In order to thrive…

I have been writing so much about my life lately as I try to force myself to pursue my more creative interests. Yesterday, since I am, again, not enjoying my new job, I went to Work Source. Work Source is a resource I finally decided to check out to get myself the heck out of the same industries I’ve always worked in. Namely, these are cash handling, food service and customer service. While nice to bide my time, these are not remotely the types of jobs I truly want to be doing. And now that I’ve come out, I made a promise to my mom and myself that I would push myself more creatively. So, at Work Source, I learned about ways to find better jobs and I took an aptitude test. I have a tendency to thrive most in careers focused on creativity and in social services. In that order.

The thing is, my life is a constant remembrance of every single thing I ever dismissed due to religious beliefs. One such opportunity I dismissed was going to school at an Art Institute. It was expensive, I didn’t know if I could really thrive creatively (if I was good enough) and, my personal favorite, I feared the dark influences inherent in art school. I wasn’t ready to be a light to such a dark place. It’s crazy to think now, how much I wanted to change the world but felt like the evil was so overwhelming. No wonder I was constantly writing back then and planning and brainstorming how to be more Christian. I thought the whole world was out to get me, I needed all the help I could get. Today though, I know that the world is not this terrible horrible place full of perspectives I have to change forcibly as if I’m in battle with an unseen evil. The world is full of unique, deeply creative people with hopes, dreams, and fears. These people are not automatically the subliminal evil to my overriding good. They are just working to make ends meet, following their passions and letting their ideas out to breathe. This is more than I can say for myself in the last few years.

Since ministry school, I have been stunted and trying so hard to find myself. The thing is, when they tell you that you have nothing to offer, nothing about you is special unless you live your life for God, when everything falls apart, so do you. I don’t know how to live my life for me. I’ve never tried. So instead of vibrantly engaging my life, I’ve gotten lazy and just watched TV shows and movies, looked online at art, or read copious amounts of fanfictions. I’m living in another world and longing to be a part of it. And finally, finally, I am creating. Yesterday at Work Source, I followed a link to The Art Institute of Seattle, I requested a brochure. Soon after, a woman contacted me.  She had a smile in her voice and an authenticity about her that I hadn’t experienced in awhile. Maybe she seeks to lure me into debt and the program, but I get the feeling she understands what I’m going through personally and how that has affected my art and self expression. I’ve been thinking lately about how much better at art my friends were than me in high school, even though in elementary school I was essentially hailed as a prodigy. (I didn’t draw stick figures so they thought I was incredible.) I had three teachers who taught me art in high school. But only one who taught me drawing. I thrived in Mixed Media, I plodded along in regular art. And I thought that was because I was bad at it, but I wasn’t. I just had the input of a singular teacher.

What I’m thinking is this: I love art, singing, writing, drawing, sculpting, more than anything. But I’m trying to get by with just a basic knowledge of each of them, as if not knowing is the same as being bad at something. This is also, of course, a cult thing. The idea of you expressing your own feelings in writing or in some concrete presentation, if it wasn’t prophetic and made in prayer, it wasn’t good. God was more important than your opinions, your self-expression, your happiness. So I thought that if I trained myself to be better at things, it was warping who he made me to be. It was assuming that I knew myself better than he did. This is why I insist on no longer being religious. This was detrimental to my personality. Now that I can put my finger on what went wrong, I have hope that I can journey to find my creativity again. I can have someone to help hone my skills in all these aspects of myself and then someday, I will thrive in my artistic ability. It’s hard to admit I’m not good enough on my own. It’s harder to admit that connecting with God about this doesn’t feel right to me. I need to stand or fall on my own merit for once. If I want to change the world, I have to start with me. God or no God, if I’m not me, I can do nothing.

I want to make a difference in the way I want to make a difference. Not in a way that is tempered by religion. I want to see diversity in filmmaking, representation from talented actors from all walks of life. I want to write stories that are deeper than I’ve written before and I think  the best way I can do that is to be trained and challenged at the Art Institute. I’m excited, whatever life holds for me, I will create.

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A blast from the not too distant past: oh…wow… I’m gay… Coming Out to Me

This is where I was at about all my gayness about five months ago when I figured it out.

 

So I’m not really sure who reads this, at this point, I hope my mom doesn’t. But I just really wanted to share this with my actual official blog. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the repression in my life. So many moments where instead of facing my feelings, I shot them down, caught them in a bottle and hid them in the deepest darkest reaches of my heart. This goes for my actual personal religious beliefs, my genuine political perspective, and my unrequited love towards my girl friends. Thinking back, every day was an intense struggle to force down the thoughts about girls. I cried almost every day of my high school existence. Because Satan was attacking me by making me think so much about my friends. Certain girls were never ever far from my mind. I would hyperventilate when they were coming over, basically swoon whenever they touched me, and just constantly always be wanting to spend every waking moment with them. BUT I WAS NOT GAY. I could not be. I was spreading Christianity, and one of the marks of being a Christian is hating the very concept of homosexuality. So, in word and speech I did. Still, I had these very clear constant moments of just being so attracted to my friends, and I would fall apart on them over it often. They would stroke my head (best feeling in the world by the way) and tell me it was okay. Not okay as in I was being allowed to be gay, okay as in, despite the feelings I was still 100% straight and they were glad I was fighting the urges.

Years of people telling me that I was not gay did nothing to stop the thoughts or curb the feelings. I never saw myself marrying a girl, however (still don’t). It’s complicated. See, this is literally the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I have to give up the ease of living as a heterosexual. This of course means that my boyfriend and I… we’re breaking up. Amidst other things, he plays so much video games that I feel ignored like there is no room for me in his life. We still live together and we’ve talked this through. It’s hard since we made it so far, but it’s worth it to lead the lifestyles we want to lead. It hurts, the nonchalance, and that is why I think I prefer girls. They often tend to be more heartfelt and engaged. The ones I’m attracted to do anyway. I have zero idea how to do this going forward. A friend of mine said something about girls wearing flannel… but that seems fairly arbitrary. My gaydar, or lesbidar, anyway (shout out to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Willow Rosenberg for that fantastic word) is fairly rusty. It’s mostly never been used. So, I don’t know how to hit on a girl, how to get her to see that I like her and hope she likes me, I don’t know how to be in an actual relationship with a girl, and beyond that… I sure as hell don’t know how to marry a girl, adopt kids with a girl… I always saw myself as having, actually birthing kids someday. Choosing this path, choosing girls, it could change everything. I won’t be having a kid that shares the DNA of both of us. That’s something to think about. But, I am a massive people pleaser at times. That’s kind of what drew me to all the bad situations that have ever happened in my life. I can’t choose my hypothetical children over my heart. Not now.

To be honest, I can’t believe this is even my life. I always noticed the ways in which I liked girls… but I never anticipated accepting that I’m gay, or even that I’m bi. Not until recently.

 

Honestly, since I wrote this, I’ve come to accept things much more. My mom, understandably, was upset about me not having kids. (But I still want kids, whether through adoption, in vitro, whatever). Mom if you’re reading this, know always that your reaction floored me but I’m so glad and relieved I told you. I am choosing to write, paint and sing because I do love to do those things and maybe the question of my sexuality was the blockade I was always looking to remove beforehand. 

I told my family…and now I’m telling you

So my family came to visit from California and it was an experience to say the least. I always forget how convinced my happy-go-lucky, friendly, exuberant family worries that I’m too serious. I actually find it fairly hilarious because, while I do love a good serious conversation, most people who know me, think of me as a dork who makes them laugh. I’m awkward sometimes and I have a bit of a deadpan sense of humor, but I do see the light and the color in life. I just don’t only see the light, or only see the color. The reason I’ve taken to saying that I see life not in black and white or in gray but in color, is because I believe life is filled with nuance, a change in hue, and deepening of a shade, a lighter tint in the corner of the picture, all the colors and differences serve to give a picture its clarity and its dimensionality. This is how I see myself and this is how I try to see the rest of the world. That being said, my poor family is dealing with an apparent complete change in persona when they come to visit.

Because most of my life was spent finding ways to better more completely commit my life to Jesus, they’re a little thrown that now I cuss, I talk comfortably about sex and I listen to a lot of secular music. They are also very taken aback, I think, by how conservative “Abortion is evil, gays need to not be gay” Erin turned into liberal “people need to be able to make choices, even if we don’t like them, let the oppressed people have a voice” Erin. And the biggest surprise for them was definitely that I went from “being a gay is a choice” to “Family, girls are cute and I’ve always thought so. In fact, I think I’ve mostly thought that and I don’t want to hide it anymore.” In other words, once purity-driven, Christian conservative Erin turned into way super gay, nonreligious, liberal Erin between the last time they saw me and now. It’s gotta be a lot to take in. But I’m really tired of hiding myself.

The thing is, in this blog, I think I’ve communicated myself as an ally. From a perspective of Christian thinking, I’ve been expressing that it is so wrong to make so many people feel so unsafe to be who they feel they are. But now that I’m on the inside of things rather than commenting from afar, I have a new perspective. It’s not just who we feel we are, what kinds of people we think we’re attracted to, we just…are who we are. And, if I’m entirely honest with myself, a lifetime of being absolutely petrified over the concept of people thinking I’m gay has destroyed my confidence in so many ways. I haven’t been clear on this blog about this, so it may come as a bit of a surprise, but let me paint you a picture of my life as a closeted lesbian super Christian.

It all started in middle school when I found some lesbian erotica online, the erotica was overtly sexual in nature and very few stories had to do with the nurturing that happens in relationships, especially between women. When I became a super Christian, I was twisted with guilt over how much those stories affected my mind. But I kept rereading them in order to better report the horrendous authors who wrote the disgusting stories… that I…kept reading. Sometimes, to reassert my total straightness, I would read hetero romance stories with sex in them and they were fine, mostly, the stories were the weirdest fanfictions and fantasies a twelve year old Christian girl could imagine. Eventually, I kicked the habit, fearing that the stories would destroy my innocence and really hurt me in the long run, but not before I noticed my friend’s butt wiggle when she walked. I remember noticing, staring, and after she left, throwing myself on my bedroom floor in a temper tantrum for two hours afraid I might be gay. But, gay wasn’t really concept to me. I was more upset that the stories had gotten in my head so much that I checked out a girl friend’s butt.

That was what started it all. Fast forward through to my brother’s babysitter who told me she loved me, and when I gave her a look of confusion and slight disgust (my homophobia ran deep), she said “like a little sister.” Nobody had ever said they loved me before, not so completely and sweetly. She went to youth group, so I went to youth group. Then I discovered God and went to youth group for me. I was constantly trying to choose youth group over everyone else. I met this girl with the bluest eyes I had ever seen, they were like diamonds set in sapphires and I couldn’t not befriend her. She became my best friend, but when she told me I was hers, I chickened out, I couldn’t reciprocate, I just told her the youth group was my best friend and I lost opportunities for a deeper friendship, and I daresay, for more. At any given moment in high school, I would genuinely rather be sitting all over my girl friends, holding their hands, cuddling them at sleepovers, listening to them talk about things that were important to them, spending every waking moment with them. But that feeling was especially reserved for my friend, the girl with the sapphire eyes. When I finally told her she was my best friend too, she leaped at me and squealed with joy saying “Oh, Erin, I’m so happy!” I probably blacked out a bit when that happened because that moment of her jumping to hug me was so wonderful, I never wanted her to let go.

Now, during this time, I was still a super Christian, I was supposed to be pure and choose the perfect guy, so I would look. Guys were… attractive… I liked their faces… but if a guy didn’t have an awesome personality and a tremendous love for Jesus, I couldn’t be bothered to care about him. This is perhaps why my attraction to girls was so strong during this time of my life. In a time of puberty and adolescence, I couldn’t go after all of the guys to distract myself from how pretty girls were. So, instead I noticed very specific girls. And I noticed them so much, I literally could not get them out of my head. Sapphire eyes was one girl of course, my best friend who sang me to sleep sometimes at sleepovers, and laid on my chest and loved to surprise me all the time. Another girl was drama girl with cute shoes. She was in my English class and I remember just watching her, and being so mad at myself for not being able to keep my eyes off of her. I convinced myself that I wanted her shoes and I…I could probably talk to her s…someday. The next term drama shoes girl was in my PE class and my Art Class. I loved talking to her. She was so interesting, though a little self-deprecating and I was floored that this beautiful, lovely and talented girl had so many insecurities. Once, I was reading my Bible, and she wouldn’t get out of my head, so I read a verse and was like “Oh, this applies to her, thanks God… I’ll…I’ll umm try to tell her you told me this.” And after a term and a half of readying myself to tell her “God’s encouragement for her life”, I came up to her stuttering and completely unable to stop. I was so embarrassed. But she was the sweetest about it because she knew me and we were cool.

The funny thing about all of this, and there is more, much more to come for this story, is that, I don’t remember being uncomfortable because they made me nervous, there was that. But mostly, I just always had my mind on the concept of kissing them, and approaching them, I tended to just be aware of their proximity and kindness and it made my heart melt. Drama shoes girl was wonderful, a distraction from Sapphire Eyes. But nobody had so far compared to the intensity with which I came at the exuberant kind cheerleader. I remember meeting her in her sweats after she came back home from a run. I was picking my brother up from her house since he had been hanging out with her brother, I felt so grown up for some reason. Then she bounded over to me, introduced herself and melted me into what I now know was a puddle of gay. I was instantly enamored. She was beautiful! She was goofy, friendly, Christian and she was not a mean cheerleader. I think that part of my very sudden catapulting into falling for this girl had a lot to do with her character traits. My whole life, I had written “Perfect Friend” lists and this girl was everything. For an actual month, I didn’t see her again, but she was never far from my mind.

I saw her at a youth worship thing and we sat on the couch and I literally told this beautiful, enthusiastic cheerleader that I had been obsessed with her for an entire month since we had met. Obsessed. This girl didn’t bat one freaking eyelash, we stayed friends and I always feared I was coming on too strong, but one day she wrote to me and said to me “Thank you for making the first move in our friendship, I’m so glad you did.” It’s silly how often I look back and say…yeah you came on way too strong…they hated you. Because… they really didn’t. In fact, sometimes it feels like it was reciprocated. Another entry for another day. Anyways, after telling my new friend I had actually been obsessed with her, I decided on a name for my condition, the situation in my mind that made me notice girls and not be able to get certain wonderful ones off of my mind, I wasn’t gay. Of course not. I was obsessed! So each girl that I took notice of and who sat in my mind for a significant length of time, whose clothes I took note of everyday and whose every word about every subject I remembered with ease, they were an obsession. I couldn’t possibly be in love with them. I was just obsessed!

When that inventor of obsession cheerleader girl announced suddenly that in a month she would be moving to New York (across the country) I completely lost it. I started bawling my eyes out in my next class and was sent to the office for counseling. I spiraled into a depression and I squeeze every single bit of time I could get out of being around her. I noticed so many things about her in that month. She had certain mannerisms, warts on her hands even with being the most confident and gorgeous girl I had ever met, she had the strangest and cutest observations. One time she peeled a mandarin, then peeled the white inside the mandarin and remarked how the mandarin had pores. It was just so random and adorable, I still can’t eat a mandarin without thinking of her and it’s been nine freaking years! When she moved, I failed a math class because I was writing her letters telling her how much I missed her and what was going on without her. Even when she was gone, I waited for the phone to ring, I remembered every detail of her and I would cry because she wasn’t coming back. Oddly enough, she did come back a few times, and I was a mess almost every time, so nervous to see her again. Obsession… it can really (platonically of course)  make you a total useless lesbian.

Then I was back to Diamond Sapphire Eyes. Despite being my best friend, she had no idea that I was going through my friend leaving and was hurt that I hadn’t told her. I had been so focused on that wonderful cheerleader that I couldn’t even talk to other people for awhile. Diamond Sapphire and I were at a sleepover with all of our friends watching Mama Mia and my beautiful serene angel of a friend had fallen asleep on my arm. I just looked down at her peaceful sweet face and looking back, I think I wanted to admit it to myself that I was in love with my best friend. But, as that realization dawned on me, it flew out just as quickly, when she leapt out of the bed were all sharing and started dancing to the end song “Waterloo.” I was dumbstruck, she was the most adorable spaz and watching her being her was pretty much my favorite thing to do. Eventually, I tried to sleep in another room, and she came to run her fingers through my hair and sing to me. The song she chose? Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rouge complete with the moon singing in Italian at the end. She always made me laugh so hard because she was the strangest most exuberant person but the softest and loveliest and I was so often amazed that she was my friend.

I think that what they don’t tell you when you hear about the general concept of homosexuality is that you are going to fall for the little things, it’s almost never just about sex. You just fall for a person, who they are, including their gender and it just doesn’t even matter. Because they are the most wonderful person in the world and if they love you back, it would be insane not to take that leap and let them continue that love. But it also does matter because girls are soft and sweet and wonderful, and if I had a girl who wanted me like I wanted all of these girls (and more, this story never ends) I’m pretty sure I would fall to pieces with happiness and contentment.

I am gay, perhaps even a lezzing lezzie who lezzes, as I joke with my friends. I just really like girls so much more than guys. And I finally told my conservative Christian mom and brother and they are surprised and confused but also very supportive. Because they saw me in high school and all throughout life and in every single one of these circumstances and many more, I was bawling my eyes out almost daily. Because, I think, I knew. I knew that obsession was the silliest excuse ever and that I had gigantic crushes on some of my friends. But I kept inventing new reasons for why I was so drawn to certain girls and why I would rather be cuddling a girl and why I thought about kissing girls all the time. I’m just…gay. And it’s not only valid. It’s not only okay, there truly is nothing wrong with that. But it is completely beautiful and amazing and fantastic and it feels like the pieces are falling into place. Girls are the most wonderful creatures on this planet. I am so happy I can say that now.

 

Leaving my Destiny and Starting a Blog: The Story of how I Lost My Drive and I’m Taking it Back Again

Once upon a time, about three years ago, I walked away from what I thought was my destiny, and when I got home, I did something crazy that I had never done before. I started a blog. I started writing in the hopes that someone would notice and my writing would make a difference. I talked about Finding Pearls in a Sea of Sand, the concept that came to me as I got out of ministry school and by extension, out of a lifetime of living in a Christian cult. Everything Christians said was dirty, I saw something beautiful there. When I looked at Hollywood, I didn’t see a bunch of lost demonically possessed people who only cared about the money, I saw vibrancy in those people. I saw ideas being realized and shared and as a creative person it both intimidated and inspired me.

For my whole life, I have felt a connection to story, to movies and TV shows. I heard something in the stories that other people weren’t hearing, and with this blog, PVX Pearls, I had thought to share those thoughts. I kind of dropped the ball on this blog, preferring my tumblr blog to this one. But this is the one where I can be the most prolific and grapple with some of the insecurities I have about putting myself out there creatively. I think that if I am to genuinely enjoy my life and make the most of it, I need to be writing. I need to be painting and I need to be singing. And all of those things, I need to be doing often and the way that I want to do them. That’s one of my issues really, I understand the need for training, but unfortunately, growing up in a Christian cult, I was never allowed to find my own identity. I remember all of the songs and the verses and the sermons about identity and how if you didn’t have your identity in Christ, you basically weren’t on the right track, like you were not really much of a person.

That’s why it was so easy for them (and by extension, me) to dehumanize people and brush past their stories. Because, they didn’t matter until they were God’s. Well, they did matter, they just mattered more as a hypothetical convert than they did as a human being in the moment. Their identity wasn’t solid until they were Christian, and neither was mine. When I became a Christian to the extent that I would talk about nothing else (and think about everything else), I dropped the identity I was starting to build for myself. I stopped writing because my stories were secular and I didn’t see how God could fit. I stopped painting and drawing much because the only people in the youth group who did artistic things did prophetic art, which, generally, my brain didn’t work quite so completely in the abstract, so I kind of doodled here and there. But I didn’t really share my art with anyone ever. Prophetic art, in case perhaps you don’t know what I’m talking about, was art inspired in prayer, bodies were often faceless and messages were always spiritual. And with singing, I watched my poor mom for years constantly being a part of the worship team at our church. And our worship team leader was such a perfectionist about things that my mom often felt like her voice wasn’t good enough. I didn’t want the abuse, and it was stressful to be up there onstage for concert choir, let alone the weekly worship team.

In ministry school, I tried my hand at each of these talents, and I was actually good. I received compliments for everything and I felt really proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. I wrote Spoken Word poetry as I grappled with my anger at God and religion. My friends clapped and said it was so awesome how I was so honest about my feelings. I wanted to shake them. I knew they felt stuck too. But instead they gave me platitudes and pats on the back. I blew them away with my writing, but they didn’t see what I was saying. I didn’t paint but my whole Internship was for Media and I did design some things, like the banner for this website and I played around with new font types. I won a very close third place in a talent show when I sang JJ Heller’s “What Love Really Means”. Honestly, I just need to get better at jumping into a song when there is music. Yeah, there’s a horrifying feeling in the pit of my stomach when I mess up, but I could push past that.

Now, three years later, I have this blog, I have my Tumblr blogs and a few others. I could be a voice, a beacon. It’s the kind of person I’ve always been. So what’s stopping me? Well, hopefully now, nothing. I just got something off my chest and my shoulders and I know I want to do more with my life, now that it’s out. Now that I’m…out. But there’s more to that story I will save for a different entry. I want to be creative because I feel the most me when I am either creating something or responding to something created.

 

Where do I go from here?

I think this is the shortest amount of time I’ve given myself to write a potentially heavy post pretty much ever. So, I’ll try to keep it short, since I have about ten minutes to write my guts out.  I’ve been giving up on this blog. Disillusioned, and frustrated with all that religion has put me through, and everything it’s done to many many others, I just didn’t want to write about it anymore.

When I created PVX Pearls, it, like everything else, was supposed to be anchored in God. I wasn’t supposed to deviate or recognize any other experience, all that I created, that was supposed to be about God. And I hate that in saying all of this, I have to think about the past. I’ve really never been one of those girls who could just get over it. I dwell in the past and the negative aspects of my life that come from the past more than anyone else I’ve ever met.

Pearls was meant to be a desperate attempt at positivity when it all seemed so dirty, so boring, so bland. But that attempt was also a God-thing, again, like everything else in my life. So now that I’ve lost it, now that I can claim myself no longer Christian, where on earth am I supposed to go from here? Everything seems so bleak some days, and wonderful other days. Christianity twisted and molded me into a shell of a person, afraid to express herself. I fought back once, and Pearls was born. Maybe if I fight back again, I’ll find something else happens.

It’s interested to note that I did. I fought back, in Modesto. I wrote scathing Spoken Word poetry and I read it out loud to people who were in the thick of the thing I was mad about. And from that experience, I created Pearls. I thought I was railing against religion and the people, never God. But now, I’m done with God. I don’t feel the need to weigh in on the concept. But I do want to be there for people who have struggled.

I always forget that it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. I’m afraid to feel, to do well in life, to write and have people actually respond to me, but it’s also the thing I want most in the world. I may be done with God, and customers at my work may have the greatest capacity to annoy imaginable, but I am not done with every day people. I am not done with me. I am not done with Pearls.

It’s always been pretty clear to me that I look at movies from a different perspective. Really, I look at the entire world differently than many I’ve known. So I would like to start writing a short pearl dig (name in progress) on each movie that comes to my mind. If anyone wants to get involved, I would love to include some of your favorites. I have become especially excited, as is often the case, with Disney movies. But I want to include everything, and hey if a discussion starts because of it, that’ll be awesome.

These days I work in an electronics department and I essentially peddle movies and organize them. Honestly, I’m living the dream. This is the kind of thing I had always hoped to experience. Movies are always on my mind. The animated things this year have been incredible. I’d love to talk about them. First on my mind is Trolls, Storks, Moana. I am just so impressed with the stories coming out these days. This will be fun. I wanted to write about it before I forgot about it. 🙂

What Now? … Who Knows?

I am blessed with the privilege of having grown up in a world where everything was conservative and Christian. The other view was entirely wrong. Lately, I have been secluding myself into a world of liberalism and frustration with religion. My old ways of thinking are entirely wrong. Today, in this post-election era, tensions are rising, the election was a scary and angry time of the worst attitudes rising to the surface everywhere. I cut off all the people I knew who thought differently. I wouldn’t hear them, and they wouldn’t hear me either. We were at a stalemate. Neither of us could believe that the other would accept a candidate with the information we knew. The issue though was that we were all getting different information. Some friends were following conspiracy theories, others things that were fact checked. I was following opinions of others, Late Night Comedy Shows that made me laugh as they laughed at Donald Trump and exposed some of the scary perspectives of his supporters.

I should’ve thought about it and realized that genuine people were sure to be in both camps. Trump should not be going up in the polls on the anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-media platform we were hearing about. He had to be talking some sense, something that kindhearted people could also believe in. When we retaliated in the “left”, calling Trump and his supporters racist, misogynistic, and hateful didn’t help anything. That just made them scared to come out and say anything, explain themselves. They were able to use their private vote to fight for changes they wanted to see in the world. Changes that are not by default anti-progressive. We have to realize that we all want to live in a world that helps us feel safe. We all want to see a government that works for us not against us, we make decisions based on that desire.

In fact, one of my favorite things I learned in ministry school was from my internship director. He said two things that really resounded with me. He told me “You are never wrong for feeling.” and, another time,”we know in part and we prophesy in part.” The latter being from the Bible. People on both sides of the election whether elated or dismayed think they made the right choice and are behaving in the way they believe in given the circumstances. Whether there is for instance, a governmental conspiracy to collude with the media to destroy Donald Trump’s reputation as some of my friends and family believe or the media was reacting to things they felt were genuinely problematic in the character of Donald Trump and his apparent supporters, absolutely none of us know everything. Even fact checking can be biased, it just depends on the sources. In this information age, where everything is written by anyone for everyone to see, we have no idea who is really writing anything.

I have a picture of myself for this blog, but you can’t absolutely know that I wrote this, even if you know me, unless you watched me write it at a computer in front of your face. I could be anybody. I could be commissioned by the government to spread more fervor for the media that they installed to force their agenda. I could be a Donald Trump supporter who is writing things about the problems with Donald Trump. Despite the fact that writing can come from the heart, people can go against their gut. You never know where people on the internet really stand.

With these retaliations, given the elected President, you cannot know that protesters voted against Trump or that terrorizers voted for him. It is a personal decision that generally nobody is around to watch you make. You can talk for the entire election about how amazing Hillary is, or Trump or Bernie or whoever and then get to the voting booth and mark someone completely different, nobody would know. People are calling those who are beating up others “Trump supporter.” I could wear his entire getup and vote for Hillary, attack people, telling them that Trump’s America is here. I might be doing such a thing for the greater good, thinking that causing racism might expose that racism is a problem with a Trump presidency, just like I thought, perhaps if I go around hurting people, people will see the obvious problem and impeach the man who supported this behavior with his rhetoric. It would be only a matter of time before racism started happening organically.

This happened in the Target bathroom situation where Target changed its policy to allow people to go into the bathroom based on their gender identity to avoid bullying. Some thought it might cause perverted men to think that they could dress up as a woman and enter the women’s restroom to molest children. Because they so believed this, some who were upset about this policy sent men into Target women’s restrooms dressed as women. They did not molest children, but they went to prove a point, a point that they felt strongly was an issue, even though they were the ones causing the problems.

If people believe there is a clear and present danger lurking, they might try to expedite the affect of that danger, rather than see it happen organically as they so strongly fear it will.

Bias surrounds us. Media is made up of people with ideas and thoughts and feelings. If the media were controlling us, those reacting to this election are not upset because they are lemmings, mindlessly following everything the mainstream media tells them to think. They are reacting to a very scary outcome based on the information they have been given. It is not possible to hold all truth. Again, we know in part, we prophesy in part. So I know nothing, but I see both sides, and I have hope for the future because I am trying to see what is going on in the minds of others who don’t think like I do, and it is not as horrifying as I thought.

The Truth About my PTSD Excuse

For many of my quirks and discomforts, I use a recycled excuse. Being raised in a cult and soonafter running away from that, living with a sociopath, I say that I have a sort of PTSD from those super intense experiences. But, much of the time, I say those things rather than saying how I really feel in the moment. That guy I’ve told you about, my old landlord, had some terrifying perspectives on people, he wanted to nuke the downtown area because he felt that people who did drugs and who commit crimes are trash. Barring the fact that many law-abiding citizens spend time downtown and the fact that I am one such citizen, I think it is horrifically problematic to want to wipe out some people because of the few. Today, I shared with some friends who were showing me a movie about two people who decided to go on a killing spree of those they consider idiots, that I have PTSD because of the guy to whom I used to pay rent. But that is not really why such premises in movies give me such discomfort. I absolutely hate watching needless violence. It is why I do not ordinarily watch horror movies and it is why up until about ten years ago, I would not even watch action movies. I feel strongly that life is precious, and despite my frustration with religion, I do not see any life as without purpose.

I understand the point that is being made. People want to blaim religious zealots, reality TV show stars, rednecks and so many other stereotypes for our problems. They consider them the idiots, the disgusting ignorance that so plagues this world, and some suggest that society would be better off without them. Honestly, religious people these days drive me nuts! They have so many perspectives that prevent society from moving forward, they insist on their way without even considering they could ever be wrong. Admittedly, I have despised being around Christians. I have been disgusted with those who seem without kindness. But, what I have felt for years now is that everyone has a story. A bratty television star may someday grow up and figure out life does not revolve around her. Or maybe she will stay as bratty as ever, her parents enabling her forever. Just because she is cruel at school or entitled that does not mean she deserves to die. I guess I just feel it is a slippery slope. I have lived the life of those who society calls “idiots” and many of them mean well. I know I did. I have been the chosen one in many situations and then, almost immediately, the enemy of those same people. That landlord guy originally thought I was badass, intelligent, and had a very very good head on my shoulders. But, time and time again, I have discovered that that kind of prowess in society doesn’t last. One day you are on the side of the intelligent, the next you are the hunted idiot by someone with a finer intellect. I have learned over time that intelligence tends to be relative. You may feel that you are better and more educated than the masses, but there is always somebody else who has more experience and who would corral you in with the rest of society’s mindless cattle in a heartbeat.

Perhaps it is my Christian upbringing that gives me this feeling that everyone should be given attention and care. I was once involved in feeding the homeless, empowering survivors of sex trafficking, being a sounding board for the misunderstood. These are the things about which I am passionate. I just think people of all kinds need to be heard and cared for rather than preached at. Those who are cruel are cruel due to their own insecurities. The times in my life that I have myself been cruel to others, I can definitely chalk up to my own insecurities. They were never out to get me, they are not hopelessly lost, evil people who will never learn to be good. They are complex, nuanced human beings. Slasher films and films about vigilante killers take these individual lives and just cut them down without a thought. The concept that someone can just grab and gun down or whatever the hell and just kill people because of how they perceive them, because they do not like them, is absolutely terrifying, disturbing and fundamentally wrong. Where does it end?

If the vigilante were a fundamentalist Christian who felt society was evil and maybe that God was calling them to purge society of its problems, they would target Hollywood, they would take out the media who dares to question God. They would attack the sexually impure which means they would attack me and my boyfriend. My roommate and her boyfriend. My coworker and her boyfriend. We all are just facing life the way that it makes the most sense to us. Hollywood is not out to destroy Christian values. It is made up of so many people who grew up in the church and who are thinking differently now. Just like me. If a vigilante wanted to get rid of the worst people in society, who would he target? I guess it would depend on perspective, his background and the way he sees the world. From where I am standing, there are plenty of reasons to have faith in the world and in its propensity for goodness.

With this election, it is tempting to blame society’s idiocy. But both sides are saying the same thing about the other’s candidate. The political terrain has split and many are discussing civil war, It is frustrating because to me it seems obvious who is more qualified. But there are many who disagree with me. They are in my workplace, my school, even in my family. Many call these people idiots. I see why, but I also understand their fear, because, as I said before, I have been in their shoes. Society’s true worsts are con-artists, rapists, bigots, hypocrites. But, murder is not the answer. They may never let us reason with them, but murder would destroy what we could potentially accomplish without cheating. We may never agree, but civil war and vigilante justice will solve nothing.

History Repeats Itself

Even as a child, history was one of my favorite subjects. When I heard the saying “history repeats itself”, I took that to heart. I sought to understand as much as I could about historical experiences so I would be prepared to face the future and hopefully prevent the same mistakes being made. History was one of the reasons I left ministry school. History showed me that trying to get everybody to think like them, or else, was a commonly held trait of Christians. They had tortured and killed people in the name of God in order to combat their evil heretical ideas. I was able to see that throughout much of history, religion controlled the masses with fear of death and the threat of eternal damnation. In their terror and wanting to hold back the judgment for a longer period of time, people followed the ideas of the church and paid the church to be in limbo for a little bit longer. My people, as I call them, those whom I knew as a child and who shaped my initial thoughts, like to say that God is peaceful, He is good, and He will help you much more fully if you donate money to the church, He will allow you to be tortured unrelentingly for all eternity if you differ on the modern day Christian interpretation of Scripture.

History repeats itself. We live in a world where, in civilized societies, we don’t kill people for thinking differently, we don’t tell people they have to pay us to prolong purgatory at a time when everyone is dying and fear rules the world. Instead, now, we ostracize the other, spitting hateful, divisive bile in their direction because they had the audacity to consider another option than the Christian “Truth”. Our most respected church leaders work hard to convince people who are sick or in tremendous debt that they must give money to the church if they really truly trust God. It is disturbing then how much today’s society mirrors the society of the Dark Ages especially with regards to religion in religious circles. This, of course is a big reason for why I left the ministry. This is why I am the person I have become today.

Back in World War I, the Big Five nations who came out on top chose to blame the entirety of war, and the debt on Germany. Germany fell to pieces over this and the economy tanked. Out of these ashes rose a man named Adolph Hitler. He was charismatic and likeable on a stage. The people loved him because he spoke up about their destitution, blaming other countries and other religions for Germany’s misfortune. He was nationalistic, and for a country that lay dying, a nationalist was the kick it needed to boost morale and make Germans proud to be German again. He was a Catholic, raised knowing that the Jewish people are the people who crucified Christ. His disgust for an entire people arose from his deeply held religious beliefs that the Jewish people were evil for killing the Savior of the World. Historically, we remember Hitler as an evil man. He is the moral ultimatum we use to make a point. Because of his hatred for these people and many other outcasts, Adolph Hitler instituted concentration camps where people whose skin color and beliefs he didn’t like were sent to be forced into hard labor on very little food intake. Jewish people especially were rounded up and killed in various ways. They were tested upon to further scientific advancement, they were gassed together in massive quantities and their lifeless bodies were stacked carelessly upon one another in gruesome piles. Hitler seemed like a good idea at the time. His people voted him in because he made them feel important. Unfortunately, when he made them feel important, he did it at the expense of the “dangerous” other and Germany has still gone down in history as a horrible country for this evil thing that happened because of their elected leader.

Today in America, we have an election. We have had many elections where accusations of Hitler-esque qualities have been quite prevalent. Based upon history, we try to keep a sharp eye out for the traits of a dictator. They tend to trick people into thinking that they are great and then completely take over when power is handed over. Luckily, our democratic system of government is not set up like that. Even if elected, a dictator would not necessarily be able to enforce all the things he wants to do in the world. But, a hot-headed person who insults world leaders and celebrities alike would definitely cause concern for public relations and could start a ridiculous war because of his rhetoric. Although we have had these accusations before, the hatred and divisiveness has never been so apparent, and still, this candidate rises in the polls. We do not know much about this candidate’s policies. When asked how to defeat ISIS, the answer is “We’re gonna beat ’em but I don’t want to give away my strategy.” When asked how to approach issues with immigration, he replies “We’re gonna build a wall, a huge wall, and the immigrant country will pay for it.” The issue with this, of course, being that none of these are real answers that can work in real life and they leave too much to the imagination. We do not know this guy, and what we do know about him given his publicized life and his divisive rhetoric, he flatly denies. This is not the kind of person I want to see in the White House. With so many similarities to dictators who rose to power, this candidate would be worse for America than any before him. He doesn’t know what he is doing and what little he does know is based on his own agenda alone. He is not beholden to the American people. Neither was Hitler beholden to his own country. History repeats itself.

 

Defy a Little Gravity: How Wicked Changed my Life, Even Though I’ve Never Seen It

 

wicked

I have never seen the acclaimed musical Wicked but it has shaped my life nonetheless. Defying Gravity was my anthem as I made my decision to leave ministry college. Something in the magical and empowering song gave me permission to begin to question, probe and grow from my experience. Something had indeed changed within me, nothing was the same. I was truly through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game. I realized that I had never believed in the way it was expected of me and I followed a beautiful epiphany that God would love me no matter what I believed. He would and did love anyone no matter their background or belief system, it was an immovable beauty that changed my heart forever. Continue reading