How far I’ve come

Disclaimer: This is/was MY experience. This is how I saw life. Some people have had the exact upbringing I had & interpreted it in the opposite way & love this lifestyle.

Two years ago I HATED the beach. In particular this beach, which may in fact be the most beautiful beach in the world. Crazy hey?!

For as long as I can remember my parents bought me down here every Christmas & Easter for church camps. Not actually on the beach but at a privately owned caravan park near by. I hated every second of it. Why? Because I couldn’t be myself. We were told what we could & couldn’t dress in, who we could & couldn’t associate with, what we could & couldn’t watch & listen to & what time we had to be in bed. Literally! Don’t be confused & think this was a bunch of kids leaders watching a group of kids. My parents were under the same “guidelines” as me. We had to LIVE by this. This was not just a “camp rules” thing. This was LIFE! I think “camp time” got to me so much because it was so much more intense. There was no escape. There were two “meetings” a day & they were compulsory. We would have free time from lunch time until the evening meeting where people would mingle around caravans or go to the beach. I’d have glimpses of fun at the beach but would always feel anxious about having to head back to camp. During the night meetings the head pastor would get up & give a “telling off” to the naughty people. The list would consist of things like ‘night patrol reported hearing noise coming out of a van lastnight after curfew. There was also a report of some of the young ladies not wearing appropriate swimwear at the beach (aka bikinis 👙). These people were always dealt with by whoever “caught” them doing these things, but there was always a general announcement made, I guess to deter others. To me it was just a big fat warning sign that I was being watched AT ALL TIMES BY SOMEBODY!!! I lived in a state of complete paranoia. I never broke a rule EVER!!!! I was far too scared.

About fifteen years ago my parents bought a place down here. That made things a bit easier. During camps I could escape back to the house between meetings. We would come down when camps weren’t on & I found it a bit more relaxing. But at the end of the day when you live in a state of fear & are wearing a mask to “survive” all the time there really is no way to enjoy life.

Seven years ago I left the church. That church. Not “church”, not God.

I was programmed & conditioned to think & feel a certain way. That was the first thirty years of my life. Leaving did not suddenly free me from the mental hell I lived in. Picture an elephant at the circus that is only “kept at bay” by a piece of rope & a stake in the ground. Now picture the rope being taken off of that elephant. That’s it. The elephant isn’t transported & rehabilitated in to what it’s natural environment should have been like. It’s literally standing there without a rope behind the tent not really knowing what to do without the torcher of the circus.

It took me a good five years to adjust. I seemed to do well when there was no reminder of the ‘circus’. Something as simple as coming down to spend time at my parents beautiful beach house caused me anxiety. It stirred up a lot of negative feelings.

For the last two years I have worked my ass off to become free of the paranoia & negative self talk telling me I’ll never be good enough. Having to act a certain way around certain people. It has been gruelling & I’m not finished but two years ago I can tell you what I would NOT have been doing.

I would not WANT to come here. I would not LOOK at the ocean with awe, wonder & appreciation. I would NOT have worn a bathing suit and swam with my kids. I would NOT have been able to come down here without something triggering me to feel scared or anxious. They may not seem like big things to some but they are EVERYTHING to me.

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