Original Sin

Original Sin

Image: Geo Sans

~

imperfect

god created man

in his image

~

childhood trauma

my primary source

of guilt and pain

my family and church

our innocence lost

~

righteous rage

he was a jealous god

insecure, uncertain

fear trumped love

anger overruled compassion

~

reconciliation

forgive me father

I forgive you god

for all our sins

we’re only human

 

_ _ _

 

B L O O D L I N E S

Purging an old covenant. First memories of my dad. Small prairie church in the 1970s. Our family fills an entire front row.

My father is 38 (anxious). He has 5 children under eight years old and his wife is carrying their sixth child. He is trying to sell the family farm.

Squeaming, screaming. Church feels unbearably long for children and parents (there’s no peace on earth).

~

W O N D E R

I’m three years old and staring at a church bulletin. A line drawing of an adult Jesus. For the first time, I notice a nose isn’t the smudged dot from my drawings. My eyes trace and memorize this new shape.

~

T H U N D E R

When home, my dad yells, snarls. We weren’t still and quiet enough. His belt swings hard against our bare flesh. We all taste the burning sting and shame of fear, anger, pain.

I close my eyes unable to block my older brother’s terror. His anguishing bone chilling howls of horror. I still see your purple watery face. You are only six.

Instilling a fear of god. Subconsciously, I start hating going to church (anxiety) — and I grew up resenting my father’s authoritative power. We did not understand each other. We lived and spoke different languages. I ended up focusing on what my dad wasn’t.

~

C O N T R A D I C T I O N S

Identifying, processing. This trauma was extremely difficult for me. My dad wasn’t a violent man. He was soft-spoken. He always cared for us, was always there. He was hardworking and sombre. And I can vividly remember each and every rare time he genuinely smiled — or lost his temper. Both very rare.

~

I N N O C E N C E

It’s been 10 years since our family’s last Christmas with our father. Even though he never said it, I know he loved me. It was difficult for us to give and receive. We both had trouble with emotions.

Different views, perspectives. Time has helped with understanding. Maybe it wasn’t fair to judge my father. Maybe meaningful relationships can eclipse one traumatic moment.

Today, I open my heart to you dad. I apologize for the walls I built. And I forgive you for your old trespasses. I’m ready to live and love you freely. Peace to you — and peace to me.

+ + +

L I N K S:

Study Proves Spanking Hurts Your Kids’ Mental Health

What is Religious Trauma Syndrome?

19 thoughts on “Original Sin

  1. this photo
    from a critique years ago
    elicited
    lively debate
    ~
    is it staged?
    is there a preconceived message?
    ~
    “I was documenting
    abandoned farm houses
    and discovered a crucifix
    at the entrance“
    ~
    our class became divided
    sharing / evaluating their
    positive / negative experiences

  2. Forgiveness … sometimes it is easy to forgive. Other times: even a lifetime isn’t long enough to completely forgive. I wonder if we can ever completely forgive, or if it becomes an acceptance of the past, an acknowledgement of the pain, a glimpse of understanding — our understanding changes our feeling, the anger may dissipate, but the scars are always there. I’m still wrestling with the idea of forgiveness, and if one can ever truly let it all go … (by “one”, I mean “me”).

  3. we are an endless result of our past, always morphing
    we cannot choose to remember or not to remember
    the endless radio within chooses that song for us

  4. I can relate to a lot of what you say Geo. I had a religious family home too, and lots of physical correction taught by the church my parents were part of. They actively encouraged parents in physical correction. It was never done in anger though, which in some ways was good, but I used to think it was weird they could do that so calmly. And the saddest thing of all was our parents had to carry what they had done for the rest of their life. They changed beliefs in later years and wished everything had been different. At least we were able to talk about it many years later. I hold no grudges, they did what they believed they needed to do.

    The memories you have though…they can hurt a lot. You wish those images were different.

    • authoritative
      indoctrination often leads
      to fear & resentment
      ~
      this creates
      a disjointed path
      towards
      trusting, loving
      relationships
      ~
      sadly
      too many are lost
      along that
      dark route

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