#PinkHairDontCare

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So the other day I’m sitting in my therapist’s office discussing one of the most traumatic moments of my life, and kinda laughing it off because it almost sounds silly. I wasn’t discussing being molested or raped- not to say that’s not a discussion, it absolutely has been for many years, in fact, it has monopolized many a’therapy session. So much so that I have blown off other traumatic moments because when you compare them, you kinda can’t top sexual abuse. Well, that was my mainframe, anyway… But let’s not compare apples and oranges…. trauma is trauma. These moments can define you, and they did define me in many ways. I’m working towards living MY life and not basing everything off of my past.

SOOOO I’m discussing the days leading up to my baptism into the (cough* CULT *cough) ICOC. I was 15, it was the summer before I started high school, my parents FINALLY let me dye my hair pink, and I really wasn’t buying “the god thing”. My parents/teen leaders expected me and my sister to go to Teen Camp, and we did… At this point my closest friends had been kept from me for months. You know how I was a bad egg because I questioned, and am not easily silenced. The “church” decided it was better to isolate me… and they were right. Being left out was awful. It didn’t make me believe in god, it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Like I was broken for not having the same blind faith as everyone else. It came down to being treated badly and either ignored or rebuked, or I could “study the bible” and be baptized and be treated kindly.

At this point, you have to understand that I literally didn’t see life beyond the ICOC. I didn’t dare to imagine it. I was RAISED drinking the koolaid. I felt like it was wrong, but what did I know? I was trained from the get go to believe that this was the only way to live. So when I questioned, I felt like I was “in sin”. It was scary and lonely and confusing. No one sympathized. Even the kids who rebelled still had some sort of faith in god. I was the only one that didn’t. So I told myself that I was wrong, and I should at least try because if I TRY, if there is a god, he will “soften my heart” and I will have my friends back, and my parents would be proud of me. That’s what I did. I studied, (studying The Bible in an ICOC or ICC church is pretty intense. Over the course of a few studies, you have been brainwashed into believing that the only way to achieve salvation is by confessing your sins to someone *who’s going to share with other people*, having a specified discipler and being baptized by someone in the ICOC/ICC. You’re eventually expected to distance yourself from family members that are non disciples.) memorized and regurgitated. After passing the “Prove It” study, my disciplers informed me that I could be baptized by next Sunday, but I had to dye my hair back to a normal color because I was” too noticeable and that’s sinful. God doesn’t like that sort of thing.”

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Remember how I was 15 years old and I had been begging my parents to let me dye my hair pink for like 3 years??? And FINALLY they said yes???? But, guess what, my cool pink hair was sinful. Just like my personality “made the boys struggle” (You guys, I wasn’t even cute, boys didn’t like me. I was awkward and mousy and plain. Flat chested, short… I wore glasses and read books. TRUST me when I say that I was not the girl that “made boys struggle”.) I was infuriated! Of course to be saved I had to conform. After deliberation and prayer, I bleached out the dye, and was dunked into the Pacific Ocean that Sunday. I really hoped my first breath after my baptism would feel like my first, that I would feel cleansed and new. It was a devastating slap in the face to see that I felt exactly the same. Only… pissed. These people have been lying to me my whole life. (I know some of you feel like your baptism meant something, and, OK I’m not saying nothing changed for you, I’m saying it didn’t work for me and it wasn’t for lack of trying.) Never mind the fact that at 15, how much sinning could I have done. I was actually on the more angelic side of the spectrum when it came to actual “sinning”. Realistically, I just wasn’t a bad kid. And after fuming for a few minutes and receiving awkward hugs, responding as honestly as I could when people asked me over and over, “How do you feel?” (probably just to reaffirm how they tell themselves they felt after the baptisms. In fact, I remember asking my best friend the same question before I was baptized, if she felt new, I would, too.) to which I answered, “cold.” I thought, “And I dyed my hair for this?”

Jenna and her rad blue ombre
Jenna and her rad blue ombre

Just over a year later I “fell away”. Afterwards I pierced my belly button, my nose, and tongue. At 18 I started getting tattoos, but I stopped dying my hair. Weird, right? I don’t remember consciously deciding I wouldn’t dye my hair again, but it’s been roughly 10 years and I finally dyed my hair a few months ago, nothing crazy, just blonde streaks. a month or two later I went a little further and went very blonde ombre… kinda dipping my toes in. I remember that feeling, the change every time you look in the mirror. New. Baptized.

And that’s the revelation I had.

For years I have avoided “ceremonial” signals of change. I stopped believing in these big moments that signify transformation.

And then, I decided it was time to dye my hair pink. Why? Because I want to, and I’m an adult now, so piss off! (Yes that was a drop Dead Fred reference) And guess what… I absoFUCKINlutely LOVE my hair! (I especially love that my husband dyed it for me #keeper) Also, we decided that all the kids should rock colored hair, because, why not?

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Mommy Issues

So this morning as I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed, sipping my coffee, I come across a new single written by Pink. You all know I am a Pink fan, so I was excited, I click the link and read the article, turns out, this song was written for Pink’s mom… My initial reaction to this news was conflicting. I have serious mommy issues (You’ve heard about my daddy issues already.) and I have hesitated to blog about them because… Well for one it fucking hurts. As I type tears burn my eyes and and my throat is tight, also, this stuff is personal. I know I have been open about a lot, but this is the most sensitive subject for me, I’ve told you about the time I was attacked, and I don’t even cry anymore when I talk about that. I have told you about my history with the cult, and I have even publicly apologized to a friend (<—- I even mentioned some mommy issues.) But this mom stuff is really hard to choke out.

My sisters and my mama at my wedding
My sisters and my mama at my wedding

“No one ever held you, no single moment of truth, but if you were mine I would have looked into those eyes and said, tell me the words you long to hear and I’ll sing them loud and clear, let me heal the wounds you’ve held onto for all these years. Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

It’s like she took the words from my heart, words I have never been able to even think. “But if you were mine….” right there, that’s when I broke, that’s when the tears came. When I was pregnant and didn’t want a baby, I promised this baby that I would be the mother that my mom couldn’t be. I was so afraid to continue the cycle. Every day since Jo was born has been therapy for me, I have spent the last 5 years cleaning up the mess my mom left, I have loved Jo, and hugged her, and connected with her in all the ways I SHOULD have been loved, all the ways I DESERVED to be loved. I don’t have memories of not being wanted, but it became clear while I was in CFD, you may remember the Justine Doll Incident:

“When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.

She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
I did.
She asked me to look at her.
I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
“Why not?”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
“Why?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.

At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.

I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.”

I’m not saying it’s ALL my mom’s fault that I literally hated myself and did not think I deserved to be nurtured or loved, there were a lot of factors, but I’m pretty sure being essentially abandoned is a huge contributing factor. Thinking back on that doll I have such a sick feeling, who can leave their little girl? I look at my daughter and I have a hard time imagining a day without her, I cry every time she goes to her dad’s house. Jo changed me, she changed my perspective on life. I could’t help but wonder… why didn’t I do that for my mom? Why didn’t I change her? Why didn’t she look at me, and fall in love? It’s not very fair is it? I can’t imagine walking away from my baby girl, but my mom felt that I would be better off without her. She may have been right, but that’s not really the point is it?

Break the cycle break the chain, cause love is louder than all your pain.”

I have spent the last 5 years breaking the chain. I could have been my mom, I could have left when it was hard, I could have given up at any point, but I promised Joliene while she was in my belly that even if I didn’t love her, I would ALWAYS do everything in my power to make her feel loved, and I would never EVER leave her. I promised to show that her she is perfect and beautiful, that she is essential and loved. I vowed to be better and to give her everything I should have had. I broke the cycle.

Me and my Jojo <3
Me and my Jojo <3

“If you were mine…”

I have spent the last 5 years wishing I had been my own mom. Wondering what it would have been like if my mom had been like me, would I have been more confident? Would I have still starved myself? More importantly, would I be the mother I am today? What I never thought until hearing those words was, what if she was mine? What if I could go back and nurture my mother? What if I was HER mother? Would she have stayed?

Disclaimer: “Too many missing pieces, that’s always been your reason to justify how you feel inside” To be honest, I know my mom can’t help who she was. She has more than enough reasons. She was dealt a pretty shitty hand in life. It just sucks that I had to suffer because of HER past. But I love her, and have come a really long way. I think this song really reminded me to be compassionate.