Facing society judges

Standing outside looking in can be a daunting task, I must say. Just when you think staying away, or running away (if you like) from your past couldn’t be more haunting, the liveliness of all that should be hidden away from you blossoms by the minute. Talk about failed selective amnesia!

It’s in most PKs (preachers kids) thoughts and behaviour that they would like to let loose and just live life for what it’s worth. But isn’t it all in what we perceive life to be or (in a PK’s case) what has already been perceived for us; evil and good? However, if the doors of perception were all changed, wouldn’t everything seem to man as it is; infinite?

The marriage of heaven and hell, as William Blake wrote in the 18th century, is not farfetched. It all lies in what we think the world is all about. PKs grow up being told that what should be perceived as the voice of reason (good) and the inner energy (usually termed as evil), as the only lines on the board. In a PK’s life, it’s black or white; no grey lines. But is that realistic when the world is basically grey?

In the 21st century, you can choose to be a woman or man, or both, hence the grey line... and examples are endless. It’s hardly a matter of right or wrong anymore. There’s got to be an explanation for every wrong (all of a sudden). There’s got to be some sort of explanation as to why something sounds more right than something else. Can’t it just be right, for right’s sake; or wrong for wrong’s sake? Does it have to be right “because...” or wrong “because...”?

But that’s it; in a PK’s life, you just can’t decide to get married. Nah, questions of whether your partner’s born again or not would arise. Of whether his parents also serve in the church or not. Of whether he also wants to spend the rest of his life helping the needy like you (forgetting that that decision was never yours in the first place). Of whether you will have a wedding in the church or not. Of whether he’s a Christian or not... And should any of the answers to these questions turn out to contradict any of their (parents) expectations, a decision would be made; leave him ‘cause it’s not God’s will that you get married to “someone like that”.

What?! Is it me, or does this sound very judgmental? And doesn’t the same Bible that these PK families read also say that “Thou shalt not judge”?

Any PK would tell you that from their experience, most Bible verses have only ever been relevant when they are being condemned. The Bible says that children must respect their fathers, yes, but the same Bible says that fathers should not provoke their children.

This couldn’t be rocket science to any right-thinking Christian parent; every action has an equal reaction. It’s more like the “what you do to others shall be done to you” concept. Oh, how they throw it to your face at the slightest retaliation, forgetting that you couldn’t just have snapped. There must have been something that triggered your reaction.

Most PKs end up in rehab for one reason; bottling things up until they burst (slip into depression)!

And why would they do that? Well, isn’t it obvious; they are not allowed to speak their minds ‘cause it would be termed as disobedience? So they see things happening around them, especially in their own families but they can do nothing about it ‘cause “the church” shall handle it the “best way it can”.

The next thing you know; you can’t take it anymore. You end up faking your salvation status whenever necessary to save face. You end up looking for ways to inflict pain on you so you can let it all out ‘cause it all hurts so bad you can’t even cry. Then you start looking for ways to calm yourself down; to blow off steam...

One thing outsiders must understand; not every substance abusing PK goes on the hunt for a dealer. Nope! Most of them just stumble on the pills by mistake. And no, most of it has got nothing to do with peer pressure ‘cause you live most of your childhood under a microscope, so that there’s little room for a slip-up.

So you down a couple of Tylenol tablets, well, because one; they are yummy and chewable. They taste like some kind of snaky candy (think of Smarties). Yeah! And two, ‘cause you’ve got that stubborn migraine that won’t go away cause of emotional depression.

Well, you reason, Tylenols are pain killers, they are harmless and they keep you calm. But you soon want something stronger. Then a dealer spots your trend (and yes, they are good at spotting a prey). They ask why you take Tylenol all the time and offer to give you something stronger that would go for “a couple of hours”.

What have you got to lose, you figure. Well, technically, nothing apart from a couple of bucks. Before you know it, you are a ticking time bomb. You are downing your trust fund slowly but surely, you are being cut off, you no longer have friends and you have no idea why or how and you are being “committed to an institution”. Voila! C’est la vie, a nurse will pat you on the back and stuff you with pills before “safely” locking your door.

Tell you what, most PKs’ lives sound like movies but better take their word for it. Not all of them may have trust funds to be cut off from, but most have similar stories of being disowned or estranged for their self-distractive ways. Gosh, it takes a lot for a PK dad to come to terms with the fact that his beloved daughter or son has become a public disgrace!

For the unlucky whose mothers may hardly come to their rescue, this could be a bumpy ride. They could end up having nobody to turn to after rehab as everyone would have cut ties with them. People would have moved from where they used to stay when you were “committed” and no one you know is willing to tell you where anyone is. Worse yet, there are new neighbours who do not have the vaguest idea as to where previous residents could be. Sad!

Point in all this is that a PK doesn’t just wake up one day and decide that they want to abuse alcohol or drugs. They just don’t wake up one morning and decide that they are going to start defying everything they have known all their lives just for the fun of it. They just don’t come out from the blues and start questioning the Bible. No, it’s a gradually painful process that could send any human under the sun straight into a mad house... now that I look inside from outside.

So the next time you see a PK struggling with their sense of self or are abusing alcohol or substances of whatever sort, whatever their poison, as recovering addicts say, “We cannot change the nature of the addict or addiction. We can help to change the old lie “Once an addict, always an addict,” by striving to make recovery more available. God, help us to remember this difference.” Then recite this with them: Mistakes aren’t tragedies but please, Higher Power, help me learn from them. PF