I find that I have lots of emotions.
I’ll give you an example:
I grew up in a tough immigrant house. My obstinate mother ruled through fear and degradation. My father found his escape when he was activated by the Navy. When he returned after his deployment, he sought work at the local hospital… then the prison. He hadn’t had to do work outside my parent’s business before then.
Is it normal to remember so far back as two and three years old? I have vague memories of happiness and comfort. My parents and grandmother had sponsored a group of fellow immigrants, once they had attained citizenship. They lived among the houses my parents acquired, as part of their business.
My parents, like many other Filipinos, owned a set of board and care facilities for the mentally and functionally dis-challenged. Basically, if you were a burden to your family for any reason, and between the ages of 18 and 60 (and you, generally, didn’t need anyone to help you bathe or use the bathroom), you could find residence in this group home.
Each home had a different amount and assortment of “clients,” based on their specific “care needs.”
Those people that they helped move to America, lived in these homes as 24 hour care takers. They watched the clients, made all their meals, and dispensed any and all medication that each client had been prescribed. It could have been a lot worse for everyone involved, honestly.
The local (and not so local) hospitals had my mother’s info. That meant that we trekked every which where finding new patients to fill the houses. I grew up around all of these people- sane and insane, alike. Neither bothered me too much, growing up.
As an infant/toddler, though, I have specific recollections of inordinate amounts of affection from all the families. This lasted a couple, maybe three, years… before their own children started having children for them to dote over. I was no longer a novelty- just another detail.
Four was my roughest year. In many ways, I’m still there. In other ways, I’m trying to claw a way back. This is growth. Recognizing original points of error/trauma and being able to work through those issues (almost retroactively).
I’m not going to get in to extenuating circumstances, however, the shallow problems, I’m sure, are clear.
Add to that, in second grade I transferred schools.
My parents belonged to a cult. Lancaster Baptist Church, to be exact. A very unique (re: evil) establishment. I’ve never not been keen to its existence, as you’ll learn.
The first school I ever knew was Bethel Christian School. It was blocks away from my childhood home. My grandmother would walk me to and from the green gate up front almost every morning. It wasn’t perfect, but it was an accredited school, with a wonderful music program.
That school had advised my parents to bring me to a mental health specialist. They believed that there was something different about me than all the other kids. I would learn that they were right- though, many years later, because my parents took that recommendation to their pastor.
The pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church had had an intimate hand in the process of my adoption. He, in fact, had arranged it. That being the case, my parents revered his perspective- even though he was much their junior. He had informed them that he believed the school in which they had me enrolled was not, in fact, even christian. He made this claim on the basis of their use of “popular science.”
Lancaster Baptist Church does not recognize any form of mental health (or its research). It’s stance is that all problems are matters of the heart (or natural), and can be solved through prayer and/or traditional western medicine.
Paul Chappell told my parents that Bethel did not have my best interest at heart. He told them that they should very seriously consider (through prayer, of course) switching me into the school at Lancaster Baptist Church.
It was less than half the cost of Bethel, even if it was all the way across town – a thirty minute drive without traffic. They asked me what I thought. I didn’t know any better. I was 4 years old. At the time, I felt bullied by my teacher, Mrs Koth. She had taken my halloween candy away, and favored the girl in my class that was auditioning for commercials.
I was glad of the change for all of 2 days. That was when we started trading stories atop the jungle jim. After I failed to impress them with my grandmother’s mermaid story, I tried explaining and teaching the other girls the Filipino folk songs she had taught me. They were ruthless. Instead of recounting my story the way I did- as legend- they persisted in saying I believed mermaids existed.
It was a small school… a really small school. There were only 350 kids in the whole school k-12, until I reached high school (and we finally reached 400). Once you were marked, it was impossible to extrude the hierarchy.
I begged my parents let me back to Bethel, but the damage was done. It would be almost permanent, but I wouldn’t have that. After five years of minor infractions, I managed to expel myself. I tried my best not to mire my record, but it was an impossible task. It took screaming at the principle in front of my parents, to get the boot.
My mother tried to break me. She told me so repeatedly throughout the three months I spent in the purgatory of home schooling. I ended up breaking her, and finally I was enrolled at Lancaster (Public) High School. On my birthday.
That day was a comedy of errors. Well, I laugh about it now. It wasn’t so funny when I showed up to my first class after lunch, and when I was greeted by a horde of strangers armed with cards and balloons. Imagine the security woman’s surprise when she realized I had no recognition whatsoever in my face.
Remember how I was adopted? Well, SOMEHOW, my “birth family” found out about my transfer and thought it would be such a great idea to just come over and introduce themselves right before 5th period.
I bet you can’t guess my response.
Well, if you guessed that I ran away in the opposite direction and tried to find a hiding spot on the far side of campus I had not yet traversed, before hyperventilating and almost passing out, then Jackie Chan level spied over to the nurse’s station, then you were right. That’s exactly what happened.
I just had so many emotions.