HA note: Vanessa blogs at Fiery Skull Diaries. She “recently uprooted [herself] from kentucky to florida,” where she enjoys “fresh springs, the magical fragrance of orange groves, and copious amounts of sunblock daily.” Vanessa considers herself “an exchristian, atheist, and antitheist, unapologetically.” This post was originally published on July 16, 2013 and is reprinted with her permission.
this process is difficult for me to write about because there’s so much to it. i’ve been putting it off for too long, feeling overwhelmed.
no more excuses. i need to write this story for my sake and the sake of others. i will be doing it in small, to-be-continued pieces until i get it all out. no more waiting. no more feeling like i have to write the entire thing before i can share any of it.
let’s get started.
my parents both grew up pretty poor in the same town in western kentucky their parents had grown up in, and their parents before that. neither was raised very religiously.
at the age of sixteen years and six days, my mom left her abusive childhood home to join in holy matrimony with my abusive father, age eighteen and six months. i was born twelve years later. i am the eldest of two girls; my sister is almost to the day two and a half years younger than me.
for reasons still unknown to me, my parents became fairly religious between the time they got married and the time i was born.
for my mother, i think it was about finding comfort. for my father, it was about appearing to be a stand-up guy in the community and getting to look at teenage girls in the youth groups, in which he somehow was always heavily, though superficially, involved.
most of my earliest memories are from the church we went to until i was three. after i turned three, we moved to a house outside of town and started attending a different church closer to our new home. like the one before, this was also a southern baptist church. we were there every sunday morning, sunday night, and wednesday night. i went to preschool at this church. my mom painted and wallpapered the bathrooms and several sunday school rooms in the church. my dad was on the volleyball and softball teams (i learned to rollerskate on my own in the church gym at age four by going with him to “bolleyball” practice on tuesday nights), and, of course, he was involved in the church youth group.
one sunday afternoon, when i had reached the age of reason at seven years old, my mom helped me pray the sinner’s prayer in our bathroom before she even got off the pot.
yes, you read that right. she could not bear to make the soul of her tearful, distraught seven year old, who had realized her sinfulness and eternal destiny, wait a second longer to accept jesus. so, sitting there on my mom’s lap, who was sitting on the toilet, i asked jesus to forgive me and come into my heart.
much to my extended family’s never-ending dismay, my mom decided to homeschool my sister and me when it was time for me to start kindergarten at the age of five. part of that decision was that she couldn’t stand the thought of putting her smaller-than-average five year old on a big, scary school bus at six in the morning.
the other part of that decision was to shield me from mean kids and unbiblical secularisms (*ahem*…EVOLUTION) taught in public school. (“public school” was a bad word in my vocabulary for my entire childhood.)
in other words, though she did not realize it, my mother chose, in part, to homeschool me to ensure my indoctrination.
Part Two >