Here is my first grade class at Centers of Learning in North Hills, Ca- the cult school. I am in the upper right, sitting uncomfortably away from the rest of my class. I am the only child separated by space, which is exactly how I remember feeling–wierd, like I didn’t belong anywhere–not in my family and not with the kids I grew up with. My face appears so deep in thought already, so aware of my awkwardness. My eyes furrowing with self-insight and internalized labels that adults had already managed to tarnish my sense of self.
I wasn’t sitting next to the other kids because I knew I wasn’t one of them. I needed to keep my distance, like I knew they would want me to. I was already using survival skills and overcompensating with survivor’s empathy, as if it was my responsibility to make sure everyone else was comfortable–while I felt sad and always lonely. I didn’t try to smile like most of the other kids. I look like I’m about to start hopping like a bunny down the stairs to get away from this turmoil.
These are the kids I grew up with. All of us were so unaware of the cult that our parents were raising us in, or the profound impact and detriment it would have on us.
What was it like for my friends after the school day was over and they were at home with the parents or siblings? Were they encouraged to be themselves? Did they have nightmares or get lots of hugs? I wonder how different their home lives were.
I love each one of these kids, so much. These were the first people I knew in this life that were my size. The first and only people that I spent every single day with. Our whole entire lives were centered around the church, thus we were all stuck with each other whether we liked it or not. My eyes are filled with tears now to think that these were the people that God hand picked for me to grow up with, for reasons that are still unknown. At 12 years old, I was ripped away from these kids, the only friends I had ever known. Most of them, I wouldn’t reconnect with until many many years later.
I am so thankful that many of these faces are still just as familiar as they were 35 years ago. My love for them feels stronger now because I have the capacity to love as a matured, empathic, healing adult. There is so much healing taking place and much more needed. I wish I could go back and give every one of these kids a big hug. I wish I could hug myself and make myself smile and feel loved.
P.S. I can’t even tell you the amount of dreams I’ve had that took place on those stairs and in the classrooms upstairs and downstairs. Just for context, I’m thinking the most recent dream was last week or so.
One thought on “After the Color Went Out”
Your sensativity and memory are amazing! I always just move past all the uncomfortable things and avoid addressing it. I’m so impressed that you can stay in it and address it! The relational dynamics were so dysfunctional at the school, there was so much comparing, competing, excluding, better than/less than… I’m grateful you have moved past feeling excluded and feeling like you belong with this group of broken, wounded children, and you love them!
‘I wish I could go back and give every one of these kids a big hug. I wish I could hug myself and make myself smile and feel loved.” – I wish that to, that we could do a redo. I’m grateful it is all covered now in God’s grace and forgiveness and their won’t be any dysfunction and brokenness in heaven. ❤️
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