I've had a few interesting, philosophical-like contributions to my thought process so far today. (I would say "this morning", because it is morning for me-- I've taken to staying up with C and waking up when he does for work--but, it's... not. It's 2:30 p.m. What a slacker! lol)

I was talking to Mom about how I'm afraid of making a decision because it seems like this past year, fully half or more of my decisions have lead to pretty awful situations for me. Summer camp was something I prayed about and thought about like crazy, and it ended up being a veritable hell. However, the drive out to WI was a great decision. Choosing to come to Y was a good decision, also, I think. However, working at the herb store was significantly less enjoyable than I had anticipated. (But I DID appreciate the income.)

Mom pointed out, however, that working at camp may not have been a bad thing. I did find out rather quickly that I can't work around foods I'm allergic to, and if I had not known that, I might be taking a food-service job now and slowly poisoning myself, wondering why I'm always so sick. Now, it would be my livelihood. Then, it was just summer camp--not a big deal if I left. (Well, I don't think she knows that camp was supposed to be my livelihood! lol) She says that she's found that sometimes the most awful things come around full circle and keep us from experiencing something drawn out and/or even more terrible. I agree with that. ("So," I said, "it's almost like there are no mistakes." "Exactly!" she agreed. "There's even a verse in Romans that points that out.")

Talking to C about the decision I have to make within the next few days, I told him I was stressing because I don't want to make the wrong choice. He looked at me with amused amazement and asserted boldly, "What wrong choice? There is no wrong choice."

"Yes, there is," I insisted. "Either way, the course of my life is going to be changed significantly. Your life is supposed to take a certain path, and you have to make the choices that will keep you on that path."

"No. Life isn't supposed to be anything. It's what you make it. There is no wrong choice, there is simply a choice."


I think they have a point.

I mean, philosophically or theologically or whatever, it may not be totally refined and correct. But the base theory is almost revolutionary to me. I'm always so concerned with whether I'm doing the "right thing" or not, making the "right choice" so that I will be the "right person". (I thought I was trying to buck that?!)

What if the two choices are not "right or wrong", but equally right? What if it simply comes down to... which path do I want to take?

It seems the doors to Option 2 have suddenly flung wide, while Option 1 quietly wilts into itself, further estranged by the reassertion of my initial hesitance.

And the hesitance of one whose counsel I value very highly.

There are so many pros...

And the cons... well, the cons are my pride. And the thwarting of my desire for escape. And, of course, my hesitation to make the "wrong" choice.

Is that all?

Oh, yes. I'd have to deal with the presence of the boundary pushers, instead of quietly making my exit.

I guess I just have to think... is staying here and working with HJ and marrying C really what I want to do with my life? Because Option 2 will greatly facilitate that.

And Option 1... still leaves room for escape.

Ahhh. There it is. There it is.

It's less about which school am I going to, and more about having an "out".

This girl... the perennial escapist.

You need to think about this, and make sure it's what you really want, otherwise you'll start to chafe, and you'll panic, and you'll run. "Know thyself," they say. Well, I know myself, and that's what will happen.

Go. Run your errands. But think while you're running. Think about this.

Talk it over with C tonight. And Mom, when she calls back. Let them know, work it through. Pray about it some more.
And what do you do when your paths diverge?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

{Robert Frost}
The last two nights have been... interesting. Interesting in the bad way. Actually, make that this whole weekend-- none of my nights have been good! The days have been okay, I guess...

I begin house-sitting and dog-sitting for some friends of mine. That's all well and good. I like their dogs, their dogs like me. It was good to get away somewhere else, because C was busy playing Diablo 3 (I know, sounds awful, right? I don't care for it, even if the player is the forces of good putting an end to the powers of hell that are taking over the world.), and I need something productive to do other than dishes for a change.

Friday night, the guys had a LAN party-- first Diablo 3, then a DnD break, then some sort of tactical outer space game (like OGame) that I don't know the name of. I didn't particularly care to hang around and watch, because LAN parties bore the snot out of me, but J conveniently stepped in with an invitation to come over to her place and watch a chick flick. I took her up on the invitation (felt a little strange to be doing it on Fri. night!), and it was good.

When I came home to go to bed, however, C was playing that tactical outer space game, and since his apartment is small, his computer desk is right next to the bed. That means that the flashing lights and background music and his brother coming in to ask questions and the guys all hollering back and forth were right there in my sphere of consciousness. I plugged in my headphones and turned on my favorite playlist, but I still got awful sleep, and I was very cranky the next morning.

I had special music, but because of the terrible sleep I had the night before, I overslept by an hour and didn't get to practice/warm up like I had wanted, so I ended up performing cold. I feel like I totally biffed it, but no one had ever heard the song before, so they had no clue that's not what it was supposed to sound like, and they thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt pretty ill during church, went home and laid down immediately. C was still awake when I got home (!), but he came to bed soon after, and I got a nice nap in and felt much better. He was still sleeping a few hours later, naturally, so I left to go take care of the dogs again and spend some quality time by myself. I don't keep Sabbath the way I used to, but I've realized over the past few weeks that I miss it. There's still something special about it, and I want to go back to it. It'll be a bit different, I think, but I'm sure as heck not gonna spend my Sabbaths sitting around and watching the guys play video games!!

Thankfully, my friend has a rather peaceful back yard, so I sat out there with the dogs for a while, read some of my Gifts of Imperfection book, and listened to the birds. It was soothing, and what I needed. Spent the rest of the Sabbath hours reading the Horse Called Mayonnaise series. (I still love those books so much...)

I slept at the house I was sitting, on the couch, and got a good night's rest.

Uneventful. Picked up some more stuff from my grandparent's house (which I find funny and partially annoying because I know that, in a week or so, I'm just going to be hauling it all back over there again! *sigh* Living between two places can be frustrating.) Cleaned up the apartment. (It just tickles me how much C appreciates it when he comes home to a clean place, because the last thing he wants to do when he gets off of work is to clean.) Read some more of my library books. Tried going to a contemporary church service in the eve. but it was canceled due to the holiday weekend.

I'm making good progress on my "God" books, too. I was reading way too many at first, so I've had to pace myself so I don't get confused or just plain forget what I'm learning. Right now I'm working through Is The Bible Real?, and I'm about halfway through that one, doing a half-chapter to a chapter a day. I'm learning a lot, and my perspective is changing. After this one, I'm going to tackle the hermeneutics and exegesis one, and then... any one of the other 5 or 6 books I've got waiting in my stack.

After work, C and I took the dogs for a walk, and that was wonderful. I asked him about houses, and we got to look at the houses we were passing and say what we liked and what we didn't like, etc. It was pretty cool. Then, back at the friend's house, I took him into the backyard to show him a particular kind of flower that I want to grow, snailflowers. Since the backyard is about the size that he is going to be looking for, he paced it off and showed me just how he's going to set it up, and I can just see it. It's going to be a beautiful sanctuary of peace. That's where I'll be spending my Sabbaths in the years to come. (He's going to build a fish-pond with a neat little waterfall-pump system and flower beds around it--the flowers being my domain, of course ^_^-- and I'll get about a quarter of the yard for my herb/vegetable garden, and the walls will be grown over with bougainvillea and snailflower so you can't even see the brick/cinderblock. We'll probably have a tree, a big pine, for the kids to climb, and he'll have a shed off in the corner. Over the pond, he wants to put a mesh/mosquito net type thing to control the bug population and keep stuff from falling into the pond, and he wants to grow some vines up around the insides of it. I get to have a portable fire pit/fire table and chairs that we'll stash in the shed when the season is not right. Somewhere, I'll be growing jasmine-- probably twining around the porch posts.

The front yard, to save maintenance, will be green rock, and I'm going to press for some ornamental grasses or succulents or something. He also wants a tree, so the kids have something to climb. I wanted paloverde because it will look real nice with the green rock, but it's got thorns, so C's not thrilled with the idea. However, if we get a tree in the backyard... then maybe I'll get my paloverde in front? I just love around April when they bloom out with those gorgeous little yellow blossoms.)

Sunday night, however, was awful. Went to bed later than I should have, but I had this horrible, horrible nightmare that woke me up on the verge of screaming. Had I stayed asleep much longer, I would have started yelling and woken myself up, like I did the week before. I had this awful and heavy, sick, disgusting, gross feeling slithering and swirling around in my gut. I just felt so... horrified. Disgusted. Repulsed. Fearful. It was unspeakable revulsion and horror mixed with raw fear, and I just felt sick.

I had to go let the dogs out, though, so I scouted around for my keys, and... they were lost. I put them somewhere unusual after coming back from walking the dogs, and I couldn't find them. Ordinarily, it wouldn't be such a big deal, but I had all these horrible emotions that were panicking me and I just had to get out and I couldn't and I was trapped because I couldn't find my keys and... finally, I did find them, after about 10 minutes of searching.

It was early Monday morning that I had the bad dream and went to go take care of the dogs, but I managed to fall asleep again. I didn't feel well at all after getting up for the day, though, so I pretty much stayed in bed all day. I did emerge at one point to take care of the dogs a final time, and clean my friend's house so it would be tidy for her when she got home. I also went to the grocery store to get some english muffins and applesauce after seducing C for money, but I felt pretty ill and hurried home. (Just kidding. I didn't seduce C. He offered, and I picked him up some Sprite while I was out anyway.) I just haven't felt right since I fasted on Friday. I think I unwittingly compromised myself and my health :(

C's really been making it a point to engage with me before, and even during, his computer game sessions. He took to heart what I shared about my feelings re:feeling ignored and lonely (what I posted the other day). I love that man. He tries so hard for me :)

I am wondering if my feeling sick doesn't relate somehow to the intense negative emotions brought up this past weekend and also from the dream? So I was rather out of sorts yesterday, but doing okay, I thought, until I started getting ready for bed.

Then I saw it.

The acne has come back.

It's just in formative stages right now, mind you, but it's coming back.

And I basically lost it. (Such a simple, silly thing... lol) It's just... I've had this problem for so many years. At least 10, probably closer to 12. And finally, finally, I had clear skin! But it didn't even last for a year. Why? Because of the frickin' natural medicine lady. "You can't be on antibiotics while you work here." So I quit the meds. (Same lady that told me I wouldn't have a job if I started taking anti-depressants, who denied my depression in the first place! Ugh... I could go off on that... but I won't.) And I was fine... for a few months. Slowly but surely, it's been coming back. And then they tell me, "All you need is a colon cleanse. It'll take care of that."

Okay, sure. I trust you. I trust natural medicine. Why not?

So I do the colon cleanse... and it hurts. And it makes my acne worse. W. T. F?!

And now it's not just the increasing but still semi-isolated pustule here and there... it's a genuine breakout.

It's just... frustrating. Like everything that seems to be good, everything that I trust... ends up shafting me in the end. It doesn't work. It never works. Good job prospect? Just kidding! Hell on earth! Haha, you naive child! Natural medicine? The illusion of hope!

It makes me nervous, and very, very bitter. Why trust anything that seems to be good? I'm just going to get screwed.

It makes me afraid to trust this relationship, because, well... it's good. Too good. It's going to self-destruct sometime, and it's going to hurt like it does when I long for a father, only more. It's going to hurt like all the bad things I've ever encountered within myself, and it will swallow me whole, because this is one thing that I really believe in, and if this is proven to be a lie... then what else do I have?

And the thought that I need those antibiotics to have the clear skin that so many people take for granted... just re-emphasizes my brokenness.

My body doesn't work right, so I need pills for that. My skin doesn't work right, so I need pills for that. My brain... doesn't work right, so I need pills for that. I'm just one giant, broken mess.

I went outside to mourn, and a mockingbird was in the tree just a few feet away. When it heard me crying, it started singing, and eventually, the song overcame my grief. (Mind you, this is, like, 12:30 a.m. Midnight birds. We used to have some that lived in the trees at my and C's first apartment.)

I went to go lay down again, my back to C, knowing he wouldn't notice me crying because he was focused on the computer screen, and those horrible feelings from the nightmare began to surface again. I hate that game, and I hate being anywhere near it. I couldn't just lay there, so I grabbed a blanket and a pillow and headed back out to the porch to sleep. I don't know why, but I thought that if I could sleep under the song of the mockingbird, I would be safe.

After a while, C noticed that I was missing, and came looking for me. Poor guy. The look on his face when he saw me lying on the ground was... I dunno. He wants to understand, and I know he doesn't really, but I know he's there for me. He got me to tell him what was going on, got me to come back inside, and was really concerned. He just... cares. I appreciate that so much. Even if he does think I'm a little crazy. When I told him that I still maintain that he'd be better off with someone else, or without me, he responded, "We both know that's not true! I mean, I wish you didn't have freakouts, but I know that you do, and I'm ready to deal with them."

He tried getting me to sing the "I Feel Pretty" song from A West Side Story. I didn't, but it made me laugh :) (Especially because he started dancing around and singing it! LOL)

It's scary to love someone so much, to start to depend on them... because I'm still tensed for the day or the moment when it's snatched from me.

I fell asleep in his arms, though, and that's a wonderful thing.

I don't know what tonight will bring, but the day hasn't been that great. I'm still feeling pretty gross, and very, very irritated and overwhelmed and just... like one giant, pulsating nerve. I've finally just locked myself in the dark bedroom with my favorite, most soothing playlist and my blog, and I feel better now. I also forced myself to make a list of things I need to get done, break it up into days, and get two out of my four things done for today. (I began overwhelming myself with thoughts of all I needed to do again, but my counselor's advice to break it up and not try to do everything in one day is really helping. When I feel like I have to do it all, I freeze up and don't do any of it.)

On second thought... maybe today has been good. I did some things that I needed to do. I'm giving myself what I need-- quiet, dark, space, expression... I'm going to go to group tonight. Just because today doesn't look like my "golden ideal shining standard of what a perfect day ought to entail" doesn't mean that it's not a good day, and I'm not doing the right thing.

Looking back over past entries, it's almost hard for me to believe that I was once so... spiritual? So determined to find and/or please God in every shred and facet of my life.

I guess that's how the pendulum swings, huh?

Me and my ups and downs... honestly.

But what I'm going through now doesn't negate the past experiences I've had. I learned from them. I grew. I matured. I became more the person that I am now.

They were good, and I am glad to have had them.

And I am confident that, in a year or two or whatever, I'll look back on these entries and do the same half-smile and slow shake of the head.

And I will have learned from this. I will have grown. I will have matured. And I will have become more the person that I am to be, that I want to be.

As they say, life is not a destination, but a journey.
... not "haha" funny, but... just funny. Weird. Strange.
How your past can affect you so much without your realizing it.
(As my friend says, "as the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined".)

You see, C got a new video game the other day. (Actually, I'm the one who encouraged him to, which is the ironic part! He wasn't sure his reasons for wanting it were valid enough to actually buy it, but they seemed valid enough to me, so I said he should do it.) And it's not that I have a problem with him playing the games, because I don't. It's how he stimulates his mind and wears his brain out enough so that he can sleep.

It's just...

the last two nights, he seems to basically be ignoring me and just playing the game.

Well, no. It's not that he's ignoring me, it's that I feel ignored. I know that if I wanted or needed his attention, he'd give it to me, but I've been choosing not to.

But lots of people have activities that require focus and they "ignore" those around them-- like my reading, for example.

So why the intense feelings of loneliness and rejection and inadequacy?

Ahh, yes. Because of G. Because he really did ignore us, choosing video games over us kids, over his family. Even if we needed his attention, it was not there to partake of. Only if we got in front of the tv screen would he acknowledge us.

And so the old feelings come flooding back. I'm afraid that I'm going to lose our relationship to a computer game, though I know intellectually that it's not going to happen. But the fear, the insecurity, is there.

I need to talk to him about this today, and let him know what's going on with me, my feelings about the matter. I cannot just expect him to read my mind!

And, as I've been telling myself, even if he were ignoring me and rejecting me in favor of the video game, it doesn't matter, because my self-worth is not tied to C's attentions or affections. I am enough, either way. I do not need him to be happy, or to make me happy, or to have a fulfilled life. So these feelings? They have no bearing. They're there, and I acknowledge them, and I understand them, but they are not going to rule me or drive my behaviors. I'm going to rationally talk to C about this and explain my past and my position, and we'll see what happens from there. I don't expect anything negative to come of this.

It's just... funny.

I'm really glad that I'm self-aware, or else this could have really caused some problems. (It did take me a while of asking myself questions to figure it out, though...)
Hiding, always hiding
true self, true life, true alignment.
The energy it takes
for consistency, honesty...
it washes away so quickly,
leaves pale wakes
and quiet vicissitudes
not fit to be spoken.

Freedom's gaze is pleasant,
yet haughty--
distant glistening monument
to what I cannot be.

I wish to bare my soul,
bare all,
absorb the impact of shock
and fear into my very bones
and become immune...
but right now,
I cannot bear the baring.

"I’m looking around here for some kind of miracle,
I’m looking around here for some kind of sign.
I gotta believe there’s a rhyme and a reason
For the faith that you find.

I gotta admit that there’s something I see in you--
I know that it’s something deep inside.
But nevertheless, still I can’t help but wonder,
Would you really even care if I ever said goodbye?

Well, goodbye now.

Well, you’ve got love and I’ve got time,
Won’t you make a move before I change my mind?
And I want to believe it’s true--
I’m listening close.
Won’t you make your move now?

I know that there’s more to life than I’ve ever known.
I feel it down deep inside my heart.
And I am here now to find what you’re believing,
And to know who you are.

And if you care to share a minute of your time with me,
Tell me now because I am hoping that I can believe.
Give me a reason to trust what you’re telling me.
Lord knows I need it now, won’t you show me how?

Well, you’ve got love and I’ve got time,
Won’t you make a move before I change my mind now?
Well, I want to believe it’s true--
I’m listening close.
Won’t you make your move?

I’m looking around here for some kind of miracle,
I’m looking around here for some kind of sign.
I gotta believe there’s a rhyme and a reason
For the faith that you find.

Well, you’ve got love and I’ve got time,
Won’t you make a move before I change my mind now?
And I’ll give you a chance to say
Everything you want before I walk away.
Well, I want to believe it’s true--
I’m listening close.
Won’t you make your move?"
It's one thing to live with an entire family of people who eat like you do, but when you're out on your own... it can get easier to "cheat". Especially when "dirt poor" is the income bracket above you.

I've been really good. I mean, really good, and really strict, for a really long time. Like, years.

But lately, as I've been working through stuff, the cravings for the good ol' comfort food come back, and there's no allergen free haven to turn to in my time of gastric need.

So, tonight... I decided that I've had it.

I ate a slice of pizza.

I think it was the best thing I've ever eaten.

And you know what?

...I feel perfectly fine.

Which is ironic, considering that I often hurt quite a bit when I'm being good and strict and staying off of "bad" foods.

Next item of death?


Oh yeah, baby. ;)

(Either that or cheesecake.)

(...can you tell I miss cheese?)

(...and bread?)

Anyway, I've heard this song on the radio a few times now, and I really like it. I resonate with the lyrics.
*Christian Rock Alert*

Now... I'm off to go make myself a cup of coffee and do the dishes.

Bring it on, colon. I hate you, too.

So I've really been mulling over this whole "protection and God" thing, because it really, really bugs me. I've been getting feedback from both sides-- "God never promised to protect us (think of the Natalie Grant song 'Held')", or... well.. actually, that's all I've gotten. The other side is me, saying "Yes he did! I could have sworn he did!"

So I started reading Job again.

I used to love Job.

Job 38 used to be one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. I love the majestic imagery it invokes.

However, I'm having a bit of a problem with the book of Job this time around.

I mean... I see the backdrop of the Great Controversy that I've been trained to see, but superimposed over the top I see these glaring injustices. Not only does God stand back and let Satan totally demolish Job's family, livelihood, and investments, but he seems to be encouraging it. Wtf?! I thought God was supposed to be on our side, not out to prove a point with our suffering??

I also noticed, this time around, that it's not just Job suffering. I mean, what about Job's servants that died? They had family, friends, loved ones. Now those people are left behind to mourn their loss, devastated. What about Job's kids? He had twelve of them-- that represents a lot of other connections like spouses, grandchildren, cousins and nieces and nephews, etc. Those people have a loss, too. Or how about Job's wife? God wasn't egging Satan on to test her, but what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. I've heard her catch a lot of flack over the incident where she approaches Job and tells him to "curse God and die", but I totally get where she's coming from. The woman has just lost everything (and she doesn't even know the backstory!), and she is in pain. A lot of pain. An unfathomable amount of pain. It kind of reminds me of Naomi-- she lost her sons and her husband, her livelihood, and she's in a foreign land. How does she respond? Changing her name to Mara- "bitter". I don't blame her a bit.

And, while Job refuses to "curse God", he does get clinically depressed and suicidal, ruing the day he was born, questioning God's motives... yet he still considers himself to be pure from turning against God, even in this state. And God apparently agrees.

I also noticed that I think much along the same lines that Job's friend Eliphaz does-- "God protects good people, and really bad stuff is happening to you, therefore there's a kink in the line somewhere. Furthermore, since God is perfect... the problem must be you. Get right with God, and he'll be able to protect you again, k?"

Aaaaaand... that's where I stopped reading. I couldn't stomach any more.

Loving God, or cosmic bully? I just can't figure it out.

So I started to get this idea...

It is very clearly stated that God will guide us. (Exodus 15:13, Psalm 73:24, Isaiah 58:11, John 16:13, just to name a few.) So I thought that maybe God doesn't protect us, he just offers guidance, and if we listen then things will go okay, but when someone doesn't listen, then that's when they start hurting people. So if no one in my family was listening for God's guidance or following it (I'm thinking of G here), then the hurt would ensue. I was thinking that maybe God's protection was his guidance, if you see what I mean?

But, then... it's pretty obvious that God does step in and actively protect sometimes. Plus there are Bible verses where he promises to protect. (Psalm 12:7-8, Psalm 91:14-15, John 17:11+15- sorta, 2 Thess. 3:3.)

So now I don't know what to do. If I believe the Bible verses, then I'm faced with the reality that God didn't protect me. (And if anyone, anyone tries to come after me with the notion that God was protecting me by letting me be abused, I'm going to have to gouge someone's eyes out with a rusty spoon.)

(Okay, actually, ew. I would never do that. But I don't want to hear that concept! It rings false all the way to the core of me.)

I cannot live with the kind of pain that comes from believing that I'm a servant to a God who stood by and let me be abused, though he gave assurances of protection in the past, and who now demands my obedience and trust? I think not.

God has protected me at random various times in the past. That's what I don't get. Like the car crash. I could have--should have-- died. Why did God save me? Why did God save me from physical death, but not emotional torture and anguish? Honestly, I think I'd have preferred it the other way around! (Gah, talk about jinxing yourself... I'm getting nervous, here...)

Then again, maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what it means to "protect". And there are plenty of places in the Bible where God didn't protect those people back then, either. I'm not the only one he seemingly forgot about.

I just... can't stand the thought of trusting someone who would let something like that happen to innocents! And it's not just about me. It's about the girls I work with every week. It's about the kids I see on the news who have died, starved and beaten to death. It's about the refugees who are trapped in a war they didn't ask for, enduring horrific monstrosities that they can do nothing about. It's about babies being raped and discarded.

And maybe it does hurt God, too. Okay, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. (So far, he's always been callous and distant in my mental scenario building.) Maybe he's in just as much agony as I am.

So do something.

End it all in a blazing zombie apocalypse. I don't care.

If it hurts you too, then why won't you do something about it? Why are you just standing there? I know, I know... you can't end it all until everyone has had a chance to decide one way or another, because ending it prematurely would call the "unfair" verdict back into question. Some rock and a hard place you've got there. And we are supposed to be out there working our hinies off to get this whole thing spinning down faster, right?

I wish I could bring it all to a close.

But I don't have any good news to bring to anyone.

Trust me... you don't want me out there.

I can't tell people that Jesus loves them because, honestly, I don't believe it.

I can say it. I can even smile really big and kinda glow while I'm saying it. I can get my emotions worked up and feel good while I'm saying it. I can even kinda think I might believe it. I can hope I believe it.

But... I don't.

I'm sorry.

I'm a horrible Christian.

And I don't know what to do about this.

God won't protect me... or will he?

I've heard it said that you're going to experience pain whether you're a Christian or not. That's just how this world works. So my logic used to be, "Well, then, why not be a Christian? I mean, better safe than sorry, right?"

Now, my logic seems to have morphed into, "Well, then... what's the point? Oh, yeah.. heaven. Eternal life. Hmm. Okay... but either way life is gonna suck? Well, then... I guess I might as well... it's either hurt and die forever, or hurt and die for just a little while. Meh. I'll give it a shot."

I've also heard it said that God will only take to heaven the people that will be happy there.

That scares me.

Because God scares me.

Because I don't trust him.

Because it's like having a schizophrenic parent-- you never know whether you're gonna meet the nice, happy, protecting God or the "yeah, well, you shoulda thought of that before you did it" God that refuses to lift a finger to help you. (Yeah, well, you shoulda thought harder about being born into that family, huh?)

I remembered a memory yesterday. G had been molesting me in my bedroom, in my bed, so I actually started sleeping in the hallway. (Um, hello, red flag? Anyone?!)

It didn't stop him.

In fact, that was where some of the most shameful things happened. (Where the horrible thing that I confessed to C happened. I actually didn't tell him the whole story. There was more. I just didn't think of it at the time.)

My mom didn't protect me.

God didn't protect me.

I couldn't even protect me. My best efforts failed.

For crying out loud, I was just a kid.

Won't somebody protect me??
I had a small breakdown today. Or close to one, I guess I could say.

I don't know what it was, but I just started sliding downhill (and fast) about 2 p.m. today. I was blissfully (eh, okay, maybe just peacefully) happy this morning, but it all evaporated like snow on a hot engine.

Anyway, by 5 p.m. I was my version of a basket case. I told C that I felt very anxious when we went on our errand foray, but I couldn't pin down why. (Methinks it has something to do with the fact that I feel like the scum of the earth when I haven't accomplished something in a particular day, and... I hadn't.) I tried positive self-talk, but the ruthless voice in my head wouldn't be silenced.

I ended up sitting on the table outside, rocking back and forth and talking to myself. (Does it sound like I was losing it? Because I sure felt like it.) That's when I realized that I had no control over this... voice. And that it was actually holding a conversation with me.

And that it had a name.

The voice in my head is named Vivian.

Now, that's some scary sh**.

I went inside and told C that I think I'm going crazy. I told him about Vivian. He just held me close. (Bless his heart. His day had been stressful, and I feel bad.)

I also tried to break up with him. He wouldn't let me. I just feel like he deserves better, you know? To not have to deal with my crazy crap all the time. To have someone stable? But he says that he has what he wants.

I'm reading more of that book on Wholeheartedness. If I can actually put this stuff into practice... it'll change my whole life. I recognize that what it talks about-- authenticity-- is what I'm really striving for in this "rebellion". I want to be known and accepted for me, not for the me that I've been presenting. If I'm not doing what people think I should, or thinking or feeling the way they think I should... will they still love and accept me? Guess we'll find out. The neat thing is that, if I am truly coming from the vantage point of "I am enough right now", then even if I am not accepted for who I really am... it'll be okay. It will hurt, sure... but it'll be okay.

The author of the book is a shame researcher by profession. She talks a lot about shame. It's a universal emotion, but not a healthy place to live. And oh, boy, do I live there. I've realized that I live my life from a place of shame. I'm never "good enough". I'm rarely not "bad" for something or other. And that's the mantra that runs through my head all the time. (Vivian's theme song, I think...)

I'll be enough when... (fill in the blank).

I'll be worthy/enough when I've got this God thing all figured out.
I'll be worthy/enough when I'm independent financially.
I'll be worthy/enough when I'm not depressed anymore.

No, dammit! No, no, no! I am worthy of love now! I am enough NOW!

Vivian can do whatever she wants. I'm going to be practicing self-love and compassion. And all those other things that make up an authentic life. And maybe... just maybe... this kind of life will be toxic to Vivian, and she'll die. I would be happy about that. (I know, I know... it sounds so stupid to talk about this "Vivian", like I'm just trying to be crazy... a psychological hypochondriac, right? But... it's true. I'm not making this up.)

I'm not proud of it, but I seriously contemplated the thought of suicide again today. It's been a while... but I just felt so bleak. So tired. So hopeless.

But tonight, babysitting for L... I got a glimpse of what my life will be like soon. An adorable baby. A dog. A nice house. A good life. That's what C is offering me... and that's what I want. I can't believe I almost threw it away... again. But I do want that. And I'll be working with people... with abused women... sharing the joy and gratitude that a shame-resilient life can bring.

I could even be Christian if I learned how to be shame-resilient. (I recognize it as so pervasive in the SDA culture... at least the conservative one. Then again... it's everywhere you turn. No surprise that it's in the church, too.)

I'm also excited about how this could really help me lay some more foundational stones in the "understanding God" brickwork.

P.S.-- Just for reference's sake... Vivian doesn't hang out in my head all the time. It's not like we're constantly dialoging. My voice is there, and I recognize that, but there are times when it's beyond just being my voice, if that makes sense. That, I think, is when Vivian comes into play.
...the last post for today. I think. (Because I'm going to be watching Along For The Ride here in a few, and videos or books with mentally ill people in them freak me out on a certain level because I almost always see a facet or twenty of myself in them, and who wants to feel like they're a few degrees away from crazy?)

So I didn't splurge on myself, necessarily. I actually did end up buying a book, though. It's called The Gifts of Imperfection, and it looks like it's going to be stellar.

I don't really know why I'm here... I feel like there's stuff I want to say, to unload or unclog or unwhatever, but I can't quite form the words to frame the sentiments...

I don't have to believe in God to please anyone. I feel stubborn about this, and maybe I am stubborn. But I'm also tired. I'm tired of believing because I'm supposed to. I just need to be angry and stubborn and resistant for a while. What would happen should I die tonight? I'm no more certain of where I'd go now than I was when I was trying to do it all right. I used to hope that I'd get into heaven, but I wasn't sure. And I still hope that I'll get into heaven, but my mind echoes loudly with the angry protestations I've heard so often about denying the light and being "in the truth" and all that... although I've been assured that it's much harder to be lost than to be saved.

I do wonder, though... at what point does God throw in the towel? Like, really, how far can I go before he says, "Oh, I'm sorry, you've just committed the unpardonable sin and we can't be friends anymore"? Have I already passed that line? I don't think so... God and I still talk...

Truth be told, I feel much like I did in high school. I was telling E earlier that I feel like I'm in a safe enough place that I can take down the museum art and let the real structure show. Is it such a crime to be an honest representation of myself? Presumably so, but only if the "real me" is not in alignment with the ideals put forth. Although... it was nice, being perfect, in some ways... it netted me much admiration. Now, those same people would be appalled, I'm sure... Lay on the rebukes. Bring it. I don't care anymore. I'm too tired to care. Too tired of performance art. (That's what it is, you realize?)

Do I want to care? Yes, but not about the people. I want to just genuinely care about God. I want to love God. I want this God thing to work! I want a deity to worship and serve that will guide and protect me. But... that's the rub. Apparently, the offer of protection was never extended. Guidance? Sure. But protection? Nada. You can have a whole shit-ton of horrific, unthinkable things dumped on you, and the only thing you get is that He'll be with you and somehow make it better.

I know that's supposed to be a good thing, but... it just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's because I never did have someone to protect me when I should have. Parents are supposed to protect you. It's their job. And mine didn't. But how can God expect something from parents that he doesn't do himself? He calls us his children, yet he leaves us hanging out there, totally vulnerable to attack and the most exquisite agony, with nothing to defend ourselves but the hope of something better, or the promise that he's there with us?

Or maybe parents aren't supposed to protect you, either. And look what happens. Bad people do bad things because they prey on the weak and exposed. Was I supposed to protect myself and I somehow missed the memo? But I did protect myself... in the best ways I knew how. And I'm still trying to protect myself... in the best ways I know how. (Because, obviously, You're not going to do it for me!)

God, I won't lie. I don't understand you. I don't understand you at all. And I'm not walking away, but I am pissed off. So maybe there's a wall there... but there's always been a wall there. I'm not sweeping stuff under the rug anymore. No more complacent platitudes for me. Let's face this sucker head on, wrestle it down, and move on with life.

Only... how long will it take? Because I feel like a total failure/renegade. Yet I can't bring myself to link back up with all these questions and issues unresolved.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I can't just swallow the "Jesus loves you" and get on with it. I'm sorry that the great controversy isn't doing it for me. I'm sorry that the answers all seem so hollow and flimsy.

God, you're there. But why? And why am I here? What's the point of all this? Heaven? Do I really have to go through all this putrefied fecal matter to get there? (I wish that I believed that you go straight to heaven when you die... 'cause then I'd just knock myself off and call it good. Forget this junk.)

And I'm sorry that I'm enjoying freedom so much. I feel like I should feel awful, not being the Christian anymore... but mostly, I just feel relief.
I've been getting the urge to pamper myself. Enough with the stress, already-- go do something fun!

And I might. (Except it costs money...)

But I've done a lot the past few days. So you know what I might do right now? Instead of telling myself that I "should" be doing even more?

I think I'm going to drive my happy little butt to Pier One to window shop... right after I get some coffee from the cafe next door. Because I can. (Okay, okay, so mb I'm going to get one of those Caramel Apple Spice thingies... but still!)

Orrrrr... maybe... I'll pick out a nailpolish that I really like and do my nails?

Hmm. Or maybe I'll grab a green tea and watch that movie I borrowed from L.

Or... maybe... I'll text E for that meeting we're supposed to have, drop off my library book while I'm out there, grab one of the three nailpolishes that I already have and restock on meds while I'm home... and go out to coffee with E so we can meet and do that at the same time! (Or maybe some boba?)

Hmm... but I still need onions. And possibly salad dressing.

Decisions, decisions.

Maybe I'll just sit here and pleasantly ruminate on the possibilities for some self-love, without ever actually taking action.

Because, really... when it boils down to it... I'm still doing all these things alone.

Where is my mommy when I need her?!
Sending C off to work... Dear Lord, I love that man!

Spoke to the local Rotary Club this morning with E, to raise awareness about the Healing Journey. 6:30 a.m. I haven't been up that early in months! It felt good, though, despite having only gotten 4 hours of sleep (I've been having a series of days where things just aren't running according to my ideal timeline... and they're all things beyond my control, mostly. That's okay. All's well that ends well, yeah?)

I've got an interview tonight for that part time nanny job, and tomorrow I'm finishing the application for the temp labor place.

So, today... I'm cleaning C's apartment. S is gone, so, honestly, that means some of the clutter will be gone. He's fairly neat, which I appreciate, but I never can put things away, because I'm not sure if he's using them or not.

I hung out at the library yesterday, and found a book in the young adult fiction section called "hold still". The protagonist, Caitlin, is struggling to make sense of herself and her life in the wake of her best friend's suicide. Her progress is gratifying, and she ends up reaching out to help others around her also find hope and make sense of the tragedy. I liked it. I tend to gravitate towards the young adult fiction, I think mostly because that seems to be the genre that treats subjects like this one (or just basic emergence and identity) realistically.

I've noticed that I also seem to gravitate towards this particular writing style-- the very real, detail-oriented, yet eloquent narration of daily events, and the emotions that accompany the events.

I suppose it's because I just... resonate... with the idea of somehow recording the seemingly mundane and trivial pieces-parts that make up the whole of an experience. Life is poetic, and the symmetry and grace is found in the objects and sounds that surround us, the play of light and shadows throughout the day. When I think of V High School, for instance, I think of the taste of chocolate milk, the sunlight filtering through the leaves of my tree, the feel of cold, gritty, damp earth on my fingers, the worn sheen of the green rubberized tables...

When I think of home up north, I think of the crunch of gravel beneath shoes or tires, the jarring jolts of potholes, the crisp evergreen air softened by the scent of earth and shrubs, and the cold dew on my hands as I pick raspberries. I think of the smell of the S's house, but I also think of unyielding despair and agony, of stress and stretched out on my bed, the red and cream quilt and incense, of cool, smooth floors and warm fur. I think of the rich, salty taste of popcorn and the smooth, creamy tang of green drinks. I think of the vibration of the Vitamix, and the warmth of the sunlight through the kitchen windows. I think of the rough wood of the deck on my bare feet, and I think of Titan's breath steaming in little puffs as he waits on the ledge. I think of the smell of the print shop and of the repetitive echo of the racquetball court.

I want to keep all those little things, and tuck them deep inside where I won't forget them... where I will feel them always... because those are what make up my memories. I have so many gaps where I just don't remember anything at all (mostly from childhood), and I wonder what happened? What was I touching, tasting, smelling, feeling? I think that's part of the reason why I used to be a hoarder. I needed concrete things to help me remember, to prove to me that something happened... something tangible to keep me grounded.

And so, I love books that record the little incidentals that truly make up the moments we live in. It is when I am aware of those little things that I feel like I'm really alive, really here, really focused. It's so easy for me to zone out and forget what surrounds me, to retreat to a dream world, as it were. I like to hear the music of the world around me, though. I feel alive in a way that I can't really explain. (Another reason why I hate depression... it just kind of dulls my senses and it feels like I'm walking through an invisible, dampening fog.)
I had this little song that I was singing to myself earlier as I was dialoguing with a potential employer via email. I can't remember it now, but it went something like, "I think I've got it, I think I've got it, I think I'm gonna get this job!" (I am a firm believer that life is, indeed, a musical.)

Also, came across a post of J's that spoke to me deeply. I re-posted it on both of the HJ fb pages, hoping that it will speak to someone else, too. It's another facet of consideration as I strive to understand the why's and wherefore's of my abuse relative to God's love. (I really wanted to throw the word "alleged" in there, but that seems a tad skeptical...) It's called Lessons from Lazarus, and it's really good.

Today, working on getting some employment going, running some errands, and generally making myself scarce so that S and his gf L can say goodbye, since he's leaving for a summer up north tonight.

Oh, and I gotta write up a report for group last night. Basically, we told blonde jokes and played Twister. It was good to goof off a little... plus I shared a list of good coping skills with the girls, just some ideas of stuff to replace bad coping mechanisms with.

Yesterday didn't really go as planned, but it was still a pretty good day. I mean, I survived... and I even got a good walk in. Today will be a good day, too. (Because, truly, no matter what's happening, it's dependent upon my attitude.)
Last night I shared my deepest, darkest secret ever with C.

I was... afraid... very, very ashamed...

I mean, I've kept this secret for somewhere around 15 years.

Never told a soul.


But, one of the girls said something last week that brought it up for me, and I was doing research, and I started freaking out (I think they call those "triggers"?), and so I texted C at work saying that I needed to talk through some heavy stuff when he got home, if he was willing, and that I was definitely going to cry, and to not let me get out of it. (Because I know myself... I would change my mind and say "it's nothing" later on. And I did. But he held me to it.)

So I told him. And I cried. And C... stayed. Talked to me. Refuted the lies that the spiteful, angry part of my mind has perpetuated. The necklace that he gave me- "eternal strength" - now has another layer of meaning. It now means that I deserve happiness, to be loved and cherished, and that I never, ever deserved to be abused. It means that being strong takes time, but that I'm already stronger than I was. It means that he'll always be walking beside me to bear me up when I have no strength, to remind me of my intrinsic worth and value. It means that I'm a good person, really and truly. It means that I've helped people by sharing my story, and that I will help more people.

It means that I'm not the scum of the earth. I am lovable.

It means there's hope.

The shame has in no way fully abated, but it is lessened to a degree. The next step, I think... would be posting about it here. I'm not ready for that yet, but the time will come.

I still feel dirty, somehow... but I know that's not true. (Do you know what it's like to feel dirty, like a whore... at nine? At ten? A child... is not supposed to go through that.) I am clean. What happened to me is not my fault, nor is it my responsibility to bear. He made the choice, and he is the vile one-- not me!

On a not-much-different note, I found a veritable gold mine at this site, Pandora's Project. I will be utilizing many of these articles for my girls in the coming weeks.
Did I mention that I set a boundary with a church friend recently? She also happens to be my doctor. At my last appointment, she asked me if I'd take part in a sundown worship program she's putting together. I really didn't want to, but didn't feel like I could say no... so I didn't. I just kind of let her make up my mind for me. And I resented that.

So, the next morning, I texted her this message:
I've thought about it, and I'd rather not participate. hope you understand.

I was exuberant at my victory (especially since it took prompting from S and C to be able to do it). Then, a few hours later, I got a response.

I don't, but I love you just as much. C, is there an issue related to me? Have I been offensive or anything?

Of course, I had to clarify, which I did, and was rewarded with a nice, respectful, and well-meaning reply.

No, it's not about you at all. thanks for the affirmation :)

C, you are treasure, and I enjoy EVERY moment of time I get to spend with you. That's only one reason I'm disappointed. Another reason is that I LOVE the way you play that guitar. God has given you a very special gift, and I am glad that you are cultivating it. If you change your mind, I'd really appreciate your help. And the church loves to see you up front and to hear your music, so call me (or text) if you repent :)

Problem solved... or so I thought. Today, I received a series of 5 texts from the same person, which, I'll admit, irritated me some. (I thought I set a boundary here, woman?! You're supposed to leave me alone now!)

Text 1: C, my beloved friend, could there be a problem related to backsliding?
What?! I'm glad I'm your "beloved friend", but I don't perceive us as being that close. Your term of endearment does nothing to cushion the question so frankly leveled at me. Although, I must admit, I am grateful for your honesty. At least you're not being sketchy or manipulative. (This is because I was wearing a necklace when you saw me, isn't it?)

Text 2: Maybe related to a greatly loved fellow who isn't good for my young friend?
Ahh, yes... here we go. The heart of the matter. Everyone thinks they know what's good for their little christian friend. How, may I ask, do you know what is good for me and what isn't? I think the issue at stake here is whether he is good for my Adventism or not. Truth be told, I do not consider myself Adventist any longer, and it is not due to C or anything about C. You want to hold accountable a "fellow who isn't good for my young friend"? Talk to G. Talk to the one in "good standing" in the church who was beating and molesting his young step-daughter. Talk to the elder who lied to and about my family to achieve his own pernicious ends (and who is still a leader in good standing in the church!). The one who told me that my mother had cancer because she was "living in sin". Leave C out of this, because he is a good man and does not deserve your judgment. He's more moral than many christians I know, so don't even pretend like you know him. You have no right to drag him into my personal decisions, either. I don't want to come to church because I hate that God, alright? I want to know what God is truly like, and Adventism is standing in my way right now.

Text 3: Ever since you backed out of helping, the Lord has put your face and your name in the front of my mind.
Actually, I think it's more likely that, because you're planning a program that I initially agreed to help with, you're constantly being reminded that I rescinded my reluctant offer of assistance. Could be the Lord. Probably isn't. P.S.- I "backed out" because I never wanted to be helping in the first place, and I refuse to feel guilty or bad about my decision.

Text 4: I have noticed that you seem sad compared to the exuberant attitude when you first came back home.
There are several things I could say to this. First of all, yes. Yes, I am sad. Remember, I came to you not too long ago asking for help because I couldn't handle my horrific depression anymore? I think that's a viable explanation for sadness right there. Secondly, my exuberance was due to the initial rush of seeing people I hadn't seen in a long time, and the possibilities at my fingertips. Now? Now I'm ground down by the passage of time and dealing with stuff and trying to hide from my upstanding churchy friends that I no longer believe what they believe anymore but I don't want them to be upset with me or alienate me so I'm trying to fake it! (Also, I really don't feel like being "talked down" by every single church friend... because deep down, every Adventist is an evangelist. That means that you can't just sneak out the back door. You've got to fight your way out, tooth and nail.)

Text 5: I love you and am praying for you.
That's nice. I could use the prayers.

But I don't think I'm going to answer. Or, if I do, it will look something like this: "I appreciate your loving concern on my behalf, but there are really no issues I feel the need to discuss with you."

That seems kind of rude to me, though. I'll have to refine it somehow.

You know what I do feel guilty and bad about, though? Not having a job. It's that cyclical "I feel so awful about this that I have no motivation to remedy the situation, thus leading to an escalation of feeling helplessly awful which leads to more inaction which leads to..."

I just... feel... inadequate. "This is why you'll never truly be 'an adult', fully functioning and capable of taking care of herself." I also feel panicked. What will I do when I run out of money? I'm so sick of mooching off of people! Yet, what is a realistic expectation? I only have three weeks for crying out loud! Who will hire me for that little of time?!


In addition to that, there's this nasty little bout of intensely shameful feelings and undisclosed secrets re: the abuse that I've just uncovered today and am trying to deal with. I feel so inadequate when it comes to handling myself and my feelings... or trying to lead this peer group. Gag.

I'm seriously, seriously wondering if something in the way of sexual abuse didn't happen to me when I was much younger, because there are some patterns and stuff when I got older that just don't... make sense otherwise.

There are some puzzle pieces missing, and it's starting to bug me.

I think something happened to me when I was a toddler... from the time period when I have my first memories of (physical) abuse. I also think that it's connected to the daycare somehow... and possibly the first G. I do recall and have always recalled (hazily) him urinating into a cup and trying to force me to drink it. I just don't remember if I did or not. I know I didn't want to. But I think I thought it was my fault because I wouldn't wear my socks right so Mom left me at home instead of taking me to daycare (which I hated going to for some inexplicable reason).

I feel sick.

This kind of stuff isn't supposed to happen to toddlers.

What is wrong with the world?!
Adventures in Depression (Note: contains two or three f-bombs. If that makes you uncomfortable, don't click this.)

So I used to totally love this blog (except for the swear words she sometimes uses), but she hasn't posted in, like, a year. Which makes me sad. Because she's so funny, and totally hits it head on in the depression/anxiety arena. But I hear she's coming out with a book, which makes me happy.

Also, I had Koala Crisp for breakfast. That, too, makes me happy.

It's Sunday, and I don't have to do anything, really. Just dishes and some prep for group tomorrow. Lazy day? I think so. I won't have too many more of those for a long time.
I do, very much, want to be my own person... for me. Not a reflection or a compilation of other people, anymore. Not a collage of different characters I've read about and admire. Not the inflexible, smiling mask of the Bible worker. I want to be myself. (It kind of reminds me of when I made the switch from "Cassie" to "Cassandra". I really had to make a completely new transition in order to establish myself as "Cassandra", because everyone who knew me before couldn't get past the "Cassie". I feel like I had to completely make a new transition in order to begin establishing myself as "me", rather than "the bible worker" or "Christian Cassandra" or whatever other ideas people have of me. It's still difficult, because here in Y, I am confronted with two whole churches that watched me grow up and think that I'm "Christian Cassie". They have no idea... and I don't really want them to know. I don't want to break their hearts. Just like my upcoming visit to I... I don't really want you guys up there to know... because it's easier that way. But then, I'm back to just pretending to make other people happy. *sigh* It's difficult, this unraveling.)
Time to do some more monitoring...

Monday was... interesting. After church on Sun. night, and the knowledge that it's okay to be where I'm at and I don't have to freak out about fixing myself/being all better right now!, I actually felt almost courageous facing group Monday night. The past month or so, I've been rather habitually dreading group, because I just feel so empty, so weak and broken. It's like, what can I possibly share with these girls? I think just being there is enough, though. Just being there with them... sometimes it's all I can do. Because I've got so much crap of my own swirling around in my head.

So, this past Monday, I felt good about group! Like, yeah, I can do this... I think. Let's do it. And then we ended up sharing our stories, why we were there, and it was really emotional and charged, but really good, you know? Like purging. Like popping a pimple, I guess. (You know those really nasty blackheads where you immediately think, Wow, gross! I'm SO glad I got that out! Like that.)

And then, that night... I had an anxiety attack of sorts. I woke up at 4 a.m. because of stomach and arm pain, and I couldn't fall back asleep. I was jittery, nervous... anxious. Worried. About... something. Something vague and lurking and dangerous. Poor C was sick and getting sicker by the hour, so he was awake, or woke up shortly after I began stirring around.

I began a mantra quietly to myself, trying to self-talk, self-soothe, whatever. Trying to get some sense into my head. "You're okay. You're safe, and you're okay. You are safe here. You're safe. You're okay."
After coming back from the restroom, the bedroom was pitch black to me, and I was again engulfed in a wave of... foreboding. Fear. Nervousness. Something that feels much like the word bile sounds, but I don't know what to call it. I stood frozen beside the closed door, acutely aware of the rustling C made as he shifted around in bed. I'd been standing there for far too long, but I couldn't bring myself to move. The mantra began again, but louder, whispered to myself.

Suddenly, a hand touched my arm- C had somehow slipped up on me- and I lost it. Backing into the corner, my hands flew up in front of me, feebly trying to defend myself from the unknown terror that surely intended my complete obliteration and humiliation. Words slipped gutturally and reflexively from my lips as I sought refuge from the fear.

"Don't touch me!"

A heartbeat later... much too long. I am in danger. I have to get OUT. Now.

Yanking open the door, I scrambled to the equally dark living room, collapsing on the floor in a heap of wrecked perception and mantras, this time mumbling audibly to myself, "You're okay. You're safe, and you're okay. You're okay!!"

Several moments later, C approached me as one might approach a wild animal-- slowly, hands outstretched, moving cautiously, as if any sudden movement might send me scampering further into the darkness and fear. (It would have.)

He held me, smoothed back my hair, and repeated my mantra.

"You're safe here. You're safe. It's okay. You're okay."

As weird as it sounds, the fear, the anxiety, the deep foreboding... it was almost like a high. I didn't completely come down off of it for another twenty minutes or half hour after he groaningly laid his sick self back in bed. I was, eventually, able to sleep again.

I realize now, in the aftermath, that my mind (inner child?) recognizes that I'm in a safe place, and it's allowing me to feel the emotions of the abuse again, and some that I never allowed myself to feel. All those years... just surviving. It didn't matter how I felt, so I tried not to. (A hard thing for me-- anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm quite emotional.)

I've been doing very well with the "don't bite off more than you can chew" plan. Now that I'm simply tackling a few things at a time and not overwhelming myself... I find that I get more done! I'm actually running out of things to do. I do the few things I assign myself, and think, "Hmm... what else can I do now?"

I've felt a little out of sorts since the anxiety attack, but group last night was good. It was enough just to be there.

I've had a strong aversion to spending time with my grandparents, or interacting with them at all the past month or so... that broke a little this morning. Talked with gramma a little, and it was good. I don't know what's causing it, but I've noticed it building and building to the extreme point that I'm not really living there right now... I go back to get stuff I'll need for the next day or two at C's, do some work on the room or whatever, and then disappear as soon as possible. (It could be that I fear how they'll react if they really "see" me, esp. where I'm at spiritually. They're so Adventist, it's hard for me to be around them without feeling... like I've betrayed them?) I don't feel like it's a safe place right now. Gramma is very critical, and that's been wearing on me. But it's a passive-agressive type, most of the time. That's hard. I feel like I never know if she really means it when she says nice things. Plus they kind of bicker, and that's been increasing in frequency and intensity lately.

Today, I read the story of another abuse survivor. I think it was a mistake. Now I feel... I feel like I'm unjustified in having problems, because her story is so horrific. It's like, how can I even have issues when I didn't go through anything near that traumatizing and soul-withering?

Yet, on the other hand, I resonate with her descriptions of DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). I've always remembered some of the molestation, though I've tried so hard to block it out that I did in portions. (There are times when I know stuff happened, because I can remember right before and right after, but not what happened.) But there's glimmers of stuff from way back, and there's chunks of my life that are just gone... and I don't know if that's normal? I just feel like there's stuff I'm supposed to know that I don't. It's gone. And it bothers me.

So I'm feeling... blech.

Like I should be better, because my life hasn't really been that bad, comparatively.

Like I'm unworthy of love (for some reason).

Like I'm worthless.

Like I'm just hopeless for thinking/feeling those things, because that's all a buch of malarky and I know it intellectually...

(The hard part is when your mind knows better, but it's kind of splintered... so the rational part is saying one thing, but the other parts are insidiously whispering other things.)
Pattern confirmed.

I'm allergic to potatoes.

Over and out.
I went to church tonight with a friend. (No, I haven't completely given myself over to papal heathenism... I waited until Sunday night to go to church lol)

It was the kind of church that would shock the sensibilities of my good, solid, conservative friends. You know... driving bass, an awesome drummer, praise singers, a 7/11 song and speakers so loud you can't hear yourself sing along... Makeup. Spaghetti straps. No straps at all. Jewelry. Shorts and flip-flops. Hands lifted high. Claiming things in the name of Jesus and declaring truth all over us. People swaying and clapping.

It was... different.

It was also good.

Nobody there looked at you askance for keeping your arms firmly wrapped around your midsection, or for raising your hands high and sobbing the name of Jesus over and over again.

No one there cared what you were wearing or how much of it.

They just came together to worship God in the best way they knew how, because they love Jesus. Do you know how refreshing that is?

I still left empty-- I wasn't magically filled by God's presence, as I had been secretly hoping in a way. However, I have the peaceful assurance that my questions will receive answers... in due time. God's not offended by my questions, my anger, my issues that I'm trying to work through...

...and I really want this thing with God to work. But I can't make it work. Let me re-phrase that, with italics for emphasis.

But I can't make it work.

I can't.

I've been trying for so long, because I really, really want this God thing to work, and now... and now?

Now I'm burnt out on religion. I'm burnt out on God, it seems.

I noticed that tonight.

I'm just a charred, blackened piece of toast. Burnt out. A dark light bulb. A shorted circuit.

So... if God is really who all these people say he is, if he's really like that... then I need to chill out and let him make it work. He's the god, not me, right? He's the powerful one. He's the all-knowing one. He's the one that is offering me salvation. He'll make it work, not me.

And I'm grateful for that. Because I am so. tired. of trying to make it work.


This is an adaptation of "Invictus", by William Henley, that I worked up for the Survivor's Prayer Quilt.

"Invictus" is Latin, meaning "unconquered". I am an unconquered victim, meaning I am a survivor.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank my God, whom I know to be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I may have winced or cried aloud.
Yet under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms more than the Horror of the shade,
And so the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
One of my "assignments" from counseling is to monitor my feelings and self-talk-- see what triggers my depression, and what I'm saying to myself that triggers/worsens it.

I'm sliding today, I'll be quite honest.

Last night I had a bad dream about some old man coming on to me.

Today, I didn't leave C's place until 3 (didn't actually get out of bed until 11:30, but that's because I went to bed late and C woke me up when he came to bed, for like an hour. I didn't mind... at the time. But it takes a toll on me later.)

And now I'm feeling overwhelmed with stuff that I feel like I ought to be getting done TODAY (we talked about this in counseling, too), and I feel like a failure, I guess, for not having it all done by now, or not taking the initiative to have begun trying to accomplish stuff earlier in the day.

So, I'm feeling like I want to isolate, I'm feeling overwhelmed and just wanting to say "forget it all" and do none of the things I'm "supposed" to be doing, I'm feeling angry at myself, and I'm feeling annoyed.

What thoughts are contributing to these feelings? What am I saying to myself?

That's the hard part. I have an easy enough time identifying feelings, but it's the thoughts behind the feelings that I struggle sorting out.

P.S.- I really am one anxious gal! I can't believe I never saw it before. I guess we really just believe what we want to believe about ourselves.

-You should be doing better than this.
-You're letting people down because you're not performing well.
-You're selfish.
-You're lazy.
-You're irresponsible.
-This is why you can't function as an adult. You're too immature for real life.
-You're a bad person.
-Why can't you just get your act together?
-You can't be relied on or trusted.
-If you don't do this TODAY, then it just won't get done. You must do it now. Now, now, now!

Well, fudge goats. I guess I just suck, then, don't I?

Okay, what I think I'll do is continue monitoring this week, and then next week I'll have a look at which are the most consistent negative tapes playing in my head, pick one, and begin the process of replacing that negative tape with a positive one.
Lest I begin to think that life is entirely made up of confusion and bitter rants, it's not!

I have been happy the past few days, happier than I've been in a long time. Odd, isn't it, that when I decide to stop focusing on what I've known for the past few years, that's when the happiness creeps sweetly over me?

I think it has a lot to do with not constantly looking over my shoulder to see who might see who I really am and what I'm really doing, and not self-condemning over every little thing done and undone, trying and trying and trying to do the right thing... all the time...

Now? Now I'm just me. I have a few basic rules to live by, and the rest is bygones.

1. It doesn't feel good to be hurt. Don't hurt other people, and try not to do so inadvertently, either. Be considerate.

2. The golden rule: Treat people as you wish to be treated.

3. Haters gonna hate. Let them. Don't worry about it.

4. Respect others for who they they truly are, not what they contribute or how they act. You don't know their backstory. No judging.

5. Be as kind as possible whenever possible. People have lots of bad days, and you can either contribute or alleviate. Do the latter.

I guess that's it.

I've got counseling again today. Earlier this week, during "intake", we discussed anxiety. I firmly maintained that I am only depressed, not anxious. But... as I've been monitoring myself more this week (like a heightened sense of self-awareness), I've noticed that, yeah, you know what? I am anxious. Quite frequently. Especially when I'm in public, like going grocery shopping, or when I'm supposed to perform at some level, like work or finding work. And I also noticed that I can go from happy to out of whack in mere minutes. Is that normal?

Other than that, I've been working on redecorating the guest bedroom I stay in. It's kind of a way of paying for my room and board, I guess, although my grandparents are paying for the paint and new bedspread and whatnot. (It was her idea-- I'm just the young, strong back to make it happen.) So, the past week, I've been covered in paint from head to toe. The last few days, I even managed to get some in my hair. Now, I've only got one piece of furniture left to paint, and good riddance! My room is an absolute wreck. (The bed has been either covered in stuff from drawers I had to empty, or dismantled completely for the better part of a week. Fortunately for me, I have a most welcoming bed in town, so I haven't had to sleep on the couch or the floor at all.)

Wednesday, C's roommate S and I dressed up in garb (he in his kilt and I in my Ren costume) and we hit up a local landmark establishment, since we both wanted to see it and it is closing soon for the summer. After that, we went to WalMart, which was the original idea I had. ("Hey! You have a costume, I have a costume-- we should dress up and go to WalMart!" This idea was met with an enthusiastic agreement.) We had a grand time, got lots of funny looks, and one thumbs-up from an old lady.

The next day, J and my other friend A took me out and treated me to a free massage. It was something else... an hour of bliss! (My back hurt for a couple of days afterward, though, because some of the muscles she worked are/were so tense.)

I'm going to find work this week. I'm going to. I have to.

I can't donate plasma like I anticipated, because of the cortico-steroids I have to supplement with due to my adrenal insufficiency. Actually, because of the adrenal insufficiency, I shouldn't be donating in the first place, meds or no meds. Bah, humbug. There goes a trickle of income I had been counting on.

There's so much to be figured out with school and money and... well, money.

Ever heard that song by Queen, "Under Pressure"? That's how I feel. ...Anxious. lol

But happy. Happier than I've been in a while.

Today, I've got a date with my beloved, and I'm so looking forward to it.
I've started reading He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobsen again. It looks promising. That, in conjunction with the intellectual books I'm reading about the Bible's veracity and hermeneutics and exegesis and common questions about Christianity and whatnot... hopefully it will give me a full, rounded picture that I can draw some answers from.

The first chapter is about "daisy petal Christianity". Some excerpts that stuck out to me...

"What about you?

Have you ever felt tossed back and forth by circumstances, occasionally certain but mostly uncertain about how the Creator of the universe feels about you? Or perhaps you've never even known how much God loves you.

In a Bible study recently, I met a forty-year-old woman who was active in her fellowship but admitted to a small group of us that she had never been certain that God loved her. She seemed to want to tell me more but finally only asked me to pray for her.

As I did, asking God to reveal just how much he loved her, an image came to mind. I saw a figure I new to be Jesus walking through a meadow hand in hand with a little girl about five years old. Somehow I knew this woman was that little girl. I prayed that he would help her discover a childlikeness of spirit that would allow her to skip through the meadows with him.

When I finished praying, I looked up at her eyes, brimming with tears.
'Did you say 'meadows'?' she asked.

I nodded, thinking it odd that she had focused on that word. Immediately she began to cry. When she was able to speak, she said, 'I wasn't sure I wanted to tell you. When I was five years old I was molested in a meadow by an older boy. Whenever I think about God, I think about that horrible event and I wonder why, if he loved me so much, he didn't stop that from happening.'

She's not alone. Many people carry scars and disappointments that appear to be convincing evidence that the God of love does not exist, or, if he does, he maintains a safe distance from them and leaves them to the whim of other people's sins. (Exactly!!)

I don't have a stock answer for moments like that, as if any could be effective in the midst of such pain. I told her that evidently God wanted her to know that he had been there with her, and although he didn't act in the only way she could understand true love to act, he loved her nonetheless. He wanted to walk her through that defiled meadow and redeem it in her life.

He wanted to give her measure of joy in the face of the most traumatic event of her life and turn what had destroyed her ability to trust into a stepping stone toward grace. I know that can sound almost trite int he face of such incredible pain, but the process has begun for her. Eight months later I received an excited e-mail from her telling me in 270-point type, 'I get it!'

Does that mean she understands why it happened to her? Of course not. Nothing could explain that. But it does mean that God's love was big enough to contain that horrible event and walk her out of it."

Okay, I'm sorry, but instead of instilling and encouraging hope within me... I feel this visceral rage bubbling hot in the low caverns of my belly.

I am SO SICK of that phrase (and its variations) that "God was there with you, and he'll redeem it". The hell he will! If he was there... why didn't he do something?

I mean, really. What sane, even peripherally caring person would stand in the same room as an innocent someone being attacked and molested and do nothing? It's just not going to happen. And then, after it's over, they come over with words of comfort and tell you it's gonna be okay? I don't know any survivor who would buy that for a nanosecond.

And yet, we expect that God, who is bigger and better than his creatures (supposedly), has some divine justification for doing the exact same thing?

Horse feathers.

But wait, there's more. This section is actually more than mildly intriguing.

"Truly God has never acted toward us in any way other than with a depth of love that defies human understanding. I know it may not look like that at times. When he seems to callously disregard our most noble prayers, our trust in him can be easily shattered and we wonder if he cares for us. We can even come up with a list of our own failures that seemingly justify God's indifference and beckon us into a dark whirlpool of self-loathing.

When we're playing the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not game, the evidence against God can appear overwhelming. For reasons we will probe throughout these pages, God does not often do the things we think his love would compel him to do for us. He often seems to stand by with indifference while we suffer. How often does he seem to disappoint our most noble expectations?

But perception is not necessarily reality. If we define God only in our limited interpretation of our own circumstances, we will never discover who he really is... (Okay, you've got me intrigued. Now what?)

...He does love you more deeply than you've ever imagined; he has done so throughout your entire life. Once you embrace that truth, your troubles will never gain drive you to question God's affection for you or whether you've done enough to merit it. Instead of fearing he has turned his back on you, you will be able to trust his love at the moments you need him most. You will even see how that love can flow out of you in the strangest ways to touch a world starved for it.

Learning to trust him like that is not something any of us can resolve in an instant; it's something we'll grow to discover for the whole of our lives. God knows how difficult it is for us to accept his love, and he teaches us with more patience than we've ever known. Through every circumstance and in the most surprising ways, he makes his love known to us in ways we can understand.

So perhaps it's time to toss your daisies aside and discover that it is not the fear of losing God's love that will keep you on his path, but the simple joy of living in it every day."

Dear God...

...I'm done trying to impress you.

I don't think it was working, anyway.

Can we still be friends?
My mom and I had an interesting text message convo yesterday.

Yesterday was not my favorite day in the history of days I've had. It was good, don't get me wrong, but it was... draining.

First, went to worship with SOULS, since they're hitting doors here in town until Friday. Then rush off to first pre-m counseling with C and FB. Then, rush off to my first personal counseling session.

Then, head back to C's place to try to deal with the migraine-like headache I picked up at the last counseling session. I knew no one would be there, so I hopped the back fence and "broke in" to take advantage of the cool darkness until group a few hours later. I was NOT feeling group at all, but I knew that the girls needed it, so I went and did it anyway. Thankfully B was there, as well as M, the girl who will be taking over for me (I'm "training" her, whatever that means. I don't even know what I'm doing, E! I know you don't believe me when I say that, but...)

So, somewhere between the second counseling session and group that night, Mom and I were texting back and forth. It went like this...

Me: So i went and joined SOULS for their worship today. part of the way through i realized... i don't believe this anymore. i feel kinda lost... church (SDA, specifically) has been my identity for so long... not that i'm giving up. i'm still studying.

Mom: I remember dealing with my own disappointments and loss of identity... I had no problem leaving the church behind and going my own path... and making a bigger mess of my life than I knew how to handle. I'm so glad you're still studying... God allowed me to royally mess things up-- and He would let you, too, but it would have been better for us if I hadn't quit on Him.

Oh, I'm not giving up on god. i still totally believe he exists. it's just... who is he? how does he operate? why did he do or not do certain things in relation to my past? etc. i just have a really hard time reconciling the abuse with a loving, interested god.

Because He is all-powerful, we think He should spare us from pain. After all, it's what most of us would do for our children. But He can't allow all evil to be stopped, or else we can't say with all certainty that Satan is wrong when he says he could do the job better. He has to allow us to see that Satan makes us suffer, and we have to be able to choose God not because He makes life easier, but because He gives us the hope of better things to come. 
(An excellent point, by the way... now that I think about it.)

That's kind of the problem i'm having... i know all about the great controversy, and at first it seems like a wonderful way to explain away bad stuff. but then i just don't know how i can trust someone who may throw me under the cosmic bus for the greater good at any given moment.

But it's not just for the greater good... it's for YOUR greater good. And he doesn't throw you under a bus or "zap" you... Satan does that. God doesn't do bad things. Satan does. God may allow Satan to do his bad things, and in the old testament, God took a very hardline position against certain peoples, but their history shows they were intent on so much evil and had set their ways so hard against God that He was left with no choice but to eradicate them to save innocent others.

So we could take it a step further and ask, why did Jesus raise to life only his friend Lazarus, a girl, and the young man from Nain? There were tons of other people who died during his ministry. Why only them? Why not everyone else who believed in him but died?

Yes. precisely. i think what i'm going through is it's not so much that i can't wrap my head around it, but i can't wrap my heart around it, if that makes sense.

A phone call ensued, and then, much later....

Look at where you were tonight.... The Healing Journey. You have been the "face" of it, on the news. Your story has been seen by thousands. You have made others aware of the fact that abuse of children, hidden and secret, does exist. I always believed you were meant for greatness. At first, when you joined Souls, that maybe that was it-- your greatness. But now I'm wondering if your greatness isn't helping others to find the path of healing like you are doing. Trailblazing isn't easy-- you get cut up by thorns and bit by snakes. But others who wouldn't have the courage to take that trail can follow your path. Something to think about.

Thank you, Mom. I love you.

:) I love you too.

I suppose you could boil it down to something simple... I don't have hair-splitting theological issues to chew on, but one that was summed up nicely by Epicurus. I think it's a really relevant question, one that anyone who claims to be a believer must wrestle with and come to a conclusion that satisfies them.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Epicurus – Greek philosopher, BC 341-270

I'm angry with God right now. Angry with God? Angry at God? Is there a distinction at all?

Anyway, I'm just... angry... profoundly hurt, I suppose... disappointed... disillusioned... untrusting...

It's like, how can you promise that you're going to be my strength and my shield when... stuff like this happens?

I came across John 16:33 yesterday, which says, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (The context of that is Jesus telling his disciples what's about to go down (sorta) so they won't be totally shocked.) So... I guess I can't say you didn't warn us...

So what does going with God really mean? Does it mean that God will protect me from, say, being raped? Apparently not. I hear people talking about God being with you through bad stuff, and healing you afterwards... like, helping you pick up the pieces...

... but really? Isn't there something more than just damage control?

I guess I'm just feeling like, if I can figure God out, then everything will fall into place, yeah?

Probably not.

God, I'm sorry I don't trust you. I just... can't... right now. I'd like to. I want to work towards that.

But it's not like turning on a light switch.

I can't believe this has been here the whole time... I got so good at pushing it away...

...it almost feels heretical to be allowing myself to ask these questions, you know?

... to allow myself to walk away until I'm certain that this is my choice and this is where I choose to be... for me.

Mom says you're not threatened by this. I sure hope not.

I wish I could repaint my soul and mind like I'm repainting the furniture...

But really, God? Is there nothing more than damage control? Is that all you have to offer me?

I need someone who will protect me, not just bring the band-aids.

I suppose I'm supposed to "look forward", to think about that "something better" (heaven? second coming?), and just... endure the pain. Right? Endure, because there's something better?

But I have to live in the enduring. And this enduring is messing me up and, in turn, hurting other people. What am I supposed to do, endure better?

I dunno.

I dunno, God. I really don't.

Just... yeah.

I'm sorry. Sorry about everything.