If It Aint Broke, Don’t Fix It!
Author: Dances With Puppydogs
I was broken.
There was always something wrong with me. Different…. And all I ever wanted was to be normal. Oh, I could fake it, for a while. But it never “took”. The effort of maintaining the phony façade would drain my energy to the point where I couldn’t keep it up for long.
Why am I such a freak? Why can’t I think, talk, act, be like everyone else. I even looked like a freak!
The long sleeved, high-necked dresses, always in an ugly dark brown, or rusty black that I was forced to wear. ‘Old Lady’ colors, I thought of them. Hems nearly to my ankles. My odd curly red hair — along with the suspicious comments, “Where’d that red hair come from? Nobody else in the family has red hair!” Hey, banana curls look cute on a three year old, but a thirteen year old? Going to public school? My curls gave me some hellish moments, let me tell you!
To top it off, I was FAT! Humongously, hideously fat. Now, in the particular society wherein I was raised, it was ok, nay, required for a female to be fat. It made them better baby factories, so it was thought, limited their mobility…how fast can you run from a husband who’s beating the crap out of you if you weigh 300 pounds? And God liked fat females .
Yeah, you heard me. God. Don’t ask me how they came up with that one…something to do with the Songs of Solomon, I think…
Right now, you might be a little confused. You might be thinking, ‘Where were you raised? A third world country? The Dark Ages?’ Nope. And Nope. Try Southeast Missouri, USA. I was born in 1953, into a Christian cult right in the middle of the Bible Belt. Needless to say, I was one confused, mixed up little girl.
At home: I was stupid, sinful, evil, female, property, devil possessed (my epilepsy was proof of that) , ugly, too skinny, and there was that suspicious red hair. Maybe Mama had been stepping out and there was that redheaded neighbor across the street. After all, she was female. Born evil. Maybe Daddy hadn’t beaten all the sinfulness out of her, after all!
In the Real World: I was too quiet; I had fits (epilepsy) . I wore freakish clothes and banana curls. I was stupid, fat, ugly, loser, freak, cow, and the list goes on and on.
At home, I wore one mask. At school, another. Of the two, the one for home was more important. At school, I would only get clobbered. At home, I could be tortured and killed! Home was a very dangerous place. There Were Rules:
1. Never smile. Smiling meant you were making fun of Grandfather, which meant you were making fun of God, since Grandfather was holy and so close to Him that they were one and the same. Get this, Grandfather couldn’t sin! He was so holy, that he could do anything he wanted and it wasn’t a sin. Anything. Neat, huh?
2. Never frown. You should have joy in the Lord.
3. Never, Never, Never Get Angry if you were a female. It showed you had a rebellious nature. Men could get angry. Their anger was the righteous anger of the Lord.
Indeed, I was broken. I wasn’t “normal” and never could be. At school, I buried myself in books. No monkey bars or swings for me. At home where reading anything but the bible was a mortal sin (and even the bible wasn‘t necessary for women. After all, they had men to explain God‘s Will to them, usually with their fists.) , I hid as much as I could. The cornfields, the woods, became my refuge.
But getting back to normal. Definitions:
Normal: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom. Nope, not me. No way, no how, would I be considered normal. And that’s all I wanted.
Broken: inoperative, malfunctioning, faulty, defective, out of order, broken-down, kaput (informal) , conked-out (informal) , worn-out, wrecked, had it, busted (US, informal) , bust (informal) Me: all of the above.
A normal family, a normal home, a normal appearance…to think and act in a normal fashion. And I couldn’t have or be any of that. I was deeply terrified by the future. I knew I wasn’t equipped to live out there in the real world. I was so ignorant. How would I live, how would I get a job? Who in his or her right mind would hire someone like me?
Yet, I knew I wouldn’t stay with my family. Anything would be better than that! As soon as I could, I’d get out. So. I got married. I was fifteen. So was hubby. Stupid, stupid me. Being married to a fifteen year old alcoholic, who took the pastor’s words “Men, chastise thy wives in the name of the Lord, lest their weak, sinful nature bring shame to thee and thy God!” to heart, that’s better, huh.
At least, at home I could flee to the fields and woods occasionally when the mask I wore became too much to bear. In my new role, with adult responsibilities, such escape was impossible. Two weeks later, I ran away. I had only the clothes on my back, and little bit of food I stole from the kitchen.
Interlude: When I was very young, I was taught that to be a good person, you had to be perfect at everything…especially if you were female. If God had a chosen people, so did the Devil and those were the women. You never got angry. You never protested, no matter how you were treated and you never, ever said no to a male. Let’s see, how’d my grandma put it? “You should be proud to serve (as in ‘be a servant to’) your little brother.”
Perfection in itself wasn’t enough. Everything had to be done perfectly the very first time you did it. Practicing was cheating. A truly godly person didn’t need to practice. God would guide her. If you had to practice something, it meant you weren’t close enough to God. You were a (gasp!) Sinner!
I looked inside myself and to my horror, found a monster living there. All the things you weren’t suppose to be, to do, to think, were right there inside me. That creature, that hideous inner thing that gibbered with unchecked fury, that couldn’t be me, …could it? No, huh-uh, no way!
Panic time, ladies!
What if I did or said something that would let everybody know that monstrous thing was inside me? What if other people could see who, or what I really was! What if I lost control of that fuming seething cesspit of rage and actually hurt someone, maybe even killed someone!
Why was I like this, so different from everyone else? It seemed so easy for them. Was I born evil, like my parents told me I was when they dragged me to church time after time to have the devil cast out of me, born to burn in hell, forever?
I wannabee a Witch!
I turned to Witchcraft because it seemed perfect for someone like me. Misunderstanding what it really was, having been fed on false notions of Witchcraft all my short life, and already doomed to hell, what did I have to lose?
So I was a secret witchwannabee, ready to embrace Evil, and kiss the Devil’s backside. The trouble was, that Ole Devil never appeared with his big black book and his pen dripping with blood to sign me up. I did my petty little black deeds and waited and waited and waited………being evil is almost as exhausting as being good. I wasn’t good at being bad!
If it aint broke, don’t fix it!
Imagine my shock when I finally stumbled across my first book on true Witchcraft. This was more like it! This I could do! Full speed ahead! The book gave me life. I absorbed its knowledge eagerly. I wasn’t evil! Or crazy. Or broken. My feelings, my thoughts weren’t bad. They were normal! Everybody had them! I didn’t need fixing. I wasn’t horrible monster, doomed to die in sin and forever burn in hell. As a famous Vulcan would have said, “Hell is not logical.”
And God wasn’t a monster, either! He was kind and loving and good. Most incredibly He was also a She! God/dess!
For the first time, everything made sense. The ideas, the ways of thinking, the beliefs and philosophies, I had always felt and thought like that! For the first time, I was at peace. I was Home.
So, armed with my tattered little yard sale book, I gathered my little bit of courage, and my mountain of desperation, and fled. I spent that summer hitching rides from strangers, crisscrossing this alien country, learning. I learned about Rescue Missions. About soup kitchens and dumpster diving. I learned about hidey-holes and best of all, I learned about cans.
Yup, good ole sody cans. Gather them up in a garbage bag and carry them over to the scrap yard and they’d pay you for them…with real money. I remember how excited I was when another homeless person told me about cans. Now I could have an income. I could buy food! I could buy a tent, a sleeping bag! Thank you, Goddess!
It took me several months to save up enough but that first night, snuggled up warm inside my bag, reading my book by flashlight, my cheap little tent was a palace. When it got colder, I bought a second bigger sleeping bag and stuffed the first one inside it. A small camp stove made out of a coffee can allowed me to cook my meals instead of having to eat out of cans.
I even managed to accumulate a small library of books. You could buy used paperback for a nickel or dime back then. I was in heaven!
While I was learning to live in the mundane world, I was also learning more about Witchcraft. I read. Everything remotely pertaining to magic, the Goddess, and a zillion other subjects.
My small camp in the woods brought me close to nature. I gladly sacrificed edibles to the raccoon family, and the lone coyote that visited me in the middle of the night, watching their antics in the moonlight.
When I slipped from Witch, to Wiccan, I don’t really remember. It occurred so naturally, like breathing.
I lived there until I was twenty-three. My books gave me an education. I got my GED at nineteen. I continued in my path, finally managing to get a real job and an apartment but I never forgot my tiny camp in the woods and the happiness I found there.
When I look back, I feel both pity and love for the small, confused, hurting girl that I was. My childhood was very painful, but it also gave me strength. The Mother was wise. That strength was what I needed to survive the ordeals that lay ahead.
My spiritual path continues to evolve. I left Wicca. I felt a need for more balance in my life. I follow the path of the Shadow Witch, now, but that’s a whole other story.
Blessings to All.