Friday, September 30, 2011

When It Rains, It Pours

I haven't been blogging because I guess when it rains it pours.

I have been going through some very rough times spiritually and emotionally. Some days are better than others, but on the whole, the last few weeks have been some of the most difficult of my life.

Today I found out that somehow, someway my blog has been found by a few of my former friends and acquaintances who are still a part of TeenPact. Given that fact, I feel that I should clarify a few things.

First of all, this was originally meant to be an anonymous, personal blog where I could work through some of the things that have happened in my life that have been specifically related to Christian patriarchy. For me, the primary form Christian patriarchy has taken has been the organization called TeenPact, though this is not a specifically anti-TeenPact or TeenPact-bashing blog. I wanted to have the space and freedom here to try to process and work through some past events that, for me, have been very formative. Because of this, I have not told anyone I know about this blog. My husband knows about it, and so do two friends who have never been connected with TeenPact and have no experience with the organization. I specifically resisted telling close friends who are still a part of TeenPact about it because I knew it would be unnecessarily painful and uncomfortable for them, and I wanted to avoid that.

I underestimated the internet.

Dear friends who are still a part of TeenPact: please do not be too hurt by what you read here. I won't ask you not to be hurt at all, because I have written quite forcefully about some things, and I know that an attack on an organization that is so close to you seems just the same as an attack on you yourselves. Please, read again my last post. I loved TeenPact. I STILL love the people who are a part of it. But I am just beginning to be able to process the extremely hurtful, negative and untrue things I internalized about myself and others through my experience with TeenPact. I am just beginning to find my voice. I am sure that since I am still just beginning my journey, I view TeenPact in a light that might not be all accurate - I am giving more attention to the negatives and less attention to the positives. I recognize this, and tried to express it in my previous post. However, that does not disqualify the fact that I was very damaged by TeenPact. It hurt me, and I in turn hurt others because of what I'd learned.

This is a personal blog. It is the story of one person's journey through the aftermath of something that was very significant in her life. Not all others who have gone through TeenPact have had this experience - rather, many have had the opposite experience. But this IS what happened to me. This IS how TeenPact affected me. And I know I'm not alone.

I do not hate or even dislike the staff or administration of TeenPact. Please understand, these are good people. These are men and women who strive for integrity and moral character. That doesn't change the fact that many of the tenants that TeenPact upholds are deeply flawed and damaging.

So please, friends, take this away from my blog: I never meant for you to read this. I knew you would be hurt by it. I did mean for it to be an anonymous safe space where I could try to work through the feelings of hurt and degradation that TeenPact imparted to me because of my supposed lesser worth as a female Christian. Jesus would not have upheld such a practice. Jesus specifically affirmed women. I did not once feel affirmed by TeenPact as a female. I did my fair share of affirming others, all men. This is a place where I can try to better understand what made TeenPact so damaging for me and how I can help to decry such practices when I meet them later in life. Please try to understand.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blogging is Strange

So, this blog is my attempt to talk about and put into perspective some of the more fundamentalist aspects of my childhood and young adulthood. Silly me, I thought it would be easy.

I haven't posted for about a week, mostly because I've suddenly and unexpectedly been feeling guilty. Irrationally guilty. Intensely guilty. I feel guilty for mentioning TeenPact by name. I know, that doesn't make much sense, but that's why this guilt is irrational.

I loved TeenPact and it was an extremely positive experience for me at the time. For the first time, I felt loved an accepted by my peers. I had always been the weird homeschooled girl (a reputation I definitely deserved, but that didn't make it any less lonely). Suddenly, we were all weird homeschooled kids together. I felt at home. I still keep in contact with some of the friends who I met through TeenPact or who went to TeenPact with me. One of my best friends is married to someone who works high up in TeenPact. I feel as though I'm somehow letting those people down by admitting that TeenPact wasn't all great times and positive experiences for me. I feel like if they knew what I think of TeenPact now, they'd feel like they don't even know me.

And that's another thing - what DO I think of TeenPact now? It wouldn't be honest to say that at the time, I didn't honestly love it and think it was one of the best things to have happened in my life. It wouldn't be honest to say that some aspects of that statement are still true, even now. Regardless of religious beliefs and conservative values, TeenPact did alter my life for the better in some ways - I gained confidence as a person, discovering that I could make friends; I became a better public speaker and a more confident person in general. But then I remember all the bad (and from my perspective now, often downright silly) things I had hammered into me: America is God's country. Women can't be leaders. Gay marriage will remove God's protective hand from our nation.

So I'm conflicted. I loved TeenPact. I hate TeenPact. I still love parts of TeenPact. I have no idea how to reconcile the two: I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but what if the baby already climbed out of the tub because the water was too dirty? And why do I feel this huge amount of guilt for even mentioning the name of the organization in an anonymous blog?

This is turning out to be harder than I had expected, but I don't want to quit. I want to work through these thought and these emotions - and this guilt. I want to keep writing about a system that I believe is morally wrong and that victimizes and disempowers lots of people in the name of glorifying God. I don't want to stop writing just because it makes me uncomfortable - and it DOES make me uncomfortable, and I didn't expect the feeling to be so strong. I'm just adjusting, I guess.

Thanks for reading, whoever's reading.