“I was told what was important, before I had a chance to decide what was important to me. I was given a religion, before I could decide in what it was I wanted to believe. I was told who was in power, before I had a chance to decide the type of systems I thought should lead. I was given a social class, before I had a chance to decide to class myself as I deemed. I was told what was already impossible, before I had a chance to decide what it is I’d like to dream. I’ve been told since day one what it’s all supposed to mean. But I’ve had the chance to decide it’s not what it once seemed.”Stacie Martin
I was born wild – a bit of a rebel child, immediately questioning everyone and everything around me. Initially, I was celebrated for this… my mom often stating to her friends that I possessed the untamable spirit of a wild horse, running free. She admired me for this, calling me “wise beyond my years”. It wasn’t much longer, however, before my parents chose to become more devout in their religious faith. In doing so, they refused to let me continue on this way or to grow in just any direction.
Indoctrinating me with their rigidly dictated beliefs, I became something much like an espalier – the distance between the vine and the thing that trains it almost imperceptible. Even though I was a child, the fact that I allowed this to continue for so long perhaps speaks just as poorly of me? Whereas I was once the girl who questioned every reality and so-called truth, I quickly became silenced and, eventually, shunned.
For the nearly two decades that followed my leaving of this religious organization, even my own thinking was framed in apology. I would tip toe around others, make myself feel small, apologize for the space I’d take up. I did my best to blend in or, better yet, fade out into the background, like white noise, rarely ever drawing attention to myself. I would occasionally engage in small talk, but barely scratch the surface of anything with depth. I could accept a compliment, but never truly believe it. Trusting myself and the world around me became this never ending mountain that I have had to climb.
I couldn’t help believing that my dad was the reason for every feeling I had – the comfort, but also the anger. The silence that ensued between us that cold November night was much like the change in the weather – something that rendered us both powerless, but in a way that was hard to take personally. I could tell by the way my skin felt, inadequate for the task of holding everything in, that I was going to write that letter.
I disassociated myself from the toxic faith in which I had been raised fully knowing, yet still so unprepared for, the consequences that would ensue.
Like a person about to break the law, I felt a thrill at the decision I’d made – that, however briefly, “the rules” did not apply and I was free from the forces that had circumscribed me for so very long.
I dropped that letter in the mailbox and drove away… not quite certain that lightning was not about to strike me down, as the first taste of ultimate freedom pulsated through my veins.