I learned that a term for leaving a party or a date without saying goodbye is “ghosting.” So I guess I ghosted. I haven’t blogged in months. Except this wasn’t really a party, and I’m not really gone. I’ve more just been being private, listening, learning, trying to make it in life and see what my next steps are.
Life has been pretty good. And I’ve gotten more thoughtful about guarding and building that good stuff. Before, as my marriage was falling apart and PTSD was wrecking a lot of the other things I’d built, I took more chances, was more open, felt more ready for risk, more ok with the things that were messy and raw being pictured for what they were. Now I find myself more reticent, and for some time more interested in that new direction, the one where life is full of resources, and I have a partner, a community, a professional field, and a home.
I’m unsure of where this blog fits in all that. My boyfriend is a private person, someone who would rather not be written about, and I’m a professional woman now, have a career to think about too. Knowing that my boss or a prospective hiring manager can google my name and find out I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian homeschool cult, like the Duggars (and since I last wrote, people now seem to have been clued in to what “like the Duggars” really means), and that I was diagnosed with PTSD because of it feels vulnerable. If they dig a little deeper (or now, just google this page), they can learn that I came from the same subculture as Rachel Dolezol and Andrea Yates, and I was raised with the same dominionist outlook espoused by Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Todd Akin, and Mike Huckabee and that I learned some of the same things about spiritual life as Joshua Komisarjevsky. And yet I want people to look at me like I’m not a freak show, treat me like they would your average 32 year old policy nerd, and you know, hire me and respect my work and judgment and reputation. And invite me for cookouts and after work beers. Because who doesn’t want that? Just about everyone, even people raised in wacky settings like mine want that. Livelihood and community are human needs.
But I don’t want that desire for professionalism and a solid social circle to erase what happened to me, or what I went through, or what I’ve become because of it, or take away from the work I’ve done or could do, or just how hard I worked to get here, obscuring the fact that what I experienced and the way I got out permanently informed my worldview, my perception, even my sense of right and wrong. I don’t want to have to go silent, paper over that stuff, act like it never occurred in order to avoid being pigeonholed or seen as a risk or an oddity. I already did that once, before I knew there was another way, and felt it wasn’t particularly healthy for me. I want to be able to speak to the issues, tell what I know when I feel inclined to do so.
But I sometimes wonder if I can have both. I don’t see good examples. Either you’re a mascot for child/domestic abuse and the art that comes out of raising awareness and healing from it (think Eve Ensler) or you slowly let it recede into the past and find you come to introduce yourself and be known by what’s on your business card, who your spouse is, and what neighborhood you live in, like anybody else.
Maybe that’s black and white thinking. Maybe I can have both. I don’t know. I have had many people accept my past in both professional and personal settings, see it as just one more place somebody can come from, since I became open about it. That has been great, really and truly awesome. So accepting and such a relief. Still, every time I’ve sat down to write a post, to share my thoughts, the thing that came up in my mind was “do I really want strangers and friends and acquaintances reading about this on the Internet?” And before the answer was “sure, whatever, let’s do it,” but more often lately it’s been no. I’m not into oversharing or ill-advised sharing. It doesn’t make me feel special. And it is so easy to do. Just the click of a button.
I started this blog with a purpose – because I wanted to raise awareness of the child abuse in the Christian homeschool movement, the poor laws in homeschooling as a whole, and the toxic hold that Christian patriarchy and Quiverfull ideology has taken and then damage it has done within this subculture. I had my story, my knowledge, and my research. I am a policy nerd and a survivor. So I have catalogued what I’ve seen as best I’m able, and I’ve tried to work on it as much as I could. Turns out that that hasn’t bee in anything resembling an organized, structured way, but rather haphazard. Still, I know it’s made a difference, been effective, and I’ve built things, contributed to a community and a legacy and a narrative that wasn’t there before. I’ve also probably helped save lives, or at least improve them. And I’m proud of that. Want to do more of it. Can’t think of anything more meaningful.
So I remain a blogger for now, a haphazard but informed advocate for reform, for hope, for getting through. I still want to work on this issue when and where I can. I still want to provide supports, a safe space for survivors. I still want this to be part of my life. I’m just sorting out where that balance is and what my role in it looks like. So thank you for tuning in and please bear with me.