Five years ago, I spoke about myself very differently.
I was starting my University degree – in media and communications, with the hopes that I’d wind up being able to parley that into a better job as like, a corporate blogger or something. It was a sort of last-ditch experience after years of long-term job insecurity. Getting into the University involved showing my existing education, and despite having graduated and done a High School Certificate, I was told, very politely by the university that just to double check, they had to do an investigation into my capacity to write and do math at a high school level, because my educational qualifications were
Let’s politely say dubious.
Before that point, I referred to my education as ‘weird.’ I didn’t call it ‘a cult.’ I called it ‘different.’ I said ‘I did badly’ in school. I didn’t say ‘I was failed massively.’ I said ‘poor grades’ not ‘indoctrination.’
I don’t remember the timeline precisely. But I do know that explaining to an educational facility what the ACE system was like, and then re-explaining it, then reading about it to double check if I was remembering it wrong and so on was a slow and miserable experience like playing pass the parcel where every layer of the parcel revealed gore. I was unpacking something that had been underneath the bed for a long time, and while I did it, a blogger on Patheos, Jonny Scaramanga, reached out to me, and offered to give me a space to write about my experience.
That writing is one of the most important things I’ve ever done.
I don’t know how great my article was. Really, I don’t. But it taught my partner just how utterly damaging my upbringing was, a horrifying revelation that both started an explanation of who I am that’s made a host of idiosyncracies make more sense. I was able to speak to teachers authoritively now about my weird behaviour, and finally put my finger on details that the reason PTSD seemed easy to explain to people was because I experienced it.
Jonny was doing his PhD in education when we first started talking, and he showed me that I wasn’t cut off from higher education because of the damage done to me. He helped me see that I had to take this stuff seriously, and helped give me the framework for talking to my teachers about what ACE did to me in a language they actually understood.
I wasn’t in Facebook Groups about this stuff, because I didn’t use Facebook and I don’t personally feel like I belong in those spaces anyway. Lots of ACE survivors are damaged in the ways that make them hurt and withdrawn – me, I am damaged in the way that makes me hurtful and aggressive. This meant that Jonny’s blog was really important to me as a source because when I felt especially bad
Jonny has announced that he’s moving on from writing about ACE. I find this sad not because I think he should be trapped in the mud pits of writing about this one awful thing forever, but saddened for the reasons he’s mentioned in his post: To those of us that have experienced, the idea that nothing’s happened, even after actual academic research was conducted, to make things better, to save people from this miserable experience, is … what? What’s the right word? Enraging? Vile? Depressing? A remarkable revelation to just how deeply NIMBY can effect people?
I didn’t want to let this pass without comment, though. So to you, Jonny, to Doctor Scaramanga, I want to say, thank you. Thank you so much for the work you did, and you owe us not a second of it more. Those of us who can will do what we can while you do things with yourself that you want to do, rather than fighting fights you feel obligated to do. You worked hard, you did good, and that the world did not change is the world’s sin, not yours. I hope your Volcano Lair has excellent acoustics.
Edit: I got Jonny’s name wrong in the first run of this. Which is, yes, pretty embarassing.