I bathed in the holy water and drank the kool aid.
I did it willingly, even excitedly.
I was a perfect waste of youth.
I was a good kid, not in the “your grandma says you’re good, because she loves you” kind of good,
but in a way directly affected by my abject fear of disappointing my parents.
This carried me throughout the first twenty years of my life. I lived in dedication to a god, and devotion to never upsetting my family.
I didn’t even question it, at least not out loud. I instead found bible texts and church articles that cemented my utter and blind obedience,
I think even sacrifice can become an addiction.
Obedience came easy to me and in the same way rebels seek attention by acting out, I found mine by becoming the pastor’s golden daughter.
I could recite bible texts before I could even read, in fact I clearly remember
being 3 and reciting psalms chapter 23
in its entirety
and even at that age feeling a little guilty
because the oohs and ahhs of praise
belonged to god
and I held them to my chest a bit longer than I should have.
At that tender age I already had what is termed a ‘trained conscience’
which is just religious lingo meaning
you have been indoctrinated enough to believe every single breath you take and release is somehow linked to the big man upstairs.
At 4 I broke all kinds of records by speaking in front of the congregation
and the looks of admiration in my parent eyes made every decision for me
for many years to come.
After that it all becomes a blur of faith and devotion, fervent prayers that became litany, and sacrifices that turned to resentment,
highlighted with moments I was hailed prodigious and made to feel important.
I understand, they did every single thing with the best of intentions, every single controlling sentence was with the hope of giving me salvation and eternity.
When I wasn’t allowed to play with others kids they rationalized it as protection
and when I wasn’t allowed to join clubs or be part of any secular activity
they saw it as vigilance for my spirituality.
Still, somewhere between being the perfect daughter and the perfect Christian …
I forgot to be a kid,
and no one offered a reminder.
Jesica Nodarse is a Cuban-born immigrant living in Florida, with her husband and children. A powerful writer and poet, an intense and driven woman, Jesica offers her unique perspective in today’s world and empowers her friends and colleagues with passion and grace.
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