturing with supportive beliefs, etc…
I guess as I’m noticing these things, it’s now up to me to fix them in my own life. There’s that personal responsibility thing right?
But I am so far, far behind. I am 58 years old, but emotionally only going on 16 some days.
Sigh. . .