I was a typical girl growing up in a poor Midwest setting. My father left my mother when I was in kindergarten. He left her with 2 children, no vehicle and a stack of bills with a zero balance in the bank account. At the time my mother was jobless since the area I grew up in valued stay at home mothers over those who chose to work outside of the home. Women were to raise their children in a Godly home with conservative ideals that mirrored generations past. Sadly this system fell through for my mother, who was blamed when my father left her for another woman. She was blamed for not being strong enough, not being Christian enough and not doing enough to contribute to the family.
So my mother turned to the church for help, which shut its doors on her. Why? Because divorce is a sin. Thankfully we lived in a tiny trailer that my grandfather "rented" to my mother. She took a job at a local nursing home as a nurses assistant. She worked nights and we spent the night at our grandparents home so that we could get sent off to school in the morning. Even when she was working it was just minimum wage and with taking care of 2 children on her own and lawyers fees she couldn't make ends meet. So she did what any woman would do and found as much aid as she could. She was on food stamps and other welfare programs to help her out as she tried to find better work with hours that would allow her to be home to have dinner with her girls. Looking back on it now I shake my head because I remember how embarrassed my mom was every time she took out the little paper book of foodstamps that she was given monthly. I remember the whispers in the line at the checkout counter. It was horrible for my mom to go through, the judgemental stares and whispers from people that didn't even know the circumstances.
Growing up in the midwest brought many hardships. I grew up in that little single wide trailer. I was called trailer trash by the middle and upper class kids in my town who happily toted their parents ideologies in things such as religion and politics. Their view of the world was narrow for sure, especially considering I only had a graduating class of 32 kids who knew each other since kindergarten. So I was the outcast, the "welfare kid" who could only afford Walmart clothes. As a teenager I tried to fit in with the views of the people around me. I tried to be a good Conservative Christian who only voted Republican but things simply didn't fit for me. I didn't understand why bigotry and hatred was allowed, especially after the events of 9/11. I didn't agree that all Muslims were stupid "towel heads" that needed to die (yes this was said in a world history class I was taking and the teacher shook his head in agreement and left it at that).
As I grew to understand my views more, which were labeled extreme, I came to find that I was more liberal than those around me. I agreed with the sentiment that no person should go hungry or cold because they fell on hard times. I agreed that there should be government plans to help these people. I agreed that our environment needed to be protected with environmental laws. All of my views, which I don't have the room to list here, were the polar opposite of what I was raised to believe in my community and even in my own family.
I did the "right" thing when I was 19 and I married a good Christian man whose family were staunch Republicans. I fell into the typical role that is desired in my area, that of home maker and the supporter of a man who was going places (he was in the military). Behind closed doors it was a different story. After years of abuse I finally worked up the nerve to leave. From that point on I was ostracized, a complete outcast, to my entire family. I was the woman who broke up a good marriage to go the "feminist" route and pursue her own dreams and her own career. I was independent which I was taught was a bad thing since man is the head of the household according to the Bible and a woman needs a man to guide her away from the wickedness of the outside world.
When I broke free I really came into myself. I learned what I valued and I what I would not stand for. No longer was I controlled by the restraints of my families religious and political views. This is when I made a major decision for myself. I changed my religion and I changed political views.
I remember the first time I voted Democrat. At first I felt like it was wrong, since I had been told all my life that all Democrats are evil and are going to usher in the second coming and the Antichrist. But when I saw what my elected Congressman did after he was elected I was elated! THIS was the change I was waiting for and it was a good one!
From that point on I have been very vocal about my views. I am a proud Pagan Liberal. Why? Because I broke the bonds of sexism, misogyny and bigotry that I was raised with in the Conservative Bible Belt of the Midwest. I will never turn back.
If there are any holes in my story or questions feel free to ask. CM doesn't really allow much space to write a novel.