Depression and Spiritual Abuse: By Kierstyn King
HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kierstyn King’s blog Bridging the Gap. It was originally published on July 17, 2013. This is the second of Kierstyn’s three-part series on mental health. Read Part One here and Part Three here.
Looking back, it’s no wonder that all of the feelings and self loathing that lead to my depression, brought depression. I was taught that I was worthless, that I should never think well of myself, that I needed to be humble, I was never allowed to show any emotion that was not a plastic smile.
Perfection was constantly demanded, and perfection is what I was incapable of.
I am, and was, keenly aware of my failings, of the places I don’t measure up, where I don’t meet parental wishes or requirements — those were held over my head, brought up in arguments to coerce me further into being my family’s slave.
I remember times when my parents would sit there and berate me for hours (under the guise of “concern” and wanting to “help my [spiritual] walk”) and tell me that because I missed doing laundry one day, misheard or misunderstood a demand, that I was a bad sister, a person going down a path of destruction, away from god, if I kept up this “rebellious” attitude.
I remember being bragged about to people (when convenient) only to be later pulled aside in private and told to shape up. I remember dismissal and invisibility.
I was a pawn, a tool, a broom.
I related strongly to cinderella and everyone thought it was cute, but they didn’t realize that I felt as worthless as the dirt she was mopping. That I believed I was as worthless as the dirt she was mopping — to know and be told in actions that I am only loved and approved of when I do things in a certain way, with a certain demeanor regardless of feeling, ill, tired, or stressed. When I was imperfect (as all humans are) I was punished — verbally, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, mentally.
I internalized their words of my failures and believed that I was a failure, who didn’t deserve any good.
This was aided by the fact that my family explicitly believed and taught that it was better to live a life of suffering (by god’s hand, of course) than to live a happy life. That god did not want us to be happy (and by unspoken extension, wanted us to be miserable or persecuted).
It’s no wonder that between the bullying because of my imperfections, and the toxic theology of my parents, that I internalized at the most impressionable ages, my total and utter worthlessness and the only way to deal with that, was to hate myself as much as I perceived I needed to be. It’s no wonder that it escalated. It’s no wonder I shut down, became numb, stopped feeling, and felt robotic.
It’s no wonder I was, and at times still am, utterly ashamed of being a woman (someone who is less because of different anatomy)*.
*by people like my parents, the tendency of republicans in positions of power, and people who perpetuate the theology of “equal but different” where differences justify belittling.
To be continued.