Big Family Big Religion Big Problems
If you were raised in a big family you are probably familiar with the questions, “Didn’t your parents have cable?”, “Do you all have the same parents?”, “Are you Catholic?” Strangers asking intrusive questions about your parents sex life was not the most unsettling thing about growing up in a big family. It’s not about hand-me-down clothes, sharing one full bath with a dozen people, or fighting over the last bowl of cereal. There is a deeper dysfunction that lies beneath the picture perfect family portrait in which everyone is wearing matching clothing. Behind closed doors rampant drug addiction, sexual abuse, and bizarre religious practices tantamount to spiritual abuse that ruled over daily life. My understanding as a child is much different than my adult perspective. Strangely, my memories and interpretation of events don’t perfectly align with my siblings. Those of my siblings that have decided to pass on the torch of Catholic dogma to their children recall the events in a more positive light.
The Catholic family upbringing did not prepare me for the world and stagnated my ability to think freely. Indoctrination to an ideology was not just expected in childhood, but in adulthood as well. The manipulation and power struggles are ever present. Guilt and shame were the best tools to control behavior until children enter the real world, then the power struggles shift to money, resources and emotional support. I might be able to tolerate the harsh standards if there actually was a standard. I was led to believe that there was an objective black and white truth. There was only good and evil, no shades of gray. Yet the morality of what is acceptable within the family constantly changes.
My parents may be canonized as the patron saints of hypocrisy. The pro-life and pro-family sentiments applied to the rest of the world, but very rarely held the same expectations within. The most highly exalted people reproduce like rabbits, apparently that gives you the title of saintly, holy, pro-life, pro-family. It’s so important you don’t even have to do anything with your kids after you pop them out. Especially true if your children are “dissenters” because they live in sin, i.e cohabitate or worse, use contraception. GASP. But if a son decides he does not want to be a dad and walk away from all responsibilities, you can rationalize that is what is best for the child. A daughter with children can’t divorce an abusive husband with the same rationalization. The patriarchy crammed down your throat at every opportunity. Massive double standards of how the boys and girls in the family are treated. This enables manipulators to effectively turn siblings against each other. Standing up for yourself will only give the detractors a way to sneak in the pejorative term “feminist”, a sure way to get you to shut up.
Mental, physical, and spiritual abuse is not the legacy I want to pass on to my children or loved ones. Ironically, in the process of healing, we often deal with more gaslighting and toxic shame which only distort our sense of reality further. If my parents and siblings are allowed to own their own story of the past, then so am I. We are only as sick as the secrets we keep. To remove the shackles of our past and expel our own demons, we must confront them. Living a painful lie and looking into the rearview mirror with rose colored glasses no longer serves a purpose. I hope my writing is as cathartic and therapeutic to the reader as it is for me.
The Catholic Phallusy: The Sins of Our Fathers | by The Devil you know | Feb, 2021 | Medium
The Judas Priests: The Catholic Covid Conspiracy | by The Devil you know | Mar, 2021 | Medium