SO THE CIRCLE BEGINS
So I began my journey from that point of selfishness and insecurity. I suppose many journeys begin for all the wrong reasons, but still get you where you need to go. I had no idea that I was starting a journey, thank goodness. I probably wouldn't have been brave enough. Ignorance is sometimes bliss.
I continued to attend all the church activities with my family, but with a different awareness. I began to question in my own mind what was being taught. Wouldn't have dreamed of voicing my doubts so I drifted along in my own way until eventually I dropped out of most church programs. I just didn't feel that what was being taught was all there was. I saw the hypocrisy of what was said and what was done. Two completely different things happening all the time. I saw no truth, no integrity and was very confused. At that time I had no one to talk to so I decided to just let go of organized religion. And my brilliant decision then was that I needed to get married. I had no real aspirations for a career and the guy was there asking. Why not? What else was there for me? Might as well get started. And, no, I didn't "have to" get married. I just didn't see a better path for me. So my poor parents pulled together a quick wedding at our house. At the moment I was to walk out with my Dad I had my first real "gut feeling" that I totally ignored. As the music played and we were supposed to step out, my gut clenched and I said to my Dad that I didn't think I could do it. What else was my Dad going to say other than it would be alright and I was just nervous? I wouldn't fully understand what had happened just then until many years later.
So fast forward a year and a half later to after the divorce , a failed relationship--still looking for that guy to take care of me--and a move back home. I was devastated by how he chose to breakup and cried every day as I drove an hour from Folkston to Jacksonville to work and school. Actually I cried all the way home each night. I couldn't figure out why the guy would have hurt me the way he did. For one year I kept asking the darkness inside my car "why?". As the days and months passed I grew strong enough to realize that I had been an idiot to even think this guy was going to marry me and he was a coward and couldn't tell me to my face. That understanding brought me a lot of peace. I still had a lot of growing up to do, but the one thing I did learn from this process was that I could find the answers within myself.
During all this driving and crying I was living at home. My Dad began to talk a little bit about his break with God. My parents became friends with a minister with some very strange ideas for that time in the late 60's. I didn't realize at the time that he was doing drugs and having his own personal journey. We spent maybe a year discussing religion on many occasions. I don't remember the details--a familiar theme--but I do remember that the conversations were riveting for me. Here was someone of authority actually questioning religion and talking about it. Eventually he and his wife made a hasty exit from town and my Dad and I were left with even more questions than before. All I knew was that I wasn't the only one confused. I believe he was one of those teachers that shows you how not to find the answers. My brother was heavily involved in drugs and it was hurting my parents so that was the last place I would go.
I don't mention my mother in all this because she didn't really understand what we were searching for. I don't think she wanted to think about it at all.
Somewhere during those two years at home I decided to put my toe in and test the waters of hippie-dom. Lasted about 2 minutes. I was arguing with my Dad and blurted out that I didn't know who I was. He grabbed my arm and marched me in front of a mirror and asked me who did I see. Me. Who? I don't know. What's your name? Johanna Whitaker. OK, that's who you are. Period. End of story. So I wasn't going to make my way to California and join the hippies. My father wouldn't let me! His son going off the deep end was bad enough. He wasn't going to lose me, too. Thank you, Daddy.