Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tron and Perfectionism

I don't enjoy movies much, and theaters are particularly difficult. That said, I now live in the middle of nowhere, yet there is a theater. (A nice one!) Stadium seating. Popcorn. And only three of us in the theater. Suddenly movies in the theater are less intimidating. If I freak out, everyone there knows me and knows that I freak out. Which strangely enough makes it so I freak out less...

Tonight, I went to see the movie Tron: Legacy. I figured it would be a little strange, lots of cool lights, and a happy ending. (I only see movies with happy endings. Life has enough crap in it, movies should resolve nicely at the end.) I found myself sobbing at the end... not because it was sad, but because I identified with it.

*Spoiler Alert*
The Grid, the digital world, was supposed to be a perfect world. That was the whole mission. Daddy Flynn created this world. Then he created Clu, and gave him the job of creating the perfect world. This all went wrong. Daddy Flynn got trapped in his digital world. Son Flynn goes in to save him.

They are all about to escape and Clu says, "I did what you asked me to do. I created a perfect world!" Daddy Flynn's reply is what got me.
"Perfection is unknowable and right in front of us. I didn't know when I created you. How could you have known?"

I cried. All my life I have been searching for perfection. Taught that THAT was the goal. One day, if I worked hard enough God would make me perfect. In the next life, everyone would be perfect. I didn't know what that meant, but in my mind, we would all become the drones we pretend to be. We wouldn't have to pretend anymore. But thinking about that caused me dis-ease. What did perfection really mean? Would my friends with black skin suddenly become white? Would they suddenly have smooth hair and a nose that looked more like mine? Or would I suddenly have a nose more like theirs? Would I suddenly enjoy church and living the way I was trying so hard to live? Would gay friends suddenly not be gay anymore? Would there suddenly be no anger and no emotions? Would all of my wants and desires just suddenly go away?

The answer to all of those questions is, "No." We are all already perfect.One of my favorite authors is Miguel Ruiz. He supposed that the biggest lie is the lie of our imperfection. When Eve took a bite of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the biggest lie took hold of her. The lie that there is good and bad. The lie that we aren't enough just as we are. Some of my biggest questions about the church have come from the story of Adam and Eve. It didn't make sense to me, but the way Miguel Ruiz explained it did make sense.

Because of that lie, we go searching for perfection, but we never find it. In our pursuit, we miss that it is already here. Eating disorders are (partially) about the quest for the perfect body, and the cure for that part of eating disorders is to realize that my body is perfect, because its MY body. Not because it looks a certain way. Not because I can push it to do things. Not because of anything except that its mine. And its perfect. If I need to sleep or eat or sit down, still perfect. If I can't fast, or stop myself from feeling pain, or push it to run a marathon, still perfect. If I sit in a wheelchair, still perfect.

The cure for perfectionism is to see that perfection is right in front of us. We don't have to go looking anywhere, because we've already found it.

Happy New Year

The other day, The Reader posted a blog entry about New Years Resolutions. Last year, I re-posted Beautiful You's blogs on New Years Dieting (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)Part 3 was my favorite. She talked about balance. Finding balance in ALL areas of our lives.

In the past, I was one of those that made HUGE lists of resolutions, and I actually stuck to a lot of them, but still felt miserable. (Something about how no accomplishment was ever enough to make me feel good about myself.)

Around January - February of this year, there were two things that seemed really important for me to do:
1. I was going to stop forcing myself to do anything that I didn't want to do. This wasn't easy. We live in a world where we are SUPPOSED to put our wants and needs aside and do what everyone else wants. I was raised in a church that almost had me believing that wanting anything was wrong. And if I just did what I wanted, I was absolutely positive the sun would explode and everyone would die. I was so afraid that if I only did what I wanted, I would be a really horrible, selfish, mean, awful person. That lead me to the second thought:

2. I wasn't going to let fear and guilt run my life. I had no idea what that would look like, but I was absolutely sure I wanted to change my life. If doing what I wanted meant the sun would explode, I decided that would have to be okay. I was not going to be afraid anymore. I wasn't going to let the guilt rule me. And whatever happened, would happen.

And now, here I am. Some might say that was a bad choice. If I was still letting fear and guilt rule me, and if I was forcing myself to do things I didn't want to do, I'd be at church every week. I would still be married to Dann. I would have been to every family party and get together. I would have done a lot more service this year. I would have worked a lot more hours than I did. I wouldn't live where I live. I wouldn't have spent the time to get to know me.

I wouldn't love who I am. I would still be thinking about how to kill myself without hurting anyone. I would still be distant and miserable, but not know why. I would be even more distant from my family. I would not have had the conversations with any of my siblings or parents that I have had. I would not have come to terms with my body. I'd still be broken in a million different pieces, but pretending like I was whole. I would feel trapped. I would still be letting fear and guilt rule me. How can that be a bad choice?

As I think about the coming year, I plan to relax and enjoy my life.
Thus far it has been one helluva ride, and I can't wait to see where it goes next.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Giving in to the pain

Since moving, I am a lot calmer. I have a lot less anxiety. Less flashbacks. Less nightmares. The one thing that I cannot seem to get rid of, is the body memories. The physical pain with no physical explanation. I hurt. Its hard when I know there is no reason to hurt, and it still HURTS.

With flashbacks, I have learned how to go into them, stay present enough to "watch" them. (Like I'm watching a movie. Paying attention to what happens, how I feel, what thoughts and emotions stick out to me.) I get a blanket and a pillow, curl up on the floor, and go through it. There was a time when they were so intense, I would get "stuck" in them. For hours, my body would shake as if I was going through a seizure. I would be lost in the past. Reliving horrible scenes over and over, and I couldn't bring myself back to the present. That's not the case anymore.

So, last night as I was getting ready for bed, I realized that body memories are just a form of flashbacks. The key is "giving in" to them just like I have given in to the flashbacks. Its just so easy for me to push them away. Its just PAIN, and I can work through, push through, and ignore physical pain pretty easily. Since I want to get better, its time to stop ignoring it.

So I got my blanket and my pillow and curled up in front of the fireplace. I took a deep breath, and felt the pain. Immediately, the only thought in my mind was, "I held my own legs out of his way."

Some backstory:
With Larry, if I fought him or said no, he fought back, and I lost. The bishop told me a good wife keeps her husband happy. (To his credit, I didn't tell him what was happening to me. I didn't know that what Larry was doing was wrong. How could I explain it to someone else?) Larry had talked to him about his "sins", and the bishop called me in to talk to just me. It was a great conversation...

So, I stopped fighting.Out of what I thought was love, or duty, or trying to be a "good" wife... I adapted a position that brought the least amount of pain to me, and still let him do what he "needed" to do.

As I laid in front of the fireplace last night,
I felt the pain of that complete and total betrayal of myself.
I felt the pain of realizing there was no love in that experience whatsoever. Not him for me. Not me for him. And not the bishop who told me what I needed to do. Zero love.
I felt the pain of understanding that my experience was nothing like what most people experience.
Mostly, I felt the pain of betraying myself. I helped him rape me. That hurts.

I cried. For about forty-five minutes. I apologized to myself for letting him hurt me. I apologized to me for helping him hurt me. I held myself in my own arms. And then I felt that piece go away. My body relaxed. The body memory pain was gone, and I went to bed and slept soundly.

I share these things now, because three years ago when I started all of this, I was too ashamed to share with ANYONE. I didn't have the words to describe the nightmare that was my life. For nearly two years, I went through flashbacks like this one, all on my own (except for when BJ was around), and I sorted it out. It was hell. I wasn't sure I would survive. I did.

This is the kind of work I had to do to become who I am today. I had to see the truth that I couldn't see ten years ago while it was happening. I'm still working. HARD. I just don't have to do it as much or as often as I used to. I can write about one singular experience now... Last year, there were too many happening all at once and all the time, and I couldn't pick out one thing to write about.

I hope I didn't trigger anyone. If I did, talk to someone about it? I'm willing to talk any time.


Jeff asked me to explain why the lesson on spirituality was so upsetting to me. We talked for a long time, and I really enjoyed the conversation. I also wanted to write down my thoughts. And ask any one who reads this their thoughts.

The questions that started the lesson:
Can you make your body do this or that or not do this or...?
These questions are fine if you can answer the "right" answer to all of them.
Yes. I can make my body walk. Good. Then YOU are good.
Yes. I can make my body fast. Good. Then YOU are good.
Yes. I can make my body get up early. Good. Then YOU are good.
Yes. I can make my body respond properly (according to the church's definition). Good. Then YOU are good.

And what if I can't? Then what?
Am I less of a person? Is my spirit not as strong as someone who can?
I have done everything I could possibly think of to do to show that my spirit was (is?) stronger than my body. Or to show that my mind is stronger than my body. Ignore pain. Ignore emotions. Ignore tiredness. Hunger. Needs. Wants. And somehow all of those things showed that I was good.

What about when I couldn't walk? (I mean really I COULD walk. I totally pushed through, but then I passed out in the bathroom, and Duani yelled at me, and I had to learn to STOP trying to will my body to do things it shouldn't do.)

And, I CAN'T fast. I fall over. Besides the fact that my mind goes beyond screwy. Then I hear lessons like this one and feel ashamed. So much shame. That I am not good enough. I need to try harder. BE better.

I DO feel anger. I can't make it just go away. But I will try my damndest. And feel ashamed for every time that I feel anger. How is that good for me? How is that good for anyone?

The lesson finishes with a story about riding horses. Something I am very passionate about. The final quote from the story was,
"Son, don’t ever let the horse do something you know he shouldn’t. Never let him have his way unless it is what you want him to do. If he ever thinks he’s in charge, you’re a goner.’ I found that I had all the equipment I needed to work with that horse: bridle, harness, straps, and saddle. All these helped, but nothing worked if I didn’t insist on obedience. I had to be in charge, and the horse needed to learn that. As I worked with him, he learned what was expected and what was and was not allowed. We became good friends, but both he and I knew who was in charge.”
When I ride, I don't "insist on obedience". I just couldn't do that. Sunny and I have spent enough time together that he trusts me. He listens when I ask him to do things most of the time. I also trust him. When he refuses to do what I ask, I pay attention. There are things that I can see (and plan for) that he cannot. (Horses lack the ability to plan ahead.) There are things he can see and understand that I can't. (Horses have an amazing sense of direction and intuition - as in tune as I could possibly get, he'll be better.)

The relationship I have with Sunny is amazing. He has helped me change my life, but if I never trusted him to lead me, I would not be where I am today. To my way of thinking, our bodies and spirits are intertwined. We have to trust both, and by learning to "control" the body with shame, we lose a most precious gift.

Its been pointed out to me that most twelve year old boys are listening too much to their bodies, and not enough to anything else. Possibly. But my take is, the overly selfish, involved with their bodies way of thinking is completely appropriate developmentally. A twelve year old boy is SUPPOSED to be paying attention to himself.

And then I think about Parker. He's now fourteen, although still struggles to allow himself to eat, or rest, or stop serving for longer than a few seconds. If someone doesn't show him how to STOP, he won't survive. I was blessed to get to go to CFC, but what will he do? He's STILL being taught to give, serve, love others more than himself, and I know better than most, he may not survive those teachings.

If we really listen to our bodies, our spirits, our hearts, our intuition, or whatever we want to call it, we are powerful beings. I don't believe the idea that controlling our bodies (or our emotions) comes from God. Working with, trusting, directing, all seem to be appropriate...

I can't think of a time that shame ever works for our good... but I've been wrong before. What do you think?

Friday, December 24, 2010

"Blast this Christmas music. It's joyful AND triumphant."

Christmas is hard for me. I know its supposed to be a time full of happiness and joy and good things. It just isn't for me. I'm stressed. Anxiety through the roof, and I can't even really tell you what I'm anxious about. This past week I have felt urges that I haven't felt since... well... probably since last Christmas...

I have wanted to just take whatever I had to take to make me go away mentally. Then I can be wherever anyone wants me to be physically, but I don't actually have to be there. (I have prescription anti-anxiety meds. They make me a little TOO out of it. I was told to stop taking them, so I did. But... I have never thrown them away just in case I might "need" them one day. I find comfort in knowing that I have a way out. I'm not going to throw them away, even now, because even though I will never take them, I still feel comforted knowing I could. Or something.)

Anyways, BJ told me to go back and read what I wrote after Thanksgiving. He pointed out that I was stressed and scared then, but it turned out okay. Better than okay. He's smart. It helped some, but this also FEELS different. Today just feels icky. Here is me trying to sort this one out.

Being in my parents' home is still hard. Often, I revert back to some former form of myself. Christmas has so many "traditions" and all traditions feel like to me are old memories of things I don't want to remember. And some good things that I do want to remember... But. Oh. Even the good things bring pain right now. Dann has always worked so hard to make Christmas special and fun and good. Even when we didn't have money, or things were really bad between us, he made Christmas awesome! Remembering all of our Christmases together is sad, because I don't have him in my life like I used to. We're still friends, and... still, its just not the same.

I really struggle to let other people buy things for me. I have often NEEDED Christmas. I refused to buy anything for myself, so things got worn out, and Christmas was about my needs.

I was always told that I shouldn't want anything. And with Christmas, it just gets stronger. I shouldn't want presents, but I shouldn't buy anything for myself, so I really need some things, but I shouldn't, because I can do without, and there are others that don't have anything. I should give my presents to them. But my family likes to give to me, so I have to accept whatever they give graciously, but I don't want it, because I shouldn't want presents. What a horrible cycle I've gotten myself into!!!!!

Add that to, the belief that I can never give enough. No matter how much money I spend, or how much time I put into presents, or how much I think about the perfectly right gift, I will still feel bad for not doing more.


This year, I am going to do it differently.

I have done better at taking care of my own needs and wants, so there is nothing I need.
I like presents. I will admit that to others and to myself. I like getting things. I like seeing what others have picked out for me, and I like just opening gifts. Even tearing the paper, I love it.
I like watching others open presents. If its not the perfect gift, oh well. If its a horrible gift, I hope they enjoy exchanging it. And I hope we can laugh about how horrible it was.
I will smile at the memories that were happy. Cry for the changes that are sad. Create new memories.
I will participate in the traditions I want to participate in, and I won't participate in the parts I don't like.
And if at any moment, it all gets too much for me, I have a home to come to. I have a place where I feel safe and comfortable.
If I decide to spend Christmas alone, I'll be in great company.
This year, I'll think I'll just try living.

Just writing all this down, I feel better. Lighter.
Who knows, maybe I'll even like Christmas this year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My tears should have been "No" enough for you.

Sometimes I beat myself up for not saying "No" strong enough.
Other times I beat myself up for saying "No" at all (to Larry).

If someone is going to be that close to me, and NOT know that I don't want them there, then there's something seriously wrong with THEM.

My tears. My panic. My shaking. It should have been enough.
If they had wanted to know, they would have known.

They DID know? And they shouldn't have done it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I hate labels, but how else do I explain it?

I've been spending a lot of time on MoHo blogs (Mormon Homosexuals). That is where I feel most at home. I identify with them more than any other blogs, but its not because of my sexuality per se. Here is my effort to define myself.

As a girl, I had no interest in boys. My friends all had crushes and boys they thought were cute. I didn't. Just not interested. As a teenager, I was terrified of boys. I knew I was supposed to be dating, after all I was sixteen and that's what sixteen year old girls do, but I had no interest. I had the opposite of interest, I wanted to run the other way.

I went to college, and there were lots of boys interested in me. I knew the next step in my life was to get married. I did that. He didn't treat me very well. I had no idea that there was anything better...

We divorced. I went on several dates and had a lot of guy friends, until I met Dann. We got serious really fast, and then dated for a long time before we got married.

For two years, we went camping, and slept in the same tent just the two of us. We went on vacations and stayed in the same hotel, and sometimes slept in the same bed. I stayed at his house overnight on more than one occasion. And we never had any "morality problems". Really. The worst thing we ever did while dating was he kissed me while I was laying down. I freaked out. I went to the bishop and confessed my sins. He told me to be careful. I didn't want to do anything I would regret.

Because I was raised a good Mormon girl, I honestly believed that the fact that Dann and I were never tempted by sex to be a good thing. Funny how I thought it would change once we got married. It didn't. I tried. For his sake, I tried.

He really wanted kids, and I thought I wanted them too. I was willing to lay there while he planted his seed, but once I actually got pregnant, I realized I did NOT want that. I still wanted to be willing and I still wanted to try for him, but I wasn't and I didn't.

Fast forward a few years. Dann still wanted sex and babies. I was still trying to figure out how to want that too. I'd talk about how I needed to learn to like it, or just force myself to do it anyways. I knew deep down it would never be anything but a chore for me. I tried, but really... I couldn't make myself like sex any more than I can make myself like liver and onions.(Who eats that anyways?)

Dann and I are divorcing. Sex and babies were really what finally pushed us over the edge. He wanted it. He kept expecting me to change. I kept expecting me to change. Only, I didn't know how to change that.

Am I lesbian? I don't know. I can't really picture being with a woman any more than I can picture being with a man. The idea of sex just makes me nauseous. I have no desire to marry, or create children.

So, if I'm not straight, and I'm not gay, what am I?
I've never met anyone else like me. The closest I have come is people in the MoHo world.

When I read MoHo blogs, I can understand their pain of not fitting in. I can relate to the pain of trying to change something that seems impossible to change. I have prayed and prayed to "not be so selfish", only to continue to just be me. I feel like my parents can relate to the struggle of having a gay child. I will never have the life my parents wanted for me.

Right now, I feel at peace with myself and my sexuality (or lack of it?). I want intimacy in my life, but I don't need physical intimacy. I want friends. I don't want to be tied to one person. I don't want anyone to ever own my body but me. Could all this change as I continue to heal? Yes, but I'm not counting on it. I have freed Dann to find someone who will give him what he wants, which has freed both of us up to be friends. Without the pressures of trying to be his wife, I really like him.

I was raised to believe that sex was bad until it was good. I was raised to believe that my spirit was female, and that I was destined to be a wife and mother for all eternity. When I didn't fit into that world, it was just one more thing that was wrong with me. But the truth is, there is nothing wrong with me.

I am a beautiful, strong, compassionate woman, and I don't need to change a thing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I wish...

I was reading in the book Above the Clouds. Her story has a lot of parallels to my own, but there was one that I wasn't expecting.

She talked about going to school to become a massage therapist. She wanted to heal the world with non-sexual touch. I hadn't thought about it in a long time, but when I was nineteen, I wanted to do the same thing. I saw friends at CFC (the first time - back in 1997). They had been hurt by touch. Horribly abused, and I saw the need for some positive touch in their lives. I wanted to become a massage therapist for that reason. I planned on using my massage therapy to work me through school and get a degree in psychology as well. I knew I couldn't practice both together, but I wanted to learn how to heal people in every way I could.

I was engaged to Larry. He didn't want any wife of his becoming a massage therapist. He didn't want people touching me. He didn't want me touching other people. He hated everything about it. So I didn't do it.

As I read about Angie, I cried. I felt both sad and angry.
This was just one more instance of when I gave up what I wanted and what I thought was best to make someone else happy. I thought I could do some good, but then gave it up with the belief that I could do more good as his wife. It was a choice I made, based on the knowledge I had at the time.

If I think about it, I am still terrified of touch. Would I have survived going to massage therapy school? Would it have triggered me so much I couldn't have handled it? I still have not gone to get a massage. Its been a therapy assignment for almost three years... There is no way I could have done both school and go through the hell I was going through with Larry. It just wouldn't have worked. The way I dealt with my life was to completely disconnect from my body and soul.

I wish I would have known my true gifts and my true strength.
I wish I would have known who I was.
I wish I could have stood up for myself and what I wanted.

And I'm grateful I know and understand more now.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trusting my Divine Intuition

In January 2008, there was a lot going on in my life. Eating disorder had become intense. Therapy seemed to be making things worse between Dann and I. I felt very alone. I felt crazy. I was working at BYU. Thursday mornings we shut down the office as required and listened to the devotional. To be honest, I rarely listened. I usually turned it on my computer, and then worked through it. On this day, my computer wouldn't work. My co-worker, Todd, was concerned that I wouldn't get to hear Elder Eyring and forced me to come sit in his office.

I grabbed my journal and sat down. Eyring talked about trials and the power of deliverance. I don't remember any other part of what he said, but one line caught me so strongly it was as if the ground had fallen out from underneath me. I was falling. Fast. I couldn't breath. I couldn't see. The desks around me seemed to vanish. And at the same time, the weight that had been pressing down on me for as long as I could remember seemed to shift. Not lift. Not go away, just moved a little.

The direct quote was, "He knows you perfectly. He knows your heart. He can know which of the many things you can do that will be best for you as you invite the Holy Ghost to comfort and bless you. He will know where it is best for you to start. Sometimes it will be to pray. It might be to go to comfort someone else.
There are many ways that the Savior can succor those who grieve, each fitted to them. But you can be sure that He can and that He will do it in the way that is best for those who grieve and for those around

All I heard was, "YOU know the way. YOU know what you need to do to heal. DO it. Stop fighting, and do what needs to be done."

The rest of that day I heard that same thing OVER and OVER and OVER. And from that moment, I just decided to trust me. If I was hurting, and the thought came to call someone, I called that person. And then I paid attention to the things I said and the things they said, and from then on, every phone call had significance. If the thought came to me to go somewhere, or do something, or say something, I just did. Some of it looked pretty damn crazy. I felt like I was losing my mind. And now, as I look back, I can trace the beginning of my healing to THAT moment.

Tonight, I was reading in Kiley's blog, and she talked about something similar.
"I no longer really search for answers outside of myself.  My sister’s affirmation, “I am enough” translated to “I have my own answers” for me today."
There have been many times when I doubted me, and that is when I get in trouble. When I listen to ME, I get where I want to go, and I do it pretty fast. When I worry what others will think, I get lost, and I suffer. (Not in the "I'm being punished" sort of suffering, more in the Buddhist "lost in illusions" sort of suffering.)

I went a month with no nightmares. Anonymous sent me a letter, and suddenly, I am trying to make Anonymous happy. I am trying to fix the problems that Anonymous thinks I have. Simultaneously, my nightmares are back.

I'm reminded of a quote from the book, The Princess Who Believed in Fairy Tales:
"You're lost. One often gets lost when they use someone else's map."
(Sidenote: This book is an excellent allegory on codependent relationships. I found it very helpful, although difficult to read at times. There was actually a time where I threw the book across the room. I hated that it was telling the story of my life, because I didn't want THAT to be my life.)

This is MY journey. Since that day in January, almost three years ago, it has been a spectacular journey. All because I finally began to accept the divine intuition that has always been there, and will always be there. My journey hasn't been mine alone. My spectacular journey intersected with some other spectacular journeys. It has been and continues to be amazing.

Thanks for the reminder Kiley, I needed that.

Guilt is Not the Spirit

I got an anonymous message last week. Ever since then, I've been hurting. Stuck in a place that I never, EVER want to go back to. And that's exactly what this message told me to do. Go back. It used the words temple, and sacred, and should. I got the message Sunday. Every night since, nightmares. All night. Night terrors where I couldn't wake up. And when I finally did wake up, drenched in a cold sweat. I'm talking soaked me, soaked pajamas, soaked sheets and pillows. (I know. Gross!) Tonight I woke up crying and shaking and moaning, "I'm not going back. I don't want to go back. Please... PLEASE, don't make me go back."

Funny thing is, so many people at church would try to use my nightmares as a reason to do what they want me to do. Its the Spirit talking to me. The guilt I feel IS the spirit. Bullshit. But they still say it. And I've believed it. There is a tiny voice inside me screaming, "I KNOW you've believed this before, but please don't believe it now. Please don't take us back to that time when you didn't stand up for yourself. When you let yourself be led by fear and guilt. Please don't ever do that to us again!"

How do I convince that little voice that I won't go back? I will still take care of me. I don't care what some asshole says, I won't sacrifice myself like that EVER again.

When Dann was working on changing himself, I recognized it would take a while for me to trust him again. Just because he hadn't hurt me TODAY, didn't mean that I felt safe with him. I guess I just don't trust me yet.

Not sure how to convince myself that I can be trusted, but I'll start with this:
Guilt is an emotion. Just like every other emotion. Emotions serve a purpose, and it does me good to pay attention to them. Then I get to choose what I do with each emotion. Whether I act on them or not. Just because I feel angry does not mean I need to lash out or hurt someone. Just because I feel guilty does not mean I shouldn't do what I feel guilty about. It is perfectly okay for me to do what I want to do. It is perfectly okay for me to not do what everyone else tells me I should do.

I refuse to let my life be run by fear or guilt. I DO feel guilty and afraid right now. That doesn't mean I am going to do anything with those emotions. I am more important than any feeling of guilt. I will protect and take care of myself.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not my Ducky

Last night, I randomly decided to go to a Christmas party. It was a group of friends I was never really close to and I haven't seen in years. I've kept in touch (sorta) through facebook and email, but...anyways, I'm talking with the two out of three people I actually knew there, and a dude came in and announced someone left their lights on. "Bummer for them," I thought, and kept on chatting away. A little while later, they said, "It's a Lexus. Tan. License plate dah-de-dah-dah." And all I thought was, "Not me. No Lexus for me..."

Back story: I'm driving Dann's car while he is in Cali. Its a Lexus. The lights turn on and off automatically. Except that if you don't push the little "Lock" button on the remote, they don't turn off. They stay on. Until the battery is dead. I never lock my doors. I drive a car that is held together by duct tape... seriously... why would I bother locking the doors? That might stop someone from stealing it. And if someone wants to take my duct tape car (Lovingly nicknamed Ducky by my brother.) I don't want to stop them. It barely even crossed my mind to push that little button.

I left the party early. As I walked out, down the hill a little to where I parked my car, I saw the very dim lights of a Lexus. Right. Where. My. Car... Dannngit!

Now, I'm going to have to walk back into that party and tell people that I was that dumb. Only, I didn't want to. I had the thought that I would just curl up in the trunk and stay the night. Apparently, I have a lot more common sense than I used to have, because I didn't do it. I called my mom instead. I hoped she'd laugh at me enough to give me the courage to walk back in. Instead, she told me they weren't too far away, and they'd come jump me. My heroes!

The combination of new-fangled cars confused us for a second, but Mel is a genius, so no one got electrocuted.  And the best part? They came fast enough that no one from the party knew I left my lights on, forgot what car I drove, and completely killed the battery. Phew. All those people that don't know me will still think I'm smrt... if they ever think about me at all...

Monday, December 6, 2010

So much to live for!

There are a lot of things I want to write about. I'm not sure why I haven't... maybe because my life is busy and full of things I like doing. I was great at blogging and journaling when life sucked. It was my escape. It was the way I coped. One of the only ways I could deal. (I guess it also helped that I never slept...)

Its different now. I am still thinking and processing and working through things all the time, but I don't feel eager to sit down and write. I'd rather be living. Working with Sunny. Or just watching him, without the computer to distract me from the joy I feel when he runs. Playing the violin or the piano. Working. Talking with friends. Eating. Cooking. Watching TV. (I do that now. Dog Whisperer is my current favorite. I also like Phineas and Ferb as well as Mythbusters.) Reading (books and blogs). Sitting in the sun. Watching the snow fall.

At CFC, I was given the assignment to just relax. I wasn't allowed to do any assignments. No binder. Or notebook. Just sit and talk to people without anything in my hands. It was HARD for me. Partially because I felt anxious to get the work done. I wanted to heal, and if it took doing assignments 24/7, that's what I would do. And, the word "relax" was incredibly triggering, so how could I do it after someone told me to do it? I also felt so much anxiety if I wasn't DOING something productive.

Lately, I am very much alive, and have no need to be DOING something productive just so I can pretend to be alive. Its hard to describe. Now, most of my trials or struggles are like normal people trials. Like, car troubles. My car has issues. The engine is going out. That's a pain. The thing about my car is: it has had troubles for years. It is seventeen years old, and I haven't taken good care of it. Its just that... now, since that is the one of the only troubles I have in my life... I care about my car.

I don't know quite how to describe my life now... other than... normal.

Don't get me wrong. I still have nightmares occasionally. Flashbacks sometimes. Nasty emails from cowardly people. Doubts. Fears. Questions. Screwy thinking. But... it used to be that those things were the constant, and the moments of peace were the rarity.

As I was reading in a blog tonight, (I can't remember which one. I'm really sorry. I read and commented on a lot.) I read about how the author now fears death. She wants to believe in God, because she wants to believe that there is an afterlife.

I have never been afraid of death. I have hoped for it for most of my life. In the past six months, I have started to really enjoy living. It makes sense to me that as I start to love life, death would become the enemy. Its NOT the enemy yet, but I can see that happening... There is much to live for: horses to work with, rides to go on, mountains to climb, friends to talk to, goals to accomplish, places to see and explore, things to think about and wonder about, music to listen to, and write, and play.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Angela's word

A friend posted this on facebook, and I thought it was beautiful. And describes my journey perfectly.

When Angela was very young
Age two or three or so,
Her mother and her father
Taught her never to say NO.
They taught her that she must agree
With everything they said,
And if she didn’t, she was spanked
And sent upstairs to bed.

So Angela grew up to be
A most agreeable child;
She was never angry
And she was never wild;
She always shared, she always cared,
She never picked a fight,
And no matter what her parents said,
She thought that they were right.

Angela the Angel did very well in school
And, as you might imagine, she followed every rule;
Her teachers said she was so well-bred,
So quiet and so good,
But how Angela felt inside, they never understood.

Angela had lots of friends
Who liked her for her smile;
They knew she was the kind of gal
Who’d go the extra mile;
And even when she had a cold
And really needed rest,
When someone asked her if she’d help
She always answered Yes.
When Angela was thirty-three, she was a lawyer’s wife.
She had a home and family, and a nice suburban life.
She had a little girl of four,
And a little boy of nine,
And if someone asked her how she felt
She always answered, “Fine.”

But one cold night near Christmastime
When her family was in bed,
She lay awake as awful thoughts went spinning through
her head;
She didn’t know why, and she didn’t know how,
But she wanted her life to end;
So she begged Whoever put her here
To take her back again.

And then she hear, from deep inside,
A voice that was soft and low;
It only said a single word
And the word it said was … NO.

From that moment on, Angela knew
Exactly what she had to do.
Her life depended on that word,
So this is what her loved ones heard:

NO, I just don’t want to;
NO, I don’t agree;
NO, I don't believe that;
NO, that’s wrong for me;
NO, I wanted something else;
NO, that hurt a lot!
NO, I’m tired, and NO I’m busy,
And NO, I’d rather not!

Well, her family found it shocking,
Her friends reacted with surprise;
But Angela was different, you could see it in her eyes;
For they’ve held no meek submission
Since that night three years ago
When Angela the Angel
Got permission to say NO.

Today Angela’s a person first, then a mother and a wife.
She knows where she begins and ends,
She has a separate life.
She has talents and ambitions,
She has feelings, needs and goals.
She has money in the bank and
An opinion at the polls.

And to her boy and girl she says,
“It’s nice when we agree;
But if you can’t say NO, you’ll never grow
To all you’re meant to be.
Because I know I’m sometimes wrong
And because I love you so,
You’ll always be my angels
Even when you tell me NO.” 

Barbara K. Bassett

Friday, November 26, 2010

Surviving Turkey Day

Lets talk about Thanksgiving. Its a really goofy holiday. Its the day where the whole nation adopts some seriously disordered eating. And they all do it together!

My morning started with serious over-exercising urges. (I figure if everyone else gets to adopt an eating disorder of their choosing, then why can't I have the one of my choosing?) I didn't follow through with the urges. I sat on the floor and cried instead.

Seriously, everyone restricts food intake all morning to prepare for a massive binge in the afternoon/evening. Everyone makes themselves uncomfortable, and then eats some more. And if the strange eating isn't stressful enough, lets do it with a lot of people that call themselves family, but I only see once or twice a year. Some of them are very mean. Some of them are just ignorant asses.

And I'm supposed to WANT to participate in all of this madness??

Whilst crying on the floor, I got a call from a dear friend. "Are you taking care of yourself? I know this day is hard on you, and you still need to take care of you."

I became a yelling, crying mess. What came out of my mouth was something like, "What the fuck is wrong with me that I don't want to spend time with my family? Why can't I just be normal and love them and love this day?"

The reply came, "What's wrong with YOU? There's nothing wrong with you. Of all the people you have talked about in your family, YOU are the one I want to be friends with. It is normal to not like being with people who aren't nice to you."

And then I realized something profound. It IS normal to not like being with people who are mean. But I don't allow (or haven't allowed) myself that freedom. I have a cousin who is really mean. She's on medication to try to curb her moodiness, but she is just... MEAN, and bossy, and controlling, and nosy, and... Last year, she pinched me hard enough to leave a bruise and asked why I was so skinny. (I didn't pinch her back and ask her why she was so fat. I didn't think that would be appropriate, but I thought it.)

I walk into these family events (and probably everywhere else too) and look for the people that no one else wants to talk to, and I talk to them. The cousin I mentioned above, I have spent a lot of time talking to. I make the rounds and MAKE SURE to talk to the people that I have a hard time with. What the...?

This year, I just talked to the people I wanted to talk to. I spent time with my own siblings. Justin and I made a gingerbread house together, and I had a blast! I talked to my cousin Stefani, and her daughters. I talked to my Grandma. I talked to my cousin Kenadee. I picked who I spent my time with. And guess what? I had a great time!

It turns out that although there are some people in my family that are really obnoxious, they are actually the minority. They are a loud minority, but still a minority. I used to think it was my job to make the lonely people not feel lonely. But that was seriously flawed thinking.

1. Just because I don't like a person doesn't mean that everyone else feels the same.
2. And if everyone DOES feel the same, there's a reason. Its not doing me (or anyone else) a service to spend time with abusive people. That's not love, and I don't wanna do it anymore.
3. There's a good chance that those people that I don't like, probably don't like me. (At least if I am honest about who I am. I used to lie and pretend to be someone I wasn't, so that the mean people would like me.)

At the end of the day, it turns out that by ME changing, everything around me has changed. That's something to be grateful for!

(oh, and side note, I also made the decision that if I wasn't enjoying myself and I wanted to leave, I would. I don't have to stay anywhere that I don't wanna be!)

Prayers for Bobby

Prayers for Bobby: A Mother's Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son
I saw the move, Prayers for Bobby, and was so impressed by Mary Griffith's journey, I started reading the book that night.

The book is a compilation of journal entries from Bobby, a gay young man who committed suicide at age 20, and his mother's thoughts. She was a fundamentalist Christian who called her gay son to repentance daily. He wrote daily of his hatred for himself and who he was. He vacillated between pleading with God to change him and cursing God for leaving him alone. He stopped writing in his journal a week before he jumped off a freeway overpass. No one knows exactly what caused him to jump that day.

His mother, Mary, has become an activist for gay and lesbian youth, and her only mission is to tell children "Don't give up on love." I loved reading her journey to find herself.

She was a traditional 1950's wife and mother. Bobby's death turned her into an assertive, strong, activist. In the end of the book, she said, "I'm no longer afraid."

I cried through most of the book. I felt Bobby's self-hatred and sadness. I felt Mary's confusion, anger, and helplessness. Her journey introduced her to many suicidal youth, and each of their stories brought me great sadness.

I also felt anger at myself. I (like Mary) thought I was doing the right thing by pushing "traditional family values" on those around me. Reading this, I want to get more involved and help change attitudes of those around me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Stranger

So, reading this... I had an incredibly HUGE emotional reaction. The kind that I get when something big is changing in my mind...

The nightmare started when I was five. The "Stranger" would come in my home. He'd hurt my family if I didn't do what he wanted. I could protect some of them, but never all of them. Its been a lot of years, and I still have nightmares. (Although in the last 8-9 months, they have decreased tremendously. Round about the time that I decided I wasn't going to let fear or guilt run my life anymore. And I quit trying to go to church. And live the way they wanted me to live. And I started being more honest about who I am.)

In therapy, we have talked about what traumatic event might cause these nightmares. (I have a lot of them, but none that I could trace back that far...) Paul even talked about casting out evil spirits. We had so many sessions to talk about evil spirits. Possession. Oh. No.

At five, is when I started to understand how evil and selfish I was. That's when I started to try to change everything about me. When I was no longer good enough as just me.

In the book, The Voice of Knowledge, he talks about that very thing. When we learn words, people start to teach us that we aren't good enough. He shares the story of Adam and Eve, and says that eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge introduced us to the biggest lie there is: The lie of good and evil. The lie that WE become good or evil based on what we do. say. or think.

The Stranger has tormented me for so long.
And all I had to do to be free of him, was to listen to me.

I'm still really, REALLY emotional. Feeling a little crazy... but I'm used to that. I have been through this enough to know that once THIS feeling passes, everything will be different.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stories of Love

BJ asked me a question today, "If someone is abusive, so I leave, who's fault is it?" I didn't really have an answer for him. Abuse isn't okay, but... who's fault? I don't know. No one's fault. You left because you didn't want to be treated the way you were treated. That is what you needed to do for you... About ten minutes later, I picked up the book, The Voice of Knowledge. It totally just answered his question.  I was going to paraphrase, but it was just so perfect... My thoughts are in italics. The rest is directly quoted from the book.
Humans are made for love. Before knowledge, it was easy to open our heart and to love, and we just walked away from whatever was not love. But with the voice of knowledge in our head, we walk away from love, and we go for what is not love.

(Funny... suddenly, in my head, I hear Larry telling me how much he loved me. I would never find anyone who loved me as much as he did. So I stayed. I was drawn to what was not love and couldn't even fathom what was love.)
We always have a choice, and if we love ourselves, we choose love. We do not allow ourselves to be hurt by accepting other people's opinions or abuse. If other people abuse us, they are abusing us because we stay there, because we allow that to happen. And if we stay, it's because we believe that we deserve the abuse, and we are using them for self-punishment. If we don't have awareness, we blame, when the solution is not to blame. The solution is to step aside and not be there.

(It sounds so simple. Just step aside and not be there... And this is the answer to his question. The solution isn't to blame. Blame doesn't matter. The solution is to step aside and not be there. It is the ONLY solution.)
How can you believe someone who says, "I love you," and then treats you with disrespect and emotional violence? How can someone say, "I love you," when that person wants to control your life, to tell you what you have to do, what you have to believe? How can someone claim to love you, and then give you emotional garbage, jealousy, and envy?

(I'm thinking about Ginger as I read this. I'm thinking about all of the things she has said to BJ that make me crazy. They make me crazy, because what she says is lies. Not that SHE is lying, but she is saying lies. They are lies I have believed for so long. They are lies about what love is. What is ok to do in the name of love. I have believed the lies, but now I know they are lies, and I don't want to believe them anymore.)
How can we tell someone, "I love you," and then send all our opinions against the person we love and try to make that person suffer? I have to tell you what is wrong with you because "I love you." I have to judge you, find you guilty, and punish you because "I love you." I have to make you wrong all the time, and make you feel like you are good for nothing because "I love you." And because you love me, you have to put up with my anger, with my jealousy, with all my stupidity.

(Being respectful and kind to friends, because I love them, is different than doing everything they want me to do, because I want them to love me. The first is love. The second is manipulation, control, and abuse.)
Do you think this is love? This is not love. This is nothing but selfishness, and we call it love. And we say "love hurts," but we are hurting ourselves with our own lies. All of the struggle in romantic relationships is just nonsense. It is not love, and that is why people are starving for love.

When you are needy, this is what you share in a relationships. But when you are open to love, you receive love and if its not love, you don't have to be there. You are open to receiving love, but you are not open to receiving abuse. You are not open to being blamed; you are not open to receiving anybody's poison because your mind is no longer fertile ground for that. When you love and respect yourself, there is no way that you ever allow anybody to disrespect you or dishonor you.
I love this. It makes so much sense and feels so true. And the words barely begin to explain what is real. (Which is something the author says over and over. We just don't have the words to express the truth of our experiences.) 
We look for love in other people when they don't love themselves. Of course we won't find love there; we only find selfishness and a war of control.

You don't have to search for love. Love is here because God is here; the force of life is everywhere. We humans create the story of separation, and we search for what believe we don't have. We search for perfection, for love, for truth, for justice, and we search and search when everything is inside of us. Everything is here; we just need to open our spiritual eyes to see it.

There is nothing you need to do to improve what you really are.
(This goes back to the feeling I had a few weeks ago. There is nothing wrong with me. I don't have to search for perfection, because I am already perfect. I don't have to search for love, it is already here. In me. One of the biggest lies I have believed is the lie of my own imperfection.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jim Swilley, Georgia Megachurch Pastor, Comes Out To Congregation After Gay Teen Suicides

In my way of thinking, being who we really are, and honest about ourselves is the most important thing we can do in this life. I really appreciated this. I really wanted to post the article to facebook, but I was scared.

Here I want SO BAD to be authentic. To be real. To be honest. I LOVED listening to this interview. I loved what he said, and I am still too scared to share it.

BJ asked why I wanted to share it. What was I trying to say?
I was trying to say a few things:
First, Be honest with who you are. That is all we can be.
Second, I too have seen the Bible be used as a weapon against people. As a tool for manipulation.
Third, I don't support my own church's stance on same-sex relations. I want people to know that I don't support them. And my own sexuality is confusing to me. At this point, I have come to the conclusion that I am asexual. That doesn't mean I don't need intimacy and love, I just feel more comfortable if intimacy and love doesn't include sex. (Not just more comfortable. I don't completely lose my mind if intimacy and love don't include sex...)

All those things that I want to say by posting an article... I'm not ready to say to the facebook world...
So I'll say them here.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Body Memories

Although things have drastically improved since my move, the one thing that will not leave me alone is the body memories. The physical pain when I know there's nothing physically wrong. It makes me feel a little crazy, but mostly, I can deal with them now. At least they don't come with the flashbacks and the completely losing my mind that used to come...

I spend a lot of time on the After the Silence boards. I first went there, because I wanted to find someone, ANYONE who had been through what I was going through and survived (at the least, and really I wanted to find people that were happy.) I realized while on those boards that most of the people there are there looking for support, but when you don't need support anymore, you stop going to those boards. I want to be there to give encouragement to people who are just starting their individual journeys.

Today, I found something that could help me.
"In order to heal from a body memory, you must do the opposite of what you want to do - you need to let your body release the memory. Just like with visual flashbacks, you will only be haunted by them while you fight them. After you release them, your body no longer feels the need to experience them.

Releasing a body memory is not fun. You must surrender to the awful feelings and allow your body to feel really bad for a little while. However, if you talk yourself through them, then they will no longer plague you. Tell yourself that you already survived the abuse, so you can survive the memory. Be loving to your body and tell it that you are sorry that it endured so much abuse.

It helps if you can connect back the source of the memory to the traumatizing event. This gives the body memory a context and helps you move past the need to continue experiencing the body memory." 
I have understood this concept, but putting in the context of body memories... it just makes sense. Stop resisting. Accept the pain. Move with it. Listen to it. When it has said its piece it will leave me alone.

Here's to the next step in the journey.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Truth is setting me free

I'm reading the book, The Voice of Knowledge by Miguel Ruiz. He wrote the book the Four Agreements. I read this quote, and thought of the process I have been on. I didn't know this is what I was doing, but its what I was doing.
"The first step toward improving your relationship with yourself is to accept yourself just the way you are. You don't need to learn HOW to love yourself. You need to unlearn all of the reasons why you reject yourself, and by nature you love yourself. You love not the IMAGE you project or the WAY you are, but you love yourself because of WHAT you are. Then you start to enjoy yourself until you love yourself so much that you give yourself everything you need. You don't leave yourself until last anymore. The more you enjoy the presence of yourself, the more you enjoy your life, and the more you enjoy the presence of everyone around you."
I am unlearning all of the reasons I reject myself. I am unlearning what I don't need, which has opened up space to learn all sorts of new things. Loving myself isn't one of those new things. I have always been lovable. I have always loved me. That love just got buried. Really deep. All of the new things are much more amazing than that.

I thought I was supposed to learn to love myself. I would do that by making lists of things I liked about me. Those lists didn't make me like me anymore than anything else I did. That wasn't the process. (Although I am sure it didn't hurt...)

Its more simple and more complicated than that. Face the lies. Face the past that has made me believe I was unlovable, worthless, bad. Face the voices in my head that repeated the lies. Understand them, and then they just go away...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

a life worth living

Something amazing happened today. I went to dinner at my parents' house. (That's not the amazing part, what comes next is the amazing part.) We all moved to the living room and hung out on the couches. When I left, I wasn't freaking out. I wasn't in pain. I wasn't in a place where I had to then go walking, or crying, or... I left calm.

As I was driving home, Dann called. He said that at first, he couldn't put his finger on the difference in me. Then he realized, it was the way I was sitting. On the couch in my parents' home, I sit and shake, or I cross my legs into what is commonly called "the pretzel" trying to hide my anxiety and my pain.

Today, I didn't. I sat like a normal person. I can sit like a normal person. Even if its hard and I go crazy inside my head, I can force myself to sit normal. This wasn't like that. This was just me... being relaxed...

As I drove, I cried. Happy tears. I have worked SO hard. I have fought for so long. All I've wanted is a few moments of peace, a few moments without pain, a few moments where I can just BE. I have fought so hard for THIS, and THIS is here. I'm not sure if anyone who has not been through this could understand, and it amazes me.

I didn't know if I could survive the hell I have been through, and I never dared to believe that life could be better. I have dreamed of, and thought about, and planned for death everyday of my life... for as long as I can remember. My death brought me more peace than anything. And then I'd feel guilty, because what kind of person thinks like that? But dying was the only way I could see out. If I just hung in there, eventually, I would get to die and be done.

I don't know when it happened, but I realized it last week. I don't think about dying anymore. Not ever. I find hope and comfort in living. I find hope and comfort in knowing who I am and what I can do, and... for the first time ever I feel positive enough about life to not need anything but life.

I've often referred to things in my life as "Miraculous Shit", because most people would not see what has happened in my life as miraculous, but I know better. I know that many people who have gone through what I've gone through don't survive, and definitely don't ever find a life worth living. I have, and I am.

thank You.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Still Miraculous

I moved to a teeny-tiny town. I did it!

Today, as I finished cleaning my apartment, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. When I moved in, I didn't like the place. It was where I went "until I could change enough to go back". I felt like I was a kid being sent to my room. I was lonely. I was hurting.

At the same time, the way I found the place was perfect.
Desperate. Dying. Felt like the world was collapsing. I'd looked and looked for a place, but there was nothing that felt safe enough for me to even imagine trying to go to.
Sleeping under a trailer seemed better than most options.

And then Bishop Campbell met my landlord, and they told him about the little basement apartment that they only rent to single women. They didn't need a deposit, and they would work with me on paying the rent, and they were just kind people. So, that night, I stayed there.

So much happened there at that little place. Before I left, I sat down and said a prayer. Thanking God for the amazing progress I have made. For leading me on this journey. For everything that has happened to get me to this place.

The thought came to call Bishop Campbell. For the next two minutes, I argued with myself. And then I called him. He answered and said, "Wow. The spirit just works in amazing ways!"

It turns out an hour before I called, he'd been asking current bishop how I was doing. Current dude wouldn't tell him, because bishop confidentiality or something... Really... he has no clue how I'm doing... But that's beside the point. Bishop Campbell was at meetings, and they had just broken two minutes earlier. If I had called five minutes later, I would have missed him.

I told him about the divorce. I told him I was moving. I told him about many of my questions. I told him that I was making choices that many people are questioning, and I told him I didn't really care what people thought, because I just had to live my life.

He told me how amazingly strong with the spirit I am. He told me that he trusted me, because I wouldn't do anything that I didn't need to do to progress. He's seen it over and over. And then he told me that in all the times he'd talked to me, he'd never heard me sound so good.

I feel good. I feel excited. I feel light.
And my life is still miraculous in ways I will never be able to explain.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Absolutely Nothing!

I don't know where the thought came from. It might be gone tomorrow.
Today, I know, there is absolutely nothing wrong with me.
I am perfect just the way I am.

Not because of anything I have done, or will do, or think, or say, or don't say, or want, or...
Just because I am me.
I am perfect!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I joined the symphony!

How long have I wanted to do this?
Too long.

I love the way it feels to play again.
I love the way it feels to play with the full orchestra.
I love the way it feels when I "get it" and the music just flows through me.
I love the way it feels when the violin sings out.
I love the way it feels to count out the measures, watch the conductor, and feel the big picture of the whole song.

So anxious to start. SO GLAD I DID!
It feels amazing!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

They say its healthy to share, but...

Not sure why I feel the need to comment... I suppose this will just make me one of your "bitter sinners"... and I guess I'm willing to stand up and be hated.

I don't really care if Joseph Smith was a prophet or insane. I don't really care if Thomas Monson has spoken to God or not. I have prayed (and prayed and prayed) to understand and to know and to be who I need to be.

I was born in the church. I was married in the temple. Unfortunately, then I was treated with violence. I sought help from the "men of God" I was surrounded by, and they used similar rhetoric to what you just used... I was not happy in my marriage because I was sinning.

In the book, The 4 Agreements, Miguel Ruiz defines sin as any time we go against ourselves. I like that definition. I believe it acknowledge the Godliness within me, and I can do what is best for ME. I don't need a prophet to tell me what to do, it is within me.

Yes, I have a lot of guilt. I was taught by church leaders and parents alike to "be nice", "be selfless", "be quiet". I was taught that to think about myself AT ALL was selfish and shouldn't be done. I believed those teachings completely. I bought into them and repeated them to myself. Its hard to let go of the guilt when its constantly being rammed down my throat.

So I left. Not in the "remove my name" sense, but in the I can't go to church. I can't talk about it with you. Its not good for me.

And then all of my family, and all of the people that told me not to be selfish, so that they could be. All of the self-serving, self-righteous, abusive people in my life began telling me why I shouldn't do what I knew I HAD to.

I have been many abusive relationships, but the most abusive relationship is the one I have had with the church. I don't know how other people are. I suppose if a person is healthy in mind and spirit, the church wouldn't be able to hurt them. Does that justify what they do? Does it make it okay to abuse those who AREN'T healthy? And when it starts in childhood, how does one ever learn that it is okay to protect themselves?

If it makes any difference, I have had two different bishops tell me not to come to church. They heard ME and decided to guide ME.

I don't expect anyone else to follow my path. Its MY path. I do expect people to respect my path. And I expect everyone to know enough about who they are to travel their own path.

One of my favorite quotes is, "You're lost. One often gets lost when they use someone else's map."

Joseph Smith believed in personal revelation. The Book of Mormon challenges people to know for themselves. Just because you have proven it true for you, does that mean it MUST be true for everyone?

I don't believe lashing out in anger will help anyone... however, I also believe that sharing the darkest parts of ourselves gives us the best chance for healing.

Please come down off your high horse. Don't dismiss us all in the same way. You belong to a church that values agency beyond anything else.

SHOW ME that I can be loved for who I am, and I might just want to hang around.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Gianna Jessen

"I didn't survive to make others comfortable. I survived to shake things up a bit."

"Don't mess with me. My Father runs the world."

I am weaker than many of you. If you pay attention. If you listen. I have much to offer. The world that doesn't see or understand, could, if you only hear the courage and strength within me.

Hated from conception. Yet loves herself.
I was loved at conception. Loved at birth. Loved by many. Hurt. Used. Abused. And still can't love myself.

Can God make abuse beautiful?
I see how Cerebral Palsy can be beautiful.
I see how much suffering can be made beautiful, but all that happened to Steph, can it be made beautiful?

If all of that shit hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't be who I am... And I am beautiful.
Paul says God will compensate for all of the suffering. He will make it Good.
Dammit. He better.

This woman seems to have found her way...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I am a survivor... and one day...

This chart:
was shared on the After the Silence board.

As I read through the different columns, I saw that I have been a victim... still am sometimes... and I felt compassion for myself. My feelings of anger at religion? Make perfect sense in context. And I won't stay there.

But what I saw, the incredibly powerful, AWESOME feeling...
I AM a survivor. I fit very nicely into that column. I've moved and progressed. And there IS more.

One day, I will be a Thriver.
People have traveled this road. They've made it.
I will too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A walking contradiction

I don't find much comfort in scriptures... never have... well, not true... I find the same amount of comfort in scriptures that I find in other books. Sometimes things pop out to me, and I know, "this is true for me, right now," and I like that.

Today's quote come from 2 Ne 5:1-5

  1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the aanger of my brethren.
  2 But behold, their aanger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life.
  3 Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to arule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words. For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to brule over this people.
  4 Now I do not write upon these plates all the words which they murmured against me. But it sufficeth me to say, that they did seek to take away my life.
They were abusing him. Saying mean things. Hurting him. Beating him. They wanted to take away his life. If he had backed down and given them all the control they wanted, I imagine they wouldn't have had any reason to be angry. If he had let them control him, he would have been a slave, but he would have lived. He felt helpless. He didn't know what to do. So he prayed.
5 And it came to pass that the Lord did awarn me, that I, bNephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.
How many times have I been warned that I should get out? Depart from an abusive relationship, but I stay. God wouldn't tell me to leave my husband. The church says stay and "endure to the end". And then they say, turn over your fucking control to us, or the abusers, or whatever, so that you stay and be what God wants  you to be. And so I did.

Only God gives us warning. In our hearts, he lets us know, "This isn't right. You need to get out and get away." It is easy to dismiss His warning with so many people talking so loudly about what THEY think God wants ME to do.

Nephi left. He got out.
He didn't have contact with his abusers ever again.
And that was what the Lord wanted.

It doesn't really matter what all of the other people think, and how they want to judge my actions. I have to trust me and trust the Lord, and do whatever I have to do to keep myself safe and to find peace.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm silly.

I get paid in royalties. I design stuff, and if people buy the stuff, I get paid. I get paid quarterly.
This morning, running the report to see how much this check will be.

It was double what I expected.
I know MOST people would get really excited.
Not me. I had a panic attack.

What did I do wrong? How could it be that much? I'm greedy. How could I possibly ask for that much money? I'm not worth it. I didn't earn that much, and... blah, blah, blah...

Where does this stuff come from?

Lies. Its all lies.
The truth is, if I ran the report wrong... I'll fix it... No big deal.
The truth is, I designed some dang good stuff. People like it, and they bought way more than I was planning.
The truth is, I'm not greedy. People who are greedy don't set up a pay schedule like I have. They like the guaranteed money.
The truth is, I'm not asking for that much money... That was the agreement we came to when I started working.
The truth is, I AM WORTH IT!

Really... nothing to panic over...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Would you believe me if I said prayers are answered?

I'm not sure who this person is... The one that I am becoming... But sometimes she SCARES me.

Sunday dinner. I've been going every week since I moved out when I was eighteen. When I got married at nineteen, I brought the hubby along. When I got divorced, I went alone. When I started dating, I brought the boyfriend along until he was the hubby, and then we went together. There are certain things I say, and certain things I don't say. Only this week, I said the things that I don't say.

I'm questioning the church.
I got a text from a "dear friend" saying he was concerned about me, and asked me to please read Alma 30, as he thought there were parallels in my life. Silly me. I read it. And guess what? There were parallels.

It turns out I'm an anti-Christ. I believe more of what Korihor said than what Alma said.
I shared that with my parents.
Then I went on to tell them that I thought President Monson is a very arrogant man.
AND that trying to live this "gospel" is making me miserable.
I have had TWO bishops tell me that going to church isn't good for me. They told me to stop coming. I had a really hard time listening to them. I felt so guilty...
My dad asked if there was anything about meetings that is good.

"No. Well... sometimes I really like pointing out to people that what they are saying is really wrong... but I don't think that counts, does it?"

Who the hell is this person?

At that moment, food was ready, time to eat. Conversation over. There was more I would have liked to say, but I'm also really glad I didn't:
The two bishops that said, "Don't come," were really good for me. I was dying, and they showed they cared more about me than a stupid church. Unfortunately, Campbell got released and this new guy is just like all of the other stupid drones. Quoting shit at me while never listening to a word (or might I add the spirit).

Paul and BJ have both shared the thought that maybe he was called to be bishop FOR me. I was struggling with doing what was best for me (not going), and once he was called, no more struggle. Easy.

I've never felt good reading the scriptures. There are parts and quotes that I really like, but... a testimony that these things really happened and they were really translated... I don't know. Overall, I've never gotten that warm, fuzzy feeling. The only feeling I have felt is a lessening of guilt, because I was actually doing what I was supposed to be doing.

I find peace when I read things about Buddha, and the ideas expressed there seem more true than what I hear at church. I like the way I feel when I read what Thich Nhat Hanh has to say.

As I was leaving, my mom said, "You are a GOOD person. Don't let anyone tell you you aren't."
Should I have shared with her that I don't believe in good and bad? Probably good that I didn't.

I came home a MESS. Oh dear, what have I done? Stressing 'cause I said too much. Stressing 'cause I didn't say enough. Wondering if I said what I was really feeling or was I just being ruled by emotions. (I'm angry... and I know it.) Will they hate me? Will my mom be sad? Will my dad be mad?

Those last three questions, "Will they hate me? Will my mom be sad? Will my dad be mad?"
Seems those three things still RULE my life. With an iron fist.
I'm a five-year-old little girl terrified to tell them what happened, what I'm thinking, what I'm feeling, etc. because my mom will be sad and my dad will be mad.

I don't want to live like that anymore.
I don't want them to be mad or sad, but... I won't try to control their emotions anymore.

The back and forth inside my head was maddening. I got the sudden and strange idea to listen to Beethoven's 9th Symphony. The first three movements sounded like chaos to me. I cried, because I felt the music pounding in my crazy head. Then it got to the last movement. "Ode to Joy"
"O friends, no more these sounds! Let us sing more cheerful songs, more full of joy!
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise!"
I think my life is currently in the first movement. Its loud and chaotic and... well... messy sounding.
I look forward to getting the 4th movement. FEELING that joy and that peace...
Being ME, no matter what that looks like.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

thinking, praying, pondering, reading, studying, wondering, feeling, hoping, yelling, screaming, crying

I'm spending a lot of time thinking, praying, pondering, reading, studying, wondering, feeling, hoping, yelling, screaming, crying... and well... I'm trying to figure out what to do about the church.

I don't go anymore. Its not good for me. But I still can't get away from it.

I'm angry at the things that have been said to me. I'm angry at the things I was taught. I'm angry that when I try to talk about it, people excuse it... tell me I'm the one that has misinterpreted things, I'm the one that is wrong, only... the thing is, I have seen lots of other people "misinterpret" what has been said come to the same damn conclusions I did. Telling me its my problem (and therefore no one else has to take any responsibility) is not okay with me. I have been taking responsibility for a lot of people's shit for a long time, and I just won't do it anymore... even if the person dishing the shit is "called of God".
Like I said, I'm angry.

There are things about the church that have brought me comfort. I don't want to throw those things away. Some of the talks and quotes from church have been helpful. Some of the quotes and talks from other places have been helpful too, but I don't go around thinking that Wyatt Webb speaks for God. Wyatt Webb speaks for Wyatt Webb, and he says some things that ring true for me. I believe in truth. I don't care where it comes from.

I believe in God and miracles. I have seen amazing things happen in my life that I can't explain. I have had strength given to me that was not my own. I feel a connection to the world around me and to some people that I can only describe as a spiritual connection. I have felt guided in ways that again, I just can't explain.

I can see the value in many teachings of the church. Word of Wisdom. Makes sense... especially since I have so many addictions already... But then, my addictions aren't covered in the Word of Wisdom... Fasting is supposed to be a really good thing for the spirit... When they talk about addictions in the church, it usually triggers the hell out of me. They talk about having self-control and not giving in to wants and desires. My addictions have always been about self-denial. Drugs didn't phase me... starving myself was much better.

I don't believe that the church authorities are speaking for God, because then I would be angry at God, and I don't wanna be. I don't believe in a God that says trials are for my own damn good and I should be grateful for them. I don't believe in a God that insists that I take abuse, because that is what Christ did. I don't believe in a God that sits in judgment of me (or anyone else).

I still have a lot of questions, but I no longer believe that I will find answers only if I am obedient to self-serving shitheads.

I'll be true to myself, and that is when I will find answers.

So, what am I trying to say here?
I'm finding what works for me.
I'm taking the things that I like, and leaving the rest behind.
No one is going to like everything that I choose... And I don't want them to.
Choose what works for you. And go with it.

All I can do is be honest with what I think, what I feel, who I am in THIS moment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thank God for brilliant friends

I shared my heartbreak.
My worries.
My shame and guilt.
In one sentence, she brought me back to reality.

And just like that, I was calmer.
And I could think better...

She's freaking amazing.
Does she understand that??

Friday, September 10, 2010

some good cynical sarcasm

I found a bunch of quotes by an author named Terry Pratchett. He is a satirist who writes fiction. And I think I agree with him on a lot of things:
"It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things."
"I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it."

"It could not be happening because this sort of thing did not happen. Any contradictory evidence could be safely ignored"

"Men should die for lies. But the truth is too precious to die for."

“The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”

"Give a man a fire and he's warm for the day. But set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life."
oh the joy I find in some good cynical sarcasm

Monday, September 6, 2010

perfect record... no more

I have been riding horses for more than two years now.
BJ has often marveled at the fact that I have never fallen, never been thrown, and have never been injured.
Especially with the way I ride. Running whenever I can. All day long. Pushing everyone (Sunny, me, BJ, and Bo) to their absolute limits.

I can no longer say I have never been thrown from a horse.
We were riding up above Kamas, just off the Mirror Lake Highway. There was a stretch of trail just perfect for running in. I let Sunny go first, running FULL speed. It was awesome.
I saw the stream up ahead. Decided I did not want to approach that quite as fast as we were going. I wasn't sure what he'd do.
He'd either:
  • Jump it, which was a BIG jump, and I wasn't sure I wanted to do that.
  • Run through it, which would have been okay.
  • Stop entirely.
Jumping it and stopping take two entirely different postures. I couldn't prepare for both.
I pulled back on the rein to get him to slow down. That put me a little off balance.
He stumbled. I flew over his shoulder, did a flip and landed on my back.
His hoof grazed my face... just enough to give me a black eye and a bloody nose.

I remember the thought as I landed was, "Not so bad," and then, "OH SHIT!"
BJ was far enough behind me that he couldn't see me. He says he heard the air go out of my lungs. And came upon me bloody and gasping for air.He was scared of internal injuries. I couldn't tell him what hurt (other than my face), because I didn't know. I was able to pull myself up onto the horse, but I couldn't keep myself balanced. Every time Bo would start to trot a little faster, I'd see stars again. My hands and feet would go numb, and I thought I was going to pass out.

I am very gifted at not passing out when I feel like I am going to. I kept consciousness and within an hour was telling funny stories. Only I kept forgetting what I was saying. The words got all jumbled. Which made me laugh at myself even more.
There was a part of me that felt really bad for falling. I was worried he wouldn't let me ride anymore. (He had once told me if I ever got hurt, I was done. It turns out, he mean, if I ever got hurt because I was acting out on eating disorder schtuff, I was done.) I felt bad because we ended the ride with a lot of daylight left... which I hate to do.

There was another part of me that was dang proud that I had just fallen off a horse. Kind of like a "badge of honor". What horse person has never gotten hurt by a horse?

Now, I'm totally legit.
And I think I'm healing quite nicely.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

some poems don't rhyme

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what is going to happen next."
-Gilda Radner.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I really AM still me.

Yesterday, I spent a long time reading old journals. I picked up the "real" ones first.
They were the ones I tried to keep really positive. They were the ones that I was okay with other people reading. Sharing "spiritual" experiences and my testimony, but they weren't my real miracles or my real thoughts.

I spent about thirty minutes reading those, and then I just felt yucky.
I curled up in a ball and cried and felt really bleh.

I promised BJ I wouldn't read any more.
Last night, I broke the promise. I have a journal that was just a bunch of note paper. One day I started writing. I remember being so caught up in lies, that I just wanted a place I could be honest. There are no dates on this journal. No ending to the entries. I just wrote. I thought it was a lot of eating disorder stuff. That was there, but actually there was less of that than in my real journal.

What was there was Jen. Her thoughts. Her feelings. The things she felt about her family, God, church, life. Her guilt. Her sadness. Her anger. And she did a really good job of expressing herself. The journal that I thought was going to be really bad and hard to read wasn't. It was refreshing and felt good to me.

I am thinking about burning the others.
Report cards, daily schedules, presents, and the things I thought I was supposed to think make me a little sick to my stomach.

It turns out I was spunky and opinionated even back then. Everyone tried so hard to domesticate me and make me what they wanted, but it didn't work back then, and it probably never will. This is my favorite entry. I think I was about sixteen or seventeen, but I'm not sure.
"Who knows? Maybe someday I will look back on all this and laugh, but right now I really don't think it will happen.

Why do people say that anyway?

I don't see how stuff that isn't funny now could become hilarious enough for me to laugh about it in fifteen years. Oh well..."
Its been about fifteen years since I wrote it. And the things that made me sad back then, STILL make me sad today. The things that made me angry back then, make me even more angry now.

So, why DO people say that?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

let the rumors begin

I understand what the church says about homosexuality. I understand what the bible calls it. I understand that it is supposed to be evil according to God.

What I don't understand is how the government should have any say whatsoever.
What I don't understand is why the church thinks they have any right to define everyone else's rights.
What I don't understand is how if two people can get this whole love/sex/coupleness worked out, why the hell would anyone want to get in the way???
What I don't understand is why anyone would want to get married if they don't have to.

I don't think this decision will affect me... at all... it won't affect all of the people who believe they are losing their rights. It will only affect the people who have wanted to get married (WHY??) and give them a chance to do so. The people who have had the right to get married since marriage existed will still have all the rights...

All I know is if two people get it figured out, I WANT them to have every opportunity. I don't care who they are. I don't care how they got there. I don't care if it was biological, or caused by abuse, or a choice... If they can learn to love and be loved in return, I am very happy for them.

I know what I'm supposed to think, and still... I am glad.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

...go me!

Everyday, I learn more about who I am, what I want, where I am going... Everyday, more things fall into place inside my own mind. Everyday, I change.

I've been struggling with trying to figure out how to talk to my landlord. John came in the apartment almost two months ago, and I have kept trying to dismiss it... While at the same time not being able to.

I have been reading meditations from the book, Time to Break Free. I am on day 60, but I randomly turned to day 71.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm competing with other abused women. I may hear or take part in conversations in which women are comparing situations or abusers: "If you think that's bad, listen to this," or, "Your husband may have pushed you around, but mine treated me much worse."

This competition doesn't help anyone. We simply want others to know how much we've been hurt; we want to be heard, and we want compassion. There is a way to feel heard without comparing myself to others. Expressing my feelings about the abuse instead of the details of what happened helps me move forward in my healing process. "When he pushed me, I felt afraid, angry, and alone" is a healing statement. When I learn to speak in this manner, I find that all abused women have shared the same types of feelings. This helps me better understand other people as well as myself."
I have never been one to participate in competition stories. I refused to go to a support group after I divorced Larry, because I didn't want to participate in that. The friends I have chosen to associate with are very similar to me... Constantly dismissing their own stories as "no big deal". When they do it, I have no problem getting angry and upset for them. For me... not so much... But... Reading this, it REALLY hit me. I NEED to be heard. I NEED to be understood. I NEED compassion. There IS a way to be heard without telling "horror" stories.

It doesn't actually matter to ME if John coming in is right, or wrong, or good, or bad, or legal, or whatever... It doesn't matter if he had a good reason... It doesn't matter if he meant harm...
When John came into my apartment, I felt panicked, invaded, scared, and angry.
And the same thing goes for whoever has come into my apartment when I'm not there.
When I go into my apartment and things have been moved, I feel scared, anxious, and unsafe.
HA! I get it. I understand. I might actually be able to do this whole "life" thing.