Copy Kids—The Immorality of Individuality: Jessica’s Story, Part Two
I showed up for school with my back pack on, my lunch packed, my patent leather white dress shoes and my frilliest pink dress. I marched straight up to the first girl my age, stuck out my hand and said “Hi, my name is Jessica and I think we’re just going to be the best of friends.” She laughed at me, and walked away talking about me to her friends.
I was completely socially inept.
I had never been around other children. The only other child that I had been around regularly was my older brother, so I acted like my autistic older brother. Every time I spoke, I would compulsively say what I had just said again under my breath to listen myself say it. Literally every sentence. Until the other children started making fun of me for it, I had never realized that other people didn’t do that. It took me over two years to break that habit and I still do it in my head to make sure what I just said didn’t sound stupid. No one played with me and no one spoke to me except the teachers.
That was just the social aspect. I was capable of all the grade level work the other children were doing, except the math.
However, I had never been in a class room.
When I did my work at home, I would sit at the table, read my books, do my work sheets or tests and then I was done for the day. It usually took 2-3 hours. I knew nothing about school. My first day, I got in trouble for answering the questions when the teacher asked them. After a couple questions, I realized that the other children were raising their hands and being called on. However, it was too late. I lost my recess and had to write “I will not speak unless spoken to” 150 times. My hand ached and I didn’t speak in class again for weeks.
After the first 9 weeks, I found out that I was failing school. I aced all of my tests but I wasn’t doing any of the assignments I didn’t have the attention span to pay attention in class. I had never had to pay attention for that long before, so I didn’t hear any of the instructions. I didn’t understand, I was doing everything I was asked at school. As much as I heard before I involuntarily spaced out. What I didn’t realize is that I wasn’t done when the day was over. I was supposed to be doing work at home too. I was beaten for flunking, but no one told me what I was supposed to do to change it. My mom had checked out of our education as soon as the homeschooling was over.
Finally, after failing my 2nd nine weeks, my teacher started paying attention and realized what was wrong. I didn’t know how to be in school. She kept me in at recess (I didn’t play at recess anyway) every day for a week and taught me how school worked. She explained homework, she moved me to the front row so she could work on keeping my attention. She explained why everything was the way it was and I finally started catching on.
Socially however, was another story. I had no friends. No one would speak to me.
It became even worse after I tried to start a conversation about demons at the lunch table.
My grades came up the first half of the 2nd semester and after that, I could no longer make myself care. I didn’t belong at home, I didn’t belong at school, the kids were afraid of me, my parents hated me. I had no reason to exist. I stopped doing anything that I did not want to do. I was never going to measure up to the expectations of my family or my peers, so trying was useless.
At the end of the year, my teacher informed my parents that I was not ready to progress to middle school and I was held back to repeat my 5th grade year. This of course was an abject failure. I had humiliated my parents. What would the other people in town think? This was always very important. My mother cared deeply about how she appeared to the other people in our small, entirely too nosy town. I went back to school the next year and did nothing at all. I did what I had to do in class so the teacher wouldn’t yell at me and got beatings at home for the straight D’s and F’s on my report card. I didn’t care. They passed me anyway.
In Middle School, the social aspect of school started to become easier. I made some friends, yes they were the other weird kids, but they were my friends. The age of 12 brought new difficulties with it. I was starting to be interested in boys and this was unacceptable. I was allowed to go to school, but I was not allowed to go to any school social events. Dances were immoral and there was no reason to be pursuing boys until at least the age of 16 if not 18. Sports were a frivolous waste of time, so I did not need to go to those events. Still, they had to let me do something, so middle school began my years of church lock ins and Bible camp.
I will come back to church events. First I would like to tackle the ideas of privacy and sexuality. In the sixth grade, I had my first “boyfriend”. It was completely innocent and consisted note writing, sneaking phone calls and holding hands in the hallway. It was in stark contrast to what I had been taught. I was taught that boys were only after sex and that dating was unnecessary and immoral. So even this completely innocent venture into crush land got me in more trouble than I had been in my entire life. I had been writing a diary, but I had kept it secret. I was not allowed to have secrets from my parents. I accidentally left my diary in room one day and my mother found it. She went through my room on a near weekly basis. Something she never did to the boys. I was the one that had to be kept pure. My life went on like this until I left when I was 18. I would try to have some semblance of self or privacy and it was be swiftly and harshly be stomped out as soon as it was discovered. My thoughts were not my own. I was not allowed to be different, I had to fully give myself to Jesus and my parents.
Church events were the only time I could really be a kid. At the age of 7, I was “saved” at our little baptist church. However, I didn’t have an emotional coming to Jesus moment. I was sitting in the children’s section. The alter call started and I had never paid attention before. The pastor asked if there was anyone in the room that had never accepted Jesus. I hadn’t done that. So I put up my hand.
Now I have express the sheer lack of emotion in this experience — I had no idea what I was doing. The pastor asked if we had done something and I hadn’t. He was a man and spiritual leader, so I had to do what he said. I would have had the same response if he had asked me if I had brushed my teeth that morning. I went down, I repeated the prayer the lady had me say, and I was done. I did what I was told and then I tried to go sit back down. They wouldn’t let me.
I had to stand in front of the church.
Everyone was cheering, my mom was crying. I had no idea why. The next Sunday I had to get baptized. At some point in time, I realized that I was supposed to have had an emotional response to this event, so I faked one and played along because for once, people were proud of me.
In middle school, I went to my first church camp. It was wonderful, all the kids were just like me and we got along wonderfully. I didn’t realize until many years later that the reason we got along was because they were all just as socially inept and weird as I was. Still, it was a release. Everything was great, except worship service on the 3rd day. We had been having Bible studies, music and praise, but they didn’t have the first alter call until day 3. We had a long lesson on hell and suffering. Then they outlined the steps of salvation. I had an emotional break down along with about 30 other children. I hadn’t been saved, not properly. I was going to burn in hell. I crawled, sobbing down the isle to the front and terrified, I accepted Jesus. Properly this time. I had such a sense of peace.
I was on fire for Jesus for the rest of the week.
Unfortunately, the assurance wore off and a new sense of terror joined the terror I had about demons and the 2 am hour when my father came home from work. I still wasn’t saved. I had doubts and I was told Jesus would take all my doubts away when I became saved. I must broken, why can’t I get properly saved? The scenario of tearfully crawling my way up to the stage repeated its self at nearly every youth event I attended until I stopped attending youth events at 18.
It never worked.
I never felt saved and it was a constant torment.
To be continued.