Husks and Kernels

I keep running into this theme of husks and kernels. A husk is a protective outer shell. The kernel is the valuable meat inside in need of protection from the elements. Husks are essential only to the degree that they protect something worthwhile within. Without the kernel, a husk is suitable only for discarding and recycling.

Roles are husks. Relationships are kernels. My family possesses husks only. There are no relationships in my family of origin. When my “father” told “his favorite daughter” to “call a cab” and was going to abandon her at the emergency room he and his wife, my “mother”, landed her in, the pretense of any real relationship was over. The role of “favorite daughter” is clearly worthless and was obvious at that moment. To have to beg for a ride was humiliating and removed any delusion that they ever truly cared about me. The masks were removed and my eyes were opened.

I used to feel strange that I had no real relationship with my brothers. I saw other adult siblings that seemed close and I wondered what was wrong with us. However, at the age of 30 or 40, it dawned on me that my mother had zero relationship with her brothers. Where was I supposed to have learned such a skill from?

In the same way, religion is the husk and spirituality is the kernel. Religion is rites, rituals, traditions, and dogma. However, without relationships and spirituality, religion is worthless. Who wants to receive communion from a pedophilic priest? Without the ethics, morals, that kind of thing, the emptiness of religion is obvious, suitable only for discarding. I saw in the Orthodox church people coming into the front door, avoiding the service, and going straight into the social room. As an ex-Protestant, that made no sense to me. Why would anyone go to the trouble of driving to a church when they believed none of the dogma? Relationships. All their friends and family attended. I saw babies blessed and then never again brought back to the church building. Huh? Why would they do that? Because Grandma was a member of that church her whole life and she was going to see that child blessed before she died. Never mind that the parents believed nothing the church teaches; it was all about keeping Grandma happy.

On the one hand, it is easy and only obvious that people would throw away an empty husk. But giving people empty husks places the burden on them. It is easy, in some ways, to walk away from my family of origin because they offer nothing of value. I am not rejecting anything real and I know it (and I believe they know it, too, on some level). But the empty box they handed me, “favorite daughter,” is awkward, bulky, heavy, and burdensome. It is my job to call Granger landfill (my psychoanalyst) and pay for its disposal. In other words, I have to clean up their mess. Resentment is perfectly normal and inevitable in such a situation.


About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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