The moment the yardstick split in half over my head, something split inside of me.
Picture an eight or nine-year old child, a girl, sitting in a Catholic school classroom, being taught by a black and white-robed woman, a nun, and then imagine the girl’s complete shock when the teacher, a nun, strode toward her ferociously, and to the girl’s amazement, did not rap her knuckles with the yardstick, but instead slashed the yard-long, thick ruler over her, my, head … literally snapping the yardstick into two pieces.
Much of my childhood remains locked away somewhere in deep caverns in my mind, but there are moments like this persistence has discovered in my personal work. What was once, and still is at times, called disobedience and now often labelled distraction was neither when viewed with tools such as the psychological profile tool, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. My in-depth study of the MBTI, which is based on Carl Jung’s original work, revealed an important discovery for me: my personality type would have thrived in a Montessori learning environment, as opposed to the factory-learning environments of our public, and even of most private, school systems.
Montessori learning environment is particularly ideal for “I” children who thrive on going off on their own to study what fascinates them though they are also taught the essentials, whereas “E” students thrive in group settings, both because of the way their brains work best.
“I’s” the short form for “Introverts” have brains constantly engaged in multiple trains and streams of internal thoughts so loud, bustling busy environments are distractions to them. Such personality types learn and work best alone, reading, examining, analyzing, and experimenting then taking time away from their learning and work for discussions with others of like minds … other “Introverts.” The slang terms we are familiar with include geeks, nerds, loners, freaks … If such children survive their education environment with their identity still intact, professionally they become researchers, scientist, inventors, technology creators, writers, artists, songwriters, musicians, poets, performers …
“E’s” the short form for “Extroverts” have brains that constantly seek external stimulus to feel engaged in the world, so they are attracted to, or create loud, bustling environments. They seek continuous stimulation from the outside world and the quiet of solitude is one of their least favourite pastimes. Give them a crowd, a team to work with, people to sell to and they are happy. Put them in a classroom where talk, talk, talk is the teaching method and they thrive because verbal communication is tops for them.
Now, put an athletic, tomboy “I” girl child in an “E” environment also ruled by specific religious beliefs enforcing the wearing of dresses and skirts and demanded exacting group behaviour obedience on a child also being bullied for being “too different” and you have a recipe for disaster.
Add to all of this, a religion, Catholicism, which made me feel even worse for my blatant disobedience to the expected conformity and additionally saddled me with guilt, embarrassment and shame for not only my disobedience but also just for my differences, you have the formula for creating a rebel … a wild child.
In my mind, then and for a very, long time, I rejected God because I could not fathom why someone would create us, set us up to fail and then punish us. I could not understand why nuns would rap my knuckles with rulers, put me in the corner to humiliate me and with such a hateful look on her face, split a yardstick over my little head.
With the other very unpleasant things happening in my life, some of them due to misunderstood and misapplied religious teachings and the rest from being a very different personality type in my community, the world to this very logical and analytical child made no sense … nor did God.
Then darkness had me where it wanted me; caught me in the web of negativity, and even hate. I even grew to hate God and finally discarded the idea of him at all.
But what I was not able to discard were the deeply rooted religious and societal teachings of unworthiness, which further life experiences reinforced, including being re-wounded by Christians when I much later visited other churches with a tiny flicker of hope they may be different in their approach, but with no success because they always made me feel like a sinner they themselves would “save” instead of just welcoming me, recognizing Jesus had already “saved” me if I chose to believe in him.
We teach others how to treat us by how we treat ourselves, based on what I call the Respect Scale, and since I felt unworthy, I taught others to treat me the same way … always letting them put themselves before and above me … except during those times when a small outburst of rebellion would attempt to thwart their attempts, but they never lasted or I would move on, teaching someone else the same lesson … how to treat me as less worthy than them … and they did.
As a teenager, I became fascinated with séances, ghosts and all things ghoulish. By my twenties and thirties, I considered psychics and other new age ideas, but then I started to run into new age writers who talked about God and I was not ready to consider God as a good thing because my experience still clung tenaciously to me.
But, when my life hit its most darkest point, I demanded, “If you exist God, give me a purpose for living.” And he did, though for me, the journey back to really believing in God has been a long, arduous journey fraught with many setbacks, tests, and trials. In fact, it is only this year that I can honestly say I do believe, not just in a higher power, but in the God I once discarded through naivety and because of great pain and confusion.
Like myself, many other people have had their faith beaten out of them. Others call what they believe in by other names and I certainly can understand and appreciate why they do so. Some do not believe in anything beyond this life and I say “to each their own beliefs” because having a specific belief forced upon you does not yield faith but division, fear, prejudice, hate, violence and as history also shows, war. All I can say to those who do not believe in God as I am now learning to by reading an amplified Bible, is that for the first time in my life I am discovering what it feels like to live in faith … to trust I am not alone … that someone has my best interests at heart .. and to be content, no matter what, because all the pain can and will be turned to good as a reward for believing in, not the God I was taught about incorrectly by teachings or experience, but by what I am learning and experiencing now.
This time, my faith is my choice and no matter how others judge me and my faith, it is between God and me. I expect others to respect my belief as I respect their right to choose their own beliefs and if their beliefs do not seek to harm others … I am happy for them … and for us all … because I believe we are so much more than what we have come to believe and as a result, the opportunity is ours to create a better world than any generation has known.
October 23, 2013
Kaitlin A. Trepanier
All Rights Reserved by DARK HORSES PRODUCTIONS/KAITLIN A. TREPANIER, Connecting the Dots … with The RESPECT PRINCIPLE Developer, Author, Speaker, Playwright, Altruistic Entrepreneur, and Human Rights Activist … because every child should know, by their own experience, they are valued … RESPECTED.
The MBTI was created by the mother-daughter team of Myers and Briggs.
The Tieger consultant team has also written extensively about the MBTI in The Art of Speed Reading People