birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Code of Conduct

It took 15 years to complete the initiation process to be thoroughly immersed into the proper code of conduct, and 15 seconds to break the rules of conduct and be removed from the family.

The training started before the I'do's. It was those little stones my mother-in-law would throw at me that were coated with sugar but filled with crap. The face expression of the others in the family seemed dismayed but nobody said a word. My husband and his siblings told me the best way to handle this was to do nothing, let her say what she had to and move on. Begrudgingly, I decided to follow their suggested approach. After the I'do's the family and I seemed to have found common ground, but I learned to keep my mouth closed and to love from a distance.

We enjoyed each other's company for the major holidays and that was tolerable. After our first child was born the distance became shorter and the stones came back. On their fist visit my mother-in-law addressed my weight and the importance of losing it quickly, she questioned my choice to breast feed and shamed my decision not to use formula. My father-in-law was overjoyed by his grandson and gave him a nickname, he began to call us "his little family" which brought my husband pride, but for my father-in-law it reflected ownership and entitlement.

My son cried when my mother-in-law first held him and she pouted, "he does not like me.". My father-in-law coming to her rescue convincing her, "he just does not know you yet." She handed him back to me and the rocks returned. She told me what I could do to fix my son's wide nose, how to train his hair texture, and the reason the baby cried is because I spoil him. Eventually I went into another room with the baby to supposedly put him down, but truthfully to get away.

Eventually more children came and my in laws digs and entitlement increased. I grew to really love the family as I was initiated into their structure. I became immune to the insensitivity toward me and other family members, but internally I still did not enjoy how they did family. Their definition of love seemed to bring stress, anxiety and pain. I tolerated their behavior but I was at capacity and my emotions began to overflow. My husband still silentm desensitized to the cruelties, could not defend his family to his parents. On the other hand the words began to spill out of my mouth. I made every attempt to communicate respectfully and kind. I voiced my concerns and created healthy boundaries for my family. I thought we made progress but I quickly learned I broke the code of conduct and I was extracted from the community no longer accepted. They did not alienate the familyit was just me.

The Manyata

Adult Child