OpenDoor – The Vegan Society 1976

Just a quick share while the blog is under refurbishment!

As I’m sure you know, I’m a very big 70s fan, and since I have recently returned to veganism, I thought this very 70s 30 minute BBC documentary on veganism was rather lovely. Completely dated of course (we have so much more choice today) but the arguments are still good 😀

Enjoy!

Unification

This is just a quick note, for anybody who might be reading/ interested, to let you know that I have decided to amalgamate all my various blogs – The Bajoran Exile, Chakotay Homestead, Seaside Therapy, Shepherdess, Messianic Woman etc. back into one right here (hopefully that should be achievable, as they’re all on WordPress). 

When it’s all done, you can expect more of the same, but with a much heavier dose of Star Trek analogies.

I don’t know exactly why I have this continual impulse to start new projects that I can’t possibly keep up with, but it is certainly a recurring theme. I shall attempt to stop it immediately. 

I haven’t written anything anywhere recently (unless you count twitter and facebook), due to mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. That has made me realise how ridiculous it is to have so many blog projects on the go at once, and so hopefully I will start writing again soon because at least I won’t have the excuse of not writing due to being overwhelmed by too many choices.

I think as well that all the splintering into so many different voices has been indicative of my state of mind over the last few years and so I’m feeling that the time is right to finally sort my head out and pull myself together. Metaphorically.

Wish me luck or something! 👍

Head injury update

Just a quick mini post-ette as I’m suffering a bit after trapsing all around the hospital yesterday.

As you may know, I have literally had a permanent headache since 1983 after my head injury when I was knocked off my bike in a hit and run. 

It has taken me 34 years to get a doctor to take me seriously.

Yesterday, the MRI revealed a trauma cyst the size of a giant marble!

So I’m quite thrilled (at being vindicated after being ignored and dismissed for so long) at the same time as being freaked out that I need surgery! 😂

Parallax

“I can do some wonderful things with vegetables, Captain! My feragoit goulash is known across twelve star systems.”

– Neelix

Summary

In the episode, the Voyager crew respond to a distress call from an unknown ship trapped in an anomaly, which – thanks to temporal mechanics, which are notoriously unpredictable – turns out to be their own distress call after they find themselves trapped in the same anomaly after trying to rescue the other ship, which is in fact Voyager.

Meanwhile, Torres fights with Jo Carey who was in line for the position of Chief Engineer, and shows herself to be the most competent despite her issues with self-control and disliking the suffocating Star Fleet structure.

Having realised they are looking at a time-delayed mirror image of themselves, they have to punch their way out of the rift in the anomaly, making sure that they head for the real Voyager and not the mirror image.

Notes

I just love temporal mechanics! Time loops, time leaks, temporal incursions, effect preceding cause! It’s great! Some of my most favourite episodes and films (within Star Trek as well as elsewhere) involve time travel or related weirdness. Unlike the real Janeway – who makes a point of trying to avoid time travel, temporal mechanics would definitely be my favourite subject at the Academy! (If only!)

Real Life

In the last few weeks, I have started looking at my childhood and young adulthood within Christian fundamentalism, and the effects it has had on me, my family and my children. Thankfully I got out before I allowed it to do any significant damage to my children. But coming face-to-face with what I was, what I believed and now what Christian Fundamentalism continues to do, is a little horrifying. I can’t believe that I’m looking at myself, even if it is a ‘time-delayed reflection’.

Ironically, when it all gets too much to face, my natural inclination is to retreat back to the bubble of Fundamentalism, because it is so familiar and comfortable, it feels like home. This is classic Stockholm Syndrome. Even when the opportunity to escape presents itself, the world outside has become more scary (due to indoctrination) than the toxic world you know.

I read just a day or two ago that it can take years if not decades for survivors to recover from the effects of spiritual abuse. I swing through a range of emotions, including a lot of self-loathing and lack of confidence, as well as an underlying arrogance I know I need to keep in check. I think this is all probably quite normal under the circumstances. But I’m beginning to realise that I need to be less hard on myself. What happened to me was not my fault. But I do need to take responsibility for my part in perpetuating the abuse, the legalism, the judgementalism.

Where do I go from here? I feel as though I can’t trust my own judgement anymore. I don’t know what I believe, or what is true. I keep asking myself the question, is it possible to come out the other side with a ‘sane faith’? I think I need to go right back to the very basics and start again from scratch. re-examine what I thought I knew, what I believed to be unquestionably true. Somehow I need to throw off all the baggage of negative teaching and get to the other side. If only it were as simple as making a one-time decision, to ‘punch through’. I suspect it will be a little bit like forgiveness: I forgive, but I have to continue to forgive the same infraction over and over, every time it comes to mind. I must ‘walk in forgiveness’. Perhaps, equally, I must ‘walk’ in re-examination, critical thinking, accepting the good, rejecting the bad, over and over. My Dad’s motto in life, which he often repeated to me, was “Eat the meat, and leave the bones.” I think that’s a useful philosophy. Weigh it up. Analyse. Question.

I particularly like the way Janeway and Torres bounce ideas off each other in this episode. I have seen a bit of talk on finding a ‘Spiritual Director’ lately (as well as an ‘Elder Board’ of peers to keep one accountable), and I am reminded how much I miss my Dad who was my mentor for a long time. I don’t know anybody who could match his intelligence and knowledge, or his warmth and kindness and depth of insight. Despite his experiences within Fundamentalism, and the real damage it did to him, it was he who showed me the God of love.

In command school, they taught us to always remember that maneuvering a starship is a very delicate process, but over the years, I’ve learned that, sometimes, you just have to punch your way through. Mr. Paris, full impulse power.

LLAP, Kathryn.

Duet

Summary

Duet is a heartrending episode where a Cardassian, claiming originally to be the filing clerk Marritza turns up on DS9 needing treatment from Kolla narra syndrome, which he could only have contracted during the mining accident.

He is then suspected to in fact be Gul Darhe’el, the butcher of the Gallitep concentration camp on Bajor  But it turns out that Gul Darhe’el was never at Gallitep during the mining accident, and in fact Darhe’el had died some time ago. Gul Dukat confirms that he attended his funeral.

The man was indeed Marritza, the powerless little filing clerk, who felt so terribly guilty about his inability to stop the atrocities at Gallitep that he had transformed himself with plastic surgery to resemble Darhe’el in order to be convicted and pay for the crimes for which he felt responsible.

I covered my ears every night, but… I couldn’t bear to hear those horrible screams. You have no idea what it’s like to be a coward. To see these horrors, and do nothing. Marritza’s dead. He deserves to be dead.

It is like a sad duet between Marritza and Kira Nerys who goes from prejudice, hatred and vengeful anger to understanding and pity. It might have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship of reconciliation, until finally Marritza is murdered by a rogue, racist Bajoran on the Promenade, in typical operatic style, the story ends as a tragedy.

Why? He wasn’t Darhe’el! WHY?” Kira asks incredulously, and Kainon answers with a sneer, “He’s a Cardassian. That’s reason enough.” Kira replies, “No. It’s not.

Comments

My children are often deeply shocked and angered by the portrayal of racism and prejudice shown within Star Trek. But it is always presented in such a way  – either openly or subtly, that is designed to make you shocked enough to realise that it’s not logical or rational and is in fact completely inconsistent with Star Fleet ideals and Roddenberry’s vision for the future. It shines the spotlight on our own prejudices and challenges them. Kira doesn’t completely abandon her prejudice toward Cardassians of course (how could she? the atrocities they perpetrated against the Bajoran people happened in her lifetime, and it’s hard for her to accept that not all Cardassians are evil).

Real Life

I’m a white female. I don’t feel particularly privileged, but I am aware that the colour of my skin as well as my gender affects how people view me, and treat me. I don’t like to think of myself as a racist. I grew up in a multicultural school in London, my friends were a mixed bunch which included all colours and creeds, and my best friend was Caribbean. But I told my children recently that, in order to confront racism, it is important to realise how the prejudice is so culturally ingrained and the system is so firmly institutionalised that we probably have prejudices we’re not even conscious of. We have to be honest and confront the prejudice in ourselves as well as speaking up to defend the oppressed and speak out when the system is so outrageously stacked against people of colour.

I’m in the UK, but it hasn’t escaped my notice that the killing by a police officer of Philando Castile in front of his girlfriend and four year old daughter failed to return a conviction of murder. It is only the latest in a string of killings of young black men – who were guilty of nothing more than being young black men – by police officers that has failed to produce a guilty verdict. I’m sickened, appalled, heartbroken over and over again.

Where do we go from here? When will things change?

Why do these prejudices persist?

What can we do to change the world, change people’s minds, bring down institutional racism?

Is Roddenberry’s vision – of an enlightened society – possible?

Etz Chayim – reaching for the Tree of Life

It has been almost a full year since I last posted on this blog. Much has happened. After almost 7 years of ‘wilderness wandering’, we finally have our own home again and are settled, albeit out in the rural wilds of north Cornwall, far away from any kind of Messianic fellowship or congregation. I am so thankful, so surprised with joy to receive such good fortune when we thought all was lost. But still I am terribly isolated and lonely and effectively alone in terms of religious fellowship.

I may have mentioned that I had been in search of some fellowship – any kind, really, but it was a very mixed bag of good and bad experiences.

I really liked the Anglican for its freedom of conscience, although there seemed to be no understanding or interest in the Jewish side of the faith and I had the particular bad fortune of being under a priest who had a real bee in his bonnet about evangelicals. The fact that I was verging on being an ‘ex-evangelical’ seemed not to temper his ire. As far as he seemed to be concerned, I was an idiot for ever countenancing such ideas. If anything, his attitude pushed me back into the fundamentalism I was trying to leave. (Freedom of conscience didn’t extend to evangelicals, as far as he was concerned.)

We also tried an independent Pentecostal group who said they were pro-Israel, but they turned out to be extremely negative, narrow-minded and fundamentalist in every way, and the Pentecostal displays of worship put some of my children off church entirely. After everything we have been through, I can hardly blame them.

In the end, I started going to a Salvation Army while my mother was living with us (only for 6 months as it turned out) and I have continued there although it’s far from ideal. Again, there seems to be no understanding or interest in the Jewish roots of Christianity, and the occasional anti-semitic sermon is never a surprise. It takes a lot of energy to keep looking, so for now I am staying put. I can’t say that I am entirely happy, but they do at least put Christianity in action and reach out to the poorest of the poor.

I had wondered recently in what way I can still claim to be ‘Messianic’ – without fellowship or a believing husband to encourage me, the feasts and fasts and even a proper observation of Shabbat has fallen by the wayside. I wonder if I can ever get it back again.

I have made a very good friend online with a woman who had a very different experience of the Messianic movement, having first converted to Orthodox Judaism and come into Messianic Judaism from there rather than as I did, through evangelicalism. We disagree on many things, but her lack of Christian fundamentalism has been an eye-opener for me.

I also have a very good real-life friend who is not a believer, but who was raised in Orthodox Judaism. We have a surprising amount of experiences in common, and her friendship has been a real balm to my soul.

I have started thinking though in terms of abandoning the trappings of religious tradition entirely and instead reaching out for and trying to find the ‘Etz Chayim’, that is the Jesus/ Yeshua who embodies the Tree of Life, and ‘Ha Derek’, the Way itself, Himself.

Coming out of fundamentalism is a very emotional and difficult thing, and in a way I am having to start again and weigh everything up to see what is good and what is bad. That’s probably not a bad thing in itself.

I am trying to get to know the ‘real’ Yeshua from a different perspective now.

I am still at home, muddling through being a wife and homemaker/ housewife, still home educating my youngest.

So what is the future of this blog?

Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t want to lose my Messianic identity, and I would love to be able to start again from scratch and incorporate more of the Jewish feasts and traditions into my life.

What I don’t want to do, however, is to fall back into the trap of legalism or fundamentalism. It wasn’t life-giving, it was a bottomless pit of darkness that I slipped into gradually without even realising I was doing it, and it nearly ate me up whole before I realised. What I need now is to find the good path, and the Tree of Life.

Why as a Christian I am voting…

The link below to an article on “Why as a Christian I am voting Conservative” was posted on a group I’m on this morning and I thought it was worth sharing.

I absolutely won’t be voting Conservative this time, and I struggle to understand why Christians continue to support the ‘Right’ even in the face of all the evidence of how utterly un-Christian they are.

I think that, if you vote for the principle of small government (which on the whole I do – and in fact I have in the past advocated not voting at all, as voting validates a fundamentally corrupt system that I doubt can ever be anything but corrupt), you actually have to step up personally and be the ‘Big Society’.

I don’t see that happening.

And this is the issue. If individuals won’t act sufficiently charitably (and yes, I know the rise of foodbanks has been phenomenal, but it’s nowhere near enough to cover all the needs that government addresses), it cannot be ‘Christian’ to allow a slide back into Victorian laissez-faire government, where the rich and powerful thrive and the poor and powerless lose more and more at the mercy of people who, well, have very little real mercy, it would appear.

If you’re Christian and vote to cut the support out from under people who desperately need it, on principle, but offer no alternative (I seem to remember Margaret Thatcher talking about giving people a hand up so they can begin to help themselves, but I don’t see even that being talked about now), leaving people in despair, how is that Christian?

I do think that ultimately, we have to recognise that government can and must never be looked upon as saviour (as we are seeing so clearly in the US with Trump), and it is always a case of choosing the lesser of two or more evils. You just have to ‘pick your poison’.

But we can’t allow our choice of government, or our ‘principles’, to abandon people in the pit of despair without doing anything to help them.

https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/why-as-a-christian-i-am-voting-conservative/

There are lots of reasons why I would not vote Labour either this time round, but that is for another day’s discussion.

Fractured

I would be a long way away from this episode if I was going to blog the episodes chronologically in order. But I feel as though this is an important part of who I am and what I’ve been going through, and how I got to where I am. So I will dispense with order and chronology and just go ahead and skip to the end.

My lovely new friend, Christian Janeway and I have had to clarify on twitter that we are not the same person, just two ex-fundies who had a similar idea.

It’s true.

But Christian Janeway went on to say that whereas she chose her Janeway character and blog to catalogue her exit from complementarian theology around marriage, and I had embraced mine and later decided to become egalitarian.

That’s not quite the case, and I’ll attempt to explain why. Firstly, the dichotomy between completarian and egalitarian marriage is not quite as polarised in the UK as it is in the US. Certainly, conservative churches would lean towards complementarianism where more liberal churches would lean towards egalitarianism, it is not such a big issue over here as it is over there.

My Chakotay is not a religious man, and as far as he would be concerned, we have an egalitarian marriage. I happen to have stayed at home and adopted a more traditional role but not because he asked me to or because he forced me to (far from it). It was more a case of falling into it when children came along, but also additionally – because I had put myself under such very conservative teaching again as a young wife and mother – I forced myself into this role. I actually gave up my degree to follow him in his job. He would never have asked it of me, but I unselfishly submitted! (And I’m sure he never knew anything about it, just assumed it was what I wanted).

Even the homeschooling, when it came along was not for any conservative or religious reasons – my eldest child seemed to have mental and emotional issues (which we thought at the outset might be ADHD and have turned out to be Asperger’s), which made learning at home seem to be the best option. But of course that was the route back into fundamentalism for me.

Fifteen-twenty years later, I can see that forcing myself into a role for which I did not have adequate emotional resources or any outside support has done damage both to me and possibly to my children on many levels, including mental and emotional and academic. But whether going to school would have helped is debatable – my eldest child’s worst trauma actually happened at school when he went in aged 16 to complete his exam year, and I know that a lot of his Aspie friends who did go to school are now in the same position as he is – out of work and isolated.

Looking at my facebook memories around this time, I see that 7 years ago I was planning to leave Chakotay for various reasons, which perhaps I will look at another day, but one of the biggest reasons was his Vulcan inability to communicate and show affection. All these years later, I realise that I probably chose him precisely because he was undemonstrative and not somebody who either felt intensely or would be threatening to me. He does have a temper actually which has exploded on occasion, but really he is very much the gentle man. I may talk about my ex another time, as that was quite a different relationship.

I mention the episode ‘Fractured’ because, not long after our difficulties, I got pregnant with twins (which I was overjoyed about), but later miscarried them at 14 weeks in October 2010, and straight afterwards I was verbally attacked by a couple I knew who had just had a baby. Needless to say, being kicked so cruelly when I was at my lowest ebb was traumatic and impactful to my self-confidence etc. Chakotay’s response was to move us hundreds of miles away out of the city to the most remote place he could find. (Our New Earth)

My response, odd though it may be, was to write but I did it by multiplying my accounts on Twitter and Facebook and WordPress. I ended up with 4 separate facebook accounts, 10 Twitter accounts and 15 sites on WordPress. Yep. Each account had a different name and a different theme. I felt as though it was indicative of my state of mind, as though I myself had fractured into a million pieces.

As some of you will know, I was assaulted by a group of young men in a pub last weekend. It was not a very serious assault, thankfully. Having spoken to the police, it transpires that there was no CCTV and so I shudder to think what could have happened.

But it does reinforce for me the idea that once you have a trauma – especially if it is a childhood trauma – it becomes compounded and almost invites new trauma. I have, over the years, attracted a string of abusive friends (and abusive churches), and I have often joked that I must have a target invisibly tattooed on my forehead that tells potentional abusers “Look, I’m vulnerable! Give me a good old kicking!”

I was actually privileged on Sunday to preach and lead my first service at my current church (which happens to be a Salvation Army). I preached on the goodness and faithfulness of God. I feel as though I have so, so much to say, but this was the topic that impressed itself on my heart.

Is it a coincidence that I was sexually assaulted the very next day? I don’t know. I don’t really know what to think about spiritual warfare, the devil, hell and spiritual things like that generally. The Pentecostal in me is yelling! Are you kidding?! Of course there’s no co-incidence! This was a spiritual attack, to remind me in no uncertain terms that I’m ‘just’ a woman, and probably shouldn’t be preaching. And that message is coming straight from the pit of hell!

The Anglican in me however, a rather more rational, composed creature, can see that it really is probably more a case of having that deep seated vulnerability and unconsciously communicating it (body language? hormones/ pheromones?) as I go through life. The abusers are probably no more consciously aware of it than I am. I just need to learn, somehow, how to protect myself and communicate confidence.

Is it healthy to continue in this fractured state or is there some way to re-integrate and become a whole person again? I don’t know. (I am probably going to delete at least 2 of the facebook accounts, if that helps!) Who do I want to be? Can I be homemaker and writer and preacher?

Chakotay has told me on many occasions that I have freedom, I just don’t take advantage of it. My prison is of my own making. Part of me, certainly, really wants to be a ‘homemaker’ – The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie still look like the ideal life to me. But I’m not very good at it, and actually I think that my trauma comes into play there too. I’m just a little bit dysfunctional.

I’m part of a group on Facebook called ‘Radical Homemakers‘ – a group of (mostly UK) women who have purposely chosen the domesticated life for various reasons, but who are also committed feminists, determined to smash the Patriarchy from home. I do wonder how I got to 40 without realising or understanding what Patriarchy is or how damaging it can be. But I suspect that it probably has something to do with the nature of the debate in the UK. Whether we realise it or not, the churches here are deeply influenced by American theology, but when it is communicated over here, it tends to be more subtle. We don’t even notice it.

What is the way forward? In the episode, they have to inject the bio-neural gel packs with a chroniton-infused serum to take every part of the ship back to the point of the original trauma.

In real life? I think that means going back and facing all those demons, bringing them out into the light to see what they’re made of, and finally defeating them. Obviously it’s a little bit more complex than that, but I think that is the gist of it. I suspect that, if childhood sexual abuse had been involved – which thankfully it wasn’t, it would be a different matter and I don’t know enough about that to know how that can be overcome. But for me, untangling my background of spiritual and church abuse and dysfunctional family is the only way I can be made whole. Will it make me a better homemaker? I don’t know.

I’d like to thank you now, for putting your doubts aside and helping me to put mine aside as well. Good luck to each of you.

LLAP

Kathryn

Dark Frontier

We took mum home about six weeks ago now. Since she has been gone I have tried really, really hard to relax and largely failed for some reason. I don’t ever seem to be able to properly relax.

I thought that reducing stress would help my physical health but instead, somehow, it has just got worse and worse; despite which, all the results of all the testing I was sent for, and all the various referrals to different consultants have come back negative. My MRI showed no obvious evidence of damage from my bike accident. Endocrinology didn’t find significant evidence of Cushing’s. There would appear to be an intermittent excess of cortisol, but there doesn’t appear to be a tumor either on my pituitary or my adrenals. The non-significant levels don’t justify more testing.

It would appear to suggest that my cortisol levels are likely related to anxiety. Anxiety that I wasn’t consciously aware I had.

I have reverted to my previous agoraphobia. Agoraphobia of course is a sign of anxiety, but somehow I didn’t connect it. Now that I don’t have a group to go to, I pretty much don’t go out unless I have to. I go to church on a Sunday (and once I went twice!) and I go out if husband drives me somewhere. But largely, I am hibernating and hiding.

I hadn’t realised until recently what the source of all my issues were, but a chance conversation on twitter, together with a conversation with my eldest child has forced me to confront some very dark and disturbing issues from my past going back to my childhood.

I’m not sure whether I want to dwell on that here. I have other places to talk about mental health and spiritual abuse (for that is what it was, if anybody is interested to look at that).

The question is, how to move forward. I know that I have to confront my past if I’m to get through it and get well and recover mentally and physically. Talk about it, write about it, meet with other survivors, they say. But just thinking about it has made me more physically ill than ever.

I prayed at the end of last year that God would reveal the true source of my illness so that I could get well. I really thought I was on to something when I the doctor suggested Cushing’s. I think she was right that cortisol is a big issue. But the cortisol is actually (probably) in response to trauma. I wasn’t ready to consider that, but now that I do it all makes sense, and I just want to cry. I have to open up a whole Pandora’s Box I thought I had long buried. It makes me feel vulnerable, like a little girl again.

If I still have any Star Trek fans following me, you will recognise the name of the Voyager episode in which Seven is confronted by her past – in which her parents took the risk of studying the Borg, thinking they wouldn’t be harmed, but not only are they harmed but they allow their daughter to be harmed, taken by the Borg and raised by them, and in turn Seven goes on to commit atrocities on others as a Borg herself. It’s a very good metaphor, for me, effectively being raised in a cult-like church, and later going on to do harm to others in the same vein (in particular, I regret, my eldest child).

It’s not easy to face.

Wounds to Dress

This blog was originally going to be talking about handicrafts and gardening and cooking and learning to ‘homestead’ through the lens of Janeway and Chakotay finding themselves marooned on New Earth in the Delta Quadrant. I thought it was a good metaphor for my isolated life in rural Cornwall. I still hope to include those aspects – part of me longs for that ‘Good Life’.

But there are other issues which have come to the fore recently – related to my self-named status as a “progressive fundamentalist” which are forcing me to look long and hard at who I am and how I got here.

I have been speaking recently with another Star Trek RP account – Christian Janeway – and I have been amazed at how much we have in common. Conversations on Twitter, and with my children over the last week, have prompted me to recognise just how damaged and damaging I became as a member of a fundamentalist church in my youth and again as a young mother, and so I thought that, in the first instance, I would write a brief summary of what that has entailed. I wasn’t expecting to bare my soul or look deeply into difficult and painful corners, but I think it needs to be done; and as I have said elsewhere many times, my two favourite forms of therapy are Star Trek and writing. Even if nobody reads this and it helps nobody else, I hope it will help me to move on.

Beginnings

When I was very young (this was in the mid 70s through the mid 80s), my parents were happily attending a lively Pentecostal church in a small town north-west of London which happened to have a US ex-pat community. Somehow my parents came in to contact with American fundamentalist Baptist missionaries to England who dazzled them with personality, charisma and authoratative confidence and persuaded them to leave the Pentecostal church – which they convinced them was at best fake and at worst, probably of the devil – and start a new fundamentalist Baptist church with them. Before long there were a number of families and additional children associated with the new church.

I was mostly too young (approximately ages 6-13) to fully comprehend the depth of what was going on, what was being preached, and how my parents were more and more controlled in every area of their lives – to  my conscious mind, all was good, these were the best days of my life – because we saw so much of them, because they often stayed at our house, we were practically living in community with them. Our whole week was in some way or another controlled by the church. It wasn’t just Sunday morning and evening, it was Sunday lunchtime, midweek dinners, Bible study evenings, prayer meetings, members’ meetings, social calls. It was completely engulfing.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that my parents’ mental health was suffering in different ways (my mother later had a mental breakdown, my father expressed it as physical ill health).

We eventually escaped the church in two stages – firstly, the American Missionaries went home on furlough for a year, fully expecting my father (who had been partially trained, for about three years for the pastorate with their organisation) to keep the church going in their absence. What actually happened instead was that my father rebelled and pretty much immediately after the Missionaries left, allowed the families to go to another church during that time.

I don’t know what ire this behaviour invoked when the absent Pastor found out – I’m sure my father would have been on strict instructions to contact somebody else here in the UK from the organisation for assistance rather than allowing the church to close; my father kept everything close to his chest so I don’t know his thought process or decision process. I probably don’t know the half of it. I do know that my father never really ever recovered from the damage they did to him.

When the missionaries returned, they were obviously furious about what had happened and again although I don’t know the details, I can only infer that they made my parents’ lives a little bit hellish and so stage two was to move away from the area altogether. The missionaries were never able to re-establish the church in that area, and were eventually re-located by their organisation.

Initial Results

Right before we moved, I had a serious bicycle accident which was probably a hit and run (my memory of it is very hazy but my bike was definitely run over), in which I sustained a head injury which has affected my health ever since. This led to my mother becoming mentally ill. Around the same time I became mentally ill myself with Anorexia. I always thought that it was linked to my head injury, which it might be, but I am beginning to suspect that it might be an after-effect of the church. I will explore that at a later date.

My parents, prior to my mother’s breakdown, embarked on a search for the perfect church. Still affected by the fundamentalist teaching they had, and despite all the damage it had done to them, the new church had to measure up in some way to the church they had left, so after rejecting several perfectly nice churches, we ended up in another strict Baptist church with its own issues. (No doubt the most serious being that the Sunday School Superintendant was ‘having an affair’ with a 13 year old child. Note it was the 80s, so that was how it was phrased at the time).

When my mum got ill, the church were pretty incredibly useless and unhelpful, not being able to deal with mental illness, so that turned out to be a blessing in disguise and we were able to leave there.

Teenage

I spent some time at a very good church during my teenage years which was gently charismatic. A nice balance, not over-the-top crazy Pentecostal. (It was a Salvation Army by the way – they’re variable, and have their own issues, but I have to say that this was my happiest time and probably the healthiest church I ever attended.) The fact that it was charismatic would have bothered my parents considerably a few years earlier but by that stage they were beginning to realise that some of the fundamentalist teachings had been wrong and harmful, so they let it go. My mother even attended there for a while.

Marriage

To cut a very long story short, I hastily married the first boy I slept with and promptly regretted it, and hastily got into another relationship (with Chakotay). I was pretty consumed by guilt and shame which I had learned under the teachings I had learned early on, and so when I started home educating my children (for totally non-religious reasons!) I soon *put myself* under the teachings of extremely conservative fundamentalist teaching again. Everything was so familiar that I lapped it all up – quiverfull teaching, headcovering, submission for godly wives, corporal punishment for children (which I totally disagree with and regret btw) etc. I literally could not find a physical church conservative enough for me!

Messianic

Probably as a result of that irrational drive to find the most conservative form of Christianity, I started looking at the Messianic movement. I actually spent ten years in Messianic Judaism (one year of which actually involved rejecting the whole thing and seriously trying to convert to mainstream Judaism – another story, for another time), and I hope that I have taken and absorbed the best and most positive aspects. The actual physical fellowship I was involved with were absolutely lovely and kind and generous and unfundamentalist! But there is in Messianic Judaism – principally online, for me, as I’m in the UK – a very fundamentalist thread which is every bit as damaging as mainstream fundamentalism (if that’s a thing).

Unfortunately, I was under those two strains of teaching for long enough (20 years in total plus the original 6 or so) for me to perpetuate some of the abuse that was visited on me onto my children. It was totally unconscious and unintended, and I am utterly mortified at the damage I have done. Icheb, my eldest, seems to have borne the brunt of it all, while the others seem largely unaffected, thankfully.

I don’t quite remember how it happened, but something snapped at some point and I realised that I was part of something really very nasty and unhealthy that was replicating some of the exact same abuses that I had been part of as a child (being told that you must separate from every other sort of Christian, that the rest of the Church is wicked and evil and not of God etc for example).

Exile

Chakotay, who is not a religious man at all (alas, my Chakotay doesn’t even go in for spirituality) tolerated all of the above, mostly blissly ignorant of what was going on in my head, but he could see that I was getting physically and mentally ill and that was affecting the children. So he unilaterally decided to move us – hundreds of miles away from where we were, to a place so rural and isolated that there was no internet. I’m still a little bit angry with him for doing that (and I have mentioned my inability to speak up for myself earlier today). But in actual fact, it was a good call. The last six years have been long and hard and lonely and painful, but removing me from that whole social circle has enabled me to re-evaluate everything and begin to heal.

In many ways, he is my hero, and I am so grateful that he is such a gentle, kind, slow-to-wrath kind of man. He is certainly not without fault, but he has been so much more gracious and godly than so many Christians I have known.

Anyway. That is enough for now. These are some of the issues I want to work through here on this blog. I hope you will stick around and I hope it will help some people to heal too.

LLAP

Kathryn