The desire to be unseen began when I was a horrible teenager. And let me be clear, I was a horrible teen. My dad bore the brunt of it. I felt so much of why my world was so horrible, terrible was because he was a preacher. As the preacher’s family, we were like mini celebrities, because everyone knew us and our business. My mom was always worried about what everyone was thinking about us. I still get tense and roll my eyes. I was 16, and I did not want to be known by everyone.
The church I grew up in was far more conservative and had far more unique legalistic rules than most do these days. But even for the late 80’s, early 90’s South, our flavor of Christianity came with a large heaping of rules with the accompanying guilt. Girls and boys could not swim together, because swimsuits cause lust. Lust leads to burning in hell. Dancing was out too, due to the lust issue. Most thought any alcohol consumption was a sin. Yeah, lots of rules.
I was moody and wanted to break rules. I did not care what the 82 year old busy body thought of how long my skirt was or that I wore pants on Sunday evening, but she’d comment on it anyhow. Mom cared and thought I should care.
We lived beside the church in a house that the church goers owned. They expected us to live there in perfect Christian purity. Church goers don’t tithe so the preacher’s daughter can escape from the parsonage at midnight to go out and meet her friends. They don’t support our family so that I can parade around town in skirts *gasp* above my knees. If I do something unapproved, then that’s on Daddy. If he can’t keep me in line, why should they keep us in their house?
I’m told more is expected, and I have to worry about Daddy’s job. I’m a reflection of him, they say. It all pisses me off. I desperately just want to deal with my crushes and attempts to fit in and get through this hell that is high school without being anyone’s reflection or bare the weight of Daddy’s job security. It’s too much, and at 16, all I can do is get angry.
In this world of mine, being seen means being judged. It means having to act the ways others expect. It demands perfection.