Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy One-Year Blogiversary to Me!

Yes, February 15, 2012 was the date of my very first blog post.

I started blogging for several reasons.  First, I've always enjoyed writing and wanted to prevent my writing skills from getting rusty from disuse.  Second, as a new mom, I was very afraid of repeating many of the mistakes I experienced in my childhood, so I decided to use writing to help me better organize my thoughts and better understand myself and my experiences.  Finally, I wanted to connect with an online community on the topic of spiritual abuse and add my voice to the discussion that had helped me so much; I hoped that perhaps my story might help other children of fundamentalism to process their experiences and help other parents to avoid making the types of mistakes that I experienced.

You, my readers, mean so much to me, and I appreciate the time and thought that goes into each comment even when we disagree.  Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing your opinions, thank you for sharing your stories.  I sometimes wish that I could just hug some of you, especially based on the google searches that have led some of you to my blog:

"16 years old no friends isolated" and "how does a shy homeschooled teenager make friends" (and the many others who searched for variations of "social anxiety homeschooled" and "homeschool isolation")-- Dear searchers, that was exactly me at that age too.  I didn't know what it felt like to connect to another person, to feel loved and wanted, to laugh and have fun, or to look forward to the next day.  I knew almost nothing about the world or the people in it, and as a result I was terrified of life.  I never imagined that I would one day have the wonderful, satisfying, connected life that I have now.  I know you can get that for yourself too, despite being isolated in your teen years, but it will take a lot of determination and vulnerability.  You might want to give up many many times because of painful growing experiences, like I had, but eventually you will find yourself and find your place in the world if you don't give up.

"help friends with social anxiety homeschooled"--Dear searcher, your homeschooled friends are lucky to have such a caring person in their lives.  Your acceptance and encouragement will be a good start for them to gain confidence around other people.  To help your friends, you can listen to their fears and look for opportunities to praise their social successes.  And if possible, help them to feel wanted and needed in social situations that cause them anxiety so that they won't give up and withdraw; overcoming social anxiety takes a LOT of practice (and in some cases, medication--there's nothing wrong with that).

"starting over with adult children"--Dear searcher, I have a lot of hope for you.   Your search shows that you realize that you have made mistakes that damaged your relationship with your children, and you are hoping to have another chance.  I know from personal experience that this is possible, because my relationship with my dad today is better than I ever imagined possible when I was growing up, and I don't hold anything against him anymore.  He realized his mistakes through both self-reflection and respectful listening, offered a heartfelt apology, completely abandoned any attempt to control or criticize my life, and began to praise me for becoming a great person.  With time, these changes helped me learn to trust him, and eventually caused me to actually like and respect him as a person.  I hope that the same will eventually happen for you and your kids.

"getting away from authoritarian parents" and "how to survive authoritarian parents"--Dear searchers, you have the same problem but seem to prefer very different solutions.  The unfortunate reality of authoritarian/fundamentalist parents is that often those are the only two options--escaping vs. surviving.  Many authoritarian/fundamentalist parents are so ingrained in black-and-white thinking that they find it impossible to engage in dialogue or tolerate any disagreement from their children.  Because of that, a real relationship with them is impossible; you can't be yourself; you can only choose between full rebellion and the appearance of conformity.  The right choice depends on who you are and what your situation is.  Make your choice carefully because true independence requires self-sufficiency; sometimes you may need to pacify your parents for awhile longer in order to secure the education or job skills you need to be on your own.  Just remember--once you are self-sufficient, the power shifts to you; you can decide who to include and exclude from your life; you can decide the terms of the relationship.

"what your kids would look like if you have sex with an elephant"--Um, WHY did that search lead you to my blog???  Put on a trunk and look in the mirror; if that doesn't help, then I'm sorry, try another blog.