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Two Year Anniversary

TW: Rape

Two years ago today, I had just finished participating in a Lindy Hop workshop in the Bay Area called Le Hot Sauce and was heading to Shades to DJ and dance. I invited people I thought of as friends, old and new. We went back to a hotel to sleep after the dancing, and I woke up to violation of my body.

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So, I guess this is an update. I haven’t really posted much in the last year, which is really disappointing to me. I think about this a lot, but I feel like I haven’t been able to write much. 

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Stories

(November 2004)

“You kids have fun,” she says as she pats my shoulder and gets out of bed. I hear it through a groggy haze. All I know is that my friend has left the room, 5 months pregnant and not in the mood for sex with her husband, who has just climbed on top of me. Before I know it, he’s inside of me and I don’t know what to do. I don’t say no, just let him have his way with me and hope he finishes soon. I found out years later that he lied to her and told her that he and I had talked about wanting to have a threesome. She was so abused and terrified that he would leave her that she let him do whatever he wanted.

I was 19 and had a few drinks that night. I couldn’t drive home to base because it was late and I didn’t want to get in trouble. Having had a back injury, I didn’t want to sleep on the floor and their bed was the only furniture in the apartment at the time. I chalked it all up to a big mistake that I made.

It wasn’t until a sexual assault briefing over a year later that I realized I had been raped. This was the first time.

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Prayers For Forgiveness

“I love you, mommy,” he says with a dimpled smile as he turns to walk into the school building. My beautiful boy is six years old and starting school this year. There’s a smudge of pinkish red on his cheek where I’ve left an imprint of my lips. I wonder if, like me at that age, he’ll resist the teasing of the other children and leave it on all day or if he’ll succumb to their peer pressure and wipe it off.

His lovely dark brown curls bounce as he runs into the school building sporting a Batman backpack, little hands clutching at a lunch pail with the Transformers on it that he just had to have.

He’s beautiful to my mind’s eye, this cheerful little boy of mine. Skin darker than my own, but much lighter than his father’s, his eyes are shaped like mine. I imagine that he’s got cherubic cheeks and full lips, his little body still hanging onto that baby fat. He’s still my baby.

Oh, how I wished he was here sometimes.

***

I had my initial screening appointment with the VA today to talk about “my trauma,” which apparently includes everything from a childhood cut short by my mother’s illness to multiple incidences of rape and domestic abuse. I kept a straight face through most of it and didn’t cry at all during the interview, though I did tear up at one point.

The point where we talked about my baby. They baby that never was.

Right after my mother died, I was in dire straights. I was isolated in a foreign country with nobody around me who loved me. I was severely depressed and in need of comfort and care.

There was a man I knew with whom I had previous sexual experience. There wasn’t really anything seriously intimate about our relationship, as he had a girlfriend (who knew about me and was okay with the situation) and he & I hadn’t really spent much time together, other than our brief liaisons.

One night he messaged me asking if I would come over. I resisted until he said the magic words, something to the effect of, “I truly care about you.” I distinctly remember the “L word” being tossed in there. The big one. And even though I had resisted, he said the words I so desperately wanted to be true. So I went to him. I don’t think he realized the head space I was in, or the effect his words had on me.

After we finished the first time, he took off his condom and started to come back down to me again. I pushed him away and told him that we couldn’t do it again without a condom. He brushed aside my concerns and said that there was still spermicide on him and that would take care of any sperm that were still in evidence. Also, he added, since he had already come, he wouldn’t be coming again inside me.

I let him in.

And I became pregnant.

Of course, I didn’t find out immediately. I actually didn’t find out until after I had started dating another man, who would later become my fiance.

When I found out, I was a month into my pregnancy and freaking out. If I kept the baby, I would be sent away from my base to come to the States, where we had facilities set up for families. If I kept the baby, it could ruin the fledgling relationship I had and the one my child’s father was in with the woman to whom he is now married. If I kept the baby, my family would never accept it, as it was half black, and coming from East Texas, we just don’t do things like that. My child and I would be outcasts in our family. Most importantly, if I kept the baby, I would be an unfit mother. I was sunk deep into depression over the loss of my mother and my emotional isolation, and I didn’t have the kind of money I thought I would need to raise a child on my own.

And so I made a very difficult decision. I terminated my pregnancy. I decided to let go of the little one nestled so deep inside me. At the time, it seemed like the only decision I could make. At the time, I felt I had no choice.

To do so required that I leave the country I was in. This was no easy feat, as I would also be required to fill out leave paperwork and I had used all my leave (and then some) to spend with family after my mother passed. My then boyfriend came to my rescue and arranged everything so that no one, not even my direct supervisor or the fetus’s father knew the truth of what was happening. I was terrified of anyone finding out because of the circumstances and the fact that I had a friend who had ended up in a similar position. She came back from her termination to find that someone had drawn a dead baby with a knife through its heart on her bedroom door.

***

Now, years later, I’m going through everything that has happened. I consider this to be a traumatic event to me. I’m still not clear where it lies on the consent scale. I think that if only I had been in my right mind, had been more firm and refused to go over to his house, or communicated more clearly that I hadn’t been on birth control since I came back from my mom’s funeral, that maybe it wouldn’t have happened. I feel complicit and horrible in my actions. I wonder how he sees it, or if he even thinks about it anymore.

Today, I talked about this to the therapist screening me to see if I did indeed meet the criteria for traumatic sexual experiences in the military, this and many other things. We ran over time, into her next appointment and made plans for me to be contacted by the women’s trauma clinic within the week to start therapy for this and other things.

I went to a friend’s house to have some tea and get a hug, then went to work.

I left work early, and came home to get a shower and try to relax, hoping that the horrible nausea would go away. Relaxing just opened the floodgates I didn’t even realize I had locked down.

“Dear God,” I pray, kneeling in the shower, “I’m so sorry. Please forgive me for what I did. Baby, I’m so sorry. Mommy loves you so much. She wishes things could have been different.”

In my head, I hear a small, understanding voice telling me that he loves me too, and phantom arms wrap around my neck and hold on tight, telling me that everything is going to be alright, just as I used to reassure my mom.

I wonder how she felt, years after her boyfriend brutally raped and beat her, then forced her to get an abortion. Did she regret her decision? Did it haunt her when she found out she could no longer have children? Sooner? I’ll never know for sure.

For now, I sit here and think about my life’s choices and how they led me to this conjuncture and I cry. I mourn the loss of the child that never made it beyond the size of a bean, who would be going into elementary school this year, my beautiful baby of whom I dreamed before I knew of his existence.

“I love you, mommy,” he says to me with a smile as his phantom arms squeeze my neck. I only hope that wherever his spirit is, my mom is able to spoil him as she never will with my other children, that she’s taking care of him and making sure he knows his mother’s love for him, and his Nanaw’s love, and he knows that it’s irrevocable and unconditional. I wish I had been stronger for him.

I’m so, so sorry, baby. Mommy loves you so much.

Strength and Vulnerability

“I was an only child with a mother who was dying from the time I was 10. I can take care of myself, and several other people, while I’m at it. I’ve been raped 5 times (that I know of) and been in 2 abusive relationships. Been lied to and used for sex more times that I can count. I’m a tough bitch to have gone through all that and all have the ability to be as open and vulnerable as I can make myself to those I care about. For me, being Alpha’s sub doesn’t mean having someone there when I’m having a breakdown. It means being able to let go and let her be stronger every now and then when she’s around. And besides, I only surround myself with kickass people now, so if it gets really bad, I can just call a friend.
“Wow. After that, I feel like I should say something like, “hear me roar! ” I really am a tough Bitch.”
I’ve been having conversations with friends lately that have surprised me. I’m apparently very passionate about a lot of stuff that I had only been mouthing before, or hadn’t been able to find the words for. What’s above is an example of part of a conversation with one of my metamours. We’ve been sharing a lot in the past couple of months, but I felt pretty dang empowered after that conversation just a few days ago. I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about my own strength.
Then tonight, I had another pretty powerful conversation with my partner. This piece is part of a larger email I sent to my partner, and I was proud that I was able to convey this amount of vulnerability to her while still getting my point across. I’ve been working on this.

“[My primal] lizard brain has to deal with the last 10 years of habits. Life’s lessons have taught me that once I have sex with someone, they don’t want me as much anymore, that my worth is tied up a lot in my sexual attraction. I’m still working on blocking the need to feel validated by my sex, because I’m not used to anyone wanting the rest of me. I’m fun in bed. I’m caring. I’m pretty. I’m cool and fun to hang out with and play video games with or nerd out with or drink beer with. I’m almost like “one of the guys” sometimes. Or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I’ve had to combat the feeling that once you are sexually sated, or have played enough, or you get bored or too busy with important life things, that you’re going to find someone else that you think is more suitable to keeping around for a “real” relationship.

“I don’t want you to feel bad about this, but I feel that it’s important for you to know my feelings. These are the demons I face. I want to trust you with everything. I want to bare my soul to you, open my mind to you so that you can know everything.”

***

I feel like I’m really getting good at this emotion thing. In the past, it’s been difficult for me to open up because in the past I haven’t had a partner who was able to see me for who I am, or if they could, they didn’t want me for who I am. I’m a bit of a strange person. I have a different perspective on things, a different outlook on life than most people I’ve met, and that makes dating difficult. Often, I would get bewildered looks, pats on the head, or someone facepalming because my ideas or thoughts were a bit outlandish to them. Because I do have a brain like a merry-go-round-slash-maze-slash-mad-scientist’s-laboratory. I swear it’s fun, though. And nobody gets hurt.

But one of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately, which I said to a friend a few days ago, is that people try to classify me as a, “nice, bubbly girl,” or someone who is, “silly,” and, “friendly,” and, “easy to trust.” The hardest part is, in front of many people, I don’t have the capability to be anything else. They don’t have the strength or depth of character required for me to have the trust in them to let them see all the different facets of me. Sometimes, I’m a huge drag. Sometimes, I’m EXTREMELY morbid and twisted. Sometimes, in fact more often than not these days, I want absolutely nothing to do with people.

The most important thing I that I’ve been thinking about, though, is that my emotions don’t define who I am. They help me to find a way to create outward expression, but they aren’t me. They don’t control me, and they certainly don’t determine every action I take, though they are definitely an information source I pull from to do my decision-making.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, as I go by on my day-to-day routine, I feel a bit like a mindless zombie, and I forget how many emotions I have. I forget where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and that I’m capable of so much.

I really am a strong woman who has been through a lot. I’ve dealt with a lot of things, in a lot of different places and situations. And yet, I’m still here. I’m still feeling, and working more and more each day to open my heart. There could definitely be worse things to do with myself.

ROAR!!!!!

Toxic

“What do you want me to do about your family?”*

“What?”

“I don’t like the way she talks to you, and I know that when I’m down there, someone is going to say something, and I’m going to get upset. So how do you want me to react?” My partner is coming to meet my family for the first time this summer. I’ve just come out to them within the last 6 months.

“Um… I’m not sure. Let me think about it,” I say with a grin, thinking of how much I love Alpha and her protectiveness.

She’s referring, of course, to the fact that I woke up my step mother the one time I’ve actually made food for myself in the middle of the night. I’m on the night shift. It was my day off, and midnight is lunch time. Life is decidedly dull when you have no friends within an hour drive and you’re in the middle of nowhere. So, I’m Skyping with my girlfriend on a Friday night, making tomato soup.

Predictably, me being in the kitchen on Skype with the lights on, “cooking,” is the most inconvenient thing and I’ve woken the entire neighborhood, putting everyone out.

Alpha still doesn’t like the way she pushes me around and talks down to me.

*This is a simulation of a conversation we had a few nights ago. Due to my imperfect memory, it’s not exact.

consequences-drug-abuse

Flash back to age 12:

“I hate it when you come here. It’s a huge burden on me. Do you realize that?”

“You know that [your step-dad] doesn’t love you, right? Nobody could love a child that’s not their own, and if your mother dies he’s not going to want anything to do with you. I know I wouldn’t if something happened to your dad.”

I grew up with comments like this. It’s no wonder my mother’s threat to send me to my father’s house when I was acting up straightened me right out. Who would want to live in a house where it was clear they were unwanted? When I brought things like this up to my dad, he always defended her, making it clear where I stood: in a less important place than her. Hell, they even got married on my birthday. If that’s not a sign that someone was trying to push me aside, I don’t know what is.

***

“Why do I let people treat me this way? I need to figure out what it is that I’m doing that’s causing this. Where is the pattern? Clearly, not everyone is treated like this, so it must be something about me.”

I’ve had that conversation so many times, and I’ve been on both sides. Regardless of which side you’re on – that of the trauma survivor or the comforter – you feel helpless.

I have a theory about why I don’t defend myself as well as I defend others. Alpha believes that I was not given the space to assert myself. I’m sure it’s something like that, but my theory is that with a chronically ill mother, my “petty” desires didn’t hold a candle to her literal life-and-death struggle. If me repressing my desires and emotions could forestall another 2-5 week hospital stay, I wouldn’t ask to be enrolled in dance classes, or try out for after-school volleyball. Her health, her life was infinitely more important than anything short of illness or injury on my part.

Which, I suppose, is why I’ve felt like this so much in my recent life.

***

I’m so tired of feeling like I’m unwanted, or that my feelings don’t matter. I dread the thought of coming to my dad’s house after work, because I can feel those hateful waves of unwanted burden permeating the very foundations. I’m so ready for this self-imposed exile to be done. Luckily, I only have 79 days to go until my time here is done and I’ll have saved the money I need to save to live where I want to live. To be in a place surrounded by like-minded people. To be in a place with people who love me and try to understand what I’ve gone through, and my issues with rape and PTSD and abuse.

I miss my mom so hard right now, and with my birthday in just a few days, it makes it that much harder. I can’t wait to get back to the same place as my girlfriend. I haven’t felt so loved as I do with her – not since my mom died, anyway. I need to be physically near her.

I need to remove myself from this toxic environment. 79 days can’t pass soon enough for me.

From Mexico to Steubenville

So, I learned about the Steubenville rape case last week after I got back from traveling around the left portion of the country (and even some of Mexico) without consistent access to facebook for about a week. I’ve read several articles, and I have to say that I’m still not sure how it makes me feel. To be honest, the past week or two has been pretty triggering.

***

Over the weekend, I went on a dance cruise to Mexico with a little over a hundred dancers, a great majority with whom I am friends or at least know on a smile-and-nod-and-sometimes-dance-with basis. We went to a bar, where the “waiters” (a.k.a. booze thugs) tried to pressure drunk tourists into letting themselves be abused by the staff. Suffice it to say, for the men there was painful (or so I heard) nipple flicking, and the women’s breasts were touched by strangers, albeit in a fashion where the strangers were holding the women’s wrists and using the women’s own hands to fondle their breasts (over [most of] their clothing). Oh, and one woman had a man’s face repeatedly smashed into her crotch while she was held upside down and being bounced up and down. Both genders had beer and tequila shot down their throats while being held against a booze thug from behind by the throat/chin so they couldn’t move.

Now, to clarify, yes, everyone who participated had to say, “Yes.” However, it was also plain to see that none of the individuals knew exactly what was going to happen to them. Additionally, I watched my friend, whom I love and admire, struggle against the man holding him once he realized what it entailed, and manhandled into submission.

And yet he *STILL* gave the person a $10 tip when it was done.

Now, maybe he was okay with the outcome. Maybe the female who had her ladybits molested by someone (who wasn’t *quite* a stranger; they had met the day before, after all) wasn’t traumatized. Maybe the other guy didn’t mind having his face rammed into someone else’s crotch. I don’t know.

Update: It turns out all parties were okay with what happened, and generally expected it. I guess I was just surprised and didn’t remember it from last year.

But I definitely had issues with it and left as soon as I felt comfortable, and was surrounded with people I trusted. I don’t think it triggered anything severe, but it definitely left me with some really uncomfortable feelings.

So, there was that.

***

I also had the chance to build on a relationship with a lovely friend that I didn’t realize also has PTSD from sexual trauma. She opened up to me and shared her story in a way that showed me what a strong, beautiful person she is. Though she still has episodes, she has healed beautifully, and she’s such a wonderful inspiration to me. I think once I actually start dealing with mine, rather than suppressing it (no, I haven’t sought therapy yet), I’ll be able to deal with my episodes in a similar way.

And yes, I know it will get worse before it gets better.

***

Quick update: for the most part, I don’t notice my PTSD on a violent scale the way I did last summer. I become uneasy around most men, and still have very little desire for them on a sexual basis, with very limited exceptions. I still have trust issues related to men, but it’s getting better. Because my work has recently ramped up to the level of ridiculous, I don’t have a lot of time to really think about much besides working, sleeping, creative pursuits, and my girlfriend.

***

But back to the Steubenville issue. Yes, I know everyone’s putting their two cents in. As I said, I’ve been reading some blogs and articles about it. I’ve avoided comments, because I really don’t want to cry about how hateful people can be on either side of the issue, but I’m glad that the issue of the “rape culture” is being addressed so openly, and not just by my liberal, feminist, queer-and-queer-ally friends.

For now, I’m only going to link one blog, because I like the way it addressed several issues. It talks about how this isn’t just an issue of one person doing something wrong: it’s about how there were several people involved, from the people who actually perpetrated physical violence on the girl to those who watched and did nothing, and even to those who perpetrated victim blaming after the event was over. It talks about the efficacy of the actions taken against the boys (because they were boys, you know) in the manner of punishment. It asks why these boys were raised in such a manner that this was even thought to be even remotely acceptable. It also talks about potential fixes for the problem that I find to be potential bandages to start the healing problem that surrounds this issue.

But mostly, there was one phrase that really caught my eye: “It is ironic and sad that the person who is going to do a life sentence is her.”

And it’s so true. Regardless of the fact that I probably don’t have to say this to most of the people who read this, I’m going to anyway. Whether you think he or she is consenting or not, take that extra moment. Stop what you are doing. Sit a few inches away from the person. Ask them a question. “Do you want this?” It’s that easy. Oh, and don’t forget that the person should also be able to give consent. (i.e. not drunk or drugged or half-asleep or grieving out of their mind) And also of legal age. Because, really, it comes down to the fact that the chance will come back later. And if it doesn’t with *this* person, it will with another. You’re not going to die from your libido exploding, and s/he doesn’t owe you anything for getting you riled up. They weren’t asking for it. Hell, if you ask, they might even say yes.

But if you don’t, you never know. Maybe they wanted it, just not from you, or just not in that way.

***

Lastly, I’m going to end on a very positive note. I asked a boy for some “makey-outey” time this past weekend. He said no (for now? *shrug*), but he also expressed concern for the fact that I was drunk after I said I wasn’t going to get drunk and didn’t want to take advantage. Also, I haven’t wanted to have any sort of intimate contact with a male-identified person since last June, the last time I was raped. So, I see this as a step in the direction of healing. Regardless of whether or not we ever have makey-outey time or I’m ever with a man again, I see this as a step in the direction of healing. I also see this as a sign that there are good men out there who treat people decently and care, even when someone is almost completely a stranger.

Ok, maybe this is for real lastly… As of about two weeks ago, I’m completely out about being gay to my family, and MY GOD is it liberating. They don’t all like it, or “agree with my lifestyle,” but I never really asked them to, and besides, I don’t agree with all of their “lifestyles” either. But it’s good to know that they love me regardless, just as the family-of-my-heart has always loved me. Honestly, I could cry with the joy of it.

Here’s a happy picture of a baby goat:

Image

What exactly is the point?

Well, I suppose the point is to get better, right? I mean, after any experience, you are left changed. You are different. Every time you do something new, and sometimes even when you do things you’ve done before, it changes you a little bit.

After a traumatic experience, you change drastically. Some days you don’t even recognize your responses to certain stimuli as something you would do. Your emotions don’t feel like something you would feel. Your thoughts are foreign.

<POV change. Don’t get disoriented, you writer types.>

It’s a very unsettling experience, feeling like a stranger in my own head. There have been times, since my assaults, that I have felt like I was not right in the head. I’ve taken online tests because I was concerned that I might have sociopathic tendencies. Sometimes I still am a bit concerned about it. This could be a good subject to bring up with a therapist, I’m sure.

When dating or trying to date or trying to meet someone who would be an acceptable candidate for dating, my whole outlook has changed. I’ve stopped looking for the rebels or the bad boys/girls. Much of what I look for is, “Would this person be capable of dealing with the weirdness and craziness that is me? Do they have weirdness and craziness of their own? Is their weirdness compatible?” I seek kindness and understanding. Empathy. A person with a loving heart that doesn’t judge (much). Someone willing to spend time just holding and touching me, that is patient with my lack of sex drive at this time. Someone that will hold me when I cry and not get freaked out and run away. Hell, someone that is emotionally strong enough to deal with the fact that I have been severely depressed (recently diagnosed, ’cause I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I started searching for therapy sources) for a great deal of the last 12 years, and is strong enough with their own emotions that they’re even capable of occasionally supporting me, emotionally speaking. It would be nice to know that someone ELSE has a handle on things when everything goes to shit. Someone that doesn’t fly off the handle at the smallest things. Someone who is not jealous, and is ok with the fact that I am indeed very intimate (not sexual, intimate – there’s a difference) with many of my close friends. Someone who doesn’t judge me or blame me for my past. The “challenge” and the “chase” still have a great appeal to me, but less so now. I still like someone with a little darkness, but I’m not as drawn to it as I used to be. (Was that too much?)

In friends, I have really come to value those who truly do care. Those who message and call me, just to check in. Friends who aren’t afraid to say, “I love you,” when they really mean it, and who demonstrate that love through their actions toward me and others. I’m not too needy in that respect. Just be the awesome person that you are.

I guess where I was going here was that the way I see people and things has changed. In a way, I feel like I live in a different world than I used to inhabit. I still don’t think I live in the same world (mentally speaking) as many other people. A lot of practical realities such as monetary issues and the thought of home-owning still don’t make sense to me. (And while we’re on the subject of things that don’t make sense: football. Seriously, there’s too much stopping in that sport. Just pick up the ball and keep running. But keep wearing those tight pants.)

I don’t trust as easily as I used to. I’m more skeptical of my fellow humans, and often search for ulterior motives when someone is overly friendly. In relationships where I become very emotionally invested, I am more likely to become co-dependent. I think I’ve said before that lately I have been a very angry person. I’m hurt and angry and resentful of people that surrounded me from the time I was young, people I thought might have had a chance to change some things or that should have taken a hand in sooner. I’m very confused, because I haven’t ever experienced this strong of an outlet of feelings, and I’m finally allowing myself to experience them for the first time.

I’m going to keep working on experiencing emotions. Maybe experiment a little. Keep going until memories don’t hurt so bad, and there’s truly hope for the future. It’ll get better eventually, right?

Crisis of Faith

Ok, so this isn’t a blog about the normal stuff I post about. Instead, I’m going to open up about something I don’t normally talk about in public: Religion.

Some background on me: I grew up BaptiMethoChurchofChristolic, which is to say that I was dragged around to several different Christian churches infrequently as I grew up, mostly because my parents couldn’t agree on one and my mother’s many illnesses made consistent attendance an issue. My step-dad grew up Catholic for the most part, step-mom is still a devout Catholic who attends mass at least once or twice a week, and bio-mom and -dad couldn’t commit to any one church but claimed to follow Protestant Christianity.

I went through a phase during junior high and part of high school where I wanted to get involved with a church, and attended a Church of Christ with my step-dad’s parents. I did that for a while, wanted to get more involved, but was discouraged by my parents (mom & step-dad) because they thought me wanting to go to Bible study outside of “Church Time” was just me trying to get out of the house to socialize. So, even visits to church died down after that. My bio-dad & step-mom, on the other hand, just didn’t really talk about it. When I visited, sometimes we went to church, but I didn’t receive any guidance from them one way or another.

The bottom line is, I never had complete immersion in any one religion growing up. Due to many health complications with my mother and other hardships I dealt with, I started losing my faith. Due to seeing the way supposed “Christians” acted & turned their backs on the teachings they supposedly flaunted to non-believers through their words and actions, I decided that I didn’t want to be associated with an organization of people who propagated hatred or distrust toward those who were different.

I severed myself from the Christian religion sometime around 2000. I still hold that some of the core beliefs of the Judeo-Christian faiths can provide good moral guidance to people.

I have claimed Agnosticism since then. My basic tenet of beliefs have revolved around something to this extent: “I don’t know what to believe[concerning the existence of god(s)] because I don’t believe the human mind has the ability to encompass the true meaning of deity and the construct of religion is a human creation formed for the purposes of population control and keeping certain people in power.”

I have always maintained a belief that there is a possibility for the Divine to exist, to one extent or another.

I have always maintained a belief in spiritual forces that may be out there.

Since becoming an “adult” (one who can legally live on my own, that is), I have researched and followed studies into many religious and spiritual practices. I’ve looked into various belief systems, such as Islam, the Church of Latter Day Saints, Wicca, Taoism, Buddhism and Atheism.

Something I’ve found amongst all of these religions are a few core moral guidelines that I use to guide me: Be nice to others. Love people even when you don’t understand them. Try to do the right thing, even when you aren’t being observed to do it, because it’s the right thing to do. Don’t steal or kill anyone (successful on that, so far, though I did cry a little bit when I killed a spider a few months ago). Be respectful, especially to your elders and those with more experience. Remember that there are two sides to every door: listen to both sides of the story before making a judgement. Know that it’s not your place to judge others’ actions. Only put good things out into the universe, for what you put out comes back to you. I’ve added for myself: Be respectful of other people’s beliefs, even if you don’t agree with or understand them.

This usually helps me to keep myself on the moral straight-and-narrow. I enjoy it.

But in the last few months – actually, it’s probably been a few years, I just didn’t acknowledge it – I’ve been having a crisis of faith. I’ve been realizing more and more that I don’t think I believe in the existence of a Deity. I understand the purpose of the construct, but I am having a difficult time believing in the actual existence of it. And that makes me sad.

During a conversation with a friend earlier this evening, I expressed these sentiments:

“And now I’m wondering if I’ve been hanging onto Agnosticism because it’s easier than letting go of a myth of an all-powerful benevolent being that’s watching out for us and wants to take care of us.”

“I’m not necessarily angry at religion, I just believe that in this day & age people have the resources and capability to educate themselves on the right way to live without being need to be reined in by fear of eternal retribution.”

“Afterlife? If there’s no god, is there no Heaven? What happens after we die? Does that mean I’ll never see my mom again? That thought makes me cry. And I don’t want to give up the thought that one day I could see & talk to her again.  I’ve seen myself edging toward this for a few years now & I’ve been avoiding it, but I don’t feel like I can for any longer denying my thoughts/feelings doesn’t make them go away, it just suppresses it and makes it harder for me to deal with later, because I keep putting it off.”

“Letting go of comforting myth is very difficult for me”

So, I guess the difficult question for me really is, “Am I ready to give up a belief that allows me to deny some of the responsibility of my actions (i.e. God will take care of me) and portrays an all-knowing/loving/thinking/whatever deity and the possibility of an afterlife in which I can be reunited with my loved ones in some other life/realm?” I mean, if I believe in it and it’s not real, I guess I’ll find out one way or another. And if it is real, I’ll either go there or I’m damned, depending on me beliefs.

I have a hard time wanting to believe something as a “just in case” measure, though (other than Romero’s Wager – survival and self-defense skills could come in handy anytime, regardless of zombies).

Any thoughts on this? I’d like some feedback that does not include fire & brimstone or condemnation either way. Anyone else gone through or going through something like this?

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