As I write this, we’re officially half way through Tommy’s spring break. It’s going too fast. Of course it is. That’s the way of things. We don’t really have much in the way of extravagant plans for this week. We’re not much for picking up and going on a camping adventure. We’re putter around the house types…well I’m a putter around the house type. I’m actually a hopeless homebody in spite of being fairly well travelled. Tommy, on the other hand, likes to pop around town. He is certainly the extrovert of this relationship.
Funny how I’m the one with the blog.
Okay, so with that little segue, I have a question for you readers. Or possibly a series of questions for you.
What do you want to know about me? About our family?
It feels sort of indulgent to ask such questions, but blogging is sort of indulgent. It’s at the same time an ego trip and an exercise in humility.
Last night I got a message over on The Conscious Doer’s Facebook page. It was about my head covering. In case anyone was wondering, I wear a turban. I do so because I’m Sikh. It’s a reminder to be who I am, in my faith, in my self, in the world, no matter where I go.
If you were to google Sikhs and turbans, I’m sure you would receive millions of results…and I’m pretty sure most, if not all, of the turbans in the images would look different than mine. I did that on purpose. I was raised in 3HO. It’s a Sikh organization that was founded…ok, I don’t know what year it was founded. That’s not the important part of this story.
The important part of the story is that 3HO is sect of Sikhism that started here in the United States. My parents got involved with the organization in the mid 70’s, and I was born into the religion. 3HO Sikhs are known for wearing all white, and unlike many other Sikhs both the men and women wear turbans. We do this to demonstrate the equality between men and women. That way it isn’t only men who can demonstrate their spirituality outwardly. The regal turban can be for all, and it does sometimes feel like putting a crown on your head. The process is meditative, and often if I’m laying about the house having a bad day, putting my turban on creates a shift.
In 1999, our family was cast out of 3HO. That hurt like hell. I was 15 years old at the time. My wound festered and grew. I felt hatred for the people who had been our village and then turned their backs on us. It’s so ugly inside when you lose trust in people. My parents continued to practice what I now considered to be their religion. Years passed. I was a very quiet, but inwardly angsty teen. We live in the midwest, and have always gotten odd stares…or the occasional “Towel head!” hollered out of a passing car.
When 9/11 happened, there was an abrupt shift from undertones of mistrust towards us from strangers, to all out animosity. My Papa’s boss at the time asked if the “turban was mandatory.” When the answer was “yes”, suddenly there wasn’t enough work to go around. For many months after this, my after school job supported our family of six. I felt hungry many days, but I didn’t want my parents to know. I didn’t want anyone to know. I told almost no one. We didn’t know anything about applying for financial assistance at the time…So we just sank quietly into destitution….hoping that we wouldn’t be evicted…trying to save money where we could. My parents searched for jobs. I still don’t know how we made it through.
My rage grew. I hated everyone. I hated my parents. I hated my school. I hated the cliques at my school. I hated that I didn’t fit in. I hated that I didn’t want to fit in. I hated 3HO. I hated God. I hated myself.
Then I left for college. I decided that I was leaving it all behind. No one would know how poor my family was. I didn’t have to share anything I didn’t want to. I didn’t talk much about what I’d been through with anyone. I deserved to blend. I cut my hair short, and decided that I would just try to be “normal”.
I did not blend well. Or maybe I did…It’s hard to know how others view you. I remember getting a ride home from friends who I had tried very hard to blend with…we were one block away from my parents’ home when I realized that my blending self and my non blending self were about to collide.
“My parents wear turbans.” I blurted out.
“What?!” My dazed friends said.
It was a little late for that though, and I could see the shocked looks on their faces as my family came out of the house to welcome me home for the summer vacation.
A year and a bit into my marriage I lay awake late at night. Tears were streaming down my face. I was about to break open with pressure of trying to blend. I didn’t know how to hide who I was from the outside world even one day longer. That night I had been very quiet. I didn’t know how to tell my husband what I was thinking. He had married someone who was trying very hard to be like everyone else, and now I was going to have to tell him that I couldn’t not be me any longer. I woke him up and told him.
In pure Tommy fashion he demonstrated that he knows me better than I know myself.
His reply was that he’d always known this was a possibility, and he loved me for who I was….no matter what.
That was six and a half years ago. At first I wore the traditional 3HO turban, but as a way to differentiate myself from those who rejected us those many years ago, I wear my very own style of turban. I follow my own rules, and I’m more me than ever before.
So, that was cool and fun. Ask me anything…If you want 😉