YHVH Rapha

He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” ex 15.26

The Glass Castle

A friend recommended that I read this book.  So I borrowed it from the public library and it sat on the table for two weeks.  When I finally picked the book up and sat to read it, I devoured it in three days.  I had to force myself to put it down and even then the shock and horror of what I read stayed with me all day.  Language wise, it is an easy reading book.  But if you consider the implications of what Jeannette Walls has written, it was very difficult to read.

It is the story of her childhood.  She talks about her father, who spent the family’s money on alcohol, disappeared for days, and yet taught his children science and complex math.  She talks about her mother, who preferred painting to cooking, accumulated books and glass bottles and painting supplies, and didn’t bother with structure or schedules ; and yet, when three-year-old Jeannette burned herself cooking hot dogs, her mother was there in a moment to help her.

Jeannette talks about being hungry and having no food in the house, being shunned by other kids because of her body odor and dirty clothing.  She and her siblings relied on themselves and stuck together.  They were self-sufficient and resourceful.  They ate whatever they could find in the woods or even in garbage cans.  They worked hard to earn extra money not for food or nicer clothes, but to move to New York City where they thought they could live easier.

True, there were two very distinct periods in her childhood.  First were the early days of nomadic living, of sleeping in the car, making do with whatever they could find, and picking up in the middle of the night to move on.  The family worked together and they were happy. The later years of being stuck in a small West Virginia mining community were much more difficult.  By then Jeannette had grown up enough to see her parents’ faults.   And yet, she writes about them so lovingly.  And she and her siblings grew up and thrived in their lives.

I am constantly comparing myself to others and this book throws me way off.  On the one hand, I would say that my childhood was nowhere near as bad. We always had food to eat and clothes to wear.  And yet my struggles with self esteem, with who I am, and how I relate to others, the difficulties that I have . . . she does not have these.  So who really grew up abused?  And what constitutes abuse?  Is a parent who fails to provide for a child’s physical needs, yet attends to their emotional needs really abusing their children?  Once again I am left with the conclusion that emotional abuse is worse than physical neglect.

I found a you tube video about this book.  Jeannette Walls talks briefly about her childhood and the book.  I think that her last statement is very profound:

You could look at the glass castle as another one of my father’s drunken promises, or as hope for the future.   It is whatever you choose to make of it.

So maybe I need to re-think my childhood.  What things do I see as negative? Where is the benefit in them?

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Daddy

I guess the thing that surprised me the most about my father’s death, besides how little I knew about him, was was how painful it was to me.  How incredibly much I miss him. even t hough I didn’t know him very well at all.

I know his name, his birthdate. I can look up where he was born. I know a little bit about his childhood, from things that I read after his death, from things he told me.

How did he meet my mom, I wonder. What was their dating and engagement and marriage like, from his perspective. I’ll never know.  What was I like as a child. That one has come up a few times, especially as I watch my young daughter playig or learning to walk and talk.  Did I play the way she does? Did I say   words like she does?

I’ll never know.  I could ask my mom, but I doubt she’d know. There were so many of us kids to keep track of, ya know. She couldn’t possibly remember each of us individually.  But I bet my dad remembered.

Validation, positives, compliments, were hard to come by when I was growing up.  I was convinced that I was a horrible child.   (But that’s a post for another time.)  Just a few weeks before my father passed away he said something beautiful and lovely and endearing to me that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.  And yet, why did he wait 30+ years to say it? Or was he saying it the whole time, and I just don’t remember.  I’ll never know.

I miss my dad so badly.

The thought comes to mind, “Now God is my dad.”  I never was able to figure out what that means. Sounds so pat, so trivial. Like something you say when you have to say something, but don’t know what to say.

My younger sister, she has a great grasp on the “God as father” concept.

I guess I’ll learn about this now.

What was I saying

I really, really, intended to keep posting.  Sorry.  I got some bad news in the beginning of September and it sent me into a tailspin for a few months.  See, I got the call that my dad had died. Just suddenly and unexpectedly.  I was able to go to his funeral (in a nother state) and visit with family.  All the kids were there, with their kids.  In a sense it was agood trip, except of course that we were saying Goodbye to dad.

We kids sat around and talked late nights.  Last time we had been all together was, what, a decade ago? Or more.  So good to visit with these people.  It’s hard to get around each other’s opinions and such, one or two it’s like walking on eggshells trying to avoid offending them.

One thing that stands out is we didn’t relly know our dad.  And we stayed up late talking about the garbage in our family.  Like did Dad have a drinking problem, does that explain the hole in the wall.  Who was he aiming for.  Someone said I mentioned this, five years ago, I have no memory of it.  One brother claims to remember all sorts of horrid stuff, he’s much younger than me and I don’t remember it so how could he?  One brother obviously had something hard to say but could not work up the courage to say it.

funerals are hard anyway, but with the added flavor of abuse they’re just yukky.

From broken to healed

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. You have this little child in your hands, their very heart and soul. It’s scary. If you make a misteak are you going to mess up this innocent child for the rest of his life?

And yet no parent is perfect. It’s just not possible to be. I guess that means that all children are messed up, some worse than others.

I hate to hear the news sometimes. A child molested. A child left in the trunk of a car. A child beaten. A child drowned. A child starved. Life is cruel and children get hurt. No matter what the parents do, it’s the kids who suffer for it.

So I think of my pain and past and there’s just no comparison. So what if my mom was nasty and mean. I should be able to shrug it off and go on. Who cares that she demanded perfection and wasn’t content with my best work at school or at home. At least I walked away from it. I survived, I lived through it, get on with life.

Then why do I treat my husband the way that she treated my father? And why do I find her words coming out of my mouth when I am angry with my children. And then I cringe for them, I remember how I hated her for how she treated me–and yet this is what I do to my very own, very precious children.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I could have this surgically removed. I don’t know how to get rid of it. This whatever-you-want-to-call-it that I can’t get past in relating to my family.

Psalm 147.3: He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

Count me in that number, those broken in heart.  I need to be healed from something, I don’t even know what.

Where to go from here

So I have spent most of the past month wondering what to blog about. Why bother. Who cares about this anyway. What good will this do? Why was I doing this again anyhow.  Am I just whining for no reason?  Suppose nobody understands or agrees with me.  After all, I am a christian and now I should have no problems or pain right?

Maybe there’s value in just doing this for my own sake, for my children and my husband, even if nobody in the whole world ever reads it.

Maybe I just need to process the memories and pain for my own benefit.

My kids’ class is memorizing Romans 3.23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That describes a lot of my memories. Of course, the farther I get in life the more I realize that it describes me too, a lot.

Maybe I just need to stop procrastinating and get blogging.

Welcome to my journey

In the days to come I want to share memories. Sad ones, angry ones. There are many of these. A few happy ones.

I am looking for hope, healing. Maybe you can find this with me.