vendredi, octobre 21, 2011

Two religious hypocrites, one damaged daughter

I'm a bit off institutional religion today.

Perhaps you will see why in a minutes.

This morning I went to have my hair highlighted - caramel, if you are interested. It's a long process, so one expects to spend significant time with the stylist.

Brian couldn't be there, so Callie (that's not her real name) volunteered to take me on.

I knew we had a few hours to kill, so I settled in by asking a few innocuous questions. How long did she have before she got a "chair"? What area did she live in? Where did her family live?

I picked up on the determination and the work ethic right off the bat -- what I didn't notice until we were well into foils is that the girl wasn't telling me a whole lot about herself beyond the surface.

Not until we were at the wash bowl did she disclose that she had a one-year-old at home, and that her mother now lived in the South.

She's got seven siblings, and all of them live in the Midwest, she told me.

By now, the gears were turning. How lonely that must be sometimes, I said. But I didn't want to push too hard -- after all, she was simply a 19-year-old woman who was coloring my hair.

It wasn't until we got back to her chair and I asked her about whether she had time to go out with friends that the mask of the happy career woman slipped.

Not easy to keep up with friends when you get pregnant your senior year in high school, she commented.

Hard to make it when your family kicks you out of the house when you are seventeen for being pregnant.

Her family is very religious, she told me, and when they learned that she intended to keep the baby, her step-dad said she couldn't live with them anymore.

I hadn't said anything about being ordained, and now I darn tootin' was going to hold off.

I asked her if she and her mom had reconciled. She thinks that her mother, unduly influenced by the step-dad, does feel guilty.

She's being treated for depression and anxiety, she said. She doesn't like to revisit her past (with her birth father).

And when she is in the room with the therapist, she badly misses her mother.

I looked up -- and the mask of the happy, self-sufficient woman was gone. Here was a girl, a girl close to my own daughter's age -- trying to make it in a world where she couldn't trust the people she loved the most.

Tears were in my eyes -- and fury in my heart.

Fury at the way that people cover up their cold hearts with a veneer of faith. Disgust with the way that some adults put the interest of their husband or wife above that of their own children.

Yes -- I don't know the whole story. I'm sure that mom, and even the wicked stepdad, have a side of it.

But now I know Callie's story -- or a part of it.

So what do I do now?

I told her that I'd think about it -- and would come back if and when I had some ideas.

Not because I'm religious. But because it's possible that it's the right thing to do.

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