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.