Here’s another “really messed up childhood” memoir, with a big focus on how the author reclaimed her own identity in a commune as a young adult.
“Other memories came camouflaged, and I couldn’t see through to the middle. But I could feel their weight; it was my worthlessness.”
Raised by the leader of a Christian cult, Burgin spent her childhood strictly abiding by her rather terrifying father’s rules. This is a man who punished her with physical violence for wearing a pair of red Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. She eventually escaped, but in an attempt to cope with the lasting effects of her childhood, she found herself in dangerous situations — drugs, alcohol, sex.
“Stop running from yourself. Take the time you need to learn who you are. Embrace the silence, the stillness. You are here for a reason.”
Having hit rock bottom, she got on a bus back to Canada, and meets a man at the bus stop who directs her to a community that focuses on solitude and healing. She resists — and honestly, I don’t blame her, it’s such a strict group that I half-expected them to turn out to be another evil cult — but eventually finds herself learning from the experience. She spends time in silence, works the garden, does the clinic, and begins to heal. By the end of the memoir, she’s ready to help a new person through the journey.
Burgin’s writing is terse but powerful. I love how her story focused not just on the pain she went through, but the healing as well. It’s a very up-lifting message in the end, even though quite a bit of it is hard to read.