Birthday Post 6

It feels incredibly selfish of me to break the silence on my birthday. It just seems like a neutral time to talk about myself, I guess. There’s so much that deserves attention. I am overwhelmed by how much there is to write. Specific essays form lengthy outlines across dozens of documents that I don’t have time to flesh out – indoctrination and trauma, religion and fundamentalism, reproductive control, economic inequality. Most recently, I’ve been working on a way to host a conversation about racism and the whitewashed history taught in the United States, particularly my perspective on it as someone who was homeschooled to idealize America. I haven’t been out protesting or volunteering to provide medical aid to protesters because, as many of you know, I’ve been taking care of my partner who is ill and absolutely must not be exposed to COVID-19. My partner’s illness has been developing for several years, and last month I couldn’t avoid fundraising to help us get through anymore. Thank you all so much for overwhelmingly showering us with support as we figure out what’s going on! It has meant more than words can say. Right now Josiah is bedridden and there is no recovery in sight, but we’re hoping that someday he’ll regain the ability to do more than he can now.

Writing is extremely difficult lately. It hasn’t been fun to write about my trauma in detail, and I take small bites every once in a while. These short writing sessions produce vivid memories in stark detail, but they leave me feeling sick and exhausted for days. My therapist is encouraging me to take it slow, and to prioritize taking care of myself. I can’t help others if I don’t have resources of my own to draw from. That means I have to eat and sleep enough. I’m still learning how to take care of myself. When we discussed this yesterday, I told her that taking care of myself is still difficult because I was taught to put god first, then others, and myself last.

It’s my birthday. I’m 28 years old. I am still learning about the world I was born into. The year I was born, Bill Clinton took office and Rage Against the Machine released their self-titled first album. I’ve only been listening to that album for the past few weeks – it’s one of those that is so well known in mainstream culture that I’ve taken years to catch up and finally give it a thorough listen. Instead, my early days were spent listening to a different kind of hip-hop: the Christian group DC Talk. The contrast between these two bands’ lyrics very clearly illustrates the world I came from and the one I am in now. In the music I learned, Christian values were made to seem cool. In the music I wasn’t allowed to listen to, state violence was named and called out.

I’ve been officially writing a memoir for five years. In that time, I’ve read many memoirs to inform myself on the genre I’m entering. In my head, my memoir is a politically significant commentary on the idealization of families who want to “Keep America Great” – primarily by promoting capitalistic, cis-heteronormative and anti-birth control policies. My claims are backed up in my parents’ own writings about their beliefs – just look up “jeubfamily.com” on the Wayback machine.

I want to write a memoir. It’s just going to take a long time, because trauma is a bitch. It seems that you, my readers, understand this even better than I do. My patience for myself has always been thin, but with each passing year, I’m finding more stability and space to be kind and compassionate toward myself. Many people don’t write about their own childhoods until they’re 30 years older than I am. I’m going to keep writing, but I’m going to explore my options more. The traumatic stuff is too painful, and the project too massive, to dedicate all my spare energy toward. We’ll see what surfaces in my creative output.

Now, a reflection on the last 28 years. It’s a Friday, the same day of the week I was born, so I’ve had four week’s worth of birthdays, and I don’t know why that feels important, but it does. I never thought I’d get this old. If I did, I should’ve had like seven kids by now. I’m so fucking glad my life has taken a different route than the one charted out for me. I don’t feel young, I feel tired. I already can’t get out of bed without a dozen joints popping. I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia on the first of the month. I want to give a special thanks to the sponsor who generously gave us a bed last month, so we’re not sleeping on a cheap foam mattress on the floor anymore! It has made a massive difference. I’m constantly amazed by the kindness of people who just want to see me get by, to survive in a world that is unkind to survivors. Thank you, as well, for all the birthday gifts you sent!

I wrote my first birthday post 8 years ago, when I turned 20. After that, I posted on my 21st and 22nd birthdays. The end of 2014 was when I became vocal about my upbringing and what I experienced, and I was in the wilderness on my 23rd birthday, but I wrote an update when I was 23 and a half in January 2016. Since then, I’ve written only one birthday post, my 2018 update when I turned 26. Last year, I wrote a post the two days before my birthday about public gaslighting and how I was rethinking my approach to blogging. Looking back, I see that my views on pretty much everything have changed drastically over those years. I can’t predict what the future will look like, but I know better than I did then, and I’m learning how to know better than I do now.

Thank you all for joining me as I grow in understanding the world around me.