The Archive Restoration Project

As many of you know, my blog was lost in late 2016. I had written over 500 posts since 2012, sometimes every day.

I was homeless, and it was time to renew my web host. I was able to keep my domain name – thank the old gods and the new, I can only imagine what my dad would do with it if he got a chance to buy it out from under me. But the web host was gone, and I didn’t have a computer, so I spent several hours talking quietly on the phone with customer service at the library. Long story short, when my wonderful friend Kieryn helped with restoring my website with a fresh layout, I had nothing to show for my years of work.

Writing has been difficult because survival is a full-time job in this economy. My Patreon has helped to free my time to dedicate toward the blog and my memoir. But uncovering the memories of trauma and pain, while my memory wanes, has been a massive task. How do you sum up what was an entire life, so different from the everyday life of the outside world? How could I know what people would read about, and wanted to know?

So near the end of 2017, I created an account on Free Jinger after years of lurking. FJ is a forum for snark about quiverfull families who’ve been featured on reality TV. Back when my family was on The Learning Channel, my dad called the many commenters on FJ “haters.” I’ve since realized that the people there are very kind and concerned, and the things they said about my parents were both observant and reasonable. I started a thread introducing myself, and was able to read many stories from other survivors. Most of the people who know my story don’t even watch reality TV much, as I learned.

When some of the users on FJ found out how my archive had been lost, they volunteered to help me gather all of the remaining content from the WayBack machine. Not every post was recoverable, but I now have a salvaged archive, and I want to give my profound thanks to Stephanie for volunteering her organization with recovering the old posts, and Jennifer for helping her to copy and paste hundreds of posts so I can reupload them.

Reading the old posts, though, has presented countless moments of scratching my head, finding myself avoiding the things I once believed, and feeling deep shame and grief.

I said a lot of hateful and ignorant things when I was younger. I also failed to be inclusive in my language, most memorably in my series on homosexuality, in which I expressed that I didn’t want to address LGBTAIQ beyond the first three letters. As Josh and Lolly Weed apologized for their former ignorance in a recent heartbreaking post, I’d like to give a similar apology.

To anyone who I excluded in my language, I’m sorry. To anyone who took my advice on suppressing emotions and being a good Christian, I’m sorry. And especially to anyone who felt they could do a better job of honoring their abusive parents because of my words, I’m sorry.

I know better now. But the problem remains about my old posts.

As I upload them, they will contain an original date, disclaimers, content warnings, and, where needed, commentary.

While I will do my best to honor my story over the years, and put back up the many writings that I’m constantly getting messages about, I don’t want to re-post whatever I find unhelpful to the collective consciousness. Certain problematic posts, though, will be worth sharing as examples of how deeply gaslit I was, as long as I add what I know now. It means so much that after all these years, I’m still getting asked for specific articles and having them referenced.

So enjoy! The posts will be coming back as I have the time and energy to post them.

Displacement

There are countless people following my story and hoping I’ll write again. So here’s why I haven’t been writing.

I’m one of the many victims of the United States’ third world status. I have no family to turn to for support. I’ve moved ten times in less than five years. One of those times, I was moving into a car after I’d had nearly all my possessions stolen. Every time, I had to declutter and start over – getting dishes and furniture from thrift stores or as gifts. I’ve had over a dozen jobs in that amount of time, doing freelance work and odd jobs wherever I can find them between. I’ve raised several thousand dollars to help me get by on the kindness of those who are better off than myself.

There is no escape, because I have invisible illnesses that keep me from ever making enough. Those invisible illnesses will never be diagnosed if I cannot pay for my own healthcare. I cannot pay for my own healthcare. I have had four therapists in four years, every one of them taking what I could pay. The therapy has never been thorough. I said goodbye to my most recent therapist yesterday because I’m starting a new job and won’t be able to see her. I will burn myself out again, working through depression and chronic pain until I can’t get up anymore. This happens in a matter of months for me.

I am trying. I am working. I am in pain every day. Getting up in the morning makes my joints pop like I’m far older than 25. I can’t prove I’m disabled, because the proof would have to come from medical investigation I cannot afford. Instead, my resume looks like I’m the problem, like I can’t keep a job due to laziness. Managers over the years have consistently been floored by my impressive work ethic, my skills, my communication abilities, and my punctuality. Then they watch sadly as I crumble under the weight of being alive to serve as a cog in the system, pursing their lips as they write me up. After all, there’s nothing they can do, they’re just following company policy.

The American dream is just that – a dream, an illusion. I am not alone. I will never live as a dignified human being in the United States of America. I am tired of talking to people who think they will eventually have wealth, thinking of themselves as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. I have never met a single person who started with nothing and got rich. I have never met a rich person who wasn’t callous and cruel.

One of the things I often post about on my personal social networks is the idea of justice, not charity. This confuses a lot of people. If I’m fundraising to make ends meet, and I have to literally beg for money because I am incapable of securing base food and shelter for myself, why would I oppose charity?

I explained to a friend yesterday that if she gave me financial support, I would accept it. Of course I would. I’d accept it like I accept everything I am given. A sweet stranger sent us a pizza when we were out of food, another sent us a box of spices because she knew they’re expensive and I’d been unable to express my love for cooking without them. A dear friend bought me a laptop, which I’m writing on now.

These are good. Done with good intentions. And I will not turn down offers to help. But charity is not, and never will be, the solution to a crumbling infrastructure.

Every time I get a job, I have to sign over my rights as a legal citizen. I cannot disclose company information. I must agree to mandatory mediation instead of turning to the legal system if I get injured or am treated unfairly. I cannot demand wages that would cover basic living expenses. I must undergo a drug test, to prove that I’m not medicating my own mental illness.

I am not free. If I cannot live without money, I am not free. I can’t get a better job. That’s the nature of the competitive market.

Nothing I say in this article is going to change minds, even if I cite endless facts about the medical system, the causes of death for the poor, the number of children who are living in poverty.

I have no voice. I don’t know why I bother to write. Everything is meaningless.

And yet every day is a fight.

My typical day involves at least four hours of unpaid work. Not housekeeping, I wouldn’t count that. Work. Files, paperwork, errands, meetings, applications, conversations. Then I work on whatever I possibly can to gather up enough cash to the feed the monster that makes my life a living hell. Then I work some more. I don’t know how to relax. I fidget. I tried getting a coloring book from the dollar store, and my (undiagnosed) carpal tunnel made my wrists lock up from holding colored pencils for too long. Instead, I endure the pain of typing because it means a scant paycheck now and then for odd freelance jobs.

We’re overdue on rent. I didn’t want to do another GoFundMe, two months in a row. It’s taking a toll on my spirit to beg. But there is no end to the poverty. Charity can’t fix this, because charity has no consistency. I am at the mercy of others’ whims.

Anxiety lingers in every waking moment, even sleep is not a relief. I sleep because I have to. I eat because I have to. There is no pleasure in it.

I’m tired. I’m so tired of being alive. I have dreams of becoming an influential writer, perhaps a massage therapist, someone who can help others. But I cannot help myself.

What’s infuriating is it doesn’t have to be this way. But I see no way to change it whatsoever. There aren’t jobs. There aren’t opportunities. There aren’t medical providers who’ll dig. There is nothing that will ever make me feel like the floor beneath my feet is stable.

I feel like I’m doing a terrible job of explaining myself, as the tears start again. I have a breakdown nearly every day, just from pure overwhelm. I shouldn’t have to explain to people who don’t get it that I deserve to live.

I shouldn’t. Fuck. I don’t owe this society anything. It hasn’t done shit for me.

I’m living in a world where money is the most important thing. It’s more important than life. Human life, animal life, plant life, ecosystem life. Money is more important.

The only way for me to get money is to have a cut of what I earn. The government takes some. The CEO of whatever company I work for takes some. I make a mere fraction of what my efforts actually produce.

The only way for me to get money is to do what kills my soul. I do customer service for phone companies that are charging more than my entire month’s living for a phone. I write marketing campaigns for people who want to bleed even more money out of those below them. There is no ethical consumption, or occupation, under capitalism.

The only way for me to be alive is to have money. I cannot leave the country. That would cost a passport and a plane ticket. I cannot live in the woods. Every single inch of land is zoned and taxed and owned. I cannot hunt or gather. Not only do I need a license to fish or hunt without facing a fine, but the once plentiful bounty of this land has been destroyed, depleted, by greed.

I am running out of words for this. I am running out of energy for this. I am running out of lifeblood to give to those who make billions per year.

There is no wealth in the modern world that is earned by the wealthy. It is siphoned off from the labor of others. Slavery is still alive and well in the United States prison system, and being charged with a felony subjects you to modern Jim Crow laws. These are facts. But stating facts will not fix the system.

I can be a beggar for the rest of my life. I can suffer in pain of the body and pain of the mind, pain of the soul. I can ask for help because alleviating the need for help is not of interest to those who love money.

Why should I expect a government to believe I deserve to be alive, when they’re bombing civilians in the Middle East over black gold?

Apathy is worse than hate. Charity strokes the ego of those who have money to spare. But those who give to charity cannot be expected to lower their prices and pay their laborers.

I am not the worst off.

I have so much more than so many others.

I am in no position to help others.

I cannot lift myself up.

I am just aware of it.

And most of the people I know who live in the same circumstances refuse to see reality.

I refuse to close my eyes to the futility of my own existence.

That is my depression. I am done pretending to be happy, forcing myself to be grateful, or begging for the spare change of those who profit from my suffering.

I don’t care if it sounds dramatic.

I don’t care if nobody listens.

There is nothing we can do.

I live another day, dreading each new morning’s fresh curveballs.

I think about killing myself every day. I didn’t sign up for this vicious game. I don’t want to play anymore. I’m tired of existence. Life is not worth living if this is all there is. And it’s not worth living if anyone is suffering unnecessarily.

I only expect things to get worse.

The only reason I’m alive is that the evolutionary process of my existence gives me the will to live. I have no other explanation. And I’m tired. So tired.