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Sep 27, 2010

Meeting Dragonfly...

I met up with "Dragonfly" a few weeks ago now, but haven't (as yet) blogged about our meeting. I had to take some time to absorb the information, and up until recently, just haven't had an opportunity to.

Well, considered it absorbed!

M (brother) and I met her together, as we had both known her during the "Grace Bible" years. Admittedly, M has very few memories of that time: in fact, we both do, but I do remember the odd flashes about visiting her large family -  the details of those visits however, sadly escape me.

We met at a local, comfortable restaurant, and sat down for a wine and a bite to eat, and by god! Did we talk! We did after all, have a lot of catch up on: close to 10 years, of news and gossip to catch up on! I am very certain we could have spent hours more just catching up.

M and I told the old, worn story of how our family came to self destruct and re-construct into it's current form. She told hers.

I was fascinated by the similarities between stories, between the long term impacts that we have all felt. The links are definitely there, strong and binding. But equally, I was interested in how the issues have been dealt with differently.

Her story, my story rang in my head the rest of that day. After we left, M and I talked haltingly about what we heard, what we had seen. We talked about the differences, about the similarities: about what we wished we (and our parents) had known all those years ago.

M and I have both experienced family breakdown at different ends of the scale: him as younger, me as older. Whilst the age gap is only 3 years, the difference it has had on our experiences is dramatic. I find this all too common in former fundamentalist families: the  long term impact on the younger siblings is reduced. Don't get me wrong, there is still an impact, just in a very different way. The younger ones have fewer memories, and more often then not, experienced a more relaxed version of the "rules" compared to the older ones.
This does not mean that the older ones are lying or exaggerating their stories, as is so often said. It just means their experiences differ - no one (even in healthy family environments) has the exact same experience of "family". People's rush to cancel out someone's (or even their own) experience on the basis of that person's (or their) brother's (or sisters) experiences, is deeply disturbing to me.

Even then, in my case, the similarities are unmistakable. These experiences do ultimately unite over the differences, and the sharing of them serve to remind us that we are never as alone as we think. Some one else has worn these shoes (albeit in a different size sometimes)  and walked this path.

It is for those that still think they are alone that I write. I remember all too strongly the years when I thought I was all alone, that the world had forgotten me in their rush to forgive my father. I thought I would never be free to speak up and speak out. Well, I did. It just took me a very long time!

"You're not alone, there is more to this I know. You can make it out, you will live to tell."
— You're Not Alone, Saosin 
 

Jo

2 comments:

Laura said...

I met a friend of mine I hadn't seen in awhile. We've kept in contact via Facebook, but hadn't spoken since I made it out of fundamentalism. We went to the same Christian school and same church, and have known each other 20 years. It was really . .. cleansing, I think, to be able to discuss our mutual childhoods now that we're both out. It was very interesting just the little things we had in common, even though her family wasn't really into Gothard like mine was. Friends who know what you have been through are priceless, as even mental health professionals often give us kind of a "huh?" when talking about our backgrounds.

shadowspring said...

In any dysfunctional family, each child's experience will be different. My twin sister and I have different experiences, understandings and hurts and we are only 5 minutes apart!

Thank you for stating the obvious: even if no one else in your family experienced the same exact things you did, your experiences are still honest and valid. That is very important for any child of a messed up family situation to know.

Thanks, Princess Jo!

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